350 - Prophecies of the Coming Messiah (Zechariah 1–3)
The book of Zechariah is full of prophecies about the coming Messiah. In this episode, Stephen explores some of these prophecies and see how they point to Jesus Christ.
Zechariah was a prophet who lived in Judah during the time of the Persian Empire. He was one of the prophets who encouraged the people of Judah to rebuild the temple after they returned from exile in Babylon.
In his prophecies, Zechariah spoke about the coming of a Messiah who would be a descendant of David. He would be a king who would rule over Israel and bring peace and prosperity to the land.
Zechariah also spoke about the Messiah's death and resurrection. He said that the Messiah would be pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. He would be raised from the dead on the third day and would bring salvation to his people.
The prophecies of Zechariah were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jesus was a descendant of David who was born in Bethlehem. He was a king who ruled over Israel and brought peace and prosperity to the land. He died on the cross for our sins and was raised from the dead on the third day. He is now seated at the right hand of God, where he intercedes for us.
The prophecies of Zechariah are a reminder that God is faithful to his promises. He has promised to send a Messiah who will save his people from their sins. This Messiah has come in the person of Jesus Christ. If you have not yet put your faith in Jesus Christ, do so today. He is the only one who can save you from your sins and give you eternal life.
Prophecies of the Coming Messiah
We arrive now at one of my favorite Old Testament books—the book of Zechariah. If you are looking for some Old Testament prophecies about Jesus Christ, you have come to the right place.
Zechariah gives us some of the clearest, most specific messianic prophecies in all the Old Testament. The prophet is going to describe the future kingdom of King Jesus, but he is also going to encourage the Jewish captives of his day who have returned from exile in Babylon to begin rebuilding the temple.
Zechariah is going to have a partner in ministry. In fact, soon after Haggai started preaching, the Lord called Zechariah to join him. They will work, pray, preach, and prophesy together (Ezra 5:1; 6:14).
The opening verse here in Zechariah is an introduction: “Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, son of Iddo.” Fortunately, Nehemiah identifies Zechariah’s grandfather, Iddo, as a priest (Nehemiah 12:4, 16). This means Zechariah, like the prophet Jeremiah, is both a priest and a prophet.
The preaching of Zechariah calls on the people to repent—verse 3: “Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you.” Zechariah reminds them that the Lord was displeased with their ancestors, who refused to listen to Him and ended up experiencing the judgment of God with seventy years of exile in Babylon. Zechariah does not want them to follow their ancestors’ example of disobedience.
Verse 1 dates Zechariah’s prophecy about a month after the people returned to building the temple. He wants to encourage them, knowing they could easily become discouraged. In fact, the prophet Haggai probably told him they were already discouraged by the slow progress. Part of Zechariah’s prophecy is to reveal to them that their work is part of God’s eternal plan, culminating in the fulfillment of His promises in the coming Messiah and His kingdom.
Beginning in verse 7, Zechariah records eight different visions, all received in one night and all relating to Israel’s future deliverance and Christ’s kingdom. In this study, we will take a look at the first four of those visions.
The first one is of a rider on a red horse. Verse 8 says, “He was standing among the myrtle trees in the glen, and behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses.” This man explains that they have been patrolling the earth and found that all is at rest.
An angel of the Lord then speaks and promises to explain the meaning of Zechariah’s vision. The angel asks the Lord how long He will be angry with Judah and Jerusalem. How long will they suffer without a temple in Jerusalem?
The angel relays God’s answer to the prophet. The Lord assures Israel that the discipline and disaster of the exile are behind them, stating in verse 16, “My house shall be built.” This is an exciting promise—the temple they are working on will be completed. And this promise reaches all the way to that time of peace and prosperity in Christ’s millennial kingdom.
Zechariah then has a second vision, and he sees four horns, which he is told represent the nations “that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem” (verse 19). But then suddenly, four skilled craftsmen appear. Verse 21 says that they have been assigned by God to “cast down the horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah.”
In chapter 2, Zechariah records his third vision, beginning in verses 1-2:
I lifted my eyes and saw . . . a man with a measuring line in his hand! Then I said, “Where are you going?” And he said to me, “To measure Jerusalem.”
He refers to a day when Jerusalem will be rebuilt, and the city “shall be inhabited as villages without walls” (verse 4). In other words, there is no need to fear an attack—walls around the city will not be needed.
We are told why in verse 5: God says, “I will be to her [Jerusalem] a wall of fire all around . . . and I will be the glory in her midst.” This has not happened yet, but it will when the Messiah reigns in His still-future, thousand-year kingdom with Jerusalem as His capital city.
So, here is some wonderful motivation for the people to faithfully continue work on the temple. They are working on a project that one day will be crowned with God’s glory. And as we see here in verses 6-7, this is also motivation for the Jews still scattered through the empire to return to their homeland.
God makes a promise that any nation that plunders Jerusalem will one day stand under His judgment. And here is why: “He who touches you [Israel] touches the apple of [God’s] eye” (verse 8).
In the ancient world, the pupil of the eye—that little black part in the center of your eye—was called the apple of the eye, perhaps because of its round shape. We now know the strongest protective reflex in the entire human body is to blink in order to protect the eye. If something gets too close to your eye, you actually blink faster than you can consciously think.
Well, this became a metaphor for the swift protection of God over His children. That is what David was asking God for in Psalm 17:8, when he prayed, “Keep me as the apple of your eye.” He was asking for the fastest protection possible.
Touching the person who belongs to God, then, is like touching the most sensitive part of God’s “body.” He is going to instinctively move to protect the apple of His eye. And let me tell you, through the coming tribulation, the protection of God over Israel is going to lead many people to join with converted Israel and worship the Lord as their Messiah.
The fourth vision is recorded in chapter 3. Here Zechariah sees Joshua, the high priest at the time, standing before the Angel of the Lord—that is, the Lord Himself. Standing beside Joshua is Satan, the accuser; he is evidently accusing Joshua and the people of being unworthy of God’s acceptance.
He does the same thing to this day, by the way. He accuses God before you, and he accuses you before God. He tells you that God is not worth following, and he tells God you are not worth keeping. Satan is called the accuser of the brethren—that is, believers—in Revelation 12:10.
The Lord quickly rebukes Satan, saying in verse 2, “Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” He is describing Joshua and Israel, but doesn’t that also perfectly describe all of us whom the Lord has saved? We have been plucked from the fire, from the brink of destruction.
Joshua is pictured in verse 3 as wearing filthy garments, and the Angel of the Lord commands that they be removed. Then He says, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments” (verse 4).
This symbolizes God’s loving choice of both Joshua and the nation. It also symbolizes the cleansing of Israel’s high priest for service in the rebuilt temple; and in addition, it also pictures prophetically a time when Israel will be cleansed as they await their coming Messiah.
In verse 8 God promises, “I will bring my servant the Branch.” This is a reference to the Messiah; Isaiah and Jeremiah both described Him that way. We are told that when He comes to establish His kingdom, everyone in Israel will prosper in peace “under his vine and under his fig tree” (verse 10).
Beloved, this is the future for you—and all who come to trust the Lord Jesus as their Savior. He takes away your filthy garments stained with sin and robes you with a fresh, clean life. You are a brand plucked from the fire, but even more, you are a member of His family, heading toward eternal life with your King, your Redeemer, your Savior, Jesus Christ.
 Isaiah 4:2; 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15.
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