Zechariah was from a priestly family in the tribe of Levi. He was born in Babylon and returned to Jerusalem about 538 B.C. with the Jews who were allowed to return from Babylonian captivity. The name Zechariah means, "the Lord (Jehovah) remembers." Zechariah was called to be a prophet about 520 B.C., which means he lived about the same time as Haggai, the Prophet, and Ezra, the priest.
Like Haggai, Zechariah encouraged the people to continue rebuilding the temple. But he also encouraged them to re-establish their personal spiritual lives. The book of Zechariah contains dramatic prophecies of Christ's earthly ministry along with latter-day events as the gathering of Israel, the final great battle, and the Second Coming.
Several of the messages Zechariah received from the Lord were in the form of visions. In Zechariah 1-6, he records the eight visions the Lord gave to him about the house of Israel:
- A vision of horses, which teaches about the merciful way the Lord will deal with Jerusalem (1:7,17).
- A vision of four horns and four carpenters, which is about the powers (horns) that scattered Judah and what will happen to these powers (1:18-21).
- A vision of the man with a measuring line (a surveyor), which testifies of the Lord's protective power over his people (2).
- A vision of the high priest, which symbolizes how Judah can overcome Satan and be cleansed through the power of Jesus Christ (3:8).
- A vision of a lamp stand and olive trees, which symbolizes how the Lord would give power to his people by his Holy Spirit (4).
- A vision of a flying scroll, which taught that those who were dishonest in the land were condemned (5:1-4).
- A vision of a woman in a basket, which testifies that wickedness, would be removed from the people (5:5-11). =
- A vision of four chariots, which symbolizes spreading the Lord's power over the whole earth (6:1-8).