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FRAMEWORKS: Zechariah 1: Challenge, Encouragements & Warning


[Preliminary Comment: In this first chapter we first of all find a simple call to the returning exiles to not be like their ancestors but to whole-heartedly turn back to the Lord [v.1-6]. This is followed by a simple picture of messengers who had been sent to report on the state of the world and now found it at rest [v.7-11]. The prophet also hears an angel interceding on behalf of Jerusalem and the land [v.12,13]. This is followed by a reassuring word about Jerusalem [v.14] but a warning about the nations that the Lord used to take down Jerusalem and take His people into exile. Although they had been doing the Lord's business, they did it with relish and abandon, careless for the loss of life [implied]. For this the Lord will hold them accountable [v.15, 18-21]. In the meantime the Lord declares His intention to rebuild the Temple, Jerusalem and the towns of Judah [v.16,17]. It is without doubt a chapter of challenge [v.1-6], encouragement for the returning exiles [v.12-14,16,17] and warning of accountability to the godless nations [v.15,18-21], thus a message pertinent to all in the region at this time.]


v.1-6 A call to return to the Lord
v.7-17 The man among the myrtle trees
v.18-21 Four horns and four craftsmen



v.1-6 A call to return to the Lord


v.1,2 The Lord speaks about their ancestors


v.1  In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo:

v.2  ‘The Lord was very angry with your ancestors.


v.3 Thus the present word is come back to God


v.3  Therefore tell the people: this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Return to me,” declares the Lord Almighty, “and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.


v.4 Don't be like your ancestors who said yes, but didn't return


v.4  Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.” But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the Lord.


v.5,6 Thus they suffered the exile [implied] and only then repented


v.5  Where are your ancestors now? And the prophets, do they live for ever?

v.6  But did not my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your ancestors?

‘Then they repented and said, “The Lord Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.”'


[Notes: This ‘word of the Lord', a starting call to repent and change, is reinforced by reminders that in the past their ancestors had heard God's warnings, failed to repent, ended up in exile, and only then repented. This present generation is warning against repeating that.]



v.7-17 The man among the myrtle trees


v.7 Three months later he receives a vision of rested, returning riders [see following]


v.7  On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo.

v.8  During the night I had a vision, and there before me was a man mounted on a red horse. He was standing among the myrtle trees in a ravine. Behind him were red, brown and white horses.


[Notes: Three months later, while awake in the night [no mention of a dream] the prophet has a vision of a rider and other riders in the background.]


v.9-11 He questions who are the riders and told they are reporting messengers


v.9  I asked, ‘What are these, my lord?'

The angel who was talking with me answered, ‘I will show you what they are.'

v.10  Then the man standing among the myrtle trees explained, ‘They are the ones the Lord has sent to go throughout the earth.'

v.11  And they reported to the angel of the Lord who was standing among the myrtle trees, ‘We have gone throughout the earth and found the whole world at rest and in peace.'


[Notes: It appears there are two speakers. First an angel with Zechariah who responds to his question, and then the rider on the red horse who explains they had been sent to check the state of the earth and found it at peace.]


v.12,13 The angel intercedes for Jerusalem and Judah


v.12  Then the angel of the Lord said, ‘Lord Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?'

v.13  So the Lord spoke kind and comforting words to the angel who talked with me.


[Notes: The angel with Zechariah then intercedes on behalf of Jerusalem that had lain desolate for the seventy years following its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, and seems to receive a positive response from the Lord.]


v.14,15 the angel conveys God's word: He is angry with the nations for how they acted


v.14  Then the angel who was speaking to me said, ‘Proclaim this word: this is what the Lord Almighty says: “I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion,

v.15  and I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry, but they went too far with the punishment.”


[Notes: This same angel speaks God's word that He is FOR Jerusalem but will hold accountable those nations who did not hold back in bringing discipline to Israel.]


v.16,17 The Lord will rebuild the Temple and Jerusalem


v.16  ‘Therefore this is what the Lord says: “I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,” declares the Lord Almighty.

v.17  ‘Proclaim further: this is what the Lord Almighty says: “My towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem.”'


[Notes: The Lord then indicates He will rebuild both the Temple and Jerusalem and will also bless the towns of the land.]



v.18-21 Four horns and four craftsmen


v.18,19 The prophet enquires about four horns he sees


v.18  Then I looked up, and there before me were four horns.

v.19  I asked the angel who was speaking to me, ‘What are these?'

He answered me, ‘These are the horns that scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.'


v.20,21 He is told of those [four craftsmen] who will deal with those nations


v.20  Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen.

v.21  I asked, ‘What are these coming to do?'

He answered, ‘These are the horns that scattered Judah so that no one could raise their head, but the craftsmen have come to terrify them and throw down these horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter its people.'


[Notes: The prophet is then shown four horns which, after his enquiry, are revealed as the invaders who came against the people and the land previously. Then he sees four craftsmen who are coming to bring down judgment on those nations who came so violently against Judah.]



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