Sunday School Lesson 48: Zechariah 10-14, Malachi
Posted by Jim F. on December 5, 2010
1:7-6:8: We may be able to read the first six chapters of Zechariah as having a roughly chiastic structure. As with many chiasmi, however, deciding whether this is a chiasmus is a matter of judgment rather than fact.
|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 (? perhaps 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?
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?