“It will occur—if you do not fail to listen to the voice of Jehovah your God.”—ZECHARIAH 6:15.
1, 2. What was the situation of the Jews in Jerusalem at the end of Zechariah’s seventh vision?
AS Zechariah’s seventh vision ended, he had much to think about. He must have felt strengthened by Jehovah’s promise to punish dishonest people. But nothing had really changed. Many were still doing wicked and dishonest things, and the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem was not complete. Why had the Jews quickly abandoned the work Jehovah had given them? Had they come back to Jerusalem simply to make their own lives better?
2 Zechariah knew that the Jews who returned to Jerusalem were worshippers of Jehovah. They were the ones “whose spirit the true God had stirred” to leave their homes and businesses in Babylon. (Ezra 1:2, 3, 5) They left a place they knew well to move to a land that most of them had never seen. Rebuilding Jehovah’s temple was so important to those Jews that they were willing to make the dangerous journey of some 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) over rough land.
3, 4. What challenges did the returning Jews have?
3 Imagine the long trip from Babylon to Jerusalem. The people had many hours to think about and talk about their future home. Older ones had told them how beautiful Jerusalem and the temple once were. (Ezra 3:12) If you were traveling with them, how would you have felt when you first saw Jerusalem? Would you have been sad to see the ruined buildings covered with weeds and the broken-down city walls with large holes where gates and towers once stood? You might have compared those broken-down walls with the huge strong walls of Babylon. But the Jews were not discouraged. Why not? Because during their long journey, Jehovah had helped and protected them. As soon as they arrived in Jerusalem, they built an altar where the temple had been and began to offer sacrifices to Jehovah each day. (Ezra 3:1, 2) They were full of zeal and ready to work. It seemed that nothing could discourage them.
4 Along with rebuilding the temple, the Jews had to rebuild their cities and houses. They needed to plant fields so that they could provide food for their families. (Ezra 2:70) The amount of work they had to do seemed huge. Soon, their enemies came and tried to stop them. This opposition went on for 15 years, and the Jews slowly became discouraged. (Ezra 4:1-4) Another challenge came in the year 522, when the Persian king ordered that all building in Jerusalem be stopped. It seemed that the city would never be rebuilt.—Ezra 4:21-24.
5. How did Jehovah help his people?
5 Jehovah knew that his people needed strength and courage. He gave Zechariah a final vision to assure the people that He loved them and appreciated their efforts to serve him. He promised to protect them if they returned to the work he had given them. About rebuilding the temple, Jehovah said: “It will occur—if you do not fail to listen to the voice of Jehovah your God.”—Zechariah 6:15.
AN ARMY OF ANGELIC FORCES
6. (a) How did Zechariah’s eighth vision begin? (See opening picture.) (b) Why were the horses of different colors?
6 The eighth and last vision of Zechariah may be the most faith-strengthening of them all. (Read Zechariah 6:1-3.) Try to imagine what Zechariah saw. “From between two mountains” made of copper came horses pulling four chariots. The horses were of different colors, which made it easy to tell the riders apart. Zechariah asked: “What are these?” (Zechariah 6:4) We also want to know, because the vision affects us.
7, 8. (a) What do the two mountains represent? (b) Why are the mountains made of copper?
7 In the Bible, mountains can represent kingdoms, or governments. The mountains that Zechariah saw are similar to two mountains we read about in Daniel’s prophecy. One of those mountains represents Jehovah’s universal and eternal rulership, and the other represents the Messianic Kingdom with Jesus as its King. (Daniel 2:35, 45) Since the autumn of 1914, when Jesus became King, both of these mountains have been in existence and have had a special role in fulfilling God’s purpose for the earth.
Jehovah still uses his angels to protect and strengthen his people
8 Why are the mountains made of copper? Copper is a very valuable and shiny metal. In fact, Jehovah told the Israelites to use copper when they built the tabernacle and later the temple in Jerusalem. (Exodus 27:1-3; 1 Kings 7:13-16) The fact that these mountains are made of copper emphasizes the excellent quality of Jehovah’s universal sovereignty and of the Messianic Kingdom, which will make humans feel safe and bring them many blessings.
9. Who are the riders of the chariots, and what is their assignment?
9 What do the chariots and their riders represent? The riders are angels, probably different groups of angels. (Read Zechariah 6:5-8.) They go out from “before the Lord of the whole earth” with a special assignment. The angels are sent to specific places to protect God’s people, particularly from Babylon, “the land of the north.” With this vision, Jehovah let his people know that they would never again be slaves to Babylon. Imagine how this comforted the builders of the temple in Zechariah’s day! They knew that their enemies could not stop them.
10. How can Zechariah’s prophecy about the chariots and their riders help us today?
10 Today, Jehovah still uses his angels to protect and strengthen his people. (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 1:7, 14) Since 1919, when Jehovah’s people were released from symbolic captivity to Babylon the Great, their enemies have tried very hard to keep true worship from growing and expanding. (Revelation 18:4) But they have not been able to do so. Because angels are protecting Jehovah’s organization, we do not have to be afraid that Jehovah’s people will ever become captive to false religion again. (Psalm 34:7) Instead, we will continue to be happy and busy as we worship Jehovah. Zechariah’s prophecy helps us to understand that we are safe and protected by the two mountains.
11. Why do we not need to be afraid of the coming attack on God’s people?
11 Very soon the political forces of Satan’s world will come together to try to destroy God’s people. (Ezekiel 38:2, 10-12; Daniel 11:40, 44, 45; Revelation 19:19) In Ezekiel’s prophecy, we see these forces covering the earth like clouds. They are riding horses and coming in a rage to attack God’s people. (Ezekiel 38:15, 16) * (See footnote.) Should we be afraid of them? No! We have Jehovah’s army on our side. During the great tribulation, Jehovah’s angels will protect his people and will destroy any who oppose Jehovah’s rulership. (2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8) What a day that will be! But who will take the lead in Jehovah’s heavenly army?
JEHOVAH CROWNS HIS KING AND PRIEST
12, 13. (a) What did Jehovah tell Zechariah to do next? (b) How do we know that the man named Sprout represents Jesus Christ?
12 Zechariah was the only one who saw those eight visions. But next he did something that others would see and that would encourage those who were rebuilding God’s temple. (Read Zechariah 6:9-12.) Three men, Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah, arrived from Babylon. Jehovah told Zechariah to collect silver and gold from these men and use those materials to make “a grand crown.” (Zechariah 6:11, footnote) Was this crown for Governor Zerubbabel, who was from the tribe of Judah and was a descendant of David? No. Jehovah told Zechariah to place the crown on the head of High Priest Joshua. This must have surprised any who were watching.
13 Did the crowning make High Priest Joshua a king? No. Joshua was not a descendant of David, so he did not qualify to be king. His crowning was a picture of what would happen to a future and eternal king and priest, called Sprout. The Bible explains that Sprout is Jesus Christ.—Isaiah 11:1; Matthew 2:23, footnote.
14. As King and High Priest, what work does Jesus do?
14 Jesus is both King and High Priest. He leads Jehovah’s army of angels and works hard to make God’s people feel secure in this violent world. (Jeremiah 23:5, 6) Very soon, Christ will conquer the nations as he supports God’s rulership and defends Jehovah’s people. (Revelation 17:12-14; 19:11, 14, 15) But before that day, Jesus, or Sprout, has a great work to do.
HE WILL BUILD THE TEMPLE
15, 16. (a) How have God’s people been restored and refined today, and by whom? (b) What will earth be like at the end of Christ’s Thousand Year Reign?
15 As well as being King and High Priest, Jesus was assigned to “build the temple of Jehovah.” (Read Zechariah 6:13.) In 1919, he did this building work by setting God’s people free from the influence of false religion, Babylon the Great. Jesus restored the congregation and appointed a “faithful and discreet slave.” This group of anointed brothers directs the important work that is being done here in the earthly part of the great spiritual temple. (Matthew 24:45) Jesus has also been refining God’s people, helping them to worship in a clean way.—Malachi 3:1-3.
16 Jesus and his 144,000 fellow kings and priests will rule for a thousand years. During that time, they will help faithful humans to become perfect. When these kings and priests have completed this work, only true worshippers of Jehovah will be left on earth. Finally, true worship will be fully restored!
SHARE IN THE BUILDING WORK
17. What reassurance did Jehovah next give the Jews, and how did his message affect them?
17 How did Zechariah’s message affect the Jews at that time? Jehovah had promised to help and protect them so that they could complete the temple. This promise gave them hope. But they may still have wondered how so few people could do so much work. So Zechariah told them something that would take away their fear and doubt. Along with people such as Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah who had come to help them, Jehovah said that many others would also “come and take part in building the temple of Jehovah.” (Read Zechariah 6:15.) The Jews were sure that Jehovah was supporting their work. They courageously went back to rebuilding the temple, even though the Persian king had put an official ban on the work. This ban was like a big mountain in their way, but soon Jehovah removed it. Finally, the temple was completed in the year 515 before Christ. (Ezra 6:22; Zechariah 4:6, 7) However, those words of Jehovah also describe something far greater that is happening today.
18. How is Zechariah 6:15 being fulfilled today?
18 Today, millions of people worship Jehovah. They are happy to give him their “valuable things,” such as their time, energy, and material resources. In this way, they support Jehovah’s great spiritual temple. (Proverbs 3:9) And we can be sure that Jehovah values our loyal support. Remember that Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah brought silver and gold and that Zechariah made it into a crown. The crown was “a memorial,” or “reminder,” of their contribution to true worship. (Zechariah 6:14; footnote) Jehovah will never forget the work we do and the love we show for him.—Hebrews 6:10.
We are happy to be part of a stable, secure, and everlasting organization
19. How should Zechariah’s visions affect us?
19 In these last days, Jehovah’s people have been able to do a great work. This has been possible because of Jehovah’s blessing and Christ’s leadership. We are happy to be part of a stable, secure, and everlasting organization, and we know that Jehovah’s purpose for pure worship will come true. So appreciate your place among Jehovah’s people, and “listen to the voice of Jehovah your God.” Then you can be protected by our King and High Priest and by the angels. Do all you can to support true worship. Jehovah will keep you safe during the rest of this system of things—and forever!