James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
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,Zechariah 1:1-8:23
THE PROPHET’S OWN TIME
Zechariah, like Haggai, had a twofold mission, to strengthen the hands of Israel for the rebuilding of the temple, and to quicken their hope as the earlier prophets had done, by painting in glowing colors the coming time of triumph over every foe.
This mission is set before us in a two-fold division of the book. Chapters 1-8 give us a series of prophetic visions bearing primarily, upon the prophet’s own time, while chapters 9-14 deal chiefly with the events culminating at the end of the age and the opening of the millennium.
Part one, after the introduction, Zechariah 1:7 to Zechariah 6:8; might be outlined thus:
1. The Prophetic Visions (chaps. 1-6) The man among the myrtle trees The four horns The four smiths The measuring line The high priest in the temple
The golden candlestick
The flyer roll
The woman in the ephah
The four chariots
2. The Symbolic Crowning of the High Priest (6:8-15)
3. The Instruction about Fasting (chaps. 7-8)
THE FIRST FOUR VISIONS (Zechariah 1-2)
To understand the first vision is the key to the rest. When was it received by the prophet (1:7)? Describe what he saw (Zechariah 1:8). Observe that two persons are referred to, the man upon the red horse, and the angel that talked with Zechariah, sometimes called “interpreting angel.” The man on the horse seems afterward identified with “the angel of the Lord” (Zechariah 1:11-12), one of the Old Testament names of Christ. It is presumable that the other horses had angelic riders also. Who are these described to be (Zechariah 1:10)? What report gave they of the earth (Zechariah 1:11)? Prosperity and peace seem to have been characteristic of all the peoples, while Jerusalem was distressed, the temple unfinished, and the remnant of the Jews there persecuted by enemies. Who now intercedes on behalf of Jerusalem and Judah (Zechariah 1:12)? Is the answer of Jehovah encouraging or the opposite (Zechariah 1:13)? What was His answer in detail (Zechariah 1:14-17)? Was the peace and prosperity of the Gentile nations an evidence of the divine blessing upon them (Zechariah 1:15)? Jehovah had used them to discipline His people, but what shows their selfish and wicked intent in the premises (same verse)? What does Jehovah promise shall be accomplished by the little remnant at this time (Zechariah 1:16)? What of the future (Zechariah 1:17)? This was fulfilled in the history of God’s people at the time, in a measure at least. The temple was built, the cities restored, and Jerusalem and Judah comforted. And yet there is to be grander fulfillment in the days to come.
The two following visions, if we call them two the four horns and four smiths (RV), are closely connected with the one just considered. The four horns are the four world-powers (Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman) who scatter Israel, but the four smiths are four corresponding powers of some sort, not necessarily nations, which shall overcome them at the last and bring deliverance. We are almost necessarily shut up to the conclusion that this prophecy extends to the latter days by its reference to the whole of the four powers.
The next vision, that of the measuring line, presents no serious difficulty. Its significance explained (Zechariah 2:4-5), is the same practically as that of the man among the myrtles. However it may have had an approximate fulfillment in the prophet’s own time, Zechariah 2:10-13 indicate that it looks toward the future. What declaration in those verses seem to prove that?
THE HIGH PRIEST AND SATAN (Zechariah 3)
To understand the meaning of the vision now reached, keep in mind that a cause of dejection of the Jews was their consciousness of past sin. They felt that God had forsaken them, and that their present calamities were the result. We see herein, a parallel to the spiritual condition of a true believer in our own day, whom Satan torments with the belief that he cannot be saved on account of his many sins. This is now set before us in symbol, only there is a nation in the case here, and not an individual, for Joshua the high priest represented Israel.
Where is the high priest seen to be (Zechariah 3:1)? It is thought that he was represented as in the holy place ministering at the altar. Who is seen with him, and for what malign purpose? We have here in symbol, Satan’s temptation of the saint to doubt God’s power to forgive and save. How is this goodness and power shown, in the next verse? On what ground is Jerusalem to be saved, on that of merit or of the divine choice? What does Zechariah 3:3 teach as to the truth of Satan’s insinuation against Israel as represented by the high priest? Does the imagery indicate the holiness or sinfulness of the people.
Yet how is divine grace illustrated in the next command of Jehovah (Zechariah 3:4)? What did the removal of his filthy garments signify? What did the changed raiment signify? Compare Romans 3:22. What next was done (Zechariah 3:5)? By this act the clothing of the high priest was completed and he was fitted for his official service. Who is represented as “standing by” all this time as if interceding for Joshua (and through him for the nation), and to see that these commands were carried out and these benefits conferred? With whom have we identified “the Angel of the Lord”? What charge is now laid upon Joshua, and what privilege is connected with it (Zechariah 3:7)?
1. Name the two-fold mission of this prophet.
2. Name the nine prophetic visions of Part 1.
3. Give some reasons showing the application of these visions in the future.
4. What leads to that conclusion in the case of the four horns and the four smiths?
5. What is necessary to understand the vision of chapter 3?