The prophetic messages in the book of Zechariah are dated in the opening verse to the second year of the Persian king, Darius I (522–486 b.c.), the same year (520 b.c.) that the prophecies of his contemporary, Haggai, were proclaimed. Like Haggai, Zechariah was active as a prophet in Judah during the early phase of the rebuilding by returnees from the Babylonian exile (see Ezra 5.1). And like Haggai, Zechariah strongly urged completion of the temple rebuilding project, which had been lagging at this point for almost two decades.
Zechariah was also very concerned with the faith and religious life of the returnees, particularly that it should be strong and pure, and not diverted toward other loyalties. He also spoke about the questionable ethics and fairness of the leaders of the reconstruction. In hope of providing encouragement, Zechariah described eight visions he had received from God. These visions affirmed God's love and protection for Jerusalem, Judah, and the people, and they anticipated a return to Jerusalem's earlier glory and prominence. His visions are also particularly focused on the end-time, in which Zechariah foresees the coming of an apocalyptic contest in which God's foes will be overcome. He also indicates in visions God's approval of Zerubbabel as the (Persian-chosen) governor of Judah and of Joshua as High Priest (chapters 3–4). Speaking through Zechariah in 3.8, God declares: “I will bring forth my servant the [Branch]” (3.8). The KJV uses all capital letters here to signal that this is messianic language, referring back to the “Branch” that Isaiah said would one day grow out of the stump of Jesse (Isa 11.1), and this points clearly to the hopes placed in Zerubbabel. The second part of this book collects prophecies of Zechariah detailing a future time when God's judgment would come upon the enemies of Judah, and when God would rescue and reunite the people, strengthen their leaders, and transform Jerusalem again into the holy and glorious dwelling-place of God.
Zechariah's Eight Visions Regarding Restoration (1.1—8.23)
Zechariah's Visions of the Future (9.1—14.21)