Bible Study: Zechariah

The Penman

Zechariah came up in 536 B.C. with the first wave of returnees to Jerusalem. He is distinct both in style and substance from Haggai, his contemporary. He was likely a young man and very different from Haggai in his style and content. Yet both men worked together for the good of the nation.

The Lord Jesus referred to a Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom the Jews murdered between the temple and the altar (Mat 23:35). This appears to be how the prophet’s life ended. This would make Zechariah one of the last righteous people the Jews killed in Old Testament history.

Zechariah is the longest of the “minor prophets” and contains more predictions about the coming Messiah than any other minor prophet. He is cited over 40 times in the NT. He was a Levite of a priestly family.

The Period of Time

It was written toward the end of the sixth century; a small remnant had returned to Jerusalem and God raised up two prophets to further the work. Zechariah began prophesying two months after Haggai.

Zechariah’s inspired preaching began in the eighth month of 520 B.C. His eight night visions followed three months later in 520 B.C. (1:7), when he was a young man (2:4). He delivered the messages in chapters 7 and 8 in 518 B.C. (7:1). Nehemiah mentioned Zechariah as the head of a priestly family when Joiakim, who succeeded Joshua, was high priest (Neh 12:12,16). This may have been as late as during the reign of Artaxerxes I (465-424 B.C.).

The Prophecies

  • Prophecies in chapters 1-6 show us the display of God’s glory in the world. Prophecies in chapters 9-14 show us the reestablishing of God’s government in the world.
  • We come to a Priest on a Throne in chapter 6 and to the King in His Temple in chapter 14.
  • In chapters 1-6, we have eight visions and a panorama of what God will take away and bring in to establish His glory. In chapters 9-14, we have two oracles to show God’s program to bring about His government.

The Purpose

It was to stir them up and strengthen the remnant concerning the building of the temple. God gave them a sight of the future to strengthen in the present. “God gave us yesterday, a vision of tomorrow, to strengthen us today.”

Sixteen years had passed, and the house of God was not built. Haggai addressed the doubt in the heart of Zerubbabel; Zechariah addressed the discouragement. Stop worrying (Haggai) and start working (Zechariah).

The New Testament quotes and alludes to Zechariah about 41 times. The Gospels cite chapters 9-14 more frequently in their passion narratives than any other portion of the Old Testament. The Book of Revelation refers to the Book of Zechariah more frequently than to any other Old Testament book except Ezekiel.

The Pictures of Christ

  • The Servant and the Shoot (chs. 1-6), God’s Sovereign and Shepherd (chs. 9-14)
  • John Stubbs on the eight visions of Christ in chapters 1-6:
  1. Christ the Sentinel of Mercy (Man Among the Myrtle Trees)
  2. Christ the Smiter of Nations (Four Horns and Carpenter)
  3. Christ the Security of the City (Man With a Measuring Line)
  4. Christ the Savior of the Nation (Remover of Filthy Coat)
  5. Christ the Sustainer of the Nation (Lampstand)
  6. Christ the Sanctifier of His People (Flying Roll)
  7. Christ the Satisfier of Hearts (Ephah)
  8. Christ the Sovereign of the Earth (Four Chariots)

The Prospect

  • Return
  • Reclaiming
  • Regathering
  • Rebuilding
  • Reign of Messiah

The Pattern or Divisions

  • Prophetic (chapters 1-6)
  • Practical (chapters 7-8)
  • Prophetic (chapters 9-14)

I. The Messenger and His Ministry – A Ministry of Hope (1:1-6)
II. Messages to Encourage Building – A Memorable Night (1:7-6:15)

  • Eight visions (five of blessing and three of judgment)

III. Moral Change in the Nation – The Mercy of God (7:1-8:23)
IV. Messiah and His Kingdom – A Majestic Anticipation (9:1-14:21)

  • Two burdens (chapters 9-11 and 12-14)

The Place

Jerusalem mentioned over 40 times

The Promise and Power

Lord of Hosts mentioned 53 times in the book. God is able to accomplish His purpose for the nation and for the world.