How to Study Zechariah
If you are going to have a good understanding of Zechariah, it will help to put the book into its historical context. Although this will take extra study, it will be worthwhile.
Ezra gives the historical setting of Zechariah; therefore, if you have not studied Ezra, read it before you start Zechariah. Ezra, like Zechariah, is a post-exilic book, which simply means it was written after the Jews were in exile under the Babylonians (Chaldeans). Ezra records the return of a remnant to Jerusalem under reign and decree of Cyrus, a Persian king who ruled from 539 to 530 B.C. The Babylonians conquered Judah, and then the Medes and Persians conquered the Babylonians.
As you read Ezra, observe what is said regarding rebuilding the temple, since the temple plays a key role in Ezra and Zechariah. Also, watch for any reference to Zerubbabel and to Jeshua, who is called Joshua in Zechariah. Joshua is also called Jeshua in Nehemiah, another post-exilic book that focuses on the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.
If you have not studied Haggai, study it next since Haggai and Zechariah are contemporaries.
Chapters 1- 8
The book of Zechariah divides into two segments: chapters 1 though 8 and chapters 9 through 14. As you read the first segment, mark every occurrence of the phrase the word of the Lord came. There will be slight variations to the wording (e.g., the word of the Lord of hosts came). However, mark each occurrence the same way. Then in the margin, note the main point of the Lord's message. Also, if the text tells you when the word came, draw a clock ¹ in the. Consult the historical chart for the chronological setting of these messages.
As you read, also watch for the phrases what do you see?, the Lord showed me, I saw, and I lifted up my eyes. In the margin write "Vision," and then note briefly what the vision was. As you do this, you will see many correlations between the word of the Lord and the vision.
Watch for and mark in a distinctive way the following key words or phrases, along with their synonyms or pronouns: listen (stopped their ears from hearing), return, again, temple (house of the Lord), nations, Judah, Jerusalem, I will dwell in your midst (I will be the glory in her midst or any reference to the Lord's coming), remnant, and seventy years.
Record these key words and phrases on an index card and use it as a bookmark as you study Zechariah. You will find it helpful to color or mark these phrases in the same way you mark them in the text.
Zechariah contains many prophecies regarding the Messiah's first and final comings, the nation of Israel and Jerusalem, and the future of the nations. Therefore, as you read Zechariah chapter by chapter, watch for these prophecies and note them under the appropriate columns on the chart Zechariah's Prophecies Revelations.
God's name, Jehovah-sabaoth, Lord of hosts, is used repeatedly. Mark these occurrences. Then as you study Zechariah, in your notebook keep a list of all you learn about God.
After you study each chapters, record its theme (subject) on the Structure of Zechariah chart under the appropriate chapter number and then in your Bible next to the chapter number.
Chapters 9 - 14
As you read through this segment, watch for the same key words and/or phrases you marked in chapters 1 trough 8, but add to your list covenant, in that day, and reference to the Lord as King.
Also mark the phrase the burden of the word of the Lord. The occurrences of this phrase divide these final chapters of Zechariah into segments.
After you mark the key words and phrases in this segment, list in the margin or on the char Zechariah's Prophetic Revelations what you learn about each.
When you read chapter 13, watch what will happen to the two parts and the third. Watch the pronouns they and them. Mark the third part as remnant. You may want to record in your notebook all you learn about the third-the remnant that survives.
In chapter 14 you will see a reference to the Feast of Booths (or Tabernacles , as it is sometimes called). See a Bible Dictionary.
Record the theme of each chapter as you did previously. When you finish, write the theme of Zechariah on Structure of Zachariah. Record the main theme of the two major segment divisions and fill the other information requested on the chart.
Since Haggai and Zechariah were contemporaries, it would be interesting to note how the messages given by the Lord to these two prophets correlate in time. After you have studied both books, look at the "time symbols" in both books and note when the message came in relationship to each other. List the message in the order of their occurrence.
Key Words in the NIV and KJV
Key doctrines in Zechariah
Repentance—true repentance involves more than mere words; actions must also change (1:1–6; 7:8–14; Is. 31:6; 44:22; Jer. 3:12; 18:11; Ezek. 18:30; Mic. 7:19; Mal. 3:7–10; Luke 15:20; James 4:8; 1 Cor. 10:11; 2 Cor. 6:6; Rev. 21:3)
Divine care—the coming glory of Jesus Christ will be a comfort to Israel (1:13, 17; Ps. 23:4; Is. 30:26; 40:1, 2; 51:3; Jer. 29:10; 50:4; Hos. 6:1; 14:4; 2 Cor. 1:3–7; Phil. 2:1, 2; 2 Thess. 2:16, 17)
Messiah’s rejection at the first coming (9:1–11:17; 13:7–9; Ps. 22:1–18; Is. 52:13–15; 53:1–12; Acts 2:23; 1 Pet. 1:18–20)
Messiah’s acceptance at the second coming (12:1–14:21; Jer. 33:15, 16; Dan. 7:13, 14; Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10; Rev. 16:15)
Holy living (7:1–7; Lev. 20:7; Is. 1:10–15; 58:3–9; Eccles. 3:12; Eph. 5:1; Phil. 1:21; Col. 3:12; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17)