Zechariah was the prophet of God whose prophesies encourage the people to complete the building of God’s temple after returning from exile in Persia. His prophecies along with that of Hagai motivated the people to complete the construction in four years.
This is what the LORD says: “I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.” ZECHARIAH 8:3
For ten years, Jerusalem’s most important construction site fell silent as work on the second temple ground to a halt. Zechariah was one of the prophets who stepped into the silence and summoned the people back to work.
Zechariah served a dual function in Jewish society: He was both prophet and priest. The grandson of Iddo had been born in exile. As such, he had not participated in the sin that brought God’s wrath and led to the destruction of Jerusalem and its most precious building, the temple.
Until his return to Jerusalem sometime in the 530s BC, Zechariah had been without a homeland. Even upon his return, he was still without a place to carry out his divinely appointed profession.
Zechariah was a priest without a temple.
Work on the new temple began almost immediately after Cyrus, king of Persia, allowed the first delegation of exiles to return home. However, some of their neighbors objected to the new temple and managed to convince the royal authorities that the Israelites had a long history of rebellion and could not be trusted. As a result, work on the temple stopped for a full decade.
That all changed, however, when Zechariah began to prophesy, encouraging the people to resume work on the temple. According to the prophet, the completion of the temple would be a confirmation of God’s presence. It did not matter that the new structure would not match the glory of Solomon’s temple—the “day of small things” was not to be despised (see Zechariah 4:8–10).
Having been persuaded to return to work, the people of Jerusalem completed the temple in four years. Zechariah—who, according to Ezra, was instrumental in motivating the people to carry on—was there with “the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles” to dedicate the new structure to the God who had brought them back from despair (see Ezra 6:13–18).
Zechariah was not the only person to prophesy in favor of rebuilding the temple. Another prophet named Haggai—Zechariah’s contemporary—also wrote and spoke to encourage the exiles in their most important work.
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