The Gospel in Zechariah
Zechariah is often seen as a difficult prophetic book of the Old Testament. It is filled with imagery with which many of us would not be familiar today. Like the book of Revelation, which pulls heavily from Zechariah, we might overlook it because of its difficulty and relegate it to something almost non-understandable. It need not be this way. In fact, the book is rich in so many ways. One of those ways is in how much Zechariah points to the Messiah, Jesus the Lord.
In Zechariah, the gospel story is found through multiple messianic references and fulfillments in Jesus. Let’s reflect a bit on this: Jesus is the servant, the Branch of David who both built the temple and sits and rules on His throne. Yet He is also the Priest who brings the counsel of peace between the priesthood and kingship — the Priest on His throne (Zech 3:8; 6:12-13; cf. 2 Sam 7:12-13; Eph 2:19-22; Hebrews). One of the reasons this is so important is that God had made a distinction between priest and king and had set it up so that one who was a king could not be a priest and vice versa. Think of Saul trying to offer sacrifice unlawfully (1 Sam 13:8-14) or Uzziah entering the temple to burn incense (2 Chron 26:16-21). They were severely reprimanded for doing what they were not authorized to do. Jesus, however, brings these offices together and fulfills completely what both are meant to be. Zechariah foresaw this.
Jesus is the King who comes in humility, demonstrated by His entrance into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey (Zech 9:9; Matt 21:1-5; cf. Phil 2:5-9). Jesus is the betrayed Messiah who was sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zech 11:12-13; Matt 27). He is also the pierced One who pours out grace, blessing those who mourn their sins (Zech 12:10; John 19:37; Rev 1:7; Matt 5:4). He is the slain Shepherd whose sheep scattered when He was struck down (Zech 13:7; Matt 26:31-32). The connecting points from Zechariah to Jesus are strong.
Here, then, we have the servant from the line of David who would become king, but who is betrayed and slain. Yet He establishes His kingship and priesthood to offer grace to those who mourn their sins and turn to Him. In other words,
“On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness” (Zech 13:1; cf. John 7:37-38). The Septuagint (LXX, the Greek translation of the Old Testament) here says, “every place will be opened” for the house of David. Christ opens up what cleanses, forgives, and purifies. God opens up the blessings that He promised David, and Jesus Christ is that fulfillment.
Yet what Jesus offers is more than for the house of David. Zechariah also shows that all nations are included in the offer to come to the Lord. “Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” (Zech 8:22-23). The inclusion of both Jews and Gentiles is a major feature the kingdom of Jesus Christ (Eph 2:11-22). Zechariah foresaw this as well and showed that the fountain God opened up would be for all.
As does the gospel, Zechariah shows that returning to the Lord also means dedication to a life and faith that are genuine and filled with kindness and mercy. “Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace; do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the LORD.” (Zech 8:17; cf. Col 3:1-10). Acceptance of the Lord impacts our lives in just this way.
Therefore, ““Return to me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts” (Zech 1:3). If we do, then God promises His people, the New Jerusalem, “I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the LORD, and I will be the glory in her midst” (Zech 2:5). The result is that “there shall be a sowing of peace” (Zech 8:12). God’s protection and glory make for a peace that passes understanding (Phil 4:6-7). We often sing, “A wall of fire about me, I’ve nothing now to fear.”
Zechariah. What a great book! It has the gospel infused throughout. Oh, and if you want to understand the book of Revelation better, Zechariah is a must! Take a look.