Most other Bible prophets lived before God punished the Jews by exiling them to Assyria and Babylon, in what is now Iraq. So those earlier prophets warned the Jews where they were headed if they didn’t stop sinning. But even those prophets offered hope, promising that God would bring the Jews home one day.
Zechariah lives after the exile. Jews are back in their homeland, rebuilding their nation.
But 18 years after their return, it’s still a struggle for them.
- They live under the shadow of another superpower: Persia. The Persians treat Judah as a province of the empire, not as an independent nation.
- Farming and herding are tough work, especially given the drought that Zechariah’s prophet colleague, Haggai, describes.
- There’s no temple in which to seek God’s help, though Haggai has just recently convinced the Jews to start rebuilding it.
These are people who need good news. So with visions and prophecies, Zechariah delivers just that.
He promises the Jews that God is in control and that he’ll help them finish the temple. Beyond that, Zechariah promises that God will send Jesus-at least that’s how some New Testament writers interpret his prophecies. In just 14 chapters, Zechariah delivers more prophecies about Jesus than any other book in the Old Testament, with the single exception of Isaiah’s megabook of 66 chapters.
Zechariah sees even beyond the first coming of Jesus. The prophet sees what appears to be an end-time, utopian world when “the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day there will be one LORD-his name alone will be worshipped” (Zechariah 14:9).
MAIN POIN: “My Temple will be rebuilt, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. . . .The towns of Israel will again overflow with prosperity” (Zechariah 1:16-17).
WRITER: Most Bible experts agree that the first eight chapters of this book were written by “the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah and grandson of iddo” (Zechariah 1:1). But many aren’t so sure about the final six chapters” 9-14. There are several reasons:
- The tone and writing style are different.
- The message seems to deal more with Israel’s distant future than with Zechariah’s time, reflected in chapters 1-8.
- Zechariah speaks of a threat coming from the Greeks (Zechariah 9:13), though Persia was the superpower of the day. Greece didn’t defeat the Persians until 332 BC-about 200 years after Zechariah.
Bible experts who say Zechariah wrote the whole book argue that a writer’s style can change with time and that prophets are in the business of talking about the future-immediate and distant.
Also, they argue that the Greeks were a rising threat to Persia as early as 490 BC. That’s when their much smaller army stopped Persia’s 25,000-man invasion force at the famous battle of Marathon. There, a Greek solider started the tradition of 26-mile marathon races by running to Athens with the news of their victory.
DATE: Zechariah’s ministry spans at least two years, beginning in October or November of 520. That’s the autumn when the Jews, at Haggai’s prodding, start rebuilding the temple. The last date mentioned is December 7, 518 BC, when Zechariah receives a message from God urging the people to show mercy to each other and especially to the poor.