Book of Zechariah Chapter
One Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Audio – Zechariah 1
Repentance and Safety
"Zechariah" ("God remembers") was the name of nearly thirty men in the Bible. This one was born in Babylon, into a line of priests, including his father and grandfather. Called to be a prophet, he spoke and wrote as a contemporary of Haggai (another prophet), Governor Zerubbabel, and Joshua the high priest. This book was written before 475 BC, in three parts...the first a series of visions, the second starts in Chapter 7 with messages, and the third commences with "burdens" in Chapter 9. The vision section starts here in Verse 1: "In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the prophet, the son of Berechiah ('blessed by Yahweh'), the son of Iddo ('praise'). It was in the Fall of 520 BC, and Verse 2 reveals God's first words to him: "The Lord was very angry with your fathers." "Darius" was a Persian king who now ruled Babylon.
It can worry us that God becomes "angry"...He might be angry with you and me today. So we should act upon the advice of Verses 3-4—"Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, Return to Me,' declares the Lord of hosts, 'that I may return to you,' says the Lord of hosts. Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets proclaimed, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, 'Return now from your evil ways and from your evil deeds. But they did not listen or give heed to Me,' declares the Lord"..."Return to Me..." repent, is the Word of the Lord to us all. The same solution is presented elsewhere: Jesus said, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). Go to the Lord, who will forgive you and make you clean inside (1 John 1:9). A lot of people, then and now, have rejected the Lord's offer to their sorrow. Now is the time to seek the Lord and repent from "evil ways."
The question is asked in Verse 5—"Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever?" Where are the people who lived in the past? They're all gone! The religious leaders, the prophets, statesmen, emperors, ordinary people—gone! Verse 6 continues, "But did not My words and My statutes, which I commanded My servants the prophets, overtake your fathers? Then they repented and said, ‘As the Lord of hosts purposed to do to us in accordance with our ways and our deeds, so He has dealt with us." There were revivals in ancient Israel, much like there are revivals today. The people become legalistic, secular, godless, and in response, the Lord allowed trouble in their lives, followed up by prophets like Zechariah who brought them once again to faith in the Lord. A similar process is occurring right now.
Three months had passed since the Lord, through Zechariah, began speaking to the people—It was now "on the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Shebat, (and) in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the prophet, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo, as follows:" It was the "month Shebat," which occurs partly in January and partly in February of the year. Zechariah was shown a vision, as seen in Verses 8-11: "I saw at night, and behold, a man was riding on a red horse, and he was standing among the myrtle trees which were in the ravine, with red, sorrel and white horses behind him. Then I said, 'My lord, what are these?' And the angel who was speaking with me said to me, 'I will show you what these are.' And the man who was standing among the myrtle trees answered and said, 'These are those whom the Lord has sent to patrol the earth.' So they answered the angel of the Lord who was standing among the myrtle trees and said, 'We have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth is peaceful and quiet.' The horses and riders of these verses have been compared with those in Revelation 6, but the message there is judgment, whereas this is an assurance of peace for the people of Zechariah's time.
Has it occurred to you that benevolent beings like the "angels" we hear so much about, are patrolling the earth on your behalf? Most of us have had concerns not unlike the "angel of the Lord" in Verse 12, who asked, "O Lord of hosts, how long will You have no compassion for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with which You have been indignant these seventy years?" "How could this happen?" we wonder. The nation called Judah had been dragged away with hooks and chains by the victorious Babylonian armies. About "seventy years" had passed since that time in approximately 587 BC, when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed and the nation entered mind-numbing captivity in a foreign land.
The people of Judah were glad to be released from captivity, but were troubled and fearful—it might happen again! Zechariah was grateful they were in the land once more, but unlike most of his countrymen, he was listening to the Lord...as we all should. He put it this way in Verse 13: "The Lord answered the angel who was speaking with me with gracious words, comforting words." And by the way, if you don't think the Lord would speak to you—open His Word, the Bible, and as you read it—pray. You need to...and the Holy Spirit will help you understand.
Zechariah, starting in Verse 14, not only heard from the Lord through this "angel" ("messenger") of the Lord, but he was also being commissioned as a prophet in the Lord's service: "So the angel who was speaking with me said to me, 'Proclaim, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, 'I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and Zion." Zechariah's chief interest was the welfare of his people...the Lord knew his concern and responded...He will speak to your need, also.
The nations that had conquered Israel and Judah, now seemed to be "at ease," compared to Zechariah's people. The judgment upon the Hebrew people had been ordained by God, but human soldiers from surrounding nations had done the dirty work, and they went far beyond God's intention. He wanted His people to be disciplined and returned to faith in the Lord, but the invaders destroyed everything, killing men, women and children, enslaving many and committing atrocities as they went. Verse 15 reports God's attitude about all this: "I am very angry with the nations who are at ease; for while I was only a little angry, they furthered the disaster." If you intend to harm somebody, fervently pray, for you might bring more than judgment upon them—it will likely fall on you, too.
"Therefore," the Lord continued in Verses 16-17, "I will return to Jerusalem with compassion; My house will be built in it,' declares the Lord of hosts, 'and a measuring line will be stretched over Jerusalem. Again, proclaim, saying, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts, My cities will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.'" God's love was once more going to be poured out on the nation. The reference to "My house" was about the Temple—it was in ruins at the moment, but it would soon be rebuilt. Work began in 520 BC, and it was completed in 516 BC. People would do the building, but note it was God's "measuring line stretched over Jerusalem." He was the chief architect and engineer, just as He is in your life right now. Notice also that He spoke of the places to be rebuilt as "My cities." Everything you and I have, belongs to Him...even the bodies we walk around in.
Zechariah had been looking downward, thoughtful about what he saw and heard. Now in Verses 18-19, he said, "Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, there were four horns." So I said to the angel who was speaking with me, 'What are these?' And he answered me, 'These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.'" Note that God knew precisely which individuals and nations had done so much damage to God's people. He saw what they did. The "four horns" are symbols of the strength and power of those nations (Compare Psalm 75:4-5).
Verse 20—"Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen." The word for "craftsmen" here, was applied in that language to workers in wood, stone and metal, representing the human agencies who would be sent by God to overthrow those nations and individuals who were hostile to God's people. He carefully selects the very best to accomplish His purposes.
Zechariah didn't understand, and so he asked in Verse 21: "What are these coming to do?" The Lord responded, "These are the horns which have scattered Judah so that no man lifts up his head; but these craftsmen have come to terrify them, to throw down the horns of the nations who have lifted up their horns against the land of Judah in order to scatter it." The "Judah" mentioned here was the "Southern Kingdom" of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, later called the "Jews." The power, the "horns" of their enemies would be destroyed. Just like they had terrified and "scattered" God's people (Israel and Judah), it would be done to them as well. The empires of Assyria and Babylon would be no more.
Father, I need to feel safe! Other people, my own abilities—fall short. I need Your blessing, Lord, and it all starts with repentance. I repent of my sins and place my trust, my faith in the Lord. I am Yours, Lord, my life is Yours, and I am safe in You. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.