THE FUTURE – that vast uncharted sea of the unknown, holding joy or terror, comfort or pain, love or loneliness. Some people fear the days to come, wondering what evils lurk in the shadows, others consult seers and future-telling charlatans, trying desperately to discover its secrets. But tomorrow’s story is known only to God and to those special messengers, called prophets, to whom God has revealed a chapter or two.
A prophet’s primary task was to proclaim the word of the word of the Lord, pointing out sin, explaining its consequences, and calling men and women to repentance and obedience. Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, and Amos stand with scores of others who faithfully delivered God’s message despite rejection, ridicule, and persecution. And at times they were given prophetic visions foretelling coming events.
Nestled near the end of the Old Testament, among what are known as “minor prophets”, is the book of Zechariah. As one of three post-exile prophets, along with Haggai and Malachi, Zechariah ministered to the small remnant of Jews who had returned to Judah to rebuild the temple and their nation. Like Haggai, he encouraged the people to finish rebuilding the temple, but his message went far beyond those physical walls and contemporary issues. With spectacular apocalyptic imagery and graphic detail, Zechariah told of the Messiah, the One whom God would send to rescue his people and to reign over all the earth. Zechariah is one of our most important prophetic books, giving detailed messianic references that were clearly fulfilled in the life of Jesus Christ. The rebuilding of the temple, he says, was just the first act in the drama of the end and the ushering in of the messianic age. Zechariah proclaimed a stirring message of hope to these ex-captives and exiles – their King was coming!
Jesus is Messiah, the promised “great deliverer” of Israel. Unlike Zechariah’s listeners, we can look back at Christ’s ministry and mission. As you study Zechariah’s prophecy, you will see details of Christ’s life that were written 500 years before their fulfilment. Read and stand in awe of our God who keeps his promises. But there is also a future message that has not yet been fulfilled – the return of Christ at the end of the age. As you read Zechariah, therefore, think through the implication of this promised event. Your King is coming, and he will reign for ever and ever.
God knows and controls the future. We may never see more than a moment ahead, but we can be secure if we trust in him. Read Zechariah and strengthen your faith in God – he alone is your hope and security.
PURPOSE: To give hope to God’s people by revealing God’s future deliverance through the Messiah
TO WHOM WRITTEN: The Jews in Jerusalem who had returned from their captivity in Babylon and to God’s people everywhere
DATE WRITTEN: Chapters 1-8 were written about 520-518 B.C. Chapters 9-14 were written around 480 B.C.
SETTING: The exiles had returned from Babylon to rebuild the temple, but the work had been thwarted and stalled. Haggai and Zechariah confronted the people with their task and encouraged them to complete it.
KEY VERSES: “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…. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth” (9:9, 10).
KEY PEOPLE: Zerubbabel, Joshua
KEY PLACE: Jerusalem
SPECIAL FEATURES: This book is the most apocalyptic and messianic of all the minor prophets.
Messages While Rebuilding The Temple (1:1-8:23) Zechariah encouraged the people to put away the sin in their lives and to continue rebuilding the temple. His visions described the judgment of Israel’s enemies, the blessings to Jerusalem, and the need for God’s people to remain pure – avoiding hypocrisy, superficiality, and sin. Zechariah’s visions provided hope for the people. We also need to follow carefully the instructions to remain pure until Christ returns again.
- Zechariah’s night visions
- Zechariah’s words of encouragement
Messages After Completing The Temple (9:1-14:21) Besides encouragement and hope, Zechariah’s messages were also a warning that God’s messianic kingdom would not begin as soon as the temple was complete. Israel’s enemies would be judged and the King would come, but God’s people would themselves face many difficult circumstances before experiencing the blessing of the messianic kingdom. We too may face much sorrow, disappointment, and distress before coming into Christ’s eternal kingdom.
EXPLANATION: God was angry at his people for ignoring his prophets through the years, and he was concerned that they not follow the careless and false leaders who exploited them. Disobedience was the root of their problems and the cause of their misery. God was jealous for their devotion to him.
IMPORTANCE: God is jealous for our devotion. To avoid Israel’s ruin, don’t walk in their steps. Don’t reject God, follow false teachers, or lead others astray. Turn to God, faithfully obey his commands, and make sure you are leading others correctly.
Rebuild the Temple
EXPLANATION: The Jews were discouraged. They were free from exile, yet the temple was not completed. Zechariah encouraged them to rebuild it. God would both protect his workmen and empower them by his Holy Spirit to carry out his work.
IMPORTANCE: More than the rebuilding of the temple was at stake – the people were staging the first act in God’s wonderful drama of the end times. Those of us who believe in God must complete his work. To do so we must have the Holy Spirit’s help. God will empower us with his Spirit.
The King is Coming
EXPLANATION: The Messiah will come both to rescue people from sin and to reign as king. He will establish his kingdom, conquer all his enemies, and rule over all the earth. Everything will one day be under his loving and powerful control.
IMPORTANCE: The Messiah came as a servant to die for us. He will return as a victorious King. At that time, he will usher in peace throughout the world. Submit to his leadership now to be ready for the King’s triumphant return.
EXPLANATION: There was opposition to God’s plan in Zechariah’s day, and he prophesied future times of trouble. But God’s word endures. God remembers the agreements he makes with his people. He cares for his people and will deliver them from all the world powers that oppress them.
IMPORTANCE: Although evil is still present, God’s infinite love and personal care have been demonstrated through the centuries. God keeps his promises. Although our bodies may be destroyed, we need never fear our ultimate destiny if we love and obey him.
©Kingsway International Church, 1973.