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