Sunday, December 03, 2006

My Sunday School Lesson - Zechariah 1

In the tradition of free and open source software, courseware and others who are generous and yet somehow effective, I'm publishing my Sunday School lessons here on the web. Some other projects that I respect that are free and open are the MIT Open Courseware, Third Millennium Ministries and Crosswire Bible Society. I'm not going to mention all the software that is open source. I'm really wondering if Third Millennium and Crosswire should get together on some projects.

Zechariah 1
by Terry L. Pruitt

Main Idea: The Lord will defend His own reputation and His own people. Will you merely be a tool in His hand or will you follow Him?

Outline to Zechariah Chapter One

I. Introduction "The 'Lord Who Rules Over All" Says Turn To Me (Zechariah 1:1-6)
II. Introduction to The Visions (Zechariah 1:7)
III. Content of the First Vision – Four Horsemen (Zechariah 1:8)
IV. Interpretation of the First Vision (Zechariah 1:9-15)
V. Oracle Response To The Four Horsemen (Zechariah 1:16,17)
VI. Content of the Second Vision – Four Blacksmiths (Zechariah 1:18-22)

Literary Feature - Repetition:
A repeated idea in the first six verses is that the Lord is "the Lord who rules over all". This gives an international flavor to the book. This prophesy explains the international situation of the time when the Jews were returning from their captivity. They could have thought that God no longer cared for them, or that He did not exist and that is why they were sent into captivity. God sends these prophets to interpret what God was doing through the captivity.

Would the nations around them have thought of God as the God who rules over all? Who today would give us the same response?

Why Go To Captivity?
The captivity came because the Jews had neglected to follow the covenant. Even though they had failed, God was now being merciful. They were now to learn from the mistakes from the mistakes of forfatherS. The message now was that this new generation was not supposed to sin in the same way as their forefathers.

What are some of the sins of our forefathers we do not want to repeat?

How Do We Interpret International Situations Today?
The interpretation of the four horsemen is that God knows that the international situation is peaceful. God then declares through His messenger that He wants to restore Jerusalem.
Today we do not have a prophet to tell us exactly how to interpret our own international situations for the church. How do we keep from wild speculation while at the same time not thinking that our own times God does not act in a way that is meaningful?

Quote from Adam Clark on Verse 18:
Verse 18. And behold four horns. Denoting four powers by which the Jews had been oppressed; the Assyrians, Persians, Chaldeans,and Egyptians. Or these enemies may be termed four, in reference to the four cardinal points of the heavens, whence they came:-

1. NORTH. The Assyrians and Babylonians.
2. EAST. The Moabites and Ammonites
3. SOUTH. The Egyptians
4. WEST. The Philistines.

Interpreting the Four Iron Horns and Four Blacksmiths
Given the fact that the four horsemen in verse 8 seem to go to the four cardinal directions, then it is logical that the four cardinal directions are meant here also. What ever the interpretation of the four horns, God still metaphorically sent the four blacksmiths to destroy them. The horns represent strength, like the weapon of a bull, presumably of iron since it takes blacksmiths to pulverize them. God often uses oppressive people in our lives to shape us. On a personal level, a bully or harsh authority figure can be that person. As a nation we also have other nations that put pressure on us. The church through out the world has adversaries. Though God uses these, he also judges them for their oppressive acts.

Have you ever been the oppressor? Have you ever been the oppressed? What does God do for each?

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