The Book of Zechariah
ZECHARIAH – FIRST MESSAGE
1. Zechariah was a common Bible name. There are 28 men with this name in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament we see that it is the name of John the Baptist’s father.
2. The name means, “Whom the Lord Remembers.” His father’s name was Berechiah, meaning “Whom the Lord Blesses,” and his grandfather was Iddo the prophet, meaning “the appointed time.”
3. Therefore, when you put it all together, God’s message for the remnant returning after the 70-year Babylonian captivity was: “The Lord remembers and blesses at the appointed time.”
4. Zechariah, like Haggai, was a prophet to the people of Judah, the small remnant, which returned after the captivity. He joined with Haggai in encouraging this remnant to rebuild the temple (cf. Ezra 5:1,2).
5. “There is much of symbol in Zechariah, but these difficult passages are readily interpreted in the light of the whole body of the related prophecy” (Scofield Bible, p. 965).
6. Dr. Scofield goes on to say, “The great Messianic passages are, upon comparison with the other prophecies of the kingdom, perfectly clear.”
7. The prophet Zechariah is quoted about 40 times in the New Testament.
8. Like Jeremiah and Ezekiel before him, he was both prophet and priest (cf. Zech. 1:1; Neh. 12:1-4, 16).
9. There are several references in the Bible to his grandfather Iddo the prophet and priest; perhaps his father Berechiah died when Zechariah was young.
10. Zechariah was probably born in Babylon during the exile. Nehemiah 12 refers to his arrival at Jerusalem, and as I said a few minutes ago, Ezra mentions his ministry (Ezra 5:1; 6:14).
11. Many of Zechariah’s prophecies had a partial application or fulfillment in Zechariah’s day. However, there are many that are still future.
12. The first six verses of chapter 1 are an introduction to the entire book of Zechariah.
I. THE BACKGROUND TO THE BOOK OF ZECHARIAH
1. The Babylonian Empire fell to the Medes and Persians in 539 BC and Cyrus, the king of Persia, decreed that the Jews could return and rebuild the temple in Jerusalem (II Chron. 36:22, 23; Ezra 1:1-4; cf. Isa. 44:28).
2. During the reign of Cyrus, more than 50,000 Jews returned to Palestine from Babylon in 538 BC. They laid the foundation of the temple in 536 BC, but opposition stalled the work for about 15 years (Ezra 4:1-5).
3. King Darius came to the throne of Persia in 521 BC, and confirmed Cyrus’ decree. The temple was completed in 516 BC.
4. Therefore, Zechariah’s prophecies began “in the second year of Darius” (Zech. 1:1), just two months after Haggai (Hag. 1:1).
5. Zechariah was a younger man than Haggai and their books are different. One preacher has pointed out that Haggai was a very practical man whereas Zechariah was a visionary. Oftentimes the visionary is not very practical and the practical man lacks vision. But when you put the two together, you have a happy combination. That is what was happening back in the days when the Jews were returning to Jerusalem from captivity.
6. The date was 520 BC (Scofield).
II. THE TIMEOF ZECHARIAH
1. It is “the time of the Gentiles.” There is no king in Judah now. Isaiah began his long ministry “in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah” (Isa. 1:1). Jeremiah prophesied “in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah” (Jer. 1:2). But it is different now – now there is no king on the throne of Judah.
2. God had judged the people of Israel – they were taken away by the Assyrians, never to return. God had judged the people of Judah – they were taken away by the Babylonians. A small remnant returned (apparently the majority preferred to stay in Babylon), but there would be no more king in Israel.
3. There will be no more king on the throne in Jerusalem until the King of Kings returns (cf. Zech. 14:9).
4. God judged them for their wicked ways – according to their ways, and according to their doings, so had He dealt with them (Zech. 1:6).
5. The royal line of King David is now off the throne, and the “times of the Gentiles” are in progress (Luke 21:20-24).
6. “The `times of the Gentiles’ began with the captivity of Judah under Nebuchadnezzar (2 Chron. 36:1-21), since which time Jerusalem has been under Gentile over-lordship” (Scofield, p. 1106) and “The Times of the Gentiles is that long period beginning with the Babylonian captivity of Judah, under Nebuchadnezzar, and to be brought to an end by the destruction of Gentile world-power by the `stone cut out without hands’ (Dan. 2:34, 35, 44), i.e. the coming of the Lord in glory (Rev. 19:11, 21), until which time Jerusalem is politically subject to Gentile rule (Luke 21:24)” (Scofield, p. 1345).
III. THE MESSAGE OF ZECHARIAH
1. Zechariah’s first message is a call to repentance (1:2-4). We are living in a day when most preachers – even many so-called fundamentalists – are minimizing or even attacking the doctrine of repentance.
2. Repentance was the message of the Old Testament prophets (Isa. 55:6, 7; Jer. 3:12, 13; Ezek. 14:6; Joel 2:12, 13; Amos 4:6-12) and the New Testament preachers as well (Matt. 3:1,2; 4:17; Acts 3:19; 17:30; 20:21; 26:18-20).
3. In Luke 13:5, our Lord said, “But except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
4. The great Bible expositor, Merrill Unger, says that the theme of repentance “strikes the keynote of the entire book and forms an indispensable introduction to it. The truth it enunciates is one which runs throughout the revealed ways of God with man; namely, the appropriation and enjoyment of God’s promises of blessing must be prefaced by genuine repentance.”
5. Another great OT scholar, Charles Feinberg, wrote, “This call to return dare not be passed over lightly, for it is the basic and fundamental plea of God throughout the Bible to all sinful men. Zechariah, then, like John the Baptist and our blessed Lord Himself at a later day, comes with the message: Repent” (Zechariah: God Remembers).
6. Zechariah starts out with a reminder that the Lord had been “sore displeased” (1:2) with their fathers (ancestors).
7. He warns them not to repeat the errors of their fathers – a warning that was unfortunately soon forgotten and quite unheeded (1:4).
8. It is sad but sometimes we are told not to walk in our fathers’ footsteps (1:4). My father and ancestors were all Roman Catholics and alcohol drinkers. I certainly did not want to follow in their footsteps.
9. God identifies Himself as “the Lord of hosts” (1:3, 4, 6, etc.). This term appears often in Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. It stresses God’s omnipotent power and might as the Head of all the heavenly hosts.
10. The term occurs 53 times in the book of Zechariah.
11. Zechariah seeks to persuade them by first appealing to the case of their ancestors who had heard the preaching of “the former prophets” (1:4; cf. 7:7; II Chron. 24:19; 36:15, 16), “but they did not hear, nor hearken unto” God (1:4).
12. In this opening passage, Zechariah’s introductory address, he enumerates five great principles:
(1) The condition of all God’s blessings – repentance (1:3).
(2) The evil and peril of disobedience (1:4).
(3) The unchangeable character of God’s Word (1:6a).
(4) God’s governmental dealings with His people in accordance with their deeds (1:6b) – “according to our ways, and according to our doings…”
(5) God’s immutable purposes (1:6b) – “as the Lord of hosts thought to do unto us.”
11. God asks, “Your fathers, where are they?” (1:5a). The obvious answer is, “Dead and gone, buried back in the heathen land of Babylon.”
12. “And the prophets, do they live for ever?” (1:5b). This calls attention to the brevity of opportunity to repent and obey God offered by their ministry.
1. Repentance is not just a message for the unsaved. Psalm 32 and Psalm 51 deal with King David’s repentance.
2. One of the great themes in the seven letters to the seven churches is repentance (cf. Rev. 2:5, 16, 21; 3:3, 19).
3. James 4:8 says, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.”