Darby's Bible Synopsis
In the eighth month, 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,
The Spirit of God begins with an exhortation, founded on the proofs that the history of the people supplied of the manner in which the word of the prophets had taken hold of them. Jehovah's displeasure, of which these prophets had not failed to warn the people, had borne its fruit; but God was now taking knowledge of the conduct of the Gentiles, to whom He had committed the place of power, and who, being at ease themselves, did not care for the misery and ruin of God's people. But Jehovah cares for it. He is sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease, and very jealous for Jerusalem. He is returned to Jerusalem with mercies; and prosperity and abundance shall be the portion of His people. We may remark here, that the judgment of Babylon, already accomplished, was in principle the judgment executed on the oppressor among the Gentiles, the head of the empire-of the image; and that the promise of blessing extends to that which shall be the portion of Jerusalem, when the oppressor shall be finally judged.
Three empires were existing in the eye of the Spirit. And the world was at peace under the authority of the second of the four, the first of these three. A horse is the symbol of divine energy of government in the earth, and here, in the empires succeeding Nebuchadnezzar. There are here three, besides the one that stands among the myrtle trees. But they have the character of the providentially administering spirits of the empires rather than of the empires themselves. The first of the three horses is of the same colour as that of the man who stood among the myrtles (perhaps because Cyrus and the Persians had delivered and favoured the people of God, as the Lord Jesus Himself will do in the greatness of His power). Such, then, is the import of the first part of this prophecy: the judgment already accomplished displaying the virtue of Jehovah's word; God returning to Jerusalem with mercies and consolation, moved with jealousy for her, and sorely displeased with the nations that were at ease while she was in ruins.
The vision controlled the whole action of the empires of the nations, and shewed that everything was subject to the providential government of God, who inquired into all for His people's sake; and who, looking on to the end of these times of the Gentiles, announced that He was occupied with the prosperity and blessing of His chosen city. Meanwhile, remark, Judah had been restored provisionally to the privileges of its own worship, and to a position in which it might be ready to receive the Messiah for the accomplishment of the purposes of God.
The vision at the end of the chapter embraces all the empires who shall have been in relation with Judah and Jerusalem, and have oppressed them, until their final deliverance. The horns appear to symbolise powers; and the carpenters, the instruments employed by God to break them to pieces. We observe that Israel is included in Zechariah 1:19, as a part of the whole it appears to me, without entering into detail. Nineveh having come under the yoke of Babylon, and Israel being subject, as it was, to the empire, all is put together.
The LORD hath been sore displeased with your fathers.
Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.
Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD.
Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever?
But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? and 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.
Upon the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which is the month 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,
I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white.
Then said I, O my lord, what are these? And the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will shew thee what these be.
And 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.
And they answered the angel of the LORD that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest.
Then the 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?
And the LORD answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words.
So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy.
And I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease: for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction.
Therefore thus saith the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem.
Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.
Then lifted I up mine eyes, and saw, and behold four horns.
And I said unto the angel that talked with me, What be these? And he answered me, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.
And the LORD shewed me four carpenters.
Then said I, What come these to do? And he spake, saying, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, so that no man did lift up his head: but these are come to fray them, to cast out the horns of the Gentiles, which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah to scatter it.