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 of 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.
Zechariah continued to see visions. The sixth in the series showed him a flying scroll that was sent as a curse against thieves and perjurers. He saw in the next vision a woman in a basket. She represented the sins of the people. A lead disc was placed to cover and seal her inside as the basket and sinful contents were carried to the land of Shinar/Babylon. That signified the removal of sinful Judah to their punishment as captives in the foreign country, Babylon.
The prophet was shown four horses pulling chariots. They represented four spirits of heaven or kingdoms sent by God, each having a duty from the Lord to execute His will. A crown of gold and silver was made and placed upon Joshua’s head. It signified the religious authority of the earthly high priest. The BRANCH represented the coming High Priest, the Messiah who had been called a Branch from the root of Jessie many years earlier by the prophet Isaiah. He would build the true spiritual temple/church of the Lord. Men could only build a physical temple.