Zechariah: Get Ready for the Messiah

[Home] [India Village Ministries] [Bible Study] [Doctrine]

Get Ready for the Messiah

Eight visions, Four messages, Two burdens.

Background: Zechariah preached at the time of Haggai and possibly for fifty years (520-470 BC)
Theme: God's program for his people leading to the coming of the Messiah
Outline: Eight Visions, Four Messages, and Two Burdens
Key Verse: "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." (Zech 9:9, NIV)

Zechariah Chapter Index


The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Vol I, Old Testament) is an excellent resource and is referred to in these notes as the BKC.


The Time: During the restoration of Israel.  Approximately 75 years after Habakkuk and Jeremiah predicted the Babylonian Exile, Cyrus the Persian allowed Hebrews to return to Jerusalem.  Zechariah's ministry went from 539 BC (Cyrus' conquest of Babylon) to the completion of the second Temple (516 BC).  These events are during the time of the Book of Ezra.

The Person: Zechariah was a prophet and priest born in Babylon who came to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel and Joshua (Nehemiah 12:4).   Zechariah means "The LORD remembers" or "The LORD keeps guard over".

The Occasion: The Hebrews returned to Jerusalem in 538-7 BC and enthusiastically built the altar and laid the foundations for the temple.  Opposition arose from non-Hebrews in the surrounding lands, and building efforts stopped.  Zechariah will rebuke and encourage the Hebrews to rebuild the temple.

The Message: George L. Robinson said that Zechariah is the "most apocalyptic and eschatological of all the writings of the OT".

I. 8 Symbolic Visions (1-6)Approximately 520-519 BC. Eight visions in a single night.

1:4 An excellent observation by Mr. Lindsey (BKC) that a prophet will forthtell and foretell. It is a mistake to think of a prophet as some sort of clairvoyant or fortune teller. Their message is from the authentic source, the Living God, and the event the prophet is foretelling sometimes has a purpose in the time it is told.

1:5 Although not the focus of this verse, it is interesting that a silence of prophecy would soon occur. Over 400 years would pass between the last words of Malachi (perhaps 425 B.C.) and the arrival of John the Baptist.

Eight Visions in a Single Night
Number VersesVisionMeaning
1st1:7-17Horsemen among Myrtle TreesGod's Messengers See Peace
2nd1:18-21 Four Horns and Four CraftsmenNations that Scattered Israel are Toppled
3rd2:1-13SurveyorMeasure to Rebuild and Expand Jerusalem
4th3:1-10Cleaning and Restoration of JoshuaCleaning and Restoration of Israel
5th4:1-15Gold Lampstand and Two Olive Trees Divine Power for Zerubbabel and Joshua
6th5:1-4Flying ScrollThe Word Condemns Lawbreakers
7th5:5-11Woman in a BasketThe Wicked Taken Away
8th6:1-8Four ChariotsJudgments Upon the Earth

1:7-17 FIRST VISION - Although the oppressing nations are at their ease, God will take care of His people, including restoring their towns and the temple.

1:8-10 The colored horses are associated with 'the ones the LORD has sent to go throughout the earth'.  The Persians were well known for their postal system, which used horseman to deliver messages at top speed throughout the empire.  Their motto, "Neither wind nor storm nor dark of night shall keep us from our appointed rounds" was borrowed thousands of years later by the US Postal Service.  Their method was repeated in the Pony Express of the American west.  For these reasons, we look at these horses as symbolic of the LORD's messengers.  Horses will be prominent in two other visions here, as well as at the beginning of the Book of Revelation.

1:19 One problem with interpreting the horns as Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome (as in BKC) is that Medo-Persia did not scatter Judah. Judah was scattered by Babylon and the Persians allowed some Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and the city. Also, as Mr. Lindsey points out, the Greek and Roman Empires were still in the future.  It is easier to interpret them as Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, and Persia.

1:21 If the horns are the kingdoms of Daniel’s visions (see note above), and the craftsmen are the succeeding kingdoms, then three kingdoms are represented as both a horn and a craftsman. The third and fourth horns (Greece and Rome) would be the second and third craftsmen, and were certainly not deliverers or rescuers of Judah. It seems a bit of a stretch to represent the same thing (Greece) by two different symbols which have greatly differing purposes in the vision.

I find it preferable to view the craftsmen as nations used by God to overthrow past oppressors, although I cannot with certainty identify which specific nations the craftsmen represent (except that Persia would be included).

3:1-2 While the inferences may be taken that the Angel of the LORD is the preincarnate Christ, others take the angel as simply a messenger speaking for the LORD. If so, verse 4 "I have taken your sin away" would interpreted as the words of God, the I referring to God. The messenger is then simply the mouthpiece of God. This is perhaps a more difficult reading, and does not answer the technical issue of whether the word ‘standing’ in verse 2 is a form of worship appropriate only for God.

3:8-10 Again, the BKC interprets the word ‘day’ in the sense of an era, in this case covering at least the 1000 year reign of Christ on the earth. I have a hard time accepting a gradual removal of iniquity which is ongoing through the Millennium.

[Chad Woodburn] Odd that the statement "I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day" would be taken as referring to a very long period of time, when initial reading of the verse seems to be describing something which would take place very quickly! "In that day" refers to that one day in which He would remove their iniquity. The statement is inceptive: beginning in that day and going onward, the people would invite their neighbors over.

4:1-4 I see no need to count the "seven channels to the lights" as seven channels to each light, or forty-nine channels (as in BKC). One channel to each light, seven channels in all, seems to be an adequate and simple reading of the text.

II. 4 Explanatory Messages (7-8) Approximately 518 BC.

7.  When asked if Bethel should continue to fast on the occasion of the destruction of the fall of Jerusalem, the LORD replies by questioning the motives of the people. Perhaps they were sincere when they started about seventy years earlier, but the LORD indicates a more appropriate action than fasting would be to "Administer true justice, show mercy and compassion ..., do not oppress ...,  in your hearts do not think evil of each other."

III. 2 Revelatory Oracles (9-14) Possibly after 480 BC.

11:12-13 The value of the thirty pieces of silver was the price of a slave. Judas Iscariot was paid this amount for his betrayal of Jesus, and threw it into the temple afterwards.  The priests bought a plot of land with the blood money for the burial of the poor.

Please send comments or suggestions to ron@iStudyBible.com
Updated March 2012

Bible and Cross