The book of Zechariah occupies a special place among the so-called ‘minor prophets’. This special place is because of the length of his book which contains no less than fourteen chapters, but also because it contains extensive prophecies about the Messiah, the world empires and the judgments about them and about Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.
The time in which Zechariah lives and prophesies is after the exile, like Haggai and Malachi. Zechariah and Haggai prophesy quite shortly after the return of a handful of Israelites from Babylon to the land and place where the LORD dwelled. When this small group of God’s people is back in the land, they start rebuilding the temple, but stop under the pressure of their enemies. They manage to persuade King Arthahsasta to issue an order to stop the rebuilding. As a result, the rebuilding stops for about sixteen years, until the second year of Darius – which is not the same as that of Daniel, but a later one (Ezra 4:23-24).
The people had become languid. Then God calls two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah (Ezra 5:1). Both prophets have written down their message. What Haggai and Zechariah prophesied is also important to us. That is why it is written down and included in God’s Word.
Haggai speaks of “the desire of all nations will come” (Hag 2:7) – as this part of the verse also can be translated. This is the Messiah Who comes to His temple. Zechariah also speaks about this, but he also speaks about the restoration of the two and the ten tribes in the land, so that there will again be one people living in the land.
The revival under Zechariah is limited, because after his performance the people sink back into unbelief. This unbelief finds its climax in the days of the Lord Jesus when His people reject Him. Yet His coming is the clearest proof of the meaning of the name Zechariah. Zechariah means ‘the LORD remembers’.
The result of the rejection is that the people have been suffering for many centuries and will experience unprecedented suffering in the great tribulation that is yet to come. They will think that God has forgotten them, but they will also notice that He remembers and will give relief at the appointed time to finally bless them. Then the prophecy of Zechariah will be fully fulfilled.
Zechariah was born in Babylon into a priestly family taking the opportunity offered by Cyrus to return to Israel (Ezra 5:1; 6:14; Neh 12:4,16). Like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, he is both priest and prophet. He is priest by birth and prophet by vocation. Like Jeremiah he is called as a young man (Zec 2:4; Jer 1:6). He performs two months after Haggai started prophecy (Hag 1:1). The duration of his service is unknown.
Zechariah is a young man. He must have returned from Babylon as a child and knows nothing about the exile and the reason for it. Yet God chooses him as His messenger and not one of the elders. A young man represents youthful energy needed for a faithful service in ‘remnant times’.
Division of the book
We can make the following subdivision of this book:
Part I: Introduction and night visions (Zechariah 1-6)
A. Introduction to the book (Zechariah 1:1-6)
1. Date and name of the writer (Zechariah 1:1)
2. Call to repentance (Zechariah 1:2-6)
B. Series of eight night visions (Zechariah 1:7-6:8)
1. First night vision: The Man on the red horse among the myrtle trees (Zechariah 1:7-17)
2. Second night vision: The four horns and the four craftsmen (Zechariah 1:18-21)
3. Third night vision: The man with the measuring line (Zechariah 2:1-13)
4. Fourth night vision: Purification and restoration of Israel as a priestly nation (Zechariah 3:1-10)
5. Fifth night vision: The golden lampstand and the two olive trees (Zechariah 4:1-14)
6. Sixth night vision: The flying scroll (Zechariah 5:1-4)
7. Seventh night vision: The woman in the ephah (Zechariah 5:5-11)
8. Eighth night vision: The four chariots (Zechariah 6:1-8)
C. The symbolic coronation of Joshua the high priest (Zechariah 6:9-15)
Part II: The problem of fasting and the promises of the future (Zechariah 7-8)
1. The question of the delegation from Bethel (Zechariah 7:1-3)
2. The reproach of the LORD (Zechariah 7:4-7)
3. The order to repent (Zechariah 7:8-14)
4. Ten promises about the restoration of Israel in God’s favor (Zechariah 8:1-23)
Part III: Two burdens: the Messiah and His kingdom (Zechariah 9-14)
A. The first burden: the coming and rejection of the Messiah (Zechariah 9-11)
1. The coming of the messianic King (Zechariah 9:1-10:12)
a. The destruction of the nations and the preservation of Zion (Zechariah 9:1-8)
b. The coming of Zion’s King (Zechariah 9:9-10)
c. The deliverance and blessing of Zion’s people (Zechariah 9:11-10:1)
d. Warning and encouragement (Zechariah 10:2-4)
e. Israel’s victory over his enemies (Zechariah 10:5-7)
f. Israel’s complete deliverance and restoration (Zechariah 10:8-12)
2. The Rejection of the messianic Shepherd-King (Zechariah 11:1-17)
a. Introduction (Zechariah 11:1-3)
b. The prophecy of the rejection of the good Shepherd (Zechariah 11:4-14)
c. The worthless shepherd (Zechariah 11:15-17)
B. The second burden: the coming and receiving of the Messiah (Zechariah 12-14)
1. The deliverance and conversion of Israel (Zechariah 12:1-13:9)
a. The siege of Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:1-3)
b. Divine deliverance (Zechariah 12:4-9)
c. Israel’s complete deliverance from sin (Zechariah 12:10-13:9)
2. The return of the Messiah and the establishment of His kingdom (Zechariah 14:1-21)
a. The siege of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:1-2)
b. The signs of the return of the Messiah (Zechariah 14:3-8)
c. The establishment of the kingdom of the Messiah (Zechariah 14:9-11)
d. The punishment of Israel’s enemies (Zechariah 14:12-15)
e. The general worship of the King (Zechariah 14:16-19)
f. HOLY TO THE LORD (Zechariah 14:20-21)