Scriptures

Zechariah 1

INTRODUCTION

When we open up the pages of the Book of Zechariah, we find a book full of visions, some of which can be seen in the Book of Daniel. The remnant of God’s people have returned from Babylonian exile but because of political problems and local unrest, the building of the temple under the leadership of Zerubbabel had stopped.

Zechariah and Haggai worked around the same time period, and were prophets called by God to preach to the people to restart the building of the temple.

AUTHOR

Although there are 27 Zechariahs mentioned in the Scriptures, there’s no doubt when read Ezra 5:1 and Ezra 6:14, that the Zechariah mentioned with Haggai, is the same person as the author of the book after his name.

His name means ‘he whom the Lord remembers’. Both Zechariah and Haggai were prophets at the time when God’s people returned to their home land after their Babylonian captivity. Zechariah was a priest of God and prophet to those who returned.

Zechariah was the son of Berekiah and his grandfather’s name is Iddo, Zechariah 1:1 / Ezra 5:1 / Ezra 6:14. The account of Ezra focuses on Zechariah assuming the priestly heritage of his grandfather, rather than his father.

Iddo was a Levitical priest who returned from Babylonian captivity with the first returnees under the leadership of Zerubbabel, Nehemiah 12:1 / Nehemiah 12:4 / Nehemiah 12:7 / Nehemiah 12:1-16.

When Zechariah arrived in the land with his family, he was a young man, Zechariah 2:4, but God used him only when he was old enough and ready to take on the role of a prophet. The message he delivered to God’s people was a message of hope.

DATE

There are no problems in dating Zechariah 1-8 because the dates are given within the text itself, Zechariah 1:1 / Zechariah 1:7 / Zechariah 7:1.

However, when we come to Zechariah 9-14, dating is almost impossible, which has led some to believe they were written by someone else. It’s possible that these last chapters were written by Zechariah sometime after the first few chapters, near the end of Zechariah’s ministry, this would explain why the style of writing is different.

THE BOOK

In the book, Zechariah sees many visions, in which he revealed the will of God to the people in order that God’s people start rebuilding the temple again, Ezra 5:1-2 / Ezra 6:14.

In the later part of the book he tries to prepare God’s people for the struggles that they would endure during the 400 year silent years between the Testaments. He also gives the people hope, when he speaks of the long awaited arrival of the Messiah who would bring peace.

There’s a lot of symbolism, figurative and apocalyptic language within the book itself, especially Zechariah 9-14, so we must be careful not to make the text say or mean something it was never meant to mean, that is, make it literal. We take read it and understand it figuratively, unless the text itself demands otherwise.

OUTLINE

The Call To Repentance, Zechariah 1:1-6
The Visions Of Zechariah, Zechariah 1:7-6:15
The Vision Of The Horses And Riders, Zechariah 1:7-17
The Vision Of The Four Horns And Four Craftsmen, Zechariah 1:18-21
The Vision Of The Surveyor, Zechariah 2:1-13
The Vision Of Joshua The High Priest, Zechariah 3:1-10
The Vision Of The Golden Lampstand, Zechariah 4:1-14
The Vision Of The Flying Scroll, Zechariah 5:1-4
The Vision Of The Woman in the Ephah, Zechariah 5:5-11
The Vision Of The Four Chariots, Zechariah 6:1-8
The Crowning Of Joshua, Zechariah 6:9-15
The Questions Concerning Fasts, Zechariah 7:1-8:23
The Fasts, Zechariah 7:1-3
The Failure Of The People, Zechariah 7:4-14

The Future For Jerusalem, Zechariah 8:1-23
The Prophecy Concerning the Future, Zechariah 9:1-14:21
The First Prophecy, Zechariah 9:1-11:17
The Victories Of Alexander The Great, Zechariah 9:1-8
The Comings Of The King, Zechariah 9:9-10
The Victories Of The Maccabees, Zechariah 9:11-17
The Blessings From Messiah, Zechariah 10:1-12
The Rejection Of The Shepherd, Zechariah 11:1-17
The Second Prophecy, Zechariah 12:1-14:21
The Lord’s Care For Jerusalem, Zechariah 12:1-14
The Lord’s Cleansing Of Jerusalem, Zechariah 13:1-9
The Lord’s Second Coming To Jerusalem, Zechariah 14:1-21

The Text

‘In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo: ‘The LORD was very angry with your ancestors. Therefore tell the people: This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the LORD Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the LORD Almighty. Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the LORD. Where are your ancestors now? And the prophets, do they live forever? But did not my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your ancestors? ‘Then they repented and said, ‘The LORD Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.’ Zechariah 1:1-6

A Call To Return To The LORD

Zechariah begins by informing us when the events of the first eight chapters begun, ‘the eight month of the second year of Darius.’ This mean is was written during the reign of the Medo-Persian King Darius in 520 B.C. Ezra 6:11-12. Zechariah begun his ministry two months after Haggai begun his work as a prophet of God, Haggai 1:1.

Zechariah was the son of Berekiah and his grandfather’s name is Iddo, Zechariah 1:1 / Ezra 5:1 / Ezra 6:14. The account of Ezra focuses on Zechariah assuming the priestly heritage of his grandfather, rather than his father.

Iddo was a Levitical priest who returned from Babylonian captivity with the first returnees under the leadership of Zerubbabel, Nehemiah 12:1 / Nehemiah 12:4 / Nehemiah 12:7 / Nehemiah 12:1-16.

The ancestors of those who returned from Babylonian captivity were rebellious against God’s will and so, God reminds His people that He was angry with their ancestors because of their rebellious actions which resulted in them being sent into captivity.

God commands those who have come home to ‘return to me’, that is repent and turn back to God and His ways. It appears that God’s people had become unconcerned spiritually and lazy concerning the rebuilding of God’s temple. God says if they will repent and turn to Him, He will return to them.

God tells them ‘not be like your ancestors’, this is a reference to the ancestors who lived before they were taken into captivity, they rebelled against God’s will, Zechariah 7:7 / Zechariah 7:12.

Their ancestors didn’t listen to any of the prophets which God sent before they were sent into captivity and it appears that this generation, to whom Zechariah is speaking, isn’t all that interested in listening to God, in getting on with the work at hand, that is, rebuilding the temple.

Their ‘ways and practices were evil’, that is, they didn’t do anything to help toward the restoration of the ceremonies of the law. Both ‘the ancestors and the prophets’ of the former generation are long gone and buried and it’s possible that some of those listening to Zechariah would be thinking, what has all this go to do with us?

Matthew Henry, in his commentary says the following.

‘Where are they? Those who lived and died in sin are in torment; and we are warned by Moses and the Prophets, and by Christ and his apostles to look to it that we come not to that place of torment, Luke 16:18 / Luke 16:29. Those who live and die in Christ are in Paradise; and if we live and die as they did, we shall be with them shortly, with them eternally.’

The reason God gave the example of their ancestors was simply to act as a warning that this new generation shouldn’t make the same mistake as their ancestors did or they too will reap the consequences of their rebellion. Zechariah encourages this new generation of returnees to repent and return to the will of God.

God’s Word and decrees had ‘overtaken’ their ancestors, the word, ‘overtaken’ means to reach or catch up with Deuteronomy 19:6. This means that His Word was still very much alive and active during this new generation of God’s people.

The sinful generation who had rejected God’s Word, confessed the justice of God’s dealing with them and testified to the truth of all that God had said through His prophets.

The text says that ‘they repented’, Ezra 9:6-15 / Lamentations 2:17 / Daniel 9:4-19, however, we’re not to think that they all repented. A lot of people didn’t have the opportunity to do so, some were murdered, other enslaved and some were taken as prisoners.

The Man Among The Myrtle Trees

‘On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo. During the night I had a vision, and there before me was a man mounted on a red horse. He was standing among the myrtle trees in a ravine. Behind him were red, brown and white horses. I asked, ‘What are these, my lord?’ The angel who was talking with me answered, ‘I will show you what they are.’ Then the man standing among the myrtle trees explained, ‘They are the ones the LORD has sent to go throughout the earth.’ And they reported to the angel of the LORD who was standing among the myrtle trees, ‘We have gone throughout the earth and found the whole world at rest and in peace.’ Zechariah 1:7-11

The date mentioned here tells us that this was five months after the rebuilding of the temple had resumed, Haggai 1:15, and two months after the last message of the prophet Haggai.

You may have noticed that apart from the date, Zechariah 1:1 more or less has the same wording. One possible explanation for the same wording is that Zechariah 1:1, is speaking about Zechariah’s call as a prophet, whilst Zechariah 1:7, is speaking about the series of visions which Zechariah is about to have.

All of these visions which Zechariah has all happened on the same night, two months after Haggai’s last message, Haggai 2:10, around 519 B.C.

These visions happened during the time when God’s people were wondering if Jerusalem would ever be glorified again. And so, because God’s people were very lethargic in their efforts to rebuild the temple, Haggai and Zechariah moved to encourage them to start building again.

In this first vision, Zechariah sees a man mounted on a red horse, who is the angel of the Lord, Zechariah 1:11. Notice that all the other riders appear to be reporting to him, which indicates that the man on the red horse has some kind of authority.

As most horses are very powerful, they came to symbolise war, the colour red often symbolises blood, that is judgment, Isaiah 63:1-4 / Revelation 6:3.

The man mounted on the red horse was ‘among the myrtle trees’, this tree was famous for its fragrance. The man being among the myrtle trees symbolises two things,

1. The Lord was among Israel and 2. The world was at peace. This means that God’s people are safe to continue the task of rebuilding the temple until it was finished.

Although we’re not told, we can safely say that the ‘red, brown and white horses’ had riders too. Different coloured horses symbolises the different work of each rider, red, speaks of bloodshed and judgment, Isaiah 63:1-2, white, speaks of victory, Revelation 19:11, and brown speaks of a combination of the others. These horses are about to gain a victorious judgment, Revelation 6:1-8.

After asking ‘what are these, my lord?’, another angel, who was standing next to Zechariah replies. This angel isn’t the same as the isn’t the angel of the Lord, Zechariah 1:13-14 / Zechariah 1:19 / Zechariah 2:3 / Zechariah 3:1 / Zechariah 4:1. This angel tells Zechariah that he will show him what they are, however, it was the angel of the Lord, who does the explaining.

Notice these horses and riders went ‘throughout the world’, this is symbolic of angelic military action. They were patrolling the world determining the state of the enemy and ready to report their findings to the angel of the Lord.

After going throughout the world, these angels report back that the world is ‘at rest and in peace’. This was generally the situation in the world during the second year of Darius.

Because the world was at rest and in peace at this time, just highlights the sinfulness of Israel in their laziness in not getting back to building the temple, Zechariah 1:15 / 1 Thessalonians 5:3. This was the perfect time to start building again, Haggai 2:7 / Haggai 2:22.

‘Then the angel of the LORD said, ‘LORD Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?’ So the LORD spoke kind and comforting words to the angel who talked with me. Then the angel who was speaking to me said, ‘Proclaim this word: This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion, and I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry, but they went too far with the punishment.’ ‘Therefore this is what the LORD says: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,’ declares the LORD Almighty. ‘Proclaim further: This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘My towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the LORD will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem.’ Zechariah 1:12-17

Notice the angel of the Lord reports directly to the Lord Almighty, he intercedes on behalf of Israel, and asks God to remove His anger and show mercy to His people, Revelation 6:10. The ‘seventy years’ is a clear reference to the length of Judah’s time in captivity, Jeremiah 25:11-12 / Jeremiah 29:10 / Haggai 1:2.

The Lord responds with words of ‘kindness and comfort’, and it’s clear that God still loved and cared for Jerusalem and will bring prosperity to Jerusalem but he was angry with those nations who punished His people.

God says He is ‘very jealous for Jerusalem’, that is, He extremely loves His people. When God is jealous for His people, God’s people prosper, Exodus 20:5 / Exodus 34:14 / Isaiah 42:13 / Isaiah 59:17 / Ezekiel 36:5-6 / Ezekiel 38:19. However, sometimes His jealousy leads to God’s people being punished, Deuteronomy 29:18-28 / Ezekiel 5:13.

Because of God’s great love for His people, the Lord set out to punish those nations who punished His people. Although God initially used these nations to punish His people, the nations went too far and didn’t show any compassion on God’s people as they should have, Isaiah 10:5-6 / Isaiah 54:7-8 / Habakkuk 1:5-6.

God says, He ‘will return to Jerusalem with mercy’, in order that His temple be rebuilt. At this time it was only the foundation work which has been done, Haggai 2:18, but the time was coming when the temple would be completed, around four years from now, Ezra 6:15.

The city walls and the city itself would be completed around seventy years from now, Isaiah 40:9-10. The ‘measuring line’, was a figure representing the rebuilding of the city, Nehemiah 6:15.

God’s promise to be with them in rebuilding his ‘towns’, means that the building work will go beyond the rebuilding of Jerusalem, other towns around Jerusalem will also be rebuilt. God’s says He will also ‘comfort Zion’, this would happen when the Messiah arrived, Isaiah 40:1-2 / Isaiah 51:3 / Isaiah 53:12, and He would once again choose Jerusalem as His dwelling place, Psalm 132:13.

Four Horns And Four Craftsmen

‘Then I looked up, and there before me were four horns. I asked the angel who was speaking to me, ‘What are these?’ He answered me, ‘These are the horns that scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.’ Then the LORD showed me four craftsmen. I asked, ‘What are these coming to do?’ He answered, ‘These are the horns that scattered Judah so that no one could raise their head, but the craftsmen have come to terrify them and throw down these horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter its people.’ Zechariah 1:18-21

In Zechariah’s second vision he sees ‘four horns’, which represent four world powers, which inflicted great harm on God’s people, Daniel 2 / Daniel 7 / Daniel 8. The horn symbolises strength and these four horns were symbols of that which brings destruction, Daniel 8:3-4 / Micah 4:13. The number four represents the earth and physical things.

Coffman, in his commentary says the following concerning these four horns.

‘These four horns correspond to the great scarlet beast that the apostle John saw rising out of the sea, Revelation 13. The horns here correspond exactly to the first four heads of that beast, despite the fact of different metaphors being used. We identified the seven heads of the sea beast as: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the religious tyranny that succeeded Rome. In each case, the great monolithic ‘head’ of the beast was a persecuting power against God’s people and enjoyed worldwide authority. At the time Zechariah wrote, the Jews were living in the times of the fourth of these seven monolithic enemies of God’s peoples, and indeed they, in a collective sense, were the powers that had devastated, scattered, and destroyed Israel.’

The ‘four craftsmen’ would bring great fear upon those ‘four horns’, that is, those nations who afflicted great hurt on God’s people, Daniel 2:34-35 / Daniel 2:44-45 / Daniel 7:9-14 / Daniel 7:21-22. With the four nations out of the way, the four craftsmen would bring about the rebuilding the temple, the city of Jerusalem and re-establish Israel as nation again in Zechariah’s time.

Go To Zechariah 2

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

John 16:33

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