Zechariah was both a priest and a prophet who ministered during the same time as Haggai. His name, Zechariah, means “Yahweh remembers.” Because God remembers, there is hope for the people of Israel. God will remember His covenant and will keep His promises.
Zechariah was written to comfort and encourage the returned remnant to repent of their evil ways, to return to the Lord and to rebuild the temple. His message also proclaims that God would send the Messiah to establish His Kingdom.
The book opens with a call to remembrance. The Israelites are to reflect on the discipline that came to their ancestors who ignored the prophets in the past. The Israelites are to repent, recognizing that what God had done in discipline was what was deserved.
Then the book records a series of visions which portray God’s plans for Israel’s future. First a report of horse riders reveals that God is angry with the nations that are at ease, or self-satisfied, because, although He wanted these nations to discipline Israel, they went too far. In response, God is going to choose by grace to restore the prosperity of Israel and place his temple in Jerusalem.
Zechariah then sees four horns and four craftsman. The horns are the foreign nations used to discipline Israel and to bring humility. These Gentile nations (the horns) used in discipline are followed by other nations (craftsmen) who come along to discipline these Gentile nations who became arrogant in their domination.
Zechariah then sees a man on his way to measure Jerusalem to ensure that there will be enough space for all the people who will dwell there in the coming prosperity. But an angel says Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls because of the multitude of men and cattle and God’s glory in her midst. This is a comforting and encouraging message to the people that Yahweh will come to dwell in the midst of Israel (probably a reference to the millenium).
Joshua the priest is then accused by Satan. Joshua seems to represent the nation of Israel. Satan is pointing out Israel’s unfaithfulness as being unworthy of God’s favor. But God’s answer is that God has chosen Israel and Israel will be saved. The Lord is going to put clean clothes on Joshua symbolic of purifying the nation. “In that day,” Israel will sit under the shade of their own tree and invite their neighbor to sit under the tree with them. In other words, they will fulfill their God given task of being a witness and blessing to the nations.
From these chapters I am reminded that not only is God gracious to discipline his people to humble them, but He is faithful to encourage them about the sure hope for the future. No matter how difficult our present struggles may be, the Messiah has come, has purified us, and has brought a future hope that is sure.
Ideas adapted from Hampton Keithley IV, bible.org, “Zechariah”, June 18 2004.