Who Is Zechariah In The Bible

There are many individuals mentioned in the Bible who most of us would be hard-pressed to definitively identify. But then there are those characters that you can’t help but recognize. Zechariah is one of those Bible characters whose identity we immediately recognize.

Zechariah is a famous prophet of the Old Testament. He lived in the post-exilic period and has witnessed the destruction of Israel and Jerusalem by the Babylonians. Jer 39:4 shows that he was most probably a contemporary of Haggai, which was in that era.

Zechariah is an Old Testament prophet and the youngest of the twelve minor prophets in the Book of the Twelve of the Tanakh/Old Testament. He was a contemporary of Haggai, who propounded a similar message of hope for a return to Zion after the exile and rebuild the Temple. Zechariah prophesied during a time when there were no prophets and salvation was thought to be impossible. His message of hope and prophecy had been rejected by the Jews for over 400 years, but with his sermons, he encouraged them that God would have mercy on them.

Prophet Zechariah, one of the twelve minor prophets of the Old Testament, lived during the time of kings Darius and Cyrus. He wrote a total of eight prophecies, oracles and visions about the “eternal gospel,” and he describes in detail what is to come with Christ in the end times.

Who Is Zechariah In The Bible

The book of Zechariah is set initially in 520 BCE, some twenty years after the first Jews returned from exile in Babylon to the region of Judah (Yehud). Earlier prophets had promised a glorious restoration of the nation (e.g., Zeph. 3:20). However, the reality for those who returned fell far short of these expectations. Their endeavors to rebuild the city, the temple, and their community life were frustrated at many levels. Into this situation, the prophet Zechariah (a contemporary of Haggai) calls on the people to return to YHWH (1:1–6). Zechariah is given eight night visions that promise the restoration of the city of Jerusalem and the temple, the overthrow of hostile nations, the eradication of wickedness, and YHWH’s return to the people along with a future Davidic king (1:7–6:8). A prophetic sign action (6:9–15) reiterates several of these themes. Two years after these visions, with the temple nearing completion, a delegation is sent to ask the leadership in Jerusalem whether fasting (instituted after the destruction of Jerusalem a generation earlier) was still appropriate. Zechariah calls the people to pursue covenant faithfulness, and to set their sights on the consummation of YHWH’s kingdom, when fasting will become feasting and the nations will come to Jerusalem to share in this blessing (7:1–8:23).

Zechariah 9–14 contains two “oracles” (chaps. 9–11 and chaps. 12–14) that dramatically portray YHWH returning to his people and establishing his kingdom. These oracles depict a future battle at Jerusalem and explore what God’s coming means from different perspectives: for the nations, God’s people, those who are leaders, God’s king, Jerusalem, and all creation. These chapters are undated and they lack any direct reference to readily identifiable persons, including the prophet (though the prophet plays a role in chapter 11). Since the 17th century, scholars have proposed a variety of authors and different provenances for chapters 9–14. From the 17th to the late 19th centuries, these chapters were mostly seen as pre-exilic, but after the work of Bernhard Stade in 1881, they were mostly dated to the Hellenistic period. Recent studies argue that chapters 9–14 should be dated to the mid-5th century, and some earlier (post 515 BCE). Others go further and argue for Zecharian authorship of the entire book, though several redaction-critical studies of the Book of the Twelve propose an early Hellenistic date for chapters 9–14. Recent years have seen a return to studying the book of Zechariah as a whole (particularly literary and thematic studies, and also commentaries).

Who Is Zechariah In The Bible

There were a couple of prominent men in the Bible named Zechariah (alternate spelling Zacharias or Zachariah). One was an Old Testament prophet who prophesied in the days of Haggai and who wrote the book of Zechariah (Ezra 5:1; Zechariah 1:1). This prophet is also mentioned by Jesus as having been murdered by the rebellious and disobedient Jews of his day (Matthew 23:35). The other prominent Zechariah was a priest, the father of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5). It will be this Zechariah discussed in this article.

Zechariah is actually the first person mentioned in connection with the Christmas story. The book of Luke records that Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, were righteous, God-honoring people who had no children and were well past childbearing years (Luke 1:6–7). Zechariah, as part of his priestly duties in the temple, was chosen to enter the Holy Place to burn incense before the Lord (verse 8). While he was ministering in the temple to the Lord, the angel Gabriel appeared to him and told him that he and Elizabeth had been chosen by God to have a son who would be the forerunner of the Messiah (verse 17). They were to consecrate their son as a servant of God and were to name him John.

Although this was great news, Zechariah did not initially believe the angel. He objected that this could not be possible, since he and his wife were too old (Luke 1:18). Because of Zechariah’s unbelief, Gabriel told him that he would be rendered mute until the baby was born (verse 20). Zechariah was immediately unable to speak, and, when he came out of the temple, he had to communicate with hand gestures. The people gathered outside the temple praying understood that he had seen a vision of some kind (verse 22). Zechariah went home, and it happened just as the angel had said. Elizabeth became pregnant (verse 24).

The next time Zechariah is mentioned is after the birth of his son. At the child’s circumcision, Elizabeth’s family and friends wanted to name the baby after Zechariah, but Elizabeth insisted that his name should be John (Luke 1:59–60). When they consulted Zechariah, he asked for a writing tablet and “to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, ‘His name is John’” (verse 63). Immediately, Zechariah was able to speak and began at once to praise the Lord. Luke 1:67–79 records the prophetic words that Zechariah proclaimed, which may have been in the form of a song. His words indicate the change of heart and the faith that had grown during his nine months of muteness.

From Zechariah we learn that, when we faithfully follow the Lord and continue to lift up our prayers to Him, He hears us and answers according to His will for our lives (Luke 1:13; 18:1; 1 John 5:14–15). There is nothing too hard for the Lord. God’s plan may look very different from what we think we want, but His way is always the best. Zechariah may have thought he only wanted a son; God gave him a prophet whose name is forever linked with the story of Jesus Christ.

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