The name Zechariah means the Lord remembers. He was the great prophet of the days of the restoration from Babylonia captivity, with Haggai and Malachi he was a post exilic prophet. He was born in Babylonia when some 50,000 people who were in exile trekked their way home under the reign of King Cyrus. Zechariah began his ministry two months after Haggai had commenced his prophetic ministry. It was in the second year of the reign of Darius Hystaspes (521-485 B.C.). The first prophetic message of Zechariah comes in the second year of Darius’s reign. He was also a contemporary of Zerubbabel the Governor and Joshua the High Priest.
The reconstruction work of the temple was stopped due to opposition for more than a decade and was then resumed in 520 B.C and completed in 516 B.C. Zechariah encouraged the people to complete their unfinished task. Rather than rebuking them, he encourages them by pointing out the future importance of the temple. The temple had to be built because one day the Messiah’s glory will inhabit it. Sadly, the man who encouraged the temple building was murdered between the temple and the altar (Mat 23:35).
“Thus says the LORD; I will return to Zion and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, the Mountain of the LORD of hosts, the Holy Mountain.” (Zech 8:3) – NKJV
Zechariah has given very clear messianic prophecies depicting both the first and the second coming of Christ. He has portrayed Christ as Servant and King, Man and God. In the first eight chapters, he frequently refers to the temple encouraging his people to complete the building of the temple because the Messiah will bring His glory into that same structure. The last six chapters were written after the completion of the temple and they anticipate the coming of the Messiah.
Zechariah ends his book with an exciting climax in the fourteenth chapter describing the final siege of Jerusalem, the initial victory of Israel’s enemies, the division of Mount Olives, Jesus’ visible appearance on Mount Olives and defending Jerusalem, judgment on all nations who opposed Israel, and the final restoration under the Messiah’s reign.
Zechariah vindicates the stand of the pre-exilic prophets by saying that the judgment prophesied by them came upon Judah because ‘the Lord was very angry with your ancestors.’ He exhorts the people to return to the Lord. Finally he describes the ‘Day of the Lord’ as being a day when the Lord will judge the wicked among Israel and preserve a holy remnant. He will judge the surrounding nations and all the enemies of Israel and He will usher in the Messiah’s golden reign. There is physical salvation to Judah as well as a spiritual salvation in that day.
Though the Lord has glorious plans for the salvation of His people, the unrepentant are doomed to God’s wrath and judgment. Zechariah describes such as the people who refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders and stopped their ears so that they could not hear (Zech 7:11). Sadly, sometimes God’s messengers have to face the brutality of the wicked. The very prophet who encouraged the completion of the temple was murdered between the temple and the altar. How ironic!
Today, God is asking us to return to the Lord and build His temple. The Bible says that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19). We are also collectively the Body of Christ, the Church or the temple of God. So God is asking us to build ourselves up in Him and to work for building His Church because He is going to come again as King and inhabit us with all of His glory.