Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
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,Analysis and Annotations
1. THE NIGHT VISIONS
1. The introduction (Zechariah 1:1-6)
2. The first night vision (Zechariah 1:7-17)
3. The second night vision (Zechariah 1:18-21)
Zechariah 1:1-6. The first utterance of Zechariah concerns the past. “The LORD hath been sore displeased with your fathers.” They were a disobedient, stiff-necked people. The pre-exilic prophets had called them to repentance, but they did not hearken. Then he gives the message to turn to the Lord, with the promise that He will turn to them; they should not be like their fathers. And their fathers, where were they? They had passed away like the disobedient ones in the wilderness; God’s judgment and displeasure had overtaken them and they perished.
Zechariah 1:7-17. After this opening message with its call to return, delivered probably before the assembled congregation, the prophet received his great night-visions. These were not mere dreams, but the things he describes passed before him in divine vision. He beheld them in one night. They were not only given in one night, but just as one followed the other with out interval, so are they closely connected, giving progressively coming events. There is, of course, to a certain extent in some of these visions the message of hope for the Jewish remnant of that day, but the visions concern the future, and can only be understood in the light of other prophecies concerning the end of the age and the glorious future of Israel and Jerusalem. To apply them to the Church produces the greatest possible confusion. We shall see how these visions concern the Gentiles first and the overthrow of the world-powers, followed by the blessings and glory promised to Israel, which all will be given to the nation in the day when Gentile dominion ceases forever. When the visions end, the morning comes after that memorable night of revelation, the command to crown the high-priest is given.
Without quoting the text in full we give the interpretation of each vision. He beheld an army of riders upon different colored horses, led by a man riding a red horse, who is the center of the vision. There is an interpreting heavenly messenger, to whom the prophet turns to find out who the riders are. They do not represent the Persians, as some expositors have stated; they are angels. It is the man upon the red horse who speaks. “These are they whom the Lord hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth.” The riders upon the horses give their report to the man in the middle. “Behold, all the earth sitteth still and is at rest.”
Who is the rider upon the red horse? He is called the “Angel of the LORD.” There is no question but that the rider and the Angel of the LORD are the same person. And the Angel of the LORD in the Old Testament is an uncreated Being; He is the Son of God in His pre-incarnation glory. There are three very good reasons for this interpretation. 1. The color red identifies him with our Lord. He is the Lamb of God who shed His blood in redemption; He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah Revelation 5:1-14) who will arise in judgment upon the nation in the coming days of vengeance and trample His enemies under foot Isaiah 63:1-19). 2. He is the Leader as well as the Center of the heavenly hosts; they are subject unto Him; all things are in His hands. 3. He makes intercession, which marks Him as the one who is the intercessor before God in behalf of His people. Our larger exposition of Zechariah quotes the Jewish interpretation (Studies in Zechariah, pp. 11-12).
The report of the angelic hosts was that the earth sitteth still and is at rest. The nations were at rest, in the state of prosperity; but His people is in trouble, the land of promise under Gentile rule and dominion. While the cities of the nations were increased and had plenty, the city of the King was under the hoof of the Gentiles; His people suffered. Such is the condition of things throughout the time of the Gentiles. In our comment, written in 1899 we made the following remarks:
“Prosperity, universal prosperity, and with it universal peace, is the cry at the close of another century, and will be more so as we advance towards the end of this age. Civilization, world conquest, commercial extension, and a universal peace, seem to be the leading thoughts among the nations of our times. Truly it is realized by some that our boasted civilization, liberty and prosperity, is nothing but a smoldering volcano which may burst open at any moment and make an end of all boasting; but the majority of the people even in Christendom are sadly deluding themselves with idle dreams. And what of God’s thoughts and His eternal purposes? What of His oath-bound covenant promises? They are being misinterpreted, set aside and forgotten. Thus it will continue till the climax is reached, so clearly foretold in the Second Psalm.”
This forecast has come true; the great war has come and gone and now the age is rapidly approaching its predicted end.
Then follows in the vision the intercessory cry of the Angel of the LORD. It concerns in the first place the indignation of the seventy years. But that dispersion is the prophetic type of their greater dispersion. What was true then concerning the nations and the state of Jerusalem, is true of the present and future. The nations helped forward their affliction by hating the Jew. The great sin of the nations is Anti-semitism, which is the result of not believing the Word of God. The hatred of the Gentiles will culminate in the end of the age in coming against the partially restored nation, as we shall learn at the close of our prophecy. Then the assurance is given that the Lord in His jealousy will remember His people and Jerusalem will be chosen and Zion comforted.
Zechariah 1:18-21. He saw next four powerful horns, the emblems of the powerful Gentile nations who have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem. The four horns are the same four world-powers announced in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and in Daniel’s vision Daniel 2:1-49; Daniel 7:1-28. They are symbolized by the locusts in their four stages Joel 1:1-20. Four smiths appear in the vision to fray them and to cast them out. The vision teaches two facts: first, the horns will be broken and cast down; and in the second place, God has for every power which has sinned against His people a corresponding instrument, to overcome and to break into pieces.