IV. Theological Significance

IV. Theological Significance

The contributions of Zechariah (and Haggai) to Israel's understanding of the Messiah are obvious. The “Anointed One” is the servant of Yahweh (3:8); “the Branch” (3:8; 6:12) connotes renewed life from the stump of David's family tree. His advent means fertility and abundance (8:4-5, 10-13), and he is the Mediator of Yahweh's blessings and power (6:1-14). His service is related to the temple (4:7-10; 6:12-13). Zechariah's combination of two strands of Israelite leadership (priest and king, 6:13) paved the way for the two eventually to merge into one figure. Yet these prophecies in the first eight chapters (and those of Haggai) clearly have Zerubbabel in view. They stop just short of laying “on Zerubbabel's shoulders the mantle prepared for the Messiah” (Mowinckel, 119-22). Subsequently, after it became clear that Zerubbabel was not the ideal king, these prophecies took on greater messianic significance.

The more eschatological oracles of chs. 9-14 contain vivid pictures of the future king. He enters the city humbly (9:9-10), is rejected (11:8), and eventually is murdered (12:10). His followers are then scattered and confused (13:7-9). Yet on that day, a way of forgiveness will be opened for his people (13:1). Ultimately Yahweh will be identified as the King and will rule the whole earth (14:9). If Zechariah wrote these chapters later in his ministry (see above), he would have seen more clearly that a distant future Messiah was intended instead of Zerubbabel.

The impact of Zechariah was clearly felt by NT authors. His prophecy is quoted seventy-one times, most often in the Gospels and Revelation. Interestingly, the Passion narratives contain a high concentration of quotations from chs. 9-14, reflecting again the book's messianic nature.

God's absolute sovereignty and his election of his people are also dominant motifs here. The affairs of the nations are under God's direction, and his messengers traverse the earth (1:10; 6:4-5, 7). By a mere gesture of his hand, Yahweh overthrows the established world empires (2:9). His quintessential adversary (“Satan,” 3:2) is powerless before him. In the conflict with wickedness, there is no resisting his authority (5:8). The strongest of Israel's bordering neighbors are helpless before him (9:1-8). Yahweh who “stretches out the heavens” and “lays the foundation of the earth” (12:1) will ultimately return to rule the whole earth (14:9).

The idea that God was absolutely sovereign was a powerful instrument in Zechariah's hands as he attempted to comfort and encourage the returned exiles. But so was the doctrine of election. Yahweh had chosen (baḥar) Jerusalem as a place where his name would dwell (1:17; 2:12; 3:2; and Dt 12:5). The accusation that Wesleyanism minimizes these doctrines (sovereignty and election) is to misunderstand classical Wesleyanism. Asserting that man is a free moral agent takes nothing away from God's sovereignty and avoids unscriptural views of determinism.