The Expository Files.

 Zechariah: "Rebuild Jerusalem; Messiah Is Coming!"

The Minor Prophets, #11

Zechariah began his prophecy during the second year of Darius and continued until the fourth year (1:1; 7:1). This would make the dates 520 - 518 B.C. and mean that Zechariah prophesied with Haggai to the remnant of the Lord's people who had returned from captivity. Through Haggai the Lord rebuked the people for neglecting the rebuilding of the temple and encouraged them to be more zealous. Zechariah does the same thing, but focuses more on the future results, specifically the coming of the Messiah and His kingdom. In fact, no prophet, except for possibly Isaiah, has more to say about the Messiah than does Zechariah, with many exacting statements concerning His coming.

Another interesting thing is that Zechariah produced an apocalyptic book. There are four such books in the Bible, the other three being Daniel, Ezekiel and the book of Revelation. This means that these books have a common style in that much of their message consists of brilliant imagery and symbols which must be interpreted. It is the longest of the minor prophets' works, and due to its nature perhaps the most difficult, but with its focus on the coming Messiah is much too important to ignore.

"I saw at night, and behold, a man was riding on a red horse, and he was standing among the myrtle trees which were in the ravine, with red, sorrel, and white horses behind him. Then I said, 'My lord, what are these?' And the angel who was speaking with me said to me, 'I will show you what these are." (ZECHARIAH 1:8,9). There are a series of eight visions in the first six chapters of Zechariah. They are as follows:

The riders among the myrtle trees (1:7-17). The captivity of seventy years has been accomplished and it is time for rebuilding. The riders are symbolic of God's angels patrolling the earth ensuring that the nations will not disturb the rebuilding of the temple. History shows us that these assurances were realized and the temple was rebuilt just as God promised.

The four horns and the four craftsmen (1:18-21). The four horns represent the nations which had destroyed Judah, Israel and Jerusalem. But now that the time of punishment had passed, God will not allow them to interfere to thwart the rebuilding process.

The man with a measuring line (2:1-13). This vision goes beyond the rebuilding of physical Jerusalem and the restoration of physical Israel. It foretells of spiritual Zion. The man with the measuring line cannot measure this new Jerusalem without walls (vs. 4) and the Lord Himself is coming to dwell in the midst of spiritual Zion (vs. 10). Also, spiritual Zion is to include people of many nations (vs. 11). All this is fulfilled in the church which is spiritual Jerusalem (GALATIANS 4: 25,26; HEBREWS 12:22,23).

Satan accuses but the Lord forgives the High Priest, Joshua (3:1-10). This vision shows that the Lord will forgive the sins of the people. Zechariah is promised that the Messiah, whom God identifies as His servant "Branch", would remove iniquity in one day (vs 8-10). This would be fulfilled when Jesus gave His life on the cross.

The lampstand and the two olive trees (4:1-14). In this vision given to Zechariah, the Lord sends Zerubbabel a message of assurance. Zerubbabel was the leader of the people and responsible for directing the affairs of rebuilding. The lampstand represented God's Spirit. It would not be by Zerubbabel's own power that the temple would be rebuilt, but by God's Spirit. He would successfully complete the temple. The two olive trees on either side of the lampstand represent the two anointed ones who are standing by the Lord, referring to God's appointed leaders of the people; Zerubbabel, the civil leader as well as Joshua, the high priest and spiritual leader.

The flying roll (5:1-4). This vision was designed to show God's disapproval of dishonesty. On one side of the roll is written a curse upon those who steal, and on the other side against those who lie.

The woman and the ephah (5:5-11). An ephah was a standard of dry measurement, usually in the form of a large basket or barrel. A woman is sitting in the basket and is identified as wickedness. She is carried far away. This vision seems to suggest a cleansing of the people; a removal of wickedness so that they might be pure.

The four chariots (6:1-8). This final night vision again demonstrates the protective providence of God at work throughout the earth to ensure that the things which He has promised will come to pass, including the rebuilding of the temple and the coming of the Messiah.


"...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 who will bear honor and sit and rule on His throne. Thus, He will be a priest on His throne..." (ZECHARIAH 6:12,13). Zechariah was instructed to place a crown upon Joshua, the high priest's, head. This symbolized the coming of the Messiah, who again is called "Branch" because He branched out from David. The crowning of a priest is significant because it foretells that in the Messianic kingdom, unlike the physical nation of Israel where the royal office was separate from the priestly office, the two offices would be joined. This, again, is fulfilled in King Jesus, our High Priest, who has indeed built the spiritual temple; His church.

"Thus says the Lord of hosts, 'Let your hands be strong, you who are listening these days to the words from the mouth of the prophets, those who spoke in the day that the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid, to the end that the temple might be rebuilt." (ZECHARIAH 8:9). This message comes about two years after the series of visions. As the work continues, the people are wondering if the time for fasting and mourning for sins was complete, or should it continue? The Lord encourages them to do a number of things; to let their hands be strong, to speak truth and to judge with truth and judgment for peace and not to devise evil in their hearts. Then He answers to let their fasting become joy and gladness (8:19).

"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph. O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation; humble and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, a foal of a donkey." (ZECHARIAH 9:9). By the Holy Spirit, Zechariah makes multiple predictions of many types in the rest of the book. Some have to do with other nations, some with Israel and Jerusalem and many with the Messiah to come just about five centuries later.

While many nations, such as Tyre, Sidon, Ashkelon, Ashdod will fall (and they did!), Jerusalem will be visited by her king. Jesus' final entry into Jerusalem is very graphically described.

The Lord promises to bless His people, using figures of speech to describe the many spiritual blessings, riches, honor and prosperity under Christ. The Lord will give increase; He will visit His people.

There are also more ominous sounding predictions. One in particular that arrests our attention is the counting out of the thirty pieces of silver that the people will one day determine as the price the Lord is worth and the throwing of the silver to the potter in the house of the Lord 11:12,13). This was fulfilled at the betrayal of Jesus and Judas' own remorse (MATTHEW 27:3-10; ACTS 1:18,19).

We also have a promise of a pouring out of God's Spirit in Jerusalem (12:10), an a fountain for forgiveness of sins which will be opened up at Jerusalem (13:1). This was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost after Jesus' ascension (ACTS 2:1-5). The Lord promises, "I will say, 'They are My people,' and they will say, 'The Lord is My God." (13:9).

 By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 4.11; November 1997