Zechariah: Desultory Musings: Zechariah begins his ministry in Nov 520 B.C., the second year of the Medo-Persian Emperor Darius.
Zechariah 1.1-6 (KJV): “In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, 2 The LORD hath been sore displeased with your fathers. 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. 4 Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD. 5 Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever? 6 But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? and they returned and said, Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.”
Authorship: Zechariah, the presumptive and historical view, a 6th century contemporary of Haggai, although some critical (or, divisive) scholars see two authors, chs. 1—8 and chs. 9—14. We see no reasons for the split (reminds us of C.K. Barrett's arguments on 2 Cor. 10-13, but we digress).
Date and Occasion:
The same background is Haggai. Haggai focuses on rebuilding the Temple while Zechariah’s emphasis is the covenantal welfare, status, blessing and victory of Jerusalem. Encouragement is the name of the game. Divine promises are the name of the game.
It is in the genre of apocalyptic literature, akin to portions of Daniel and Ezekiel. Zechariah has several visions.
Each vision is a particular snapshot without necessary sequencing; each must be taken on their own merit and presenting issues. They combine the present and future in an indivisible fabric; this present challenges to interpretation. What is present to Zechariah’s time and what is predictive? We would add that millennial views will crisscross some texts too.
One sees the Omnipotent, Protective, and Covenant-God of Israel in the vision of the four horseman (1.7-11), the four chariots (6.1-80) and the woman in the basket (5.5-11). The character and attributes of His Majesty come to view.
The promises of 2.5, 11 apply to Zechariah’s time, but also have a future indications.
With Jerusalem and Zion’s welfare in a pervasive and governing view, chapter 8 presents Jerusalem with God in her midst, abiding with tranquility, yet giving way to Israel as a Victor and God as her Defender and Redeemer. Hence, an ideal vision of Jerusalem obtains, e.g. Psalm 46, 48, and 132. Such provides encouragement to those who have been chastened, sobered up, and who are moving forward in the gracious life of the covenant.
Predictive and promissory pictures emerge to the Messiah, “the Branch.” The King rides victoriously into Jerusalem, Zechariah 9.9.10; Mt. 21.1-11. The King is betrayed unto death, Zechariah 13.7. The Messianic “Branch” combines the offices and duties of the Priest and King.