Zechariah 1-7 Listen
An introduction to Zechariah
Zechariah was a contemporary of the prophet, Haggai; Zechariah started prophesying about two months after Haggai to the regathered exiles. They both prophesied in 520 B.C. on the occasion of the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem after the Persians allowed the Jews to return home. According to Ezra 2 (see notes), the historical account of this era, about 50,000 Jews had returned to Jerusalem from exile. The temple-rebuilding project was finished in 516 B.C.
Your ancestors disobeyed; look where that got them! (Zechariah 1:1-6)
1 In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying,
2 The LORD hath been sore displeased with your fathers.
3 Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.
4 Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD.
5 Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever?
6 But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? and they returned and said, Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.
We are given the date in verse 1 as October/November, 520 B.C. Sometimes a harsh reminder is a good thing. Zechariah proclaims to the returning exiles that their ancestors' disobedience caused all the problems in the first place; let's not make the same mistakes.
The horseman and craftsmen visions: rebuild the temple (Zechariah 1:7-17)
7 Upon the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Sebat, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying,
8 I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white.
9 Then said I, O my lord, what are these? And the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will shew thee what these be.
10 And the man that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, These are they whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth.
11 And they answered the angel of the LORD that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest.
12 Then the angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years?
13 And the LORD answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words.
14 So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy.
15 And I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease: for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction.
16 Therefore thus saith the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem.
17 Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.
Zechariah had eight visions at night found in 1:7 through 6:15, and we are given the date of these visions in verse 7 as February, 519 B.C. In Zechariah's first vision, he is told to alert the folks that it's time to rebuild the temple. Zechariah 1:16, "Therefore thus saith the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem." That's a surveyor's line there indicating that construction should begin.
So...who are these horsemen? There are many speculations, but they are all just speculations. Whatever they represent, they report that "earth" (Hebrew: "erets"="land" or "earth") "is at rest" (verse 11). What does that mean? We're given a hint in verse 12 with a reference of 70 years when it says, "Then the angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years?" Daniel and his crew were the first to go into Babylonian exile from Judah in 605 B.C. The return to the land of Judah took place beginning in 535 B.C. or so - 70 years later. That's exactly what Jeremiah had prophesied in Jeremiah 25:11-12 (see notes) and reiterated in Jeremiah 29:10 (see notes) before the exile began. The horsemen, therefore, bring this message: The exile is over, and under the Persians the land is at peace. That being the case, let's get to work on that temple (verse 16)!
Notice verse 17, "Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem." That verse seems to be Messianic. There's not really a historical context in which those words can be stated, yet Jerusalem will one day be the center of activity under the Messiah in the yet-future millennium.
Four horns and four carpenters (Zechariah 1:18-21)
18 Then lifted I up mine eyes, and saw, and behold four horns.
19 And I said unto the angel that talked with me, What be these? And he answered me, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.
20 And the LORD shewed me four carpenters.
21 Then said I, What come these to do? And he spake, saying, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, so that no man did lift up his head: but these are come to fray them, to cast out the horns of the Gentiles, which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah to scatter it.
Here's Zechariah's second vision. Actually, the carpenters here refer to all kinds of craftsmen (Hebrew: charash). The horns symbolize the gentile scattering of Judah and the craftsmen have come to fix it. The horns probably stand for empires/nations. Since it's probably making reference to four nations under whom Israel and Judah were scattered, it must mean (in chronological order) Assyria, Egypt, Babylon and Medo-Persians. Who knows for sure? That's a really good guess, though.
Jerusalem is coming back (Zechariah 2)
1 I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand.
2 Then said I, Whither goest thou? And he said unto me, To measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof.
3 And, behold, the angel that talked with me went forth, and another angel went out to meet him,
4 And said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein:
5 For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.
6 Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD.
7 Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon.
8 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.
9 For, behold, I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me.
10 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD.
11 And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee.
12 And the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again.
13 Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation.
This third vision has a man with a measuring line to size up Jerusalem - presumably to build a wall around it. You won't be able to contain the city within walls when God is finished with Jerusalem. Notice that in verse 5 it is said, "For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her." While the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple began at that time, the final outcome of this prophecy is obviously a reference to conditions during the millennium when the Messiah will reign there. As a matter of fact, the whole chapter speaks of a Jerusalem that is the center of the world with regard to authority and influence; that's definitely millennial. In verse 8, Israel is referred to as the "apple of his [God's] eye."
What about this branch and this stone? (Zechariah 3)
1 And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.
2 And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?
3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.
4 And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.
5 And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by.
6 And the angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua, saying,
7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.
8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the branch.
9 For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
10 In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree.
So, here we have a fourth vision with Joshua (Click here for details about Joshua, the high priest, of this era) and Satan standing together before God. Satan is rebuked and Joshua is told that the branch is coming. Could this be Isaiah's branch? Isaiah 11:1 (see notes) says, "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:" Well...I think so. It's another reference to the Messiah. And then there's a reference to a stone. Could this also be Isaiah's stone? Isaiah 28:16 (see notes) says, "Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste." Well...again...I think so. Not only so, but look at the entirety of verse 9, "For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day." If Jesus is the stone, and I'm convinced that is exactly what Zechariah is prophesying here, then the removal of "the iniquity of that land in one day" must be a reference to the finished work of Jesus on the cross for the sins of the world. On the first day of the millennium all Jews will have a covenant relationship with the Messiah, Jesus Christ, a fulfillment of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34 (see notes). This prophecy will have been fulfilled on that day. Now notice, Joshua is only seen by Zechariah here. As the new religious leader of Jerusalem, Joshua symbolizes conditions to come during the millennium with the reign of Christ. Zechariah is prophesying Jerusalem's future glory during the millennium.
Lampstands and olive branches (Zechariah 4)
1 And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep,
2 And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof:
3 And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.
4 So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord?
5 Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
7 Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.
8 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
9 The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you.
10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.
11 Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof?
12 And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?
13 And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
14 Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
It's hard to say with certainty exactly what this fifth vision means, but the basic meaning seems to be the supernatural empowering (the candlesticks) of the Holy Spirit for the people to rebuild the temple under the direction of Joshua (the high priest and spiritual leader) and the civil leader, Zerubbabel. These two men seem to be the two olive trees. Zechariah is looking for more clarification regarding the identities here, and is given his answer in verse 14, "Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth." The word "earth" there is the Hebrew word, "erets," which is frequently translated "land." This seems to validate that the two leaders of the returned exiles, Zerubbabel and Joshua, are in view in this chapter.
The flying scroll (Zechariah 5:1-4)
1 Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll.
2 And he said unto me, What seest thou? And I answered, I see a flying roll; the length thereof is twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof ten cubits.
3 Then said he unto me, This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth: for every one that stealeth shall be cut off as on this side according to it; and every one that sweareth shall be cut off as on that side according to it.
4 I will bring it forth, saith the LORD of hosts, and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that sweareth falsely by my name: and it shall remain in the midst of his house, and shall consume it with the timber thereof and the stones thereof.
So, how about a huge flying scroll about 30 feet long and 15 feet wide for the sixth vision? It is not stated why, but it is said that this scroll is for judgment against two of the ten commandments, stealing and swearing falsely. The linkage with the rebuilding of the temple is not well established here. It would appear that these four verses serve as an indictment against the people for allowing sin to block the temple-rebuilding effort.
The woman in a basket (Zechariah 5:5-11)
5 Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth.
6 And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth.
7 And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah.
8 And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof.
9 Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven.
10 Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the ephah?
11 And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base.
Wickedness moves out of town in this seventh vision. All through the Old Testament, worshipping other gods was symbolized by an adulterous woman. This vision seems to symbolize this adulterous woman being taken out of the land and securely deposited away from Israel in Shinar (Babylon). In other words, this prophecy looks to the time when evil shall be removed from Israel. The women and their mission in verses 9-11 is a mystery.
The four chariots (Zechariah 6:1-8)
1 And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass.
2 In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses;
3 And in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay horses.
4 Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord?
5 And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.
6 The black horses which are therein go forth into the north country; and the white go forth after them; and the grisled go forth toward the south country.
7 And the bay went forth, and sought to go that they might walk to and fro through the earth: and he said, Get you hence, walk to and fro through the earth. So they walked to and fro through the earth.
8 Then cried he upon me, and spake unto me, saying, Behold, these that go toward the north country have quieted my spirit in the north country.
Here's Zechariah's eighth night vision. Egypt had invaded from the south; Assyria and Babylon had invaded from the north. These four chariots are sent in both directions to monitor peace for the Jews during this time, it would appear. To speculate beyond that would be just...speculation.
Joshua's crown (Zechariah 6:9-15)
9 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
10 Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon, and come thou the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah;
11 Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest;
12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:
13 Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.
14 And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the LORD.
15 And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD, and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God.
Joshua, the high priest under whose direction the temple is rebuilt, gets a crown in this word from the Lord. It seems to be an appointment of Joshua to be the straw boss over the work of rebuilding the temple.
1 And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Darius, that the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah in the fourth day of the ninth month, even in Chisleu;
2 When they had sent unto the house of God Sherezer and Regemmelech, and their men, to pray before the LORD,
3 And to speak unto the priests which were in the house of the LORD of hosts, and to the prophets, saying, Should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself, as I have done these so many years?
4 Then came the word of the LORD of hosts unto me, saying,
5 Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?
6 And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?
7 Should ye not hear the words which the LORD hath cried by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity, and the cities thereof round about her, when men inhabited the south and the plain?
8 And the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah, saying,
9 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother:
10 And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.
11 But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.
12 Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts.
13 Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the LORD of hosts:
14 But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.
It's now December, 518 B.C. - two years since Zechariah's last prophecy. The subject: Fasting. The exiles are back. Over in Babylon they had initiated days of fasting to commemorate different aspects of Judah's history surrounding the fall of Jerusalem. We see in verse 5 the reference to the "seventy years" of Babylonian exile. Daniel and his crew were the first to go into Babylonian exile from Judah in 605 B.C. The return to the land of Judah took place beginning in 535 B.C. or so - 70 years later. That's exactly what Jeremiah had prophesied in Jeremiah 25:11-12 (see notes) and reiterated in Jeremiah 29:10 (see notes) before the exile began. According to Zechariah 8 (see notes) there were four such days of fasting. So here's the question: Now that we're not in exile any longer, do we still need to observe these days of fasting? In chapter 7 we don't exactly get an answer to this question, but we do get a history-of-disobedience lesson along with an indication that they weren't very sincere in their fasting anyway. The answer to the question, "To fast or not to fast?" is found in Zechariah 8 (see notes) where this discussion continues.