Ezra and Nehemiah recount the restoration of a remnant of Israelites to the land. Jerusalem and the temple were rebuilt. Yet the people were caught in the same sins that led to the exile (Ezra 9; Neh. 5, 13).
Haggai and Zechariah ministered as prophets during this period. Haggai confronted the people for once again breaking the covenant and calling its curses down on their heads (Hag. 1). But he also closed the book with a note of hope for the Davidic dynasty. God told the Jeconiah, the last Davidic king, He would cast him away even if he were a signet ring on God’s right hand. Now Haggai tells Zerubabbel, Jeconiah’s grandson, that God chose him to be a like signet ring—one that God is not going to cast off.
Zechariah saw a vision of Joshua, the high priest, covered in filthy garments (Zech 3:1-3). This was a picture of Israel in her sins. [Three reasons exist for identifying Joshua as symbolic of the entire people. First, the priests represented the nation before God. Second, God responds to Satan’s accusations by saying that He has chosen Jerusalem (Zech 3:2). Third, God purposed to remove iniquity from the land (Zech 3:9).] Yet the Lord had these filthy garments replaced with clean garments. This symbolized the removal of iniquity and the gift of purity.
In this context, God told Zechariah the solution to Israel’s sin problem is found in his "servant the Branch." Other references to the Branch in the Old Testament equate this figure with the Davidic Messiah. The timing of this promised removal of iniquity is linked to "vine and fig tree" language (Zech 3:10). Micah 4:1-7 uses vine and fig tree language in connection with the rule of the Lord from Zion. The Micah passage is parallel to Isaiah 2. The prophet Isaiah identifies the Lord who rules from Zion and the Davidic Messiah.
In Zechariah 6:9-15 Joshua, the high-priest is symbolically crowned to indicate that the Branch would be “a priest on his throne” (Zech 6:13). As the book progresses Zechariah predicts a king that will come “having salvation” (Zech 9:9). He is contrasted with false shepherds (Zech 10-11). When that king comes he is found to be the Lord (Zech 14:9). Yet he is a pierced Lord (Zech 12:10) who provides a fountain of cleansing for the people’s sin and uncleanness (Zech 13:1). The Lord the king is thus able to do what the sacrifices were intended to do. In the end the whole earth will be made holy to the Lord (Zech 14:20-21).