Zechariah Chapter Summaries
Book Theme: Return to the Lord, build the temple, Messiah is coming
Book Summary: Zechariah delivers 8 night visions in chapters 1-6. Though nations war against Israel, the LORD will, in the future restore, protect, bless, and raise his people to prominence. Chapters 7-8 answer the question about continued fasting in memory of the destruction of Solomon’s temple. Chapters 9-14 contain two prophetic burdens or messages. The first is about Messiah’s first coming (Zechariah 9-11). The second burden is about Messiah’s second coming, victory, and deliverance of Israel (Zechariah 12-14). The entire book clearly stresses that Israel must return to the Lord, build the temple, and that Messiah is coming. Thoroughly interwoven into these three topics is the repeated refrain that Yahweh God truly rules history and Israel has a blessed future.
Zechariah 1 Summary: Vision 1, the rider and four horses; Vision 2, four horns and four craftsmen
Haggai prophesied during the same time as Zechariah (around 520 BC). Ezra, Nehemiah, and Malachi ministered in the next century. The history of Zechariah 1-8 can be found in those books. On October 27, 520 BC the LORD spoke through Zechariah to Israel and called them to return to him and not imitate their rebellious fathers (Zechariah 1.1-6). Zechariah’s first vision was three months later, on February 15, 519 BC, in which four riders, each on a horse, scout the earth and report that all is relatively peaceful, except that Jerusalem and the cities of Judah have been left plundered for seventy years (Zechariah 1.7-12). The LORD then explained the first vision: in the future he will return to Jerusalem, choose Jerusalem, build his house, and bring prosperity and comfort to his cities (Zechariah 1.13-17). That same night the LORD gave the second vision of four horns followed by four craftsmen. The horns represent nations that have attacked and scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem. The four craftsmen represent nations that will defeat the horn nations (Zechariah 1.18-21).
Zechariah 2 Summary: Vision 3, Surveyor, wall of fire, and LORD returns
In the third vision Zechariah depicts a surveyor measuring the size of Jerusalem (Zechariah 2.1-2). The message is that in the future Jerusalem will be larger and without walls because the LORD will be a protective wall of fire around Jerusalem and will dwell in her (Zechariah 2.3-5). The LORD further says that the Hebrew people, the apple of his eye, are to flee the Babylonians because He will plunder Babylon (Zechariah 2.7-9). Sometime in the future the LORD will return to earth and restore Judah and Jerusalem. Then, even Gentile nations will follow the LORD (Zechariah 2.10-13).
Zechariah 3 Summary: Vision 4, Joshua cleansed, Branch, & Stone
This chapter opens with the LORD, Joshua, and Satan. Satan’s purpose is to accuse Joshua, Israel’s spiritual leader, of sin. The LORD rebukes Satan, cleanses Joshua, and chooses him to be high priest. He has Jerusalem as his city, and he chooses Joshua to be high priest at this time even though he is dirty with sin. The clean garments and turban show the cleansing of sin and the appointment of Joshua (Zechariah 3.1-5). The LORD of hosts then charges Joshua to walk in the LORD’S ways and perform his service, and if he does, he will govern the temple and the courts (Zechariah 3.7). Joshua and his friends represent The LORD’S future servant called the Branch. On a special day in the future, called “that day,” the LORD will cleanse the land and bring security and peace (Zechariah 3.8; 6.12; Isaiah 4.2; 11.1; Jeremiah 23.5; 33.15). The next symbol is the stone, another prophetic title for Messiah. This speaks of Messiah’s second coming when He cleanses the land (Zechariah 3.9, remove the iniquity) and brings peace (Zechariah 3.10, sit under the vine and fig tree) (Zechariah 3.8-10).
Zechariah 4 Summary: Vision 5, the lampstand, olive trees and branches, and the Holy Spirit
The angel now gives Zechariah a vision of a lampstand fed oil from two olive trees (Zechariah 4.3, 11). The trees provided oil for the lamps. They teach that the work to be done must be done by the Holy Spirit through his man, not by human power (Zechariah 4.1-6). The Holy Spirit’s power will remove obstacles (mountain) and complete the temple (Zechariah 4.7-11). Zechariah then asks what the olive branches are (Zechariah 4.12). The olive branches are the two anointed leaders, Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the governor (Zechariah 4.13-14). Both will be instrumental in completing the temple, an almost impossible task, only to be finished through the Holy Spirit.
Zechariah 5 Summary: Vision 6, the flying scroll; Vision 7 the woman in a basket
Yahweh God will purge or cleanse the land and meanwhile He has restrained evil in the land, and later will restore Babylon as the seat of evil. Watch for the rise of Babylon. The scroll vision (Zechariah 5.1-4) symbolizes God’s righteous standards and his judgments against evildoers in the land. The judgments are specifically directed against stealing (Exodus 20.15) and false swearing (Exodus 20.7). The vision of the evil woman in the basket (Zechariah 5.5-11) symbolizes that God has restrained evil in Judea at the present time. The woman is then sent to Babylon (land of Shinar, Zechariah 51.11) where she will rule in her own temple. This pictures the restoration of Babylon in the future as the center of evil (see Revelation 17). Persia, under Cyrus the Great, had defeated Babylon (539 BC) by this time, but Babylon will not be totally destroyed until the Tribulation period. See Isaiah 13-14, Jeremiah 50-51, and Revelation 17-18 for a few of the many Scriptures that discuss Babylon. As to the woman in the ephah, God will remove all wickedness from Judah and send it to Babylon in Judgment of her.
Zechariah 6 Summary: Vision 8 the four chariots; Joshua crowned
The eighth vision shows four chariots pulled by four horses. Each represents a judging spirit sent from God. They especially judge the nations in the north—probably Babylon. By this time Babylon had already been defeated by Persia. In the future Babylon will revive and be a center of evil. Babylon will subsequently fall to God’s judgment. The four chariots conclude the eight visions (Zechariah 6.1-8). After the eight visions Zechariah was instructed to make a crown of silver and gold and crown Joshua, the high priest (Zechariah 6.9-15). Joshua was now the king and high priest in Judea. In the Old Testament the King came from Judah and the priest came from Levi; Kingship and priesthood were never joined in one person. Joshua foreshadows Messiah Jesus who will be the greater branch and the final king and priest. The historical reference is to Joshua, but some statements within this section refer to the greater branch, Messiah.
Zechariah 7 Summary: ritual fasts that were without real meaning
In answer to a question about fasts related to the fall of Israel, the LORD spoke through Zechariah and said that ritual without the spiritual reality is worthless, and hardening against Yahweh God and what he says is dangerous to relationship with Him. He will discipline and judge. On December 7, 518 BC, 22 months after Zechariah 1.7, men from Bethel questioned the priests and prophets in Jerusalem about whether they should continue to mourn in the fifth month (Ab—August) on the ninth day in remembrance of the destruction of the temple, and also in the seventh month (Tishri—October) in memory of the death of Gedaliah (Zechariah 7.1-3)? The LORD’S answer was that when they fasted and mourned the past 70 years, they were doing it for themselves instead of to honor and seek Him (Zechariah 7.4-7). A further word from the LORD to Zechariah reminded the people that the LORD had in the past instructed the people to practice justice, compassion, and kindness (Zechariah 7.8-10). They had refused and hardened their hearts. So, God did the same to them as they did to Him. The people called for help and the LORD did not listen. He exiled the people to Babylon (Zechariah 7.13-14).
Zechariah 8 Summary: The Lord will return to Jerusalem in the future and bless
In chapter 8 Zechariah gives statement about what the Lord will do in the future. Some will happen in the near time, but the more complete fulfillment will come when Messiah returns to earth to judge and rule and bless. The Lord says he is jealous for Zion (Zechariah 8.1-2). He will return and live in Jerusalem (Zechariah 8.3). There will be peace and joy (Zechariah 8.4-6). He will bring them back to their land (Zechariah 8.7-8). They will be His people and He will be their God (Zechariah 8.8). They are to build the temple (Zechariah 8.9). Peaceful and productive farming will be the rule (Zechariah 8.10-12). The house of Judah and Israel will be a blessing to others (Zechariah 8.13). The Lord will do good for them (Zechariah 8.14-15). Peoples and mighty nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord (Zechariah 8.22). Great nations of the world will seek blessing by association with the people of Jerusalem (Zechariah 8.23). These promises still await fulfillment when Messiah comes to earth to set up His kingdom. Meanwhile, the Lord wants Judah to rebuild the temple (Zechariah 8.9), to live righteously (Zechariah 8.16-17), and their feasts should be joyful instead of mourning (Zechariah 8.18-19).
Zechariah 9 Summary: first burden oracle: judgment on the nations, deliverance of Israel
Zechariah concludes with two burden oracles, the first burden in chapters 9-11 and the second in chapters 12-14. Zechariah 9, The first burden oracle: Yahweh God will defeat even the most powerful nations, and He will protect Israel when He chooses to do so; and though nations continue to battle, Messiah King will come first on a donkey and later He will come as a victorious king, save Israel, and rule all nations. This chapter looks at history from Zechariah’s time through selected events that climax with the second advent victory and kingdom blessing. With chapter 9, Zechariah delivers a message of judgment God brought through Alexander the Great in 333 BC upon Syria (Hatarrika, identified with Tell Afis; Hamath), Phoenicia (Tyre and Sidon), and Philistia (Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and Ashdod). God will protect Jerusalem. This apparently occurred as predicted (Zechariah 9.1-8). Coupled with God’s protection from Alexander’s imminent coming military sweep into Egypt, the prophet calls for rejoicing because their Messiah King is coming, and he will bring the peace Israel has long been looking for (Zechariah 9.9-10). Zechariah then says that God, in keeping with his covenant to Israel, will deliver Israel from attacks “in that day” (Zechariah 9.11-17). When did or will these events happen? They have not all happened yet. The prophet may be seeing events that will partially occur in the next few centuries and then will be completed with the momentous events that will occur along with Messiah Jesus’ return to set up his kingdom.
Zechariah 10 Summary: the LORD gathers and blesses Israel
Yahweh God, the Messiah King and cornerstone, will whistle for Israel to return from the nations (restoration). He will give Judah and Joseph (Israel) victory in the great coming battle (Armageddon) and will rule in the Millennial Kingdom. Judah is told to ask the Lord for blessings because the teraphim (house idols), diviners (fortune tellers), and leaders are of no help (Zechariah 10.1-2). The LORD of hosts will care for, prosper, and bless Judah. The cornerstone, tent peg, and bow—all symbols of strength and support—will come from Judah. These ultimately refer to Messiah who will come from Judah, who will fight the enemies and win because the LORD will be with Judah. The LORD will recall Judah, Joseph, and Ephraim and bless them. Judah is put for the southern kingdom and Joseph and Ephraim for the northern kingdom. The LORD will strengthen, save, bring back, have compassion on, and answer (Zechariah 10.3-7). Furthermore, the LORD will whistle and gather his redeemed people, bring them back to their land, and strengthen them in the LORD. All Israel will rejoice, be numerous, remember the LORD, live, return, pass through distress, and walk in the name of the LORD (Zechariah 10.8-12). These statements can only be fulfilled miraculously by the personal intervention of the LORD. This has not happened yet in history. It awaits completion in the Day of the LORD, which we learn from other Scripture.
Zechariah 11 Summary: First burden oracle: Judgment in preparation for Messiah
Zechariah now turns from good news in Zechariah 10 of military victory, regathering, and walking in the name of the LORD to the bad news in Zechariah 11 of the judgment of the land and people of Syria Palestine (Zechariah 11.1-3). As a part of this judgment the LORD had Zechariah act two parts, a good shepherd (shepherds are leaders) whom the people reject (Zechariah 11.4-14) and then a foolish, destroying, and worthless shepherd (Zechariah 11.15-17). Zechariah the good shepherd attempted to care for the flock but was rejected and paid a slave’s wage (Zechariah 11.4-14). Because the good shepherd was rejected, he broke two staffs. The staff Favor (no’am) symbolized the blessing of God’s protection from other nations, which God temporarily set aside because they rejected God’s leadership. Since he was finished with the job of shepherd, Zechariah received a slave’s pay of 30 pieces of silver (Exodus 21.32, Matthew 26.25), an insulting wage, and he threw it to the potter in the temple. Though this actually occurred with Zechariah in his part as a shepherd, this pointed to the rejection and betrayal of Jesus and the price paid to Judas (Matthew 27.3-10). The second staff, Union (hobelim), symbolized the division of Judah and Israel which occurred at Solomon’s death. The LORD then told Zechariah to play the part of a worthless shepherd who will devour the flock and then be judged by God (Zechariah 11.15-17). In context this shepherd refers to someone who comes and devastates the flock of Israel, a reference to the future dictator, Anti-Christ, Beast (Daniel 9.27; 11.36-39; 2 Thessalonians 2.3-10; Revelation 13.1-8).
Zechariah 12 Summary: Second burden oracle: The LORD rescues Jerusalem
Yahweh God, Creator and Lord of all, will smash the enemies of Israel when they attack Jerusalem, and the remnant of Jerusalem will recognize Messiah and mourn because they had rejected him when he came the first time. The LORD rescues Jerusalem. The prophet now concentrates on the coming of Messiah to rescue Jerusalem, Judah, and Israel. The LORD, creator of heavens, earth, and mankind, now miraculously intervenes in world history (Zechariah 12.1). The LORD will use Jerusalem—throughout history the object of scorn, jealousy, terrorist attacks, and wars—to destroy the anti-Israel armies which have set themselves against the ancient city of God’s people. It will all happen “in that day”
בַיּוֹם־הַ֠הוּא), bayom hahu’), a phrase used seven times in chapter 12 (Zechariah 12.3,4,6,8,9,11) and 19 times in Zechariah. In this chapter it predicts a future time of Divine judgment on those attacking Jerusalem at the Battle of Armageddon. Jerusalem will be a cup that causes reeling, and a heavy stone that crushes (Zechariah 12.2-3). The Lord will fight for Judah and Jerusalem and destroy the nations besieging Jerusalem. Jerusalem and Judah will know the Lord is fighting for them (Zechariah 12.4-9). Messiah will return to earth as warrior and ruler. Judah and Jerusalem will, at that time, recognize their Messiah and mourn because they realize they had rejected Him and crucified Him when He came the first time (Zechariah 12.10). The people will mourn individually and in groups, and also separated by gender as was the custom in the ancient world. This will be genuine mourning, not a media event (Zechariah 12.11-14).
Zechariah 13 Summary: Judgment of false prophets and restoration of the remnant
In that Day (the time when the LORD gathers Israel, defeats Israel’s enemies, cleanses from sin, and blesses Israel at his second coming at the end of the Tribulation) the LORD will provide forgiveness to those who accept Him (Zechariah 13.1; see Ezekiel 36.25). He will also judge and remove idols, false prophets, and demons operating in Israel. Parents of false prophets will execute their false prophet sons (see Deuteronomy 13.6-9). Those false prophets who survive the immediate purge will deny they are prophets. The hairy robe was worn by some prophets—Elijah in 1 Kings 1.8 and John the Baptist in Matthew 3.4. The prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18.28, cut themselves to induce Baal to answer their prayer (Zechariah 13.2-6). Zechariah 13.7-9 refer to the first and second coming of Messiah. Verse 7 predicts His death followed by the scattering and discipline of Israel. Sword speaks of judgment and death. My Shepherd and My Associate refer to Messiah, one equal with the LORD of Hosts. Zechariah 13.8-9 predicts judgment, deliverance, and restoration. At Messiah’s second coming to earth He will separate and judge the unbelieving two-thirds and deliver the believing one-third. The delivered remnant will call on the Lord—they are His people and He is their God. For the deliverance of the remnant of Israel, see Romans 11.26.
Zechariah 14 Summary: The Lord’s second coming, King of the earth, worship at Jerusalem.
Just as the nations are attacking Jerusalem in the final phase of the Armageddon Campaign, LORD Messiah will come to the city and fight for Israel (Zechariah 14.1-3). He will stand on the Mount of Olives and cause an east to west valley to be formed by splitting the mountain into a north part and south part (Zechariah 14.4). The Israelite remnant will escape by this valley (Zechariah 14.5). Azel is probably somewhere east of and near Jerusalem. Darkness will overwhelm the land until evening, at which time the light of the LORD’S return will shine (Zechariah 14.6-7, Joel 3.15-17, Matthew 24.29-39). The LORD Messiah will cause living water to flow from Jerusalem to the Mediterranean in the west and to the Dead Sea in the east (Zechariah 14.8). This water will apparently provide lush vegetation and possibly some type of physical or spiritual refreshment for the people who will live in the area. The LORD Messiah will take the rule over the entire earth (Zechariah 14.9). Psalm 2 was recited when a Davidic king was enthroned. The full fulfillment will come when the final Davidic king, Messiah, is enthroned. As part of the new kingdom, Messiah will change the geography around Jerusalem with the resulting prosperity (Zechariah 14.10-11). More graphic details of the defeat of Israel’s enemies by Messiah are related in Zechariah 14.12-15: A God-sent plague that quickly rots flesh, the enemy turning on each other, and Judeans fighting the attackers and defeating the enemies of God and Israel. After the kingdom is established, those survivors from the nations who fought Israel will submit to King LORD. Every year representatives from each former enemy nation will go up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Booths, commemorating God’s blessings (Zechariah 14.16). God will cause drought on the nations who refuse the yearly worship at Jerusalem (Zechariah 14.17-19). People will have children in the kingdom, and though not all will follow Jesus Christ, the Lord will be honored throughout Jerusalem and Judah (Zechariah 14.20-21).
Main Lessons from Zechariah
- If I have strayed from the LORD and His word, I need to return to fellowship with Him by confessing my sin and changing my attitude to faithful obedience.
- Each of us is dependent upon the Holy Spirit’s power and ability to serve God the right way and with God’s intended results. Each of us needs to walk by the Holy Spirit—to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
- Ritual for ritual sake did not please God in the past and neither will it please God now. Why do we observe communion? What do we think about during that ritual?
- God has disciplined Israel because of her sin, but her promised national future and blessing is sure and nonrevocable.
- History is marked by hatred and attacks against Israel and her people, and this will be especially violent before the LORD returns to rule as King over all the earth.
- Just before LORD Jesus returns nations will be attacking Israel, but as the LORD descends to the Mount of Olives, many Israelites will realize he is the Messiah. They will go into mourning because they rejected him when he came the first time.
- The LORD will defeat the attacking armies, change the geography of Israel, be King of all the earth, and receive worship from the nations.
- God controls human history, even in the middle of terrible anti-Semitism. Let us not give up on God when historical events are bad.