POSTED 24 OCTOBER, 2017
Approximate date: 520-400s B.C.E. (Right, conservative-moderate, some Left); 400s-100s B.C.E. (some Left)
Time period: post-exile period of sin, coupled by national discouragement
Author(s): Zechariah (Right, some conservative-moderate); Zechariah and/or anonymous other(s) (some conservative moderate); “Proto-Zechariah” and “Deutero-Zechariah” (Left)
Location of prophet/author(s): somewhere in Judah (Right, conservative-moderate, Left)
Target audience and their location: Southern Kingdom Israelites and Jerusalemites
Theological Summary: Zechariah, just like Haggai, was a post-exilic prophet and one of his contemporaries (Ezra 5:1; 6:14), and it should not be surprising that there are parallels between the two books that bear their names. Zechariah returned to the Land of Israel with the exiles from Babylon, and succeeded Iddo, his grandfather, as leader of a priestly family (1:1, 7; cf. Nehemiah 12:10-16). Zechariah’s name (Heb. Zekaryah) means “the LORD remembers,” and many extrapolate this as relating to God’s covenant faithfulness demonstrated in the text that bears his name. The Book of Zechariah, though, unlike Haggai, forms a much broader period of time. Zechariah is the longest of the Minor Prophets.
Conservatives generally hold to some kind of unity for the Book of Zechariah, following Jewish tradition which has historically held to a unified composition. Zechariah first prophesied shortly after Haggai (1:1-6), which was followed by several prophetic visions (1:7-6:15). It is significant that two dates are given in the text of Zechariah: the second year of Darius Hystaspis (1:1, 7), and the fourth year of his reign (7:1). This places at least part of the Book of Zechariah in 520-518 B.C.E., even though it is most likely that Zechariah’s prophetic ministry continued. It is notable that there are a few conservatives who, while not necessarily being against the unity of Zechariah, would make note of the differences between the “first section” (chs. 1-8) and the “second section” (chs. 9-14) of the text. They would still argue that it is most important that interpreters look at the final form of the text to draw conclusions.
One of the major reasons that today’s Messianic movement has grown in the past decade is a significant interest by Believers in the Torah and the Tanach. In too many cases, the Tanach Scriptures were not probed in that great a detail in a Jewish Believer’s traditional Synagogue upbringing—and perhaps more serious, a non-Jewish Believer’s Christian experience often witnessed the Old Testament taking a back seat to the New Testament in the Church. With many of the ethical and moral controversies the greater Judeo-Christian religious community is experiencing in our age, a need for God’s people to return to a foundational grounding in the Tanach Scriptures is absolutely imperative. The Old Testament cannot simply be disregarded any more.
Many have stayed away from consulting the Tanach not because of a lack of interest, but because few want to have to deal with the controversies it addresses. Unlike the Apostolic Scriptures, constrained to the First Century C.E., the period of the Tanach stretches back all the way to the beginning of the universe itself. Questions like: Who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus? Did God actually condone the genocide of the Canaanites? and Am I the only one who thinks the Prophets are mentally disturbed? are debates that many people do not want to enter into. Even more significant is the effect of critical scholarship which has attempted to divide the Torah into non-Mosaic sources, question the inspiration and historical reliability of the text, and even regard much of the Tanach as Ancient Israel’s mythology. For a Messianic movement that claims to place a high value on the Tanach, it is time that we join in to these conversations.
A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic takes you through the Old Testament from a distinct Messianic point of view. It presents a theologically conservative perspective of the books of the Tanach, but one that does not avoid some of the controversies that have existed in Biblical scholarship for over one hundred and fifty years. The student, in company with his or her study Bible, is asked to read through each text of the Tanach, jotting down characters, place names, key ideas, and reflective questions. Each book of the Old Testament is then summarized for its compositional data and asks you questions to get a good Messianic feel for the text. This workbook can be used for both personal and group study, and will be a valuable aid for any Messianic Believer wanting to study the whole Bible on a consistent basis.