Zechariah ministered with Haggai during the difficult days when 50,000 Jews had returned to Palestine to reestablish their city and their Temple worship. The remnant went back in 536 b.c., and laid the foundation of the Temple in 535 b.c. We must remember, however, that opposition arose and work stopped, In 530 b.c., the Lord raised up Haggai and Zechariah to stir up the people and the leaders; and in 525 b.c., the work was finished.
Zechariah was both a prophet and a priest (see Nehemiah 12:4,16) and from Zechariah 2:4 we learn that he was a young man. His name means "Jehovah remembers"; his father's name, Berechiah, means "Jehovah blesses"; and his grandfather's name, Iddo, means "His time." Putting them together we have "Jehovah remembers to bless in His time.".
The theme of the Book of Zechariah is, "One that unveils God's future plan for the Jews." This book actually ranks next to Daniel as an Old Testament revelation for God's future plan for the Jews. The city of Jerusalem is mentioned some 39 times in this book. The key verses are 14-17 of chapter 1. These verses tell us that God is jealous for Jerusalem; that He will punish the heathen for what they did to His city; and that He will one day restore the city in glory and peace. The fact that God, in His grace, has chosen Jerusalem is mentioned often (see 1:17; 2:12; 3:2). He will have mercy on the city (chapter 1:12), and one day will dwell in the city (chapter 8:3-8).
In chapter 1 Zechariah warns the people against the evident rising tendency to return to the ways of their dishonest fathers who had brought them to their present pitiful condition. He then encourages them with visions which God had given him of the future. In chapters 1--4 we see several visions given by God, and each have a meaning relative to Jerusalem or the people of Jerusalem.
As with most Old Testament prophecies, we must distinguish between the near and the distant meanings of what Zechariah says. In one verse he will be describing the fall of Jerusalem under the Romans, and in the next he will picture the coming of the Messiah to reign.
Zechariah's favorite name for God is "Lord of hosts." He sees the Lord coming to defeat Israel's enemies and establish Jerusalem in peace and glory. To apply these magnificent prophecies to the Church Age is to rob this book of its meaning and power. Certainly there are spiritual applications for all ages, but the basic interpretation must be for the Jewish nation and Jerusalem.
In chapters 1--6 the prophet describes eight visions of encouragement, all of which summarize the message of Zechariah. The rider (chapter 1:7-17) is encouragement that God has not forgotten Jerusalem; the horns and craftsmen (chapter 1:18-21) is a promise that God will destroy Jerusalem's enemies; the surveyor (chapter 2:1-13) is a promise that Jerusalem will be restored; the cleansing of Joshua the high priest (chapter 3:1-10) is a picture of the future cleansing of the nation; the candlesticks and the trees (chapter 4:1-14) is a promise that God's power will enable Joshua and Zerubbabel to finish their difficult task; the flying roll (chapter 5:1-4) promises that sin will be judged in the land; the ephah (chapter 5:5-11) is a picture of wickedness carried from the land of Babylon, which is the source of all idolatry and religious error. The last vision, the four chariots (chapter 6:1- 8) promises that God controls the nations and Jerusalem is safe.
We see the crowning of the Priest-King in chapter 6:9-15. This is the climax of God's plan for the restoration of Israel under Messiah King-Priest.
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