Zechariah was a contemporary of and a coworker with the prophet Haggai. The focus of his preaching to God’s people was to exhort them to repent and remember the covenant they had with God, in preparation for the rebuilding of the temple. God presents Zechariah with a series of eight visions pertaining to Judah’s future. There is a strong theme of Messianic hope and prophecy in Zechariah’s writing, and he challenges his people to refrain from the sins that had caused their ancestors’ exile in Babylon.
Zechariah’s writing begins with the vision of a horseman patrolling the earth (1:7-11). While the colors of the horses mentioned in Revelation 6 signify distinct themes (bloodshed, death, etc.), it is not clear that the colors here have any particular significance; rather, what stands out is the fact that these horsemen represent God’s awareness of events in the world, and particularly events that impact Judah. Note the message in verses 14-15, that God is angry with the nations He had used to punish Judah, because they had gone beyond what He had authorized as punishment for Judah (cf. Jeremiah 50:11f.). Therefore, these nations are, in turn, to be brought down.
In the second vision (Zechariah 2), the outstanding thought is that Judah is the “apple of God’s eye,” and therefore He will protect and preserve the nation despite its small stature. Jerusalem (a metaphor for the entire nation) is to be “like villages without walls,” indicating that the Lord’s people would be safe and secure because He would be their “wall” (note verse 5). Because God had promised to dwell among His people, they would be able to rejoice and sing with joy, secure in the knowledge that they were safe because of His protection.
One of the most significant passages in Zechariah comes in chapter 6, as the prophet foretells the coming of a “ruling priest” (verses 12-14) called the “Branch.” He is to both build the “temple of the Lord,” and “rule on his throne.” This combination of priestly and kingly roles, along with the fact that Zerubbabel’s temple was even then being completed, shows plainly that Zechariah could not have referred here to any priest who would serve under the terms of Moses’ covenant (cf. Hebrews 8:4). The image here accords exactly, however, with the new testament’s image of the church as the kingdom of God (Colossians 1:13-18), and with Paul’s equating of the church with the temple of God (Ephesians 2:21).
The latter chapters of Zechariah contain a number of messianic prophecies. In 9:9, we find a description of Jesus’ triumphant and kingly entry into Jerusalem (cf. Matthew 21:1-9). Chapter 11:12-13 anticipates the betrayal of the Lord by Judas Iscariot, the price he would be paid by the rulership of Judah, and the final disposition of the bribe they paid him for Jesus (cf. Matthew 26:15 & 27:3-9). In 12:10, Zechariah foretells the events of the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 –specifically the outpouring of the Holy Spirit –and the remorse of the apostles’ audience upon recognizing their own guilt in the crucifix-ion of Jesus (cf. Acts 2:2-4 & 37). The declaration of 13:1 presages the Lord’s announcement on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, concerning Himself as the Source of “living water” in John 7:37-38. Finally, in chapter 14:1-5 Zechariah describes the dispersion of Jewish Christians that would take place when God executed judgement against Jerusalem and Judea in the Roman conquest of 69-70 A.D., which corresponds to the Lord’s instructions to the disciples in Matthew 24:15-34.