The Book of Zechariah
Pastor James J. Barker

[ Lesson 3 ]


  ZECHARIAH 1:18-21


This vision contains a message of judgment upon the enemies of Israel and Judah (1:18, 19).


I. THE FOUR HORNS (1:18, 19)

1.    Zechariah saw four horns (1:18).  “They were animal horns, but the beasts who bore the horns were hidden from view in order to emphasize the brute strength of the animals, whose strength was concentrated in their horns” (Merrill Unger).

2.    Horns in the Bible represent power and strength (cf. Ps. 75:10; Jer. 48:25), especially of Gentile kings and kingdoms (Dan. 7:7, 8, 24; 8:3, 20; Rev. 17:12).

3.    Certain animals use their horns to attack, and that is the idea in this vision.  “These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem” (1:19b).

4.    From God’s perspective, the heathen nations are beast-like and that is why we see the frequent references to beasts and horns in Daniel and Revelation.

5.    The four horns in Zechariah’s second vision (vs. 18) represent “the horns of the Gentiles” (vs. 21), probably the four Gentile world empires described by Daniel in chapters 2 and 7 – Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome (cf. Scofield, bottom of p. 966).



1.     The four carpenters (vs. 20) are instruments raised up by God to “fray” the four horns.  The word fray could mean “terrify” (NKJV) or “carve away” (cf. Scofield notes).

2.     The breaking of an animal’s horn insures its defeat (cf. Dan. 8:5-9).

3.     Commenting on this passage, CH Spurgeon said, “He who wants to open an oyster must not use a razor; for some works there needs less of daintiness and more of force.  Providence does not find clerks, or architects, or gentlemen, to cut off horns, but carpenters.  The work needs a man who, when he has work to do, puts his whole strength into it, and beats away with the hammer, or cuts through the wood that lies before him with might and main.  Let us not fear for the cause of God; when the horns become too troublesome, the carpenters will be forthcoming to fray them.”

4.     It was actually God who scattered the Jews in judgment (cf. Lev. 26:32, 33; Ezek. 5:10), but He used the heathen nations to do it. 

5.     But though the heathen were used by God to chasten Israel, they went too far and so they too will be judged (vss. 19-21).

6.     God is still the God of Israel (Jer. 30:11) and the Abrahamic Covenant is still in the Bible.

7.     The four carpenters are not specifically identified (neither are the four horns).  However, it would appear that if the first horn is Babylon, then the first carpenter is Media-Persia (cf. Dan. 5:26-31).

8.     That would make Greece the second carpenter and Rome the third.



1.     But who is the fourth carpenter?   In the Gospels He is called “the carpenter’s son.”  He is none other than the rider on the red horse, the captain of the host of the Lord whom Joshua worshipped, the Alpha and Omega, the root and offspring of David, the bright and morning star, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

2.     I was once witnessing to a JW down in Norfolk, Virginia, and he said: “You Christians make too much of Jesus!”  Think about it – how could anyone make too much of our Saviour?

3.     Jesus is the fourth carpenter who destroys the fourth horn (cf. Dan. 2:34, 35, 44, 45).

4.     Obviously the fulfillment of these prophecies has not yet happened. 

5.     Before wrapping this message up, please allow me to make an important application: please note that Zechariah sees the four horns (the problem – vs. 18), but the Lord has to show him the four carpenters (the solution – vs. 20).  God was pointing out to the prophet Zechariah and to us that He is in control and has the solution to all our problems.

6.     Oftentimes we only see the problems, we cannot see the solution.  We need to ask God to show us the solution.  It is already there – God will turn things around in His own way, in His own time, according to His perfect will.


CONCLUSION: I am going to summarize the first chapter of Zechariah by pulling out three principles:

1.    The prerequisite to God’s blessings is genuine repentance (vss. 3, 4).

2.    We need to open our eyes to what God is doing for us.  We often hear references to the devil walking to and fro all over the earth, and that he is like a roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour.  Let’s not forget that God has His angels walking about also (vs. 10).

3.    Furthermore, God has given us His Holy Spirit, and greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.

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