Before we go to Zechariah, I will repeat, perhaps to the boring, that the prophecies have been given to us for several reasons. The prophecies are faith-building and faith-strengthening because by looking at the prophecies that have been fulfilled, we can see that the prophecies given were true and that God is behind the prophecies … (John 14,29), and they are given to us as a guide to understand where on the timeline we are … (Matthew 24,32-33), and they are a manifestation of God’s love, because by studying prophecies that have not yet been fulfilled we can understand what is happening around us and in this way avoid being trapped in the snares of the adversary. (Matthew 24,126.96.36.199)
There is, however, one thing the prophecies cannot do, they cannot save us.
The name Zechariah, which in Hebrew is Zekargyah or Zekaryahu, means God remembers or God has remembered.
The first problem – if there is a problem – we encounter in this book is the dating, because there were at least four kings who bore the name Darius at this time. Zechariah 1,1 says: In the eighth month, 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 … … The first of these four kings by the name of Darius, also referred to as Cyrus, took the throne in the year 539, this is the first year of government according to Hebrew counting (including calculation). The Jews / Hebrews considered the year of accession as the first year of government. The second year of Darius must then be 538. The next is Darius I the great, who took the throne in the year 521. The third is Darius II, who took the throne in the year 424. And the fourth is Darius III, who took the throne in the year 336.
Usually when a king is only mentioned by name, it is easy to think that it is the one who is mentioned without an epithet (nickname) it is about but put in context it is most likely Dareios I the Great it is talk about in this case. He took the throne in the year 521. The last two kings named Darius took the throne after the third decree of return was given, and they are falling outside the time frame of the prophesy who deals with the long-awaited return from Babylon. We also find prophesies relating to the first coming of Jesus and the end time in the book of Zechariah.
Only two years are indicated in the book, 1) in the second year of Darius (Hebrew counting) which then must be 520 BC (Zechariah 1,1.7) and 2) in the fourth year of king Darius which, consequently, must be 518 BC (Zechariah 7,1). We can therefore assume that this book was written in the time span from 520 and onwards. This is an important information when we will study the book.
This book, too, must be read according to some of the criteria by which the book of Daniel and Revelation must be read; a) The cosmic conflict: It is necessary that the battle between Jesus and Satan must lie as a backdrop for all our understanding of biblical texts. This battle is, as we know, the background for the cosmic conflict that is the source of all the world’s problems. It all started when Lucifer rebelled against God because he wanted the glory and worship our God and Creator alone are entitled to. This conflict began in heaven and continued here on earth when Adam and Eve sinned, and have remained here since, and will continue until Jesus returns. b) God has a special people: Not so many hundred years after the flood, God chose Abram to become the ancestor of his special people. The task of God’s chosen people was to bring the good news or the gospel of salvation to the whole world, the salvation that God would bring to the fallen human race. Since then, Satan has done his utmost to destroy God’s people in one way or another, so that the gospel that testifies of God’s infinite and boundless love will not be preached. c) God is a God of order: When God gives us likely prophecies, such as Daniel 2 and 7, then these prophecies must be interpreted according to the same principles. We cannot interpret Daniel 2 in one way for then to interpret Daniel 7 in another way. This applies to both the general interpretation of the text and the particular interpretation of the individual parts of the text such as metals or beasts.
In cases where we treat identical prophecies in both Daniel and Revelation, we must interpret the prophecies based on the same principles and criteria. We cannot allow ourselves to interpret one of these prophecies differently than the others. In that case it will be inconsistent. d) Daniel and John sees the prophecies evolve from their contemporaries: We can read from the texts in the book of Daniel that we must add the contemporary principle to our understanding of the prophecies. This because in chapters 2 and 7, the prophecies begin with Babylon and extend to the second coming of Christ. In chapters 8, 10 and 11, the prophecy omits Babylon and begins with Medo-Persia. In chapter 8 we are still temporarily under Babylonian rule, while in Chapters 10 and 11 we find ourselves under a Medo-Persian regime. Although Babylon still exists as a kingdom, it is omitted in chapter 8, because we have come so far in history that it is just before Babylon is conquered by the Medo-Persian Empire. Babylon does not play any significant role in prophecy anymore, and this tells us that we must use the contemporary principle. If we believe that God is a God of order, we must also use the principle of contemporary in Revelation 17, although it is not as clear here. Daniel sees the story evolving from his contemporary until the second coming of Jesus. John also sees the prophecies evolving from his contemporary, but John sees both past, present, and future, until Jesus returns. If we reject the contemporary principle we can put into the prophecies whatever we want and then we can get the answer we want, which necessarily not is what the Bible points to. The prophecies of Zechariah are of such nature that it is a delicate balancing act between the contemporary interpretation, or the contemporary principle and the end-time interpretation or the end-time principle, because the boundaries between these two interpretation principles many times are difficult to see as they virtually go into one.
Almost all the prophecies of Zechariah have a double fulfillment. It is evident from the texts that this is written as encouragement to the people of God at the time of Zechariah, but also as a vision of the future that addresses the time for both the first coming of Jesus and his second coming.
The prophecies of Zechariah were given explicitly to the Jews after the first decree, which allowed them to return home to Judea and to rebuild the temple and Jerusalem in the year 539 BC – something that did not succeed – but before the third decree was given in the year 457 BC and most likely sometime between 521 and 486 when Darius 1 the Great was king.
There is a red thread through this book that is amazing, and it is the use of the phrases the Lord which we find already in chapter 1 verse 1, and the Lord of hosts which we find the first time in chapter 1 verse 3. What we see here is that the Lord speaks on behalf of The Lord of hosts. We also find the expressions the angel of the Lord and the Lord of hosts in Zechariah 1,12, and here the angel of the Lord asks the Lord of hosts a question! In Zech 10,12 it says: And I will strengthen them in the LORD; and they shall walk up and down in his name, saith the LORD.
It is for me quite clearly who we are dealing with, and it is God the Father who is the Lord of hosts, and God the Son who is the Lord and the angel of the Lord. This confirms E. G. White’s statement that since the fall, all communication between heaven and earth has gone through Jesus Christ.
Besides this, we have the situation we find in 10,12, where it says, And I will strengthen them in the LORD; and they shall walk up and down in his name, saith the LORD, a strange verse, but let us look into it: Verse 12a is like this: And I will strengthen them in the LORD. I and The Lord are two different persons, and I believe this is God the Father and God the son. We can then read verse 12a like this: And I (God the Father)will strengthen them in the LORD (God the Son). Verse 12b then becomes so: and they shall walk up and down in his name (God the Son), saith the LORD (God the Father).
In addition to the father and the Son, we also find the Holy Spirit mentioned several times and the first time in Chapter 4 verse 6. In other words, we find the Triune God in the Book of Zechariah.
We must always keep in mind that there is both a contemporary perspective and an end-time perspective in Zechariah’s prophecies, and that they are as applicable in our day as they were in the time of the prophet. What is said about God’s people (the Jews) who were in captivity in Babylon in Zechariah’s time also applies to today’s people of God (the Christians).
The first part of the prophecy; Promises of recovery.
The chapter begins with a call to repentance verses 1 – 6, then Zechariah sees a rider in verses 7 – 11 before he sees that the Lord will comfort Zion in verse 12 and beyond. I think we should look at this chapter in light of Isaiah chapter 55. Isaiah ministered in Judah between 736 and 700 BC and prophesied when the Assyrians conquered Samaria and brought away in captivity those who were not slain. Many of Isaiah’s prophecies is about repentance before the destruction comes from Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar. And, like Zechariah, Isaiah has an end-time perspective in his prophecies.
A; Introduction and a call to repentance; verses 1-6.
Verse 1: In the eighth month, 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, Verse 2 The LORD hath been sore displeased with your fathers.
As mentioned initially, the prophet get this vision in the year 520 BC. I think we must read these two verses in light of the events that occurred in the years 605, 597 and 586 BC when the city and the temple were destroyed, and large portions of the population were brought away in captivity to Babylon. The eighth month in the Jewish calendar was Marcheshvan which corresponds to our October / November. Before the captivity of Babylon, this month was called Bul. In relation to the text in verse 2, the prophet Isaiah says the following: I was wroth with my people, I have polluted mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand: thou didst shew them no mercy; upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke, (47,6).
Verse 3 Therefore say thou unto them, thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.
Here God says through the prophet Zechariah that it is time to repent so that they may be sent home from Babylon. It is and becomes a prerequisite that the people repent before it is brought home. This will also be a condition in the end time. God’s remnant in the end time must be wholly surrendered to the Lord before he will gather them and lead them as one flock out of their figuratively Egypt and home to the Heavenly Canaan. The psalmist says: Thou shalt arise, [and] have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come, Psalm 102,14 …//… and in Jeremiah 29,10 we read: For thus saith the LORD, that after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
In connection with the seventy years be accomplished at Babylon it must be pointed out what I have stated just before: It is and becomes a prerequisite that the people turn repent before it is brought home, and the fact that the book was written around the year 520 BC.
Verse 4 Be ye not as your fathers, 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: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD. Verse 5 Your fathers, where [are] they? and the prophets, do they live forever?
Time after time after God brought Israel out of Egypt, they fell from God and adopted the customs and idols of the Gentiles, and they slew the prophets God sent them. The questions in verse 5 are certainly justified in that respect. The author of the Chronicles, who is believed to be Ezra, writes this: And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till [there was] no remedy, 2 Chronicles 36,15-16.
Verse 6 But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? and they returned and said, like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.
As many times as Gods people fell and went astray, God then raised them up again, but not without further notice. It was usually after punishment and repentance that they were shown mercy. This should tell us that God is a gracious God who wants us to turn to him in repentance every time we break his commandments and laws. We should not let it go so far that the penalty for any transgression we have done come upon us before we have repented of our sins. It is not so that God wants to punish us, but the punishment follows as a consequence of the choices we make in life … … … but if we do not repent we can read in Deuteronomy 28,15-68 which punishment and what afflictions that will fall upon the disobedient. However, these afflictions are mentioned after God has told us the blessings that awaits the faithful (verses 1-14). Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee, Deuteronomy 28,45.
Take time to read Deuteronomy 28,1-14 and see what wonderful blessings await those who obey God’s commandments and laws. See also Jeremiah 29,11: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Also read Isaiah 55,1-7 and compare this text with the one we have here in Zechariah 1,1-6. As you will see from the text in Zechariah 1,1-6, this corresponds to the text in Isaiah 55,1-7. In both places there is a call to repentance.
B) The Eight visions of Zechariah, Zech 1,7 – 6,8.
The eight visions of Zechariah, which we find in Zech 1,7 to 6,8, are a coherent prophecy, but it is not necessarily that all eight parts are given at the same time. These visions establish God’s purpose for the Jews’ return from the Babylonian captivity and end finally up with the first coming of Christ and the foundation of the Kingdom of God.
1) The vision of a rider; 1,7-17.
Verse 7 Upon the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which [is] the month Sebat, 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, Verse 8 I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that [were] in the bottom; and behind him [were there] red horses, speckled, and white. Verse 9 Then said I, O my lord, what [are] these? And the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will shew thee what these [be]. Verse 10 And the man that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, these [are they] whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth.
The first six verses of the prophecy were given in the eighth month of the second year of Darius’s reign, now we are on the 24th day in the eleventh month. This vision of Zechariah undoubtedly gives associations to the four horses of Revelation that ride out beneath the seals, but there is probably no direct correlation between the horses here and in Revelation, because in verse 10 it is said that these are they which the Lord hath sent forth upon the Earth. There are many who want to add a special meaning into the color of this horse and those horses that later appear in the prophecy, but there is no evidence to do so.
Furthermore, we can read in chapter 6 that Zechariah receives a new vision in which he sees horses in four colors — red, black, white, grisled and bay (dappled) — which the angel explains as the four spirits of the heavens. We can then assume that this man riding upon the Red Horse is one of God’s angels. However, we must distinguish between the angel in verse 9 and the Man in verses 8 and 10. The man in verses 8 and 10 is undoubtedly the angel of the Lord (see verse 11), while the angel in verse 9 is the angel explaining the vision for Zechariah.
Verse 11 And they answered the angel of the LORD that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, we have walked to and fro through the earth, and behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest.
When the phrase the angel of the Lord is used, it is undoubtedly Christ’s question. These riders must therefore be sent out from God to gather information about the condition of God’s people, and the condition they can report is that the whole Earth rests quietly. Can we understand this silence on earth the way that the time for the final decree giving the Jews all the authority to rebuild both Jerusalem and the Temple had come? Or is it just a temporary silence? If we look to chapter 2 and verse 3-4, there are four carpenters who will fray the horns that spread the Judah. Could there be a temporary period in which there is peace to the people of God in the midst of the oppression that was before this happens, an oppression which will come again later? Can these four riders have inspected the restoration of the temple and Jerusalem? When all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest could it mean that the restoration has stopped up completely or partially? Or does it simply mean that the pagan nations around God’s people do not contribute anything that can provide relief and help to God’s people in a difficult situation?
The decrees: There are many who consider the temple rebuilt in 516 BC, but these do not take into account that three decrees was given, and that if the first decree (or the second decree) had led to full reconstruction of the city and temple, the second (or third) decree would never have been given. But, just as after the Exodus from Egypt, when it was still 40 years before Israel was allowed to take the Promised Land, it was also now a few years before the Restoration was a fact, because they had not completely given up all paganism. We can then expect that the time was approaching, but that the people were not yet quite ready to take possession the land again, hence this call to repentance which we find in verses 1 to 6.
2) The Lord will comfort Zion; Verses 12 – 17.
Like Daniel (see Daniel 9,2), Zechariah is also concerned about the time when the Jews are allowed to return to Judea and Jerusalem and to finish the rebuilding of the temple and the city.
Verse 12 Then the angel of the LORD answered and said, 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?
When King Cyrus had conquered Babylon, one of the first thing he did was to give the Jews a decree that allowed them to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple, (Ezra 1,1). This was in the year 539, and 19 years before Zechariah gets his first vision where the question the angel of the Lord poses to the Lord of hosts, (God the Father) … how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem … … This confirms the fact that it is not the first decree which is the decree that is valid in relation to the prophecies. Since Ezra’s book is written in Hebrew, we must base the Jewish way of calculation when we set the timeframe for these prophesies. The Jews considered the king’s accession year as the kings first year.
Also here we find a clear resemblance to Revelation. Here in Zechariah it is Christ, or the Angel of the Lord, who asks God the Father how long he will let it go before anything is done for the faithful people of God. In Revelation is it the Martyrs who ask the same question to the Lord about how long time it will take before anything is done to revenge them: And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, how long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? Revelation 6,9-10.
In the same way as in Revelation, where it is said that they must wait until … … ‘their brethren, that should be killed as they [were], should be fulfilled’, it must also take some time before the Jews are allowed to return home. In addition, God’s people are told that their land will be laid waste and that they will serve the king of Babylon for 70 years: And this whole land shall be a desolation, [and] an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, [that] I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations, Jeremiah 25,11-12.
The rest of the chapter tell us that the Lord will comfort Zion.
Verse 13 And the LORD answered the angel that talked with me [with] good words [and] comfortable words. Verse 14 So the angel that communed with me said unto me, cry thou, saying, thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy. Verse 15 And I am very sore displeased with the heathen [that are] at ease: for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction. Verse 16 Therefore thus saith the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem. Verse 17 Cry yet, saying, thus saith the LORD of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.
If the first decree is valid, then why does the Lord say here in Zechariah that he shall return to Jerusalem with mercies about 20 years after the first decree was given? Surely something were done concerning the reconstruction of the temple and the city the first two three years after 539, but we read in chapter 4 in the book of Ezra that the reconstruction of both the temple (verses 1 – 5) and the city (verse 6) were met with opposition, and in verse 21 of Chapter 4 we read: Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, until [another] commandment shall be given from me. In Ezra 6,1, Darius the great, sometime between 521 and 486 (his reign), issues the second decree that the reconstruction can continue. But as we know, neither this was this successful.
The question here, as everywhere else, is: Why? Could this be because these decrees were not entirely according to the great Plan of God?
God is a God of order, and all he does is follow carefully according to his plan, such as in Revelation 9,15 where it says: … … which were prepared for an hour and a day and a month and a year … … when they were going to do something. Can the prophecy that Daniel received in the year 539 – in the first year of Darius’s reign – be the plan that God uses? Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy, Daniel 9,24.
Today we have the answer, but in the time of Daniels and Zechariah, in so far as the first decree given could have been decisive in the sense that the restoration of both temple and city had been completed, and the consequence would had been that Jesus had come 72 years earlier. The first decree given in the year 539 is found in Ezra 1,1: Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and [put it] also in writing, saying … …
What is special about the second decree is that king Darius finds the decree that King Cyrus had given and, in the year 516, Darius gives the following additional decree to the decree that King Cyrus gave in the year 539: Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this, Ezra 6,11.
This issue therefore raises a timely question: Is the second decree a separate decree, or is it just confirmation of the first decree?
We wait a little with the answer, maybe it gives itself eventually.
If we read the text carefully in these verses in chapter 6, we find something interesting. I have mentioned before that the king who conquered Babylon is called Cyrus in Hebrew and Darius in Aramaic, really quite confusing, as there is another king called Darius in this period when the three decrees are given. If Darius who gives the second decree is the same that gave the first decree, the verses 1 – 3 in chapter 6 give absolutely no sense. Neither during the time for the second decree the city or the temple were fully rebuilt. It was Cyrus, also called Darius without the epithet who gave the first decree.
Let us see what Ezra 6,1-3 says: Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon. And there was found at Ahmeta, in the palace that [is] in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein [was] a record thus written: In the first year of Cyrus the king [the same] Cyrus the king made a decree [concerning] the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, [and] the breadth thereof threescore cubits.
The Darius we talk about here must be Darius with the epithet 1 the Great who reigned from 521-486. The second decree must therefore have been given in the year 516 BC. Looking at the year the second decree was given we find something interesting. Jerusalem was laid in ruins in the year 586 BC. And it was to go 70 years from that year until the Jews were permitted to return to Jerusalem again. 586 – 70 = 516. But every time God does something for his people, Satan is on the spot and trying to ruin this. Therefore, a third decree were given.
But: What does it mean to measure Jerusalem? It had not been easy to explain what to measure Jerusalem means in biblical sense if the Bible had not interpreted and explained itself. The answer to what it means to measure we find of course in the Bible, and we can look at what the Lord says in Isaiah 65,6-7: Behold, [it is] written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom, your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the LORD, which have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills: therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom,See also Zechariah 2,5.
That God will again choose Jerusalem (verse 17), we must put into both Old Testament context where it is the physical Jerusalem and the Jews, and in New Testament context where God’s Jerusalem no longer is Israel, nor Abraham’s carnal descendants, but the Christian church. If we look at what verse 16 says then God will again measure (a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem) his people. God should examine His people before the third decree was given, and God will examine His end-time people before they are allowed to enter his heavenly Canaan.
Thou shalt arise, [and] have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof. So the heathen shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth thy glory. When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory. He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer. Psalm 102,14-18.
The four verses that make up the first four in chapter 2 of Norwegian BGO (1988) and German Luther (1912) are in King James (1611) and Reina Valera (1569) placed as verses 18 – 21 in chapter 1. This leads to verse 5 in BGO and German Luther being the first verse in the KJV and RV chapter 2. Starting with chapter 3, the chapter sections agree in all editions.
3) The vision of Fire horns and four carpenters; 2,1-4.
Verse 1 Then lifted I up mine eyes, and saw, and behold four horns. Verse 2 And I said unto the angel that talked with me, what [be] these? And he answered me, these [are] the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.
Zechariah sees four horns, and this gives clear guidance to both the Book of Daniel and Revelation, and the horns we find there. The angel himself explains that these are the powers which have, until then, subjugated, and scattered Judea, Israel, and Jerusalem, which also gives us confirmation of the interpretation of the Seven kings in Revelation 17,10 where the first four are explained as Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and Medo-Persia.
When Zechariah prophesied, the known world, or the part of the world that the prophecies concern themselves with, was under the Medo-Persian dominion. And, even if the Jews are allowed to return home, God’s people are still suppressed during this time period. There are many who choose to interpret these four horns as a universal form of oppression and that Judea, Israel, and Jerusalem were scattered in every direction of the compass. I am bold enough to disagree with such an interpretation and claim that this prophecy is related to the prophecies given both before and after in the book of Daniel and the book of Revelation. See Daniel 7,7; 7,8; 7,11; 7,20; 7,21; 7,24; 8,8; 8,9; 8,20; 8,21; and Revelation 12,3; 13,1; 17,3; 17,12; 17,16.
Verse 3 And the Lord shewed me four carpenters. Verse 4 Then said I, what come these to do? And he spake, saying, these [are] the horns which have scattered Judah, so that no man did lift up his head: but these are come to fray them, to cast out the horns of the Gentiles, which lifted up [their] horn over the land of Judah to scatter it.
Again, it is explained that these four horns are those who scattered the people of God. It is explained that the four carpenters are the ones to put an end to the four horns’ ravages with God’s people. But what lies in these two verses? What or who are the four carpenters? I think Haggai 2,22 can help us to see what this is all about: And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, everyone by the sword of his brother. See also what the psalmist says in Psalm 75,8-11: But God [is] the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. For in the hand of the LORD [there is] a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring [them] out, [and] drink [them]. But I will declare forever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. All the horns of the wicked also will I cut off; [but] the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.
4) The vision of the man with the measuring line; 2,5-13.
Verse 5 I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand. Verse 6 Then said I, Whither goest thou? And he said unto me, to measure Jerusalem, to see what [is] the breadth thereof, and what [is] the length thereof.
What does the phrase I lifted up my eyes mean? It simply means that the prophet focused on the vision he received. This is a definite parallel to Zechariah 1,16, where it is also a matter of «measuring» Jerusalem, and this intends to see when God’s people are ready to return home. When God asks his prophets to measure Jerusalem, the temple, and those who worship there, this is a form of investigative judgment. God desires primarily that the Prophet(s) addresses the sins of the people, it is not to measure height, length, circumference, or weight of the inhabitants, but their spiritual condition: And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein, Revelation 11,1.
There are different measuring instruments God uses to measure with, and we find among measuring line Zechariah 2,5; ephah Zechariah 5,6; measuring reed Ezequiel 40,5; plumb line Amos 7,7; reed (like unto a rod) Revelation 11,1; golden reed Revelation 21,15.
Verse 7 And, behold, the angel that talked with me went forth, and another angel went out to meet him, Verse 8 And said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited [as] towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein: Verse 9 For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.
I dare to claim that we find a Messiah prophecy and an end-time prophecy in these verses. Just notice the wording of verse 9. The Lord (= Christ) shall be a wall of fire round about (His people), and he shall be the glory in the midst of Jerusalem (= the people of God). We find the same in Isaiah 4,2-5: In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth [shall be] excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, [that he that is] left in Zion, and [he that] remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, [even] every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory [shall be] a defense.
Do we know who this wall of fire round about is? In Exodus 3,2 it says: And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush [was] not consumed …//… and inExodus 13,21 it says: And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night.
5) The Lord in Zion — even the Gentiles shall come; verses 10 – 17.
Verse 10 Ho, ho, [come forth], and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD.
The Land of the North simply means Babel, or Babylon. This must be understood in the light of the cosmic conflict where the devil chose Babylon as his ‘capital’ and God chose Jerusalem as his ‘capital’ on earth. Babylon is also used about God’s adversary, the apostasy in the church and the confusion the fallen church causes with its unbiblical doctrines.
Those who are encouraged to flee from there are those of the Jews who chose to remain in Babylon after the first decree was given in 539 BC. This is the contemporary context. The end-time context is as follows: Those who are encouraged to flee from ‘the land of the North,’ or Babylon, in the end-time, are those of God’s people who are still in Babylon after ‘the first decree’ to return home which in the end-time context is the proclamation of the message of the three angels and the coming of Jesus in the years around 1844. When the message to flee from ‘the land of the North‘ is given again in our time, this will be God’s last warning message to his people in Babylon, the loud cry, in Revelation 18,1-4 where God again calls his people out of confusion.
Verse 11 Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest [with] the daughter of Babylon.
This verse alludes to the fact that many of the Jews chose to be living in Babylon. This could be both second and third generation Jews who had become rich in Babylon and who had no desire to return to Judea. The same can be said of God’s people in the end times. Many of them are in Babylon, and are satisfied with it, despite the fact that God, both then in real Babylon and in the symbolic Babylon of our time, offers a future that is far better than the confusion that Babylon can offer.
Verse 12 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. Verse 13 For, behold, I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me. Verse 14 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD.
The apple of God´s eye is thus Zion, but Zion is used to describe several things that belong to God. It is Israel, both the carnal Israel in Old Testament times and the spiritual Israel, the Christians in New Testament times. It may be the mountain of God and it may be Jerusalem. But both Zion as God’s mountain and Jerusalem are also used as an image of God’s people.
The daughter of Zion is a greater mystery. Who is she? Originally, Zion was an image of ancient Israel with all the 12 tribes. These were God’s people from the time of Jacob until the cross. Since Zion had a daughter, this cannot be the Jews because they are one of the original 12 tribes in Israel. But, who did the Jews give birth to, who is here called the daughter of Zion? It can be none other than the Christians. It may come out more clearly when we read verse 15 where it says:
Verse 15 And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee.
‘And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day and shall be my people’ saith god the father in this verse. There were not many who converted to Judaism (became proselytes) in Old Testament times. The question that then arises is this: When did many nations begin to join the Lord? It was after Jesus had founded the Christian church, and after the Holy Spirit had been given to those in the upper room on the day of Pentecost in the year 31. This is really the starting point for the Christian church, and it was from this day that the Gentiles began to join the Lord through faith in the risen Jesus Christ.
Verse 16 And the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land and shall choose Jerusalem again.
This happened when the Jews returned to Judah and Jerusalem under Medo-Persian rule. This is the contemporary context. The end-time context is that God will raise up a people who will respond to God’s expectations and who will proclaim the truth for our time – the end-time message.
Verse 17 Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation..
When the Lord rises and leaves His holy dwelling, the measure of Jerusalem is completed, and the investigative judgment is completed. This verse concludes chapter 2 which we may call a brief summary of history and contains elements of four horns (verses 1-4), the man with the measuring line (verses 5-9), the Gentiles coming (verses 10-17).
I recommend you read reading Isaiah 11,1-13 in connection with this chapter.
6) The vision of Joshua and Satan; 3,1-10.
Verse 1 And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.
As always, Satan is there to destroy the people of God. In the Book of Job we find the same in chapter 1,6-9: Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, from going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that [there is] none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and eschewed evil? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Satan always argues that the whole earth and everything on it is his, and he does everything to distort what God does.
Verse 2 And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: [is] not this a brand plucked out of the fire?
This verse points directly to Jude verse 9, where it is told that the Archangel Michael, which is another name used on Jesus, uses the same phrase The Lord Rebuke thee! ‘To pluck’ someone out of the fire may not be the expression that is easiest to understand, but the meaning here is to save, rescue, preserve, and to hate sin. And others save with fear, pulling [them] out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh, Jude 1,23. By the way, Judas says this in verse 23: And others save with fear, pulling [them] out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
The word translated into save in English is the Greek word sô ́zô (Sode ‘-zo), and in it can be translated with: save (in the meaning of deliver or protect) preserve, rescue, do well or heal.
Verse 3 Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. Verse 4 The angel said to those who were standing before him, Take off his filthy clothes. Then he said to Joshua, See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you. Verse 5 Then I said, Put a clean turban on his head. So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the LORD stood by (NIV 1984).
As we see from these three verses, the supreme priest Joshua was clothed with dirty clothes which means he was a sinner, and this is what Satan accuses Joshua of being, and for that reason, Satan argues that Joshua belongs to him. How does Jesus respond to the accusation? What did Jesus do with the sins that Joshua bore?
It is important to understand that Jesus did not apologize for the sins Joshua had committed, nor did He deny that they were there. We see that the angel says that the filthy clothes (the sin) are to be removed from Joshua, and he shall be dressed with rich garments, which is the same as the righteousness of Jesus. This angel is no other than Jesus Christ, for it is only He who has the authority to forgive sins and dress the sinner with His righteousness, which Christ won on the cross. Jesus simply removes sins in what He says: See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you. This is our blessed hope for the future. The salvation as Jesus is alone to offer us and justification by faith alone. There is probably no other place in the Old Testament where justification by faith and the saving work of Jesus comes out as clearly as here.
Also note that Joshua does nothing when Satan accuses him before God but leaves it to the Lord to answer the accuser. Joshua does not undress himself nor dress himself, he just stands there in all his shame, leaving to the Angel of the Lord = Jesus Christ to take off his dirty clothes and put on clean clothes. What does this tell us about salvation and justification? It tells us that we cannot contribute anything for our salvation and justification, we can do nothing but leave everything to Jesus Christ: He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels, Revelation 3,5.
Verse 6 And the angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua, saying (KJV), Verse 7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.
Once again, both God the Father and the Son of God are present in the same section in the Old Testament, (verses 6-10). It is the Angel of the Lord, Jesus – God the Son, who testifies on behalf of the Lord of hosts, God the Father, in all this passage. Here, too, we see that salvation is given on conditions: if thou wilt keep my courts. It isn´t so that we can do something in advance so that we can earn our salvation, but once we have accepted this unique gift, there is a certain condition attached to it, hence if thou wilt keep my courts. We can no longer live the life we did before salvation became a fact, or as we ourselves desire, we must submit to the commandments of God. It is only if we keep the commandments of God, and only then we shall be allowed to judge angels (see 1 Corinthians 6,3). In verse 7 is the angel of the Lord, the Son, who speaks, and in verses 8-10, it is the Lord of hosts, the Father, who speaks.
Also here in Zechariah we find typology, where an event is set up as a type of a future event, and the future event is then the antitype. Here in Zechariah, Joshua is made into a type of the Saviour to come. It is also prophesied that the Sprout, the servant of God, will come.
Verse 9 For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone [shall be] seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. Verse 10 In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbor under the vine and under the fig tree.
Joshua was an image of Christ, here referred to as my servant, the Branch (verse 8) to come. What is interesting is that the stone that was presented had seven eyes. What else has seven eyes? In Revelation 5,6 we read that the Lamb has seven eyes: And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
Who or what is this stone? Many believe that the Hebrew word eben, which is translated here as servant (verse 8), refers to Christ. Others believe it refers to the kingdom of God. However, this expression is inextricably linked to David. When Ezekiel spoke of the coming Messiah, he called him my servant David, (Ezekiel 34,23-24; 37,24). Zerubbabel was of the seed of David, and about him the Lord said: I will make thee like a signet ring. For I have chosen you. A signature ring was a costly piece of jewelry that was well taken care of and that the owner always wore on his finger. Thus the Lord has chosen Zerubbabel and will take care of his seed until the promises of his descendant Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God are established in glory. On that day, declares the LORD Almighty, I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, declares the LORD, and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you declares the LORD Almighty, Haggai 2,23 … … and in Psalm 118,22 we read about the stone [which] the builders refused is become the head [stone] of the corner.
I mean there is a Christ prophecy here in verse 9, and that this stone is a symbol of Jesus Christ to come. God the Father says he will remove the iniquity of the land in one day. This was fulfilled on Good Friday in the year 31 when Jesus died on the cross. Then salvation was for all who will receive Christ as their Savior secured once and for all. The vine is another familiar image of Christ, it is something we have from Jesus’ own words. In John 15,1 Jesus says of himself: I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. What or who the fig tree is a picture of is perhaps a little harder to understand. In Hosea 9,10 we find the following about the fig tree: I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the first ripe in the fig tree at her first time: [but] they went to Baal-Peor and separated themselves unto [that] shame; and [their] abominations were according as they loved.
How should we interpret this? God says through the prophet Hosea that He saw their fathers, that is, the fathers of Israel, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as the firstfruits, these were the firstfruits of the fig tree. Then we must think of the story of Abraham. He was called by God to leave his home and his family. It was Jesus who revealed himself to Abraham every time he had a heavenly visit in one way or another. The fig tree that bears fruit in this verse is Jesus. Verse 10 will then be understood as such. It is God the Father, the Lord of Hosts, who says that when the time comes, everyone will invite their neighbor to enter into salvation in Jesus Christ, (under the vine and the fig tree).