Book of Zechariah: A message to the hopeless, and God’s promise to His people.
—A prosperous nation
In the reign of Darius the Great, came a man who was called by God amidst a population of people whose hope was lost. These people previously lived in the city whose roots go way back to Abraham, a civilization which prospered with progression of enemies within and beyond its boundaries.
With the rise of Babylon, the anticipation of invading Judah came to pass in the summer of 586 BC. The old city, and the old temple were laid to waste under the siege commanded by king nebuchadnezer. A city which was once full of people, led by the mightiest kings in history, visited by kings and queens of other nations was left in ruin and emptiness as the Israelites were taken to captivity in Babylon, where they would be in exile for the next 70 years. In exile, the hope of many was lost, to the extent that prophets called by God in those days we’re not heard as messengers of hope, but disruptors of peace; the prophet Daniel is an example in this scenario. After 70 years, a flicker of hope emerged when the Persian prince Cyrus conquered Babylon and promised the return of the Jews who were in captivity to their homeland.
Back at home, many had lost hope of ever regaining the previous glory that the old city had with the temple at its heart. Israel was no longer a nation unified by faith, but a community separated by fear; with all hope lost, God had to send two prophets who were vital in the rebuild. One of them was haggai, who warned Israelites of calamities to come if the temple was not rebuilt; he prophesied an emergence of famine, poverty and drought across the land, catastrophes that only the installment of the second temple could solve. About the same time as Haggai, appeared a prophet that is not so much talked about in the modern church, Prophet Zecharia. Born in a line of priests, Zecharia bore the burden of responsibility to unite God’s people; His message is collectively documented in His book!
—The book of Zechariah
a). Zechariah 1-6.
God’s word came to Zechariah in a series of 8 visions where Zechariah sees restoration of the temple, unity of Israel, and a high-priest crowned.
A vision of a Man among Mytre trees.
In this vision, Zechariah sees a man mounted on a red horse standing among the myrtle trees in a ravine, with a red, a brown and a white horse behind him. Now, I want you to pay attention to these symbols because they are recurrent in the book of revelations. In this vision, there are a total of 4 horsemen who are sent by God to patrol the earth, but they find the earth peaceful. In the book of revelation 6:1-8, these four horsemen appear at the opening of the first four of the seven seals in events before the war of Armageddon (call it the apocalypse). In this vision, the horsemen report to the angle of the lord that, “we have gone through the earth, and found the world at rest and in peace” —Zechariah 1:11. This only meant that God’s judgment would not befall Jerusalem, and hence the vision ends with God’s promise to bless Jerusalem.
“Proclaim further; this is what the Lord almighty says, My towns will overflow with prosperity again, and the lord will again comfort Zion and Jerusalem.
A vision of four horns and four craftsmen.
In this vision, Zechariah sees four horns and four craftsmen/silversmiths/carpenters. The angel explains the vision by saying that the four horns were planted by enemies to scatter the lord’s people in the land of Judah, and that the four craftsmen came to remove those horns. I want you to make connections with the number recurring in these first 2 visions; and that’s “4”. Four horsemen, 4 horns, 4 craftsmen!! These are the messengers of hope that God is sending against the four rebellious nations haunting the people of Judah. Throughout scripture, craftsmen appear as messengers of God’s might and kingdom on earth. In Exodus 36:8, the tabernacle was installed by craftsmen, Jesus himself, the author of salvation, was a craftsman (or carpenter). The absence of craftsmen in the land was followed by terrorism from neighboring enemies; for example the philistinnes (1 Samuel 13:19) capitalized on absense of blacksmiths in Israel to terrorize them, this happened until called David to the rescue. Therefore this vision shows God is going to pave a foundation for the reconstruction, that will only happen from the unity the 4 craftsmen will bring after bringing down Judah’s enemies.
A vision of a man with a measuring Line.
In the third vision, Zechariah is told by a man with a measuring line to go and measure the dimensions of Jerusalem. However; he is interrupted by another angel while measuring who says that the city is to be without walls. It was decreed that God would be the wall of fire around the city, and it’s glory within. While the vision supports installment of the second temple, it carries a message yet to be fulfilled. To many Israelites, this vision didn’t make any sense then because the city was fortified with walls already. Perhaps, it was all metaphorical, the mighty walls of Jerusalem were crushed to pebbles in 70 Ad by Roman armies about 600 later years from when Zechariah had this vision. Yet to be fulfilled is a promise of God being the glory within the new city; this is later revealed to John in Revelation chapter 21, that city has no need for the sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light. Now, whether or not part of this prophecy is to be fulfilled; it brought hope that a temple of the Lord would be rebuilt and nations would find refuge in it.
A vision of Joshua the high priest.
In the third chapter of the book, Zechariah stares at the counsel of heaven; with Joshua the high priest in filthy garments, and Satan, his accuser at his right hand. The angel commands a change of garments into clean pure vestments and Joshua was also clothed with a clean turban on his head. This vision is a complex relationship between God and his people; he would never abandon them at the hands of their enemies. Joshua represents the children of God, his old-filthy garments symbolize a prisoner, in this case, describing the recent 70 years of exile in Babylonia. The vision progresses with God clothing his people in new garments, symbolizing a new era of restoration. As expected, God promises the high priest that He is going to bring his servant, that “branch” in verse 8. Later in chapter 6:12, the lord says; “Here is the man whose name is the branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of God.” The promise being made here is a promise of a savior. The word “branch” was used by a prophet named Jeremiah prior to babylonian exile who said that “in those days and at that time, I will make a righteous branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land—Jeremiah 33:15.” “The days are coming, declares the lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous branch, a king who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land—Jeremiah 23:5” as you see, this vision has roots from prophecies before, and it’s a promise of Christ, who was to redeem Jews and gentiles from their oppressors.
Again, this vision correlates to John's in the book of revelation 12:10 where the accuser of God’s people, the devil, is hurled down from heaven through the authority of our messiah (the branch).
A vision of a Golden lamp stand.
In another vision, Zechariah sees a golden lampstand with seven lamps on it between two olives. Pay attention to the number “7” which is associated with completion/wholeness, and that 2 olives which represent the 2 witnesses. In this vision, the angel predicts completion of the temple at the hands of Zerubbabel, the two vines in this vision are described by the lord as “the two anointed ones who stand by the lord of the whole earth—Zechariah 4:14.” These two witnesses are also noted in revelation 11:3-4.
A vision of the flying scroll.
Another vision constitutes a scroll flying over Jerusalem, purifying it from those who swear falsely, those who use God’s name in vain and thieves. This shows that the new Jerusalem was to be a place of honor to God, not a den of thieves or a camp for those rooted in iniquity. This vision is synonymous with one in Revelation 21:27, where the word of the Lord says that “nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable and false, but those written in the lamb’s book of life.
A vision of a woman in a basket.
In another vision, Zechariah sees two women with wind in their wings, carrying a basket between earth and heaven with a woman in it. The angel said to Zechariah that the basket was being taken to the land of Shinar, where a house for it was to be built. Throughout the scripture, Shinah appears as a region rebellious to God and synonymously used as Babylon in Daniel 1:2 across many biblical translations. The woman in the basket was called “wickedness ” by the angel and she is locked in the basket in this vision. This meant that the wickedness of the people of Judah were forgiven, but another Babylon was to arise away from Zion. This separation was to render a refuge for those who escaped Babylon (iniquities) to rest in Zion, the new city that God was to establish.
—A call for justice and Mercy.
In chapter 7& 8, Zechariah tells the people of Judah that fasting should be done, not self righteousness, but as a compliment to doing what God desires through faith; the word of the lord comeS to Zechariah saying, “do not opress the widow, the fatherless, the poor, and none among you should devise evil against another in your heart—Zechariah 7:10.” These words encouraged showing mercy to others as God had shown to Israel, releasing them from their captors and sins. Because of Israel’s hypocrisy and oppression of the poor, God scattered them among their nations and didn’t hear their prayers because they never listened to his commands. However, God was going to restore Jerusalem and call gentiles to gather and worship Him in the new city.
—Christ’s ministry (chapter 9-11)
As we discussed in Zechariah’s Visions, the book predicts the coming of the messiah and his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, an event celebrated today as Palm Sunday. In chapter 9:27, the word of the lord says that: “on that day, the lord their God will save them as the flock of his people'', signifying Christ's sacrificial death to save the church. The Jews will recognize their messiah who they crucified and see wounds in his hands, a prophecy fulfilled by Thomas witnessing Jesus' pierced hands (John 20:24-29). Chapter 11 ends with a prophecy of Judas Ischariot’s betrayal of Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12).
—The final battle (Chapter 12-14)
In the final battle before the second coming of Jesus Christ, many people will gather to fight Jerusalem, but the lord will destroy them. And Christ will reign as the king of the whole earth!
“On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter. And the Lord will be king over all the earth.”