Introduction to the book of Zechariah


Zechariah was a common name in the Old Testament, meaning “Jehovah remembers.” The prophet was the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo, and according to the genealogy recorded in Nehemiah 12, was born into the priestly line. That Ezra 5:1 and Neh. 12:16 identify Zechariah as the son of Iddo is no contradiction, just a Hebrew way of saying he was a descendant of Iddo, who was more prominent as one of the priests who returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel. Zechariah would have been a young man when he began his prophetic ministry in contrast to Haggai, his much older prophetic colleague. Although his death is not recorded in the Old Testament, Jesus said that he was martyred at the temple (Matt. 23:35), under much the same circumstances as the martyrdom of an earlier Zechariah (2 Chron. 24:20-21).


Zechariah, like Haggai, dates his prophecy in reference to the reign of Darius, although his tenure extended beyond that of his colleague. According to 1:1, his first message (chs. 1-6) dates to the second year of Darius (520 BC) and according to 7:1 his second message (chs. 7-8) dates to Darius’s fourth year (518 BC). The message of chs. 9-14, however, is undated, and its references to Greece would indicate a later date. Most conservatives date this section 480-470 BC. All together, Zechariah’s ministry spanned about fifty years (520-470 BC).


Hope in God’s unfailing purpose.


To encourage God’s people to live in victory and serve with diligence in view of the certain blessing God has purposed and promised.


The Contribution of Zechariah to Redemptive Revelation

The years of Babylonian bondage were over, but the end of the seventy-year captivity did not initiate the prosperity and blessing anticipated. Those who returned to Israel faced opposition from the Samaritans, desolation of the land, hard work, and hardships. Though they returned with eager hope, the circumstances soon overwhelmed them, the hope faded and progress toward restoration ceased. But the temple had to be in place for the coming of Messiah, so God raised up Haggai and Zechariah to encourage the people to work. Their combined ministries worked, for the second temple was completed in 516/515 BC. Whereas Haggai addressed the problem head on, Zechariah sought to incite the people to rebuild the temple in view of God’s overarching redemptive plan. He accomplished this by directing faith to God’s covenant promises that He had to fulfill, both concerning the physical needs of the day and the spiritual promises centered in the Messiah. Significantly, the title “the Lord of hosts” occurs approximately fifty times in the prophecy. This title is appropriate for it designates God as the “Commander-in-Chief” who has all authority and power over all His creation to accomplish His will. Consequently, every grand promise He makes is absolutely certain. A confident hope in the guaranteed blessings of the future was effective motivation to encourage present service.

The focus of Zechariah’s message of hope was the Messiah. His specific and explicit predictions of the Messiah rank his prophecy as one of the most messianic in the Old Testament. The prophecies detail aspects of each of the Messiah’s mediatorial functions as prophet, priest, and king. His prophetic office as the representative of God is evident in 13:7 where the Lord of hosts refers to Messiah as “my shepherd,” “my fellow” (the one who is equal), whom He Himself strikes. Matthew 26:31 links this directly to Christ and the cross. It also parallels Christ’s exposition of the good shepherd where He declares that He lays down His life for the sheep and that He and His Father are one (John 10:30). The priestly ministry is most explicit in the significant messianic title, “The BRANCH” that occurs in 3:8 and 6:12 in analogy with Joshua the high priest. Christ’s kingship is seen in 9:9, the prophecy so specifically fulfilled on Palm Sunday. Aspects of kingship associated with Christ’s second coming are also part of the hope (ch. 14). Other specific messianic texts will be identified in the notes, but it is clear that Zechariah must be read with an eye open for Christ.


  1. The Call to Repent (Zech. 1:1-6)
  2. The Visions to Encourage (Zech. 1:7-6:15)
    1. Introduction to Encouraging Visions (Zech. 1:7)
    2. Horses and the Myrtle Tree (Zech. 1:8-17)
    3. Four Horns (Zech. 1:18-21)
    4. Man with the Measuring Line (Zech. 2:1-13)
    5. Joshua and the Branch (Zech. 3:1-10)
    6. The Candlestick and Olive Trees (Zech. 4:1-14)
    7. The Flying Scroll (Zech. 5:1-4)
    8. The Woman in the Ephah (Zech. 5:5-11)
    9. The Four Chariots (Zech. 6:1-8)
    10. The Symbolic Crowning of Joshua (Zech. 6:9-15)
  3. Questions to Answer (Zech. 7:1-8:23)
    1. One Question about Fasting (Zech. 7:1-3)
    2. Four Answers (Zech. 7:4-8:23; marked by “the word of the Lord came”)
      1. Hypocritical Fasting (Zech. 7:4-7)
      2. Obedience Better (Zech. 7:8-14)
      3. Restoration in the Place of Devastation (Zech. 8:1-17)
      4. Joy in the Place of Mourning (Zech. 8:18-23)
  4. Prophetic Oracles to Bless (Zech. 9:1-14:21)
    1. The First Oracle (Zech. 9:1-11:17; marked by “The burden of the word of the Lord”)
      1. Judgment of Enemies (Zech. 9:1-8)
      2. The Coming King (Zech. 9:9-10:12)
      3. The Rejected Shepherd (Zech. 11:1-17)
    2. The Second Oracle (Zech. 12:1-14:21; marked by “The burden of the word of the Lord”)
      1. National Deliverance (Zech. 12:1-9)
      2. Spiritual Deliverance (Zech. 12:10-13:9)
      3. The Coming of Messiah (Zech. 14:1-21)

Extracted from: Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible Notes(Beeke, Joel R. 2015. Reformation Heritage Books).

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