Introduction to the Book of Zechariah

“Introduction to the Book of Zechariah,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)


Why study this book?

The book of Zechariah contains descriptions of visions concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple, the gathering of scattered Israel, and the triumph of Israel over its enemies. The book culminates in prophecies of the Savior’s mortal ministry and final return in glory. By studying the book of Zechariah, students can learn about the Lord’s love for His people and His desire to cleanse and redeem them if they repent and keep their covenants. Students can also learn about events that will occur before and after Jesus Christ’s Second Coming and feel the importance of preparing themselves for the Lord’s return.

Who wrote this book?

The prophet Zechariah wrote this book. He was the son of Berechiah, who was the son of Iddo (see Zechariah 1:1). Iddo was a priest who returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel, the first Jewish governor of Jerusalem after the Jews’ return from the Babylonian exile (see Nehemiah 12:1–7). Zechariah prophesied from the second to the fourth year of the reign of Darius, about 520 to 518 B.C. (see Zechariah 1:1; 7:1). Along with his contemporary Haggai, Zechariah was instrumental in organizing and inspiring the Jews to finish rebuilding the temple (see Ezra 5:1; 6:14).

When and where was it written?

We do not know precisely when or where the book of Zechariah was written. However, we do know that Zechariah lived in Jerusalem soon after the return of the Jews from their exile in Babylon. He received the visions recorded in this book between the second and fourth years of the reign of Darius, or between 520 and 518 B.C. (see Zechariah 1:1; 7:1).

What are some distinctive features of this book?

Many of the messages Zechariah received from the Lord were in the form of visions (see Zechariah 1–6). Possibly because of the difficulty of conveying heavenly visions in earthly terms, most of the messages in the book of Zechariah are couched in symbolic imagery and descriptions.

The book is generally divided by its readers into two divisions: “Zech. 1–8, a series of visions sketching the future of the people of God, and Zech. 9–14, prophecies about the Messiah and events preceding His Second Coming” (Bible Dictionary, “Zechariah”). Of particular significance are the vivid prophecies of Christ’s earthly ministry (see Zechariah 9:9; 11:10–13) and of such latter-day events as the gathering of Israel, the final great battle, and the Second Coming (see Zechariah 10:6–12; 12:2–14; 14:1–9).

Outline

Zechariah 1–6 In a series of visions, Zechariah sees the restoration of Jerusalem and the temple; the gathering of Israel; and Joshua, the high priest, crowned in similitude of Christ.

Zechariah 7–8 Because of the Israelites’ hypocrisy and oppression of the poor, the Lord scattered them among the nations. In the latter days, He will restore Jerusalem and gather Judah; many Gentiles will gather with them to worship the Lord.

Zechariah 9–11 Zechariah prophesies of Christ’s ministry: He will enter Jerusalem riding upon an ass; the spirits in prison will be redeemed by the blood of the covenant. Scattered Israel will be gathered, redeemed, and strengthened. Christ will be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver.

Zechariah 12–14 In the final battle before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, many people will gather to fight against Jerusalem, and the Lord will destroy them. The Jews will recognize their Messiah, whom they crucified, and see the wounds in His hands. Christ will reign as King of the whole earth.