An Overview of Zechariah

Divine Author: God the Holy Spirit “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).

Human Author: Zechariah Heb. “God remembered”

Date: 520 – 518 BC; After the Fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC

Setting: The reign of Darius; 22 September 522 BC to Oct 486 BC

Key Verse: Zechariah 1:3 “Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of hosts.”

Theme: Rebuild the Temple

General Facts: 38th book; 14 chapters; 211 verses (KJV)

Like Haggai, Zechariah was called by God to encourage and exhort the people of Jerusalem to complete the construction of the Holy Temple having returned from the Babylonian Exile. “Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them. 2 Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them” (Ezra 5:1-2).

The prophet Jeremiah had foretold the Babylonian Exile would last for seventy years (Jer. 25:11; 29:10-14). That part of the prophecy came true, as did another part of the prophecy in which it was predicted that God would regather His people, and build a New Temple from which He would rule over all nations (Jer. 30 – 33).

It All Happened

The people of God were allowed to return to Jerusalem, the Temple was rebuilt, the Messiah came to the Temple, and, in the person of Jesus Christ, the Messiah – King, all power was given to Him, in heaven and earth, to rule over the nations.

“Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Psalm 2:8).

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18).

“The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)” (Acts 10:36).

It cannot be said that part of the prophesy of Jeremiah has been fulfilled, but not the rest of his prophesy. That would make Jeremiah to be a false prophet (Deut. 18:15-20).

Let the earth know. Jesus is Lord. Jesus Christ, the risen Savior is, not shall be, but, is King of kings and Lord of lords. Prophesy is fulfilled.

“Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15).

“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Rev. 1:5).

“And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Rev. 19:16).

At first, there was great enthusiasm for the reconstruction of the Temple. But, with the passing of time, the people grew weary with the project, and the building program was allowed to lapse. The people needed encouragement to resume the work of the Lord.

Introduction: Zechariah 1:1-6

The Book of the Prophet of Zechariah begins with an exhortation for Israel to repent, and not be as their fathers and forefathers. The prophets had cried, “Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the Lord” (Zech. 1:3).

By the grace and power of God, the people in Zechariah’s day did humble themselves, and repent, at first.

A Series of Eight Night Time Visions: Zechariah 1:7 – 8

The purpose of the dreams, some of which are strange and unusual, was to provide a message for the moment, and hope for the future. A study of the dreams of Jacob (Gen. 28), Joseph (Gen. 37), and Pharaoh (Gen. 11) will prove to be helpful in considering the night time visions of Zechariah.

Zechariah’s Nighttime Visions

  • First Vision / Zechariah 1:7–17 / Four Horsemen / God is sovereign

The Lord God watches over the nations, and rules them with a rod of iron (Psalm 103:19; Psalms 47:2; Prov. 8:15; Daniel 4:17; Prov. 21:1; Acts 4:27-28). In the First Vision, the world is at peace, reflecting the time of the Jews under the rule of the Persian, Darius the Mede. God will remember His word through the prophet Jeremiah, and will honor it. There will be a return to the Land of Promise.

  • Second Vision / Zechariah 1:18–21 / Four Horns / Remembering rebellion

In Scripture, horns often refer to power. In the vision, Zechariah sees the horns of the nations which initially attacked and dispersed Israel, Assyria, and Babylon. The horns, or empires, are then scattered by blacksmiths, a symbol of Persia.

  • Third Vision / Zechariah 2:1–13 / A Man who Measures / Jerusalem shall be rebuilt
  • Fourth Vision / Zechariah 3:1–10 / Joshua the High Priest / New clothes

Joshua is given new garments, a new turban indicating God’s mercy and grace, and an angelic promise. If Joshua is faithful, he will become a symbol of Messiah who is both Priest and King.

  • Fifth Vision / Zechariah 4:1–14 / Zerubbabel, the Royal Heir   

In the vision of the two olive trees, which are in turn a symbol of two golden lambs, which are identified as the two anointed leaders, Joshua and Zerubbabel, the message is given that the men must be dependent on the Spirit of God, and nothing, and no one else.

  • Sixth Vision / Zechariah 5:1–4 / The Flying Scroll / Jerusalem is rebuilt and pure
  • Seventh Vision / Zechariah 5:5–11 / A Woman in a Basket / Remembering rebellion

The woman symbolizes centuries of the cyclical sin of rebellion of Israel. She is carried into captivity by other women with wings of a stork (angels?).

  • Eighth Vision / Zechariah 6:1–8 / Four Horsemen / God is sovereign
  • Ninth Vision / Zechariah 6:9-15 / Joshua the High Priest 

Once more Joshua is brought into focus. He is given a crown to reflect the Messiah who will be a King-Priest over the people of God.

At the conclusion of all of the night visions, Zechariah has a question for the people. The Lord wants to know if the people will be faithful to the Covenant blessings, and honor Him by keeping His commandments, and loving Him. That is a question which each generation must answer.

The King is Coming: Zechariah 9 – 11

The person and work of the coming king is described by Zechariah. He comes to the New Jerusalem in a humble manner, riding on a donkey rather than a majestic prancing horse, only to be rejected as the Shepherd of Israel. The Messiah King is rejected by the people, and then by the national and priestly shepherd-leaders of Israel.

In His holy wrath, the Lord turns the people, the sheep of Israel, over to the corrupt shepherd-leaders of the nation, which generates the  question as to whether or not Israel shall always reject the Messiah-King, or repent.

From the vantage point of history, and with the completion of the New Testament revelation, two observations can be made.  

First, let the record state that prophesy has been fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. As the coming King of whom Zechariah spoke, Jesus is Himself a Prophet, Priest, and King, today, tomorrow, and forever.

Consider what Jesus said about Himself. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).

  • Jesus is Prophet. “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him” (Acts 18:18). Speaking about Christ, Stephen said before the Sanhedrin, “This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear” (Acts 7:37).
  • Jesus is Priest. “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14-16).
  • Jesus is King.  “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

“Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt” (John 12:15).

“Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice” (John 18:37).

“And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Rev. 19:16).

Second, let the record state that Israel shall not always reject their King, because Israel has not always rejected their Messiah.

In the first century, following His resurrection, multitudes bowed before Jesus and embraced Him as Messiah, who is Prophet, Priest, and King.

On the Day of Pentecost, three thousand souls embraced Jesus as he was proclaimed by Peter. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).

Soon after, five thousand more believed. “Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand” (Acts 4:4).

When writing to the believers in Rome, many of whom were Jewish converts, Paul reminded his readers of the promise of God.

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.  26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:  27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins” (Rom. 11:25).

Paul’s point is not that God shall keep His covenant sometime in the distant future, but God has kept His Covenant with His people.

The One that “shall come out of Sion”, has come out of Sion. The One who was to be the Deliverer has come to deliver. Jesus said this of Himself in the first sermon He preached. “And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:17-18).

The One who shall “turn away ungodliness from Jacob”, has turned away ungodliness from Jacob. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:12-17).

The One who shall “take away their sins”, has taken away their sins. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).

The Messianic Kingdom: Zechariah 12-14

Because God’s people will not reject the Messiah, in the kingdom of the Messiah, justice will be confirmed, injustice will be avenged, and the rebellion in the heart’s of God people will be confronted in a surprising way.

God’s People do not reject their Messiah. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).

Injustice will be Avenged. “For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand” (Rev. 19:2).

Rebellion is Confronted.The unusual way the Lord deals with the rebellion of His people is by pouring out His Spirit upon them, and giving them a new heart, with the capacity to repent and weep over sins.

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zech. 12:10).

“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin” (Heb. 10:16-18).

“When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them through his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.”

—Isaac Watts

There are wonderful blessings which the prophet sees in the New Jerusalem. It will become a gathering point for all the nations. The city of Jerusalem becomes a New Garden of Eden, from which flows a river of living water, bringing healing to all of creation.

On this happy scene the Book of Zechariah ends, but not the narrative, for, by way of application, the prophesies of Zechariah are confirmed in the New Testament as being fulfilled in Christ. Of all the Old Testament Scripture, the words of the prophet are quoted often in the New Testament. There are no less than 35 references, or allusions to Zechariah. Consider some of the following passages.

The King comes to Zion (Jerusalem) humble and riding on a donkey.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zech. 9:9).

“Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (Matt. 21:5).

“Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt” (John 21:15).

The Messiah is betrayed for 30 pieces of silver.

“And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised [valued] at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord” (Zech. 11:13).

“Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy [Jeremiah] 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” (Matt. 27:9).

Observe

Most of the words in the quotation are from Zech. 11:12,13, but the content is also closely related to Jer. 19:1-13, which is a prophecy of judgment for the shedding of innocent blood (Jer. 19:4).

Jeremiah twice speaks of a potter (Jer. 19:1,11), and Matthew’s “Field of Blood” recalls his designation of Tophet as the “Valley of Slaughter” (Jer. 19:6), which also was to become a burial ground (Jer. 19:11). Matthew finds in Judas’s and the priests’ actions a fulfillment of the judgment prophecies of Zechariah and Jeremiah” (The Reformation Study Bible, Ligonier Ministries)

The people will look on the Messiah whom they have pierced.

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zech. 12:10).

“And again, another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced” (John 19:37).

“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen” (Rev. 1:7).

The Shepherd is struck and the sheep scatter.

“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones” (Zech. 13:7).

“Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad” (Matt. 26:31).

“And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered” (Mark 14:27).

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