Luke indicated that Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit, just like John, Mary, and Elizabeth, earlier in this chapter, in verses 15, 35, and 41. This gift of the Holy Spirit was tied to prophecy just as in Joel, chapter 2:28, where there was an outpouring of the Spirit upon all humans, the young men, the sons, the young women, and the daughters. These young people would prophesize, while the old men would dream dreams. The young men would see visions. Even the male and female slaves would receive this outpouring of the Spirit. Luke has this outpouring of the Spirit when Peter talked in the Acts of the Apostles. Here Luke said that John’s father (ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ), Zechariah (Καὶ Ζαχαρίας), was filled with the Holy Spirit (ἐπλήσθη Πνεύματος Ἁγίου). Thus, Zechariah spoke this prophesy (καὶ ἐπροφήτευσεν λέγων).
Some read the biblical texts looking for clues about the end times. When will the world come to an end? What is the meaning of the afterlife? There is a search for indications of when the Second Coming of Jesus will take place. The biblical apocalyptic literature is a favorite. I want to understand the visions and sayings about the end of the world. Will I be saved in the end times? Will I be able to meet my maker?
The 2nd century apostolic writers had a loose connection to the original apostles. Some of these early 2nd century writings were occasionally considered part of the canonical biblical writings. This post-apostolic group lived after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE. These authors included Clement of Rome (40-101 CE) and his writings, as well as the so-called Second Letter of Clement, a 2nd century sermon, but not from Clement. There also was Ignatius of Antioch (50-117 CE) with his letters, and the 2nd century Pseudo-Barnabas letter. From the late 1st century, the Didache, the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, has intrigued scholars. The 2nd century Shepherd of Hermas, has an apocalyptic document that included visions, commands, mandates, and parables or similitudes. Theophilus of Antioch (115-180 CE) and Melito of Sardis (+190 CE), an important bishop of Asia Minor, were writing apologists for Christianity. Clement of Alexandria (150-215 CE) and his pupil Origen (185-254 CE) played an important role in the developing Christian theology in Alexandria. Justin the martyr (100-165 CE) gave a great description of the Christian activities. Irenaeus (140-202 CE), a disciple of the martyr Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna, wrote against various early Christian heretics.
This apparently is the first of 8 visions that Zechariah had. This oracle of Yahweh took place on the 24th day of the 11th month in the 2nd year of King Darius, either late 520 BCE or early 519 BCE. This month was called Shebat. Once again, there is a mention of Zechariah’s lineage, via Berechiah and Iddo, with Iddo the most well-known.
This is the outpouring of the Spirit that Peter will later talk about in the Acts of the Apostles. This Spirit will come upon all humans, the young men, the sons, with the young women, the daughters. These young people will prophesize, while the old men will dream dreams. The young men will see visions. Even the male and female slaves will receive this outpouring of the Spirit. In the Jerusalem Bible, this is chapter 3, not the end of chapter 2. However, I will follow the numeration as in the Oxford Bible here.
The second half of this book has a series of visions by Daniel. This is one of Daniel’s own dreams, even though there have many other dreams mentioned already. This dream seemed parallel to the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 2. This took place during the first year of King Belshazzar. That would put this dream around 554 BCE, the first year that this king was the viceroy with his father, King Nabonidus (556-539 BCE). Strangely enough, there is hardly any mention of King Nabonidus, the father of King Belshazzar, in this Book of Daniel. This time, Daniel had this vision at night as was laying in his bed. The difference, of course, is that he wrote the dream down.
This author of the Book of Daniel has the king of Babylon speaking in the first-person singular. He was living at ease in his house, prospering in his palace. Everything was all good. Then he had a dream that frightened him. These fantasies and visions terrified and alarmed him.
These four young men were good learners. God, not Yahweh, gave them the skills needed for every aspect of literature, as well as wisdom. In addition, Daniel also had an insight into all kinds of visions and dreams.
The gates of Jerusalem have sunk into the ground. Yahweh has ruined the bars on the gates that are now broken. The king and the princes have been scattered among the various nations, so that there is no longer any guidance about the law. The prophets no longer have any visions or oracles from Yahweh. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Tet. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.
This Book of Isaiah purports to be the visions of a man named Isaiah the son of Amoz. He came to Judah and Jerusalem during the time that King Uzziah (781-740 BCE) was king. He also was there when King Jotham (740-736 BCE), the son of Uzziah was king. His son King Ahaz (736-716 BCE) was also the king of Judah. Finally, he was around when King Hezekiah (716-687 BCE) was the king of Judah. Thus the prophetic life of Isaiah extended from at least 742-701 BCE if not further, during the time there were 4 kings in Judah, spanning almost 100 years. The name Isaiah means that “Yahweh gives salvation.” We do not know much about his early life, probably born around 765 BCE. The so-called Minor Prophets of Amos, Hosea, and Micah lived around the same time in the 8th century BCE. The northern kingdom of Israel in Samaria came to an end around 724 BCE. There were indications of Isaiah’s activity in 2 Kings, chapters 18-20, and 2 Chronicles, chapter 32 in a more summary fashion. However, the influence of Isaiah the prophet was profound.