by Epiphany Bible Students

No. 367

ZECHARIAH ‑ Little is known of his ancestry, but it is fairly reliable that he was a priest and a prophet – probably just a boy when he joined the caravan from Babylon to return to Jerusalem in BC 536. He was probably born in Babylon, but his family were very solicitous to instruct him in the Law and other Old Testament writers. While Satan is mentioned in 1 Chron. 21:1, Zechariah is the only Old Testament prophet to mention that individual. (See Zech. 3:1,2) Apparently, he exercised his prophetic office in Chaldea and wrought miracles there; then returned to Jerusalem at an advanced age, where he died and was buried by the side of his contemporary prophet and friend, Haggai.

It may be said with certainty that much of what he wrote he did not understand because large parts of it apply to the time in which we are living and to years ahead – probably well into the Millennium. It would seem the Jews tried to apply his teachings to the time in which they lived – as they did with many other prophetical writings, although time itself proved their expectations wrong. Zechariah joined Haggai in arousing the Jews to rebuild the Temple, work on which had been stopped for about fifteen years by hostile neighbors.

The reason for the delay came when the Samaritans wanted to join the Jews in the rebuilding of the Temple, to which the Jews objected. The Samaritans had said, “We seek your God, as ye do,” but the Jews retorted, “Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God.” This so angered the Samaritans that they filed a complaint with the Persian Court – after the death of Cyrus, and Cambyses and Ahasuerus complied with the request and nothing was done on the Temple for about fifteen years. But when Darius, the son of Hystaspes, came to power, he ordered the Temple work to proceed. He renewed the policy of Cyrus and favor was again extended to the community at Jerusalem. Zechariah was the eleventh of the Minor Prophets.

Much controversy has arisen about the authorship of the Book of Zechariah, some contending that it is the work of two or even three writers. There is little use to argue this question. We are not real certain at all of the writers of some books of the Bible. The author of the Book of Job is not certainly known, although it is generally believed that Solomon wrote it. Some scholars contend that this book is the finest piece of literature in existence. It is so superb that no one has been able to properly translate it into the English language. The author of many of the Psalms and the larger part of the historical books of the Old Testament is not known, but in all of these instances they have a certain ring to them that they are inspired. In the Douay version of the Bible (the Catholic version) we have the apocryphal writings, but anyone familiar with the general tone of the Bible will readily realize that these books do not compare at all with the inspired writings to be found in the other 66 books. And we think this applies also to the entire book of Zechariah. Therefore, we accept that prophet as the writer of all of it.

It should be noted, however, that the authenticity of the entire book was never doubted by Jews or Christians until about two hundred years ago – when a ‘smart’ higher critic began to criticize the authenticity of some of it. However, we accept all of it as a true part of the Bible, and we shall proceed to discuss it from that standpoint. As stated, the prophet himself did not understand what he wrote, and the critics of two hundred years ago did not understand it either. It was not to be understood until “the time of the end,” although there are some parts of it that apply to the distant future which we do not clearly understand, but the generalities are quite clear to close Bible students of our time. If we wish to consider the difference in style between the first eight chapters and the remaining six, we may logically reason that the book was not written at one time; and the prophet’s experiences in his later years may easily have influenced his changed style – just as it probably has done with us and with the writings of That Servant, with which we believe all our readers will agree.

In this connection, those higher critics have reached some hairline conclusions because of the phraseology of the first and second parts of the prophet’s book. In the second half he resorts to the phrase “in that day”; but there is good reason for this: In the second half the prophet is especially talking of things in the distant future, some of which have already occurred – such as his comments about the coming of the Messiah – but moreso concerning the time in which we are now living – 2500 years after Zechariah wrote his book. It requires no great intelligence to understand why he would use such a phrase in referring to happenings so far in the future. It does not require a scholar to understand this very simple conclusion.

Also, the primary impetus in Zechariah’s activities was the delay in rebuilding the Temple, which delay had been going on for fifteen years; and it was he and Haggai that really aroused the Jews to complete the job – which was done in four years once it had begun again. Thus, there was nothing much to say about the Temple in the latter part of his book. Naturally, his choice of words and subject matter would have to change. Thus the two parts of his book are not conflicting and contradictory, but successive and complementary oracles. When the Temple had been completed, the prophet would self‑evidently have nothing more to say about it.


While Zechariah is counted among the Minor Prophets, some of his promises to the Jews are among the most forceful in the Bible and give added strength and faith to the Jewish people as a nation. In 2:8 there is this: “He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.” It is well to stress here that there are now more Jews on earth than there were at the height of Solomon’s kingdom. And it is also well to emphasize that every nation that has shed Jewish blood has come to extreme trouble. Germany and Hitler offer one outstanding example of this. It is reported that six million Jews were exterminated during Hitler’s rule. This may be an exaggeration, but we firmly believe that the number of martyrs during this time was indeed in the millions. And Hitler and his co‑operators came to a violent and tragic end.

Then in 2:11 there is the far‑reaching promise: “Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee [the Jewish nation].” This has not yet been fulfilled, but the evidence is very potent that the establishment of Messiah’s Kingdom is nearing accomplishment. Continuing in 8:3: “I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain [kingdom] of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain.”

But (8:10), “For before these days [before the kingdom can be well established] there was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast; neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in because of the affliction: for I set all men every one against his neighbor.” But after the holocaust “the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.” (8:12)

MICHAEL SERVETUS – (B. 1511 – burned at the stake under most gruesome circumstances at Geneva, Switzerland, in 1553.) This Star Member was one of the foremost reformers, a contemporary of Martin Luther, he was intensely hated by John Calvin, who was instrumental in securing his conviction as a heretic, and secured his execution by burning. This reformer stressed and clarified four outstanding doctrines of the Bible:

1 – The unity of God as against the Trinity;

2 – Man’s mortality as against the immortality of the soul;

3 – Death the wages of sin as against eternal torment;

4 – Future probation as against this life ending all probation.

We have inserted this digression because of Zech. 5:5,6: “Lift up now shine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth. And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth [society as presently organized].” These four great truths are opposed by four great errors, as shown above; and “their resemblance through all the earth” is telling us – in highly figurative language that the large majority of Christians – most Protestants and all Greek and Roman Catholics now embrace the four very misleading errors of Christendom: the Trinity, man’s inherent immortality, eternal torment the wages of sin, and no hope for the dead that are not now Christians. In these four respects they all “resemble” each other.

Let us consider now 8:23: “In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.” It is our understanding that “those days” refer to returning favor to Israel, which began at the Berlin Congress of Nations, which was held from June 13, 1878, to July 13, 1878. At that time England, “whose sun never set,” ruled the sea and the financial markets of the world. The Congress was convened to adjust some of the extreme settlements that had resulted from the Russo‑Turkish War. Disraeli, the first Jew ever to be Prime Minister of England, pretty much dominated that Congress; and he not only forced through some favorable measures for the Turks, but also obtained certain favors for the Jews in their quest for their return to Palestine, which favor has been steadily increasing to this day, and will yet become more prominent.

From the death of Jacob in BC 1815 (when his twelve sons became the leaders of Israel as a nation), to 33 AD – when they crucified the Lord of Glory: Up to that time it was truly recorded of them: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” (Amos 3:2) And the punishment they received “for all their iniquities” was an exact double for the blessings they had received. The time of disfavor being 1845 years from 33 AD and came to its conclusion in 1878, when the first ray of returning favor came to them at that Berlin meeting.

The prophet we are now discussing had written of them: “They [the Jews] had refused to harken... stopped their ears that they should not hear. They made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts.” (7:11,12)

“Ten men shall take hold out of all the languages of the nations” (Zech. 8:23): All of Europe was represented at that Berlin conference, at which time there were more than twice ten nations; but there was then – and still is – but ten language nations in Europe: The Scandinavian (Norway, Sweden, etc.); Anglo‑Saxon (England, Scotland, etc.); Teutonic (Germany, Austria, etc.); Gallic (including France, Belgium, etc.); Hispanian (Spain, Portugal, etc.); Latin (Italy); Greek (Greece); Turkish (Turkey); Slavic (Russia, Poland, etc.); Magyars (Hungary) and the Jews would make eleven, of course. It is our understanding that the prophecy in Zech. 8:23 was fulfilled at that time. Now, chap. 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion;... behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation: lowly, and riding upon an ass.” This prophecy was written more than 500 years before Jesus rode into Jerusalem five days before His crucifixion, and is certainly a strong proof that “holy men of old spake as they were moved by the holy spirit.” Then in 9:12: “I declare that I will render double [as explained above] unto thee.”

This prophecy about our Lord coming upon an ass has provided the higher critics with some ammunition to prove (?) that Zechariah did not write all his book; some other writer wrote that part of it; and they latch on to Isaiah about his comment regarding Cyrus 200 years before Cyrus arrived, which also provided them with proof (?) that that prophet did not write everything that is shown in his book.

And at that time: “They shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the Lord their God, and will hear them.” (10:6) “I will bring them again out of the land of Egypt [type of the Gentile world in darkness – under the domination of Satan. “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not” – 2 Cor. 4:4] and will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon [as we now see it].” (10:10)

Chapter 11:8 speaks of three shepherds that would be cut off in one month. We consider this month a symbolic month of thirty days, the same actually meaning thirty years. It is our understanding that this period began in 1878 and ends in 1908, and the three shepherds refer to three individuals that were on the scene during that time. It is not our intention to detail this here; we simply mention it to show that much of what Zechariah wrote has a direct bearing on events here in the end of the Age.

In Zech. 11:15 we are told, “Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd.” Here we have a fourth person mentioned – also here in the end of the Age. And Zech. 12:3 is much to the point: “All that burden themselves with Jerusalem shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” Then 12:9: “I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.” “They [the Jews] shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn because of it.” (v. 10)

In The Day Of Battle – “The Day of the Lord cometh... I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle... Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle.” (Zech. 14:1‑3) One instance of the Lord miraculously delivering Israel is found in Judges 7:1‑25. The Midianites had arrayed themselves against Israel; “and they lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the seaside for multitude.” Against this host Gideon proceeded with a picked 300 men. The Jews did not draw an arrow or wield a sword; the Lord gave Gideon the instruction which so demoralized the Midianites that they slew each other, and fled from their camp in complete rout.

Another Phenomenal Occurrence – This one is in 1 Kings 20:1‑34. At that time Ahab was king of Israel, and the Assyrians were a top world power. Benhadad, King of Syria, had with him “thirty and two kings... And he said, The gods do unto me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people that follow me,” to which Ahab gave his noted reply: “Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off.” And a prophet said to Ahab (v. 13): “Thus saith the Lord, Hast thou seen all this great multitude? behold, I will deliver it into thine hand this day; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord.” “Then Ahab numbered the young men of the princes... two hundred and thirty‑two: after them he numbered all the people... seven thousand.” (v. 15) “These young men of the princes of the provinces came out of the city which followed them. And they slew every one his man: and the Syrians fled; and Israel pursued them: and Benhadad the king of Syria escaped on an horse with the horsemen... And the king of Israel slew the Syrians with a great slaughter.” (vs. 19:21) And the Syrians came back at the turn of the year; “and the children of Israel pitched before them like two little flocks of kids; but the Syrians filled the country. A man of God spake unto the king of Israel... Thus saith the Lord, Because the Syrians have said, The Lord is God of the hills, but He is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the Lord.” (vs. 27,28)

“In the seventh day the battle was joined: and the children of Israel slew of the Syrians an hundred thousand footmen in one day. But the rest fled to Aphek, and there a wall fell upon twenty and seven thousand of the men that were left. And Benhadad fled.” (vs. 29,30) And this is just a small illustration of what will happen to those Arabs, et al, that are now bent upon destroying Israel. Indeed, God will fight for them as “in the day of battle.” Had such a report come to us regarding such secular battles, we would be skeptical about it: but this is given to us from “the inspired Word of God,” so we know it is the truth!

The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold,

And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;

And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,

When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Like the leaves of the forest when summer is green,

That host with their banners at sunset were seen;

Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,

That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

For the angel of death spread his wings on the blast,

And breathed in the face of the foe as he past;

And the eyes of the sleepers were waxed and chill,

And their hearts that once heaved, they have grown still.

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,

But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;

And the foam of his gasp lay wide on the turf;

But cold as the spray of the low‑beating surf.


But there lay the rider distorted and pale,

With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail;

And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,

The lances uplifted, the trumpet unblown.

The widows of Asher are loud in their wail,

And the idols are broken in the Temple of Baal;

And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,

Hath melted like snow in the claws of the Lord.

“TIMES OF RESTITUTION [RESTORATION, REJUVENATION] OF ALL THINGS, WHICH GOD HATH SPOKEN BY THE MOUTH OF ALL HIS HOLY PROPHETS.” (Acts 3:21) Zechariah, being one of the holy prophets, has spoken of the “times of restitution,” some of which we now quote:

“And it shall be in that day [in the times of restitution], that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them to the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord [a pure language – no error].” (Zech. 14:8,9) “Men shall dwell in it [the Kingdom], and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited” (v. 11). “The nations shall go up from year to year to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles” (v. 16). “In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD... in that day there shall be no more Canaanite [type of the world in sin] in the house of the Lord of hosts” (vs. 20,21),

The Prophet Zechariah is very clear and emphatic about his testimony of the “times of restitution,” and we are fully persuaded that we are now near “that day” of which he writes. “The Lord shall open unto thee His good treasure.” (Deut. 28:12)

Sincerely your brother, John J. Hoefle, Pilgrim

(Written by Brother Hoefle April 18‑28, 1983)



Readers of these columns, and especially such as are familiar with the presentations of the volume entitled “Armageddon,” know quite well that it is our opinion that there is a correspondency to be noted between the conditions which prevailed in the days of Noah, prior to the Deluge, and the conditions which will prevail in the days of the Son of Man, prior to the Great Time of Trouble, which the Bible declares will symbolically melt, or dissolve, as in a furnace of fire, the social elements of today. We have called attention to the fact that the giants of Noah’s day, according to the Bible, endangered the lives and the happiness of humanity; and that it was our thought that a counterpart of these giants is to be found in the great institutions and trusts of our day, which have the power to throttle, to strangle humanity.

We have pointed out that much could be said in favor of aggregations of wealth and intellect in mighty combinations, if properly used, not selfishly, but in the interests of the people. We have pointed out that although these giant corporations have accomplished great good, which could not have been accomplished without their aid or without some Divine interposition, nevertheless, under present selfish conditions, they are a menace to the people.

We should not be misunderstood. We do not mean even to hint that the men at the head of these giant corporations are inferior to their fellows in sympathy and in wisdom. On the contrary, we believe that they are generally superior, and that had brutish men been at the head of these giant corporations they long ago would have sought to squeeze the very life out of the people. But, as we have pointed out, there is continually a tendency on the part of all imperfect people toward selfishness, acquisitiveness. That “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” is as true today as ever it was. The people must watch the giants lest they become autocratic.


But, say some, The Editor of THE WATCH TOWER must be behind the times. Does he not know that the trusts are being throttled, and that these giants have been made the slaves of the people?

The Editor is well aware that apparently much has been done to bind these giants; and he well knows that they have apparently submitted and apparently acknowledge themselves the creatures, the servants of the people. But he also takes note that this transformation is merely an appearance. This docility is merely affected. The giants of intellectual and monetary strength have not really surrendered, nor is it in harmony with the laws of human nature to suppose that they would ever capitulate. Instead, they have seemingly acquiesced to the laws and regulations while merely transforming themselves and retaining their power. In several instances they have demonstrated that they are as powerful today as they ever were. And in their behalf it should be acknowledged that much of the legislation enacted against them is mere demagoguery the work of politicians, intended to curry favor with the people and not for practical use.

We have no sympathy with those who make tirades against the courageous and brainy men who have, along purely commercial lines, done so much to help forward the world’s condition – so much to prepare for the Millennium. Instead of being tantalized and hampered, these financial and engineering princes should be appreciated, honored. Then, while honoring them we should insist upon their reasonable control and supervision by the people through their governmental representatives. If these giants are necessary and useful, they can be better ruled by love and justice than by nagging and pin pricking. No doubt it is this very nagging that is producing more and more a spirit of bitterness in the giants – a feeling that they are not appreciated by some, a feeling that they must teach the people a lesson.


We are not especially finding fault with anybody. We are merely pointing out conditions as they are, and showing how these are shaping themselves and preparing for a great struggle between the giants and the people – a struggle in which the people will suffer more than the giants. The fault is not with humanity at all. The fault is with the sin, the selfishness, the meanness, which for centuries has had a firm foothold in humanity: – rich and poor. All are selfish. Each according to his opportunity seems disposed to take advantage. The giant corporations, we believe, are much more lenient than they would be if they were in the hands of naturally smaller men of lower class.

These giants are realizing that they have opponents on every hand. They have long contended with the labor unions, and more or less have been compelled to submit. Now, in addition to the unions, they are obliged to contend with the people in governmental legislation, and with new ideas in respect to corporation rights and liberties. These giants are saying to themselves, The people do not realize how much good we have done, nor what important factors in their welfare we are.

Few of the people realize that the managers and the presidents of our great railroads and large business enterprises are men of powerful mind, any of them well qualified for the highest stations of life, and many of them are earning salaries as great as that of the President of the United States, and solving problems as difficult as those which the President must handle. Few people realize that next to the farming element in importance come the railroads, as respects numbers of employees. And, the latter are an increasing army, while the farmers are a decreasing army, because of labor‑saving machinery.

Whoever supposes that these long‑headed business men intend to sit down and quietly submit to every kind of legislation is deluding himself. The giants know their own strength. They prefer to hide it rather than to boast if it; but when it comes to a life‑and‑death struggle they will use it, and terrible will be the effects. The very fact that the people are seeking to bind them arouses them to a more arbitrary exercise of their power. If legislation, for instance, affects to hinder railroads from monopolizing the anthracite and other coal interests, the coal‑owning railroads with a snarl of defiance raise the price of coal, and thus give a hint to the consumers that they will need to be thankful if permitted to purchase at all and to keep from freezing.


A more or less preconcerted action has begun on the part of the great railroads and affiliated interests. They have determined that unless they are granted permission to raise their freight rates they will make the restrainers of their liberties pay dearly for it by bringing upon the country financial disaster, reaching losses a thousand times greater than the five per cent which they demand. It would surely in many respects be wise to placate these giants with the increase they ask, merely requiring them to render more prompt and efficient service in return.

But will this course of wisdom prevail? Possibly not. If not, we have before us already an illustration and prophecy of what may be expected. Already the railroads have laid off thousands of workman who have been employed in road construction and repairs. Already they have canceled orders for rails and equipment, which in turn has rendered idle many of the large mills, throwing other thousands out of employment. Already they are cutting down their office forces. All this is done with a certain amount of justification in the fact that they have not been making as much money as formerly. For instance, a great steel corporation’s recent report showed a “sad” falling off of revenue and profit, “leaving only $18,000,000 of profit for the quarter”; whereas they had for some time been accustomed to more. In accord with this policy, there has for some time been a gradual curtailing of train service, which is really a safe and sane policy.

We are not complaining, we are not finding fault even; we are merely recording facts, in supporting our contention that these great institutions are really giants which, if they become angry and malicious, may accomplish incalculable injury. Their power and dissatisfaction have already been hinted to the government, which is more or less fearful of the industrial suspension threatened.

On the other hand we have trades unionism, which is only beginning to realize its great power at the polls, and also its physical power through strikes. The threat of the railroad managers partially to suspend business until their demands are met may any day be duplicated by the giants of labor with their threat of suspension of labor, stoppage of fuel supply, walk‑outs, etc. It may be said that these giants of labor are blind and unwise; but nevertheless it is manifest that they, like the blind Samson of old, are feeling for the pillars which support our present social structure; and that they have in view its wreck and ruin, even though this means also the destruction of their own interests.


How soon these great giants will enter upon their death struggle, each confident of victory, yet both doomed to destruction, no one can tell. Sure we may be however, that in the battle of these giants the masses of mankind will suffer with them in the ordeal.

Looking from the Bible viewpoint, we perceive that these giants have reached their present size and strength through the light and blessings of the Millennial morning. Had the veil of gross darkness been lifted a thousand years sooner, these giants would have developed that much sooner; and their death struggle would have come that much sooner; and its resultant overthrow of present institutions in anarchy. But God would not permit this. It is no part of His plan to allow human passion utterly to desolate the earth. Hence, He withheld the morning light until the morning time, so that the struggle and its disastrous effects upon human institutions will occur just in advance of the time for the establishment of Messiah’s kingdom, for the control of the world by its spiritual, invisible, but all‑powerful King, who is so soon to take unto Himself His great power and reign. (Revelation 11:17,18; 19:6; Psalm 99:1)

How soon this great catastrophe will engulf the world none is wise enough to say, yet the trouble is discerned and feared by all persons of intelligence, but more particularly by those whose intelligence is guided by the Word of God. The catastrophe may be put off for months or years, but it is sure to come. And we can see how it might be suddenly precipitated. Even as we write, the newspapers are echoing the mutterings and threats of the labor giants, while the capitalistic giants are admittedly feeling sour, and are half inclined to give the public a pinch as a mere suggestion of what they could do. It is these hints, suggestions and threats which are likely to lead from bad to worse, producing anger, malice, hatred, strife, and various works of the flesh and of the devil as St. Paul intimated.


Whether this Great Trouble be very near or further afield, the proper course of God’s consecrated people is the same – “Seek peace and pursue it.” And not only so, but we are to be peace‑makers and not strife‑breeders. When all around men’s souls give way, a special opportunity comes to the people of God for pointing their distressed fellow‑creatures to the grand blessing which God has provided for the near future, and for re‑establishing faith in the Creator and in the future life, and for pointing out that it is to be attained only by those who learn the true lesson of life and who come to love righteousness and to hate iniquity.

We would be inclined to expect this great trouble to break out very soon were it not that the Scriptures apparently indicate that it will be preceded by a very powerful Church Federation, which will flourish outwardly in unrighteousness and which will be the first to succumb.

“I can see his coming judgments, as they circle all the earth,

The signs and groanings promised, to precede a second birth;

I read his righteous sentence in the crumbling thrones of earth;

Our King is marching on.”

(Reprints of 5457‑5459 of Watch Tower, May 15, 1914. Please notice that it was in 1914 when That Servant wrote this article.)