Book of Zechariah Chapter
Two Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
God’s Favor to Zion
Zechariah Chapters 1-6 present eight visions, with the third in the series appearing here in Chapter 2. Emphasized in this vision is God's mercy toward Israel, beginning in Verse 1—"Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a man with a measuring line in his hand." This is one of the "craftsmen" mentioned in Zechariah 1:21, whose purpose was to "terrify" and "cast out" the enemy nations that surrounded the Southern Kingdom of the Jews, called "Judah." The Northern Kingdom, Israel, was no more at the time. I certainly recommend that you and your nation should not come against Israel. It would be very much like harming yourself in a vain attempt to hurt somebody else...the payback is costly.
Zechariah did what we should do—he asked a lot of questions of the Lord. For us today, there are difficult places in Scripture that are hard to understand. Continually pray—ask questions of the Lord about anything and everything, and He will, sooner or later, give you the answer. Zechariah's question to the "man" in the vision went like this in Verse 2: "So I said, 'Where are you going?' And he said to me, 'To measure Jerusalem, to see how wide it is and how long it is.'" God has a complete understanding of everything that is important to you and me, to a depth that is beyond our ability to comprehend it. Jerusalem was at the top of the people's list of priorities. The city, including God's Temple, had been utterly demolished by the invading Babylonian armies of seventy years before, and they were afraid—it might happen again! Fear produces inaction and the people were not rebuilding His Temple in response to His call, a problem also seen in the Book of Haggai (Haggai 1:8-9).
The "man" of Verse 1, is identified in Verse 3 as an "angel," a messenger sent from God—"And behold, the angel who was speaking with me was going out, and another angel was coming out to meet him." The first angel now gave a specific instruction to the one called "another angel." He said in Verse 4, "Run, speak to that young man, saying, Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls because of the multitude of men and cattle within it." The words were incredible for that time: A major city could NOT be "without walls," because even a small invading army could just march right in to the place, destroy it and take everything! The person referred to as "that young man" in Verse 4 is Zechariah himself. In a culture that venerated older people, note that God often chose, and still chooses the young, the old, the insufficient and the weak to do His work. Paul the Apostle would much later observe God's choices this way: "...not many wise...not many mighty, not many noble are called...God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise...and the weak things to put to shame the...mighty..." so "that no flesh should glory in His presence" (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
Note that God's "call" will not be the same for different people and situations. In one time and place He well might instruct the people to build high walls for self defense, but Jerusalem's walls at that time were not God's priority. The reason is seen in Verse 5: "'I,’ declares the Lord, ‘will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’" He was to be the strength and shield of that people, for the purpose of revealing who He is and what He is willing to do. They desired walls; He wanted—faith. Zechariah 4:6 will reveal His intention even more clearly: "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts." All our attempts to prolong our lives and enrich ourselves will ultimately fail. Job lost everything and said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there, the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21). We need to trust the Lord like Job did.
Most of the Jews who had previously been scattered, had not yet returned to the land...they were flung throughout the Babylonian Empire, and after seventy years, had established new lives...some had become wealthy and didn't want to go back! God said to them, "'Ho there! Flee from the land of the north,' declares the Lord, 'for I have dispersed you as the four winds of the heavens,' declares the Lord. Ho, Zion! Escape, you who are living with the daughter of Babylon'" (Verses 6-7). The city of Babylon was to the east, but the Babylonian Empire stretched all around them. "The land of the north" is a reference to lines of battle...Babylon often attacked the area of Israel from the north, and the Hebrew people thought of them as a northern force. God speaks to us from our perspective so we will understand. What circumstances are you in today that you need to escape from? Just like He said to them, He is speaking to us all: "Escape, you who are living with the daughter of Babylon."
The Lord disciplines His people. And to those who are being disciplined, it can seem difficult, even impossible to bear. That's what it says in Proverbs 3:11-12 and Hebrews 12:5-6..."My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights." The Lord disciplines us so that we will flee to the safety of faith in the Lord. The enemy, who is a thief, uses those circumstances also, but his purpose is to destroy us. Jesus said, "The thief does not come except to steal and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
The Lord wanted them to "escape," as we saw in Verse 7, for two reasons: They would not only see the hand of the Lord protecting them and bringing them to faith, but also their physical lives would be saved. God was about to end the Babylonian Empire, and He intended to save all who were willing, from the time that was soon to come.
God loves His people. Verse 8 continues, "Thus says the Lord of hosts, 'After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye.'" The phrase, "apple of His eye" referred to the pupil of the human eye and was an idiomatic expression in a number of ancient cultures, describing someone cherished above all others. My recommendation for you is to NEVER touch God's people in a negative manner. God says, "Vengeance is Mine" and it is (Romans 12:19). The speaker, the angel, was being sent against the nations which plundered the Hebrew people, and now God's "glory" was to be revealed in the destruction that would follow.
One of the key effects of a collapse of central government is that the downtrodden in that culture are likely to rise up and attack those who formerly were their masters. If you haven't lived through a riot, you've probably seen one on a news broadcast, and it's not good. The government of what is often called "Neo-Babylon"...an empire that stretched from modern-day Iraq in the southeast, to present-day Turkey in the north, and Egypt and the Red Sea in the southwest...was about to collapse. Thousands of small to large tribes were part of that empire, and the lessening of an effective central government would create chaos. God said through the angel in Verse 9, "Behold, I will wave My hand over them so that they will be plunder for their slaves. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me."
As people of the Lord, one of the things we often like to do is sing praise to our God. That was true of Israel and it is also seen in the church...we praise Him for He is wonderful. In Verse 10, the angel now called out to Zechariah, and through Him to all those...then and now...who encounter these words: "'Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,' declares the Lord." We don't have to sing on key—He wants a grateful, faithful heart—someone willing to rejoice in the Lord and in what He has done for you and me.
In Verse 11, we find the Lord speaking directly through the angel, to Zechariah, to his people in the land of Israel, and to the rest of us, also: "Many nations will join themselves to the Lord in that day and will become My people. Then I will dwell in your midst, and you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you." A quick glance at this verse might suggest that many nations would become allied with Israel, but that's not what it says. Actually, "many nations will join themselves to the LORD and will become My people..." Revelation 7:9 looks into eternity, when "a great multitude...of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues (are) standing before the Lamb, clothed with white robes..." God has brought people to faith in the Lord since the beginning of time. Note that that every group and time on this earth will be represented in eternity. We will be astonished...we should be astonished right now...and "know that the Lord of hosts has" done this.
Don't ever count the Jews out because the Lord certainly hasn't. As Verse 12 continues, "The Lord will possess Judah as His portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem." The Jews have returned to the holy land, and Jerusalem has been chosen by the Lord once more...because God's love...and His Word...have made it so.
Verse 13 advises us to "Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord; for He is aroused from His holy habitation.” This is a reminder of the well-known Psalm 46:10—"Be still and know that I am God." That verse continues, "I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Instead of everything being about us, the real point of life is God Himself. Without Him, we would not exist. And if we somehow did manage to exist, we would not have His love, joy, peace, faithfulness and all that makes life worthwhile. Let's agree today to complain less and "Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord."
We love You, Lord, and we praise Your Holy Name. You are simply wonderful and we worship You, our King, our Savior, and our God. Thank You for Your love. In Jesus Name. Amen.