The elders of the Jews continued to make progress in the building, supported by the message of the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, son of Iddo. ―Ezra 6:14a
Return to me—and I will return to you, say the LORD of hosts. —Zechariah 1:3
In 538 B.C., the extensive exile in Babylonia ended for the Jewish nation. Organizing journeys back to Judah along with rebuilding the country was a long and difficult process. Jerusalem, the Temple included, had been completely destroyed during the banishment, so the returned exiles often felt discouraged and overwhelmed. Providentially, God chose a special prophet to encourage the Jews during this time of difficulty. Zechariah began prophesying in the year 520 B.C. (the same year Haggai became a prophet as well), about 18 years after the first groups of Jews had begun to resettle their homeland. Zechariah strove hard to support and encourage the rebuilding of the Temple, knowing a religious center was vital to the well-being of the renewed Israelite nation.
Only the first eight chapters of the biblical book bearing his name are considered to be Zechariah’s work. The last six chapters were most likely added by others at later dates. Zechariah’s prophetic disclosures are tremendously unique and thought-provoking. Certainly the Jews had to stop and consider the words he spoke. His messages begin with an exhortation to keep close to God and to resist all evil. Zechariah then described a variety of captivating visions: colorful horses, horns and blacksmiths, a flying scroll and so on―each apparition representing a message of encouragement for the returned nation.
Zechariah’s prophecies give particular support to two restoration leaders, Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the governor. These two leaders are represented as olive trees in one of the prophet’s remarkable visions. Zechariah was shown a lampstand made of gold flanked by two olive trees. An angel explained that the golden lampstand signified God while the two olive trees symbolized Joshua and Zerubbabel as standing by, or serving the Lord with their restoration efforts.
Zechariah’s words are also peppered with clear revelations of optimism and devotion. His prophesies gave the Israelites hope that God would indeed help them resettle and allow their nation to regenerate.
St. Zechariah can be found on the Sept. 6 page of the current Roman Martyrology.
Nine Days with St. Zechariah the Prophet
There are two Zechariahs in the Bible listed in the Roman Martyrology: the Old Testament Prophet and the New Testament priest (father of St. John the Baptist). St. Zechariah the Prophet can remind us of the importance to recognize the great worth of our churches—to make serious efforts to keep them solid and active. Consider using the Bible passages below to understand St. Zechariah’s prophetic words better. Try to absorb his messages and contemplate how his verses can be applied to your life and parish today.
- Day 1) Zechariah 1:1–3
- Day 2) Zechariah 1:17
- Day 3) Zechariah 4:1–5
- Day 4) Zechariah 4:11–14
- Day 5) Zechariah 8:16–17
- Day 6) Zechariah 9:9
- Day 7) John 12:14–15
- Day 8) Zechariah 13:9
- Day 9) Zechariah 14:9