Lesson 156

Zechariah 3–8

“Lesson 156: Zechariah 3–8,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)


Introduction

Zechariah preached among the Jews after they returned to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon. He had a vision of Joshua, the high priest of Jerusalem, wearing filthy clothes. In this vision, an angel of the Lord had clean garments placed on Joshua and charged him to walk in righteousness. The purification of Joshua symbolized what the Jews needed to do to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah appointed by King Cyrus of Persia, was charged with rebuilding the temple. The Lord promised the Jews that their mourning over the destruction of Jerusalem would become joy when the city was restored.

Suggestions for Teaching

Zechariah 3–4

Joshua, the high priest, is prepared to officiate, and Zerubbabel is charged with rebuilding the temple

Ask students to list on a piece of paper individuals they hope to associate with in the celestial kingdom. Invite students to share some names they listed and to explain why they included those individuals on their lists.

Explain that in this lesson, students will learn about visions that the Lord gave to Zechariah, a prophet who lived during the time of Haggai and Ezra. He was also one of many Jews who returned to Jerusalem from Babylon as a result of the decree by King Cyrus of Persia. Invite students to look for principles as they study Zechariah 3 that illustrate how we can prepare to return to live with Heavenly Father and His righteous children.

Invite a student to read Zechariah 3:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for who stood before an angel of the Lord and what he was wearing. Explain that the “brand plucked out of the fire” in verse 2 represents the people of Judah who were delivered from exile by the decree of King Cyrus.

  • Who stood before the angel? What was he wearing? (Joshua, the high priest, wore filthy garments to represent the people of Judah in their sinful state.)

  • Who stood next to Joshua before the angel of the Lord?

Refer students to verse 1, footnote b, and explain that one meaning of the name Satan is adversary or accuser.

Invite a student to read Zechariah 3:4–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what happened to Joshua.

  • What did the angel command others nearby to remove from Joshua?

  • What could the changing of Joshua’s garment symbolize? (It could symbolize the Jews who had returned from captivity removing the worldliness of Babylon and again becoming God’s holy people.)

Explain that the clothing referred to in verse 5 was the attire priests wore to officiate in the temple. This included a “fair mitre,” which was a clean, or pure, cap (see footnote a).

Invite a student to read Zechariah 3:6–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Joshua was commanded to do after he had been cleansed from sin and was prepared to officiate in the temple.

  • What was Joshua commanded to do? (Walk in the Lord’s ways and keep His charge. You may want to explain that the phrase “keep my charge” [verse 7] means to keep God’s commandments and fulfill the duties He requires, including priesthood duties.)

  • Who does the phrase “these that stand by” refer to? (“The heavenly messengers” [see verse 7, footnote c].)

Explain that to be given “places to walk among [the angels]” (verse 7) means that Joshua would be worthy to enter the Lord’s presence and dwell with those who live in the celestial kingdom.

  • What principle can we learn from Joshua’s experience about how we can be worthy to enter the Lord’s presence? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: If we walk in the Lord’s ways and keep our covenants, then we will be worthy to enter His presence.)

  • How can we walk in the Lord’s ways?

  • When have you seen someone walk in the Lord’s ways? What stood out to you about that person’s example?

Invite students to imagine how they would feel if they were unprepared to be in the Lord’s presence. Then ask them to imagine that they had prepared themselves to be in His presence. To help students consider what they need to do now to prepare for being in the Lord’s presence, invite them to complete the following statement in their class notebooks or scripture study journals: I will walk in the Lord’s ways and be worthy to enter His presence by …

Summarize Zechariah 3:8–4:14 by explaining that Zechariah had a vision of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, who is referred to as “the BRANCH” in these verses and in Zechariah 6:12. In addition, the Lord revealed to Zechariah that Zerubbabel, the appointed governor of Judah, was to lay the foundation of and finish building the temple.

Zechariah 5–6

Zechariah sees visions of the last days and crowns Joshua as the high priest

Summarize Zechariah 5–6 by explaining that an angel showed Zechariah visions of how wickedness would be removed from the earth as part of the Second Coming.

Zechariah 7–8

The Lord promises the Jews that they will feel joy when Jerusalem is restored

Provide students with a copy of the following chart. Invite them to make a check mark in the column that best represents their motivation for each form of worship.

handout, worship

Meet others’ expectations

Feel good about myself

Draw closer to Heavenly Father

I go to church in order to …

     

I pray in order to …

     

I fast in order to …

     

I go to the temple in order to …

     

I serve others in order to …

     

Explain that for 70 years the Jews had mourned the loss of their land and the destruction of the temple. As part of their mourning, they participated in ritual fasts. As recorded in Zechariah 7:1–3, the people asked Zechariah if they needed to continue fasting even though they had returned to Jerusalem and were rebuilding the temple.

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Zechariah 7:4–7. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Lord’s response to the people.

  • What did the Lord ask those who participated in these ritual fasts?

  • What do the Lord’s questions in verses 5–6 indicate about the thoughts and desires of the people?

Help students understand that the way the Jews had been fasting illustrated their misunderstanding of the proper focus of worship.

  • What can we learn from these verses about the proper focus of worship? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following truth: When we worship, we should focus on the Lord and not on ourselves.)

  • What are some improper or selfish reasons why someone might choose to worship?

  • Why is it important that our worship is focused on the Lord and our relationship with Him?

  • What have you done to make your worship of the Lord more focused on Him?

Refer students to the self-evaluation chart they completed, and invite them to consider how they will focus their worship more on the Lord.

Summarize Zechariah 7:8–10 by explaining that the Lord reminded the Jews of commandments He had given them through past prophets whom they had refused to follow.

Invite a student to read Zechariah 7:11–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why the people were not receiving answers to their prayers.

  • What attitudes or behaviors prevented the people from receiving answers from the Lord?

  • What principle can we learn from these verses about what we need to do to receive answers to our prayers? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: As we soften our hearts to the word of the Lord, we can receive answers to our prayers.)

  • What does it mean to soften our hearts?

  • Why is a soft heart essential to receiving answers to our prayers?

Summarize Zechariah 7:14–8:2 by explaining that the Lord described the consequences that the people experienced because they turned away from Him.

Explain that Zechariah 8 records the Lord’s description of a joyful day when the relationship between Him and the people of Judah would be restored. Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Zechariah 8:3–8. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said He would do for His people. (You may want to explain that the Joseph Smith Translation changed the word “save” in verse 7 to “gather” [in Zechariah 8:7, footnote a].) Remind the class that when Zechariah gave this prophecy, Jerusalem was largely desolate, its temple lay in ruins, and many of the Lord’s people were still scattered.

  • Why do you think the image of streets being filled with elderly people and children playing would have been “marvellous in the eyes of the” Jews in Zechariah’s day (verse 6)?

  • According to verses 7–8, how will the Lord demonstrate mercy for His people?

  • What truth can we learn from these verses? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following truth: The Lord in His mercy will save and gather His people.)

To help students see additional evidence of the Lord’s mercy in gathering His people, ask several students to take turns reading aloud from Zechariah 8:11–15. Ask the class to follow along, looking for other blessings the Lord said He would give His people as part of gathering them.

  • What other blessings did the Lord promise His people?

  • How is gathering His people a manifestation of the Savior’s mercy?

Invite students to ponder a time when they recognized the Lord’s hand mercifully bringing them closer to Him. Ask a few students to share their experiences if they are not too personal. Consider sharing how you have been blessed by God’s mercy.

Summarize Zechariah 8:16–23 by explaining that the Lord encouraged His people to be honest and virtuous and to rejoice in their hopeful future. He also foretold of a future day when many people and nations would seek the Lord in Jerusalem.

Commentary and Background Information

Zechariah 3:86:12; . Who is “the BRANCH”?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained who “the BRANCH” refers to:

“Since it takes a first and a second coming to fulfill many Messianic prophecies, we of necessity must consider them here, and in the case of the Davidic-Messianic utterances show also how they apply to our Lord’s Second Coming. Christ is the Son of David, the Seed of David, the inheritor, through Mary his mother, of the blood of the great king. He is also called the Stem of Jesse and the Branch, meaning Branch of David. Messianic prophecies under these headings deal with the power and dominion he shall wield as he sits on David’s throne, and have reference almost exclusively to his second sojourn on planet earth.

“Jesse was the father of David. Isaiah speaks of the Stem of Jesse, whom he also designates as a branch growing out of the root of that ancient worthy. He recites how the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him; how he shall be mighty in judgment; how he shall smite the earth and slay the wicked; and how the lamb and the lion shall lie down together in that day—all of which has reference to the Second Coming and the millennial era thereby ushered in. (Isa. 11.) As to the identity of the Stem of Jesse, the revealed words says: ‘Verily thus saith the Lord: It is Christ.’ (D&C 113:1–2.) This also means that the Branch is Christ, as we shall now see from other related scriptures.

“By the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord foretells the ancient scattering and the latter-day gathering of his chosen Israel. After they have been gathered ‘out of all countries whither I have driven them’ [Jeremiah 32:37], after the kingdom has been restored to Israel as desired by the ancient apostles in Acts 1:6, then this eventuality, yet future and millennial in nature, shall be fulfilled: ‘Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.’ (Jer. 23:3–6.) That is to say, the King who shall reign personally upon the earth during the Millennium shall be the Branch who grew out of the house of David. He shall execute judgment and justice in all the earth because he is the Lord Jehovah, even him whom we call Christ.

“Through Zechariah the Lord spoke similarly: ‘Thus saith the Lord of hosts: … I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH. … I will remove the iniquity of the land in one day [meaning that the wicked shall be destroyed and the millennial era of peace and righteousness commence]. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree.’ (Zech. 3:7–10.) Of that glorious millennial day the Lord says also: ‘Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord: Even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne.’ (Zech. 6:12–13.)

“That the Branch of David is Christ is perfectly clear” (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [1978], 192–93).