Philippe R. Sterling
God provided visions and oracles through Zechariah concerning Israel’s purification and restoration as a priestly nation in the glorious future. The oracles present information about Messiah’s first coming as a suffering servant and second coming in glory.
The name Zechariah means “the LORD remembers”. He is of priestly descent. He prophesies alongside of Haggai beginning in 520 BC (1:1). His last dated prophecy is in 518 BC (7:1). The two closing oracles of chapters 9—14 are undated and may have been written later in Zechariah’s life.
Literary Structure and Content
I. Dated Revelation during the Building of the Post-Exilic Temple (1—8)
A. Call to Return: God through Zechariah calls the nation to return to Him (1:1-6).
Note the dating: In the eighth month of the second year of Darius . . .
1. Zechariah introduces himself as a recipient of the word of the LORD (1:1).
2. Zechariah exhorts the people to return to the LORD so that He will return to them (1:2-3).
3. Zechariah reminds the people of the fulfillment of God’s word in the past to encourage their obedience
in the present and future (1:4-6).
B. Night Visions: Through a series of visions Zechariah prophesies the reestablishment and cleansing
of the nation under her Messiah-King (1:7—6:15).
Note the dating: On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Shebat, in the second year of Darius . . .
1. The Vision of the Horses and Riders: God allows the sinful nations of the earth to be temporarily at ease
as he sets the stage for the restoration of Zion (1:7-17).
2. The Vision of the Four Horns and Four Craftsmen: God overthrows the nations who afflict his people
Babylon ← Medo-Persia
Medo-Persia ← Greece
Greece ← Rome
Rome ← Messiah
3. The Vision of the Surveyor: Jerusalem will be rebuilt and become the new world center with the Messiah
in residence (2:1-13).
4. The Vision of the Investiture of Joshua the High Priest: God replaces the filthy garments of Joshua with
festal robes and promises to bring the Branch who will remove the sin of the land in one day (3:1-10).
Satan accuses God’s servants. God cleanses from sin. God commissions to service. God promises the complete removal of sin through the work of the Branch of whom Joshua is a symbol. Here is a revelation of both the accuser of God’s people and the advocate of God’s people (see 1 Jn. 2:1; Rev. 12:10-11).
5. The Vision of the Golden Lampstand and the Two Olive Trees: God’s two anointed servants of the
priestly and royal line – Zerubbabel and Joshua – will complete the building of the temple by the power
of God’s Spirit (4:1-14).
God’s people must rely upon the power of God’s Spirit to do God’s work. God’s people must not despise the day of small things.
6. The Vision of the Flying Scroll: God will judge sin (5:1-4).
7. The Vision of the Woman in the Ephah and Its Removal to Babylon: God will remove sin (5:5-11).
God will do this as he concludes the times of the Gentiles and moves in grace to restore Israel. Is the lid on evil (5:8) open or shut in our lives?
8. The Vision of the Four Chariots: God’s judgment will descend upon the nations (6:1-8).
The first vision ended with the disappointing news of the angelic patrol that the nations were at rest. In the eighth vision war chariots are attached to the horses so they can dispense judgment.
9. The Symbolic Crowning of Joshua: God will install his Priest-King as ruler over all nations (6:9-15).
Messiah will unite the offices of Priest and King. Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the Lord. Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the Lord, and He who will bear the honor and sit and rule on His throne. Thus, He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices” (6:12-13).
C. Question and Reply: God replies to the question concerning national fasts by rebuking present selfish
motives, pointing to the nation’s past refusal to practice social justice and its consequences, and promising
a national restoration in the future that will turn the fasts into feasts in the Messianic kingdom (7—8).
Note the dating: In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, which is Chislev.
1. Zechariah tells of the question of the people of Bethel concerning their obligation with the fasts (7:1-3).
2. Zechariah gives God’s negative answer consisting of a scathing rebuke of their present attitudes in
3. Zechariah gives God’s negative answer of consisting of a warning from the past history of the nation of
the consequences of not practicing social justice (7:8-14).
4. Zechariah gives God’s positive answer of the promise of restoration in the glorious future where the fasts
will be turned into feasts for Judah and all the nations who seek God’s favor (8:1-23).
a. He cites God’s promise of restoration (8:1-17).
1) God declares his jealousy for Zion (1-2).
2) God declares his return to Zion to dwell in Jerusalem (3).
3) God declares that he will bring back his people from their various places of captivity that old and
young might dwell in Jerusalem (4-8).
4) God declares that he will save his people that they might become a blessing instead of a curse
among the nations – this is a reason for them to be strong (9-13).
5) God declares that the restoration of the nation is just as sure as the judgment had been and that
the people have a responsibility to live according to his commands (14-17).
b. He cites God’s promise of turning the fasts into a time for joy and worship for Judah and all the
1) God declares that the previous times of fasting will become a time of joy and worship (18-19).
2) God declares that peoples from the cities of Judah and the nations will come to seek the favor of
the LORD (20-22).
3) God declares that the nations will view the Jew as a means for reaching God (23).
II. Undated Revelation after the Completion of the Post-Exilic Temple (9—14)
A. First Oracle: Zechariah gives the burden concerning the land of Hadrach which deals with the judgment of
the nations by the Messiah who will deliver his covenant people and shepherd them even though they
initially reject him and follow false shepherds (9—11).
1. He tells of the deliverance of the covenant people from their enemies by the coming King who will institute
a new order (9:1-17).
a. God will judge the nations of the Syria-Palestine area and protect his people – this may refer to
God accomplishing his purpose through Alexander (9:1-8).
b. God calls his people to rejoice because of the coming of their King [Messiah] who will first come
humble and mounted on a donkey and then come to establish his dominion (9:9-10).
c. God will strengthen the sons of Zion against the sons of Greece and introduce a new order (9:11-17).
2. He contrasts the good shepherd from the false shepherds (10—11).
a. The LORD as the ultimate shepherd will gather his flock and bring them back into the land that they
might walk with him (10:1-12).
b. The flock that rejects the good shepherd and follows false shepherds is doomed to slaughter (11:1-17).
1) God will destroy the land of Israel and its shepherds (1-3).
2) God commands Zechariah to shepherd the flock doomed to slaughter as a type of the Messiah the
flock rejects for false shepherds (4-14).
God commands Zechariah to pasture the flock doomed to slaughter (4-6). Zechariah pastures the flock and takes two staffs called Favor and Union (7). The shepherd gives up the idea that he can shepherd the flock and cuts the staff called Favor in pieces to picture the breaking of the covenant with the people (8-11). The shepherd asks for his wages and the sheep gives him thirty shekels of silver (12). The LORD commands that the thirty shekels of silver at which they valued him be thrown to the potter in the house of the LORD (13). The shepherd then breaks the second staff called Union (14).
3) God commands Zechariah to take up the equipment of a worthless shepherd – perhaps the
broken staffs – as a type of the shepherd who does not seek the good of the sheep (11:15-17).
B. Second Oracle: Zechariah gives the burden concerning the land of Israel which deals with the purging and
final restoration of the nation by its deliverer (12—14).
1. God declares that Jerusalem and Judah will go through a time of great warfare which will end in
2. God promises to pour out a spirit of repentance upon the rulers and people of Jerusalem so that they will
look upon “Me” whom they pierced and mourn for Him (12:10-14).
3. God promises to cleanse and refine the nation as a result of the Shepherd being stricken in the house
of those who should have loved him (13:1-9).
4. God declares that he will go to battle on behalf of the nation and establish a new order of creation (14:1-8).
5. God declares that he will rule over the whole earth in which all things will be “HOLY TO THE
Theological Reflection and Application
Zechariah prophesies to the returned exiles to encourage them to finish rebuilding the temple and to rededicate their lives to God. The word of encouragement centers on the promise of the coming of the Messiah. The encouragement of the people of God of any age towards faithfulness and steadfastness centers on the promise of the coming of Christ and the establishment of the Messianic kingdom.
Zechariah is one of the great Messianic books of the Old Testament. It contains numerous prophecies of both the first and second coming of the Messiah. Zechariah presents the Messiah as the Branch (3:1; 6:12), the royal priest (6:13), the humble king (9:9) the rejected shepherd (11:12-13; 13:7), the pierced one (12:10; 13:6), the returning king (14:3-9). The Messianic prophecies provide the unifying thread for the book as a whole.
“Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come Lord Jesus.