Zechariah 4 Commentary: Verses 1-7

Zechariah 4 Commentary: We’re going to be studying the fifth vision given to Zechariah. So, let’s turn our attention to the 4th chapter of that book – Zechariah chapter 4. 

We’ll cover only the first 7 verses of this chapter today, but let’s go ahead and read the whole chapter for context. 

[Read Zec 4

Angel Wakes Zechariah 

So, the first thing we discover in this new vision is that Zechariah has fallen asleep and that he needs to be awakened. 

KJV Zechariah 4:1 ¶ [And/Then] the [angel/angelic messenger] [that talked/who was speaking/who had been speaking/who talked] with me [came again/returned/then returned], and [waked/roused/woke/wakened/awakened] me, as [when…] a [man/person] that is [wakened/awakened] [out of his/from his/from] sleep, 

Now, it’s hard to know why Zechariah had fallen asleep here. It’s not that he was bored with what he was seeing. We already saw in the last vision involving Joshua the high priest that Zechariah was pretty excited about the proceedings. 

So, it’s not boredom that led Zechariah to sleep. Rather, it seems that receiving visions like Zechariah is experiencing can be an exhausting process. 

Twice, the prophet Daniel – after receiving a vision from the Lord – says that he sank or fell “into a deep sleep with his face to the ground” (Dan 8:18, 10:9) Daniel also reported to being “exhausted and sick for days” after receiving one of his visions. (Dan 8:27) 

The point is that apparently receiving visions from the Lord can be quite a draining experience. And this is probably why Zechariah falls asleep and has to be awakened at this point by the communicating angel. Not because he’s bored – but because he’s exhausted. 

Angel Asks Zechariah a Question 

Well, this angel has a question for the previously-sleeping prophet in verse 2. 

2 [And said unto/He said to/He asked/And he said to] me,  

What [seest thou/do you see]?  

Now, this question is a fairly common one that God tends to ask his prophets as he’s giving them visions. 

He asked Jeremiah this question three times, Amos twice, and Zechariah twice. So, prophets do tend to get this question from the Lord not infrequently. 

And of course, the Lord doesn’t need information from these prophets. It’s not that he can’t see whatever it is that he’s calling attention to and needs the prophet’s help to discover what’s there. 

The Lord is asking this question to get the prophet thinking and to introduce the prophet to the subject that he wants to expound upon. 

Zechariah Answers Angel’s Question 

So, what is it that the Lord wants to show Zechariah in this vision that is going to setup the message of this vision? We continue verse 2 discovering that right in front of Zechariah there is a golden candlestick. 

[And I said/I replied/I answered],  

I [have looked, and behold/see, and behold,/see] a [candlestick all of gold/lampstand all of gold/menorah of pure gold/solid gold lampstand], [with/and] [a/its] [bowl/receptacle] [upon/on/at] [the top of it/the top/it], and [his seven/its seven/seven] [lamps/lights] [thereon/on it/upon it], [and/with] [seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof:/seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on the top of it;/fourteen pipes going to the lamps./seven channels to the lights./seven oil funnels to the lamps upon it:] 

So, Zechariah sees a candlestick or lampstand made of gold. I think the setup is that there is some sort of bowl or receptacle at the top of this item and probably seven pipes going down the main body of the lampstand leading to fourteen lamps – seven on each side of the lamp. That’s my understanding of what Zechariah is seeing here. 

Now, in Hebrew, the word we have translated for us as “lampstand” or “candlestick” is actually menorah. You’ve heard of that, because to this day for the Jewish holiday of Hanukah they light this kind of thing – this menorah. 

And of course, the Jewish holiday of Hanukah – which was instituted a few hundred years before Christ’s first coming – is not the first time God’s people used this kind of lighting device. The menorah was a main piece of the holy furniture in the Tabernacle. It was placed in the holy place on the south side opposite the table. So, one of these items was found in the Tabernacle. 

And then in the Temple, there were – not just one, but – ten menorahs. 

So, I would imagine that in the context of Zechariah’s time there was a heightened awareness of the Temple furniture – since the main task of the Jews at this point in their history was to rebuild the Temple. And surely on the mind of many would have been the awareness that the Temple was supposed to have several of these menorahs. And so, that’s just what the Lord is showing to Zechariah. 

Now, of course, so far in this vision, there’s nothing that unusual. All that Zechariah is being shown is a golden menorah. People have seen those before. 

But what surely no one would be expecting is the fuel source for this menorah, which is described for us by Zechariah in verse 3. 

3 [And/also/There are also/Also there are] two olive trees [by/beside/above] it, one [upon/on] the [right side/right] of the [bowl/receptacle], and [the other/one] [upon/on] [the left side thereof/its left side/the left/its left]. 

So, now picture this menorah with the bowl on the top of a large column. And from that bowl, there are seven pipes on each side running down and to the side to where seven small lamps are on each side. And surrounding all of that are two olive trees – on the right and the left. 

So, that’s what Zechariah sees. It’s plain to him what he’s seeing – he’s even able to describe it to this angel who’s speaking to him. 

Zechariah Asks Angel a Question 

And yet, Zechariah has no idea what the meaning of all of this is. And so, he asks in verse 4. 

4 [So I/Then I/I/And I] [answered and spake to/said to/asked/inquired, and spoke to] the [angel/messenger] [that talked/who was speaking/who spoke/who talked] [with me, saying,/with me,]  

What are [these/these things], [my lord/sir]? 

Now, Zechariah’s question initially might sound like he doesn’t know what he’s seeing. But that’s of course not the case. He has just accurately described for this angel what he sees. It’s a menorah surrounded by two olive trees. That much Zechariah knows. 

So, when Zechariah asks, “what are these?” he’s not saying that he can’t make-out what these things are or that he can’t identify the objects that are in his view. 

What Zechariah is inquiring about is the meaning of these things. What does it mean that he’s seeing a menorah surrounded by two olive trees? What is the significance of what he’s being shown? 

Dialog Between Angel and Zechariah 

And apparently, the angel thinks that the meaning is sort of obvious. At least that’s how I tend to read the angel’s response in verse 5. 

5 [Then/So/And] the angel [that talked/who was speaking] with me answered and said unto me, [He replied… or He answered…

[Knowest thou not/Do you not know/Don’t you know] what these [be/are]?  

So, I don’t want to read too much into his response, but I say that this sounds like the angel is maybe a little surprised that Zechariah doesn’t understand the meaning of this vision of the menorah and olive trees. 

And if you had never read beyond chapter 4 and verse 5 of this book, you would have no clue either what the meaning of this vision is.  

If I were to open it up here and ask each person to come up to the podium and explain for us the meaning of this vision, I don’t know what the exact number would be, but I would guess that a number of us wouldn’t be able to explain the meaning of this vision yet. 

But this angel seems almost surprised that Zechariah doesn’t understand what he’s seeing. One translation has the angel saying, “Don’t you know what these are?” That, to me, sounds like a near amazement that Zechariah can’t figure this out. 

And we need to remember at this point that angels are oftentimes let in on more than we humans know. Angels are constantly – especially in this book – they’re the ones sent with a message from God. They already know the message. It’s the humans that they’re sent to that don’t. 

Angels – at least some of them – have direct access to God’s presence. There are scenes in the Bible where angels are given access to God’s heavenly courts. 

And so, it’s an interesting and humbling thought that sometimes our ignorance amazes angels. 

And your response to that concept that you are lower than the angels could produce frustration and anger. Or you could respond like Zechariah responds at the end of verse 5 with frankness and humility. 

[And I/So I/I] [said/responded],  

No, [my lord/sir]. 

So, Zechariah sees this menorah surrounded by two olive trees and he has no idea what it all means. We’ve gone through five verses and we don’t know what we’re reading yet! And if you’re tempted to be frustrated about that, take a cue from Zechariah who deals with this all in stride and with an honest and humble response. 

Angel Explains Vision 

So now, the angel is going to start clarifying some things about this vision. And it turns out that this vision is intended to be very encouraging to Zerubbabel – who is the governor of Judah at this time in history – according to what we read in verse 6. 

6 [Then/Therefore/So] he [answered and spake unto me, saying,/said to me/told me]  

[This is/These signify] the word of the LORD [unto Zerubbabel, saying,/to Zerubbabel]  

Not by [might/strength/LXX: mighty power], [nor/and not] by [power/LXX: strength], but by my [spirit/Spirit],  

[saith/says] the LORD [of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty]. 

So, that’s what this vision means – at least this is the beginning of the explanation of what this vision means. 

Not by might or strength. Not by power. But by my Spirit, says the Lord. 

The word translated as “might” here often refers to an army. And where it doesn’t refer to an army it describes the quality of something being powerful or loud or grand. 

So, the Lord is saying that something is “not by” this – by armies or the power that they possess. 

And this something is also “not by power.”  

Power is several times the adjective used in relation to how the Lord delivered Israel from Egypt. In that case, it’s a good thing.  

But numerous times, it speaks of not God’s strength but man’s strength. It’s what the judge Samson used to press against the columns of the pagan temple he found himself a captive in. And God is saying here that this is not what he’s looking for either – human strength. 

So, it’s not armies that are going to accomplish what God wants accomplished. It’s not human strength and superiority that’s going to do it, either. 

It’s by his Spirit. 

Well, what’s by his Spirit?  

According to verse 7 – it’s some monumental task that Zerubbabel is heading-up that feels like climbing a steep mountain. And the Lord is going to directly address that mountain in verse 7, asking it a question. 

7 [Who art thou/What are you], [O/you] [great/mighty] mountain? 

So, the Lord addresses this mountain. And I wouldn’t be surprised – because this is a vision that God is developing before Zechariah’s eyes – if there was actually a mountain now that appears in this vision. Maybe it’s off in the distance or closer by. 

But here stands this mountain. And the Lord denounces it and really mocks it. As if to say to a person, “Who are you?!” But because it’s an inanimate object he refers to it not by the question of “who” but with the question, “what.” What are you? 

And the answer that that kind of question is expecting is “Well, I’m nothing! That’s what I am!” 

But mountains are something. Try to walk through one and you’ll soon discover that there is some real substance to that mountain. 

But what God’s going to say here is that Zerubbabel is going to flatten this mountain. 

[before/Because of] Zerubbabel [thou shalt become/you will become] [a plain/a level plain/level ground]: 

And again, maybe in this vision, Zechariah is seeing this actually happen. Zerubbabel comes up to this large mountain and all of a sudden, the mountain flattens out. I don’t know. That’s a possibility. It is a vision, after all. 

So, that much is clear in a way. There’s a mountain. God speaks to it and tells it that Zerubbabel will flatten it. 

But as is often the case in these visions, we’re left wondering what is the real meaning behind what’s being presented in the vision. Is Zerubbabel actually in real life going to go find a mountain and literally flatten it? 

No. And the reality that’s encapsulated in this vision about the mountain is expressed in the last few words of verse 7. 

[and/then] he [shall/will] bring [forth/out] the [headstone thereof/the top stone/temple capstone] [with/to] [shoutings, crying,/shoutings of/shouts of]  

[Grace/God bless it!], [grace unto it/Grace!” because of this/God bless it!]. 

So, what did we just see? The mountain that was under discussion – in reality is not a literal mountain at all.  

How do I know that? 

Well, do mountains have headstones? The kind of stone that you top-off a building with. Do mountains naturally have those? Do they need that kind of stone? No. 

Mountains do not need headstones. But I know what does. An ancient building would need a headstone. 

And let’s all think really hard about an ancient building that would have been at the center of Israel’s thoughts at this point in their history. 

Remember, the Jews had been kicked-out of Jerusalem and Judah by the Babylonians in 586 BC. They had remained in exile in Babylon and then in Persia for about 70 years. And now, they’re back in the land. God sent them back to rebuild an ancient building. What was that building? 

It was the temple – the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. It had been destroyed by Babylon. And the Lord now sent his people back to Jerusalem to rebuild that building. That building that – when it was finished – would have a final headstone placed on the top of it. 

And so, what we see God saying here is that this headstone will indeed be placed on the temple. And Zerubbabel will be the one to do it. 

Now, the project felt like it was a mountain. Impassable! Arduous to scale! Too much for any mere man. 

And they were right. God says here in this vision that this kind of activity is not going to be accomplished by armies. Not by might. And it’s not going to be accomplished by human strength. 

The only way that God’s work will get done is by God’s spirit. And there should have been no question in the minds of these people that God’s Spirit was indeed going to work. He had sent them back to this city for this very purpose. Was God really going to abandon them? 

Well, it felt like it to them. In fact, you need to remember that these people got discouraged about the work and they just quit for 16 years. That’s detailed in Ezra 4.  

I think some of us feel abandoned by the Lord when things don’t go our way throughout a single day – and these people experienced what seemed to be God’s unwillingness to help them for 16 long boring years! 

And this is why God’s people need clear sound God-ordained prophecy – in other words, preaching! Ezra 5:1-2 says this – after 16 years of failure and lack of leadership and going nowhere for God’s people: 

KJV Ezra 5:1 ¶ Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, [whose book we’ve now been studying for a few months…] prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them. [and here’s the result that can be achieved when God sends his prophets to preach to his people…

2 Then rose up Zerubbabel [the man we’ve been hearing about so much in this vision!] the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua [the high priest whom we’ve seen in the last vision!] the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them. 

And how do you suppose that the prophets helped God’s people get the work done? Maybe some of the prophets’ ministry was to pick up tools and materials and to start building. But I think more likely their help was in giving encouraging prophesies like Zechariah has been giving in this book of his. The prophets’ main job was to proclaim God’s word to God’s people by God’s Spirit. 

So, God sent his prophets after 16 long years of discouragement. And not by might nor by power but by God’s Holy Spirit encouraging his people through his prophets, the mountain of rebuilding the temple was finally completed. And Zerubbabel the governor of the Jews at this point is the one who ends up bringing the finishing touch to the temple with this headstone. 

And it’s all by God’s grace.  “Grace! Grace to it!” he surely shouted as did all the other Jews when they saw that final stone being slipped into place. 

And that’s basically what we hear happening in Ezra 6:14-16 

KJV Ezra 6:14 And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered [how? what did God use to make them prosper?…] through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo.  

And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia. 

15 And [this house/the temple] was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king. 

16 ¶ And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy, 

So, there’s joy as God’s people meet with success as they obey God’s commands through the help of God’s prophets. 

Brethren, how we need good solid preaching in our lives! How we need to make this a priority! We ourselves need to be in God’s word daily. We need to talk to one another about God’s word.  

When’s the last time you had a conversation with someone in this church about God’s word? Don’t you know that you can be a prophet, too? You can encourage someone with God’s word! 

Paul the Apostle in 1 Corinthians tells that church there that if they all prophesy some lost people will come in and fall on their faces and acknowledge that God is in them of a truth. Do you want that to be the reaction of lost people when they come into our midst? If so, we need to be prophesying – speaking God’s words to one another – and to them. 

Paul the Apostle also states in that same section of 1 Corinthians that prophesying builds up the body of Christ. Do you want to build one another up? Start talking to me about God’s word – I’ll make it that personal. Come up to me sometime between or after services and let’s talk about God’s word. I promise you that as we do that kind of thing with each other, we will all be strengthened in our walks with Christ. 

We’re just like the Jews of old. We are easily discouraged. We can very quickly be distracted from the tasks that God has for us through that discouragement. And God has given us a providential means to strengthen our faith. And it’s called prophesying – simply, speaking God’s words to one another – talking to each other about what those words mean to you and how they’ve helped you. 

This is not just for supposedly super-spiritual Christians and everyone else gets a bye – as if everyone except the pastor and maybe the Sunday School teacher isn’t required to do this. No – we all can be sharing God’s word with each other. 

But you really need to actually be reading God’s word in order to even begin to do this kind of activity. So, are you in God’s word in any sort of regular way? If at the beginning of Sunday School we had a time set-aside to talk to someone else in the room about what you’ve been reading in the Bible, would you have anything to say?  

Or would your answer be “Well, I honestly haven’t read anything in the Bible this week”? Or would it be, “Well, I read the assigned reading for this day according to my Bible reading plan” with no real ability to share anything beyond the fact that you placed a black X inside of the box next to each of the days of the week? 

Or would you actually be able to communicate with someone else how God’s word has touched you this week? How the Bible has instructed you or comforted you or warned you against going astray? 

Folks, this is real life and we need real encouragement. And God has ordained that this mutual encouragement be carried out in the context of believers meeting in localities and prophesying to one another. 

So, to recap, this is how God would rebuild the temple through Zerubbabel – not by human strength of any sort – but by his Spirit using his prophets to speak encouragement to his people. 

And this is also how God intends to do good in the lives of his people today – in the lives of Christians – you and me. By his Spirit. Through his word. Ministered to us by one another and to the lost. 

And, next time we’ll study the second half of this vision and see some other really fascinating details in that section as well. 

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Verses 6-10

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Verses 6-10 | Let’s return to our study of the 4th vision that the prophet Zechariah received – which is found in the 3rd chapter of his book. Zechariah 3. And we’ll be studying the last five verses of this chapter, but we’ll start by reading the whole chapter for context.

[Read Zec 3…]

So, we saw several things in the first five verses of this chapter.

We had the introduction where five characters were identified.

Then we had the angel of the Lord speak to and rebuke Satan who was accusing Joshua the high priest.

We then saw the angel of the Lord direct some helpers who surrounded Joshua to remove his dirty clothes and replace them with clean ones.

The angel of the Lord – whom I believe is Jesus Christ – then pronounced forgiveness of Joshua’s sins.

And finally, Zechariah contributed to the vision by asking that a clean turban be placed on the high priest’s head.

So, up to that point what we’ve basically seen really serves as an introduction to the real message of the rest of this vision. There are a lot of symbolic activities and actions in the first five verses.

But now we’re going to study the message that goes along with these actions. It’s a message of hope for the present and the future – with the promise of a mysterious being known as God’s “servant, the Branch.”

So, let’s study the details of Zechariah 3:6-10.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: To Joshua (6-8)

Now, after those symbolic actions of removing old filthy clothing and replacing it with new pure clean clothing, the angel of the Lord now has instructions for Joshua.

6 ¶ [And the/Then the/The] angel of the LORD [protested unto Joshua, saying,/admonished Joshua, saying,/exhorted Joshua solemnly:/gave this charge to Joshua:] [LXX: testified to Jesus, saying,]

And what we’re going to see now is that this message that the angel of the Lord is giving to Joshua comes right from the Lord of Hosts in verse 7.

7 [Thus saith/Thus says/X says/This is what X says] the LORD [of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty – NIV/LXX];

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Conditional Promise

And the Lord of Hosts is going to issue a conditional statement to Joshua. It’s a conditional promise.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Condition

So, here’s the condition that needs to be met in order for the promise to kick-in.

If thou wilt walk in my ways, [i.e., if you live according to my requirements…]
and if thou wilt [keep my charge/perform my service/keep my requirements], [i.e., if you work according to my requirements…]

So, that’s the condition. Joshua needs to live and work according to the Lord’s requirements.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Promise

And here comes the promise.

As I can tell, it seems that the promise has two components.

First, there’s an aspect of this promise that is temporal – for Joshua’s current situation.

And second, there’s an aspect of this promise that is eternal.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Temporal

First, the temporal part of the promise.

[then thou shalt also judge/then you will also govern/you will be able to preside over] my [house/temple],
and [shalt also keep/also have charge of/attend to/have charge of] my [courts/courtyards],

So, that’s the part of this promise that’s temporal – for this life. Joshua will be able to continue serving the Lord if his life is right before God.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Eternal

And now, second, we have the eternal part of this promise.

and I will [give thee places to walk/grant you free access/allow you to come and go/will give you a place] among these [that stand by/who are standing here/others who are standing by you/standing here].

Zechariah 3 Commentary: These That Stand By

And I say, this is an eternal promise, because – who are these individuals who are identified as “these that stand by?” I believe that these are heavenly beings.

Remember the beginning of this vision. Joshua is standing before two heavenly beings – the angel of the Lord and Satan. And then the angel of the Lord gives a command concerning Joshua’s clothing – he says to some individuals that we had been previously unaware of “remove his filthy clothes.” “To whom is he talking?” is what we’re left wondering.

And then Zechariah speaks up and commands these unidentified beings as well concerning the kind of garment that should be on Joshua’s head. And apparently the commands are carried out by these beings standing around and taking-in all this action.

So, I think that these commands that have been given in this vision so far are commands to angels – to ministering spirits who are sent forth to minister to them that shall be heirs of salvation – as the book of Hebrews calls them.

So, when the angel of the Lord states that he will give Joshua places to walk or free access among angels, I think the conclusion is unavoidable that he’s offering the potential of eternal life to Joshua. Because no one in this temporal life gets to walk among angels.

And this conforms to other truth we know. Jesus Christ promised believers – those who confess and do not deny him – that he will confess us in the presence of these beings – these angels. And the context there is speaking of the day of judgement and into eternity.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Verse 7 Summary

So, to summarize verse 7, the angel of the Lord has just made a conditional promise – if Joshua lives and works according to the Lord’s requirements, then he will be blessed with the privilege of serving the Lord now in this life and of having access to the heavenly realms thereafter.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: The Branch

Now, those blessed promises that the angel of the Lord has just offered Joshua are followed-up in verse 8 by an even more exciting promise – the promise of the Lord’s coming servant – known simply as “the Branch.”

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Command to Listen

And the promise begins with a command for Joshua to listen.

8 [Hear now/Now listen/Listen now/Listen], [O Joshua/Joshua] [LXX: Jesus] the high priest, thou, and thy [fellows/friends/colleagues/associates] [that sit/who are sitting] before thee:

[for they/indeed they] are men [wondered at/who are a symbol/who are symbolic of things to come] [LXX: diviners]:

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Identity of the Fellows That Sit

So, my question is – who are these people that the angel of the Lord commands to listen – along with Joshua? Because whoever they are, they’re apparently some sort of symbol or at least they have something to do with the message as it moves forward from here. So, it’s important to attempt to identify them.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Are They Angels?

Are these “fellows” or “friends” or “colleagues” or “associates” – are they the angels that we saw before? Are they the ones who took orders from the angel of the Lord and from Zechariah as to how Joshua the high priest ought to be clothed?

Zechariah 3 Commentary: They Are Sitting, Not Standing

I don’t think so. And here’s why. Notice the posture of these people. They’re sitting.

But how is everyone else in this vision positioned? Well, in verse 1 Joshua is standing and Satan is standing. In verse 3 Joshua is still standing. In verse 4 the angel of the Lord addresses the angels that are there to help and minister and they’re standing. And in verse 5 the angel of the Lord is also standing.

So, we’ve seen Joshua, Satan, the angel of the Lord, and these heavenly helpers in the position of standing so far in this vision.

And now all of a sudden, the angel of the Lord addresses Joshua and … those who are sitting before him. So, either this group consists of those angels from before and they just now took a seat. Or more likely in my mind this group that’s identified as sitting in verse 8 is a different group than we’ve seen before.

And while that seems a little strange to us – that there’s all of a sudden this new group of individuals presented to us with no warning – this is not such an unusual occurrence in this book. I commented last time about things and people being introduced with very little or even no introduction or even details in visions like this one.

So, who are these people sitting before Joshua, if they’re not angels?

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Other Priests

Well, the angel of the Lord describes them as Joshua’s “fellows” or “colleagues” or “associates.” These men then are ones who work alongside of Joshua.

Now, Joshua as we’ve heard is the high priest. So, who works with the high priest? Other priests, right?

So, I imagine Joshua standing there and around him are these other priests sitting and watching these proceedings in this vision that was given to Zechariah.

How many priests were sitting around Joshua? I don’t know. We’re not told, and I don’t think we’re even given any hints beyond the fact that there are more than one of them. There might be seven based on the seven eyes that we’re going to hear about later. But that’s just a guess.

OK, so that’s the identity of these men. They’re other unnamed priests. And they’re sitting before Joshua.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Men Wondered At

And then we’re told that Joshua and these men are to be marveled at – or that they symbolize something. Well, what do they symbolize?

They are in some way an indication that the Lord is going to bring his servant the Branch.

[for, behold, I will/for behold I am going to/that I am about to/I am going to] [bring forth/bring in/introduce/bring] my servant the BRANCH.

But what does Joshua and his priestly associates have to do with this servant who’s identified as “the BRANCH?” How are these men symbolic of this coming one that Israel was to be expecting?

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Branch is King

Well, the earlier prophet Jeremiah foretold the coming of this person. But in both of the references that he makes to the Branch, this person is foretold as being – not a priest like Zechariah and his associates, but – a king. The king of Israel.

So, we actually have to look ahead in this book – in the book of Zechariah – in order to get some idea of what the Lord means here. So, if you would, for a moment just look ahead to Zechariah 6. Verses 12 and 13 is what I want us to notice.

Zechariah 6:12-13 falls in the context of a vision in which Joshua – the main character of the vision we’ve been studying – is presented with a crown. Hmm. A priest is going to wear a crown like a king? What does that mean? Well, here’s some explanation.

KJV Zechariah 6:12 And speak unto [him/Joshua], saying,

Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying,

Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:

 13 Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest [i.e., like Joshua…] upon his throne [i.e., like the king that the Branch has been prophesied to be…]: and the counsel of peace shall be between [them both/both of those offices of king and priest].

So, this Branch is going to be both a priest and a king. That’s the big piece of information that I want us to take from those two verses. Yes, this man known as the Branch will be king. But he’s also a priest.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Jesus the Messiah is a Priest

And this description fits Jesus Christ the Messiah. The book of Hebrews reveals him as a priest – not like Zechariah – not according to the order of Aaron, but according to the order of Melchizedek. The Gospel of John records what we refer to as Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer” for his disciples. Jesus Christ the Messiah – the Branch – is a priest.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Jesus the Messiah is a King

But Jesus Christ is also a king. The angel told his mother Mary that he would rule on the throne of his father David. Especially toward the end of his earthly life, there was a lot said about his being the King of Israel – and even though his own people rejected his reign and even though the Gentiles mocked him for his claim, yet he is still a King.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Jesus the Messiah is a King and Priest

So, in summary, Jesus Christ is both priest and king. Jesus – the Branch – the Messiah – the King – the Priest. That’s who he is.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: A Sign of Ultimate Fulfillment

And so, Zechariah and his fellow-priests are to be a symbol that this Branch will come – the one who would be both king and priest. How does that work? Well, the fact that these priests still existed as God brought the Jews back from exile means that some day God would bring his ultimate priest – Jesus.

That’s how these men symbolize that God is going to bring his servant the Branch – the priest who is also going to be the king.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: To Zechariah (9-10)

So, moving on, the angel of the Lord seems to abruptly shift focus to the reality that there’s a stone sitting in front of Joshua in this vision in verse 9.

9 [For behold/As for/See] the stone that I have [laid/set] [before/in front of] Joshua [LXX: Jesus];

Zechariah 3 Commentary: The Stone

So, Zechariah is admonished to “behold” or “see” this stone. And the reality is of course that we ourselves can’t see the stone. In fact, we had no idea that there was a stone up to this point. And this kind of thing keeps happening in this vision – where we’re not aware of something until we’re abruptly told about it.

But now we know that there is a stone and it’s “laid before” or “set in front of” Joshua in this vision.

But, again, we can’t see or behold this stone that’s sitting in front of Joshua. And that’s probably why the angel of the Lord continues and gives a bit of an explanation of this stone.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: What the Stone Looks Like

And what we’ll see is that most of the description given has to do with the appearance of this stone.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Eyes on the Stone

First, I would assume that you wouldn’t have guessed that this stone has eyes. But it does – seven of them. Or, at least it will have these eyes at some point.

[upon/on/on the/on that] one stone [shall be/are/there are]seven eyes:

Jesus Referred to Himself as a Stone

So, let’s notice first that the Messiah who is promised in this book of Zechariah – whom we now know to be Jesus Christ – that he referred to himself as a stone.

Do you remember where and to whom he said that? Jesus reminded the religious leaders who were rejecting him that Psalm 118 states, “the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone.”

And what Jesus was saying there is that the builders – Israel’s religious leadership – was rejecting the very stone that is the foundation of the building. How foolish of those men! To reject the only foundation upon which the rest of the building would rely. They weren’t very wise builders.

But, this is what Jesus said – that he’s to be compared to a stone. A corner stone that serves as the foundation.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: The Branch is a Stone

And of course, here in Zechariah, the Lord had just promised to send the Messiah – his servant the Branch.

So, I think it’s natural to see this reference to a stone as being another reference to the coming Messiah. He’s a branch. And he’s a stone.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Seven Eyes

And he has seven eyes. What does that mean?

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Literally

Actually – I think we know pretty well what it means on one level. In this vision of Zechariah’s, he’s being directed to look at a literal stone with seven literal eyes on that stone. So, we know what it means in that regard.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Metaphorically

But, what does it really mean? What is God trying to communicate through showing Zechariah a stone – which symbolizes the Messiah – and that this stone has seven eyes?

Zechariah 3 Commentary: The Use of Eyes

Well, what do you do with your eyes? You look. You perceive. You come to understand. And you’re limited in that capacity because you only have two eyes.

But we’re told here that Messiah will have seven eyes.

Now, of course, when Jesus came we didn’t see him with literally seven eyes on his face. But we were confronted with a man who knew or perceived or understood everything.

The woman at the well in Samaria said as much to her fellow Samaritans in John 4:29 – “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: [and here’s her conclusion…] is not this the Christ?”

Jesus could perceive what people were thinking in their hearts. He knew who it was that would betray him before the betrayal ever took place. He told Peter to go to the sea and catch a fish and that there would be a coin in his mouth – and there was! He told his disciples exactly where to find the upper room where he would have his last Passover with them and they found it just as Jesus said they would.

The point is that Jesus was omniscient – he knew and knows everything. And anything that he chose not to know during his earthly ministry was his sovereign choice. That was part of his veiling his deity with humanity.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Jesus Knows Everything

And so, Jesus the Messiah is pictured here in Zechariah as knowing everything through the means of his seven eyes.

And interestingly enough, Jesus is pictured in the book of Revelation in chapter 5 verse 6 as “a Lamb, having seven eyes.” In that case, those seven eyes are described as “seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” So even there, the idea seems to be that he knows everything – those spirits – whatever they may be – are sent out into all the earth. And if something is in all the earth, it apparently knows what’s happening everywhere – it’s omniscient.

So, Jesus Christ has seven eyes – in the sense that he knows everything. That’s what this vision is preparing the Jews for – God’s servant, a branch, who will know everything.

And this is what Joshua and his associates who are sitting in front of him are supposed to symbolize. Maybe there are seven of his associates – I don’t know – the text doesn’t make that clear.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: The Engraving

Well, not only does this stone have seven eyes, it also has an engraving on it – some writing. Or at least it will have some writing at some point – likely future to this vision.

[behold, I will/I am about to/and I will] engrave [the graving thereof/an inscription on it], [saith/declares/says] the LORD [of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty],

Zechariah 3 Commentary: I Will

And I say that this will happen in the future simply because of the verb tense here in English – “I will.” This is something that the Lord promises to do to this stone.

And so, at some point in the future, the Lord says that he will engrave or carve something into this stone.

Now, of course, when you engrave or carve something into some material, it might be a picture of some kind. Or it could be words.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: The Wording

And so, what we see at the end of this verse is that the Lord will engrave some words on this stone. That’s what the angel of the Lord concludes with in this verse. Here’s what that engraving will say.

[and/to the effect that] I will remove the [iniquity/sin] of [that/this] land in [one/a single] day.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: One Day

So, just like the Lord mentions the “one” stone, so now he mentions “one” day. And in that one day, he will remove the iniquity of the land of Israel.

And this will certainly happen in the future when Jesus Christ – this stone with seven eyes and an engraving and this branch – when he comes to deliver his people Israel at the end of the Great Tribulation. He will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.

And the following passage that I’m going to read from Micah 3 is well-known because a man named George Frideric Handel decided to include it in his musical composition known entitled, Messiah. But this passage has a direct connection to our passage in Zechariah 3. Let me read Malachi 3:1-4.

KJV Malachi 3:1 ¶ Behold, I [the Lord speaking…] will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: [that’s John the Baptist…] and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, [this is Jesus now…] even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

 2 ¶ But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:

 3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

 4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.

Now, there’s a lot in these verses – but the big point I want us to see is that when Jesus comes he will purify his people. Micah talks about purifying the Levites, especially. Zechariah speaks of purifying the whole land.

And he’s going to do this in one single day.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Peace Everywhere

And when that happens – when the Lord removes the iniquity of Israel in one singe day, there will be peace everywhere according to verse 10.

10 In that day, [saith/declares/says] the LORD [of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty], [shall ye call every man/every one of you will invite/everyone will invite/each of you will invite] his [neighbor/friend to sit/friends to fellowship/neighbor to sit] under [the/his] vine and under [the/his] fig tree.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Vine and Fig Tree

Now, the picture of sitting under the vine and the fig tree is one that the Lord uses several times in the Old Testament. It’s a picture of peace.

Everyone “sat under his vine and fig tree” in Israel in the days of Solomon because of the peace that the Lord brought to his people through that king.

But, as Jesus said, when he was on this earth, one greater than Solomon was in their midst. And just as Jesus is greater than Solomon in all the ways that Solomon was great, so too the peace that Jesus will bring will be greater than Solomon’s peace.

When Jesus Christ returns and defeats the enemies of his people Israel, there will be worldwide peace. And it will last 1,000 years as the Prince of Peace reigns in Jerusalem over the entire world and Satan is bound for that period of time.

And just like Jesus Christ can forgive the iniquity of the land of Israel in one day, so too for anyone who has not yet received him, he is able to forgive your iniquity in one day. Come to him and trust him if you haven’t.

And then you’ll be looking forward with the rest of us who are anticipating the promised return of this Branch – this priest and king – who will bring a lasting peace greater than any that this world has seen.

Zechariah 3 Commentary Verses 1-5

Zechariah 3 Commentary: So far in our study of the book of Zechariah, we’ve seen three visions.

The first was a vision of horses. And the message to Zechariah and his people through that message was that God was aware that his people were suffering while those who oppressed them were doing just fine. And therefore, God was going to return to Jerusalem and his people with compassion.

The second vision featured four horns and four craftsmen. And the emphasis there was that God was going to destroy the enemies of his people – these nations that had oppressed the Jews.

The third vision had a man with a measuring line. And what we saw in that vision is basically a combination of the first two visions and then a progressing beyond them. There was more emphasis on God choosing Israel and determining to punish the nations that had oppressed them. But then he went further and promised to dwell in their midst and that Gentile nations would join themselves to the Lord at that time when God himself dwells in the midst of Israel.

And that brings us to the fourth vision in the book of Zechariah. So, let’s turn our attention to the 3rd chapter of the Old Testament minor prophet Zechariah – Zechariah 3.

We’re going to study the first five verses in this chapter, but we’ll read the entire chapter to get the full context.

[Read Zec 3…]

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Intro w/ 5 Characters (1)

So, to begin with, Zechariah sets the scene which he saw on that one night around 520 BC. And he identifies five characters that he saw in his night vision. See if you can pick them out as we read the first verse one more time.

KJV Zechariah 3:1 ¶ [And/Then/Next] [he shewed me/I saw] Joshua [LXX: Jesus] the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, [and/with] Satan [LXX: Devil] standing at his right [hand/side] to [resist/accuse] him.

So, who are the five characters introduced in this verse?

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Angel that Spoke with Zechariah

Well, the first character we become aware of in this vision is relatively minor. But he’s a player nonetheless. And that’s the angel that spoke with Zechariah. Now, he’s not identified by his full title in this vision, but we see him referred to as “he” – the second word in verse 1.

Who showed Zechariah these things? It’s this communicating angel – the angel that spoke “with” or even “in” Zechariah on this one night in 520 BC. He’s the first of five characters introduced in this verse.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Zechariah

The second character in order of appearance is Zechariah himself. He says that the angel showed “me.” Of course, that’s the prophet himself. And he plays a small but important role in this vision – both by receiving and then communicating the vision to us – and by suggesting that some action be taken later on in this vision. So, Zechariah is the second character in this vision.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Joshua

The third character is Joshua. He’s the high priest at the time of Zechariah’s ministry. This man is mentioned only in this book and in the book of Zechariah’s contemporary – Haggai. He’s not the son of Nun – Moses’ assistant. He’s the son of Jehozadak – and he’s the high priest during this period when Judah was trying to rebuild their temple and their walls and their nation. So, this Joshua the high priest is the third character in this vision.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Angel of the Lord

So, our fourth character is the angel of the Lord. And we’ve seen in this series that sometimes this being is a manifestation of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. I think that’s the case again in this passage and we’ll discover why later on. But even here, we get the idea that what we’re being allowed to view is some sort of judicial environment over which the angel of the Lord – as I’m saying, Jesus Christ – is presiding. We have Joshua standing before the judge – the angel of the Lord – Jesus Christ. And Joshua we discover is taking the position of defendant before his judge.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Satan

And any time you have a judge and a defendant you also would have a prosecutor. And that’s where our fifth and last character is introduced in this verse. And he’s identified as “Satan.” His activity is solely to “resist” or to “accuse” Joshua – true to his nature of being the “accuser of the brethren” as he’s called in the book of Revelation.

In fact, the Hebrew of verse 1 reads this way – “Satan was standing at his right hand to satan him.” The word “satan” is actually a Hebrew term – so, if you know that word, you know some Hebrew! And the meaning of that word is “adversary” or “accuser.” So, Satan was there to satan Joshua. The Accuser was there to accuse Joshua.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Heavenly Courtroom

And there’s no human courtroom involved here. This is a heavenly visionary court. And here we are – thanks to Zechariah, receiving a glimpse into the proceedings.

The judge is there. The prosecution is aggressively bringing its case to the judge. The defendant seems to have nothing to say.

But, what’s missing? We have a judge. We have a prosecutor. We have witnesses – Zechariah, at least – and we’ll see later that there are others standing around as well. We even have a defendant. But oftentimes the defendant is not representing himself. He hires someone to do that for him.

That’s what we’re missing – the defense attorney. Where’s the defense? Joshua is the defendant. But he needs a defender. He needs an advocate.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: To Satan (2)

And amazingly, we discover in verse 2 that the Judge – the angel of the Lord – in my estimation, a manifestation of Jesus Christ – he steps into the role of defense attorney for Joshua.

2 [And the/The] LORD said [unto/to] Satan [LXX: Devil],

[The/May the] LORD rebuke [thee/you], [O Satan/Satan] [LXX: O Devil];
[even the/Indeed the/May the] LORD [that hath/who has] chosen Jerusalem rebuke [thee/you]:

[LXX: Behold!] [is not this/Is this not/Isn’t this man like/Is not this man] a [brand/burning stick] [plucked/snatched] [out of/from] the fire?

Zechariah 3 Commentary: The Lord said

Now, note that we’re told who is speaking to Satan as Joshua’s defense. It’s the LORD – all caps. And we weren’t initially aware of it, but the Lord is also present in the courtroom.

And it’s possible that the Lord is now introduced as a sixth character in this vision whereas he hasn’t been properly introduced until now. Or we see here what we see elsewhere in Scripture – that the angel of the Lord is sometimes identified as the Lord – either because he is speaking on behalf of the Lord – or in some cases because the Scripture really does want us to understand that this angel of the Lord is actually the Lord himself.

I am going to assume that this first reference to the Lord in this verse is speaking of the judge presiding over this courtroom – the angel of the Lord. In other words, the angel of the Lord is the Lord.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: The Lord rebuke you

And that’s really interesting – because the Lord in this vision calls on the Lord to rebuke Satan. The Lord … is calling on the Lord to do something.

And that’s a little unusual. Maybe not what we would expect. I could imagine Joshua calling on the Lord to rebuke Satan. I could even imagine Zechariah doing that. But the Lord himself is calling on the Lord to rebuke Satan.

This is very similar to what we saw in the last vision where the Lord of Hosts is prophesied as sending the Lord of Hosts. And we understood there that this is a reference to a reality that we know happened in the New Testament – that God the Father sent God the Son. And when that happened and when it will yet happen again in the future when Jesus returns – it can truly be said that the Lord of Hosts sent the Lord of Hosts.

So, too, in this fourth vision – the Lord is rebuking Satan in the Lord’s name. The angel of the Lord – Jesus Christ – God the Son – is calling on the Lord – God the Father – to rebuke Satan.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: who has chosen Jerusalem

But why the rebuke?

Because Satan is accusing the God-ordained head of Israel’s religious system at the time – the high priest, Joshua.

And the central location of the religious system which Joshua leads is also the place which the Lord has chosen – Jerusalem. God is letting everyone know that he is favorable toward both Jerusalem and the religious system that was based in that city.

Now, this wasn’t always the case. In fact, God’s displeasure toward this city and its religious system was part of what made him send the Jews out of Jerusalem and into exile in 586 BC.

But now – through this vision – God is making very clear that he is ready to receive worship from his people through the means that he had originally established with them – at a temple in the city of Jerusalem.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?

And the Lord admits that Joshua the high priest and the religious system that he represents – that these were in some serious trouble for a while. They were like a brand plucked out of the fire. Like a stick that’s burning in the fire. And if things don’t change, that stick will be totally consumed.

And the Lord could have allowed things to continue with Israel the way they had been going. He could have never returned them from exile. He could have completely abandoned his religious system and the city of Jerusalem completely.

And the Lord acknowledges that possibility when he compares Joshua the high priest to a burning stick that he pulls out of the fire. But God is in the business of snatching people from the fire. And so, he claims that he does that very thing concerning Israel’s religious system in this vision.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: To Helpers (3-4a)

So, we’ve had our introduction to the 5 characters in this vision. Then we saw the angel of the Lord rebuke Satan. And now he’s going to speak to some previously unidentified helpers in the first part of verse 4.

But first, Zechariah fills us in on an important detail that we were previously unaware of. Joshua the high priest is dressed in filthy clothing. Verse 3.

3 Now Joshua [LXX: Jesus] was [clothed/dressed] [with/in] filthy [garments/clothes], [and stood/and standing/as he stood] [before/there before] the angel.

Now, remember that this is a courtroom scene. And when people go to court even in these days, most try to look their best.

But here we have Joshua and he’s not in nice-looking clothes. No – his clothing is filthy.

And I think that this is probably meant to represent the condition of Israel’s religious system to this point in history. The priests had defiled both themselves personally and their office. They had led the nation in worshipping idols and turning their backs on the Lord.

And so, in this vision we’re given the leader of this religious system – and he’s represented as being in soiled, dirty clothing.

No wonder Satan was accusing him. Israel’s religious system had not been blameless in any way. It was just as defiled as Joshua the high priest’s clothing.

But the angel of the Lord – Jesus Christ – as the song says – can make the foulest clean. And that’s just what he’s going to do with Israel’s religious leader, Joshua.

4 [And he answered and spake/He spoke and said/The angel spoke up/The angel said] [LXX: The Lord answered and spoke] [unto those that stood/to those who were standing/to those standing] [before him/all around], saying,

[Take away/Remove/Take off] [the filthy garments from him/his filthy clothes].

So, Joshua needs a change of clothing. The angel of the Lord is going to remove his filthy clothing from him.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: unto those that stood before him

And yet, it’s not the angel who does the work that he just commanded. He actually has helpers all around him to do his will. And you and I wouldn’t have known it until this point. But all of a sudden here the angel of the Lord speaks directly to these helpers.

Who are they anyway? They’re mysterious. They’re apparently just standing by and watching the proceedings. Maybe if this is a court room setting, these are witnesses. But they don’t say anything. They’re not the jury because they really don’t reach any verdict.

I think that between what we know of these beings in this verse and what we’ll see later, these who are standing before the angel of the Lord are probably angels. Angels, according to the book of Hebrews are ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them that shall be heirs of salvation. They serve. They do God’s will. And right here in Zechariah’s vision, God’s will is to remove the dirty clothing from Joshua the high priest.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Take away the filthy garments from him

Now, what does that symbolic act indicate? Because surely – especially in a vision like this – we’re not simply being let in on the fact that Joshua needed to change his clothes here – just like everyone does every single morning of their lives.

No, but rather I think that this act – which I would describe as symbolic – indicates once more what we’ve seen that God is doing here. He’s cleansing Israel’s religious system. The human leader of that religious is dressed in filthy clothing, representing the uncleanness that had come on the system and on that office. But now God is going to cleanse both Joshua’s office and the system that he heads-up.

Alright – so, the angel of the Lord just spoke to those who stood before him and commanded them to remove Joshua’s dirty clothing.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: To Joshua (4b)

And now in the last part of verse 4, the angel of the Lord speaks directly to Joshua.

We’re going to see that the angel of the Lord describes the meaning of removing Joshua’s filthy clothing from him. And when it comes down to it, the angel is going to explain that this act indicates that he has forgiven Joshua’s sin.

[And/Again/Then] [unto him/to Joshua] he said,

[Behold, I/See, I/I] have [caused thine iniquity to pass from thee/taken your iniquity away from you/have freely forgiven your iniquity/have taken away your sin],

So, the angel of the Lord in this verse is claiming the right to forgive sins – Joshua’s sins in particular. And we’re left to ask ourselves – along with the religious leaders of Jesus’ day – “Who can forgive sin but God alone?!

And yet, the angel of the Lord is forgiving Joshua’s sin. The conclusion I reach is that this angel of the Lord is Jesus Christ himself in this passage. God the Son is forgiving sins here.

So, the literal meaning behind the symbolic act of removing Joshua’s filthy clothing is that Jesus has forgiven the sin of this man. And in this vision, as Jesus forgives the sin of this man, it’s likely that the forgiveness and cleansing extend to both Joshua personally – as well as his office – as well as the entire system that he is charged with leading.

Jesus Christ at this point in history – after so many sins committed by the religious leadership of Israel that had utterly defiled the system of worship that the Lord had instituted through Moses – he now is thoroughly cleansing and forgiving and restoring.

It’s definitely a message of hope for this nation that was struggling to reestablish its identity and practices as ordered by the Lord.

But, it’s not just the removal of sin that’s needed – though that is indeed needed.

Positively, sinners need a change of clothes – as it were. There is a taking off – but there is also replacing what has been taken off and then “putting on.”

And that’s what the angel of the Lord describes at the end of verse 4.

and I will [clothe thee with change of raiment/clothe you with festal robes/dress you in fine clothing/put rich garments on you] [LXX: Clothe ye him with a long robe].

Zechariah 3 Commentary: and I will clothe thee with change of raiment

Now, in Exodus 28:4 Moses is commanded to make the following clothing for the high priest: “a breastpiece,an ephod,a robe, a fittedtunic, a turban, and a sash.”

So, this change of clothing would surely include some of these items. In fact, the word used earlier in this verse for Joshua’s filthy clothes is sometimes translated as “robes.” And the word “raiment” that we just read at the end of verse 4 also refers to robes.

So, out of all of the garments of a high priest that Exodus 28:4 speaks of, we have the robe included at least. Joshua is getting at least a new robe in this vision.

Zechariah 3 Commentary: Zechariah Speaks (5)

And the prophet Zechariah himself really likes this idea of the angel of the Lord clothing Joshua the high priest with new clean holy robes.

And so, in verse 5 Zechariah speaks up and offers a suggestion regarding another article of clothing that he’d like to see Joshua the high priest put on – it’s another article of clothing mentioned in Exodus 28:4 – a turban.

5 [And/Then] I [said/spoke up], [LXX omits this line]

[Let them set/Put] a [fair/clean] [LXX: pure] [mitre/turban] upon his head.

So, Zechariah was likely a priest himself. Not the high priest of course, but a priest. And as such it seems that he’s well aware of the garments that the Lord commanded the high priest to wear.

And so, Zechariah is participating in this vision. And I guess we’re not explicitly told his mindset and emotions at this point. But I kind of imagine Zechariah getting excited about this. I don’t picture him as sitting back and with an air of boredom rather flatly stating, [in monotone] “Let them set a clean turban on his head.

No, I think Zechariah is pretty excited about the proceedings. He’s excited to see the leader of his group of Yahweh-worshippers be cleansed and helped and forgiven and strengthened. The successes and blessings of his spiritual leader are also his own. And Zechariah is thoroughly enjoying what’s transpiring and how it’s turning out for the benefit of his whole nation through the blessing of that group’s religious leader.

Well, the heavenly helpers all around in this scene swing into action at the command of Zechariah.

So they [set/put] a [fair/clean] [mitre/turban] upon his head,

and clothed him with garments.

And it’s at this point where I wonder if this passage is teaching us something about prayer. Why do I say that? Well, can you believe that a man can give a command – and heavenly helpers just swing into action?

But isn’t that what we’re encouraged to believe that our prayers accomplish? Jesus tells us that we can pray and move mountains. We’re to pray according to his will with full confidence that he will answer – and when we do that, he promises that it will happen.

Obviously, Zechariah here is not praying for things that are unworthy of the Lord. And neither should we, of course.

But when we’re praying according to God’s will, he promises that he hears us and grants us the petitions that we make.

And we don’t know if the way in which the Lord grants those petitions is through heavenly helpers like we see in this vision or not. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he does it this way.

Alright, so Zechariah gives an excited and joyful command for the benefit of his spiritual leadership and the angels immediately respond.

But if you think about this transaction, you might be wondering if this was just Zechariah’s desire or if the Lord himself wanted this to happen. Did the heavenly helpers just start to obey the will of a man – while perhaps God is standing by a little displeased for some reason?

And so, what we’re told in the last part of verse 5 confirms that the angel of the Lord did indeed approve of what was happening in this scene – including Zechariah’s command.

[And/while] the angel of the LORD [stood by/was standing by/stood nearby].

So, the angel of the Lord – who is the Judge and the Defense and, really, the Jury in this vision – whom we know to be the Lord Jesus Christ – he approves of this restoration of the religious leadership and system of his people.

So, what we’ve basically seen so far really serves as an introduction to the real message of the rest of this vision. We’ve seen a lot of symbolic activity and actions.

But next time Lord-willing we’ll study the message that goes along with these actions. It’s a message of hope for the present and the future – with the promise of the coming of a mysterious being known as God’s “servant, the Branch.”

Zechariah 2 Commentary: Verses 11-13

Zechariah 2 Commentary: Today we’ll be finishing the vision that the prophet Zechariah received concerning the man with the measuring line in his hand.

So, let’s read Zechariah 2.

[Read Zec 2…]

So, we’ve studied up through verse 10 previously in this class. And we saw in that verse that God’s Old Testament people were to rejoice at the prospect of the Lord’s dwelling in their midst.

Zechariah 2 Commentary Verse 11

And one reason for that joy is that when God does finally come to reside in the midst of Israel, it won’t just be Israel that wants to be a part of that. Gentile nations – even some of those who plundered Israel as we discussed before – even they will want to – not plunder Israel anymore – but actually join Israel!

11 [And many/many] nations [shall be joined/will join themselves/will be joined] to the LORD [in that day/on the day of salvation],

and [shall be/will become/they will also be] my people:

[and I/Then I/Indeed, I/I] will [dwell/settle/live] [in the midst of thee/in your midst/in the midst of you all/among you],

[and/Then] [thou shalt/you will] know that the LORD [of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty] [hath/has] sent me [unto thee/to you].

Zechariah 2 Commentary And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day

So, this reality of many nations joining themselves to the Lord is one that is promised by the Lord in other places in the Old Testament.

The Lord in Micah 4:1-4 says:

KJV Micah 4:1 ¶ But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.

 2 And many nations shall come, and say,

Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths:

for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

 3 And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

So that’s Micah’s testimony to the fact that in the last days many nations will be gathered to the Lord and there will be peace everywhere.

Also, in Isaiah 2, the prophet Isaiah says something very similar to what Micah said about the nations coming and joining themselves to the Lord in the last days.

And even later on in the book of Zechariah we read of this future reality in Zechariah 8:20-23:

KJV Zechariah 8:20 ¶ Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: 21 And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying,

Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also.

 22 Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.

 23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts;

In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying,

We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

 4 [But/And] they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.

So, whether it’s Zechariah or Micah or Isaiah, the Lord has been promising that many nations will join themselves to him for a while now – and it will happen at a point yet future to us.

Zechariah 2 Commentary and shall be my people

Well, when these nations are joined to the Lord, these Gentiles won’t be treated as second-class citizens. No, they will be God’s people. Just like the Jews are. Distinct, of course, from Israel. And yet, both Jew and Gentile will be numbered as “God’s people.”

Now, there are ten times in the Old Testament where God speaks of making a group of people “his people.”

In Jeremiah 11, The Lord reminds Judah that he commanded Israel to obey his covenant that he made with them when he brought them out of Israel. And if they did, they would be his people and he would be their God. (Jer 11:4)

But unfortunately, Israel broke God’s covenant with them numerous times over several centuries. But God’s mercy and grace continue on so that God speaks of restoring the Jewish exiles to their land after he has to chasten them. And when he brings those exiles back, he will give them a heart to know him. And when that happens, they will be his people and he will be their God. (Jer 24:7)

And those are just two of the ten references to some group of people and how they will become God’s people. And a full nine of those ten references speak of the Jews – and how God will make them his people.

But here in Zechariah 2 is the only place in which it’s not Jews who will be God’s people. It’s Gentiles.

And even though the church is not the fulfillment of this promise – there are some similarities. The majority of people who are in Christ’s Church today are not Jews – they – we – are Gentiles. We know what it’s like to have not been God’s people but to now be the people of God.

We know the joy we feel at the knowledge that God will come and dwell in the midst of Israel. We look forward to the restoration of that nation. I don’t know about you, but I like the idea of grabbing hold of a Jew and with great excitement and anticipation, pleading with him to go up to Jerusalem to the temple and to worship his God and mine – like we just read about in Zechariah 8.

But I can’t find any of those Jews right now. And even if I could – you know, maybe I could find what are referred to as Messianic Jews – well, there’s no physical temple to visit with them in Jerusalem.

But all of that will change. And it will change “in that day” – on the day when the Lord Jesus comes to take up physical residence among his people after he destroys their enemies and saves them.

Zechariah 2 Commentary and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee.

And when this happens, that will prove that the Lord of hosts has sent this individual who’s giving this message.

We saw already that this is Jesus Christ who will in that day be vindicated before Israel. He’s going to dwell in their midst and they will finally know that it was the Lord of Hosts who sent Jesus to the Jews.

And the “thou” and the “thee” in this verse are feminine … singular pronouns. And that means that this is addressed to a woman. Who could that be? It’s the daughter of Zion (see verse 10) – to Israel and of course to the individuals in it. All Israel will know in that day when Jesus comes to dwell in their midst that he was sent by the Lord.

And that’s the point that Jesus continually asserted in his earthly ministry. He didn’t come of his own authority. God the Father sent him. The Lord of Hosts sent him. Jesus – being the Lord of Hosts himself – was sent by the Lord of Hosts.

And I feel like it might be helpful and edifying to examine a few verses from the New Testament – mostly from Jesus’ lips – where it’s asserted that God the Father has sent God the Son – or the Lord of Hosts has sent the Lord of Hosts.

And a lot of these references come from the Gospel of John in the New Testament. As I could find them, there are at least seven references in John’s gospel where Jesus claims that the Father sent him.

Zechariah 2 Commentary John 5

In John 5, we’re told that the Jews were seeking to kill Jesus for two reasons. First, they believed that he had broken the Sabbath. And of course, that’s their interpretation of how the Sabbath ought to be kept, which was flawed. And second, Jesus was claiming that God was his father, making himself equal to God.

And in that context, among many other things Jesus says this in verse 36:

KJV John 5:36 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.

Those Jews that were seeking to kill Jesus – they needed the knowledge that Zechariah says will come in the day when Jesus the Lord of Hosts dwells in the midst of his people and Gentiles join in worshipping the Lord with Jews.

And so, Jesus in John 5 is giving them more reason to believe this reality – that the Father has sent him – that the Lord has sent the Lord.

Zechariah 2 Commentary John 6

Then we have what’s referred to as the Bread of Life discourse in John 6 where Jesus tells the Jews that they need to eat his flesh and drink his blood. And in that context in verse 57 of John 6 he says this:

KJV John 6:57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

And the result of this statement and many others that Jesus made in that speech that he gave the Jews was that numerous of them stopped following him.

The Jews heard the reality that Jesus was sent from the Father – that the Lord of Hosts had indeed sent the Lord of Hosts – just like he promised in Zechariah. But they fell away because of some of Jesus’ “hard” statements.

Zechariah 2 Commentary John 8

Then later in the Gospel of John there are some Jews that have believed in Jesus, we’re told. But when Jesus tells them to continue in his word so that they will be free, they get sort of ugly with him. The conversation turns to the identity of their fathers and of Jesus’ father – with Jesus asserting that their father is the devil and that his Father is God. Of course, they disagree with that declaration and so that leads Jesus to respond with the following in John 8:42:

KJV John 8:42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

So, time after time we’re seeing Jesus trying to make this point that God has indeed sent him. It’s the point that Zechariah 2 foretold many hundreds of years before Jesus was actually sent by the Father. And it’s a point that the Jews never learned – but will some day when Jesus Christ dwells in their midst and Gentiles are drawn to the Lord in that day.

Zechariah 2 Commentary John 10

Later on in the Gospel of John, the Jews approach Jesus and demand that he tell them if he is the Christ – the Messiah. And he declares that he is but that they don’t believe that message. It even gets to the point where they attempt to stone him after he declares a truth that we’ve seen in Zechariah. Do you remember where Jesus claims that he and the father are one? Just like we see in Zechariah 2 where the Lord of Hosts sends the Lord of Hosts – there are two persons identified as the same being.

Well, in reaction to that claim that was foretold to them in Zechariah 2 for 500 years, the Jews pick up stones to stone Jesus. And this is his response to them in John 10:36:

KJV John 10:36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

So, the Lord of Hosts has sent the Lord of Hosts into the world. And what do God’s covenant people do with him? They seek to kill him – to send him back out of the world which the Lord of Hosts sent him to.

And I think that through the references we’ve seen so far, we get a pretty good idea of how hardened these people really were. When God sent Jesus, he sent his son into the world and his son dwelt in the midst of Israel! Couldn’t these people see what God was doing? He was starting to bring to pass his promise from Zechariah 2 of the Lord of Hosts sending the Lord of Hosts.

And we see from Jesus’ earthly ministry that even some Gentiles were drawn to him. We see that in John 12. Some Greeks – Gentiles – started to seek out Jesus, we’re told. Just like the prophecy in Zechariah 2 states – that Gentiles would join themselves to the Lord in that day.

Zechariah 2 Commentary John 17

And yet, it becomes clear that God’s own covenant people would not receive the Lord of Hosts who was sent to them by the Lord of Hosts.

And so, we see Jesus later on in John’s Gospel praying for a select group of people who have received him.

KJV John 17:20 ¶ Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

And so, this is an interesting change. The main concern has been that the Jews would know that the Lord of Hosts has sent Jesus – even in Zechariah 2, that’s the emphasis – “that you (the Jews) would know…” And yet, here in John 17 Jesus expresses a desire that the whole world would believe this truth as well.

And Jesus says that the unity of those who believe in him is the intended means to bring the whole world to believe this truth from Zechariah 2 – that the Lord of Hosts has sent the Lord of Hosts.

Zechariah 2 Commentary John 17 Again

And a few verses later in John 17:25, Jesus reiterates the fact that those who believed in him have known the truth of Zechariah 2. As he’s praying to his Father, the Lord of Hosts, Jesus – the Lord of Hosts himself, says…

KJV John 17:25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.

And that’s the last we hear about this issue before Jesus’ death. The whole world did not know that the Lord of Hosts had sent Jesus. Not even his covenant people the Jews realized this truth. Only the few people who were his true disciples understood it. And the rest of the Jews with the help of the nations… put to death… the Lord of Hosts.

Zechariah 2 Commentary John 20

But then, Jesus rises from the dead! And he comes to his disciples and reiterates this truth we’ve been studying here in John 20:21.

KJV John 20:21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

So, it wasn’t yet the time for the words of Zechariah 2 to be fulfilled. And until that ultimate time comes when the Jews come to realize that the Lord has sent Jesus, … Jesus has sent us – his true disciples. He’s delegated in some way that task to us – that task of being sent to the world.

Zechariah 2 Commentary Acts 3

But that’s not the end of the story. Because the Lord of Hosts still has plans to send Jesus again to this world. And in that day, the words of Zechariah 2 will certainly come to pass. That’s what Peter points to in Acts 3:19. He says to the Jews…

KJV Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was [preached/appointed/designated] [unto/for] you:

So, when was Jesus preached or appointed or designated to or for the Jews? Well, of course, during his earthly life. But I think this is a reference back to realities like are expressed in Zechariah 2. Because as we’ve seen it’s in that passage that we’re told that there’s a certain day in which finally – at long last – the Jews will know that the Lord of Hosts has sent the Lord of Hosts – Jesus Christ.

Zechariah 2 Commentary Verse 12

Alright, now let’s get back to the book of Zechariah. We just finished studying verse 11 where we’ve been told that nations will join themselves to the Lord when his people finally understand that he has sent the Lord Jesus to them. So, there’s been a good emphasis on the nations.

And even though that’s been the focus of verse 11 – the nations and their future relationship to the Lord and to Israel – yet the Lord wants to end this vision with a note concerning Israel.

And so, in verses 12 and 13 we’re told that the Lord will rouse himself to action in order to show his preference for Judah and Jerusalem. And thus, everyone everywhere should take note and be silent.

12 [And the/The] LORD [shall inherit/will posses/will take possession of/will inherit] Judah [his/as his] portion in the holy land,
and [shall/will] choose Jerusalem [again/once again].

Zechariah 2 Commentary and shall choose Jerusalem again

Now, this choosing of Jerusalem is something the Lord promised back in Isaiah 14. Maybe around 200 years before Zechariah’s message here, this is what the Lord spoke through Isaiah.

KJV Isaiah 14:1 ¶ For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and [they/the strangers] shall cleave to the house of Jacob.

Now, in the context of what we’ve heard here in Zechariah, whom could these “strangers” possibly be? Are these strangers Jews or Gentiles? These are the Gentile nations. The same God who foretold that the Gentile nations would join Israel in the last days through Isaiah speaks that same message through Zechariah.

And actually, this choosing of Jerusalem was something that Zechariah had already been commissioned to proclaim in chapter 1 of this book.

In the vision of the horses of different colors and the Angel of the Lord in the ravine, God promised to “yet comfort Zion, and [that he…] shall yet choose Jerusalem.” (Zec 1:17)

Zechariah 2 Commentary Verse 13

And in light of all of this that we’ve heard through this entire vision that’s spanned a few lessons – that the Lord is very angry with the nations who have plundered the Jews and that he’s going to come and dwell in the midst of his people – God advises everyone everywhere to take notice in the last verse of this vision.

13 ¶ Be silent, [O all flesh/all people everywhere], [before the LORD/in the Lord’s presence]:
[for/because] he [is raised up/is aroused/is being moved to action/has roused himself] [out of/from/in] his holy [habitation/dwelling place/dwelling].

Zechariah 2 Commentary Be silent

Now, silence is commanded by the Lord in Habakkuk 2:20. And what that prophet says is the reason for the commanded silence is that the Lord is “in his holy temple.” “Be silent because the Lord is in his holy temple!”

Zechariah 2 Commentary he is raised up out of his holy habitation

But here in Zechariah, it’s like the action is taken a step further and the Lord is not only in his holy place – but now he is raised up or moved to action out of that holy place.

Zechariah 2 Commentary O all flesh

This is a threat – a threat to the nations – to everyone everywhere! The Lord is going to bring this to pass. And if the Lord was saying this 2500 years ago, then how much more is this the case today?

Jesus can return at any moment to dwell in the midst of his people. It could all start today. Are you living a holy life – as the temple that you are – and waiting for him to return?

May the Lord help us to do just that.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: Verses 8-10

Zechariah 2 Commentary: (verses 8-10) This world is full of problems. And our lives are the same way.

We deal with disappointment and fear and discouragement. We experience troubles at work and at school and at home. If our eyes are fixed on this world as if this world can deliver us any real comfort in these troubling arenas, then we’re going to experience a real let down.

But this world is not what we’re looking at. We’re looking to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ to deliver his people. And when he comes, it won’t just be for the Church. Scripture teaches us that he’s coming to also rescue his people Israel. And that will be such a wonderful day when all of our problems are no more.

And so, let’s meditate together on the second chapter of the book of Zechariah where we see this blessed hope that we have described in some detail. We’ll study verses 8-10.

Now, let’s read the entirety of this vision that takes up all of Zechariah 2.

[Read Zec 2]

So, toward the end of what we studied last time in verse 7, we saw the Lord tell the Jews to flee from Babylon. Well, why do they need to flee?

Zechariah 2 Commentary: Verse 8

Because something bad is coming on Babylon. And that’s just what we’re going to hear about in verses 8 and 9.

There is punishment coming for the nations – including Babylon – for Israel’s sake. And this punishment – which makes fleeing from these nations necessary for the Jews – will also vindicate the messenger who is giving this message.

8 For thus [saith/says] the LORD [of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty];

[After the glory/After glory/For his own glory/After he has honored me and] hath he sent me [unto/against/to] the nations which [spoiled/plunder/plundered] you:

for [he that/he who/anyone who/whoever] toucheth you toucheth the [apple/pupil] of his eye.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: hath he sent me

Now, I think it’s helpful to consider all of these pronouns in this verse in order to try to understand what’s being said.

So, the Lord of Hosts is giving a message. That’s clear from the first few words of this verse.

And the Lord of Hosts says that “he” has sent “him.” Well – who is “he” and who is “him”?

It sounds like someone is sending the Lord of Hosts – doesn’t it? So, someone is sending the Lord of Hosts to the nations that plundered the Jews. Because who has the authority to send God to do anything?

Now, some people – because the concept of someone sending the Lord of Hosts is a bit unexpected – they think that this is speaking of Zechariah. As if Zechariah is saying that the Lord of Hosts has sent him to these nations.

But honestly – what encouragement would that be? That God is sending one prophet to the nations? That wouldn’t help them. Plus, Zechariah’s ministry seems to be confined to the Jews anyway.

So, I think that we’re left with the inescapable conclusion that someone is sending the Lord of Hosts himself to the nations that had abused Israel.

Now, who is able to send the Lord of Hosts to do anything? Who has any authority to send God to do anything? Does mankind have that ability? Can a human just send God to do some task?

And the answer of course is that no human has this authority to send the Lord of Hosts to do anything. Not even angelic beings have that authority.

So, who is sending the Lord of Hosts to or against the nations? It has to be God himself who’s doing the sending.

But think about what we’re saying then. God is sending…God. It sounds redundant. Of course, in the human realm to say that I am sending myself somewhere would be a little strange. And especially if I were to do that using the third person and said “he sent me to go do something” and I was referring to myself with both pronouns – “he” and “me” then it wouldn’t make much sense.

But this is where we remember that God is unlike us in some important ways. Within the being we know as God there are three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And I believe that in this passage, God the Son is referred to by the pronoun “me.” And God the Father is referred to with the pronoun “he.”

But what’s also interesting is that the one identifying himself as “me” – God the Son – is also referred to as the Lord of Hosts. Right? Because this quote is coming right after the phrase “thus saith the Lord of Hosts.”

OK – “What does the Lord of Hosts have to say?” we ask… Well, he wants to tell us that God the Father or “he” has sent God the Son or “me” or “the Lord of Hosts.”

Zechariah 2 Commentary: after glory

And God the Father is going to send God the Son “after glory.” This seems to be speaking of the purpose of the Father sending the Son. He will send the Son “after glory” or for the purpose of glory – for the purpose of glorifying himself.

God the Father sending God the Son will glorify himself.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: unto the nations

And what is the Father sending the Son to do? The Son is being sent “unto the nations.” Or more likely, “against” the nations.

This is looking forward ultimately to the battle of Armageddon, where Jesus Christ will return with his armies – his hosts. The Lord of Hosts will return with his hosts – and he will return for the purpose of going “unto” or “against” the nations.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: which spoiled you

And of course it’s not as though these nations are blameless, and that God just feels the need to attack for no reason. No – these nations have “spoiled” or “plundered” his people the Jews. That word “spoiled” has reference to someone capturing someone else and taking their stuff.

And that has happened historically with the Jews. The nations to which they have been scattered have oftentimes taken their possessions.

I can think of pictures from the Nazi Holocaust where at these death camps that the Jews were sent to there are these piles of clothing and jewelry and other items. It’s a sad reminder of this reality that the Lord is expressing here – that nations – Gentiles – have been plundering Israel – capturing them and taking their possessions.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye

And we can look at events in this life and we can wonder – “what does God think about that?” What did God think about the Holocaust or the various pogroms that have been executed against the Jews throughout history?

And if we think that God approves of something simply because he allows it to happen – or even if he wills it to happen – we’d be wrong – at least in this case with the Jews.

Because God expresses very clearly that he is quite displeased with these nations and their treatment of Israel. In fact, to touch Israel is to touch God himself.

No – it’s even worse than that. To touch Israel is to poke God in the eye. And not on the white part. On the black part – the incredibly sensitive part – the part that to touch is very painful.

I don’t know how you feel about touching your own eyeball. I have contact lenses and so every day I am touching my eyeballs at least twice. I’ve grown accustomed to this, but there are some who would never wear contacts for this reason.

But when I put my contacts in, I at least have a shield between my pupil and my finger. And God isn’t envisioning this helpful addition. He’s not picturing it as though there’s something between his eye – as it were – and the finger that is being poked into it.

When the nations of this world touch the Jews for harm – God feels that. And he’s communicating that it hurts him a great deal. It is agitating to him. And he will do something to stop that agitation!

Now, remember that when this verse speaks of “him” it’s speaking of God the Father. He’s the one sending the Lord of Hosts. And he’s the one whose sensitive vulnerable pupil is being poked as these nations harm his people.

And this abuse of the Jews by the Gentile nations will eventually make action against those nations inevitable. Because remember that the Lord is going to send the Lord of Hosts against those nations.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: Verse 9

And the Lord of Hosts goes on in verse 9 to describe what the consequences will be to those nations when this happens.

9 [For, behold,/Surely]

I [will shake mine hand upon/will wave my hand over/am about to punish/will raise my hand against] them,
[and/so that/in such a way that] they [shall/will] be [a spoil to/plunder for/looted by/plundered by] their [servants/slaves]:
[and/Then] [ye/you] [shall/will] know that the LORD [of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty] [hath/has] sent me.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: I will shake mine hand upon them

Now, we’re confronted with an unusual picture to begin verse 9 – that of God shaking his hand upon the nations. What does that mean?

Well, the Lord prophesied through the prophet Isaiah a few hundred years before Zechariah’s prophecies. And he spoke about how he was going to judge Egypt and he said this:

“In that day shall Egypt be like unto women: and it shall be afraid and fear because of the shaking of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which he shaketh over it.” (Isaiah 19:16)

So, this shaking of the hand of the Lord of Hosts causes fear.

But also, this word translated as “shake” is elsewhere translated in the context of what a stonemason would do with a tool upon stones. Or what a harvester would do with a sickle in the midst of standing grain. Or what someone would do with a war club as he swings it around and hits people.

So, too, here in Zechariah, what God is picturing his hand doing surely includes some of these ideas. Don’t picture him waving his hand limply in the air over these nations. No. Picture God swinging his hand in a threatening and destructive manner – using his hand as a tool to put an end to these nations’ abuse of his people.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: and they shall be a spoil to their servants

And the Lord of Hosts isn’t swinging and missing. He will connect against these nations.

And the result of this swinging or waving of his hand will be that these nations become spoil to their servants.

Notice the poetic justice – which is “the fitting or deserved retribution for one’s actions” – that the nations are going to receive. They plundered or spoiled Israel. So, God will see to it that they themselves are plundered or spoiled.

But God doesn’t have in view that Israel will plunder the nations. So, it’s not a one-for-one exactly. It’s not that the nations plundered Israel and so Israel will plunder them right back. Rather, the nations plundered Israel and so God will make it so that the servants in these nations plunder them.

The ones who are conquered and oppressed – or at least the lowest on the social ladder and with the least means in those nations – they will rise up and plunder their masters when God is done dealing with those nations. God will overthrow their social order and reverse situations for these nations. They plundered those less powerful than them. So, they will be plundered by those less powerful than them.

And once more, we’re lead to believe that this is all God’s doing. God won’t even use his people Israel apparently to accomplish this plundering. The Lord of Hosts will simply do it himself. And his people will benefit from it – though they haven’t lifted a finger.

And this is what we see throughout history with the Jews.

The Babylonians – who captured Jerusalem and sent the Jews into exile in 586 BC – they were overturned by the Medes and Persians. The Medes and Persians were overthrown by the Greeks. The Greeks were ousted by the Romans. And one nation after another that abuses the Jews is replaced in terms of their position as world powers.

And in all of these situations the Jews are fairly inactive. Even if they wanted to act, they’re usually not in the position to do anything. And that’s according to how God has portrayed that he will act on behalf of the Jewish nation.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me.

Well, when the Lord of Hosts – sent by the Lord – goes against the nations who plundered Israel and when he wields his hand against them and plunders them – then Israel will come to know something. They will come to know that the Lord of hosts sent “me.” Who is that?

Well, it’s been the Lord of Hosts speaking. And he says that he’s being sent. Sent by whom? We talked about that. The Lord – God the Father – is sending the Lord of Hosts – God the Son – to do these things – ultimately at the battle of Armageddon. And when he does this, then Israel will know that the Lord of Hosts has sent the Lord of Hosts.

Yes, we heard that right. Israel will know when Jesus returns and defeats their enemies – that God has truly sent none other than God. They will know finally that Jesus is God the Son and that he has truly been sent by God the Father.

Again, some people think that this is Zechariah speaking here. But I think that’s hard to justify. Zechariah isn’t even the one speaking this entire message. An angel is speaking it to another angel to give to Zechariah. And it originates from the Lord himself of course. So, Zechariah is simply relating these words to us – but he apparently was not the one speaking them.

It’s the Lord of Hosts who was speaking these words. And it’s the Lord of Hosts – Jesus Christ – whom Israel needs to know has been sent by the Lord of Hosts. Because they’re not at all convinced of that fact right now. And they haven’t been for the past two millennia.

But the Jews will be convinced of Jesus’ identity as the Lord of Hosts some day when he returns to deliver the Jews and plunder the nations that have plundered them.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: Verse 10

And when Jesus Christ – the Lord – comes to deliver Israel, he’s not going back into heaven again. He’ll be remaining amongst his people.

And so, in verse 10, the Lord reveals that this blessed reality will happen – and then calls upon Israel to rejoice in this reality.

10 [Sing/Sing for joy/Sing out/Shout] and [rejoice/be glad/be happy], [O daughter of Zion/Zion my daughter]:

for, [lo, I come/behold I am coming/look, I have come/I am coming], and I will [dwell/settle/live] [in the midst of thee/in your midst/among you], [saith/declares] the LORD.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: Sing

Now, it’s nothing new for God to command Israel to “sing” as we have the first word in this verse. And in fact, there are several times where singing is commanded in the context that we’re describing here – of the Lord coming and dwelling in the midst of his people.

KJV Isaiah 12:6 Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: [why?…] for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.

KJV Zephaniah 3:14 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. [why?…]

 15 The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.

This command to sing also comes right after Isaiah 53 in which the sufferings of Jesus Christ are foretold. And of course, after those sufferings – and any time soon now – he will be coming to do this thing were hearing about in Zechariah – to come and dwell in the midst of his people.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: and rejoice

And Israel here in Zechariah is also commanded to rejoice. This command is given in the book of Joel as well – again in the context of God dwelling in Israel’s midst.

KJV Joel 2:21 Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things.

And then the Lord goes on to describe those “great things” and then comes to this conclusion.

 27 And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: daughter of Zion

Well, who is commanded to do this rejoicing in Zechariah? The identification we’re given is the “daughter of Zion.”

Zion is basically equivalent to Jerusalem. We’ve seen that before in Zechariah.

And when the Lord addresses the daughter of Zion, he doesn’t have just one person in mind – one female Jew living in Israel. No.

When the Lord refers to the daughter of Zion, he is oftentimes picturing Jerusalem as a vulnerable and sometimes distressed – yet royal – young lady. She needs protection. Sometimes she needs chastening. But her Father is the Lord of Hosts – and ultimately, if she trusts and obeys him, things will be well with her.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: I will dwell in the midst of thee

And so, what is the reason that should cause the daughter of Zion to sing and rejoice? It’s that the Lord is coming and will dwell in the midst of Israel.

This dwelling in the midst of Israel was the stated purpose of the Tabernacle – and then the Temple after that. God wanted to dwell in the midst of his people.

This is also the reason why the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt. He wanted to dwell in their midst.

God’s desire to dwell in the midst of his people is also the reason for most of the laws that we might describe as “ceremonial” in the Old Testament. A holy and pure and undefiled God can’t live in the midst of a profane and sullied and defiled people. If the Lord was going to live in their midst, they needed cleansing.

God’s dwelling in Israel’s midst was also the reason behind what we would consider to be God’s “moral” laws in the Old Testament. Murder needed to be discovered and punished because God refuses to live in the midst of a land full of murder and adultery and other immorality.

And we as New Testament Christians can learn something from this concept. God wants to dwell in the midst of his people.

He dwells in our midst as a church. Jesus is pictured as walking among the churches and inspecting us and knowing us.

But Jesus also indwells us individually. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.

And any place that God indwells needs to be holy. A holy God will not dwell in unholy places. And as such, we his people need to live holy lives – lives that are set apart and separated from immorality, for example. That’s where the Apostle Paul takes this discussion when he relates in 1 Corinthians that the body of the believer is a temple of the Holy Spirit. That’s in the context of moral purity.

Paul also in 1 Corinthians states that the church is a temple of God. And he states that anyone who destroys the church, God will repay with destruction. And the context of that warning is divisions in the church – where some were claiming allegiance to one minister over another. That’s not the holiness that God is looking for in his church.

So, God dwells in New Testament believers and in his Church just like he wanted to dwell in the midst of Israel and like he promised to do in the Old Testament.

And while that’s a sobering reality, remember the context of verse 10. This reality of God dwelling in the midst of his people is really intended to be a joyful reality that his Old Testament people were to look forward to – and it’s one that we as New Testament believers get to rejoice in right now.

Zechariah 2 5 Meaning

Zechariah 2 5 Meaning: So, cities and nations often do need protection from enemies by means of a wall. That’s true. And that’s why God declares in verse 5 that he himself will be that wall for his city Jerusalem.

5 [For I/But I/And I myself], [saith/declares] the LORD, will be [unto/around] [her/Jerusalem] a wall of fire [round about/surrounding],
and will be the [source of…] glory [in the midst of her/within].

Zechariah 2 5 Meaning: a wall of fire round about

Now, in old time, the Lord was a pillar of fire that guided Israel from the wilderness to the promised land. But in the end times, the Lord is going to be a wall of fire that protects Israel from her enemies as she remains in the promised land.

Throughout history, walls that have protected cities or nations have been burned with fire. But not this wall – this wall will itself be made of fire.

So, Jerusalem at some point will not be able to be contained within walls because of how many people and animals are there. In addition, they won’t need a physical wall built of stone and such because the Lord himself will protect them.

Zechariah 2 5 Meaning: the glory in the midst of her

But beyond the general abundance and the external protection – the Lord will be the glory of Israel within her.

And we have another interesting cross-reference here to Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 11, that prophet sees the Lord’s glory rise up from the midst of Jerusalem and leave that city.

But as quite a contrast here, Zechariah is being told by this angel that God will return to his city and be the glory of that city. In other words, he’s coming back!

The glory of the Lord is associated elsewhere in the Old Testament with a cloud. And so, if we’re remembering the exodus of Israel out of Egypt and into the promised land – they had the Lord appear in a pillar of fire. That was by night. How did the Lord appear by day? In a pillar of…? Smoke. He appeared in a cloud by day to shade his people.

And here in Zechariah, we have the Lord once more assuming those forms. He will be their glory – again, with God’s glory often being associated with a cloud. And he will be their wall of fire. Fire and cloud – this is how the Lord appeared to Israel in days of old during the exodus and wilderness wanderings. And this is how he will appear once more in the end times – as fire and cloud.

Zechariah 2 Commentary

Zechariah 2 Commentary: So, in our national news today we hear a lot about a certain wall that needs to be built – or, doesn’t – depending on your perspective of things. We’ve also just come out of a season marked by the phrase “ho, ho, ho.”

And if you thought that you could escape these realities by coming to this Sunday School class then you were mistaken. Because in Zechariah chapter 2, we’re going to see both of these realities. We’re going to be hearing the familiar phrase “ho, ho” followed by a subsequent “ho” and we’re going to be considering the necessity of building a wall.

So, let’s turn our attention to the second chapter of the book of Zechariah. Zechariah, chapter 2 is where we find the third vision given to the prophet Zechariah in one night around the year 520 BC.

This follows the second vision he received where God communicated with him that he will destroy the enemies of God’s people. And before that in the first vision Zechariah was shown that God was very concerned for the suffering of his people while the nations around them lived careless and easy lives. And that was after the introduction where God called for the Jews of Zechariah’s time to turn to him so that he could turn to them. And those people did end up turning to the Lord, which allowed the Lord to turn to them.

And so, now in this third vision, the Lord is expressing similar realities to what he’s already expressed in the first two visions and the introduction. And that is that the Lord is going to bless his people and punish their enemies.

So, let’s read the entirety of Zechariah 2. And then we’ll study in detail verses 1-7 after that.

[Read Zec 2]

Zechariah 2 Commentary: Verses 1-5

So, we just read about Zechariah seeing a man with a measuring line in his hand and asking him where he’s going. The man responds that he’s going to measure Jerusalem to determine its dimensions. The angel that speaks with Zechariah then leaves and is met by another angel who tells that angel to speak with Zechariah and tell him that Jerusalem will need walls no more because the Lord himself will be her external wall and her internal glory.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: Verse 1

That’s the summary of verses 1-5. So, let’s look at the details of each of those verses. Starting with verse 1.

KJV Zechariah 2:1 ¶ I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: I lifted up mine eyes again

So, Zechariah here becomes aware of a reality that he was previously unaware of. He lifts up his eyes here just like he did before when he saw the four horns in vision #2 and just like we’ll see him doing as he becomes aware of a flying scroll in a subsequent vision or the woman in the basket or the four chariots between the two mountains later on.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand

But here, Zechariah is becoming aware of a man. And the man has something in his hand. It’s a line – like a rope. And this rope would be used to measure distance. Now this rope must have been fairly long because of what we’re going to hear that its intended use is to measure the length and width of an entire city.

But, this is all that Zechariah sees so far. A man with a measuring line in his hand.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: Verse 2

And that prompts Zechariah to ask this man a question in verse 2.

2 Then said I,

[Whither goest thou/Where are you going]?

Zechariah 2 Commentary: Whither goest thou?

So, apparently, this man is walking. We didn’t know it before. We were only made aware that he had something in his hand. But now we hear that he’s going somewhere.

And he explains his destination and purpose to Zechariah.

And he said unto me,

To measure Jerusalem, to [see/determine/find out] [what is the breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof/how wide it is and how long it is/its width and length].

Zechariah 2 Commentary: Ezekiel 40-41

Now, the prophet Ezekiel receives a similar vision in the 25th year of the exile. So, that would be about 40 years before Zechariah’s vision here.

In Ezekiel’s vision in the 40th and 41st chapters of his book, that prophet sees a man that looks like he’s made of bronze. And his activity is to measure the new Temple in Jerusalem.

Now, this is not the same Temple as the one that Zechariah is encouraging the people to build. Ezekiel’s temple has not yet been constructed even in our time. One reason we know this is because Ezekiel’s temple is on top of a very high mountain – which is apparently a reference to other prophesies that God has made concerning Jerusalem in the Millennium being physically elevated. Actually, one of those prophesies is given in Zechariah 14:10 where we’re told that Jerusalem will be “lifted up” which seems to be a reference to a topographical heightening of that city in the end times.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: To measure Jerusalem

Anyway, the man in Ezekiel’s vision is doing the same activity that this man in Zechariah’s vision is doing. He’s measuring with a line to determine the width and length of something.

And yet, the two visions are different. Ezekiel’s vision has a man measuring the Temple. Zechariah’s vision has a man measuring the whole city of Jerusalem.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: Verse 3

Now, so far in this vision we’ve been aware of two entities. There’s Zechariah and there’s this man.

But now in verse 3 we’re introduced to two angels that are part of the scene as well.

3 [And, behold,/At this point/Then] the [angel/angelic messenger] [that talked/who was speaking] with me [went forth/was going out/went out/left],

and another [angel/messenger] [went out/was coming out/came] to meet him,

Zechariah 2 Commentary: Two angels

So, there are two beings here – two angels.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: the angel that talked with me

The first is a familiar one. It’s “the angel that talked with me.” He’s the one who has served as a guide for Zechariah throughout the first two visions so far and is now going to play a role in guiding the prophet through this third vision.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: another angel

The second being introduced in this verse is just referred to as “another angel.” And his responsibility as we’ll see in subsequent verses is to give a message to “the angel that talked with me” which then that angel is supposed to deliver to Zechariah.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: What the angels do

Now, both of these angels in this verse are engaged in one activity each.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: went forth

The “speaking angel” “went forth” or “was going out.” And you wonder – from where was this angel “going out?” My assumption is that he was leaving the prophet’s presence. He was going out from being beside Zechariah. Like a river goes out of a land, this angel was going out of Zechariah’s presence.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: went out to meet him

And why did that angel go out from or leave Zechariah’s presence? Well, it’s apparently to go and get this message from this other angel. And so, this other angel comes out to meet the speaking angel.

Now, from where does this other angel come? We have no idea. He comes from some unknown place with the express purpose of meeting the speaking angel.

This is the kind of action that Laban did to Jacob when he heard that he had come to his city. He went out to meet him. It’s the action of the king of Sodom toward Abraham when Abraham came back from rescuing him and his stuff. The other angel goes out in order to meet the speaking angel. That’s his purpose.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: Verse 4

And he fulfills his purpose in verse 4 and is then able to give a message to the speaking angel.

4 And [the other angel…] said unto [him/the speaking angel],

[Run/Hurry], [speak to/tell] [this/that] young man, [saying/as follows],

Jerusalem [shall be inhabited as towns without/will no longer be enclosed by/will be a city without] walls [for/because of] the [multitude/great number] of [men/people] and [cattle/animals/livestock] [therein/within it/there/in it]:

Zechariah 2 Commentary: Run

So, the message is urgent. The other angel tells the speaking angel to “run.” That’s a command.

It’s like when Jonathan – David’s friend – told his young lad to run and go get the arrows he was about to shoot. Or the command given to the man who was going to bring news to David of his son’s death. It’s the command that Elisha gave to his servant Gehazi to find out how the Shunamite’s son was.

It’s a command with some urgency attached to it. There’s a task that needs to be fulfilled and quickly!

Zechariah 2 Commentary: speak to…saying

And the task related to speech. This speaking angel will have another thing to relate to Zechariah.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: this young man

And Zechariah is referred to as “this young man.” And this makes us wonder how young the prophet was at this time.

Well, the word translated here as “young man” is used of Ishmael when he was an adolescent. It’s the word used of Isaac when he was going to Mount Moriah with his father Abraham. So, maybe you’d think of a small boy with these examples.

But this is also the word used of the young man who was interested in marrying Jacob’s daughter Dinah. And I mention this last instance to indicate the range of this word.

The word is used to describe a young boy who is still wholly dependent on his mother for help. But it’s also a word that’s used of a young man who can have a romantic interest in a woman.

So, when Zechariah is referred to as a young man, he’s probably not as young as an adolescent. He’s probably in his late teens or early twenties.

And in our culture we unfortunately might tend to associate that age range with immaturity. We might not be inclined to give an important message to a male of that age. And yet, Zechariah was ready for this message. He was mature enough to receive it and send it on to God’s people.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: Jerusalem

And the message that he receives centers once again around a city – Jerusalem.

Now, we see around the time of Zechariah that there was great importance attached to building the wall around Jerusalem. The people needed protection from the enemies outside. Building that wall was a top priority. This was Nehemiah’s main purpose and goal! There’s a whole book in the Old Testament devoted to that task.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: inhabited as towns without walls

And in that context – of a wall being needed to be built – God gives this message – through one angel to another angel and eventually to Zechariah – that Jerusalem actually won’t be able to be contained within walls in the future.

And this is indeed going to happen in the future – not just in relation to Zechariah’s day but also to our day.

There’s a prophecy in the book of Ezekiel in which the nation and/or ruler named Gog is going to attack Jerusalem. And when he does, he’s going to be saying the following in his mind:

“I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will go against those who are at rest, that live securely, all of them living without walls and having no bars or gates, to capture spoil and to seize plunder, to turn your hand against the waste places which are now inhabited, and against the people who are gathered from the nations, who have acquired cattle and goods, who live at the center of the world.” (Eze 38:11-12)

And later on in that prophecy, God identifies this land that Gog will invade as Israel.

So, in the future – in the end times – Israel will dwell securely. They will not need a wall and so they’ll have no wall. Just like this prophecy in Zechariah states.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: for the multitude of men and cattle therein

And the reason given for the lack of a wall around Jerusalem in future times is not so much that they’ll have no enemies. The emphasis at least here in Zechariah is more on the fact that Jerusalem will have so many people and animals that they can’t be contained any more by a wall.

But the reality in this world is that you do need walls. You need to defend yourself. You need protection from harmful people.

Israel of our modern day had to build a wall in order to protect itself against Palestinian terrorists. And it’s done a great deal to reduce the number of incidents of terrorism in that land.

Our own country has a president who was voted into office not just because of the numerous flaws and deficiencies of his opponent – but also because he promised to build a wall!

This is reality in this life – the need to protect from harm – oftentimes by means of a wall.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: Verse 5

Read about Zechariah 2:5 at our Zechariah 2 5 Meaning article.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: Verses 6-7

And all of this talk of fire and cloud and the exodus is a good lead-in for what the Lord is going to speak of next. Because in verses 6 and 7 of Zechariah 1 the Lord exhorts his scattered people to escape and return to Israel – the promised land!

6 ¶ [Ho, ho, come forth, and/Ho there!/You there!/Come! Come!] flee from the [land of the north/northland], [saith/declares] the LORD:
for I have [spread/dispersed/scattered] you abroad [as/to] the four winds of the heaven, [saith/declares] the LORD.

7 [Deliver thyself, O Zion,/Ho, Zion! Escape, you/Escape, Zion, you/Come O Zion! Escape, you] [that/who] [dwellest/are living/live] [with the daughter of Babylon/among the Babylonians/in the daughter of Babylon].

Zechariah 2 Commentary: Ho, ho

Now, I think the first thing we need to do as we come to verse 6 is figure out what the Lord means when he says, “ho, ho.” Because we don’t really use that kind of phrase – except in the context of the time of year that we call Christmas. And in that context of course, the phrase “ho, ho” is used of a large man in a red suit. And when he utters that phrase its basically the equivalent of a jolly laugh. Now, I can assure you that that’s not what the Lord is doing here. He’s not laughing.

It’s actually an interesting word. In Hebrew he’s saying hoi, hoi! Not like “ahoy!” but actually this word is usually translated as “woe” – W-O-E.

It’s a word that’s used by someone who is mourning the death of his brother. God uses this word as he mourns for the fate of his chronically sinful people. He also uses this word to warn people – he warns them of a dire fate with the use of this word. He tells them that he’s about to rise up and take action.

And it’s this reality – that this word is used so much in the context of judgement and regret and doom – that explains why almost all of the 51 times this word is used in the Old Testament, it’s used in the prophets – especially Isaiah and Jeremiah.

And yet, there are a few unusual uses of this word. In Isaiah 55:1 God says, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”

And so, on a rare occasion this word is used to invite someone to do something incredibly beneficial for himself. It’s a personal invitation from the Lord. It’s a welcoming message of blessing.

And that’s how it’s used in Zechariah 2 as well. God is welcoming and inviting his scattered people to do something that will result in blessing for them.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: flee from the land of the north

Well, what is it that’s going to be so beneficial and blessed for the Jews? God tells his scattered people to flee from Babylon.

And we see this same command given to God’s people in the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was giving his message before the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC – 46 years before Zechariah received the same basic message – to flee from Babylon.

Jeremiah 51:1-6 says this:

KJV Jeremiah 51:1 ¶ Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will raise up against Babylon, and against them that dwell in the midst of them that rise up against me, a destroying wind; 2 And will send unto Babylon fanners, that shall fan her, and shall empty her land: for in the day of trouble they shall be against her round about. 3 Against him that bendeth let the archer bend his bow, and against him that lifteth himself up in his brigandine: and spare ye not her young men; destroy ye utterly all her host.

 4 Thus the slain shall fall in the land of the Chaldeans, and they that are thrust through in her streets.

 5 For Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of his God, of the LORD of hosts; though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.

 6 Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD’S vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence.

So, I suppose the question would be – what time frame are these two prophets looking at? When Jeremiah is moved to write his prophecy and when Zechariah receives a very similar message, when is this going to happen? When do the Jews need to flee from Babylon?

Zechariah 2 Commentary: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven

Well, at least according to Zechariah it’s going to be in a context toward the end of a period of time during which the Jews had been scattered or dispersed or spread abroad.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: In Zechariah’s Time?

This could have been after the Babylonian captivity following the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon starting in 586 BC. If that’s the case, then Zechariah would be calling for the Jews who had remained in Babylon to leave and come to Jerusalem where God was interested in the re-building of the Temple.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: Today?

But in light of the verses that came right before verses 6 and 7 here, this also could be a reference to a time that’s yet future to us. Jews today are still scattered. Of course, Babylon as a named nation doesn’t exist at this point – though I think there’s some reason to believe that it will exist again in the future. Or even if perhaps God is speaking of Babylon in terms of its present-day territory – which is a conglomeration of parts of present-day Iran and Iraq – there are still some Jews living in this area right now that perhaps are the intended recipients of this prophecy.

And here’s a brief history of how many Jews have lived in this territory that was once Babylon.

In 1947 – one year before the reconstitution of the Jewish state – there were 156,000 Jews in Iraq. As of 2008, the estimate is… seven. Not seven thousand – seven Jews in Iraq.

The situation for Jews in Iran is somewhat similar. When the Jewish state was reconstituted in 1948, there were about 145,000 Jews living in Iran. But as of 2012 there were only about 8,700 Jews living in that nation. That’s more than Iraq, but it’s still quite a reduction.

So, could this prophecy in Zechariah be a call for these people – around 8,700 of them – to return to Israel? It could be!

Zechariah 2 Commentary: The future?

Or will there be a further dispersion of the Jews out to the four corners of the world that this prophecy is anticipating? That’s another possibility, though I hope this isn’t the case.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: Escape

Whatever the timeline, these Jews of Zechariah’s day or of our day or of a future day are told to escape.

That’s the word that Lot heard from the angels because Sodom was about to be burned. It’s the action David took to get away from Saul who was bent on destroying him. It’s a word used to describe the action that a person or group must take if they are to avoid certain death.

Zechariah 2 Commentary: the daughter of Babylon

And this is what God wants the Jews to do in relation to Babylon. They need to escape. They need to flee. Why?

Because something bad is coming upon Babylon – which is just what we heard from Jeremiah’s prophecy of the destruction of Babylon. And it’s just what we’ll hear next time in verse 8 and following.

There is punishment coming for the nations – including Babylon – for Israel’s sake. And this punishment – which makes fleeing from these nations necessary for the Jews – will also vindicate Zechariah or some other mysterious messenger. We’ll study that next time, Lord-willing.

Zechariah 1 Explained: Verses 18-21

Zechariah 1 explained: Let’s turn our attention to the book of Zechariah and the first chapter. Zechariah 1 is where we’ll be studying today. And this is really the last time that we’ll be in this first chapter of this book.

We’ll be studying verses 18-21 which constitute the second vision given to this prophet on this single night back around 520 BC.

The first vision that was communicated to this man concerned God once again returning in mercy to his people.

And that was in accordance with the original introduction to this book where God promised to return to his people if they would but return to him. They did turn to him. And so, according to his original promise in the beginning of this chapter, God in the first vision promised to return to his people.

And so, now we’re in this second vision. And the message of this vision is this: God Will Destroy the Enemies of His People. Let’s read Zechariah 1:18-21 to begin with and then we’ll get into the explanation of this passage.

KJV Zechariah 1:18 ¶ [Then/Once again] [lifted I up mine eyes, and saw/I looked], and [behold/this time I saw/before me were] four horns.

19 [And/So] I [said unto/asked] the [angel/angelic messenger] [that talked/who was speaking] with me,

What [be/are]these?

[And he answered me/He replied],

These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.

20 [And/Then/Next] the LORD [shewed/showed] me four [carpenters/craftsmen/blacksmiths].

21 [Then said I/I said/I asked],

What [come these/are these coming/are these going] to do?

[And he spake, saying/And he said/He answered],

These [are the horns/horns are the ones] which have scattered Judah,
so that [no man did lift up his head/there is no one to be seen/no one could raise his head]:

but [these/these craftsmen/the blacksmiths] [are/have] come to [fray/terrify] [them/Judah’s enemies],
to [cast out/throw down/cut off] the horns of the [Gentiles/nations], which [lifted up their horn over/have thrust themselves against] the land of Judah to scatter [it/its people].

And that ends this second vision. It’s very short. But the message is plain. God Will Destroy the Enemies of His People.

And I’m not sure what you thought you might hear as you came to church this morning. I’m not sure that any one of us here would have been wishing that we could hear a message from God’s word about the destruction of our enemies.

Perhaps you feel like you really don’t have any enemies. Maybe you don’t sense any sort of friction with anyone else in this life. Or maybe there’s friction – but it’s of such a kind that you wouldn’t describe it as enmity with another person.

And yet, for us Christians – we all – if we’re really doing God’s work, we do tend to accumulate people in our lives that don’t like what we stand for. They don’t like what we stand against.

And I trust that we’re not gaining enemies because we’re crooked – because we lie or we steal or cheat. I hope that we’re not gaining enemies because we gossip or do poor work on the job or are morally bad examples to others around us. We can gain enemies for all of those reasons and more.

But for a Christian who’s actually walking with the Lord – yes, you will gain enemies in this life. And they might even speak kindly to your face. But behind your back, they really do communicate quite a bit of hostility.

And of course, the situation tends to be worse for our brethren across the globe. In Muslim nations, simply to profess faith in Jesus Christ might get you disowned by your family. Your very life might be immediately imperiled for the mere act of trusting Jesus Christ to save you from your sin. There are unfortunately even videos out there online that display the murder of Christians by their enemies. This kind of thing is happening today!

Throughout the history of this world, God’s people have experienced persecution by their enemies. You can think of the persecution of the Roman Catholic Church against those whom they considered to be heretics – people who taught and preached that salvation from your sins comes from trusting Christ alone – apart from your works.

Throughout history then and into the present day, God’s true people have experienced a great deal of suffering at the hands of their enemies. And as God’s suffering people were following the Scripture, they have not resisted and they have not fought back. They have been like sheep going to slaughter.

And you might get the idea from all of that, that God doesn’t really care all that much. God doesn’t care about the sufferings of his people at the hands of their enemies.

But he actually does. And I can say that – not just because I want to say or believe that – but because God puts passages in the Bible – like the one in front of us today – to prove this point. He proves that he really does care about the sufferings of his people at the hands of their enemies – and that eventually, God Will Destroy the Enemies of His People.

So, let’s get into the details of this passage and study out this message from Zechariah 1:18-21.

Verse 18

We’ll read once more verse 18.

KJV Zechariah 1:18 ¶ [Then/Once again] [lifted I up mine eyes, and saw/I looked], and [behold/this time I saw/before me were] four horns.

So, Zechariah starts this scene by letting us know that he lifted up his eyes. And every commentary I read on this passage mentions that Zechariah must have been pondering his first vision at this point. And they picture him as kind of with his head down and eyebrows furrowed and considering the meaning of that first vision.

But really, that phrase concerning someone “lifting up” his “eyes” is used frequently in the Old Testament not to portray that someone had his head down and had to physically lift up his head to see something. It’s more of a term that lets us know that a person suddenly became aware of some reality that he was previously unaware of.

So, Lot lifts up his eyes and notices the fertile Jordan River valley. God tells Abraham to lift up his eyes and look at the land that he will give him some day future yet to us. Abraham lifts up his eyes to become aware of angelic messengers or the presence of Mount Moriah in the distance or a ram caught by his horns. Isaac lifts his eyes and notices the approaching of camels. Rebekah lifts her eyes to notice Isaac. Jacob lifts up his eyes to see a dream from God.

And there are many other instances of this phrase in the Old Testament. But the gist of them is that the person doing this action is becoming aware of some reality.

And that’s just what’s happening here with Zechariah. He’s becoming aware of this reality of these four horns.

And we’re given no other information besides the presence of these horns. Questions that come to my mind and to the minds of other people who have studied this passage would include things like –

  • What do these horns look like?
  • Are they hollow or not?
  • Are these horns just sitting on the ground?
  • Are these horns attached to some animal(s)?
  • Is it one animal with four horns?
  • It is four animals with one horn each? Four rhinos?
  • Is it two animals each with a set of two horns?

And the fact is that we’re just not told at this point. Now, I think certain questions might be answered as we go along in the passage, but for now, we’re left with a lot of questions.

And once more, we see in this book that we’re not alone with the questioning. Zechariah himself – who is there and who sees these horns with his sense of perception – he himself has to ask about these horns in verse 19.

19 [And/So] I [said unto/asked] the [angel/angelic messenger] [that talked/who was speaking] with me,

What [be/are]these?

Now, recall that this angel who speaks with Zechariah was found in the first vision as well. And there he helped explain some things to the prophet. And he’s not the same being as the angel of the Lord. He’s a different angel or messenger. And his purpose in these visions is to guide Zechariah through this intentionally obscure and confusing material.

So, this angel has something to say about these horns.

[And he answered me/He replied],

These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.

Now, who can call to their mind a time when literal horns scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem? Literal is the key word there. OK, that never happened. So, the horns in this dream take on some sort of significance – but they’re not literal. And what I mean by that of course is that God isn’t expecting us to remember a time when literal animal horns – or whatever they are – scattered his people.

These horns then stand for – or represent – something. What is it?

Well, whatever they are – they have scattered three land territories – Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem. And they of course didn’t scatter dirt. They scattered the people who lived in those places. God’s people!

So, Zechariah is ministering in a time right after the Babylonian exile. What nation had scattered Judah prior to the exile? Who scattered that people into the exile? That would be Babylon.

And the same thing is true of Jerusalem. Babylon ultimately scattered the people of that place as well.

But for Israel – if God is referring here to the Northern Kingdom, then Babylon didn’t scatter them. Assyria did. Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel and sent them into captivity.

So, these horns then are representative of nations – at least two of them, from what we’ve just considered.

And these nations have scattered God’s people. That term “scattered” is what happens when a person threshes wheat. He runs a threshing sledge over it – a wooden board with stones embedded in it – and that separates the grain from the chaff – the light stuff that is attached to the grain naturally. And that light stuff – that chaff – is then scattered to the wind. It blows away.

This what these nations have done to God’s people – scattered them as if they were completely insignificant things that had no weight – no importance.

And we can take note that this is so often how the enemies of God’s people treat us. The Muslim who beheads a Christian in Libya or Tunisia acts as if the man is light as chaff – worthless. The Communists in China who persecute and oppress God’s people there assume that these poor Christians are to be lightly treated. And even in our own country, the Christian who is persecuted in the public arena by angry godless people, again the treatment that this kind of person receives at the hands of their enemies, equates to the way that a farmer would treat chaff – light, insignificant, unimportant, despicable.

And unless God steps in, it seems that this is the way that it’s going to be forever. That God’s people will be trampled on and scattered by their enemies endlessly.

But God does get involved from time to time. And he did so in Zechariah’s day. And that’s what he’s going to focus on now. Verse 20.

20 [And/Then/Next] the LORD [shewed/showed] me four [carpenters/craftsmen/blacksmiths].

Now, in the next verse, Zechariah is going to ask the function of these carpenters. But I think we need to figure out first the identity of these people. Who are they?

This term “carpenters” is used of people who have skill in some sort of craft. Tubal-Cain was a “carpenter” of brass and iron. And of course, in that context, “carpenter” isn’t the best word to describe someone who works with metal. You might call him a craftsman to make the term more generic. This term is also used of a person who would make a ring to put on your finger. So, in that sense this word could even mean “jeweler”.

Ultimately, the word has reference to someone who can skillfully work with his hands and create something worthwhile with those hands – whatever the medium – wood or metal or jewels. So, I think a term like “craftsmen” is probably best in this case.

So, that’s the identity of these four people. They’re craftsmen of some sort.

But what have they come to do in Zechariah’s vision? That’s what Zechariah wants to know as well! Verse 21.

21 [Then said I/I said/I asked],

What [come these/are these coming/are these going] to do?

So, what do craftsmen tend to do? What does a person who works with wood or metal – what’s their job? Well, to work with wood or metal, right?

Only, these craftsmen in this vision aren’t working with wood or metal. They’re going to be working with horns – perhaps ivory, is the idea.

So, what are they going to do with this ivory? Continue in verse 21.

[And he spake, saying/And he said/He answered],

These [are the horns/horns are the ones] which have scattered Judah,
so that [no man did lift up his head/there is no one to be seen/no one could raise his head]:

Now, by the way, you need to note that Zechariah did not ask again about those horns. He knows about the horns already because he asked about them before.

And the angels’ response before let Zechariah know that these horns were nations that had conquered and dispersed God’s people.

So, when the angel once more mentions these horns, it indicates that he can’t get them out of his mind. And he doesn’t want them and their significance to leave our minds either.

In fact, the angel follows-up on what he said before about these horns and this time he mentions a further effect that these horns had on God’s people. Yes, they scattered God’s people. We heard that already.

But something that’s scattered can be gathered once more – sometimes fairly easily. But the effect of these horns was such that the angel says that “no man did lift up his head.”

Now, when a man can’t lift up his head, you can guess why that is.

Perhaps it’s because he’s afraid and so he won’t even lift up his head because if he does he’ll be discovered and attacked again. You think of these awful mass shootings in our country and you hear stories that come from those shootings where some of the people who know they can’t escape – they just pretend to be dead. In that sense, they don’t lift up their heads.

Or maybe a person doesn’t lift up his head because he’s exhausted. These nations surely would have done that to God’s people – exhausted them.

And yet, the ultimate reason that a person might not be able to lift his head is because he’s no longer living. He’s dead. And I think that’s the idea here. These nations – these horns have gored and scattered God’s people and killed a great many of them. They have no strength. To a large extent, they have no life.

And that’s what Zechariah and his fellow-Jews experienced in their days. They returned to God’s land. They returned to do God’s work. And maybe they were expecting it to be easy. But it certainly was not. It was incredibly difficult. And it was very discouraging for them.

And you might feel that way yourself. You know God has work for you. But the nature of the work is tedious. There are many enemies. There is much opposition. There is little encouragement.

But you and I need to realize this truth – that ultimately, God Will Destroy the Enemies of His People – enemies that are physical, yes. But even those enemies that are the bigger problem for us – those that are unseen. Our non-flesh-and-blood enemies.

And that’s just the message of hope and encouragement that God ends this second vision with at the end of verse 21.

but [these/these craftsmen/the blacksmiths] [are/have] come to [fray/terrify] [them/Judah’s enemies],
to [cast out/throw down/cut off] the horns of the [Gentiles/nations], which [lifted up their horn over/have thrust themselves against] the land of Judah to scatter [it/its people].

So, now we see the purpose of the craftsmen. In this vision, they are coming to terrify the horns. Those horns that had been such a terror to Judah – to God’s people – they themselves were going to experience terror.

Now, note that God’s people are not taking vengeance on their enemies here. You might have been a little uneasy with the title of this message – that God Will Destroy the Enemies of His People. Maybe you were a little worried that this message was going to encourage retaliation against those who are our enemies. Maybe it crossed your mind that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ prayed for those who were murdering and blaspheming him.

Yes, all of that is true. We are supposed to love our enemies. As they slap us on one cheek, we have orders from our Commander to present the other cheek to them. We are called to be sheep in the midst of wolves. We as Christians find ourselves in what seems to be a very unenviable position – of being the target of the entire world system – and at the same time, “de-clawed” as it were – sheep, with no natural defenses. We are weak and vulnerable by design.

And so was Judah at the time of these vision to Zechariah. They had no king on earth, leading them in physical battle. They themselves weren’t going to be able to do anything to these horns.

And that’s why God was going to send craftsmen as it were to terrify these horns – these nations that had scattered God’s people. But it’s God doing this.

And these craftsmen of course did not include Judah. These were other nations. And what’s really interesting to think of is that a few of these craftsmen-nations later on would themselves become those horns.

So, let’s consider some possibilities as it comes to the identity of these horns and craftsmen.

By the way, I’ll start this discussion with the admission that some scholars think that the reference to there being four horns and four craftsmen is meant to indicate that these entities come from all over the place. They’re surrounding God’s people. They come as it were from the four winds – from the four corners of the earth – the four cardinal directions – north, south, east, and west.

And I’d personally rather not adopt that kind of interpretation. I think that we can probably identify some good candidates for these four horns and craftsmen.

So, here’s a try.

Number Horn Craftsman
1 Assyria Babylon
2 Babylon Medo-Persian
3 Medo-Persia Greece
4 Greece Rome

So, Assyria was maybe the first horn since we’re told that these horns scattered Israel as well as Judah and Jerusalem. And Assyria scattered Israel.

And who terrified Assyria and did away with them ultimately? Babylon. Babylon is the first craftsman.

But then Babylon itself becomes a horn that scatters Judah and Jerusalem. But then God sends Medo-Persia to terrify Babylon, thus Medo-Persia becomes the 2nd craftsman.

Medo-Persian – though they seemed to be fairly decent to Judah, yet they were used by the people that surrounded Judah to stop work on the temple. Also, we need to remember that Persia is where Haman hatched his scheme to destroy all the Jews throughout the Persian empire. And beyond that who knows what else they did in history that has not been recorded for us in the Scripture.

And then – and this is beyond Zechariah’s time – but Greece then comes along under the leadership of Alexander the Great and terrified Medo-Persia. So, Greece is craftsman #3. And we hear more about Greece in the book of Daniel.

And just like we saw with the two other craftsmen, they eventually become horns themselves that scatter God’s people. And so, we know from history that Greece was eventually led by a man named Antiochus Epiphanes. And he’s the one who sacrificed a pig on the altar of the temple that was rebuilt in Zechariah’s time and through his ministry. So, they become a horn for that reason and for numerous other reasons as well.

And finally, Rome comes along and replaced Greece as the final craftsman in Zechariah’s vision.

Now, others might object to my proposed identification of these horns and craftsmen. They might say that Assyria isn’t in view here – but that rather Babylon is the first of the four horns.

The benefit of thinking that way is that you have the same four nations listed here as you do in the book of Daniel. In this case, the Messianic Kingdom becomes the last craftsman. And I suppose that’s possible. But then you start to wonder how it is that Israel was scattered by any of these nations if Assyria isn’t one of the horns.

Either way, I don’t think it’s really possible to pin down whether Assyria is in the picture or if the Messianic Kingdom is. I tend to think that Assyria makes more sense to be included as a horn.

But the point is that God Will Destroy the Enemies of His People.

And so often, he does this – not by strengthening his people to fight their enemies – but he does it in some really unforeseen ways.

Think of the time in the book of Acts where the unbelieving Jews brought Paul the Jewish apostle before the local authority. And that Roman ruler basically told the Jews that he had no interest in hearing their religious disputes. Those Jews were wanting to see harm done to Paul. They had set themselves up as enemies of God’s people. And God worked it out – not through Paul taking up arms and defending himself physically – but God worked through that pagan ruler to the point where it wasn’t Paul who was being beaten – but actually the unbelieving Synagogue ruler was beaten in front of the judgement seat. And what’s really interesting about that is that that man’s name was Sosthenes. And we see elsewhere in the New Testament a man by that name who is at that point a believer. So, in that case, God destroyed the enemies of his people – by giving those enemies some form of light physical chastening – that actually maybe resulted in the salvation of one of these enemies.

Paul the apostle himself was an enemy of God’s people who was “destroyed” as it were through Jesus Christ saving him from his sin and calling him to serve him.

There are some other instances in Scripture of God destroying the enemies of his people that don’t have very happy endings. Like Herod Agrippa putting James to death and then trying to murder Peter. And finally, after God saved Peter, he struck Herod with a really awful plague. Through that series of events, God Destroyed the Enemy of His People.

Paul tells us in 2 Thessalonians 1 that God will indeed do this to the enemies of his people for eternity. He will repay those who are abusing his people with eternal torment.

Now, I think our reaction to this reality and teaching – that God Will Destroy the Enemies of His People – should be two-fold.

One, we need to pray for these people who count themselves as our enemies. We do need to forgive. We need to turn the other check. Let’s do good to our enemies.

This message of God Destroying the Enemies of His People is not some call to do the destroying work ourselves! That’s God’s business. We need to step aside and let him do what he knows is best. It’s like the craftsmen – none of those craftsmen was Judah. Furthermore, Judah didn’t send those craftsmen. God did. So, let’s allow God to be God with our enemies. And in the meantime, let’s try to win them through patient, holy, Gospel-proclaiming love.

But there’s another way that we should react to this message that God Will Destroy the Enemies of His People. And that’s to take the position of the martyrs in the book of Revelation. They are aware of the mistreatment that they experienced at the hands of wicked men on this earth. And they lived this life and they died as witnesses to Jesus and they died because they were witnesses – they were martyred by wicked men.

And at that point when they’re with the Lord and in heaven, their gnawing question is, “How long?

How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

In heaven, the concern of God’s people who have been abused by their enemies is on the topic of justice.

In this world, we want mercy on our enemies. We want them to experience the mercy and grace and forgiveness that God has bestowed on us through his Son.

But in the next world, we do want justice. We want things to be made right. And even here, that’s part of our burden – that wrongs would be made right – that justice would be served.

It won’t happen perfectly in this life. There will be injustice. You see and hear and read about it every day.

But we all long for a time when Jesus returns and sets up his kingdom on this earth. And all wrongs will be made right. And then finally – in perfection – with wholehearted desire on our parts – God Will Destroy the Enemies of His People.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: Verses 13-17

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: Let’s turn our attention one more time to the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Zechariah. Zechariah 1. And the plan is to finish this first vision today.

We’ve already studied most of this chapter. We considered the introduction in verses 1-6. Then we studied Zechariah’s first vision and got through only the first half of the verses – verses 7-12. Then we took a little bit of a detour and studied the angel of the Lord. And so, now finally we’re to the end of this first vision and the end of this first chapter in this book of the prophet Zechariah.

So, let’s read once more the first part of this first vision to remind ourselves of the context of what we’ll study today. And then we’ll get into the new material.

KJV Zechariah 1:7 ¶ [Upon/On] the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which is the month [Sebat/Shebat], in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet [i.e., Zechariah…], [saying/as follows],

8 [I saw by/I saw at/I was attentive that/During the] night, [and behold/I saw/I had a vision and there before me was] a man [riding upon/was riding/seated on] a red horse[,/!] and he stood among [the/some] myrtle trees that were in the [bottom/ravine]; and behind him were there red horses, [speckled/sorrel/brown], and white.

9 Then [said I/I asked] [i.e., someone nearby…],

[“][O my lord/Sir], what are these?[”]

And the [angel that talked with me/angel who was speaking with me/angelic messenger who replied to me/angel who was talking with me] [said unto me/answered],

I will shew [thee/you] what [these/they] [be/are].

10 [And/Then] the man [that stood/who was standing] among the myrtle trees [answered and said/spoke up and said/explained],

These are [they/those/the ones] whom the LORD hath sent to [walk to and fro through/patrol/walk about on/go throughout] the earth.

11 [And they/So they/The riders] [answered/then agreed with/reported to] the angel of the LORD [that stood/who was standing] among the myrtle trees, and said,

We have [walked to and fro through/patrolled/been walking about on/have gone throughout] the earth, [and, behold,/and now/and found] [all the earth/everything/the whole world] [sitteth still, and is at rest/is peaceful and quiet/is at rest and quiet/at rest and in peace].

12 Then the angel of the LORD [answered and said/said/asked],

O LORD [of hosts/who rules over all/almighty], how long [wilt thou not/before you] have [mercy/compassion] on Jerusalem and on the [other…] [cities/towns] of Judah, [against which/with which/which] [thou hast had/you have been] [indignation/so angry with] these [threescore and ten/seventy] years?

So, to review very briefly, the Lord sends this vision and all the rest of these visions to Zechariah in the 2nd year of Darius – in one single night.

Zechariah is shown a man who is also an angel who is also the angel of the Lord – whom we discovered is a manifestation of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament.

And he’s in charge of these horses and their riders that go around and patrol the entire earth. And these riders come back and report to Jesus Christ that the whole world is at peace.

And instead of being happy about that, the manifestation of Jesus Christ here – the angel of the Lord – laments that fact. The fact that Jerusalem and the surrounding cities lay desolate while the nations of the world are at rest and living in ease – that makes the Son of God grieve.

And so, he asks the Lord of Hosts – God the Father – how long it will be this way. How long will God’s people be laid waste while their enemies are living the good life?

And that brings us into the material that we’ll study today. Verses 13-17 of Zechariah chapter 1.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: Verse 13

How does the Lord respond to the lament of the angel of the Lord concerning the desperate plight of his people? Verse 13.

13 [And the/So the/The] LORD [answered/addressed] the [angel/angelic messenger] [that talked with me/who was speaking with me] [with good words and comfortable words/with gracious words, comforting words/good comforting words].

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: the angel that talked with me

So, God the Father – the Lord of Hosts – responds to the angel that spoke with Zechariah. Now, catch that this is not the angel of the Lord. The angel of the Lord is the one who grieved over Jerusalem’s condition. And yet, when the Lord of hosts responds to that grief – he addresses the angel who was speaking with Zechariah.

Maybe that doesn’t seem very logical to you. Maybe you think that if the angel of the Lord is the one who expresses emotions of grief to the Lord of hosts, that maybe the Lord of hosts ought to respond back directly to the angel of the Lord, rather than this other angel that’s talking with Zechariah. Well, just remember that this is a vision. And as such, things don’t always work in a logical progression. If the way that events are portrayed and conveyed to the prophet and then to us – if these don’t make sense to us, that’s OK.

This is one reason that in just about every one of these visions, Zechariah has to ask a question that seeks to clarify what he’s seeing and what it means.

So, the Lord of hosts responds to the angel who was speaking with Zechariah.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: good words and comfortable words

And that speech is characterized by good or gracious and comfortable or comforting words.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: good

“Good words” are the kind of speech that the counselors of Rehoboam urged that young king to take toward his subjects. They advised that son of Solomon to speak this way with the people of the kingdom of Israel.

And Proverbs 12:25 tells us that this kind of speech – a good word – makes a man’s heart glad.

So, the Lord gives words to the angel who was speaking with Zechariah that would have placated him. They would have made the heart of this angel glad. These were not words of continued judgement as Israel had been so used to for the last several centuries. But rather, these were words of peace and joy. They were good words.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: comfortable

And the comfortable words would be characterized as ones that you would speak to someone who was mourning and you wanted them to feel better. These words would come from the emotions of someone who felt genuinely sorry for the plight of someone else.

These are words that are not like kicking a man while he’s down. They’re words that are more like lending a helping hand to that person who is down.

And these are the words that the Lord of hosts utters to this speaking angel. Words that will uplift and encourage.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: God speaks good and comfortable words today

And so, let’s consider that this is something that God really does to his humble and contrite and depressed people. He has a tendency to speak good comforting words to us. If you’re not hearing those words, then maybe you need to be more diligent to open his word, so that you can hear these encouragements.

You’re not going to hear good and comforting words from the Lord by looking at your life. By looking at your circumstances. No – that’s where the discouragement is going to come.

If you and I are feeling down and depressed, it’s likely that we’re not taking advantage of the awesome privilege of having God’s words in our hands – in our laps – on our book shelves.

Or maybe you are reading the word. And yet, maybe your problem is that you aren’t believing what God has said. He’s trustworthy. We need not doubt him. What he says is absolutely correct always.

And so, you and I need good and comforting words from the Lord. So, let’s throughout the week pick up his word and read it and believe it – believe him. That’s where the comfort comes in the life of a believer.

So, this is what the speaking angel received from the Lord of hosts.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: Verse 14

And just like you and I – when we receive comfort and encouragement from God’s word, oftentimes we can’t wait to share that same blessing with others. And that’s just what the speaking angel does in verse 14 – he shares what he has heard.

14 So the [angel/messenger] [that communed/who was speaking] with me said unto me,

[Cry thou/Proclaim/Cry out], saying,

Thus saith the LORD [of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty];

I am [jealous/exceedingly jealous/very much moved/very jealous] for Jerusalem and for Zion [with a great jealousy/_].

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: I am jealous

So, here’s the message for Zechariah. In Hebrew if you were to translate it very rigidly into English it would read like this – “I am jealous for Jerusalem and Zion jealousy great!” In other words, he could say – if this even makes sense – “I am jealous-ing a great jealousy for Jerusalem and Zion!

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: Jerusalem

Of course, Jerusalem was Israel’s capital city. It’s where the Temple was and where it was being reconstructed in Zechariah’s day. There was a lot of holy history associated with and based in that city. And today of course, there’s even more of that kind of history that we associate with Jerusalem. And there will be yet more such history in the future – more that God plans for that city in his divine program. So, that’s Jerusalem.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: Zion

Zion as we know of its earliest origins in 2 Samuel 5 was a fortress inside of the city of Jerusalem – which used to belong to the Jebusites. David attacked and took it and renamed it the city of David. So, that’s the real origin of this place that the Lord of hosts refers to.

And from there, later on, the Scripture starts equating Zion with Jerusalem. It’s like they’re eventually viewed as one and the same place. Zion becomes a synonym basically for Jerusalem.

In our text in Zechariah here we can assume that the Lord is speaking of Zion in that way – as just another way to reference Jerusalem.

And what about this city? How does God feel about it?

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: Jealous

He’s jealous! Well, what does that mean, anyway? Because you might think that jealousy is maybe a sinful emotion. What does God mean when he says that he’s jealous?

Well, there certainly are examples of ungodly and sinful jealousy in the Scripture. There are times where a man’s flocks are so numerous that ungodly men are jealous of him. Rachel was jealous of Leah’s ability to give birth to children while the Lord withheld that ability from her. Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him and we know how that turned out.

These are examples of people desiring what doesn’t rightfully belong to them. It’s sinful in that sense.

But then there are examples where the Lord desires – not what isn’t his, as if anything doesn’t belong to him – but the Lord is shown as desiring what is his!

He portrays himself as one who desires his people’s exclusive worship.

It’s like the jealousy of a husband for his wife or vice versa. Your spouse is yours. He or she is not another’s! And if a line is crossed to the point where it seems that someone else has been treating your spouse as only you should be able to – well, this is the resulting emotion.

And that’s how God feels about his people – his people that he’s entered into a covenant with. Just like a man enters a covenant with his wife when they’re married, so too the Lord enters into covenants with his people.

In the Old Testament, he did this at Mount Sinai. He – as it were – married his people Israel at that point. In the New Testament, when we believe into Jesus Christ we enter into the New Covenant wherein our sins are forgiven forever! We have been espoused to Jesus – as Paul the Apostle says.

Did you know that? That when you trusted Christ to save you from your sin, you actually entered into the New Covenant and became an object of God’s intense jealous desire!

And something similar happened with Israel in the Old Testament. And since God’s people enter into a covenant relationship with him, he intensely desires us. He doesn’t want us to belong to any other so-called god – whether it be a god which would require religious rites and ceremonies or whether it be a god of money and possessions or anything in between.

In addition, for anyone who is married or can imagine being married – what is the emotion that rises up when you come to realize that someone is mistreating your spouse? Maybe it’s your children at home who are being unkind to your wife. Or maybe your husband is at work and being dealt with in a harsh manner. How does a spouse respond?

He or she can be expected to respond with this emotion that God expresses here in Zechariah. He’s jealous. He sees that there is mistreatment of his people. And it rouses him to action!

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: Not the dirt

And of course we need to be clear that it’s not the dirt that God is jealous for. Right? When God says that he’s jealous for Jerusalem and Zion, we shouldn’t think that God’s emotions rise up on behalf of the grass and trees and animals in this city.

No, God intensely desires that his covenant people stop receiving abuse and ill treatment from the nations around them.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: Cry thou…Lord of hosts

And this is the message that Zechariah is supposed to go and preach to these covenant people of God. And this message is attended by the authority of the Lord who commands armies – who commands hosts – who is able to do anything.

So, God is jealous for his people.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: Verse 15

On the other hand, God is very angry with their enemies. Verse 15.

15 [And/But] I am [very sore displeased/very angry/greatly displeased] with the [heathen/nations] that [are at ease/take my grace for granted/feel secure]:

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: I am very sore displeased

So, let me give you the rather mechanical translation of the first few words of this verse. It would go like this – “But anger great I myself am angry!” or a little smoother – “But I myself am angry with a great anger!

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: Displeased

Now, frequently in the Old Testament, God is angry – described with this word “displeased” used here – when people don’t approach him correctly. Think of Nadab and Abihu who offered strange fire to the Lord and whom the Lord burned to death. Think of Korah and his rebellion and how the earth swallowed him and his family up. This concept of displeasure or anger is found in both of those stories and many more. These people overstepped their boundaries as creatures. And as a result, this evokes displeasure or anger in the Lord.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: Nations…at ease

And God is addressing his anger against a certain group mentioned here. They’re nations – not Israel. And they’re at ease.

And several times in the Old Testament, the Lord takes issue with people or nations that are at ease. It’s not that God wants everyone to be up in arms and fretful. But God is angry when people who should be bothered are resting. When people who should know their fretful condition are acting as if everything is fine. When people who are at war with the God who created the very environment that they inhabit – when they feel as though they are impervious to repercussions from that God whose space they’re just taking up.

Think of Sennacherib who taunted Hezekiah and Hezekiah’s God. Sennacherib was at ease. He was arrogant. He thought he was impervious to any sort of consequence that could come from disrespecting the Lord. And yet, he discovered the kind of peril that he was in all along when the death angel came and took care of his enormous army in one night.

And so, that’s what’s going on with these nations that the Lord mentions. They are arrogant and acting as if their sins will never catch up with them.

Well, what sins is God talking about? How did these nations approach or treat God in a way that he didn’t want to be approached or treated? What was their crime?

for [I was but a little displeased/while I was only a little angry/I was a little displeased with them], [and they/they/but they] [helped forward the affliction/furthered the disaster/have only made things worse for themselves/added to the calamity].

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: a little angry

Now, this is the third time that the word “displeased” or “angry” appears in this verse. We heard the Lord state at the front of this verse that he is now very angry at these nations.

But then he goes back to describe how this began. Initially, the Lord was just a little displeased – a little angry.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: they helped forward the affliction

So, what moved the Lord along in the degree and intensity of his anger? It was the help that these nations provided concerning some sort of disaster.

And this probably points to the activity of these nations – especially Babylon – in taking the Lord’s disaster – his calamity – his evil – that he planned for his rebellious people Israel – and the nations took it way too far.

Otherwise, perhaps the Lord is saying that it’s the nations that have taken the Lord’s anger at them (not Israel) and through their own helping they’ve brought the Lord’s anger to the place where it is now very great. And those nations achieved this through their arrogance and ease.

Any way you take it, the Lord is jealous for his people but angry with their enemies.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: Verse 16

And because of that – because of the Lord’s jealousy for his people and anger at their enemies, the Lord now promises to once more have compassion on his people in verse 16.

16 Therefore thus saith the LORD;

I [am returned/will return/have become compassionate] [to/toward] Jerusalem with [mercies/compassion]:
my house [shall/will] be [built/rebuilt] in it,

[saith/declares] the LORD [of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty],

and a [line/measuring line/a surveyor’s measuring line] shall be stretched [forth upon/over/out over] Jerusalem.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: I am returned

So, the Lord has returned. It’s a sure reality in his mind. He’s done it and the effects of that return will continue into the future.

And we remember that this is exactly what the Lord promised his people back in the introduction to this book in verse 3. There he commanded them to turn – which is the same word as “returned” here in verse 16. And if the people turned to him, then the Lord promised that he would return to them.

And then we saw in verse 6 that the people did indeed return to the Lord. So, the questions would follow – when is he going to keep his end of the bargain? Answer – right here! “I am returned.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: to Jerusalem

And he returns to this place that has been the object of abuse from the nations and chastening from the Lord – Jerusalem.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: with mercies

And he’s not returning with more chastening. No – he’s returning with mercies – with compassion – with sympathy. He feels his people’s pain and he’s coming to do something to relieve that pain.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: my house shall be built in it

In particular, he’s going to see to it that his house is rebuilt in Jerusalem. Now, recall that the people had been idle and so that even though they were called to return to Jerusalem and build the temple of the Lord, they had quit for a while.

But God’s returning to them in mercy was going to ensure that his temple would be rebuilt.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem

In addition – and certainly related to building the Lord’s house – the Lord promises that part of his compassion and mercy toward Jerusalem would be that a line would be stretched out over it.

Now, there are numerous instances in the Bible in which God speaks of putting a line over a city in terms of judging and destroying that city. He would make sure that that city was leveled to the ground.

And yet, that’s not the case here. This line is a measuring line that would be used to build buildings – to start new construction. In other words, God’s compassion to Jerusalem would include new buildings – both the house of the Lord and the houses of his people in that city.

And by the way, this all started happening in Zechariah’s time. These promises came true. The Lord was found faithful in what he was promising his people through Zechariah.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: Verse 17

And the Lord finishes this first vision with additional assurance that the ruined heaps that laid all around Zechariah and his people – that these would be turned into something glorious – verse 17.

17 [Cry yet, saying/Again, proclaim, saying/Speak up again/Proclaim further],

Thus saith the LORD [of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty];

My cities [through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad/will again overflow with prosperity];
and the LORD [shall yet/will again/will once more] comfort Zion,
and [shall yet/again/validate his] [choose/choice of] Jerusalem.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: yet

First of all, notice how many times the word “yet” is used in this verse. Four times. The Lord wants to be sure that Zechariah knew how certain these things were to be the case once more or again.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: spread abroad

And it’s interesting that the Lord uses this word “spread abroad” in a positive context here. Because in just about every situation in which this word is used in the Old Testament, the context is scattering the Jews or sometimes other people groups among the nations as a judgement and punishment for them.

It’s actually so unusual for this word to be used in a positive context that one source I checked believes that this is a homonym – when a word looks just like another word but each has a different and distinct meaning. That’s possible.

But also possible is that the Lord wanted to grab the attention of the original audience of this first vision. These people would have been familiar with being a nation that was scattered abroad. But now – they’ll be scattered abroad alright – but this scattering was going to come from the sheer prosperity that God was going to give them.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: prosperity

And that word translated as “prosperity” is simply the word “good.” God was going to scatter their cities with good. So then, the good was going to be scattered throughout their cities – rather than they themselves being scattered throughout the nations.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: comfort Zion

And this is a comfort to Zion. It’s interesting that the Lord repeats two words here that we found back in verse 13. The Lord spoke to the angel there with words that were “good” and “comfortable.” And here at the end of this vision we have the Lord scattering “good” throughout and “comforting” his cities and people.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: choose Jerusalem

And all of this – the gracious way in which the Lord is planning to treat his cities and his people – will verify the fact that he has indeed chosen Jerusalem.

This actually isn’t the only place in this book in which the Lord claims this. Zechariah 2:12 makes this promise – “the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again.” And in Zechariah 3:2 we hear this – “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?”

And so, the Lord here in Zechariah 1 says that he will verify that he has indeed chosen Jerusalem. And we remember that he said that he will do this “again” – which makes us wonder, “Has the Lord chosen Jerusalem before? Has he asserted his choice of Jerusalem prior to this time?”

And the answer is “yes!”

In the books of Kings and Chronicles, we find these statements:

  • “for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen.”
  • “for Jerusalem’s sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel”
  • “Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there.”
  • “Jerusalem, the city which the LORD did choose out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there.”
  • “Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever:”
  • Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.”
  • I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel.”
  • Jerusalem, the city which the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there.”
  • “Jerusalem, which I have chosen before all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever:”

You get the idea. God had chosen Jerusalem to be a very special place for himself. And he made that choice with eternity in mind. Even into the New Heavens and New Earth – there’s going to be a city. And you know what that city is called. It’s Jerusalem – a new one. But Jerusalem, nevertheless.

Zechariah 1 Bible Study: Conclusion

So, this ends Zechariah’s first vision. The message is clear. God was going to again show compassion for Jerusalem and his people. After 70 years of oppression, they would “yet” be shown “good” and “mercy” by their Lord.

And so, Lord-willing we’ll see in the next vision more of what the Lord planned to do to the nations that put Jerusalem in such a bad position.

Angel of the Lord in the Bible

Angel of the Lord in the Bible: Let’s turn our attention once more to the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Zechariah. Zechariah 1.

And we’ll be in the first vision of Zechariah which covers verses 7-17.

Now, last time, we studied verses 7-12. And we do need to get to verses 13-17 – but on the way there we met this kind of mysterious being that we’re going to take the whole time today to study throughout Scripture. See if you can identify him as we read the first six verses of Zechariah’s first vision in Zechariah 1:7-12.

Angel of the Lord in Zechariah 1

KJV Zechariah 1:7 ¶ 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,

 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.

 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.

 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.

 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.

 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?

And so, the being that we need to become better acquainted with is this one known in verses 11 and 12 as “the angel of the Lord” – מַלְאַךְ־יְהוָה – the man on the red horse among the myrtle trees.

This being is mentioned by name 58 times in the Old Testament.

But here, in Zechariah 1:11 and 12 we note a few things about this being.

First of all, he’s a man – at least that’s how he appears. That’s how Zechariah introduces him. He’s the man on the red horse in the middle of the myrtle trees.

And yet, at the same time, we’re told that this being is an angel. He’s some sort of ministering spirit that is higher than mankind for the time being.

And this angel/man is concerned for God’s people. Note his cry to the Lord. He’s concerned that the Lord not delay any longer showing mercy toward his people. And note also that it isn’t the people themselves begging for God’s mercy – at least, not that we’re told of. No – this angel of the Lord is interceding for God’s people to God himself.

And so, after verses 11 and 12 this angel of the Lord bows out of the scene. But we take away from this passage that this being takes the form of a man. He intercedes for God’s people according to God’s will. He is a mediator between God and man.

OK, what else about him? Let’s search the Scripture to discover more. Because there are still 56 more references to this being in the Old Testament!

Angel of the Lord in Zechariah 3

Let’s turn to Zechariah 3. We’ll read verses 1-7.

KJV Zechariah 3:1 ¶ 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.

 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?

 3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.

 4 And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.

 5 And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by.

 6 ¶ And the angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua, saying,

 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.

And he goes on from there and prophesies the coming of a man named Branch, whom we know to be Jesus the Messiah. But we’ll stop there for now and consider what we’ve just seen about the angel of the Lord.

To begin, we notice that Joshua is standing before this angel – and Satan is also standing there. In my mind, the angel of the Lord occupies a place that I would tend to assume God alone would assume – that of judge. It’s almost like a trial scene with the judge, the accused, and the accuser. And it’s not the Lord of Hosts who is at the front serving as judge. It’s this angel of the Lord. He seems to take on the position of divine sovereign here.

Notice also that there are three people introduced – Joshua, the angel of the Lord, and Satan in verse 1. But all of a sudden, the Lord is said to start speaking and rebuking Satan in verse 2. I think we could be forgiven if we start to get the idea that somehow the angel of the Lord is the Lord himself – otherwise, the Lord’s voice coming out of nowhere seems a little out of place. Could it be that somehow this angel of the Lord is actually the Lord himself?

Let’s also note that the angel of the Lord seems to take authoritative actions like we’d expect the Lord himself to do. This angel who is standing as judge of Joshua and who is rebuking Satan then directs various people standing around – which we didn’t know about beforehand – to do various things for Joshua to clean him up.

But the most authoritative action of all that the angel of the Lord takes is when he declares to Joshua, “I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee” which is a clear reference to this being forgiving sins. And we’re left wondering with the Jews of old who witnessed Jesus’ miracles and declarations of sins forgiven “who is able to forgive sins but God alone?!” And yet, the angel of the Lord is apparently forgiving sins. And so, the question continues in our minds, is this angel of the Lord divine? Is he God?

And yet, the angel seems to be separate in some ways from God. After all, he gives a message in the name of the Lord of hosts. So, it’s not like these two individuals are the same person, as it were. There’s a distinction between the two. And yet, they seem to be as close as any two persons could be. Perhaps to the point of being the same being and yet two distinct persons. Is this sounding familiar?

Well, let’s do some more investigation into the remaining 53 references to this angel of the Lord.

Angel of the Lord in Genesis 16

Let’s go back to Genesis 16, which contains the first mention of the angel of the Lord that we have in Scripture.

In Genesis 16, we have a situation where Abraham’s barren wife Sarai gave her maid to Abraham to bear a child for him. That later caused Sarai to be angry and chase Hagar, the maid, away. Then we have this in Genesis 16:7-13.

KJV Genesis 16:7 ¶ And the angel of the LORD found [her/Hagar] by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.

 8 And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.

 9 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.

 10 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.

 11 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.

 12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.

 13 And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?

So, let’s consider a few facts about the angel of the Lord from this passage.

First, notice his compassion. And this compassion is toward the mother of Ishmael – the child of the bondwoman. The child who competed with the son of the promise – Isaac – and ultimately lost. This is not one of God’s nearest and dearest people. And yet, the angel of the Lord has compassion on her and on the unborn Ishmael by extension. The angel of the Lord seeks her out and finds her.

Then the angel of the Lord tells her that he will multiply her descendants. That would be an activity I would think is reserved for God alone to do. Which is another hint that this being is deity in some way. And yet, maybe he’s just speaking on behalf of the Lord of Hosts and is just a normal angel.

And you can think that way – that he’s just an angel – until the end of this passage in verse 13. Moses himself – whom God used to write the book of Genesis – he says that Hagar “called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me.”

Who was speaking to Hagar? The passage tells us that the angel of the Lord spoke to her. But whom does Moses say spoke with Hagar? The Lord himself.

So, Moses admits that the angel of the Lord is himself the Lord.

Then, Hagar is recorded as calling the angel of the Lord “God.” And then she expresses amazement that she saw God and lived to tell the tale!

Now, again, whom did Hagar see? She saw the angel of the Lord. And she says that she saw God.

To see the angel of the Lord was to see the Lord himself. To hear him speak was to hear God. And my mind is brought to the passage in John 14:9 where Jesus tells his disciples, “…he that hath seen me hath seen the Father;…”

Do you see the similarities between the angel of the Lord and Jesus Christ? And there are 49 more references to the angel of the Lord who appears to be none other than a pre-New Testament appearance of Jesus the Messiah.

Angel of the Lord in Genesis 22

So, let’s move on to Genesis 22 where we’re next shown this being.

This is the situation where God had told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham was about to do just that when all of a sudden…

KJV Genesis 22:11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

 12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

 14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.

 15 ¶ And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

So, we have here the angel of the Lord and the Lord being shown to be two separate persons. The angel declares the words of the Lord just like one of my sons might declare to his brother the words of his dad. And obviously in that situation, my son and I are two separate persons.

And yet, then we see the angel of the Lord commending Abraham for not withholding his only son from “me.” Well, from whom was Abraham not withholding his son? From God. But from whom does the angel of the Lord commend Abraham for not withholding his son? From himself.

So, at one time we have a distinction of persons but apparently oneness in being.

And that reminds us of Jesus and how at one time you can have the scene at Jesus’ baptism where the Father speaks from heaven and the Son is on earth in the water. So, God the Father and God the Son are separate persons.

And yet, you have John 1:1 where John the evangelist tells us that the Word – the Logos – Jesus Christ – “was God.”

Separate persons, but one being? Yes – that’s Jesus Christ and God the Father.

And I’m convinced that that’s the case with the angel of the Lord and the Lord of Hosts. God the Son and God the Father. The angel of the Lord then is a preincarnate Jesus – an appearance of Jesus before the incarnation – before he was born of the virgin Mary. (47 left)

Angel of the Lord in Exodus 3

Another instance where this angel of the Lord appears in in Exodus 3. Let’s read verses 1-6.

KJV Exodus 3:1 ¶ Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.

 2 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.

 3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.

 4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

 5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

 6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

So, who is in the bush? The angel of the Lord, according to verse 2.

But who calls to Moses from the bush? God does, according to verse 4.

And of whom is Moses afraid to look at in the bush? Moses is afraid to look at God who is in the bush, according to verse 6.

So, the angel of the Lord in verse 2 is then identified in verses 4 and 6 as God. (46 left)

Angel of the Lord in Numbers 22

The angel of the Lord appears to Balaam and his donkey in Numbers 22 and is mentioned by name 10 times there. And we won’t read it for sake of time, but Numbers 22 is another passage that emphasizes more of the separateness of the angel of the Lord and the Lord of hosts. (36 left)

Angel of the Lord in the Book of Judges

And then we get to the book of Judges in which we find 19 out of the 58 times that this being appears in the entire Bible. So, one-third of the times that the angel of the Lord is mentioned in the Old Testament, he’s found in the book of Judges. (17 left)

Angel of the Lord in Judges 2

The angel of the Lord comes to the people of Israel in the time of the Judges and announces that he’s not going to drive out the inhabitants of the land from before them anymore because they didn’t obey him. Catch that – whom did Israel not obey – as we see from Scripture? They disobeyed God and his covenant with him. And yet, whom does the Angel of the Lord say they disobeyed? The angel of the Lord himself. Another testimony to the deity of the angel of the Lord.

Angel of the Lord with Gideon

Later on, the Angel of the Lord speaks to Gideon in Judges 6 verses 11-24.

KJV Judges 6:11 ¶ And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.

 12 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.

 13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.

 14 And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?

 15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.

 16 And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.

 17 And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.

 18 Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again.

 19 ¶ And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him under the oak, and presented it.

 20 And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so.

 21 Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed out of his sight.

 22 And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face.

 23 And the LORD said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.

 24 Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

So, here I think we have a clear distinction between the angel of the Lord and the Lord of hosts. The angel and Gideon speak of the Lord as if he’s a separate person in verses 12 and 13.

But then in verse 14 we have the Lord looking at Gideon and then speaking to him in response to the conversation that the angel was having with Gideon. Surely, that’s the angel of the Lord looking at and speaking to Gideon – and yet, we’re told that the Lord did those things.

Then Gideon responds to the angel presumably in verse 15. And in response, we’re told again that the Lord gives Gideon assurance in verse 16 of his personal presence with Gideon.

And then it seems like finally in verse 17 that Gideon gets that this angel that he’s speaking with is the Lord himself. Why else would you ask for a sign that the person who is speaking with you… is actually speaking with you?! Additionally, Gideon seeks to sacrifice to this angel of the Lord – whom he understands now to be the Lord himself in verse 18.

And then Gideon ended this section expressing concern that he might die because he saw the angel of the Lord’s face – which is a level of concern typically reserved for seeing God’s face. But the Lord responds to Gideon’s concerns with comfort.

Angel of the Lord with Samson’s Parents

After that, this being appears to Samson’s parents in Judges 13:2-24.

KJV Judges 13:2 ¶ And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.

 3 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.

 4 Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:

 5 For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

 6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name:

 7 But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.

 8 ¶ Then Manoah intreated the LORD, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.

 9 And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her.

 10 And the woman made haste, and ran, and shewed her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me the other day.

 11 And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am.

 12 And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass. How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?

 13 And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware.

 14 She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: all that I commanded her let her observe.

 15 ¶ And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee.

 16 And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread: and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the LORD. For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the LORD.

 17 And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honour?

 18 And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?

 19 So Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the LORD: and the angel did wondrously; and Manoah and his wife looked on.

 20 For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground.

 21 ¶ But the angel of the LORD did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the LORD.

 22 And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.

 23 But his wife said unto him, If the LORD were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these.

 24 And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.

So, at first this angel of the Lord is identified by Samson’s mother as a man – but one that looks like an angel!

Then Manoah speaks to the Lord and asks him to send back this man – indicating that at least in Manoah’s mind, the angel and the Lord are separate beings.

Then there’s this weird situation in which Manoah wants to offer sacrifice to this being that he knows to be a simple man – which would be idolatry, which is what was going on in Israel at this time in their history. And the angel needs to remind Manoah that his sacrifices should be offered to the Lord alone – not to any other being.

Manoah then wants to know the name of this angel and he tells him it’s a secret! That’s mysterious!

And after they offer the sacrifice and the angel of the Lord disappears, what is the conclusion that Manoah and his wife reach? “We have seen God!”

Angel of the Lord Elsewhere

And time fails us to speak of the 15 or so more times that the angel of the Lord is referred to by name in the Old Testament. But what we’ve seen I think has been helpful in increasing our understanding of this character in Scripture.

Back to Zechariah

And so, let’s return in our minds to Zechariah 1.

When we see this angel of the Lord on the red horse in the midst of the myrtle trees, we are seeing none other than a pre-New Testament appearance of Jesus Christ! He is both in his being God and at the same time a separate person. He is both God and man. And the fact that he’s described as an angel doesn’t mean that he was created – which Jesus Christ was not. He’s an angel in the sense that he’s a heavenly messenger bearing the message of Yahweh.

And as we see the angel of the Lord throughout the Old Testament and here in Zechariah, we get the sense that he’s concerned for his people. He comes and plays a role in comforting Israel after the Babylonian exile just like he came to Abraham and Hagar and Moses and Gideon and Samson’s parents in their hours of humiliation and danger and need.

And so, here in Zechariah, Jesus Christ comes to his people who are back in the land and he’s ready to comfort and guide them.

So, we’ll see the rest of his comfort and guidance for his people next time.