The English word prophet in the Old Testament comes from the Hebrew word “nabiy” which means “spokesman” or “speaker”. The Greek word for prophet is “prophētēs”, which can mean “one who speaks forth” or “advocate.” Prophets are also called “seers,” because of their spiritual insight or their ability to “see” the future, as directed by God.
Zechariah’s name means “God has remembered” and is very fitting because He was a prophet of Judah and was of the priestly line, just as Ezekiel.
He is also mentioned by Jesus as having been murdered by the rebellious and disobedient Jews of his day
Matthew 23:35 NIV And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.
Zechariah who was the grandson of a priest Iddo, who returned with the first group of Israelites allowed back from exile, in 538 BC under the decree of Cyrus, king of Persia.
Zechariah 1:1 NIV 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:
Nehemiah 12:1-7 NIV These were the priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and with Joshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, Amariah, Malluk, Hattush, Shekaniah, Rehum, Meremoth, Iddo, Ginnethon, Abijah, Mijamin, Moadiah, Bilgah, Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah, Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah and Jedaiah. These were the leaders of the priests and their associates in the days of Joshua.
Because of his family lineage, Zechariah was a priest in addition to a prophet. He, therefore, would have had an intimate familiarity with the worship practices of the Jews, even if he had never served in a completed temple. He was a young man at the time of this first prophecies.
Zechariah 2:3-4 NIV While the angel who was speaking to me was leaving, another angel came to meet him and said to him: “Run, tell that young man, ‘Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of people and animals in it.
He probably lived into the reign of Xerxes 485-465 BC, who is most famous for his queen who was Esther.
Esther 1:1, 2:15-17 NIV This is what happened during the time of Xerxes, the Xerxes who ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush: When the turn came for Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.
Although a younger man Zechariah was a contemporary of Haggai and, delivered messages from the Lord to the Jewish remnant recently returned from Babylon. Haggai's message pointed out Israel’s sin and selfishness. Zechariah emphasized a tone of encouragement to the struggling Israelites trying to rebuild their temple. His visions, which were dated, take place about the some time as those of Haggai which were in October and November 520 BC.
Zachariah received eight visions on February 15, 519 BC Zechariah 1:7- 6-18, followed by four messages that he preached on December 7, 518 BC, Zechariah 7:1 - 8:23. There is no date for his final messages in chapters 9–14 but his mention of Greece suggest that the came much later.
Zechariah 9:13 NIV I will bend Judah as I bend my bow and fill it with Ephraim. I will rouse your sons, Zion, against your sons, Greece, and make you like a warrior’s sword.
These messages presumably came sometime before Ezra and Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem to revitalize the people.
Why Zachariah Is Important
The book of Zechariah contains the clearest and the largest number of mentions about the Messiah of all the Minor Prophets.
Zechariah 9:9-10:12 Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the warhorses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. 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. As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you. I will bend Judah as I bend my bow and fill it with Ephraim. I will rouse your sons, Zion, against your sons, Greece, and make you like a warrior’s sword. Then the Lord will appear over them; his arrow will flash like lightning. The Sovereign Lord will sound the trumpet; he will march in the storms of the south, and the Lord Almighty will shield them. They will destroy and overcome with sling stones. They will drink and roar as with wine; they will be full like a bowl used for sprinkling the corners of the altar. The Lord their God will save his people on that day as a shepherd saves his flock. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. How attractive and beautiful they will be! Grain will make the young men thrive, and new wine the young women. Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime; it is the Lord who sends the thunderstorms. He gives showers of rain to all people, and plants of the field to everyone. The idols speak deceitfully, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd. “My anger burns against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders; for the Lord Almighty will care for his flock, the people of Judah, and make them like a proud horse in battle. From Judah will come the cornerstone, from him the tent peg, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler. Together they will be like warriors in battle trampling their enemy into the mud of the streets. They will fight because the Lord is with them, and they will put the enemy horsemen to shame. “I will strengthen Judah and save the tribes 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 Ephraimites will become like warriors, and their hearts will be glad as with wine. Their children will see it and be joyful; their hearts will rejoice in the Lord . I will signal for them and gather them in. Surely I will redeem them; they will be as numerous as before. Though I scatter them among the peoples, yet in distant lands they will remember me. They and their children will survive, and they will return. I will bring them back from Egypt and gather them from Assyria. I will bring them to Gilead and Lebanon, and there will not be room enough for them. They will pass through the sea of trouble; the surging sea will be subdued and all the depths of the Nile will dry up. Assyria’s pride will be brought down and Egypt’s scepter will pass away. I will strengthen them in the Lord and in his name they will live securely,” declares the Lord .
Jesus will come, according to Zechariah, as Savior, Judge, and ultimately, as the righteous King ruling His people from Jerusalem.
Zechariah 14:8-9 NIV On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean 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.
His book brims over with the hope that God would remember His promises to His people, even after all the time they spent outside the land. Like many of the prophets, Zechariah saw isolated snapshots of the future. For a people newly returned from exile, Zechariah provided specific prophecy about their immediate and distant future—no doubt a great encouragement. Their nation would still be judged for sin;
Zechariah 5:1-4 NIV I looked again, and there before me was a flying scroll. He asked me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a flying scroll, twenty cubits long and ten cubits wide. ” And he said to me, “This is the curse that is going out over the whole land; for according to what it says on one side, every thief will be banished, and according to what it says on the other, everyone who swears falsely will be banished. The Lord Almighty declares, ‘I will send it out, and it will enter the house of the thief and the house of anyone who swears falsely by my name. It will remain in that house and destroy it completely, both its timbers and its stones.’ ”
But they would also be cleansed and restored;
Zechariah 3:1-5 NIV Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord , and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord , who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.” Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by.
And God would rebuild His people
Zechariah 1:16-17 NIV “Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,’ declares the Lord Almighty. “Proclaim further: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘My towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem.’ ”
Zechariah concluded his book by looking into the distant future, first at the rejection of the Messiah by Israel
Zechariah 11:7-9 NIV So I shepherded the flock marked for slaughter, particularly the oppressed of the flock. Then I took two staffs and called one Favor and the other Union, and I shepherded the flock. In one month I got rid of the three shepherds. The flock detested me, and I grew weary of them and said, “I will not be your shepherd. Let the dying die, and the perishing perish. Let those who are left eat one another’s flesh.”
And then at His eventual reign when Israel will finally be delivered
Zechariah 12:1-13 A prophecy: The word of the Lord concerning Israel. The Lord , who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the human spirit within a person, declares: “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.
Zechariah 14:20-21 NIV On that day holy to the Lord will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the Lord ’s house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the Lord Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord Almighty.
If you are struggling with discouragement read Zechariah. While the book contains its share of judgments on the people of Judah and beyond, it overflows with hope in the future reign of the Lord over His people. It’s easy to get caught up in the oftentimes depressing events of day-to-day life, to lose our perspective and live as people without hope. The book of Zechariah serves as a correction for that tendency in our lives. We have a hope that is sure.