YHWH had been faithful to His promises inasmuch as the Jewish people had returned to their land. Their condition did not seem to resemble what the prophets had foretold. YHWH sent visions and encouragement to Israel through Zechariah.
Zechariah is the thirty-eighth book in most English Bibles; in the Hebrew Bible it is part of the Nevi’im, the Prophets; in the Greek Septuagint Zechariah is the eleventh of the Duodecim (Latinized; Dodeka in Greek), “the Twelve.” Some of Zechariah’s declarations and visions are dated, and those dates fall between 520 and 518 BCE (Zechariah 1:1, 7, 7:1). Ezra attests to Zechariah and his prophetic role in Ezra 5:1, 6:14. Some have speculated that Zechariah 1:1-8:23 has one author and Zechariah 9:1-14:21 another; the text suggests no such division, and the second portion of the book may have been revealed to Zechariah (“YHWH remembers”) in a different context. Zechariah is granted visions and made declarations to the returned exiles to encourage them in rebuilding the Temple, following the Law, and to look forward to Israel’s coming King.
Zechariah begins with YHWH’s opening call for repentance: Israel must return to YHWH and ought not act as their fathers did; YHWH’s words and statues remained (October/November 520 BCE; Zechariah 1:1).
YHWH then shows Zechariah a series of eight visions (Zechariah 1:7-6:8). The first vision features horsemen patrolling the earth, declaring it at peace; the angel of YHWH wants to know for how much longer YHWH would not show mercy to Judah; YHWH is jealous for Judah and angry at the nations, and His land will be rebuilt (Zechariah 1:7-17). Zechariah then sees four horns that had scattered the people of Judah, and they now will terrify the nations (Zechariah 1:18-20). The third vision involves a man measuring Jerusalem, but was sent off by an angel who declared that Jerusalem will be inhabited as villages without walls; all the scattered Israelites are to flee to Zion and be restored; YHWH has roused Himself from His dwelling (Zechariah 2:1-13). In the fourth vision Zechariah is shown Joshua the high priest standing before Satan and the angel of YHWH: the angel rebukes Satan in the name of YHWH, put clean clothes on Joshua, and is commissioned to rule over the Temple precinct (Zechariah 3:1-10).
Zechariah is then shown a lampstand and two olive trees, representing the eyes of YHWH around the earth and Zerubbabel and Joshua, providing assurance that the Temple would be rebuilt (Zechariah 4:1-14). Zechariah then sees a flying scroll, the curse going out across the land to consume those who steal and those who swear falsely (Zechariah 5:1-4). The seventh vision features a basket being carried out by two women; the woman Wickedness was in the basket, headed to Shinar (Babylon; Zechariah 5:5-11). The eighth vision involves four chariots which go out to the four winds of the cardinal directions, patrolling the earth (Zechariah 6:1-4). Zechariah is then told to take certain returned exiles and to have a crown made for the Branch to come; the Temple would be rebuilt (Zechariah 6:5-15).
Later on Zechariah is asked whether the people should fast in the fifth month; YHWH responds that the people fasted for themselves and not Him, and He exhorts the people to observe righteousness, just as He had exhorted their fathers, who persisted in rebellion and were made desolate (07 December 518; Zechariah 7:1-14). YHWH is jealous for Zion; it would again be inhabited; God would not deal with the remnant as He dealt with those who came before; they should strengthen their hands; they were not to fear but speak truth; fasts should be turned into feasts; those from the nations will entreat YHWH (Zechariah 8:1-23).
The nations around Israel would be confounded and brought low; Zion should rejoice, for her King is coming on a colt; YHWH will use Israel as His weapon against the Greeks; YHWH will save His people (Zechariah 9:1-17). YHWH brought prosperity to Israel, but the people do not seek Him, for they have no shepherds (Zechariah 10:1-2). YHWH’s anger was against the shepherds of Judah; Israel and Judah would be saved and strengthened; YHWH would bring His people in and will make them strong, and devastation would come against Lebanon and Bashan (Zechariah 10:3-11:3). YHWH commissioned Zechariah to act out such prophecy, becoming a shepherd of a flock to be slaughtered; he took two staffs, Favor and Union; he removed three shepherds, but they all became tired of him and he with them; Zechariah broke Favor, making the covenant void; shepherds paid him thirty pieces of silver; Zechariah broke Union, making void the brotherhood of Israel and Judah; YHWH would raise up a shepherd who does not care for the flock (Zechariah 11:4-17).
YHWH would make Jerusalem a source of staggering for the nations; surrounding nations would be devoured; the house of David and Judah will look on Him whom they have pierced and mourn, and they will have a fountain by which to cleanse themselves (Zechariah 12:1-13:1). Idols will be cut off on that day; the prophets will be ashamed of their visions; the shepherd will be struck and the sheep scattered; YHWH will be their God, they will be His people (Zechariah 13:2-9). The day would come when Jerusalem would be taken and great devastation would take place; YHWH will stand on the Mount of Olives on that day, living waters would flow from Jerusalem, the land would be made a plain save for Jerusalem, and it will be inhabited forever; those waging war against Jerusalem will be afflicted; all who survive will come and serve YHWH, and Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to YHWH (Zechariah 14:1-21).
Things were challenging for Israel in Zechariah’s day, but YHWH’s word through him came to pass. The Temple was rebuilt; the Branch, the King would come to Jerusalem; those who follow Him would be made holy and of His Kingdom there is no end. May we serve God in Christ, that Branch and King of Israel, and be saved!
Ethan R. Longhenry