As Zechariah’s seventh vision closes, the prophet reflects on how Jehovah guaranteed that he would hold dishonest people accountable for their wicked deeds. This promise surely strengthened Zechariah. Yet, nothing had really changed. Dishonesty and other wicked practices were still present, and the rebuilding of Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem was far from complete. Zechariah knew that the Jews who moved to Jerusalem were men and women of faith. They were the ones “whose spirit the true God had stirred” to leave behind the security of their homes and businesses. (Ezra 1:2, 3, 5) They left a land that was familiar to them in order to move to a place most of them had never seen. If the rebuilding of Jehovah’s temple was not important, they would not have made the difficult journey of some 1,000 miles (1,600 km) through a harsh land.
As the Jews traveled along, they no doubt spent many hours thinking about their new home. They had heard how beautiful the city of Jerusalem once was. The oldest ones among them had seen the former glory of the temple. (Ezra 3:12) The people had already seen Jehovah’s saving hand in their behalf throughout their long trip homeward. The first thing they did upon arriving was set up an altar on the site of the former temple, and they began to offer daily sacrifices to Jehovah. (Ezra 3:1, 2) In their initial excitement, it seemed that nothing could discourage them.
In addition to the temple work, the Israelites had to rebuild their cities. They had houses to restore, fields to plant, and mouths to feed. (Ezra 2:70) The work before them seemed overwhelming. Then the opposition came—hard and fast. Although they initially took a firm stand, 15 years of hostility took their toll. (Ezra 4:1-4) A crushing blow was dealt in 522 B.C.E. when the Persian king banned further building in Jerusalem. The future of that city seemed uncertain.—Ezra 4:21-24.
- WT (2017) Oct 15, Chariots and a Crown Safeguard You