Welcome to our Bible Study Series on the Minor Prophets.

This is – Zachariah, The Preparation for the Messiah

Click on the link above for the study session. Find the notes below.

Zachariah, The Preparation for the Messiah:

  • Coming to Zachariah, a dozen years have passed where the task of rebuilding the temple has stood half completed. Zechariah is commissioned by God to encourage the people in their unfinished responsibility. Rather than exhorting them to action with strong words of rebuke, Zechariah seeks to encourage them to action by reminding them of the future importance of the temple.
  • The temple must be built, for one day the Messiah’s glory will inhabit it. But future blessing is contingent upon present obedience. The people are not merely building a building; they are building the future. With that as their motivation, they can enter into the building project with wholehearted zeal, for their Messiah is coming.
  • And not only does the prophet come with words of hope, but his very name means “God Remembers” or “God Has Remembered.” This theme dominates the whole book: Israel will be blessed because Yahweh remembers the covenant He made.

1. Zachariah’s Setting:

  • There are about 29 OT characters who share his name. Now like his predecessors, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Zechariah was of priestly lineage as the son of Berechiah and grandson of Dido (1:1, 7; Ezra 5:1; 6:14; Neh.12:4, 16). He was born in Babylonia and was brought by his grandfather to Palestine when the Jewish exiles returned
    under Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest.
  • Chapter 2:4 refers to him as a young man, so he was called to prophesy at an early age in 520 B.C. According to Jewish tradition, Zechariah was a member of the Great Synagogue that collected and preserved the canon of revealed Scripture. Matthew 23:35 indicates he was “murdered between the temple and the altar” in the same way that an earlier Zechariah was martyred (see 2 Chr. 24:20–21).
  • Now if Zechariah was called in 520 B.C., that makes him a younger contemporary of Haggai the prophet, Zerubbabel the governor,
    and Joshua the high priest. You see, the historical setting for chapters 1–8 is the same as that of Haggai (520–518 B.C.). Work was resumed on the temple in 520 B.C. and the project was completed in 516 B.C.
  • Interestingly, chapters 9–14 are undated, but stylistic differences and references to Greece (9:13) indicate a date of between 480 and 470 B.C. This would mean that Darius I (521–486 B.C.) had passed from the scene and had been succeeded by Xerxes (486–464 B.C.), the king who made Esther queen of Persia.

2. Zachariah’s Purpose:

  • Zachariah uses a series of eight visions, four messages, and two burdens to portray God’s future plans for His covenant people. The first eight chapters were written to encourage the remnant while they were rebuilding the temple; the last six chapters were written after the
    completion of the temple to anticipate Israel’s coming Messiah.
  • Zechariah moves from gentile domination to messianic rule, from persecution to peace, and from uncleanness to holiness. The last six chapters are not clearly tied to a specific historical situation in the life of the prophet but look forward to the events leading up to and including the coming messianic age. Here the rise of Greece, the advent and rejection of the Messiah, and the final triumph of the Messiah are foretold.

3. Zachariah’s Message:

  • The book divides into the eight visions (1–6), the four messages (7–8), and the two burdens (9–14).
  • The Eight Visions (1–6): The book opens with an introductory appeal to the people to repent and return to God, unlike their fathers who rejected the warnings of the prophets (1:1–6). A few months later, Zechariah has a series of eight night visions, evidently in one troubled night (February 15, 519 B.C.; 1:7). The angel who speaks with him interprets the visions, but some of the symbols are not explained. The visions mix the work of the Messiah in both Advents, and like the other prophets, Zechariah sees only the peaks of God’s program without the intervening valleys.
  • The first five are visions of comfort, and the last three are
    visions of judgment:
  • (1) The horsemen among the myrtle trees—God will rebuild Zion and His people (1:7–17).
  • (2) The four horns and craftsmen—Israel’s oppressors will be judged (1:18–21).
  • (3) The man with a measuring line—God will protect and glorify Jerusalem (2:1–13).
  • (4) The cleansing of Joshua the high priest—Israel will be cleansed and restored by the coming Branch (3:1–10).
  • (5) The golden lamp stand—God’s spirit is empowering Zerubbabel and Joshua (4:1–14).
  • (6) The flying scroll—individual sin will be judged (5:1–4).
  • (7) The woman in the basket—national sin will be removed (5:5–11).
  • (8) The four chariots—God’s judgment will descend on the nations (6:1–8). The crowning of Joshua (6:9–15) anticipates the coming of the Branch who will be King and Priest (the composite crown).
  • The Four Messages (7–8): In response to a question about the continuation of the fasts (7:1–3), God gives Zechariah a series of four messages:
  • (1) A rebuke of empty ritualism (7:4– 7);
  • (2) a reminder of past disobedience (7:8–14);
  • (3) the restoration and consolation of Israel (8:1–17); and
  • (4) the recovery of joy in the kingdom (8:18–23).
  • The Two Burdens (9–14): The first burden (9–11) concerns the First Advent and rejection of Israel’s coming King. Alexander the Great will conquer Israel’s neighbours, but will spare Jerusalem (9:1–8) which will be preserved for her King (the Messiah; 9:9–10). Israel will succeed against Greece (the Maccabean revolt; 9:11–17), and although they will later be scattered, the Messiah will bless them and bring them back (10:1–11:3). Israel will reject her Shepherd-King and be led astray by false shepherds (11:4–17).
  • The second burden (12–14) concerns the second advent of Christ and the acceptance of Israel’s King. The nations will attack Jerusalem, but the Messiah will come and deliver His people (12). They will be cleansed of impurity and falsehood (13), and the Messiah will come in power to judge the nations and reign in Jerusalem over the whole earth (14).

4. The Book’s Application:

  • It is through His Spirit that God accomplishes His purposes and plans in the world and in our personal lives. Which brings us to Christ: There are very clear messianic passages in this book. Christ is portrayed in His two advents as both, Servant and King, Man and God. The following are a few of Zechariah’s explicit anticipations of Christ:

• The angel of the Lord (3:1–2);

• the righteous Branch (3:8; 6:12–13),

• the stone with seven eyes (3:9);

• the King-Priest (6:13); the humble King (9:9–10);

• the cornerstone, tent peg, and bow of battle (10:4);

• the good Shepherd who is rejected and sold for thirty shekels of silver, the price of a slave (11:4–13);

• the pierced One (12:10);

• the cleansing fountain (13:1);

• the smitten Shepherd who is abandoned (13:7); and

• the coming Judge and righteous King (14)

  • So what do we learn from Zachariah:
    • God will return to us when we return to Him       
    • God will fulfil His promises of restoration to the Jews through His branch, Messiah
    • Satan accuses believers of sin before God
    • God’s purposes and plans are accomplished by His Holy Spirit and not by man’s strength and abilities
    • Religious ritual without righteousness living is not acceptable before God
    • Messiah would come on a colt, the foal of a donkey
    • Christ would be betrayed for 30 shekels of silver
    • In His first Advent Christ would be rejected and pierced
    • Christ will fight for Judah in the last days
    • In His Second advent Christ will return on to earth on Mount Olives to judge the nations gathered against Israel and usher in the Millennial Kingdom to rule and reign on earth as the King of Kings