The Prophet Zechariah
"At least 29 people mentioned in the Old Testament had the name Zechariah. The prophet Zechariah was the son of Berechiah, who was 'the son of Iddo the Prophet.' (Zech. 1:1.) Iddo was head of a priestly family that was among some 50,000 Jews who returned from exile in Babylon (Neh. 12:4) under the leadership of Zerubbabel, who rebuilt the temple at Jerusalem.
"Before the Jews were taken captive, they had been blessed with the magnificent and costly temple Solomon had built. However, because of the wickedness of Israel, the temple was destroyed within 40 years, at the time the Jews were taken captive into Babylon.
"One of Zechariah's main concerns was the rebuilding of the temple. Zechariah and Haggai motivated the people to resume and complete the work. 'And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.' (Ezra 6:14.) (LDS Church News, 1994, 10/15/94)
"The prophet Zechariah was raised up as a second witness to accompany Haggai in encouraging the Jews to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem about 520 b.c. Compared to Haggai's first witness, Zechariah's writings are extensive and cover subjects beyond the building of the temple. In fact, the primary subject of his message is Jesus Christ. His prophecies about Christ relate to both his ministry in the meridian of time and his second coming. The Jews' confusion over these two periods was probably a major reason for many of them rejecting Jesus as the Christ. Jacob, brother of Nephi, said: 'But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble' (Jacob 4:14).
"The book of Zechariah is readily separated into two divisions. The first eight chapters cover the return of the Jews to Jerusalem from Babylon and their rebuilding of the city and the temple. Although there are allusions to future events, the basic message is about Zechariah's time. The last six chapters (9-14) are prophecies of both appearances of Jesus Christ-his ministry in the flesh and his coming in glory in the last days." (Monte S. Nyman, Farres H. Nyman, The Words of the Twelve Prophets: Messages to the Latter-day Saints [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1990], 121)
Zechariah 10:1 Ask ye of the Lord rain... so the Lord shall... give them showers of rain
One of the promises of covenant keeping is that the Lord would give rain in due season, "I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain" (Deut. 11:14). The first rain refers to springtime when the spring rains saturate the growing vegetation. The latter rain refers to summer rains which can be less predictable in certain climates. For those who keep the commandments and stay faithful to their covenants, they may ask for rain and the rains will come-even in the hot summer. This will be true in the latter-days as well as the Millennium.
Gordon B. Hinckley
Pray for the weather. We have floods in one area and drought in another. I am satisfied that if enough prayers ascend to heaven for moisture upon the land, the Lord will answer those prayers for the sake of the righteous.
Way back in 1969, I was in South America. I flew from Argentina to Santiago, Chile. The Andes mountains were dry. There was no snow. The grass was burned. Chile was in the midst of a devastating drought.
The people pleaded for help in bringing moisture.
We dedicated two new buildings on that visit. In each of those dedicatory services we pleaded with the Lord for rain upon the land. I have the testimony of many who were in those meetings that the heavens were opened and the rains fell with such abundance that the people asked the Lord to shut them off. (Conference Report, April 2003, "Benediction")
Zechariah 10:4 Out of him came forth the corner
The Lord of Hosts, even Jehovah, is the cornerstone of the kingdom. Yet, ironically, his First Advent would end with his crucifixion; hence the nail reference. His Second Advent begins with Him in battle array with the battle bow wherein all Israel's oppressors are destroyed.
Zechariah 10:5-6 they shall be as mighty men
In the battle at the Second Coming, the house of Judah will be strengthened by the Lord such that the men will become mighty men. The Lord will "strengthen the house of Judah." Verse 12 reinforces the theme, "I will strengthen them in the Lord; and they shall walk up and down in his name."
They will need all the strength they can get because, as Zechariah would later reveal, at that crucial time "all nations" will be gathered "against Jerusalem to battle." (Zech. 14:2-3)
Zechariah 10:6 I will save the house of Joseph
Interestingly, the house of Judah is strengthened and the house of Joseph is saved. The difference is not insignificant. At the time of the Second Coming, Jerusalem will be under siege. Judah will be suffering the ravages of another desolation of abomination at the hands of their enemies.
For Joseph, things are different. In America, the house of Joseph will have established Zion or New Jerusalem as prophesied (Ether 13:6-9). They will not need military strength because they will not be fighting a battle. In fact, they "shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another" (D&C 45:69). The promise is that the Lord would fight their battles for them (D&C 105:14).
At that day, Judah will need temporal salvation while Joseph enjoys spiritual salvation. Judah will be fighting for survival; Joseph will be rejoicing in the safety of the Lord.
And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints o the Most High God;
And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion. (D&C 45:66-67)
Zechariah 11:1-9 Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars
The first half of Zechariah 11 deals with three surrounding areas. To the east and north of Judah, lay Jordan, Bashan, and Lebanon. Three peoples who had not been good to Judah. Near the time of the Second Coming, the Lord will bring a destruction on them, on their shepherds, and on their lands.
Three is the magical number in the symbolism. Three areas are mentioned: Jordan, Bashan, and Lebanon. Three trees, the cedars, the firs, and the oaks are destroyed in three ways: some by fire, some are fallen, others are spoiled. These are symbolic of the three foolish shepherds whom the Lord will "cut off in one month" (v. 8).
The foolishness of these shepherds is turned back on their own heads. Those shepherds who once slaughtered the flock would be slaughtered by the Lord (v. 6) and left for the flocks to forage upon. Hence, "Feed the flock of the slaughter" (v. 4). In other words, feed the sheep upon the flesh of their shepherds. The Lord will feed the flock, "even you, O poor of the flock" (v. 7).
Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice...
Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth... all of them fatlings of Bashan (Ezek. 39:17-18).
Zechariah 11:10, 14 I took my staff, even Beauty... Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands
The Lord doesn't break his covenants. But in the language of the scriptures, the blessings of the covenant made "with all the people" have to be forfeited. When the Lord takes his staff, Beauty, and brakes it over his knee, it is symbolic that all those nations who made covenants and didn't keep them, cannot expect to receive the promised blessing. Instead, they can expect to be fed to the flocks of the field as prophesied (see v. 4, 7, 9). This prophecy pertains to the future.
The same thing occurs with the staff named Bands. The reason the Lord broke this staff was not because he wanted Judah and Israel to be enemies. It was because Israel and Judah broke their covenants and turned to worship idols. The promises (Deut. 28:1-14) were thus null and void. Israel broke with Judah and the two kingdoms that should have been brothers became enemies (1 Kgs. 12:1-24). Herein was the brotherhood between Judah and Israel broken. This prophecy pertains to the past.
Zechariah 11:12 So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver
Perhaps the theme of foolish shepherds is a perfect setting in which to place the deal made for the betrayal of the Master. What shepherds were more foolish than those chief priests who led Jerusalem in the days of Christ? (2 Ne. 10:3) Completely blind to the spiritual identity of Jesus of Nazareth, they jealously plotted his death.
Apostles, too, are shepherds. Where can we find a more foolish shepherd or a more foolish apostle than in Judas Iscariot? Whatever his motivation, history would record him as the greatest traitor and betrayer of all time.
Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.
And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them.
And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money.
And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude. (Lu. 22:3-6)
Lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.
Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.
And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. (Matt. 26:49)
But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? (Lu. 22:48)
Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in.
Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.
Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy (Our Old Testament records it was actually Zechariah, not Jeremiah. "While Zechariah actually made such a prophecy, it is very possible that Jeremiah had earlier recorded the same prophecy." See Nyman and Tate, Joseph Smith Translation, 138) the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;
And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me. (Matt. 27:3-9)
"The high priests' coffers, filled from the profits of the temple businesses and the atonement money, may have provided the thirty pieces of silver (thirty Phoenician staters, equivalent to thirty shekels [about $81]) that Judas received to betray the Lord. (Matt. 27:3-5.) The amount had been foretold in Zechariah 11:12 and was the price for an ordinary slave." (Richard Tice, "Bekahs, Shekels, and Talents: A Look at Biblical References to Money," Ensign, Aug. 1987, 32)
Harold B. Lee
We pray for our Saints everywhere... but some of the greatest of our enemies are those within our own ranks. It was the lament of the Master, as He witnessed one of those chosen men, whom under inspiration He chose as one of the Twelve, betray Him with a kiss and for a few paltry pieces of silver turn Him over to His enemies. Judas then stood by and, realizing the enormity of what he had done, took the only escape out to sacrifice himself. And Jesus could only explain that one of the Twelve, meaning Judas, had a devil (see John 6:70-71). (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 392)
Neal A. Maxwell
Few scenes of pathos rank with that of a guilty Judas trying to give back the 30 pieces of silver and seeing how those who had used him so fiendishly were devoid of mercy and empathy for him. Judas' soul-slide was not a sudden thing, and his subsequent suicide ranks as perhaps the most self-contemptuous in history. (Deposition of a Disciple [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 75 - 76)