ZECHARIAH CHAPTER 1.
The Introduction and the First Visions.
A CALL TO REPENTANCE. V. 1. In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, that is, in the year 520 B. C., came the word of the Lord unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo, the prophet, saying, v. 2. The Lord hath been sore displeased, with a vehement anger, with your fathers, as shown in the overthrow of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple, and the exile in Babylon. V. 3. Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the almighty Sovereign of the universe, Turn ye unto Me, saith the Lord of hosts, a most impressive call to the children of the former trespassers to repent, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. V. 4. Be ye not as your fathers, those before the exile, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Turn ye now from your evil ways and from your evil doings, this being the gist of many admonitions in the earlier prophets, cp. Is. 31, 6; Jer. 3, 12; 18, 11; Ezek. 18, 30; Hos. 14,1; but they did not hear nor hearken unto Me, saith the Lord. Cp. 2 Kings 17. V. 5. Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? The former members of Israel and Judah had perished, as God had threatened; and if the people should say that the prophets also were dead, the Lord would remind them of the fact that His words, as spoken through these prophets, are not dead, but had been abundantly fulfilled. V. 6. But My words and My statutes, which I commanded My servants, the prophets, namely, that they should proclaim them, threatening the Lord’s punishment in case of disobedience, did they not take hold of your fathers? the threatened punishments having overtaken them like swift messengers. And they, the fathers before the exile, returned and said, in acknowledging their afflictions as the result of their wickedness, Like as the Lord of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways and according to our doings, just as they had deserved it, so hath He dealt with us. This was the state of mind which the Lord wanted to find in the midst of His people in making known to them the wonderful facts contained in the visions of Zechariah, The proper attitude for hearing and learning the Word of God is that of a humble acknowledgment of one’s sinfulness.
THE VISION OF THE HORSES AMONG THE MYRTLE TREES. V. 7. Upon the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which Is the month Sebat, five months after the building of the Temple had been resumed, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the Lord unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo, the prophet, saying, v. 8. I saw by night, in a night vision, some time between six o’clock in the evening and six o’clock in the morning, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, the color of war and bloodshed, and he stood among the myrtletrees that were in the bottom, most likely a valley in the neighborhood of Jerusalem; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, or bay, the color of fire and flames and burning, and white, in this connection the color of victory. V. 9. Then said I, anxious to know what the Lord intended to make known through this vision, O my Lord, what are these? And the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will show thee what these be, for the Lord wanted Zechariah to know the meaning of the vision in order that he might reveal it to others. V. 10. And the man that stood among the myrtletrees, the first angel, answered and said, These are they whom the Lord hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth, to find out how matters stood everywhere. V. 11. And they answered the Angel of the Lord, that peculiar Uncreated Angel, the Son of God as He revealed Himself to the believers of the Old Testament, that stood among the myrtletrees, and said, We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still and is at rest, the great commotion among the nations, of which the prophet Haggai had spoken, chap. 2, 7. 8, had not yet begun, that is, the time for the Messiah to appear in the flesh had not yet come, a statement which naturally had a most depressing effect upon the Jews. But the Lord has a word of comfort ready for them. V. 12. Then the Angel of the Lord answered and said, the second person of the Godhead Himself giving them a reassuring word of comfort, O Lord of hosts, how long wilt Thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which Thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years? so that the seventy years of the exile seemed extended, as though the affliction of the captivity wou1d never end. V. 13. And the Lord answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words, words of salvation and blessing, which he, of course, was immediately to pass on to the congregation of the Lord. V. 14. So the angel that communed with me, he who had first given an interpretation of the Lord’s intentions as expressed in the vision, said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, He whose exact message the prophet brought to Judah, I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion, He was agitated with the zeal of his love for His congregation, with a great jealousy. V. 15. And I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease, believing that they had been permanently victorious over the Lord’s people; for I was but a little displeased, as His punishment went out upon His people for seventy years, and they helped forward the affliction, they rioted in the sufferings of helpless Israel and were anxious to prolong them. V. 16. Therefore, thus saith the Lord, I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies, for He had withheld them from His people for a time in order to punish them, but now He was once more ready to accept His repentant children; My house shall be built in it, namely, the Temple as the seat of the Lord’s merciful presence in the midst of His congregation, saith the Lord of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem, in this case the builder’s line signifying the rebuilding of the city. V. 17. Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad, overflowing with the outward pressure of abundant growth as a stream overflows its banks; and the Lord shall yet comfort Zion, the Church of His love, and shall yet choose Jerusalem, the communion of His saints. Thus the Lord, who occasionally has punished His Church with heavy stripes, ever again lies turned to His children with the wealth of His blessings in the Gospel.
THE VISION OF THE FOUR HORNS AND THE FOUR SMITHS. — V. 18. Then, after the first vision had fully come to an end, lifted I up mine eyes and saw, in a second distinct vision, and behold four horns, the common Scriptural symbol of strength. V. 19. And I said unto the angel that talked with me, What be these? the prophet again desirous of knowing their significance. And he answered me, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem, the heathen nations that had destroyed the twelve tribes as a people. V. 20. And the Lord showed me four carpenters, rather, four craftsmen in iron, four smiths. V. 21. Then said I, What come these to do? What was the object in introducing them into the picture? And He spake, saying, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, so that no man did lift up his head, being altogether discouraged; but these are come to fray them, to terrify the great powers of evil, to cast out the horns of the Gentiles, to break them off, which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah to scatter it. It has ever been a characteristic of the enemies of the Lord that they rejoice over the misfortune of His people; but in the end the Church will triumph.