“Unit 32: Day 1, Zechariah 3–8,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 32: Day 1,” Old Testament Study Guide
Zechariah, a prophet who accompanied the Jews back to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon, had a vision of Joshua, the high priest, 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 the Messiah. Zerubbabel, the appointed governor 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.
- In your scripture study journal, list the names of some people you hope to associate with in the celestial kingdom, and briefly explain why you included those people in your list.
In this lesson you will learn about visions the Lord gave to Zechariah, a prophet who lived during the time of Haggai and Ezra and who returned to Jerusalem because of a decree of King Cyrus of Persia. As you study Zechariah 3, look for a principle that illustrates how we can prepare to return to live with Heavenly Father and His righteous children.
Read Zechariah 3:1–3, looking for who stood before an angel of the Lord and what he was wearing. As you read this passage, keep in mind that the “brand plucked out of the fire” in verse 2 represents the people of Judah who were delivered from exile by a decree of King Cyrus.
In this vision Joshua, the high priest, wore filthy garments to represent the people of Judah in their sinful state. According to verse 1, who stood next to Joshua before the angel of the Lord?
As shown in Zechariah 3:1, footnote b, one of the meanings of the name Satan is adversary or accuser. Satan sought to accuse Joshua for his sins.
Read Zechariah 3:4–5, looking for what happened to Joshua.
What could the changing of Joshua’s garment symbolize?
Read Zechariah 3:6–7, looking for what Joshua was commanded to do after he had been cleansed from sin and was prepared to officiate in the temple.
To be given “places to walk among” the heavenly messengers (Zechariah 3:7) means that Joshua would be worthy to enter the Lord’s presence and dwell with those who live in the celestial kingdom.
From these verses we learn that 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?
- In your scripture study journal, write about someone whom you have seen walk in the Lord’s ways. What stood out to you about that person’s example?
Imagine how you would feel if you were unprepared to be in the Lord’s presence. Then imagine that you had prepared yourself to be in His presence.
- To consider what you need to do now to prepare for being in the Lord’s presence, complete the following statement in your scripture study journal: I will walk in the Lord’s ways and be worthy to enter His presence by …
As recorded in Zechariah 3:8–4:14, Zechariah had a vision of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, who is referred to as “the BRANCH” in Zechariah 3:8 (see also Zechariah 6:12). This term has reference to a Messianic prophecy made by Isaiah that speaks of “a Branch” growing out of the stem of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1), or in other words, someone who will be a descendant of Jesse, who was the father of King David. This “BRANCH,” or King, is Jesus Christ.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “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” (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ , 193).
The Lord also revealed to Zechariah that Zerubbabel, the appointed governor of Judah, was to lay the foundation and finish the temple.
As recorded in Zechariah 5–6, an angel showed Zechariah visions of how wickedness would be removed from the earth as part of the Second Coming.
- Complete the following chart by putting a check mark in the box of the column that best represents your motivation for each form of worship. Record in your scripture study journal when you have completed this assignment.
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 …
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 ritualistic 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.
Read Zechariah 7:4–7, looking for the Lord’s response to the people.
What did the Lord’s questions in verses 5–6 indicate about the thoughts and desires of the people?
The way the Jews had been fasting illustrated their misunderstanding of the proper focus of worship. From these verses we can learn that when we worship, we should focus on the Lord and not on ourselves.
- Answer one or both of the following questions in your scripture study journal:
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?
Write a goal of what you will do to focus your worship more on the Lord.
Zechariah 7:8–10 records that the Lord reminded the Jews of commandments He had given them through past prophets whom they had refused to follow.
Read Zechariah 7:11–13, 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?
One principle we can learn from these verses is that as we soften our hearts to the word of the Lord, we can receive answers to our prayers. You may want to write this principle in the margin of your scriptures next to Zechariah 7:11–13.
Remember that the Lord is kind and merciful, and He seeks to bless His children. Nevertheless, there are occasions when we do not receive blessings He desires to give us because they are dependent on our obedience (see D&C 130:20–21). Zechariah 7:13 explains that the people lost God’s help and care by refusing to obey his prophets.
Ponder what it means to soften our hearts and why a soft heart is essential to receiving answers to our prayers.
As recorded in Zechariah 7:14–8:2, the Lord described the consequences that the Israelites experienced because they turned away from Him. These consequences included being scattered and leaving the land desolate behind them.
In Zechariah 8 the Lord described a joyful day when the relationship between Him and the people of Judah would be restored. Read Zechariah 8:3–8, looking for what the Lord will do for His people. (Notice in Zechariah 8:7, footnote a, that the Joseph Smith Translation changed the word save to gather.)
When Zechariah gave this prophecy, Jerusalem was largely desolate, its temple lay in ruins, and many of the Lord’s people were still scattered. Knowing these circumstances helps us understand why 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 (Zechariah 8:6).
According to Zechariah 8:7–8, how will the Lord demonstrate mercy for His people?
From these verses we learn that the Lord, in His mercy, will save and gather His people. As part of this promise, they will again worship Him as their God and He will, in turn, bless them as His people.
To see additional evidence of the Lord’s mercy in gathering His people, read Zechariah 8:11–15, looking for other blessings the Lord would give His people as part of gathering them.
What other blessings did the Lord promise His people?
Ponder a time when you recognized the Lord’s hand mercifully bringing you closer to Him.
Zechariah 8:16–23 concludes the Lord’s answer to the question the people asked about whether they should continue to weep (see Zechariah 7:3). The Lord encouraged His people to be honest and virtuous, to stop mourning about the past, and to rejoice in their hopeful future, for many people would come to seek the Lord in Jerusalem.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Zechariah 3–8 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: