From the Editor’s Notebook: Minor Prophets, Zechariah

From the Editor’s Notebook

Outline Studies of the Minor Prophets

Zechariah: The Book of Restoration and Glory

Key Word: Consummation. Message: “God’s Love and Care for His People” (Robert Lee).1

“The Keeping Power of God” (Eric W. Hayden).2

Key Verses: 1:3 — “Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts.” 1:14 — “So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy.” 2:8 —”For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory hath He sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye.” 8:2 — “Thus saith the Lord of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury.”


Zechariah was probably born in Babylon, outside the land of Palestine. The difficulty existing between Ezra 5:1, 6:14 and Zechariah 1:1 may be explained by the probability that his father died when he the prophet was only an infant, and that his grandfather Iddo (Neh. 12:4, 16) reared him. Zechariah’s name means “Jehovah remembers,” Berechiah “Jehovah blesses,” and Iddo “the appointed time,” these three names forming a key to the meaning of the book.

Zechariah was a priest as well as a prophet. Although somewhat younger, he was contemporary with and complementary to Haggai (Ezra 5:1). He was also a contemporary of Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the high priest (Ezra 5:2; Zech. 3:1; 4:6; 6:11). The background of Zechariah’s prophecy is found in 1:6. After their return from exile, the Jewish remnant had worked hard to build their houses and rebuild the temple. However, poor crops, withering droughts, opposition from neighbors, declining trade, skyrocketing inflation, and political unrest brought the work almost to a standstill. The forthright prosaic preaching of Haggai had its effect, but a new voice was needed to encourage and strenghten the people in their despondency. This was Zechariah’s mission and he fulfilled it by directing the people to behold with the eye of faith the glories of the nation in the future. He exercised his ministry for three years, having started to prophesy two months later than his contemporary Haggai. Zechariah began his prophetic labors in 520 B.C., both his and Haggai’s prophecy having been dated from the second year of Darius I the Great’s reign (522-486 B.C.). Dating a Hebrew prophecy by a Gentile king indicates that the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24) were in progress.

Zechariah’s prophecy has the characteristics of an apocalypse, his visions resembling those of Daniel and of the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos. It is interesting to observe that Daniel, Ezekiel and John all wrote outside of Palestine, while Zechariah wrote in the land.

Zechariah was a great poet, a fitting companion of the highly practical Haggai, and among the so-called Minor Prophets his book is unique, containing more Messianic prophecies than any of the others. In fact, it has been called the most Messianic, the most truly apocalyptic and eschatological of all the writings of the Old Testament.

The Jewish Targum records that Zechariah was slain in the temple sanctuary, and that this Zechariah was both priest and prophet (Neh. 12:4). Josephus also states that Zechariah, the son of Baruchus, was slain in the temple. All of these things would identify Zechariah as the one mentioned by the Lord Jesus Christ as having been martyred (Matt. 23:35). Another Zecharias was ministering in the temple at the time of Christ’s birth (Luke 1:57-80).


1. The Apocalyptic Visions (1-6)

2. The Historic Interlude (7-8)

3. The Prophetic Burdens (9-14)

Notable Notes

Included in the Messianic prophecies of Zechariah are: the Lord’s Servant, the Branch (3:8); the Man, the Branch (6:12); the King-Priest (6:13); the True Shepherd (11:4-11); the True Shepherd versus the false shepherd — the Antichrist(11:15-17; 13:7); the betrayal of the Good Shepherd (11:12-13); His crucifixion (12:10); His sufferings (13:7); His second advent in glory (14:4).

The Branch is one of the great Old Testament titles of the Lord Jesus Christ. Actually, in the Old Testament there are 23 words translated “branch,” but one, occurring 12 times, is used of Messiah on four great occasions: Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:15; Zechariah 3:8; 6:12; and Isaiah 4:2. From the context of these references it is observed that the Messiah is referred to as King, Servant, Man and Jehovah; and it is from these four viewpoints exactly that the four Gospels are written.

As for Zechariah’s series of eight visions, the vision of the man among the myrtle trees is a picture of God’s watchful care over Israel in this present age.

The vision of the four horns and the four carpenters, or carvers, raised up to destroy them stands for the nations that have oppressed the Jew and the instruments chosen by God to discipline these nations.

The vision of the surveyor forecasts a new Jerusalem that cannot be measured, and whose protecting wall is the presence of God.

The vision of Joshua clothed with filthy rags and then cleansed symbolizes the cleansing of Israel preparatory to the nation’s future ministry in the day of Christ the Branch.

The vision of the candlestick represents Israel’s spiritual revival, a nation supplied with the Spirit of Christ and enlightening the world.

The vision of the flying scroll represents the future reign of divine law throughout the earth.

The vision of the ephah (the largest of the dry measures used by the Jews), together with the women (often used as a symbol of religious error in the Scriptures), represent the final restraint to be put upon the evils of commercialism and ecclesiasticism.

The vision of the four chariots symbolizes the coming of divine judgment upon the nations, as well as the administration of Jehovah through the crowning of the true Joshua and Branch, Jesus Christ.

Chapters 7 and 8 disclose that the time will come when all fastings will give way to feasting.

The last six chapters, probably written some 30 years after the earlier portions of the book and accounting for Zechariah’s change in style, deal with the coming, rejection, crucifixion, and ultimate delineation of Christ’s Second Advent in great power and glory to set up His earthly kingdom.

Apart from Isaiah, no prophet presents so clear a picture of Christ in all of the Old Testament as does Zechariah, and no other is so frequently quoted in the New Testament.

The nations will one day “worship the King” (14:17), and “holiness unto the Lord” will yet pervade the earth (14:20).

The book is characterized by the three great ideas of: 1. a universal purpose; 2. a Messianic hope; 3. divine sovereignty.

In Zechariah the LORD JESUS CHRIST is revealed as THE SUFFERER AND THE SOVEREIGN (13:7; 9:9-11).

Editor’s Note

In this issue, while continuing his series of devotional studies on the theme of “Encouragement,” we present the first of a five-part series of articles by Dr. James T. Naismith which will provide our readers with sound, practical teaching on current problems and controversial matters facing all of us. Commencing with a basic study on “The Sanctity of Human Life,” other articles will follow dealing with “Capital Punishment,” “Suicide,” “Euthanasia,” and “Abortion.”

Dr. Naismith of Scarborough, Ontario, is a retired physician who devotes his full time to teaching God’s Word. He has recently returned from an extended ministry trip to Scotland and the Faero Islands. By the way, without looking in an atlas, do you know where these islands are located and to whom they belong?

We extend afresh our sincere gratitude to Dr. Naismith for his continued flow of edifying written ministry, as well as for his wise and helpful counsel over the years as a committee member of “Food for the Flock” magazine.

1 Robert Lee, The Outlined Bible.

2 Eric W. Hayden, Preaching through the Bible, p. 168.