The Book of Zechariah - Part 1

Zechariah's prophecies is among the most difficult to understand. His book is the longest among the minor prophets. There is actually no clear rule in rating prophets as minor or major except for the length of their books. and therefore to me, his book should be placed after the book of either Daniel or Hosea. It was actually the time of writing that his book was placed second to the last in the Old testament, before the Prophet Malachi.

Zechariah introduced himself as the son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo. His first vision occurred in the eighth month of the second year of King Darius of the Persian Empire (Zech 1:1). This is about 520 BC and was the time when Judah had already returned to Judah after their seventy years of exile in Babylon. It was the Persian Empire under Cyrus the Great, the Persian who defeated Babylon and liberated the Jews. During the time of Zechariah, Jerusalem was being rebuilt from ruins that she suffered from the Babylonian invasion.

Zechariah had eight visions which we will discuss one by one:

  1. Man among the myrtle trees

  2. The four horns and the four craftsmen

  3. The surveyor measuring Jerusalem

  4. Joshua the priest

  5. The lamp stand and the olive trees

  6. The flying scroll

  7. The woman in the basket

  8. The four chariots of judgment

The first vision portrays the love of God to Zion, the City of Jerusalem. God promised salvation and prosperity for His people.

Zech 1:8-21
8 During the night I had a vision — and there before me was a man riding a red horse! He was standing among the myrtle trees in a ravine. Behind him were red, brown and white horses. 9 I asked, "What are these, my lord?" The angel who was talking with me answered, "I will show you what they are." 10 Then the man standing among the myrtle trees explained, "They are the ones the LORD has sent to go throughout the earth." 11 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." 12 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?" 13 So the LORD spoke kind and comforting words to the angel who talked with me. 14 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, 15 but I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry, but they added to the calamity.' 16 "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. 17 "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.'" 18 Then I looked up — and there before me were four horns! 19 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." 20 Then the LORD showed me four craftsmen. 21 I asked, "What are these coming to do?" He answered, "These are the horns that scattered Judah so that no one could raise his 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."

1. Man among the myrtle trees

The first part of the vision is about the man standing among the myrtle trees. It speaks only about Judah and Jerusalem (verse 12). Judah is singled out in this vision since it very special to God to fulfill the prophecy about the Messiah who is to come from the tribe of Judah.

Gen 49:9-10
9 You are a lion's cub, O Judah ; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness — who dares to rouse him? 10 The sceptre will not depart from Judah, or the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he [Jesus Christ] comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.

The vision is also about the Millennium when Jerusalem, also called Zion, the great city of Judah will again overflow with prosperity and the Third Temple will be rebuilt as prophesied by Ezekiel. Some say it was fulfilled when Jesus Christ came when the Holy Temple was rebuilt by Herod the Great (my house will be rebuilt) during the Roman rule. It may have been fulfilled in part but was not the true fulfillment since Jerusalem was again destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. The real fulfillment of God's prophecies for Judah will only occur when Jesus Christ Himself will reign over Israel starting in the Millennium and then the sceptre will no longer depart from Judah. Right now, Israel is not yet overflowing with prosperity and peace since she is still troubled and surrounded by her enemies.

2. The four horns and the four craftsmen

The second part of the vision is the four horns. According to the man in the vision, these are the four kingdoms that scattered not only Judah and Jerusalem but also the Northern Kingdom, the House of Israel. These kingdoms are also discussed in Who Are the Ten Horns of the Beast? - Part 1 and Part 2. Why is the House of Israel now included? Remember that the House of Israel was conquered by the Assyrian Empire then all the inhabitants were taken as captives to Assyria, never to return. Later on, Babylon conquered Assyria, then Persia conquered Babylon, then the Macedonian Empire under Alexander the Great took control, then finally the Romans. It was the Persians who actually freed the House of Judah, reunited them and helped them rebuilt Jerusalem and the Holy Temple. Nevertheless, they still affect the lives of Israel who remained captives in Babylon. Like Daniel, the empires that counted affecting Israel start with Babylon. Assyria was not represented in the image of the man whose head is made of gold (Dan 2:37-38) and the first beast  (Dan 7:4) that will rise ahead of Daniel's time (Dan 7:17). The head of gold represents Babylon. But in the last days, Babylon will be two kingdoms symbolized by the lion and an eagle. Read also The Alliance of Great Nations and the Fall of Babylon and The Antichrist for more details on the last days Babylon. We should also take note that those kingdoms in the past shall again come into existence in the last days to confirm the covenant. By then, they will still be the same four beasts but will become a hybrid into one big beast (Rev 13:2).

So to me, the four empires representing the four horns are also Babylon (lion with eagle's wings), the Persian Empire (bear), the Macedonian Empire (leopard with four heads with bird's wings) and the Roman Empire (strange beast). Read Dan 7:3-7 about these beasts. Read also Who Are the Ten Horns of the Beast? - Part 1 and Part 2. The vision of Zechariah is not only about scattering people physically but also to lose the cultural, social and spiritual heritage. They also lost their language and race. All the tribes were lost, except for Judah who was prophesied to carry on the royal sceptre which was fulfilled through the coming of Jesus Christ. That's why today, we do not even know where the rest of the twelve tribes are. And we think that Israel today represents the twelve tribes. Israel as we know today consists only of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin with some of the Levites (having no territory of their own). They are the descendants of the Jews who returned from Babylonian captivity. The rest are somewhere, we call them the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel or simply the Lost Sheep of Israel. Read Israel, The Divided House for more details.

The third part of the vision is about the four craftsmen. The craftsmen "have come to terrify them (four horns) and throw down these horns of the nations." In short, these are not the enemy of Israel but actually the liberators. Zechariah says the four craftsmen will terrify and throw down the four horns, the enemies of Israel. This is about the last days scenario. The horns will resurrect as modern empires to become just one strange and diverse beast with ten horns and seven heads as prophesied in Rev 13:1-2. Read also The Powerful Delusion, A Great Lie to understand more on this beast. Who are the four craftsmen? These are no other than the Four Angels of the Apocalypse.

Rev 9:14-16
14 It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates." 15 And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. 16 The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. I heard their number.

Read also Rev 7:1-2. The four angels will come during the Day of the Lord, the time of God's vengeance and the destruction of the enemy of God and His people. The mounted troops are no other than the Army of God. Read Greenland: The Camp of God's Army - Part 1 and Part 2 for more on this army. Check the archives for so many other prophecies by the minor prophets on the the Day of the Lord.

We will continue with our study of Zechariah's visions next week.

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