-Along with the prophet Haggai, Zechariah was one of nearly 50,000 Jews who returned to Judah from exile in Babylon in response to the decree of king Cyrus (538 B.C.) to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. The people had begun work on the temple, but after laying the foundation, discouragement set in and sixteen years passed with no progress. So God called first Haggai and then Zechariah, often referred to as "prophets of the restoration", to call the people to return to Him and resume building.
God first raised up Haggai who pointed out the people’s sin and selfishness in failing to complete the work they had been called to do, to call them back to work, and to convey God’s promise to bless them as they labored. Haggai’s prophecy was both an exhortation to motivate the people to return to work and a word of encouragement to complete the job.
Zechariah prophesied after the people had resumed rebuilding, and his main purpose was to give the people moral support, confidence in the Lord, and hope for the future as they obeyed Him and completed their work in the midst of opposition from their pagan neighbors. Zechariah’s prophecy begins with an oracle and eight visions calling the people to return to the LORD and serve Him with sincerity of heart. His theme is, “look to the future”. It was vitally important that the temple be built because one day in the future the glory of the Messiah would dwell there and fill it. That day of blessing could never come unless the people were obedient to God. As one commentator put it, they were not just building a temple. They were building the future. The Messiah was coming and they should work on the temple with whole-hearted joy and enthusiasm.
Zechariah’s is a prophecy of encouragement. Zechariah conveys “the word of the LORD” to entreat and encourage the people. In the prophecy of Zechariah, we see what a great encourager our God is. He never leaves us alone to amble blindly through our sojourn here on earth, but He speaks to us through His Word. He spoke to his people who lived 500 years before Christ through the prophets He sent. In His Word, He speaks to us through those prophets also, as well as through the gospel writers and apostles and his disciples in the New Testament. He has spoken to us through His servants through the ages to encourage us right where we are here and now in the twenty-first century. And His message way back in the days of Haggai and Zechariah is the same message He encourages us with today. Jesus is coming to save us and set things right. He’s coming to deliver us from evil. He’s coming to revive us, restore us, and renew us. He’s coming so we can rejoice right here and now in the knowledge and hope that He gives us in His Word.
The final chapter of Zechariah’s prophecy is an oracle about the Day of the Lord - a future day seen by many of the prophets - a day of judgment for the wicked but of salvation and joy for God’s people. Zechariah tells us it will be a day when the remnant of all nations will worship the King, the LORD of Hosts (Zechariah 14:16) and it will be a day of “HOLINESS TO THE LORD”.
Do you need encouragement? Do you need encouragement to get through your day, to go to work, to care for your children, to get your school work done, to be faithful to you ministry at church, or even just to go out and face the world and other people in your neighborhood, at church, on the freeways, in the supermarket? Don’t we all need encouragement? And we see in the prophecy of Zechariah that the Lord our God is our great encourager.
Did you know that soon after Zechariah prophesied there was a period of 400 years of silence when there was not one word from God to His people. God did not raise up any prophets for 400 years! It was not until John the Baptist came, as a forerunner of Jesus, the Messiah, that God again spoke to the people. But He had given them amazing encouragement through the message of Zechariah. Even Zechariah’s name, which means, “The LORD remembers” was an encouragement. And that should be an encouragement to us as well. The LORD does remember. He remembers you and He remembers me and He remembers every promise He has made to us in His Word. And He will keep every one of those promises. So don’t ever be discouraged. Sit down for a few minutes (or as long as you like) every day and encourage yourself in His Word. I promise that as you read and soak it in and apply it to your life, you will experience the encouragement of the LORD.
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.