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The prophet Zechariah is just one of over thirty men named “Zechariah” in the Old Testament. His name means “Yahweh has remembered.” The exiles had returned from Babylon and set about the task of rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem, around 520 to 470 BC. In Zechariah 1:1, he introduces himself as the son of Berekiah and the grandson of Iddo. Zechariah’s grandfather Iddo returned with Zerubbabel from exile in Babylon (Nehemiah 12:4). His ministry was part of those who returned from exile with their families. Zechariah lived during the time of Judah’s restoration. Zechariah was a Levite priest born in Babylon according to Nehemiah 12. He had the rare distinction of being both a priest and a prophet of God.

As his family resettled in Judah, Zechariah calls to his people to repentance and spiritual renewal. It was a difficult time for them. The people were discouraged, spiritually apathetic, and tempted to go back to many of the sinful ways of their forefathers. The prophecies in the book of Zechariah cover about two years. However, Zechariah continued to have a ministry among the people until the temple was rebuilt (Ezra 5:1–2). Zechariah’s mode of operation was to encourage and motivate the people by revealing to them God’s plans for the future of Jerusalem, Israel, the Messiah, and the Temple.

Zechariah had a straightforward message. After God’s judgment, after God’s punishment through exile, it was time for repentance. Without repentance, there would be no reconciliation with God. Repentance is a change of direction, back to honoring God’s Truth. The second section of Zechariah’s book includes not only prophesy’s the coming of the Messiah, but prophecies about the end times as well. This accounts for why Zechariah is so often quoted in the New Testament. Like his contemporary, Haggai, Zechariah’s ministry was to encourage the returning exiles to Jerusalem to finish building the Second Temple (about 520 BC). God raised up Haggai and Zechariah to encourage the people to get busy and get it built. The Temple was finally completed in 515 BC through their prodding and inspiration.

Zechariah would receive eight visions, which an angel interpreted for him. Each vision had a similar message. Even though Judah had been through a very difficult time and knew no peace, God would have compassion for Judah in the future.

(Zechariah 1:7-17)1NIV New International Version Translations – “On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo. During the night I had a vision, and there before me was a man mounted on a red horse. He was standing among the myrtle trees in a ravine. Behind him were red, brown and white horses. I asked, “What are these, my lord?” The angel who was talking with me answered, “I will show you what they are.” Then the man standing among the myrtle trees explained, “They are the ones the Lord has sent to go throughout the earth.” And they reported to the angel of the Lord who was standing among the myrtle trees, “We have gone throughout the earth and found the whole world at rest and in peace.” Then the angel of the Lord said, “Lord Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?” So the Lord spoke kind and comforting words to the angel who talked with me. Then the angel who was speaking to me said, “Proclaim this word: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion, and I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry, but they went too far with the punishment.’ “Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,’ declares the Lord Almighty. “Proclaim further: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘My towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem.’”

If we interpret this first vision in Zechariah 1:7-17, we can understand all of his visions. Zechariah saw a man riding a red horse standing in the myrtle trees with red, sorrel, and white horses behind him. They look like a troop of heavenly cavalry. The angel told Zechariah that God is righteously angry at the evil nations that currently feel secure while Jerusalem was in ruins. God would show mercy to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple and the city of Jerusalem itself. In the future, there would be peace and prosperity. God had not forgotten about Jerusalem. God had the city in His plans.

This was exactly what the returning exiles needed to hear after everything they had been through. The second vision was four horns and four craftsmen who were symbols of leaders that God would raise up to overthrow Israel’s enemies. Then Zechariah saw a vision of a man with a measuring line to measure Jerusalem, meaning that the city would be rebuilt and expanded. The next five visions in Zechariah 3-6 delivered the message that God had forgiven the people of Israel. Now it was time for God to judge and punish the surrounding nations that had been the source of Israel’s pain and destruction.

The Old Testament does not tell us how Zechariah died. Jesus mentions Zechariah in His condemnation of the first-century Jewish leaders. Zechariah supported their task of rebuilding the temple and challenging their spiritual condition until the temple was completed. At some time after Zerubbabel’s Temple was finished, it seems that Zechariah continued to be disruptive to those who preferred the sinful ways of the past. It is thought that some of his enemies could take it no longer and killed him in the very Temple that he had urged the people to complete.

(Matthew 23:34–36) – “Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.”

Zechariah 9-10 is about judgments through which Gentile world power held over Israel would be destroyed. Zechariah 9:1-8 appears to foretell the conquest of the Mediterranean coast by Alexander the Great’s Greek armies between 336-333 BC. Alexander crossed into what is now Turkey and defeated Persian armies, then took Damascus, Tyre, Sidon, and Philistia just as Zechariah 9 predicted. In Zechariah 9:9-10, there is a clear prediction of events in Jesus’ first advent that were quoted by the New Testament authors concerning Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, “Rejoice greatly…Zion! Shout in triumph…Jerusalem! Behold your king is coming to you…Humble and mounted on a donkey”. Palm Sunday, confirmed in all four Gospels, is a fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah. Zechariah would predict that the Messiah would be righteous, He would provide salvation, be gentle and humble, and be a peacemaker.

Imagine approximately 50,000 Jews returning to Jerusalem in about 536 BC. The city lay in ruins and rubble. Judah was destroyed along with their Temple.  The people living there now objected to their presence. They did everything they could to prevent the rebuilding of the city. It was the age of discouragement. However, the people would receive the Word of God through the prophet Zechariah.

Zechariah 11 is a prediction of a future after the rejection of Jesus. In Zechariah 11:4-14, He is told to shepherd the flock, to assume the role of a good shepherd pasturing a flock of sheep. He is to do this because the present shepherds (leaders) have doomed the sheep to the slaughter. Zechariah is prophesying the shepherd’s role as the Messiah and the sheep as the people who had rejected Jesus. Some false shepherds represent the leaders who rejected Jesus. We even see a prophecy in Zechariah 11:12-13 of 30 pieces of silver that are thrown to the potter in the Temple. A potter’s field, a paupers’ grave, or a common grave is a place for the burial of unknown, unclaimed, or indigent people. This prophecy was fulfilled by Judas who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces (Matthew.27:1-7). The high priests used Judas Iscariot’s payment to purchase his grave after his suicide. Zechariah even covers the end times, those so appropriately described in Revelations. His prophecies are many:

  • The Jews will look on Him whom they pierced (Christ), and mourn Zechariah 12:10
  • The land will be cleansed from sin, and the people are forgiven, Zechariah13:1-3
  • They will be God’s people again, Zechariah13:9
  • The Lord (Jesus) will descend on the Mount of Olives, Zechariah 14:4
  • All the nations will gather against Jerusalem, but Jesus will return with the heavenly host to destroy the Gentile armies (Armageddon), Zechariah14:1-7
  • The surviving remnant will become holy, Zechariah14:20-21
  • Then the Lord will be the only King and He will rule the earth, Zechariah 14:9
  • After the Lord’s return, all the surviving Gentiles will go to Jerusalem to worship Him, Zechariah 14:16-17


  • Zechariah motivated people by focusing on where God was going to take them. Why do futuristic goals work as motivation?
    • Ideas to Explore: When you have been down, thinking about better times, lifts the spirit. God was also going to get even for them with their enemies.
  • Zechariah had prophecies that went way into the future. Some have yet to happen. Why should we believe them?
    • Ideas to Explore: So many of his prophecies have been correct, right on the money. His track record is too good to ignore. We need the same motivation as the returning exiles to work hard for God.
  • What benefits do you see to prophecies?
    • Ideas to Explore: Many have come true, thus validating the authors. Therefore, we should also believe those that have not come to pass yet. It is also reasonable to believe that if God can create a universe, create the human race, incarnate as a human, and perform miracles in our presence, He can inspire prophets to guide us.
  • Zechariah’s father, Berekiah, managed to raise a Godly son while in exile. How do you think he accomplished this?
    • Ideas to Explore: The writing tells us that the family unit was strong. Not only was his father involved in sustaining their faith, but his grandfather was also.
  • Zechariah had the experiences of both an exile and a returning Jew. How do you think this prepared him to help his people?
    • Ideas to Explore: Nothing is more important than sharing personal experiences when sharing faith. He also had God providing him with instructions.
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    NIV New International Version Translations