The planet is quiet and expectant in the first vision, patrolled by the four horsemen (the first of numerous symbols from Zechariah to be reused in the Book of Revelation). The Lord's withholding of kindness for seventy years has been completed, the people have been returned, and the temple is to be rebuilt. Now it is time for God to act on his people's behalf.
In the second vision, a basket of fruit is presented before the Lord. This is a picture of salvation--eternal life--for those who accept it by believing in Jesus. The choice is still present and necessary for all people, but it will no longer be made for them by religious authority but by faith in Christ alone.
In the third vision, a woman processes with her hands into gold objects that are used for worshiping God. These treasures come from the people's hearts when they respond to the gospel message and believe in Jesus. They no longer serve as valuable currency for trading favors with God but rather as an expression of love toward him.
In the fourth vision, a king is brought before the Lord. He has two large baskets full of red seeds and white seeds. The red seeds are said to be thorny plants that grow up along the path that leads to heaven, while the white seeds are said to be soft plants that grow up along the path that leads away from heaven. Which path will the king take?
As the prophesy increasingly reduces the governor's authority in favor of the high priest, and the sanctuary becomes even more obviously the center of messianic fulfillment, Zechariah's concern for cleanliness is evident in the temple, priesthood, and all sectors of life. He wants everything to be clean when the day of redemption comes (see the article on Zechariah 11).
The Lord truly remembers (zakar-ing!) his people. And, in his infinite wisdom, God does not chose to transmit this message of hope and encouragement in an obvious way. Instead, God speaks to Zechariah via visions, which the prophet recounts for us to read thousands of years later. These visions are a key part of what it means to be a prophet today; they serve as warnings and encouragements for those who will follow after him.
Zechariah received two sets of visions: one about Judah and Israel's future, and one about Syria and Ephraim's future. Through these visions, the prophet was able to give early warnings about what would happen to his own country (future tense) as well as what would happen to foreign nations (present tense).
These visions were not intended only for Zechariah but for all who would follow after him. As we read through these visions from beginning to end, we can learn much about prophecy and how it should function in today's church.
First, we need to understand that prophets do not speak for themselves but rather they speak for the Lord. They do not create their own messages but rather they receive them from the Lord. This means that prophets cannot and should not try to influence events with their words alone; instead, they must trust that the Lord will use their words in accordance with his plans and purposes for his world.
Verse 21 through 25 continue the story: Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he had been in the temple for so long. He couldn't talk to them when he came out. They understood he had experienced a vision in the temple because he continued making gestures to them but couldn't talk. So they waited for him outside. When he returned home after his vision, he was able to speak with them.
Throughout the book of Zechariah, the themes of YHWH's return, grace, love, and forgiveness reoccur. However, there is a distinct focus in Proto-Zechariah on the forgiveness of the high priest Joshua as a representation of the community (Zech 3:1-10). This theme is continued in Zechariah 1:1-6, 7:1-8, 9:1-13, 11:12-13, 13:1-9, 14:1-9, and 15:1-8.
Yahweh's return is predicted in Zechariah chapter 1 while his grace and love are emphasized in chapters 2-3. The book of Zechariah ends with a vision of judgment and salvation that parallels the opening scene where YHWH saves His people from their enemies (see comments on 8:20).
Here are the main topics covered in Zechariah:
Chapter 1: YHWH's Return and Salvation (1:1-6:15)
Chapter 2: YHWH's Grace and Love (7:1-8:23)
Chapter 3: YHWH's Judgment and Salvation (9:1-14:4)
Chapter 4: YHWH's Kingdom Comes With No Violence (14:5-21)
The book of Zechariah exhorts God's people to persevere in their faith. It also contains visions of the future that were written down by Ezra after the exile to Babylon. These visions were given to Zechariah as encouragement for his fellow Jews to return from exile.
Zechariah 1-8 pictures a day in which holy objects are returned to the temple. The first object returned was the lampstand that had been taken to the temple area during Nebuchadnezzar's invasion. Although this event took place in 536 B.C., Zechariah described it as if it happened today. This shows that the prophet was inspired by God to write about events that would happen many years in the future.
In Zechariah 9-14, the prophet foretells events that will take place in the last days before Jesus returns to earth again. These events include wars, natural disasters, and diseases that will cause many people to die.
Finally, in Zechariah 15-16, Zechariah prophesies blessings that God will send to His people when they are back in Jerusalem. He says that nations will serve them and that great prosperity will prevail among the Jews.
Zoroaster was taken to the presence of Ahura Mazda (God) and five other luminous entities known as the Amesha Spentas by Vohu Manah (Holy Immortals). This was the first of several visions in which Zoroaster beheld Ahura Mazda and his Amesha Spentas; throughout each vision, he posed several questions. When finished, Zarathustra returned home where he taught people how to live peacefully with one another and how to worship God properly.
Ahura Mazda answered all of Zoroaster's questions and showed him things about himself and the world that he had not known before. The most important thing that Ahura Mazda showed him was that everyone sins, even gods. He also told Zoroaster that unless humans accept responsibility for their actions, there is no hope for them to change or learn from their mistakes. Finally, Ahura Mazda told Zoroaster that he should go out into the world and teach others what he had been taught.
So beginning this day, I will devote myself to teaching others so they may come to know God as I have done.
This is how Zarathustra became a prophet. From then on, he went around spreading the message of good thoughts, good words, and good deeds. His goal was to make people happy and carefree like the gods themselves.
During this time, many evil kings tried to destroy the spirit of goodness in humanity by killing all of the righteous people.