v1: Zechariah is a contemporary of Haggai and Ezra. Jerusalem is still in ruins, although the temple is being rebuilt. Many Jews are still scattered, in Babylon and elsewhere.
v2-6: Haggai's message continues, as the prophet calls the people to turn back to God. The prophecies of judgment upon Judah and Israel have manifestly been fulfilled.
v2: The Lord was angry with the earlier generations; this cannot be denied, as the prophet speaks to those who had returned from exile.
v3-4: The clear message from the Lord, "return to me." The geographical return to Jerusalem is useless unless the people turn back to the Lord. The people ignored the messages from earlier prophets.
v5-6: The warnings delivered by the earlier prophets have come true; the Lord dealt with His people as He had promised. The people openly admit that the Lord has done what He promised.
Zechariah takes a longer term view, in looking back, and in looking forward; in contrast Haggai challenges current attitudes and practices. Zechariah takes us further forward in God's great plans, and incorporates a different, apocalyptic, style.
v7-11: The vision of the men and horses. The meaning of the vision is of peace throughout the world; the prophecies about punishment have been fulfilled, and God's anger has ended.
v12: These 70 years; desolation for Jerusalem. Daniel prayed regarding the 70 years in the first year of Darius, Dan 9.1-2, and presumably realised that the 70 years had almost expired.
It is no coincidence that there are godly men both in Jerusalem and Babylon at the same time, praying and working.
v13: The Lord has been angry, but now is the time for kind and comforting words. This is the beginning of the answer to the question, "How long will you withhold mercy?"
v14: The Lord is jealous for His own people; and that will become more evident.
v15: The nations at ease; these had brought God's judgment upon Israel and Judah. But they acted with evil intent, and were ignorant of God's directing; they practised cruelty upon the people (Hab 1.6,11), failing to realise that they were actually bringing the fulfilment of God's promises.
v16: Jerusalem is specifically mentioned; once more to be a place of great blessing, as the temple is being rebuilt.
v17: Prosperity and comfort, for the Lord will again choose Jerusalem; see also 2.4-5, 10-12.
v18-19: The four horns that scattered Israel and Judah; these may be foreign kings;
- Tiglath-Pileser, 2 Kings 15.29;
- Shalmaneser, 2 Kings 17.3-6;
- Sennacherib, 2 Kings 18.13;
- Nebuchadnezzar, 2 Kings 24.
They are men of power and pride, rather than distinct nations.
v20-21: The craftsmen are brought to terrify the horns of the nations, representing their strength. In each case, the horn has only limited dominion, for God is in overall control.