The Book of Zechariah
ZECHARIAH’S FIRST VISION
1. In the book of Zechariah, there is a series of eight visions, all given in one night. That must have been some night!
2. They were all given in one night but they span the centuries right up until the second coming of Christ and the establishment of His millennial kingdom.
3. The visions brought consolation and encouragement at a difficult time. They were directed to the remnant returning from the Babylonian exile, but they were not fulfilled in that day and will not be fulfilled until the second coming of Christ.
4. The time was about three months after Zechariah’s opening message of repentance (cf. 1:1, 7). It was also exactly five months after work on the temple had been resumed (cf. Haggai 1:14, 15; 2:18).
5. Some expositors such as C.I. Scofield, teach that there are ten visions, but most Bible teachers would say eight. Scofield treats the vision at the end of chapter 1 as two separate visions – we will consider it as one. Also, Scofield adds the Messianic prophecy in 3:8-10.
6. Tonight we will look at the first vision (1:7-17).
I. THE RIDER ON THE RED HORSE (1:7, 8)
1. The “man riding upon a red horse” (vs. 8) is “the angel of the Lord” (vs. 11), i.e. the pre-incarnate Christ. Moses called Him “LORD” and Hagar called Him God (Gen. 16:13). He is often identified in the Old Testament as God (cf. Gen. 22:11, 12; Ex. 3:1-6; Judges 13:17-22).
2. As the angel of the Lord, the pre-incarnate Christ appeared to Hagar, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, and Samson’s parents.
3. The red horse (vs. 8) symbolizes blood, and therefore represents both advents of the Lord Jesus Christ – His first coming to shed His precious blood on the cross for our sins, and His second coming in judgment (cf. Isa. 63:1-4; Rev. 19:11-13).
4. The white horse signifies victory, and the speckled (spotted) horse both bloodshed and victory (vs. 8).
5. “And He stood upon the myrtle trees” (vs. 8). The myrtle trees are beautiful trees with dark green, scented leaves. Isaiah used the myrtle tree as an emblem of Israel in the millennium (cf. Isa. 55:12, 13).
6. These myrtle trees “were in the bottom,” or the low place, the hollow (vs. 8). This signifies Israel under Gentile subjugation, their oppressed condition and deep humiliation during the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24). As I pointed out last week, there was no king in Israel; no king in Judah; Babylon had destroyed Jerusalem, including the temple; and the Jews were dispersed (or “scattered” – vs. 21) all over the world. The time of the Gentiles was in progress.
II. THE INTERPRETING ANGEL (1:9).
1. “The angel that talked” with Zechariah (vs. 9) is not to be confused with the angel of the Lord, i.e. “the man riding upon a red horse” (vs. 8), the pre-incarnate Christ. This second angel is the “interpreting angel” (cf. 1:13, 14; 2:3; 4:1, 4, 5; 5:5, 10; 6:4).
2. However, before this interpreting angel got the chance to explain to Zechariah what the vision meant, the rider upon the red horse answered and said: “These are they whom the Lord hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth” (vs. 10).
3. Then, the other riders (undoubtedly angels) answered as well, reporting that “all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest” (vs. 11). Their mission is to walk up and down the earth, i.e. patrol the earth like soldiers.
4. Just as Satan walks to and fro all over the earth for evil, so God has His angels patrolling it for good. That is comforting!
5. Their report that the earth is at rest means that the Gentile nations were at ease while God’s people were being oppressed.
6. Before moving on, I would like to make an application: apparently these riders are always at work patrolling the earth for our benefit but how seldom do we consider it! Our spiritual eyes have to be opened in order for us to see (cf. II Kings 6:15-17). I am not advocating mysticism or any charismatic foolishness, but I am afraid that oftentimes we forget that God is on the throne, and that He is in control, and that His angels are always at our disposal to help us and protect us (cf. Ps. 34:7).
III. THE LORD IS DISPLEASED WITH THE HEATHEN (1:12-17)
1. At this point, we see the angel of the Lord, the pre-incarnate Christ, interceding for His people, pleading for mercy for the city of Jerusalem and the people of Judah, whom God has judged throughout the 70 year Babylonian captivity (vs. 12).
2. God was “sore displeased” with His people (vs. 2), “but a little displeased” (vs. 15). He used the Gentiles to chasten His people but “they helped forward the affliction” (vs. 15b). In other words, God wanted them chastened but the heathen wanted them annihilated. Therefore, God is “very sore displeased with the heathen” (vs. 15a).
3. The LORD answered “with good words and comfortable words” (vs. 13):
(1) God is jealous for Jerusalem “with a great jealousy” (vs. 14; cf. 8:2). This indicates God’s great love for Israel.
(2) The heathen are “at ease” now (vs. 15; cf. vs. 11b), but God is going to judge them and Israel will be vindicated.
(3) The Lord will return to Jerusalem (vs. 16). As in many other Biblical prophecies, this promise is written as if it has already happened.
(4) The Lord promised that His house (the temple) would be rebuilt in Jerusalem (vs. 16). This promise provided encouragement to the returning remnant as they worked hard to rebuild the temple, but the fulfillment will not take place until Christ returns (cf. Ezek. 40-48). That temple will be a house of prayer for all nations (Isa. 2:2, 3).
(5) A surveyor’s line will be stretched forth upon Jerusalem (vs. 16b), indicating massive reconstruction.
(6) This good news was to be cried out (vs. 17). Notice that God has chosen Jerusalem (vs. 17b). Despite her unbelief, God has not cast away His people which He foreknew (cf. Rom. 11:1, 2; Deut. 30:3; Isa. 14:1; 49:15, 16; Zech. 2:12; 3:2).
1. The angel of the Lord asked, “How long?” (1:12). Many centuries have passed and Israel is still in the furnace of affliction, and the situation will get worse as we draw closer to the great tribulation.
2. Many preachers have suggested we read prophecies like this in one hand, with the newspaper in the other!
3. As long as we remember that the newspaper should be read in the light of the Bible – not the other way around.