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Introduction to the Books of the Bible

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BOOK : Zechariah

Description : Warnings & encouragements for the returned exiles, not so much in personal challenges but in portrayal of the great plans and purposes of God. Prophesied alongside Haggai.

Author: Zechariah, a prophet or someone close to him

Date written : Somewhere between 627 and 609BC but also probably later (he was a young man – 2:4 when he spoke some of the earlier words)

Chapters : 14



Brief Synopsis:

•  Speaking at the same time as Haggai and on into following years Zechariah spoke into the returning exiles bringing encouragement but his ‘words' are more often ‘visions' that go far beyond immediate encouragement for the temple builders.
•  The first part comprises what are usually referred to as eight visions, although they follow on one after the other) and some encouragement for Joshua the high priest. There is also a challenge to face the truth and blessing from the Lord on His faithful people.
•  Part two comprises two ‘oracles' (an oracle = a prophetic burden imposed by a master that must be discharged) that have distinct similarities and which appear to speak of the times to come in the plans and purposes of God who brings His Saviour who is rejected but who brings salvation. There is also included judgment on the nations who dealt badly with Israel , and blessing on God's people for eternity.

Outline :


Part I (chs. 1-8) : Visions, a Crowning & Fasting

1:1-6 Introduction
1:1 The Date and the Author's Name
1:2-6 A Call to Repentance
1:7-6:8 A Series of Eight Night Visions
1:7-17 The Horseman among the Myrtle Trees
1:18-21 The Four Horns and the Four Craftsmen
Ch.2 A Man with a Measuring Line
Ch.3 Clean Garments for Joshua the High Priest
Ch.4 The Gold Lamp Stand and the Two Olive Trees
5:1-4 The Flying Scroll
5:5-11 The Woman in a Basket
6:18 The Four Chariots
6:9-15 The Symbolic Crowning of Joshua the High Priest
Ch.7-8 The Problem of Fasting and the Promise of the Future

7:1-3 The Question by the Delegation from Bethel

7:4-7 The Rebuke by the Lord
7:8-14 The Command to Repent
8:1-23 Ten Promises of Blessing

Part II (chs. 9-14): Two Prophetic Oracles: The Great Messianic Future and the Full Realization of God's Kingdom

Ch.9-11 The First Oracle: The Advent and Rejection of the Messiah
9:1-8 The surrounding enemies dealt with
9:9-17 The King of Deliverance & Peace comes
10:1-2 Ask of God not idols
10:3-5 Leaders will be removed and a new one arise
10:6-12 Judah restored
11:1-3 Destruction will come
11:4-17 The Lord is rejected by the flock who He disciplines by giving another 
Ch.12-14 The Second Oracle : Jerusalem delivered and saved
12:1-9 Jerusalem besieged but the Lord helps them to judge their enemies
12:10-13 God's people will mourn for their attitude towards Him
13:1-6 Jerusalem is cleansed
13:7-9 God's shepherd struck down and the people scattered
14:1-7 Reiteration: the Lord will fight for besieged Jerusalem
14:8-11 Life will flow from the Lord's presence in Jerusalem
14:12-15 Judgment on the nations against Jerusalem
14:16-19 Survivors submit and worship the Lord in Jerusalem
14:20-21 Everything about Jerusalem will be holy.


Key Verses :


Zechariah, grandson of Iddo, who returned to Jerusalem from Babylon (would have been born in Babylon )

1:1 In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo
(Neh 12:1,4  These were the priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and with Jeshua: ……Iddo)


With each of the 8 early ‘visions' look for a) the vision, b) the interpretation and c) sometimes an accompanying word

1:8,10 During the night I had a vision --and there before me was a man riding a red horse ! He was standing among the myrtle trees in a ravine. Behind him were red, brown and white horses. ….. Then the man standing among the myrtle trees explained, "They are the ones the LORD has sent to go throughout the earth."

What must presumably be a prophetic word about the priest-king Messiah (if not the Lord is inferring the rule of the people is being transferred to the priesthood)

6:12,13 Tell him ( Joshua, the high priest ) this is what the LORD Almighty says: `Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.'


Zechariah obviously carried on prophesying for at least 2 years after Haggai

7:1 In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah


The first of ten blessings – each begin with “This is what the Lord says”

8:1-3 Again the word of the LORD Almighty came to me. This is what the LORD Almighty says: "I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her." This is what the LORD says: "I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem.


1 st Oracle - God will deal with surrounding enemies by sending His king (Messiah)

9:8,9 But I will defend my house against marauding forces. Never again will an oppressor overrun my people, for now I am keeping watch. Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you , righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (see Mt 21:5, Jn 12:15)


Oracle 1- more hope for the future

10:6 "I will strengthen the house of Judah and save the house of Joseph. I will restore them because I have compassion on them. They will be as though I had not rejected them, for I am the LORD their God and I will answer them.


The chapter has hints of Israel 's rejection of God (His Messiah) and ending of the covenant

11:8 The flock detested me, and I grew weary of them


2 nd Oracle – the end times? Jerusalem besieged but bring down all others

12:2,3 "I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.


2 nd Oracle – end times – Israel will repent for rejecting their Messiah

12:10 And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.


Ditto – in that day Israel will be cleansed

13:1 On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem , to cleanse them from sin and impurity. "On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more," declares the LORD


The Lord will use Israel to judge other nations

14:2,3 I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle.


Blessing, judgment, eventual triumph & submission

14:8,9,12,16 On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem , half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter. The LORD will be king over the whole earth . On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name…… the LORD will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem ….. Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty



Concluding Comments


•  Zechariah is both a simple and a complex book. It is simple in that in parts of it the structure is simple and straight forward; it is complex in that it deals with great swathes of the Lord's plans and purposes – which includes the future (last days) – and these are not so clear as we might like them to be.
•  Read it in pieces, e.g. follow the eight night visions or the ten promises of blessing, and read it in chunks – the two end oracles – and try and discern God's discipline, His judgment, and His blessings. Don't be put off if you cannot understand every detail – it has caused scholars and commentators to scratch their heads.
•  Above all, see the Lord's greatness in it all. He is the One who oversees all these things and He works all things towards a glorious climax where peace and blessing reign for ever.