Zechariah was a prophet. He served God at the same time as Haggai served. And they both declared similar truths. But Zechariah was a very different type of person. His methods were unusual. But they made people listen.

The time was after the exile. Some Jews had returned to their own land. They had to understand two important things. First, they must rebuild the Temple. This would show that they were God's loyal people. The Temple would be something that everyone could see. Then, they must have holy thoughts. This was most important too.

God's people needed many things. And they needed them immediately. Both prophets cared about the things that the people needed. But there was something else. And Zechariah emphasised it more. It was the people's final fate.

Some passages in this book are hard to understand. This is because of their picture language. But the book has some great truths for us.

Visions About Success (Chapters 1-6)

[Note: A vision is like a dream, but the person is often awake. The person sees things happen. But nobody else can see them. God can speak to people in this way.]

Zechariah felt hopeful. God's kingdom would come. God had given a great promise to his people. It was this. They would defeat their enemies. Zechariah knew that their sin was serious. And Judah's sin might even delay the arrival of God's kingdom. (Judah was the southern part of the land of Israel.) Sin had another bad thing about it. It had brought much shame in their history. And Zechariah warned them. But his main subject was God's promise.

The first main section begins with a request (1:1-6). It ends with a promise (6:9-15). In this section there are eight visions. They are:

The four horses (1:7-17). God knew all about his people. He knew about their former pain and despair. But He was with them. He would protect them.

The four horns (1:18-21).

[Note: A horn curves and has a point at the end. It is hard and looks like bone. It is on the head of some animals. There are usually two of them. But some animals have only one horn in the middle of their head.]

The word ‘horn’ was a sign of strength. The horn was also a sign of someone who wanted to fight. The enemies of God's people were powerful. They came from north, south, east and west. But God would destroy them all.

The measurement line (2). God had plans for his people. And his plans were much better than anything that they might expect.

The priest's dirty clothes (3). This vision told about the people's sin. They could not serve God properly while that sin was still there.

The seven lamps and the two trees (4). People must depend completely on the Holy Spirit.

The scroll that flew (5:1-4). [Note: A scroll is a long piece of leather or paper. People would write on it. Then they would roll it up.] Judgement was certain. People who stole and who lied could not avoid it.

The woman in a basket (5:5-11). This was about the removal of all sin from the land.

The four chariots (special wagons) (6:1-8). God is in control of the whole world. (This fact was in the first vision too.)

There is a promise in 6:12-13. It was for Zerubbabel. He would receive honour. This was for his good leadership. But it was also about the Messiah. God promised that he would come.

Facts About Fasts (Chapters 7-8)

[Note: A fast is when someone does not eat or drink for a period. It could be a few people or many people who do this.]

God's people asked: ‘Should we continue to have fasts?’ The answer was in four statements:

Examine the meaning of fasts (7:4-7).

Remember what is most important to God. God wants people to live right. This is more important to God than ceremonies (7:8-14).

God promises to give his people a great future (8:1-8).

There will be feasts (parties) instead of fasts in that great future. Jerusalem would be special too. The city would be the world centre for sending missionaries (8:8-23).

Talks About Fate (Chapters 9-14)

This is the last section of the book. And it is not easy to explain its meaning. It is about the future. The nation of Israel's fate is the main subject.

H. L. Ellison was a Christian writer. And he spoke about these chapters in his book. Its name is ‘Men Spoke From God’. He said that God was showing things about the future. Then he reminds us about something that relates to the prophecies. It is this. The general idea is clear. But it is impossible to explain every detail. Someone might have an idea. And other people might not agree with him. But he must not be proud. Those other people are as good as he is.

There are three main divisions:

The arrival of the King (9-10). The passage announced that a King of peace was coming (9:9-10). Nations that did not know God would not rule God's people any more (9:11-17). But God is in control. He would make these foreign rulers powerful. Then God would use them for his purpose. That purpose was that the Jews should return to their own land (10:3-12).

The people refuse the Shepherd (11). The picture changed here. Instead of a king, there was a shepherd. (Here, this word referred to any ruler or leader.) People could trust this Shepherd. He was responsible for all the sheep (his people). He would look after them. He would protect them.

The two sticks here were signs that he cared about them. The name of one stick was grace. The name of the other stick was unity. But the people thought that the shepherd's work was of no value (11:8). They refused his kindness. And they hated him instead. They only paid him the price of a slave. This showed their bad opinion of him (11:12-13. Read Exodus 21:32).

The rescue of the people (12-14). We have had our attention on the Leader. He is the King and the Shepherd. But, in the last chapters, our attention is on the people.

There are four clear subjects:

  • Rescue (12:1-9). God will give them success.
    Foreign nations lived around Jerusalem. They gathered to fight against the city. But God would defeat them. Jerusalem would be safe. The city would be like a heavy stone. The stone was deep in the soil. And anyone who tried to move it would hurt himself (12:3).
  • Repentance (12:10-14). The people were very sorry about what they had done.
    ‘They will look at me’. The Lord God is the speaker. The Jews refused God's authority. They were not grateful to him. And this was like hitting nails into him. Then came the worst act against God. This was when they really did hit nails into him. This was when Jesus Christ died on the cross. (Read John 19:37; Revelation 1:7.)
  • Pardon (13:1-9). God forgives their sins.Repentance must come first (12:10-14). Then pardon will follow (13:1-2).
  • Perfect finish (14:1-21). There will be complete safety.
    The Lord God will save his people. ‘The Lord God will be King of the whole world then’ (14:9). At that time, everyone will be holy. It will not just be the Temple and the priests. Everything and everybody will belong to God (14:20-21).