Written during the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple after the 70 year exile in Babylon (at the same time of Haggai), the book of Zechariah is a combination of poetry, exhortations, prophetic-apocalyptic visions, and symbolic activity, much of it pointing to the coming of King Jesus. In fact, the central theme of the entire book is encouragement and hope – the key to this hope in the coming Messiah to overthrow ungodly forces and establish His kingdom on earth.
There are several commonly unknown Messianic features of this book that are often overlooked:
- While Isaiah is appropriately called, “the messianic prophet” because the bulk of his prophecies point to the life and ministry of Jesus, according to many commentators, Zechariah has a higher concentration of messianic prophesies in its short 14 chapters.
- The NT quotes and alludes to Zechariah around 40 times.
- The Book of Revelation refers to Zechariah more frequently than any other OT book except Ezekiel.
- Some scholars believe it is THIS Zechariah that Jesus refers to in Matthew 23:35 being “murdered between the sanctuary and the altar,” by the Jewish leaders, thus making him one of the last righteous men the Jews killed in OT history.
As I spent time reading through the book several times over the past week to prepare for today’s devotional, I wanted to highlight one of the prophesies that jumped off the page to me.
In chapter 3, Zechariah writes down the details of his vision,
Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch. For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day. In that day, declares the LORD of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.Zechariah 3:8-10
The “Branch” referred to here is a double title of Messiah that we encounter elsewhere in the OT; like Jeremiah 23:5,
Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.Jeremiah 23:5
And Isaiah 11,
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.Isaiah 11:1-2
The glorious hope of this prophecy that was realized at the Advent of Christ fills me with wonder and hope during this Christmas season. Why? This vision isn’t just for the Jew, but it’s for me, the Gentile, as I was invited as a “neighbor to come under under HIS vine and under HIS fig tree” to bask in Immanuel, God with us.