May 7, 2011

Minor Prophets LXXXV: Post-Exilic

We now enter the book of Zechariah. We see the dating for Zechariah's first message Zechariah 1:1. It is similar to Haggai as post-exilic dating was quite accurate but there is a small difference. How does that compare with Haggai?

“In the eighth month of the second year of Darius”…We are talking the October/November timeframe of 520 B.C. It is evident from the superscription of Zechariah that the word of the Lord came to him in an overlapped fashion with the ministry of Haggai. Unlike Haggai though, there is no exact day given. According to my sources this omission argues for this passages genuineness. This message is just after Haggai’s second message but before his third.

In verse 1:2-6 we see that God was angry with Israel’s ancestors. God is revolted by the rebellion in the hearts (therefore actions) of sinful man. This anger must be especially pronounced when it is His people whom He has revealed Himself to that rebel. The entire nation veered wide of God’s mark of excellence. So God is often venting His wrath on them for violating His precepts as mentioned here. They are without excuse, they have His Law. God insists that they need to return to Him. If so He will reciprocate by returning to them. They must, “turn from evil ways and evil practices.” Of course we understand that this didn’t happen. So the Lord poses the rhetorical questions, “Where are your ancestors now?” and “the prophets, do they live forever?” The Lord make the statement that He overtook their ancestors. “Then they repented” having realized the error of their ways and were perceptive enough to realize that, “the LORD Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.” They came back to covenant ways and obeyed God’s statutes.

The date for Zechariah's series of visions in Zechariah 1:7 is noted below and it is precise. "On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius" equates to February 15th, 519 B.C. This prophetic outburst launches a series of eight (8) visions that are concluded by symbolic acts. The month of Shebat refers to the eleventh month of the Babylonian calendar. The next date given for a Zechariah vision is in Chapter 7: December 7, 518 B.C.

Extremely precise dating for the 6th Century B.C.

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