Zechariah, the name of the prophet whose visions and prophecies we
desire to study, is not an uncommon name in divine history. Its
meaning is Jehovah remembers. He is called the son of Berachiah,
Jehovah blesses, the son of Iddo, the appointed time. There is
here, as in many other instances in the Bible, a great significance
in the Hebrew names. The name of the grandfather of Zechariah, who
probably brought him up, as his father must have died early, his
father's name and his own read in English translation, the appointed
time, Jehovah blesses, Jehovah remembers. The Holy Spirit has
inspired these very names; they are in themselves a commentary to the
prophecies and visions God gave to Zechariah, for they speak of an
appointed time of God's blessings for Jerusalem and of His loving
Zechariah was born in Babylon in the captivity, for when he returned
to the land of his fathers he was but a child. Like some other
prophets he was a priest as well as a prophet. His work as a prophet
was commenced by him when he was a young man, for thus he is called
in one of the visions. The time of his opening address to the people
is two months after Haggai had opened his lips in Jehovah's name.
Haggai received the word of the Lord in the sixth month in the second
year of Darius, and Zechariah in the eighth month of the same year of
the reign of that King, about 520 before Christ.
Both prophets had the same thought given, namely, to encourage the
Jewish remnant in the blessed work of rebuilding the house of the
Lord. This work had suffered an interruption; the Samaritans were the
cause of it. They had applied to join in the work, but as the remnant
considered them idolators and as not belonging to God's people, the
application was rejected. These Samaritans tried after that in
various ways to hinder the rebuilding, which had so blessedly begun.
At last they succeeded in obtaining a decree which forbade the
building of the Temple.
All work had to be stopped and ceased for about fourteen years.
But when the King who had forbidden the prosecution of the work had died
and Darius became King, the building of the Temple was once more made possible.
The leaders of the people in the enterprise were Serubbabel and the High Priest,
Joshua. But again, they were hindered from the outside, while on the other hand
the people themselves had lost much interest and possessed no longer that love
and zeal for God's house, which was so prominent after their return. Thus,
Haggai said: This people say, It is not the time for us to come, the time for the
Lord's house to be built. . . It is a time for you to dwell in your ceiled houses,
while this house lieth waste. (Haggai chapter 1).
In that critical moment these two prophets made their appearance, and
God gave them visions of comfort and glad tidings to encourage the
disheartened, selfish and unbelieving people.
The visions and prophecies of Zechariah, however, do not only give an
assurance that there could be no failure in the work the remnant had
taken up anew, but more than that in them the glorious future of
Jerusalem and Zion is unfolded. They lead up to the grand finale of
the history of God's ancient people, the time when Israel, redeemed
and restored forever, will sing the grand and glorious Hallelujah.
It is, of course, true that Zechariah did a blessed work for the
people who lived in his day; he had a special mission to perform and
succeeded in it, but the Spirit of God in the message of comfort for
that time gives the history of events then in a distant future. The
Babylonian captivity of Israel foreshadows their greater dispersion
in which they are to-day wanderers all over the earth, and the
restoration which took place in the time of Zechariah is highly
typical of that coming restoration for which we hope and pray.
Zechariah may therefore be fitly called the Prophet of the
Restoration. Surely it is a deplorable blindness in some teachers of
the Word, who see in the book of Zechariah nothing but past history,
and who claim that all has been fulfilled in the return of the small
Jewish remnant from the captivity, and whatever promises of mercy
given to Jerusalem and the land of Judah find now their spiritual
fulfillment in the church.
It will be our aim in a series of studies in Zechariah to consider
mostly the relation of these visions to the end of this age, and the
beginning of the next, the millennial glory. We shall find that
instead of the book of Zechariah being all fulfilled prophecy, as
some would have it, it is indeed mostly unfulfilled, and even some of
the prophetic promises which on the surface seem to have been seen a
fulfillment, were only in part realized. And how important at this
time to study the book of Zechariah! We are living in the time when
that greater restoration with all its events forerunning and
connected with it are about to come to pass. It is needless to say
that we firmly believe that Zechariah wrote all of the book which
bears his name.
Several of the Jewish commentators confess an inability to explain
the book. The well-known Jewish commentator Solomon Ben Jarchi
(generally known by the name Rashi), says: "The prophecy (of
Zechariah) is very dark, for it contains visions much like dreams,
which want interpreting, and we will never succeed in finding the
true meaning until the Teacher of righteousness arrives. Abarbane
makes a similar confession.
We praise God that the Teacher of righteousness has come, even the
Spirit of Truth, who guides into all truth and reveals the things to