Author and His Times
Zechariah is a young Levite (mentioned in Nehemiah) of the restoration post-exile period. He delivers vision to their present situation, as well as the distant future. His three year ministry began shortly after Haggai (520-518 BC), in the second year of Darius, King of Persia. The world climate is in turmoil while Darius fights 19 battles to squash the uprisings of revolts that followed the death of Cyrus and his son.
After 50 years of exile, YHWH had stirred King Cyrus of Persia to commission and fund the rebuilding of the Temple. The first remnant returned to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel’s leadership, yet quickly diverted their attention away from the Temple construction and toward the building of their own private homes. 19 years have passed, Darius now rules Persia, Zerubbabel still lacks the power and influence to rally Judah to the reconstruction, Haggai and Zechariah enter the picture to push heavily for the rebuilding of the temple, Ezra and Nehemiah are still decades away from coming. Haggai was successful in inspiring them to start the reconstruction; Zechariah’s voice was needed to help them reach the finish line in 516 BC.
I. (1-8) Night Visions
a. (1.1-6) Introductory Call to Repentance
b. (1.7-6.15) 8 Night Visions
i. (1.7-17, 6.1-8) Vision 1 & 8: Colored Horses
ii. (1.18-21, 2.1-13)Vision 2 & 3 and 6 & 7: Obstacles facing the Returning Remnant and Temple Construction
iii. (3.1-10, 4.1-14) Vision 4 & 5: Joshua & Zerubbabel Leadership
c. (7-8) True Fasting
II. (9-14) Glorious Future for God’s People & Judgment for their Enemies
a. (9-11) Oracle for the Immediate
i. (9.1-8) Judgment against the Nations
ii. (9.9-17) Rejecting the Messiah King #1
iii. (10.1-11.3) Regathering the Scattered People
iv. (11.4-17) Rejecting the Messiah King #2
b. (12-14) Oracle for the Final Coming & Universal Kingdom (Same themes as previous, yet chapter 14 ends with the establishment of a universal kingdom in which all nations participate)
Zechariah’s expectation of the Messiah King is his primary distinction. Zechariah comprises all the major prophetic themes – present judgment for God’s people, judgment for the nations, glorious future for God’s people, and the tension between the temporal vs. eternal glories. This one of the few books that inspired and motivated action – completion of the Temple.
How to Read It
Symbolic nature of the night visions and the complexity of eschatological material makes Zechariah a difficult read. Observe how the prophetic and priestly office will be united in Christ (6.11-15). Note the chiastic (concentric) pattern of the night visions. Also note that four of the visions contain oracles to drive home the point. Later prophets were influenced by the earlier – note how Zechariah is influenced by Isaiah and Jeremiah.