The Book Of Zechariah
Similar to many other prophets little is known about the prophet Zechariah. He was the son of Iddo and was in the priestly line (Neh 12:16), therefor he most likely functioned as priest and prophet in his lifetime. He was part of the remnant of Jewish people that returned from the 70-year captivity to Babylon. Zechariah’s prophetic ministry began in 520 B.C., he was a contemporary of and prophesied at the same time as Haggai. The exact length of his ministry is unknown, most scholars estimate a 50-year ministry (520 B.C. – 470 B.C.).
Our previous 8-part series on the book of Haggai is meant to be studied before embarking on this one as the concepts build upon each other. Haggai rebuked the people for their indifference towards rebuilding the temple of the Lord (Hag 1:4), and Zechariah came along just two months into the ministry of Haggai to reveal the plan of God for Israel in the future. Together they unfold many mysteries concerning the coming earthly millennial kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, the future of the state of Israel, as well as the coming judgement on the gentile kingdoms of the world at the 2nd coming of Christ.
The name Zechariah means, “Yahweh remembers,” this is a fitting name and provides a theme for the entire book. The nation of Israel was impoverished, persecuted, and perhaps thinking that the Lord had forgotten them. This book is full of gracious and comforting words meant to encourage the nation that God still has a plan for them (Zech 1:13). The Lord remembers his covenant promises to Abraham and will not forget the nation of Israel any more than a nursing mother can forget her child (Is 44:21; 49:15).
The book is also full of divine warnings to the nation of Israel that they will not take part in the blessings and promises of God apart from genuine repentance. Jesus reveals to us that Zechariah after his faithful ministry was murdered by the citizens of Jerusalem (Mt 23:35). The prophet Ezekiel described Jerusalem as the bloody city, guilty of murder (Eze 24:9). Jesus describes Jerusalem as the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her (Lk 13:34). The prophecies in the book of Zechariah reveal God’s plan to turn the nation of Israel back to him, at the 2nd coming of Christ when they look on the one whom they have pierced (Zech 12:10). Then Jerusalem the city of blood will be called the faithful city once more (Zech 8:3), and the harlot city who forsook God will be called the city of righteousness (Is 1:26).
Revelation 19:10 Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
The most important aspect of the book of Zechariah, and the one that is nearest to this writers heart is the myriad of prophecies and foreshadowing’s of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said if he is lifted up, he will draw all men to himself (Lk 12:32), and surely this book does a magnificent job of lifting up Christ and announcing his arrival over 500 years before he was born. In this book we see Jesus as a man riding on a red horse (Zech 1:8). We see him as the angel of the Lord interceding on behalf of his people (Zech 1:12). We see him as the final craftsman who will terrify those who oppress Israel (Zech 1:21). We see him as the Lord of hosts the Son who was sent by the Lord of hosts the Father to the nations (Zech 2:8-12). We see Jesus as the one who will remove the filth, iniquity, and sin from the nation of Israel, and clothe them with festal robes of righteousness, just as the prodigal son’s father did to him (Zech 3:1-6; Lk 15:22). We see Jesus lifted up as the servant and branch of the Lord, and as a foundation stone with seven eyes that is engraved by the Lord with a beautiful inscription (Zech 3:8-10). We see Jesus as the coming King-Priest who will sit and rule on his throne in the millennial temple (Zech 6:13).
As if that is not enough the Holy Spirit gets even more specific as we see him coming as a king who humbly rides upon a donkey (Zech 9:9), as being sold for 30 shekels of silver (Zech 11:12), as the one who they have pierced (Zech 12:10), and finally as the shepherd that was struck by the sword of the Lord’s wrath for the sins of his people (Zech 13:7). The book closes with Jesus being portrayed as the king over all the earth (Zech 14:9). Jesus is the focal point of all scripture, for the testimony about Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Rev 19:10). The Bible is first and foremost a book that reveals to human beings who their creator is, that is to say the Bible tells you who God is. That is why the Bible is chiefly about Jesus because Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15). Long before Christ was born the prophets wrote that a child would be born who is almighty God (Isaiah 9:6) and Zechariah reveals him in stunning detail!
Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you;
The land of Israel was gifted by God to the patriarch Abraham in the verse above. This land was originally called Canaan (Gen 15:5). The Lord describes this land as the land from the river of Egypt to the great river of Euphrates (Gen 15:18). Several times in the book of Genesis the Lord promises to give this land to Abraham and his descendants as an eternal possession (Gen 17:8). He reiterates this promise to Abraham’s son Isaac (Gen 26:4), and then to Jacob who later was given the name Israel (Gen 28:13). Jacob gave birth to the 12 tribes of Israel and the land was then allotted to each tribe as an inheritance. The Bible is the title deed for the land of Israel to the Jewish people.
The land of Judah is the southern region of Israel containing various towns, cities, and plains. Most important to this region is the land of Bethlehem where Jesus was born, and where the prophets had predicted the ruler of Israel would come from (Mic 5:2); as well as the city of Jerusalem (Josh 15:8).
The city of Jerusalem is mentioned over 40 times in the book of Zechariah. Jerusalem plays a prominent role not only in this book, but also in the entire redemptive plan of God. Long before Jesus, David, Solomon or even Moses, God already had an entire theocracy in Jerusalem that scripture reveals very little about. The first time Jerusalem is mentioned in the Bible is when Melchizedek king of Salem (Jerusalem), met Abraham and blessed him (Gen 14:18-21). Melchizedek was a foreshadowing of Christ In that he was a king and a priest over Jerusalem, and Christ is said to be an eternal King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4). Later on, king David conquered the land of Jerusalem from the Jebusites and made it the capital of Israel. Scripture titles the land of Jerusalem the city of David and the stronghold of Zion (2 Sam 5:6). Jesus called Jerusalem the city of the great king (Mt 5:35). Jerusalem is the city where our Lord was crucified (Heb 13:12); the city where he ascended back to heaven (Luke 24:51); the city where the Antichrist will be worshipped during the tribulation (2 Thess 2:4); the city to which Jesus Christ will one day return (Zech 14:4); and the city from which he will rule from during his millennial kingdom (Zech 14:16).
Psalm 110:2 The LORD will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of Your enemies.”
Mount Zion often called the “Holy mountain,” is mentioned several times in the book of Zechariah as well. The title Zion is often used interchangeably with Jerusalem. When the term Zion is used in reference to a mountain it is referring to what is commonly understood as the temple mount. This is the hottest piece of real estate on planet earth. The temple mount is the holiest site in Judaism, 3rd holiest in Islam, and revered by Christians. This is the region where in a marvelous foreshadowing of the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross, Abraham almost sacrificed his son Isaac (Gen 22:2). Solomon then chose this location to build the first temple which the Babylonians destroyed (2 Chron 3:1). The prophets Haggai and Zechariah are now encouraging the people to rebuild the 2nd temple under Zerubbabel which ultimately will be completed in 516 B.C... Zion is the location where God has decided to dwell (Ps 132:13), the place where God will put his house (Mic 4:2), and the mountain upon which his Son will rule from (Ps 2:6).
To review we have the land of Israel given by God to Abraham. Contained within Israel is the southern region of Judah. Contained within Judah are the cities of Bethlehem where Christ was born, and Jerusalem where he was crucified. Finally, within Jerusalem is the temple mount, or Mount Zion where the Lord will one day return to reign as king from the Davidic throne in Jerusalem. Outline
Zechariah 1:3 “Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Return to Me,” declares the LORD of hosts, “that I may return to you,” says the LORD of hosts.
The first section of Zechariah is the introduction (Zech 1:1-6). In which the Lord sets forth the theme and purpose clearly. That Israel might return to the Lord, which takes place when the Messiah Comes. Both Zechariah and Paul the apostle link the 2nd coming of Christ with the restoration of Israel (Rom 11:26).
Zechariah 1:13 The LORD answered the angel who was speaking with me with gracious words, comforting words.
The second section of Zechariah revolves around 8 visions he received in a single night (Zech 1:7-6:15). These visions are meant to comfort the nation of Israel that the Lord would restore them from captivity, judge their enemies, and provide a period of blessing and prosperity for Israel when the Messiah comes. Zechariah 7:5 “Say to all the people of the land and to the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months these seventy years, was it actually for Me that you fasted?
The third section of Zechariah involves a historical interlude where the people inquire of the Lord regarding fasting (Zech 7:1-8:23). Here the Lord rebukes their outward form of religion that lacked a heart of true worship. He then admonishes the nation to hear the words he has spoken in the past through the former prophets (Zech 7:7), and reminds them that the judgement and scattering of the nation of Israel was due to their hard-hearted rebellion (Zech 7:14). Nevertheless, he promises to return to Zion and save Israel (Zech 8:4; 8:13). In those days the time of fasting will be over, and the days where Israel would have mourned will become cheerful feasts (Zech 8:19). In those days Christ will reign from Jerusalem and just as he said, there will not be fasting when the bridegroom is present, but rather joy (Mk 2:19; Zech 8:19).
Zechariah 9:1 The burden of the word of the LORD…
The fourth section of Zechariah (Zech 9:1-11:17) describes the first oracle or burden from the Lord, which is a particularly weighty message. This section covers topics to include the judgement of Israel’s enemies (9:1-8), the coming King of Jerusalem who will deliver them from gentile rule (9:9-10:23), the rejection of the true shepherd at his 1st coming (Zech 11:1-14), and the acceptance of the foolish shepherd also known as the Antichrist (Zech 11:15-17).
Zechariah 12:1 The burden of the word of the LORD concerning Israel.
The fifth and final section (Zech 12:1-14:21) is the final burden from the Lord about Israel. This section details the deliverance of Israel from all of the nations that will seek to annihilate her (12:1-9); the spiritual salvation, cleansing, and revival for the remnant of Jewish people when they look upon the one whom they have pierced (12:10-13:9); and the conquest, victory, and millennial reign of the coming Messiah at his 2nd coming (14:1-24); when the Lord Jesus Christ will finally be crowned as king over all the earth (Zech 14:9).
Romans 10:1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.
In conclusion, I think it would it is important to share my reasoning for embarking on a study of the book of Zechariah at this particular time. First and foremost, any acts of service I perform are dedicated to Jesus Christ, the King of the Jews, the one who loved me and washed me from my sins in his own blood (Rev 1:5; John 19:19). All faithful teaching of God’s word must be done to please God and not man (Gal 1:10; 1 Thess 2:4). However, I also desire to serve man, not seeking my own good but the good of many that they might be saved (1 Cor 10:33). Similar to Paul the apostle I have a genuine desire for the Jewish people and hope this work by the grace of God might be used to turn them back to their Messiah. As well as serve the Christian community in clearing up any misunderstanding concerning God’s promises to the nation of Israel.
Genesis 12:3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
Recently after finishing a series on Haggai, I was hard pressed between a decision to move onto Zechariah, or possibly teach thru a different topic in the New Testament unrelated to Israel. As I was praying for the Lord to give me direction and guidance on what he wanted me to teach something awful happened. On October 7th, 2023, Hamas (an Islamic terrorist organization), launched a brutal and unprovoked attack on the nation of Israel. This has proved to be the bloodiest single day for Jews since the Holocaust, with estimates of 1400 people murdered including many women and children. Naturally I had a strong urge to do something to help and support the Jewish people. In my misguided zeal I must have put together a dozen different plans to support them. However, after much prayer it became clear to me the best thing that I can do for the Jewish people is to help them understand who their Messiah is. My genuine desire for this series through Zechariah is to reach the hearts of the Jewish people and equip Christians to evangelize them.
Jeremiah 30:17 ‘For I will restore you to health And I will heal you of your wounds,’ declares the LORD, ‘Because they have called you an outcast, saying: “It is Zion; no one cares for her."’
At the time of this writing the nation of Israel is at war. Many people are curious about the myriad of prophecies in scripture concerning Israel and how this might be related to the end times. Some people are alarmists claiming this is proof the end of days is immediately upon us. Other groups in Christianity claim that the Church has replaced Israel, and God has no more promises related to the Jewish people. I hope with this series by the grace of God to remove any unnecessary stumbling blocks that may keep the Jewish people from coming to Christ (Is 57:14), and prevent the Church from falling into the error of boasting against the branches (Rom 11:18).
Isaiah 57:14 And it will be said, “Build up, build up, prepare the way, Remove every stumbling block out of the way of My people.”