When the New Church in Australia first created a dedicated website, one of the early items it began was to provide short introductions to the books in the Bible. Some of these also contained a simple but useful spiritual view of the book and life-application.
The ministers covered perhaps nearly one half of the books and it remained like that for quite a while.
When the NCIA website went through a kind of crisis and then was reborn, one of our ministers picked up on the need to aim to complete all the books. It hasn’t been achieved yet, but it is a growing number now being done. We are up to about three-quarters completed.
Here is an introduction to Zechariah.
Zechariah is one of the ‘minor prophets’ which come close to the end of the Old Testament. They are called ‘minor’ only because they are shorter books, although Zechariah has 14 chapters. Zechariah himself was a priest, and a returned person from the exile in Babylon, arriving in Judah around 538 BC. His prophecy is based on the belief that having been in exile, God will now restore Judah as his treasured people, and significantly, that a ruler – a Branch – from the house of David will come to rule. His rule will not be like past leaders but he will be righteous, humble, and bring salvation.
There are many verses in Zechariah which strongly look to be linked with the gospels and with the coming of Jesus Christ, or events in his life. One example of this is the verse in Zechariah 9.9 linked with Jesus entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion. Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
The overall theme in Zechariah is restoration, but this will not be sudden and it will also involve challenge and turmoil. To begin this restoration process, Zechariah begins with the theme of repentance, a change of heart and a change of life. This comes in the first six verses which can be summarised with the call “Return to me and I will return to you, says the Lord.”
Spiritually, this all connects very closely with our own need of the Lord to lead us, our own need to base our lives on what God asks us to be, and to leave once and for all, our former life and to live in God and for God, feeling that we belong to the Lord our God.
One striking feature in Zechariah, early on in the book in chapters 1 to 6, are eight different visions – which seem strange but they are full of correspondences (physical forms having a spiritual meaning) and also in the context of Jewish ritual and practice. Chapter 5 begins with a vision of a flying scroll. Spiritually, it pictures the power of divine truth to show up falsity and the theft of what is of God.
Zechariah is the second last book of the Old Testament, and, like the final book, Malachi, strongly looks forward to the coming of the Lord. One estimate is that 54 passages in Zechariah find their echo about 67 times in the New Testament, mostly in the book of Revelation.
Zechariah’s name means ‘God remembers’ and also means ‘One who remembers God.’ This describes the overall theme of restoration involving the work of repentance and a change of heart and life, and the integrity of the relationship we are able to have with God.