Date: between 520 and 500 BC
The prophet Zechariah proclaims his message at the same time as the prophet Haggai. This period is marked by the construction of the Temple, after the return of the Jewish Exiles. All work for building up the country must be done in front of the enemies. They are the ones who took possession of the land after the deportation of the Jewish people. The prophet brings a general message to the people. His book consists of a short introduction, 8 visions and a collection of sayings. The 8 visions form the core of the book.
Vision 1: Riders of colored horses among the myrtle trees. This vision is the announcement of judgment. GOD is the rider on the leading horse. Israel is comforted in 3 ways (1:16-17):
1. The temple will be rebuilt,
2. The city of Jerusalem will be rebuilt,
3. The cities shall overflow with good.
Vision 2: Four horns have scattered Israel and Judah. These horns represent four realms:
4. Medes and Persians
These empires will perish because they have scattered Judah.
Vision 3: The man with the measuring line to measure the city of Jerusalem. An encouragement about the safety of this city. The man has to stop measuring for the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. God is a wall of fire around the city and is a sufficient protection.
Vision 4: Joshua the high priest in rags before the Lord. An image of the grace of God. Joshua cannot stand in rags before the Lord. Satan accuses him, but is silenced by God. God provides Joshua with appropriate festive attire. It's a clear message. Only God can adapt us for heaven. In 3:8 reference is made to the Messiah, the Sprout.
Vision 5: Two Olive Trees feed the oil holder of the 7-armed candlestick. It presents God as a never-ending source of strength (trees), designates the giver of strength (Spirit of God), the people God uses (Joshua and Zerubbabel), and shows His work being completed. The core is in 4:6: Not by power nor by violence, but by My Spirit! saith the LORD of hosts.
Vision 6: The flying scroll. This is a statement that the sins of Israel are being punished. In the restored community, sin remains a problem to be addressed.
Vision 7: The Flying Ephah. Basically this vision is the same as vision 6. The opened efa reveals a female, representing wickedness. 2 women, each with wings like a stork, carry the efa away. The image shows both the presence of sin in the community and God's ability to forgive, to the total removal of sin.
Vision 8: Four chariots between two copper mountains. This vision emphasizes for carrying out the will of God. The two mountains represent the power of God's commandments and the chariots the means by which God carries out His plans.
The other visions are important because they speak of the Messiah to come. He comes as a good shepherd, rejected by His people, sold for thirty pieces of silver. In triumph He rides on a donkey into the city of Jerusalem and who is finally mourned for as if it were an only child.
In the New Testament, these prophecies are fulfilled by Christ Jesus.
Zechariah's message deals with the carrying out of the will of God. God absolutely rules life and history. With symbols, visions, images, and sayings, Zechariah insisted that we should never fear as we do God's will. God knows what he is doing and is in control.
1. Introduction (1:1-6),
2. The Eight Visions (1:7-6:15),
3. Other faces (7:1-14:21).