Zechariah means “God remembers.” He was born in Babylonia and undoubtedly he was named in hope that the exile would end soon. He was a Levite, and his family longed for the Temple to be rebuilt so they could return to their duties in the priesthood. Zechariah followed God’s leading of His people back to their Promised Land as pioneers to reestablish a Jewish presence and worship in Jerusalem. Things had not gone well for these faithful Jews. They were beset by all sorts of problems and work-stoppages. The spirit of these people was almost completely broken. It was at this point that God commissioned Haggai and Zechariah to motivate the religious and civil leaders as well as the people to revive the work of rebuilding the Temple.
Haggai began with his first and second recorded prophecy during this period (a month apart), explaining that the 16 years they had been trying to maintain Jewish presence in Jerusalem had included chastening by God for their procrastination. Their crops had failed and because they were not repentant, Haggai was sent to make the situation undeniably clear.
In the third month, November, 520 B.C., Zechariah 1:1-6 says that it was important that the Israelites not just listen to the messages from God, and break the established trend of their fathers, who deliberately ignored the messages, and suffered dire the consequences of defeat and captivity. Disobedience to God brings horrible and lasting consequences.
The next set of visions from God to Zechariah came on February 24, 520 B.C. The Temple was being rebuilt and God wanted the hard working people to know why this work was so vitally important. Zechariah was given glimpses of what was going to happen in the distant future, and pointing out that these events all surrounded a rebuilt Temple. These visions are incredibly important and are further explained in other books of the Bible. Without this book, the Biblical message would not be complete.
Not only are the “horsemen” of Revelation described, but exactly where they meet and go is given as well! God’s promises as to the importance of Jerusalem and the Temple are given over and over again in Zechariah 1:7-6:15. As with all Scripture, the book must be read, but here is an example of one of the promises:
And said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein: For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her (Zechariah 2:4-5).
The next message was a couple of years later on December 4, 518 B.C., Zechariah 7:1. Some very practical answers were given and challenges made to stay true to God’s Word and simply ignore the philosophies and ideas of people that distort the unchanging message of Scripture.
The first issue was about whether they should continue the annual fasting and weeping done in place of the feasts days of Scripture, as had become “tradition.” The answer was that that God’s Word never changed and those that changed it were doing so for their own purposes in complete odds with the message of Scripture. The feasts are about what God has done, and about what we can do to help our fellow countrymen. It is not about how we feel at all! The whole passage must be read, but here is one verse:
Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts (Zechariah 7:12).
There is so much more, but God’s Word awaits the reading of His children. Make it a habit to read this book at least once a year with all the rest of God’s precious words to us! But don’t be just readers, but fashion your lives and hearts after God’s as He instructs!
Peter C. Craigie, Twelve Prophets: Volume 2, The Daily study Bible series (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001, c1984). 133.
Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1996, c1989) Zec 1:7.
F. Charles Fencham, ed. Geoffrey Bromley. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman, 1988) pp. 1183-1186
Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, A.R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997). Zec 1:1.
Andrew Knowles, The Bible Guide, 1st Augsburg books ed. (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 2001) p. 390.
William MacDonald and Arthur Farstad, Believer's Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995) Zec. 1:7.
J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1981) vol. 3, p. 905.
Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald Barclay Allen and H. Wayne House, The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1997). Zec 1:2.
James E. Smith, The Minor Prophets (Joplin, Mo.: College Press, 1992).
Spirit Filled Life Study Bible, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1991).
Frank Charles Thompson, The Thompson Chain Reference Bible (Indianapolis: Kirkbride Bible Co, 1988) p. 1614