Zechariah is one of the longest books of the Minor Prophets. It has 14 chapters filled with night visions. God gave these visions to the prophet Zechariah to rebuke, exhort, and encourage the Israelites, but most importantly, to tell them about their future hope.
Why did they need hope?
Like the prophet Haggai, Zechariah prophesied to a “postexilic” Israel—the Israelite community that had returned to their land after suffering God’s discipline through exile in Babylon. After the Persian empire overthrew Babylon, the Israelites were finally allowed to return to their land.
The books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Haggai chronicle some of the difficulties that faced these returnees (Ezra 3:8-4:5; 5:1-6:22; Haggai 1:5-11). They were no doubt gripped by fear, spiritual apathy, and a sense of hopelessness.
You’ll notice the book of Zechariah is a bit different from the other prophets. It doesn’t prophesy judgment upon Israel. Instead, God sent Zechariah to remind Israel not to be like their ancestors (Zechariah 1:4). His book warns Israel against repeating the sins of their ancestors. It also encourages them to turn to God and forsake their evil ways, so that God will turn and show them his favor (Zechariah 1:3).
So God gives this prophet night visions, which we find in the first half of the book. They are messages to encourage God’s tired people. God promises in one of them, “My cities will again overflow with prosperity; the LORD will once more comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem” (Zechariah 1:17).
Zechariah’s night visions culminate in the eighth and final vision (6:9-13), in which he sees a messianic figure, the Promised One. This messianic figure will save Israel from their sins, establish peace, and reunite Israel around the building of the temple. Can you imagine a more hopeful message for a people who live near the shattered remains of the temple they so loved?
The end of Zechariah envisions God and his people triumphing over the nations that have oppressed Israel. Rallied behind Zion’s King, Israel will overcome their enemies.
In his gospel account, Matthew makes clear that this King and messianic figure is Jesus Christ. Speaking of an event in Jesus’ life, Matthew says, “This took place so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled: Tell Daughter Zion, ‘See your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey’” (Matthew 21:4-5; quoting Zechariah 9:9 NIV). Matthew helps us understand that Jesus is the hope of Israel, the King God’s weary people longed for.
The book of Zechariah, then, is ultimately about Jesus Christ.
The book of Zechariah, then, is ultimately about Jesus Christ. He is the hope God held out to his weary people as the remedy for sin, the ruler of their lives, and the hope that brings them joy. He is still the hope that Zechariah holds out to us today, for he is the King who has come to us to save us from sin and to lead us into the New Jerusalem, his heavenly kingdom.
Zechariah prompts us to ask: Do I know this king the Bible speaks of? And is he my hope?