Zechariah Chapter 1

Let us open this book with a few observations:

1) There are an amazing amount of prophetic statements in Zechariah referred to by the NT authors. Far to often, we pull NT statements out of their OT context, maybe a verse or two, and try to make them stand alone. As we look in Zechariah, we will examine the context of the verses quoted by the NT authors. No doubt, they will be given quite different meanings than what we are familiar with.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, I had a person tell me that they believed that not only our Lord, but other NT authors pulled OT verses out of their context when they quoted them. The obvious answer to this would be the words of the Lord Jesus, Mat 4:6.

The tempter used Ps 91:11, but he used it apart from its context. The answer to the temptation from Satan, was for the Lord to place the verse back into its context: the context said that only as one walks in the way of the Lord will the Lord protect our every step.

Sad to say, many who defend pulling OT passages out of their OT context are in the same situation: they are attempting to claim the protection of the Heavenly Father apart from obedience to His every law-word. Our Lord defined this as presumptuously tempting God. His promise of protection is based upon obedience to His every Word as we are empowered by His spirit of Grace.

Therefore, any attempt to pull an OT passage out of its OT context is to attempt to make it say something which it does not say is presumption. Removal of OT passages from their OT context makes one a victim of the tempter's lie, and will cost us our power as well as our protection of God.

2) Prophecy is from when it was written, not from when it is read. Therefore, all of the quoted OT passages could have been already fulfilled (although I don't believe they are yet).

3) We must not forget that Zechariah is written after the return of the Jews from Babylon, so the vast majority of his prophecies look forward to the time after the first coming of Christ.

Let us quote Hengstenberg (professor of theology at Berlin University, notes from 1854) with an important observation (pg. 966).

The Argument - Two months after Haggai had begun to prophesy, Zechariah was also sent of the Lord to help him in the labour, and to confirm the same doctrine. First therefore, he puts them in remembrance for what reason God had so severely punished their fathers: and yet comforts them if they will truly repent, and not abuse this great benefit of God in their deliverance which was a figure of that true deliverance, that all the faithful should have from death and sin, by Christ. But because they remained still in their wickedness, and lack of desire to set forth God's glory, and were not yet made better by their long banishment, he rebukes them most sharply: yet for the comfort of the repentant, he ever mixes the promise of grace, that they might by this means be prepared to receive Christ, in whom all should be sanctified to the Lord.

The prophecies of Zechariah, like those of his predecessors, embrace the whole range of the judgments and salvation of God; with the exception only of that portion which had already taken place, such for example as the conquest of Babylon and the return of the covenant people. Hence whatever is said here concerning the wrath of God on Babylon and the other enemies of the kingdom of God, could only be finally accomplished in their complete extermination; and what is said respecting the renewal of the favor of God towards his people, in the sending of the Messiah. [Hengstenberg]

What he says here is that these prophetic books reach as far as the end of time as they lay out the principles of God's warfare and final victory against evil. The final victory over evil did not stop with the fall of these earthly empires of Zechariah's (or Daniel's, Ezekiel's, etc.) day.

Though the OT prophets spoke clearly against the empires of their day, they establish the principles of God's hand in history which will result in the final and total conquest of evil by the kingdom of God and His Christ.

Yes, what we see here which speaks against the kingdoms of men of Zechariah's day came to pass as his words were fulfilled. But what is presented here as principles in this warfare will also result in the final victory. I don't believe God changes His methods of warfare against evil in the middle of the conflict. He has one method (presented in Eden) and it will result in final victory.

Zech. 1:1-6

We are given the date of this statement, the eights month of the second year of Darius. He speaks here as though he knew of the hidden rebellion against in the hearts of those who have returned from Babylonian captivity. He confronts them right away with their sin, reminding them of what happened to their fathers.

The former prophets cried out to them to serve God with purity of heart and their fathers ignored them. The Lord warned and warned their fathers. Their fathers ignored the warnings and God fulfilled exactly what He said He would do, v. 6.

Zechariah opens his prophecy by reminding them of their fathers' stubbornness, of the warning their fathers' received from God, of their rejection of those warnings, and finally, he reminds them that it happened to their fathers exactly as God said it would. The message which Zechariah is going to deliver will be very powerful, so he lays a ground work here. Zechariah tells them that the prophesied judgment can be avoided through repentance. And the prophesied blessings and promises can (and will) be missed if there is no repentance and obedience to God.

Zechariah's opening message is addressed to the second class of people we mentioned in the introduction: the hypocrite. They had chosen to be identified with the people of God for their own personal advantage. They wanted to obtain the blessings without the inward purity for God. Their outward idolatry was left behind, yet their "refined" idolatry was still very much a part of them.

So Zechariah very bluntly, right up front, tells these folks that if they want to avoid what happened to their fathers, they most have a change of heart. We know as we go on through this prophecy and from past history, they did not turn, they rejected the Good Shepherd and the horrible judgment came against them in the form of the Roman army.


1) If we don't war against the hardness of our heart (daily, take up our cross and follow Him), we will follow in the errors and judgments of our fathers. Not only will we follow them, but our children will follow us. These children which followed these to whom Zechariah spoke killed the Good Shepherd in their hardness.

2) Another powerful point here also is that the hardness of the heart will be revealed in our children. Yes! Some who returned had a pure heart and loved God. But to those who returned with idolatry in their heart, Zechariah spoke, and his message was, "Get your heart right with God or your children will face the same wrath of God which your fathers did, and worse."

Keil (Keil-Delitzsch, Vol. 10, Zech. pg. 225), makes an excellent point:

[V. 3]"---does not presuppose that the people had just fallen away from the Lord again, or had lost all their pleasure in the continuance of the work of building the temple, but simply that the return to the Lord was not a perfect one, not a thorough conversion of the heart. So had Jehovah also turned to the people again and had not only put an end to the suffering of exile, but had also promised His aid to those who had returned; but the more earnestly and the more thoroughly the people turned to him, the more faithfully and the more gloriously He would bestow upon them His grace and the promised salvation.

Thus the warning and exhortation in vv. 1-6 is to those who exhibited great outward zeal toward rebuilding the temple. Their outward appearance might invoke others to say, "My, he must love the Lord. Look at how hard he is working. Look at his dedication to the cause of Christ." They might even go as far as to say, "I wish I had that kind of zeal for the work of God," yet Zechariah warns them, "Turn to God with all of your heart."

The hypocrites Zechariah was speaking to were zealously engaged in the work which needed to be done, yet their heart was not where it needed to be. They expected to inherit the promised blessings, yet the preacher is warning them that to claim those blessings required a turning to the Lord in their heart, a turning which their fathers refused to do. Their fathers' refusal led to their captivity.

Zechariah is built upon Jeremiah. Verses 1-6 is thus a direct reference to Jeremiah's warning to the fathers of the ones to whom Zechariah is speaking. In fact, Zechariah is speaking about 71 years after the fathers were carried into captivity. Therefore, there were some who remembered Jeremiah's warnings and who remembered the glories of the old Judah, Ezra 3:12, 13. Zechariah was literally speaking to the literal children and grandchildren of those to whom Jeremiah spoke.

Jeremiah, a little background

I think the message of Jeremiah which Zechariah is referring to is quite significant; therefore, let's look at a few of his warnings.

A) Jer. 1:16. We see (in the context of the book) that God's people were attempting to serve (please) two gods. The Lord God Jehovah and the gods which appealed to the flesh, the gods around them. Chp. 2, will bear this out. The result was that the Lord gave the Chaldeans power over them as His judgment against their sins.

B) Jer. 3:3 is the complaint that the people refused to be ashamed of the fact that they were "double dipping:" trying to get the best of two gods. V. 10, His people made an outward appearance of turning to the Lord, yet their heart still was not right. They "cleaned up their act", yet that is just what they did, an act. God would not tolerate service with the actions, but not the heart, vv. 11-15, 22.

C) Jer. 4:3, 4. God continues His indictment against their sin: the heart is uncircumcised. The heart is far from God. They cleaned up the outside, yet the heart is the same old mess. They refused to do anything about this condition.

D) Jer 5:3. They refused to receive correction. This indicates that the preacher warned them, yet they refused to believe or act on the warning. The result? 5:6.

5:31. Not only did they refuse to act on the warning, but they sought out prophets and priests who would tell them that everything was okay.

E) Jer. 6:10. Again, the clear warning is given, but they refuse the warning. V. 19, God gave them the results, fruit of their thoughts. The fruit of their thoughts is an important statement as we consider Zechariah.

We can follow the premise of the basic thought of point #E) throughout Jeremiah, but I will only mention some of the verses without comment. I wish we had time to look them all up, but we will not do it: Jer. 7:23-28; 8:7-10; 9:13, 14, 26; 13:10; 17:23, 24; 18:12; (in chp. 18, not only did they reject the warning but wanted to do away with the one who brought the warning. Also see chp. 26:8-11); 26:3; 44:10. These are only a few of the more prominent warnings.

Because we are looking at Zechariah, the words of Jer 6:19 are extremely important. V. 19 presents a law of God that cannot be avoided, and it is given throughout God's Word. Paul sums the law up in Gal. 6:7, Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Most of us know this passage by heart and we take it to mean, For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the spirit shall of the spirit reap life everlasting. In our thinking we pretty well restrict this to outward actions which reflect living after the flesh. But what the Lord said goes far deeper than what meets the eye.

As we have said many times. Christianity is a "religion" from the inside out. Therefore, this principle which Jeremiah makes very clear in just one sentence say, "As a man thinketh in his heart, not only so is he, but that is what he will reap, good or bad."

Jeremiah 6

Jeremiah makes some very pointed remarks here in chp. 6. Quickly, we'll give a brief outline.

First, the people had turned from God to follow their own imaginations to do what they please, 1:16.
Second, God spoke to them, and sent His watchmen to warn of the impending judgment coming for their departure, 1:17.
Third, they professed to repent and return to the Lord, yet their heart was not in it, 3:10.
Fourth, the warning continues, 3:12, 13, and so does their hardness continues. God's plea to them is found in 4:4, circumcise your heart, soften your heart and return.
Fifth, we see that the people not only ignored Jeremiah's warning, they sought others to preach a nicer message which would leave them in their sins, 5:31. They also tried to kill Jeremiah, 26:8-11.

Finally, 6:19, Jeremiah tells them that God will see that they reap the results of even their thoughts.

It is interesting to me to note that one of sins God's judgment was against was their refusal to heed the watchmen's cry to them. Heb. 13:17, the pastor is compared to the OT prophetic watchman.

Thus we see in Jeremiah that no matter how nice the outside might appear, no matter how much outward zealous physical activity might be accomplished, the heart is what counts. There can be outward zeal apart from inward purity; but there cannot be inward purity without outward zeal.)

June 26, 1994

Zechariah, vv. 1-6 (Including the 1599 Geneva notes. See Online Bible CD.)

1:1 In the eighth month, in the second year of {a} Darius, came the word of the LORD unto {b} Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying,

(a) Who was the son of Histaspis.
(b) This was not the Zechariah, of which mention is made in # 2Ch 24:20, but he had the same name, and is called the son of Berechiah, as he was, because he came of those progenitors, as of Joiada or Berechiah, and Iddo.

1:2 The LORD hath been {c} sore displeased with your fathers.

(c) He speaks this to make them afraid of God's judgments, so that they should not provoke him as their fathers had done, whom he so grievously punished.

1:3 Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; {d} Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.

(d) Let your fruits declare that you are God's people, and that he has wrought in you by his Spirit, and mortified you: for otherwise man has no power to return to God, but God must convert him; # Jer 31:18 La 5:21 Isa 31:6 45:21

[V. 3]"---does not presuppose that the people had just fallen away from the Lord again, or had lost all their pleasure in the continuance of the work of building the temple, but simply that the return to the Lord was not a perfect one, not a thorough conversion of the heart. So had Jehovah also turned to the people again and had not only put an end to the suffering of exile, but had also promised His aid to those who had returned; but the more earnestly and the more thoroughly the people turned to him, the more faithfully and the more gloriously He would bestow upon them His grace and the promised salvation." [Keil (Keil-Delitzsch, Vol. 10, Zech. pg. 225.]

1:5 Your fathers, where {e} [are] they? and the prophets, do they live for ever?

(e) Though your fathers are dead, yet God's judgments in punishing them ought still to be before your eyes: and though the prophets are dead, yet their doctrine remains for ever; # 2Pe 1:15.

1:6 But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of {f} your fathers? and {g} they returned and said, Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.

(f) Seeing you saw the force of my doctrine in punishing your fathers, why do you not fear the threatenings contained in the same, and declared by my Prophets?
(g) As men astonished with my judgments, and not that they were touched with true repentance.

And thus we see that Zechariah's warning was to the very children of the ones Jeremiah warned, yet the sin that God judged in the fathers is still very alive in the children. They exhibited outward zeal for the work of God, yet in their heart, they were far from God. God knows and sin will not be kept hidden from him.


A) Do we want the blessings? Then keep the heart right. Outward zeal apart from inward holiness will only result in judgment. The two cannot be separated.

B) Many parents feel that if their outside is okay, then everything else will be okay. They are convinced that their children will pick up the outside actions. No! The inner man comes through loud and clear to our kids; they will follow after him.

I know of parents who have all the outside clean for others to see, but their inner desire toward God obviously is missing: they have not time for the Lord in evangelism nor in faithful church attendance. Then they wonder why their kids end up serving the world, flesh and the devil.

In his opening statement, Zechariah clearly states that if the parents serve their idols in their hearts, their kids will serve their idols with their bodies, and the wrath of God will come. The hypocrites Zechariah spoke to were confident that their outside obedience to the Word of God assured them of the promised blessings of God.

But Zechariah very pointedly tells them that without the inner love, desire and zeal for God (regeneration and love for His word), all of their outer action was useless as far as reaping God's blessings. Rather than blessings being ahead for them, there was only wrath.

Thus, Zechariah is addressing two types of people:

First, the hypocrites we have just mentioned. They were confident that because they were actively engaged in the work of the Lord, they would inherit the blessings which had been promised to God's faithful people. Though they were "serving the Lord, " they were "serving" Him for what was in it for them when: they were serving themselves. Zechariah open his book speaking to this class of people, vv. 1-6.

Vv. 7-21

Now Zechariah addresses the second class of people. They returned out of pure heart. They have grown discouraged as they have tried to do right and obey God, yet they were not seeing the promises fulfilled. These are encouraged in vv. 7-21, and throughout the book.

1:7-17 (Including the 1599 Geneva notes. See Online Bible CD.)

1:7 Upon the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which [is] the month {h} Sebat, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying,

(h) Which includes part of January and part of February.

1:8 I {i} saw by night, and behold {k} a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that [were] in the bottom; and behind him [were there] {l} red horses, speckled, and white.

(i) This vision signifies the restoration of the Church: but as yet it would not appear to man's eyes, which is here meant by the night, by the bottom, and by the myrtle trees, which are black, and give a dark shadow. Yet he compares God to a King who has his posts and messengers abroad, by whom he still works his purpose and brings his matters to pass.
(k) Who was the chief among the rest of the horsemen.
(l) These signify the various offices of God's angels, by whom God sometimes punishes, and sometimes comforts, and brings forth his works in various ways.

1:12 Then the {m} angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years?

(m) That is, Christ the mediator prayed for the salvation of his Church, which was now troubled, when all the countries about them were at rest.

1:14 So the angel that talked with me said to me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am {n} jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy.

(n) Though for a time God defers his help and comfort from his Church, yet this declares that he still loves them most dearly, as a most merciful father his children, or a husband his wife, and when it is expedient for them, his help is ever ready.

1:15 And I am very greatly displeased with the nations [that are] at ease: for I was but {o} a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction.

(o) In destroying the reprobate, I showed myself but a little angry toward my Church, but the enemy would have destroyed them also, and did not consider the goal of my chastisements.

1:16 Therefore thus saith the LORD; I have returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line {p} shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem.

(p) To measure out the buildings.

1:17 Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet {q} be spread abroad; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.

(q) The abundance will be so great, that the places of storage will not be able to contain these blessings that God will send, but will even break because of fullness.

Date: 24th day of the 11th month in the second year of Darius, or about 3 months after v. 1. The time laps between the first and second message would cause us to think that Zechariah rebuked the hypocrites and called them to repent, then he waited to give them a chance to think, consider and repent. He firmly laid the foundation that any promised blessing had to be based upon obedience to God's law-word, from the inner-most out.

The revelation recorded here takes place in the dead of night when the mind is free. There were several revelations in this same night which covered an extended period of time. In fact, the revelations cover the complete history of God's covenant people from Zechariah's time to the end of time.

In the first vision, Zechariah sees four horsemen. The one on the red horse stops by a pool of water located in the midst of the myrtle trees, or bushes. Behind him were three more horsemen seated upon red, brown and white horses. Thus there are two red horses present. Upon one is the Lord, and upon the other is a servant of the Lord. Zechariah is being attended by a fourth man.

The prophet looks at these horses and asked the angel who was attending him, O my lord, what are these?

The man that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, These are they whom the Lord hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth.

Zechariah is told that these horsemen have been sent out over the whole earth to see what is going on. The lead horseman by the pool is identified as the angel of the Lord, v. 8, red horse, and he stood... & v. 11, the Lord that stood... The other three are identified as those who attend him and report back to the angle of the Lord, v. 11.

Thus the man on the red horse among the trees is the Lord.

The three report bring their report back which they have been sent to gather.

First, the whole world is quiet and at peace. The world was in the hands of an anti-god, one-world ruler and peace prevailed.

In the second year of Darius there was universal peace; all the nations, that had constituted the former Chaldean empire, were in the enjoyment of uninterrupted prosperity. --The city (Babylon), had continued rich and flourishing, (Christology, pg. 965).

Notice the wording of the report, v. 11: all the earth sitteth still and is at rest. The city of man, Babylon, is rich and prosperous. The city of man which overthrew the city of God (Jerusalem) had done nothing but prosper since overthrowing Zion.

The city which destroyed Jerusalem, killed multitudes, carried away the people of God and was then oppressing God's people was flourishing and prospering. God's people, God's city, Mount Zion had been overthrown, and Peace had broken out everywhere. The Devil's dream come true: God overthrown and His chains cast off. Things had gone as planed: peace prevailed.

Everything the evil men touched turned to gold: "Don't tell me it doesn't pay to serve the devil and his crowd" would be the natural thought.

This report given to the angel of the Lord by the pool causes him to exclaim: O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem... The contrast between and the down trodden condition of the people and the city of God caused the angel of the Lord, "Lord, how much longer are you going to withhold your mercy from your people?"

Keil makes an interesting observation here concerning these horsemen:

We must not, indeed, infer from this account that the riders were all sent for the simple and exclusive purpose of obtaining information concerning the state of the earth, and communicating it to the Lord. For it would have been quite superfluous and unmeaning to send out an entire troop on horses of different colors, for this purpose alone. Their mission was rather to take an active part in the agitation of the nations, if any such existed, and guide it to the divinely appointed end, and that in the manner indicated by the color of the horses--" (p 234. The horsemen of Rev. 6 were sent by God to agitate the earth.)

So thus the Lord works all things according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, Eph 1:11.

His horsemen are out even today working world-wide according to His purpose in history.

Zechariah 1:12: these threescore and ten years.

Jer 25:11 & 29:10 presents the promise:

For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.

Upon this promise is built Jeremiah 30. We will start with v. 10

The prone made by Jeremiah was a glorious promise of tremendous peace and prosperity after the 70 years captivity. The people had returned with the hope of Jeremiah's promise alive and well. Some returned with the hopes of personal gain; some returned because they loved the Lord.

The 70 years came to an end in the first year of Cyrus. But this was now the second year of Darius; therefore, the question, "How much longer?"

It was a very anxious question as well as a reminder to God that the time which Jeremiah identified was fulfilled already, Jer. 25:11; 29:10; 2 Chron. 36:22; Ezra 1:1.

The angel, seeing the misery still upon Jerusalem and upon God's people contrasted with the peace and prosperity of the heathen world powers that laid wast the city of God, expresses the thought which we would have expressed:

"Lord, the time of misery spoken of in your word is past fulfillment. Is their any hope that you will ever deliver your people from their misery?"

Evidently, this is the angel of the Lord which stood among the trees and received the report who makes this request. He expresses Zechariah's thoughts to the Lord and the Lord replies to the angel who is talking to Zechariah. He also tells Zechariah to make the answer public, v. 14, Cry thou...

The answer

First, Zechariah (who is to tell all people) is assured that even though God's people seem to be in misery now and the heathens seem to be prospering, God is still jealous over his covenant people. He has not forgotten them, nor is He ignoring them. The Lord is very displeased with the heathen who are at ease.

Why? Because God had appointed the heathen nations to punish or chastise His covenant people and they far exceeded His command. They sought to totally destroy the covenant people, and this was not what God commanded of them.

Isa 10:6 I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
5 ¶ O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. 6 I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. 7 Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but [it is] in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few. 8 For he saith, [Are] not my princes altogether kings?
Isa 42:24 Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the LORD, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law.

Isa 42:25 Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid [it] not to heart.

God was wroth with his people. He appointed the heathen to chastise them, and in their wickedness, they showed no mercy. The result was Jerusalem destroyed and the people carried away into captivity and the heathens who did it now prospering.

V. 16. The Lord, in His comforting answer to Zechariah, says that He has returned to Jerusalem. His mercies are already there. His house will be built and the city will be rebuilt according to His measurements, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem.

Even though the promises concerning Jerusalem and Zion are apparently delayed, they will be fulfilled. The temple will be completed; and Jerusalem will rise form its ruin.

We will stop here for now. We will look at the horses next time. They are very interesting.

The point that stands out about this section is that things are not as they appear.

The proud one-worlders destroyed Mt Zion, the city of our Great King. The goal of man has been a one-world order. Fallen man sees such an order as the only sure means of peace. And really, it is apart from Christ.

Peach prevailed, but it was peace from the end of a sword.

The city of God was cast down, but the promises of God were still valid.

July 3, 1994

Zech 1:8-17

The horses

Now, let's look at this second part of the vision a little. Remember, this section was given to encourage those who were seeking to do their best in a seemingly hopeless situation: the Christ-rejecting and oppressing crowd had done and was continuing to do its best to destroy the city of Zion (the church) and the covenant people. In spite of their ungodly effort, they appeared to be prospering.

I must admit that while studying this book I looked to those before me who are much wiser in the Word of God than I should ever hope to be. As I read this book on my own, I had a few indications of its character and meaning. But in reading it, I also had the same thoughts as you have: "What is going on here."

My schooling has not been Bible Colleges, but sound Biblical scholars of the past. I find the best way to study a passage is to go thorough it and find what I can. Then I may go back through the passage with those more knowledgeable than I. I especially go back through a section with others if I find the section confusing or hard to understand, e.g. prophetic passages such as Zechariah.

I use very little extra sources with Matthew or other easy to follow books. But when we get into places such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, &c., I will be the first to admit that I need instruction. Though I may seek aid from other theologians, that does not mean that I accept what they might say.

I studied with several as I went through this book. The primary ones I studied with were E.W. Hengstenberg (1802-1869), a German Theologian, and the Keil-Delitzsch OT commentary. Mr. Delitzsch (1813-1890) was an OT scholar of Hebrew ancestry. Mr. Delitzsch was aided in his commentary by Mr. Keil. The Keil-Delitzsch 10 Volume Commentary on the OT is probably the best in its field. The 1599 Geneva notes are also included in this study of the first chapter, but not in the rest of the chapters.

I use Keil-Delitzsch extensively in the OT because he explains the meanings of the words and phrases that only a Hebrew Scholar can mine out of the scripture.

The reason I am making this point is because I am going to share with you these men's notes that are important for our study.

Again, following Hengstenberg (pg. 963, Christology--, Vol. II).

The Angel of the Lord is seated upon a red horse in the thicket of myrtles. The latter is a striking image of the kingdom of God, not a proud cedar or a lofty mountain, but a modest myrtle in the hollow, yet lovely for all that,... Whilst the kingdoms of the world were surrounded by outward splendor, the kingdom of God was always lowly and unpretending; and at this time especially it appeared to be approaching its end. The fact that the angel of the Lord stopped in the midst of the thicket of myrtles was an indication of the distinguished protection enjoyed by the Church of God, notwithstanding its feeble condition. (Christology, Hengstenberg, p 963.)

Rev. 2:1, Christ also is represented as walking in the midst of the candlesticks as the protector and judge of the church. Let us also mention that Christ is the protector, provider, guide and JUDGE of His pastors in His church. When others attempt to interfere into this office of Christ toward His pastors, they enter into very dangerous ground.

The color of the horses.

Hengstenburg and Keil follow the same line of thought: the colors represent the work of these horsemen. The first one being the angel of the Lord on the red horse, Zechariah "sees him mounted on a red horse to show the rapidity with which everything is accomplished; and the red color of the horse sets forth his indignation against his heathen foes, for wrath is bloody and therefore red." (See Isa. 63, Rev 6:4 and chp. 7). The red speaks of the burning of the great wrath of the Lord against the heathens who have stood and are standing against the kingdom of God. When the time is right, the Lord will move swiftly against the heathens in His anger. His vengeance will be sure.

The angels which surround the Lord represents the idea that He has every means available at His command, in heaven and earth, for the salvation of His covenant people and the destruction of His enemies. In other words, ALL POWER IS GIVEN TO ME IN HEAVEN AND EARTH?

The colors of the surrounding, accompanying angels represent their works. What is their work? Their work is to bring about the situations which will preform the predetermined plan of God.

could cover foreknowledge here

Job tells us of Satan's travels to and fro in the earth to see how he can get to the righteous, yet he cannot get to them without the Lord's permission. These angels also go to and fro in the earth in the interest of the church and covenant people. In this particular case, their assignment seems to have been restricted to just checking things out and bringing back a report.

Let us add, it seems to have been for Zechariah's benefit that they reported back. Zechariah had to report back to the God's people the words of encouragement.

Peace and prosperity was everywhere among the heathen God-haters.

But on the surface Jerusalem, the city of the great king, presented a bleak outlook. The capitol of the kingdom of God for the most part laid in ruins:
There were no walls of protection.
The heathens were threatening to overrun them from all sides.
The number of inhabitants was small.
The greater part of the land was still waste.

Such a situation, of course, left the faithful tempted to despair as well as gave the ungodly excuse for their ungodliness. Mal 2:17 expresses the temptation against both the faithful and the ungodly: as people observe the stark contrast between the misery of the covenant people and the prosperity of the heathens, they say, "Everyone that does evil is good in the sight of the Lord." This is expressed again in Mal. 3:15: "The proud are happy. The workers of evil are exalted. Those who tempt God are delivered. They that tempt God prosper.

Remember what the Devil said to Christ? "Cast thyself down and God will send His angels to catch you. Well, here they are casting themselves down and it does appear that like God is catching them.


It sure appears that those who preach a false gospel are able to pack the crowds in, and those who practice false doctrines have folks flocking after them. Those who compromise are prospering on every side. Their followers seem to be joyful. Their services exciting and appealing. They seem to see their every desire accomplished.

On the other hand, those who are trying to remain true in every area have a hard time even meeting the utilities. Those who act presumptuously, contrary to God's word, prosper and have more than a soul could want. Those who try to avoid tempting God have very little.

Notice Mal. 3:14-18 and especially v. 14: "It is vain (useless) to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinances, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? But as we continue in this passage, we come to v. 17. As His covenant people are faithful to Him when times are good, then when all seem to be hopeless, He will be faithful to them.

Zechariah deals with this very thing: "The scorners are happy. The ungodly increase. The Lord seems to delight in those who have rejected Him."

Babylon was recovering from its fall to the Chaldeans. The covenant people of God had returned to Jerusalem, yet everything was in complete disarray. This would have been quite discouraging to those who were trying to be completely faithful to the God of the covenant. Zechariah's words of vv. 7-17 were meant to comfort the discouraged people of God.

Just a quick note in passing.

Notice how many times the idea of God's faithful people being discouraged by the outward prosperity of the wicked is covered. I can think of several authors right off hand which deal with this.
David, Ps. 37;
Asaph, Ps. 73;
Habbakkuk, Chps. 1 & 2;
Zechariah, chp. 1 and
Malachi, chps. 2, 3.

This doesn't even consider the NT teaching on this in passages such as I Tim. 6:5, supposing that gain is godliness. Therefore, it is a MAJOR doctrine of God's word. The answer of answers and the theme of Scripture, is given to Habakkuk by God which deal with this "problem." But the just shall live by his faith, 2:4. Can we live by faith in the face of the very perplexing problem of the outward prosperity of the wicked?

Zechariah is shown the angel of the Lord who is the protector of the covenant people. Even in the face of the recovering prosperity of Babylon, the promise of the protection of the angel of the Lord would have been a comfort to God's elect. Not only does Zechariah see the angel, but he hears the angel interceding for God's people. What Zachariah saw and heard showed assured him that the time of God's blessing upon them was close; the 70 years were completed and God was about to reestablish His kingdom's capital.

The angel's words showed them that their labor was not in vain even though the heathens seemed to have all of the "luck." The answer given (vv. 14-17) showed that God's promise toward His people and His threats toward the heathens were certainly going to be fulfilled no matter how long it took. The time span between the promises and their fulfillment was determined totally by His determined, holy and wise counsel.


I believe there are a couple of points we need to discuss here.

1) all things were/are working together according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. We often forget or overlook this fact that God is the One Who controls history. Let's look at a quote from "The politics of guilt and pity," R.J. Rushdoony. Thornburn Press, Fairfax, VA, pgs. 50, 51.

For satanism, evil is power, and power is evil. Satanism is very prevalent today, not only in occultism, communism, and other movements, but it is also present in all men who see the future as controlled by evil men who have the power to dominate the past, present, and future. Many people, who believe that they represent true righteousness, are still satanist, because they firmly believe that the past, present, and future are controlled by a secret cabal of Jews, Germans, international bankers, secret societies, or other similar groups of conspirators. To recognize the existence of some conspiracies is one thing. To ascribe to conspiracies the power to determine history is another thing: it is blasphemy. The Biblical faith is that man's conspiracies are a "vain thing" because God absolutely predestines and governs all history (Ps. 2; Rom. 8, etc.). To ascribe the government of history to a conspiracy is to renounce the Triune God and to worship satan. All history, including its conspiracies, move entirely in terms of God's purpose. The Scripture cites, as the classic example of man's conspiracy serving God in a total way, the condemnation of Jesus by the Sanhedrin (John 11:47-53): God, by His sovereign and total power, made Caiaphas prophesy to God's purpose and to serve Him. (The politics of guilt and pity, R.J. Rushdoony. Thornburn Press, Fairfax, VA, pp 50, 51.)

The Book of Daniel also clearly presents this doctrine that all of history and its rulers moves in terms of God's will and purpose.

Therefore, today as we see the antiChrist crowd gaining in strength and power (socialist, whether Communist or American) it is because God is exalting them, NOT because of any conspiracy which might or might not be at work. If the covenant people would serve the Lord God of the covenant faithfully, the "conspiracies" and their men would be put down by God. It comes back to this: the true conspiracy is against God and started in the garden. As men serve God, Satan's conspiracy from the first in the garden is defeated by God and freedom prevails. As men turn from God, the conspiracy gains power and men serve the conspiracy in bondage and slavery.

Conspiracies are not the problem; the worldliness of God's people is the problem. To emphasize conspiracies and to believe the answer lies in uncovering conspiracies is to serve the devil himself.

2) Another point here in Zechariah would be Rom. 8:28. If all things work together for good for God's faithful people, then the other side of the coin is that all things work together for evil to those who are in rebellion against Him, Politics, pg. 51.

To me, one of the most interesting points here in this situation in Zechariah is the rebuilding of the city in terms of God's promise being fulfilled.

In other words, the city of the great king was to be rebuilt after the 70 years, yet it required a huge amount of hard work and sacrifice. Yes, it was time for the promise to be fulfilled and the city to be rebuilt, yet it would be impossible to fulfill that promise apart from hard work and sacrifice.

I am afraid that far too often we feel that if we set back and let God do it, He will fulfill His promises. Notice He did not come down from heaven with His band of construction angels and rebuild the city. No! He placed the desire in the hearts of men, and they did the work. Those who are "Calvinistic" would be inclined to fall victim to the idea that God's promises will be fulfilled regardless of their effort, so they do nothing.

Certainly, it was in God's predetermined counsel to rebuild His city. He had the dates and names of those who would do the work already established; God called Cyrus by name long before he was born. Yet it was only as men moved in obedience to God's Word that the work got accomplished, and His city rebuilt.

Let us not be found guilty of such foolish presumption and sin. If we expect to see something built for God, it is going to require hard work and sacrifice.

Yes, God's word is full of promises.
Yes, all history does move in terms of God's sovereign will to accomplish God's predetermined will.
Yes, Satan has no say as to how history moves, nor any right to control its slightest moment.

But those promises are only claimed by hard work in obedience to God's word. Let us not be found quilt of presumption.

3) The labor for God's cause is not in vain no matter how much Babylon and its world system seems to be in control and to prosper. God is not restricted by time as we are. He may take a whole generation just to present an idea for several generations following to act on.

The city of God, the new Jerusalem, Mount Zion with its glorious temple (Heb. 12:22-23), will be built; the Great King will dwell there, and as with Zechariah, God will use men to build His great city. It requires hard work, sacrifice and dedication to His word the same as Ezra and Nehemiah had to do. Yet His kingdom will prosper and all His enemies will become His footstool. Ps 110 is probably one of the most quoted of all the Psalms by NT authors, including Peter, Paul, James and Christ himself.

No more than Ezra or Nehemiah could expect a band of angels to come down and do their work for them, can we expect them to do our work for us. If the work of God is going to be done in this area of the world, I am looking at the ones who must do it.

Certainly, the power of the sovereign God alone can turn hearts and place men into his temple, but God uses the preaching of the gospel and the going of His people to accomplish this tremendous task, Rom. 10:13-21.

When Zechariah spoke to encourage the laborers for God in the face of the prosperity of Babylon, the end of Babylon was much closer than any man could imagine. The temple of God was built, the walls completed, the city of the Great King was inhabited once again, and Babylon turned to dust as it is today.

Again, the application is very obvious:

We do not know where in God's timetable we live. The total destruction of the Babylonian world system may be just ahead, which I am inclined to believe, or it may be many generations down the road. Our responsibility is to rebuild the city of God which has been left in ruin by humanism.

However, the Babylon of the Revelation was clearly the Jerusalem that put Christ to death, Revelation 16:6, 19, 17:2, 5, 6, 18:8 [70 AD], 20, 19:2. Compare all with Matthew 23:34-39. See my study on Matthew 24, "THE TRIUMPH OF TITUS." Read Revelation WITHOUT the preconceived notion that it is prophecy from the time it is read today. Accept the internal agreements that the book was written before 70 AD. Nevertheless, Babylon also refers to the world system that is against Christ and His kingdom on earth, the kingdom that the world unleashes all of its hatred toward—"We will rebell."

As we see the contrast between the two, humanism and godliness, humanism seems to be gaining by leaps and bounds. But there is death in the pot and all of those who eat of that pot will die. Babylon and its humanistic system will turn to dust. Are Gods people going to be found faithful in their hard work, dedication and sacrifice even when all looks fruitless when contrasted with the prosperity of Babylon?

Babylon will turn to dust in God's good time after it has served His purpose; actually, it turns to saw-dust, Zech. 1:18-21.

How many of God's people stayed in Babylon because of its life of ease and prosperity compared with Ezra's and Nehemiah's life? How many fell with Babylon? How many, as Babylon was ground to power, wished they had made the choice to follow Ezra and Nehemiah?

It [Zechariah's vision] showed that his promises and threats would certainly be fulfilled, however gradually, at the time determined in his wise and holy counsel (Christology, p 965).

Thus we have a choice: We can either dedicate all our time, effort and finances to advance God's kingdom as did those under Ezra and Nehemiah, or we can remain in pursuit of the pleasures of this world system, Babylon. Those pleasures of the flesh and those in pursuit of them will be ground to small dust when God's time is right to move against Babylon, Mal 3:16-18.

I'm afraid that many of even our own people are going to be ground under along with the world system because they have not seen the need to come apart and be separate; they haven't seen the need to make that living sacrifice to God which is expected of them and is their reasonable service. That sacrifice including their time, talent, and treasure. Rather, they use their T.T.T. to follow after the things of the world which bring pleasure. There is very little desire to make any kind of sacrifice to the work of advancing the cause of Christ. "Besides, what will my little bit do for such a hopeless cause in the face of the tremendous odds?" So they don't do anything.

Babylon with all of its glory and splendor will fall as promised by God. How many of God's people will fall with it? I'm afraid that many of God's people are so involved in Babylon that they will do as they did in Rev. 18:15: shall stand afar off for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing.

Here is another point worth our consideration. As Ezra and Nehemiah separated from Babylon (and its destruction) to rebuild what had been destroyed by sin, the temple and the city of God, they couldn't do it alone. God gave them people to help, as well as prophets to encourage the people in the seemingly hopeless task, Ezra 1; 5:1, 2, &c. God gave them people to do the work as they were directed by Ezra and Nehemiah who assigned them their tasks.

July 17, 1994


1) It was absolutely impossible for Ezra and Nehemiah to build by themselves. I can see the people now. "Okay, Ezra and Nehemiah. We pay you a salary to do this. Now leave us alone while we go do what we want to do. There is a good TV show on; don't disturb us. There is a ball game we want to see or go to; we really don't have time to help you rebuild the temple, the walls or the city. We are paying you to do that so we can do our thing which we enjoy so much."

a. The work would not have been completed no matter how dedicated Ezra and Nehemiah were and how hard they worked.

b. The people would have been judged by God for their wicked attitude.

Ezra and Nehemiah (as well as Haggai and Zechariah (Ezra 5:1) all lived from the money the people gave, yet the people were the ones who had to do the hard work. Their faithfulness in fulfilling their responsibility in giving did NOT release them of their responsibility to work.

2) Ezra and Nehemiah were given others by God to do the work. God laid it on their heart to come out of Babylon, to separate from Babylon. He gave them that desire in order that they could and would WORK at rebuilding what had been laid waste by sin. He did NOT separate them from Babylon so they could continue in persuit of their own desires.

3) Those who were separated by God from Babylon under Ezra's and Nehemiah's leadership were the ones given to Ezra and Nehemiah to do the work of rebuilding. They were given by God to these leaders to do the work which God had assigned to the leaders. The people were responsible to God through their leaders.

a. This is an obvious principle which is overlooked, and sure isn't preached on. God calls out his people from Babylon under certain men. Those people are the ones that God has given to those men to do the work assigned to them. God is the one who assigned the location of their faithful service. The only way those folks can safely separate from God's chosen place of service for them is through God removing them completely out of the community through their occupation or something along this line.

God is the one who chooses their family to be born into and in which they are to be trained and to serve through. They didn't make that choice. To desert that place is to leave God.

Certainly, we are assuming that the leaders are and remain Godly men, although the leader will not be right in all things at all times. But as long as the leaders remain faithful, the people are required to remain faithful and pray.

It was the devil's crowd that tried to "woo" away those whom God gave to Ezra and Nehemiah. A pastor or church which tried to influence those God gave to another church which is actively engaged in advancing the kingdom of God will answer to God.

Those are the ones given by God to build in the area where he has them. When those move out from where God has them, then the building will not be able to continue on as God meant for it to be. Where is this message today?

This principle is against moving from one church to another. The principle is that the God-given responsibility of service to Himself is under the one who God placed them under through salvation. If God should see fit to move the individual from one community to another, out of reach of the primary one they are responsible to, then they are to get in a good sound Bible-believing and practicing church, (after praying for God's direction) and stay there.

I have had so many people say, "I have prayed about it and, even though we were saved here, I believe God wants me to go over there." No, that goes against the word of God and His established principles of authority. God gave that person to the authority He wanted them under through the new birth. If He wanted them over there, that is where He would have placed them through the same method.

[We notice that many times that other place has or is compromising and maybe isn't even preaching the gospel of the substitutionary death. How in the world can one claim that God is moving them into a situation where the church is compromising with the world, flesh and/or devil?]

God chose who should leave Babylon; God chose who would follow Ezra and Nehemiah; God chose where there efforts and finances were to go. The choice was the Lord's, and it was the devil's crowd that tried to convince the people otherwise.

I think maybe one of the reasons people move from place to place is that they are looking for the place which offers them the most which would give us application 4.

4) I can see these folks now:

"Ezra, Nehemiah, what can you do for us? What have you got for us?"

They are told "All we have for you is hard work, suffering, sacrifice and ridicule. All we have is threats from the enemy and prospects of warfare which will wipe us out. You will have to work with one hard on your sword because the enemy is just over the hill. He doesn't like what we stand for or are doing. He will swoop down at any time. But we have a great work to do and God will provide and protect."

The people say back, "You find someone else to do your work for you. We are going to find someone who has more for us and our families, and when the threat of warfare isn't so great."

This would be a major issue of our day. Rather than folks seeking for what they can do to help build the temple of the living God, they are looking for someplace where they can dwell in the luxury of the city with no responsibilities.

The fastest growing church in our county is a "Christian" church. There reputation is for providing all sorts of family oriented activities. The people go to that church for what the church can do for them, not for what they can do for the church. This kind of foolishness has been called, "Consumer Christianity." The "Christian Consumer" shops around until he finds a church that can provide the most for him. That is then where he goes.

As we mentioned in the introduction. Zechariah preached to those who were involved in this rebuilding and it prospered under these messages, Ezra 6:14. My, how we need this today.

Now we come to the second vision, vv. 18-21.

Zechariah has preached to the ones who were involved in this very hard work for what was in it for them. Their heart wasn't in this work, but their hope sure was. Then he has preached to those whose heart was in the work, yet their hope was very shaky as they saw the miseries of the covenant people compared with the prosperity of the wicked.

Vv. 18-21

1:18 Then I lifted up my eyes, and saw, and behold {r} four horns.

(r) Which signifies all the enemies of the Church: east, west, north, and south.

1:20 And the LORD showed me four {s} craftsmen.

(s) These craftsmen or smiths are God's instruments, who with their mallets and hammers break these hard and strong horns which would overthrow the Church, and declare that no enemies' horn is so strong, but God has a hammer to break it in pieces.

Zechariah continues with his message of hope for these folks with vv. 18-21. Here he sees four horns. The four horns represent the four great heathen, pagan world powers. Then he is shown four carpenters which destroy the four powerful horns.

The Lord has already pointed out that God is in the midst of his covenant people, and knows their miseries. God also knows what the pagans are up to. Now the Lord is going to give Zechariah an inside view of what is going to take place concerning these great world-wide powers.

Verses 18-21, four horns. Zechariah asks the angel, "What are these?" The reply is that these horns represent the enemies of the kingdom of God.

Amos 6:13. The horn is used in Scripture as a symbol of power.

Here we have the four world powers which raise up in opposition to the kingdom of God. Then we have the four carpenters or smiths which work to break the horns into pieces.

The meaning is obvious, the enemies of the Lord are to be punished for their sins; the Lord will defend his feeble church against every attack. Christology, pg. 966.

Equally obvious is that these four horns are directly tied in with Daniel's prophecy. (See Daniel's image, chp. 2; 7:7, 8; 8:3-9, etc..) The four horns or empires are identified in Dan. 8:20-25.

1) The first horn was Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar, Dan. 2:37.

2) The first carpenter or smith sent by God against the first horn was Persia, the second horn. It destroyed Babylon.

3) The second smith sent by God against the second horn, which was Persia, was Greece, Dan. 8:21; Zech. 9:13. Greece, who was the second smith, then became the third horn. The third horn, Greece, is destroyed by the third smith, but the third smith is unidentified, Dan 8:22.

At the time of Daniel and Zechariah, Greece was not among the world powers, so Daniel was speaking of something which had not yet taken place.

4) The third smith becomes the fourth horn, and the fourth horn is subsequently destroyed by the fourth smith, which is also unnamed.

I think it is significant that though the second smith and the third horn are identified, the fourth horn, or world-power, is not identified anywhere in Scripture. But from Daniel's vision, we can safely assume that the fourth horn was Rome, Dan. 2:44. Christ, the stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands, came into the kingdom of men during Rome's days of great world-wide power.

Zechariah was at all events informed by this vision that the triumph of the people of God was still remote. But the final victory was certain notwithstanding; and though it would have to suffer from one imperial power after another, it would still survive them all. (Christology, pg. 967.)
The four smiths, therefore, symbolized the instruments "of the divine omnipotence by which the imperial power in its several historical forms is overthrown," or, as theod. Mops, express it, "The powers that serve God and inflict vengeance upon them from many directions." The vision does not show what powers God will use of this purpose. It is simply designed to show to the people of God, that every hostile power of the world which has risen up against it, or shall rise up, is to be judged and destroyed by the Lord, (Keil, Vol. pg. 241)."

Zechariah was informed by this vision of all the events yet to take place. He was shown that though the final victory of God over the evil world-powers was certain, there was going to continue to be suffering for the Kingdom of God on earth before God overthrew them.

Thus the four smiths represent God's divine omnipotence working through providence from many directions to inflict His vengeance upon the wicked who have moved against God's people.

This vision is not designed to identify the hostile powers which move against the church, nor is it designed to identify what means God will use to overthrow the hostile powers. The vision is though designed go assure the people of God that every hostile power of the world that has risen up against the Church will be judged and destroyed by the Lord.

One of the more interesting aspects of this would be the horns vs the carpenters.

Illustration: In Louisiana, our church building was brick, yet had wooden door frames. This one frame looked very strong, yet if you would push hard against it with even a blunt instrument, you could poke through it. Why? Because of the carpenter ants. They will go in and eat the heart of the wood out, leaving the outside untouched and with the appearance of strength.

This would be a good illustration here. The world powers today looks very strong. Their outward appearance couldn't be better, but underneath they are eaten away by the "carpenter ants". A little pressure in the right place and they will crumble into a pile of sawdust.

On the other hand, the church looks very weak. It looks like a little pressure and it will fold like paper, yet underneath it is built on a rock. We do not see God's carpenters or smiths at work, yet they are quietly doing their destroying work against the great powers of this world which are standing against the Lord and his Christ. If the covenant people look at the outward appearance, it would indeed be discouraging, but the word of God clearly tells us that His carpenters are at work against the world powers.

The pressure will come one day, and that mighty looking horn will crumble into the sawdust which it is, and what a great day that will be.

Zechariah was shown this as encouragement for the covenant people who were seemingly involved in a hopeless task. The same truth holds for our day also for those who feel they are involved in a hopeless task.