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Zechariah Summary

Zechariah Summary

The book of Zechariah is Narrative History, Prophetic and Apocalyptic in genre. It is a post-exilic book, meaning it was written after (post) the return from captivity (exile) in Babylon. The prophet Zechariah wrote chapters 1-8 approximately 520-518 B.C. (Before the temple completed), and then wrote chapters 9-14 approximately 480 B.C. (After the temple is completed). Zechariah is among the most precisely dated books in the Bible. Key personalities are Zechariah, Zerubbabel and Joshua.

The purpose of this book is that Zechariah wrote to encourage the remnant, who had recently returned from exile. Their faith in God was weak and they were not motivated to build the temple. They needed to learn and conform to the law of God again.

  •    In chapters 1-8, Zechariah recorded his visions, encouraged the people to reinstate the priesthood, and other religious laws that were forgotten during the 70-year exile. Zechariah gives great hope and encouragement about the coming Messiah Jesus Christ, who will set up His throne and rule as the mighty Branch, the High Priest, who will offer up the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. "Then say to him, '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).
  •    Chapters 9-14 are difficult passages to understand, many are prophetic and apocalyptic. Zechariah writes judgment against the neighboring enemies. Most importantly he declared the first coming of the Messiah who would be mounted on a donkey (9:9), His betrayal (11:12), and His crucifixion (12:10). Finally, he writes about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ descending from heaven the same way He had left in Acts 1:11, in the clouds. "In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south" (14:4)

Book of Zechariah

Author: Zechariah 1:1 identifies the author of the Book of Zechariah as the Prophet Zechariah.

Date of Writing: The Book of Zechariah was likely written in two primary segments, between 520 and 470 B.C.

Purpose of Writing: Zechariah emphasized that God has used His prophets to teach, warn and correct His people. Unfortunately, they refused to listen. Their sin brought God's punishment. The book also bears evidence that even prophecy could be corrupted. History shows that in this period prophecy fell into disfavor among the Jews, leading to the period between the Testaments when no lasting prophetic voice spoke to God's people.

Key Verses: Zechariah 1:3, "Therefore tell the people: This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Return to me,' declares the LORD Almighty, 'and I will return to you,' says the LORD Almighty." Zechariah 7:13, "'When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,' says the LORD Almighty." Zechariah 9:9, "Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." Zechariah 13:9, "This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are my people,' and they will say, 'The LORD is our God.'"

Brief Summary: The Book of Zechariah teaches that salvation may be obtained by all. The last chapter depicts peoples from all over the world coming to worship God, who desires that all people follow Him. This is not the doctrine of universalism, i.e., that all people would be saved because it is God's nature to save. Rather, the book teaches that God desires that all people worship Him and accepts those who do, regardless of their national or political expressions, as in the freeing of Judah and Jerusalem from their political enemies. Finally, Zechariah preached that God is sovereign over this world, any appearance to the contrary notwithstanding. His visions of the future indicate that God sees all that will happen. The depictions of God's intervention in the world teach that ultimately He will bring human events to the end He chooses. He does not eliminate the individual's freedom to follow God or rebel, but holds people responsible for the choices they make. In the last chapter, even the forces of nature respond to God's control.

Foreshadowings: Prophecies about Jesus Christ and the messianic era abound in Zechariah. From the promise that Messiah would come and dwell in our midst (Zechariah 2:10-12; Matthew 1:23) to the symbolism of the Branch and the Stone (Zechariah 3:8-9, 6:12-13; Isaiah 11:1; Luke 20:17-18) to the promise of His Second Coming where they who pierced Him will look upon Him and mourn (Zechariah 12:10; John 19:33-37), Christ is the theme of the Book of Zechariah. Jesus is the Savior of Israel, a fountain whose blood covers the sins of all who come to Him for salvation (Zechariah 13:1; 1 John 1:7).

Practical Application: God expects sincere worship and moral living of us today. Zechariah's example of breaking through national prejudice reminds us to reach out into all areas of our society. We must extend God's invitation of salvation to people of all national origins, languages, races and cultures. That salvation is only available through the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross, who died in our place to atone for sin. But if we reject that sacrifice, there is no other sacrifice through which we can be reconciled to God. There is no other name under heaven by which men are saved (Acts 4:12). There is no time to lose; today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Holy Writer

Like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Zechariah was also a priest. His grandfather, Iddo, is mentioned in Nehemiah 12:1-4 as one of the priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel and Joshua from Babylon. "Now these are the priests and the Levites who came up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, Amariah, Malluch, Hattush, Shechaniah, Rehum, Meremoth, Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah, the Elkoshite." Nehemiah also tells us that Zechariah succeeded his grandfather, Iddo, as head of that priestly family (Nehemiah 12:16).

Zechariah must have been quite young when he began his ministry because in chapter 2:4 we hear Zechariah called a "young man." Zechariah was called by the LORD to proclaim a message to His people at the same time as the prophet Haggai. Just like the prophet Haggai, Zechariah was concerned with the reconstruction of the temple, but also pointed to the future glories for God's people through the coming Savior. Zechariah began his ministry two months after the beginning of Haggai's as we are told in Chapter 1:1. "In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying....". See a chart detailing the Chronology of the work of Haggai and Zechariah (pdf).

Form and Content

The book of Zechariah can be divided into three different types of messages. There are general messages of encouragement from the LORD to His people, similar to what we saw in the book of Haggai. But most of the book comes in the form of prophetic visions like those in Ezekiel or Daniel, and oracles or 'burdens' of judgment and salvation like those in Isaiah.

The book opens with the LORD's call for His people to repent, and not be like their fathers before them, who continued in their evil deeds and did not listen to the LORD. "'Return to Me,' says the LORD of hosts, 'and I will return to you,'" (1:3).

Much of the book is apocalyptic like the book of Revelation in the New Testament, as it uses pictures to describe future events. In the second section, we are introduced to an angel who helps explain eight visions of the LORD to Zechariah.

  • Vision One - The Horseman: Four horses report that the world is at peace, yet we are told that God's people are still struggling. The temple was still not finished and they were under the control of foreign powers. But the LORD promises, "'I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy; My house shall be built in it,' says the LORD of hosts, 'And a surveyor's line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem'" (1:16).
  • Vision Two - The Four Horns and the Four Craftsmen: The four horns represent those nations who have oppressed Judah in the past and the four craftsmen to the nations which the LORD would raise up to defeat those nations.
  • Vision Three - The Measuring Line: The LORD encourages His people to leave the land of Babylon and return to Jerusalem, promising that He would be with them and protect them. The LORD also speaks of the inclusion of the Gentiles as His people through the Savior, saying, "Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you" (2:11).
  • Vision Four - Joshua the High Priest: This vision brings out the full blessing of God's grace through His Servant the Righteous Branch who would "remove the iniquity of that land in one day" (3:9).
  • Vision Five - The Golden Lampstand: Here the LORD encourages His people that He would provide the strength to complete the rebuilding of the temple through the person of Zerubbabel. "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' Says the LORD of hosts.... The hands of Zerubbabel Have laid the foundation of this temple; His hands shall also finish it. Then you will know That the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you" (4:6,9).
  • Vision Six - The Flying Scroll: In this vision the LORD especially condemns the sins of stealing and of swearing, and the punishment that would be received for committing such sins.
  • Vision Seven - The Basket of Iniquity: The LORD promises that wickedness will not be allowed to continue forever, but in His good time, will cast it away forever.
  • Vision Eight - The Four Chariots: In this vision the LORD reveals to Zechariah and His people that the seventy years of captivity was now over and the LORD was giving His people another chance to trust in Him.

Finally the LORD points to Joshua the High Priest as a picture of the coming Savior, once again called the "Branch." Once again the LORD emphasizes the inclusion of the Gentiles, "Even those from afar shall come and build the temple of the LORD. Then you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you" (6:15).

Chapters seven and eight demonstrate the results of hypocrisy and rejection of the LORD by looking at the lesson left by their fathers and to learn from those mistakes. We also see the peace and prosperity which awaits His people as a result of the return from captivity and the birth of the Messiah. Once again we are told, "Yes, many peoples and strong nations Shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, And to pray before the LORD" (8:22).

In the second part of the book, the LORD speaks a 'burden' against the surrounding nations and even His own people, but also encourages them through many passage which point them to the Savior from their sins. It portrays Christ as the ultimate sacrifice for all sin, and comforts believers with the hope that He will return again to take us from this vale of tears to Himself in heaven.

Christ in the book of Zechariah

Among all of this predictive prophesy concerning what lay in the future for God's people, Zechariah inserts many direct prophesies of the coming Savior. The Messiah is portrayed so often that Zechariah falls second only to the prophet Isaiah in the number of Messianic prophecies mentioned. These Messianic prophecies are so clear that Luther called Zechariah, "One of the most comforting of all the prophets."

Christ is seen in the book of Zechariah as -

  • The Righteous Branch - "Hear, O Joshua, the high priest, You and your companions who sit before you, For they are a wondrous sign; For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH" (3:8 cf. 6:12-13);
  • The Humble King, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey." (9:9-11);
  • The Shepherd Rejected and Sold, "Then I said to them, 'If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.' So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said to me, 'Throw it to the potter' - that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for the potter," (11:12-13);
  • The Pierced One, "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn." (12:10);
  • The Cleansing Fountain, "In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness." (13:1);
  • The Smitten Shepherd, "'Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, Against the Man who is My Companion,' Says the LORD of hosts. 'Strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered; Then I will turn My hand against the little ones.'" (13:7);
  • and the Coming Judge and Righteous King, (14).


Part 1 (Chapters 1-8)

  1. A Call to Repentance (1:1-6)
  2. The eight visions (1:7-6:8)
  3. The crowning of Joshua (6:9-15)
  4. The question of fasting (7:1-3)
  5. The four messages (7:4-8:23)

Part 2 (Chapters 9-14)

  1. The two burdens (9:1-14:21)
  2. The Advent and Rejection of the Messiah (9-11)
  3. The Advent and Reception of the Messiah (12-14)