The book of Zechariah begins with a title verse providing information concerning the date, authorship, and source of the revelation. It states that the prophecy occurred in the eighth month of the second year of Darius (vs 1). The biblical material likely dates the prophetic message according to the regnal year of the Persian king because there was no king in Judah during that time. Judah had been conquered by Babylon, which in turn had been taken over by Persia (Daniel 5:30-31).
The term prophet [“nābî” in Hebrew] means “proclaimer” or “forth-teller.” It describes someone who received a call from God to be God’s spokesman. A prophet was God’s emissary. He had a particular calling to see or hear what God was saying, live it out in his life, and proclaim it to the people roundabout. That means the prophet could not speak from his authority and was not free to say what he pleased. Rather, he was to discern what God thought about a given situation, what His attitude was toward the people’s behavior in the past, what He required of them in the present, and how He would act in their favor in the future.
Zechariah 1 begins with the voice of the prophet Zechariah rebuking the returned exilic community and calling them to repentance because they persist in the wicked deeds of their ancestors. Then, Zechariah describes two visions he received from the LORD. In the first vision, the prophet sees a man mounted on a red horse leading a patrol of heavenly horse riders. Through this vision, the LORD explains that He will judge the Gentile nations that oppressed Judah and comfort her.
In the second vision, Zechariah sees four horns representing Gentile nations that have scattered Judah. Then four craftsmen come to terrify the horns. Through this vision, the LORD explains that successive nations will defeat the nations that oppressed Judah. The chapter’s outline is as follows: