After the first group had returned home after the Babylonian captivity, Zechariah was commissioned by God to encourage the people to return to the task of rebuilding the Temple. He does this by reminding them of its future importance. One day their long-awaited Messiah would come, and His glory will fill it. They must obey their calling and get back to work. After all, they aren’t just constructing a building. They are building their future. When He comes, Messiah will use this Temple to bring salvation to the Jewish people. They must prepare for the Messiah.
Christ is the Fulfillment
Remember that God uses Christ to fulfill His covenantal promises to Israel. In his book, Zechariah shows just how Israel’s Messiah would do exactly that. First, however, He had to clear up some misconceptions. Over the years, many of Israel’s religious leaders had concluded that there must be two Messiahs. One would be a suffering servant while the other would be a victorious king. The prophet, therefore, wrote of two time periods, not two Messiahs.
Two Time Periods
The first extends from the Babylonian captivity to Christ’s Second Coming and is called the “Times of the Gentiles” (when the visible theocratic kingdom on earth is absent and no Jewish ruler is on the throne). The second begins with Christ’s Second Coming and encompasses the Millennial Kingdom when Christ will reign over the entire earth and God’s promises for national Israel will be fulfilled. (It had been postponed since Israel rejected her Messiah when He came the first time.) There would be only one Messiah who would come twice, first as the suffering servant and later as a victorious King. Also, to be the perfect fulfillment of God’s promises regarding salvation, the Messiah would have to be God as well as man.
Sprinkled throughout his message are glimpses of future glory. Zechariah’s strategy was to cause the Jewish remnant to be so encouraged by the hope of future glory that they would overcome the opposition and finish the Temple. Hopefully, a spiritual revival would ensue, and the people will humble themselves, call upon the Lord, and place their future in His hands.
God Does it for Them
All of the visions and images are meant to enable the children of Israel to recognize their King/Messiah when He came. Sadly, history proves that Israel would miss Him both times. Verse 12:10 reveals that God had to do for them that which they had failed to do themselves. He gave them the ability to finally recognize Jesus as their Messiah, the one they had soundly rejected.
It’s the Same Today
My purpose in this brief article is simply to show how similar our situation today is to the Jews Zechariah was encouraging. We too must forsake our selfish endeavors and return to the work of the Lord (Jesus). He has released us from our captivity (to sin) and will certainly keep every promise He has made to us—His Church and future bride. As the Jewish remnant in Zechariah’s day, we must work with Christ in His building project—the Church. It began on Pentecost and grew during the early days of Christianity. Over the years, those who claimed to follow Christ forsook His Church and built a Church more to their liking.
Time to Prepare
Now we have work to do to prepare for the Christ’s Second Coming. When He comes will He find faith on the earth (Luke 18:8)? Have we been persuaded by His (and our) future glory to be about the real work of Christ or will we be like the five foolish virgins who had not prepared (Mt. 25:1-13)? We, too, are building our future and our future depends on how we build today.
Yes, Christ is the one who will build His Church, but we have the privilege of entering into His work as we obey our divine calling. Since Paul was the Apostle for the Church, I suggest studying his epistles very carefully, looking for areas where our obedience leaves something to be desired. It’s time to get it right. It’s time to start living in light of our glorious future. It’s time to prepare for our Messiah.