Sunday School Lesson #48

December 9, 2006 | 13 comments
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Lesson 48: Zechariah 10-14, Malachi

Zechariah

1:7-6:8: We may be able to read the first six chapters of Zechariah as having a roughly chiastic
structure:

                        A 1:7-17: The Lord’s omniscience

                                    B 1:18-21: Judah and the empires

                                                C 2:1-5: Jerusalem’s territory

[2:6-13: Reiterates the first three parts]

                                                            D 3:1-10: Joshua the high priest

                                                            D’ 4:1-14: The temple itself

C’ 5:1-4: Jerusalem’s self-rule (the scroll of the law?)

                                    C’ 5:5-11: Judah and Persia (? —a “counter-temple”?)

                        A’ 6:1-8: The Lord’s omnipotence

If this analysis is correct, the chiastic structure helps us understand better some of the more difficult parts of Zechariah’s vision. Earlier parts of the chiasm help “define” later, more obscure parts. Notice that each step in the chiasm narrows the scope: from the widest scope, that of the Lord; to the next widest, the international; to Jerusalem; and to Joshua (Jeshua) and the temple. The focus of the vision is clearly on priesthood and on the temple standing at the “center” of the world.

The return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the temple were of critical interest to the Jews. Why? Many had become quite settled and successful in Babylon. What would be the appeal of returning to the Jerusalem area? What part might prophecies like Zachariah’s have played in the return of the Jews and the rebuilding of the temple?

Prior to the exile, there had been several temples in Israel. Those Israelites who escaped into Egypt built a temple there. Why hadn’t the Jews built a temple in Babylon? Why did they rebuild only one?

6:9-15: What purpose do the three men mentioned in verse 10 (and again in verse 14—Heldai is probably the same person as Helem) serve? What is Joshua’s significance? To understand this prophecy fully, it is important to remember that Joshua is Jesus’s name in Hebrew. What is the significance of the crowns? What might they represent?

10:6-8; 12:3-5; 14:6-9: How would these prophecies have been important to Jews at the time of the return from exile in Babylon? Why would Messianic prophecies be important to them? How are they important to us today?

The book of Zechariah is an excellent prophecy for seeing how prophecy can have multiple fulfillments. Was this prophesy fulfilled during the lifetime of Zechariah? If so, how? If not, what meaning did it have for the people of his time? How was it fulfilled with the First Coming of the Savior? How will it be fulfilled with the Second Coming?

Malachi

1:6-8, 11-14: What is the Lord’s complaint against the priests? What does this tell us about Malachi’s day? How do these verses apply to us?

2:1-9: These verses give more details of the complaint. What does it mean to “cause many to stumble at the law” (verse 8)? How might the priests have corrupted the covenant?

3:1-4: What must happen before the Levites can again offer a righteous offering? Compare these verses to D&C 13. How are these two passages of scripture related to each other?

3:5, 7-8, 14-15: What is the connection between the sins listed in Malachi 3:5 and those listed in verses 7-8? Why does tithing come up in a complaint about Israelite failure to keep the ordinances? Can you think of contemporary equivalents to the sins described in verses 14-15?

4:5-6: How would Israelites listening to or reading Malachi’s prophecy have understood verses 5-6? How is their understanding related to our latter-day understanding of those verses?

13 Responses to Sunday School Lesson #48

  1. Barb on December 15, 2006 at 3:50 pm

    I haven’t particpated much of late here and Times and Seasons so I hope it is okay if I take a little more time than usual.

    I am probably going to lose my job as I think I am at the number of warnings allotted for their attendance and time on the phone, which is rolled into one program at my company. My mental problems do play a role in getting me into this situation. By some miracle, I have usually been in compliance and hardly received a warning.

    A few months ago, I was on the verge and managed to make it through. Saturday, I had my guard down a little and then on my next shift, I accidently clocked out early handicapping me further. But I am hoping that it is meant to be. I have wanted to change jobs for the longest times. I often have anxieties that I mess up on reservations and it is a horrible thought to think that someone could show up at a hotel and not have a room. This was heigthened during hurricaine season as I worry there would be no place else to put the person. But I worry about this constantly at my job and sometimes call the hotels from home to see if the reservation made it into their computer okay.

    I do good on phone jobs and would not stress so much if it were something like a t-shirt or record that I messed up. I am really hoping to be able to get a new job with good hours and that I will be able to function. Working is so important to my self-esteem.

    In spite of my situation, I know that it is coming at a good time as my parents can afford my not working right now. It was so convenient though to work there as it is close to my home.

    I also have had online friends who lost their job or had a spouse lose their job. These people have children and that is such a different situation than me. I think it would be so scary to be in their shoes.

    All the same, if someone would say a little prayer for me that it will work out and I will be able to function in a new environment and feel things are safe, I would really appreciate it. You don’t have to say you are praying for me or everything. I don’t want myself to be the center of attention. I don’t really want to tell people in my ward right now. Maybe I will down the road. I have known my Relief Society President for years and do not want her to worry. Maybe if I get a new job and things are going well, I will mention it.

    Well, if I don’t work, then I can become even more reclusive. I am pretty good at that!

  2. Barb on December 15, 2006 at 4:13 pm

    I put this under the wrong thread. A little embarassing–but nothing compared to how embarassing ocd can be at times.

  3. Matt W. on December 15, 2006 at 4:17 pm

    Barb: prayers are coming your way. Relax, it sounds like you are pretty new there. I hope they will cut you some slack.

  4. Barb on December 16, 2006 at 1:51 am

    Matt W, thank you so much! I worked tonight, which was a miracle in itself to get the hours. My supervisor was to thank! I think I had my highest on the phone time ever and she told me at the end of the night that I made it. I am so happy to have this job and am committed to doing even better. Also, in regards to my neurosis in worrying if I mess up reservations, I have a friend who is pretty computer smart who works there and he will probably alleviate any of those concerns as he always had when I ask him such a question. I just have to keep this up until I think mid January when a notification drops. I am very happy.

  5. Laurel T on December 24, 2006 at 12:44 am

    Hello, all. I am always, always grateful to get Jim’s comments & questions to get me going when I am scheduled to teach. Glad to see these here this evening.

    I teach tomorrow–that is, I get to do Armeggedon, destructions & End of Days on the day before Christmas. I have struggled with what to do with this subject. Do I teach it, and ignore the particular day it falls on? Do I teach it, but shorten it so I can save a little room for Christmas? (My younger brother says, “Ah, go for it. They’re probably tired of the usual ‘Remember the reason for the Season’ lesson anyway.”)

    I finally thought maybe I’d connect some dots. This is the End of Days, the destruction & chaos involved before Christ comes, but it’s awfully like the BOM destruction here in this area before Christ was born. We get earthquakes & deliberate falling away/wickedness by choice here too, before that Coming, people destroyed for wickedness and a remnant left here too.

    A theme I have seen in this situation, as well as through the scriptures, we get fire, and not all of them are a negative–burning bush, the burning of the HG in the bosom, who shall abide the “fire of His Coming.” Fire is an interesting theme in this context, where we see who can stand the fires and who is left when the fires fade out. We see the amazing things that come to those who survived in the BOM times, when the fires were over. Like the potter’s clay from earlier, and the refiner’s fire, it seems not just allegorical.

    Too, we get people choosing, by constant small choices like tithing & offerings, which side they are on and what the final payoff is that they ultimately wish for themselves. I am still mulling things around where this will go tomorrow, digging the bones out. While it’s a bit late to be mulling this when I teach tomorrow, for my ward, this happens at Christmas, which I can’t quite seem to leave unacknowledged, but haven’t figured out how exactly that fits in yet.

    Too, it’s my last lesson. I have been reassigned to the Primary and I mourn deeply the loss of this calling. I have been unhappy to go out on this one, with all the graphic details & people in difficulty. Complicated by knowing it’s my last time, and that I leave reluctantly. Makes the prep that much harder, on a lesson with some inherent challenges.

    I’ll watch for later postings with interest, then, to see what others will be doing with this.

  6. BrianJ on December 24, 2006 at 3:47 pm

    Laurel: I just taught this lesson today and focused on a few verses in Malachi 1-3. Malachi 3:1-5 are especially Jesus-centered, so I was happy to teach them on Christmas Eve. In fact, I used them to make a point: that if we want to read the whole “Christmas story,” we have to read from the Old Testament as well as Luke. (I played three movements from Handel’s Messiah as prelude music: the parts that quote verses from Malachi.)

    I really like your idea of focusing on the “End of Days” portion. It’s not stables, stars, and shepherds, but it’s still a Christian message.

  7. Robert C. on December 26, 2006 at 5:51 pm

    Laurel and BrianJ: Thanks for your thoughts on this lesson, they’re very helpful for those of us who have to teach this lesson next week (b/c SS school was canceled in our ward for Christmas).

  8. Robert C. on December 30, 2006 at 8:04 pm

    This quote from the Word Biblical Commentary caught my attention regarding Zechariah:

    Paul Lamarche published his studies on the structure and messianism of Zech 9–14 and concluded that Zech 9–14 is the most quoted section of the prophets in the passion narratives of the Gospels, and other than Ezekiel, Zechariah has influenced the author of the Revelation more than any other OT book (Zacharie i–xiv 8, 9). If for no other reason the book of Zechariah deserves careful study because of its influence on NT writings.

    I think I’ll devote a large part of my lesson setting up some of these prophecies which are cited in the gospels as being fulfilled by Christ. This article in Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary lists several of these passages (the gospel citations are in the very last paragraph of this rather long but quite interesting article on Zechariah).

    There are a few of these references in the gospels

  9. BrianJ on December 30, 2006 at 10:48 pm

    Robert C: Would you mind sharing the list you compile? I always think of Isaiah as the “OT prophet of choice” for Christian authors, so it will be nice to see the case for Zechariah.

  10. Robert C. on December 30, 2006 at 11:30 pm

    I’ve been struggling trying to makes sense of Zechariah chapter 11 (esp. v. 13 which is what Matt 27:9-10 quotes in describing how Judah sold Jesus for thirty shekels of silver), and it’s pretty tough for me to make sense of. So I was glad to read the following description of Zechariah as one of the most abstruse OT books:

    Zechariah is the longest and the most obscure book among the Minor Prophets. It has fourteen chapters and 211 verses, while Hosea the second longest book of the Minor Prophets has fourteen chapters and 197 verses. At the beginning of the fifth century a.d. Jerome called Zechariah “the obscurest and longest of the twelve prophets” (J. Steinmann, Saint Jerome, trans. R. Matthews [London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1950] 298). In the Middle Ages two Jewish scholars called attention to the obscurity of this book. Arabanel (d. 1508) said, “The prophecies of Zechariah are so obscure that no expositors however skilled have found their hands in the explanation.” And Solomon ben Isaac, better known as Rashi (1040–1105) said, “The prophecy is very abstruse, for it contains visions resembling dreams which want interpreting; and we shall never be able to discover the true interpretation until the teacher of righteousness arrives” (cf. T. W. Chambers, Zechariah, trans. P. Schaff [Lange’s Commentary on Scriptures. New York: Ch. Scribner, 1874] 7). The evident obscurity of the book of Zechariah has spawned many theories concerning its date, authorship, unity, and interpretation. [Smith, R. L. (2002). Vol. 32: Word Biblical Commentary : Micah-Malachi. Word Biblical Commentary (166). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.]

    I have found these NET notes very helpful, esp. in describing “thirty” as a number symbolic of small amounts–in contrast to forty in my thinking. So the ppeople’s willingness to pay only thirty pieces of silver for the advice from YHWH’s prophet was indicative of the people’s small value they placed on such advice, which is what is being referred to by Matthew in describing the small price for which Judah betrayed Jesus.

  11. Robert C. on December 30, 2006 at 11:39 pm

    BrianJ #9: Here is a preliminary list….

  12. Robert C. on December 31, 2006 at 10:01 am

    Sorry, one more comment on Zechariah 11: The WBC discusses a view that this is “a conscious polemic against those who were building their leadership claims on Ezekiel’s vision” where there the two sticks were joined together (Ezek 37:16ff, the passage usually interpreted as the Bible and BOM). I think this passage in Zecharaiah about the two sticks being broken is consistent with a view that scattering, punishment and judgment would come to Israel before any gathering and healing would take place (like apostacy before restoration, or sin and remorse before repentance and forgiveness). Interestingly, this seems related to Isaiah being told to expedite the judgment (via confusion per Mark 4:11ff) to come upon Israel, and yet a remnant would remain through which there would eventually be a gathering and a healing (Isa 6:9ff).

  13. BrianJ on December 31, 2006 at 3:41 pm

    Robert C: Interesting thoughts, as always.