Zechariah and Haggai both prophesied during the times beginning about sixteen years after the Babylonian exiles returned to their homeland in Judah. Haggai is thought to be much older than Zechariah and spoke more regarding finishing the rebuilding the temple. Zechariah’s prophecy was revealed to him through visions. Those visions related to the restoration of Jerusalem/Zion.
“Return to Me.” Those words were calling for repentance of the people. Zechariah spoke as the deceased fathers would have, saying that as they had been punished, the freed Judah would suffer that same fate if they did not repent. The angels assured the prophet that God would be zealous and merciful with Jerusalem. His house, the temple would be rebuilt and Judah’s cities would prosper with Jerusalem being His choice. Their enemies would not be able to stop their progress.
It was necessary for cities to be surrounded by walls for protection. However, the newly constructed Jerusalem would have no need for walls as God would be their Protector. Only a fraction of His people had left Babylon at that time. The Lord urged the remainder to also flee back to their homeland. He would dwell among them as He dwells among His church today.
Priests were required to wear clean clothes when standing before God and performing their duties. Zechariah saw further in the fourth vision Joshua, the high priest wearing filthy garments representing the wretched condition of the Jews. The Lord commanded that they be removed and that the high priest be given clean clothing. At that point, Joshua seemed to represent the future coming of Christ who would provide for the removal of the sins of man.
The fifth vision consisted of a golden lampstand with a bowl on top and seven lamps on the stand. Two olive trees stood, one each on the right and left sides. Zerubbabel and Joshua, the anointed ones were identified as the two olive trees. Governors and priests would work together with God to spiritually nourish the people. The symbolic language indicated that the olive trees would provide an endless supply of oil to the lamp which is referred to as God’s Word. The foundation of the temple had been laid sixteen years earlier. Amid much discouragement, it seemed that it would never be completed. Zechariah’s vision was to encourage Zerubbabel to finish the project. It would not be accomplished by man’s power, but the Spirit of God would help them to finish.