The NIV Halley’s Study Bible is an excellent study Bible for those looking to maximize their Bible reading. This resource combines the NIV translation with content taking from the bestselling Bible handbook of all time—Halley’s Bible Handbook. With thousands of notes, hundreds of articles, charts, and photos, this will greatly assist you in your pursuit of God. Here’s an example of the content you can expect from this resource. This is from the book of Zechariah where God provides several visions to encourage his people after returning from exile.

The Captivity Due to Disobedience – Zechariah 1:1–6

This opening message of Zechariah came between Haggai’s second and third messages (between verses 9 and 10 of Hag 2). The work on the temple was a little over a month along. And its unimposing appearance and lack of splendor were disheartening to the people. Some people were old enough to remember Solomon’s temple, which had been destroyed more than 50 years earlier. Those born in Babylonia had heard their parents tell about the temple and its beauty. They may well have formed a mental image of the old temple that was even grander than the temple was.

Zechariah warns against their evident rising tendency to return to the ways of their disobedient fathers. This is what brought them to their present pitiful condition in the first place. He then proceeds to encourage them with visions God had given him of the magnificent future.

The Vision of Four Horns and Four Craftsmen – Zechariah 1:18–21

The four horns represent the nations that had destroyed Judah and Israel. The four craftsmen represent God’s destroyers of those nations. It was a figurative way of saying that the prevailing world powers would be broken. And Judah would again be exalted. God is on the throne, even when his people are temporarily vanquished. These verses provide insight into the interpretation of Revelation 13:1 and 17:12, where “horns” also symbolize nations.

The Vision of the Measuring Line – Zechariah 2

This grand chapter is a forecast of a Jerusalem so populous and prosperous and secure that it will overflow its walls, since God himself is its protection. Work on the temple, five months along, progressed nicely. The people no doubt were making plans to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. As it turned out, this didn’t happen until 75 years later. But their plans to rebuild are the setting for this vision of the day when “many nations” shall come to the God of the Jews and will be his people.

The Vision of Joshua the High Priest – Zechariah 3

This is a pre-vision of the atonement of Christ. Joshua the high priest is wearing filthy garments, symbolizing the sinfulness of the people. Joshua’s filthy garments are removed, meaning that the people’s sins are forgiven and they are accepted by God. It is a picture of the time when the Lord removes the sins of humanity “in a single day” (v. 9), as the coming “Branch” in David’s house (the Messiah; v. 8 and 6:12) is “pierced” (12:10), and “a fountain will be opened . . . to cleanse them from sin” (13:1).

The Lampstand and Two Olive Trees – Zechariah 4

What is said here is meant directly for Zerubbabel and the temple he was building. But there is an unmistakable reference to a later, more glorious house. A house to be built by a descendant of Zerubbabel, called the Branch. It is an exhortation to take courage, in the day of small beginnings, by keeping our eyes on the grandeur of the end. The candlestick is a symbolic representation of God’s house, or the light-bearing qualities of God’s house. The lampstand was in the tabernacle and in the temple. In Revelation 1:20 the lampstand represents the church. The two olive trees seem to represent Joshua and Zerubbabel. In chapter 3 the vision was especially for Joshua; here it is especially for Zerubbabel. The imagery here is carried over into the vision of the “two witnesses” in Revelation 11. Some people believe that the witnesses represent Moses and Elijah.

The Coronation of Joshua – Zechariah 6:9–15

This is a prophetically symbolic act, expanding on the vision of the Branch (3:8–9) and the vision about Zerubbabel (4:6–9).

The Branch (v. 12) is the name of the coming Messiah in David’s family (Isa 4:2; 11:1,10; Jer 23:5–6; 33:15–17; Rev 5:5; 22:16).

Zerubbabel, the governor, was a grandson of King Jehoiachin, who had been carried off to Babylon, and thus was heir to David’s throne. What is said of Zerubbabel refers in part to himself personally and in part to his family—that is, David’s family—and more particularly to the one great representative of David’s family, the coming Messiah.

To David’s family God had, among other things, assigned the task of building God’s house. To David himself God gave the plans and specifications of the temple (1Ch 28:11,19), and according to those specifications David’s son Solomon built the temple (2Ch 2–7), the most magnificent building in all the world at that time. Zerubbabel, a descendant of David, was now (520–516 BC) engaged in rebuilding the temple. He was assured that he would bring it to completion (4:6–9), with intriguing hints of yet another temple to be built by the Branch, with help from “those who are far away” (6:12–15).

The Branch was to be of Zerubbabel’s (David’s) family, the kingly line (from the tribe of Judah). But here Joshua the priest (from the tribe of Levi) is crowned and is represented as the Branch. He sits on the throne of David (6:12–13). This would appear to represent a symbolic merging of the two offices of king and priest in the coming Messiah.

A Vision of Israel’s Future – Zechariah 12–14

Chapters 9–11 are called an “oracle” (a message coming from God) concerning neighboring nations (9:1); chapters 12–14 are called an “oracle” concerning Israel (12:1). The two sections are quite similar. They both are an expansion and continuation of ideas in the visions of the first eight chapters, the same ideas recurring again and again in different dress.

Judah’s coming struggle with all nations (12:1–6; 14:1–2).

The description of this struggle is continued in 14:1–8. Some consider the language to be a figurative representation of God’s struggle with the nations through the whole Christian era. Others apply it more literally to the time of the end.

Mourning in the house of David (12:7—13:9).

The thoughts here are evidently centered around the house of David. Though the language is difficult, it clearly depicts a tragedy of some kind or other that takes place in the family of David, an occasion for great sorrow, when some leading member of the family would be killed (13:7), his hands would be pierced (12:10; 13:6), and a fountain for sin would be opened (13:1). It was to happen in the day when “the house of David will be like God” (12:8). Only one member of David’s family was God: that one was Jesus.

This identifies the person here referred to as the “Branch” of 3:8, who would “remove the sin of this land in a single day” (3:9) and who would “build the temple of the LORD” (6:12) and rule from sea to sea (see also 6:9–15). It is an amazingly detailed forecast of Jesus’ death that is not applicable in any way to any other known person. Thus the death of the Branch in David’s family would be the source of God’s power against the nations (12:2–4), and its effectiveness would be shown in the eventual removal of idols and false prophets from the earth (13:2–5).

God’s victory and universal reign (14:3–21).

This speaks of the grand consummation of the prophetic dreams, the day of the Lord’s return, and the inauguration of his everlasting kingdom. However, some biblical scholars think that verses 4–8 mean that Jesus, when he returns, will literally make his throne on the Mount of Olives, that the mountain will literally be cleft, that waters literally will flow eastward and westward from Jerusalem, and that Jerusalem will literally be the center of pilgrimages from nations outlined in verses 10–21. Others take the language to be a figurative representation of the new heavens and the new earth, under the imagery of a benign, prosperous, and all-powerful earthly kingdom, the way Revelation 21 describes heaven under the imagery of a magnificent earthly city.

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It is truly extraordinary to see how God encouraged his people in the past and kept his promises. This should make us optimistic about our present and future as he continues working out his purposes among us. Visit our store today and pick up the NIV Halley’s Study Bible for your library!

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