Lesson 5 of5
In Progress

Theological Themes in Zechariah

Faithfulness and restoration

The recurring theme of the book is restoration. If the remnant returning from exile obeys the Lord, the prosperity of the land will be restored (1:16-17; 2:10; 3:6-7; 8:3-8; 9:14-17). Throughout the book, passages of judgment for disobedience alternate with promises of restoration for those who follow the Lord.

Forgiveness

Zechariah includes several images to describe the effect of forgiveness. In 3:3-5 sinfulness is being dressed in “filthy clothes,” and forgiveness is to be clothed in “festal apparel” with a clean turban on one’s head and an angel standing at one’s side. God’s people will be “the apple of my eye” (2:8). The concluding chapter of the book describes the restored and forgiven people of God as living where there is no “cold or frost,” no darkness, and where “the LORD will become king over all the earth” (14:6-9).

God as refiner

God as a refiner of his people, as the process of refining purifies and strengthens metal, is found not only here in 13:9, but also in Isaiah 48:10, Jeremiah 6:29; 9:7; Daniel 11:35; and Malachi 3:2-3. The image confronts us with the age-old question of God’s role in human suffering.

God of all, active in history, Lord of all the earth

God not only calls forth leaders for the people of Israel, but is active on their behalf, punishing their enemies. God is the Lord of all the earth (6:5; 14:9), and Zechariah foresees a time when “many nations shall join themselves to the LORD” (2:11). People from many cities and nations will “seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and…entreat the favor of the LORD” (8:22).

King over all the earth

The Lord is the covenant God of Israel, and Zechariah’s immediate purpose is to encourage the rebuilding of the temple. However, typical of the later prophets, his view of God is not only the God of the Jewish people, but ultimately the God over all nations.

Ritual versus compassion

Following the visions of chapters 1-6, the prophet speaks a series of oracles. Chapter 7 begins by saying that the four traditional times of fasting (8:19) no longer apply to the present age. The passage is reminiscent of other verses from the later prophets, urging ethical actions rather than rituals (see Isaiah 1:11-14; 61:1, 8; Amos 5:10-15, 21-24; Micah 6:6-8).

Leadership

A recurring theme throughout the book is the faithful rule of God’s people. Images abound describing what kind of ruler Zechariah anticipates–“Branch,” combining the religious role of the priest with royal leadership (6:12-13); one who cares for the widow and the orphan (7:8-10); a king riding on a donkey instead of a warhorse (9:9); a faithful shepherd (10:3; 11:7); and a leader of the remnant faithful to the Lord (13:8-9).

Messiah

Zechariah does not use terms such as “messiah,” “anointed one,” “servant,” etc., but several references in the book have been applied in the New Testament to Jesus–the king riding a donkey into Jerusalem (9:9), the betrayal with thirty pieces of silver (11:12), the faithful shepherd struck down (11:7; 13:7), the pierced one (12:10), etc.

Satan

A discussion of evil in the Bible involves a whole constellation of themes–the devil, Satan, fallen angels, temptation, etc. In Zechariah, Satan is “the Accuser” (3:1), not specifically the personification of evil, although his accusation of Joshua the high priest is rebuked by the Lord.

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