On the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Sebat, in the second year of Darius…
Amongst the various manners in which God revealed Himself to men of old, visions were perhaps the most frequent and impressive. He appears to the prophet in six distinct visions. The visions were marked by these four characteristics. They were(1) Mental. Unlike all other creatures on the earth, man has an inner visual organ; he can see with his mind. This is seen in poets, such as Milton, Spenser, etc. Allegorists, such as Bunyan, etc. They were(2) Symbolic. Strange and grotesque objects were seen. These objects were all symbolic; they had a spiritual significance. They were(3) Divine. All men, unless they are utterly destitute of the poetic sentiment, have visions sometimes, not only sleeping but waking visions. But seldom, perhaps, are these visions Divine. They were(4) Prophetic. They point here to the future of God's moral kingdom upon the earth. Men of lofty, sanctified genius, often in their visions have a glance of "things that are to come." This vision seems to give us a glance into God's moral government of the world. It takes us behind the veil of phenomena, and shows us principles and agencies that move, fashion, and control all.
I. It is carried on in connection WITH MYSTERIOUS AGENCIES. What did the prophet see? "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." Who are these? Unfallen angels and sainted men. These by millions stand near His throne, prompt to obey His behests. In relation to these agents two thoughts are suggested —
1. That they are under the command of a transcendent mind. Most expositors regard the man on the red horse, and who stood among the myrtle trees, as no less a personage than the Angel of the Covenant, the Great Messiah. This same man appeared to Abraham in the plains of Mature, to Jacob before his meeting with Esau, to Noses at the burning bush, to Joshua at Jericho, with the sword drawn in His hand. Here He is on the "red horse," emblem of war. He is a great moral chieftain. Another thought suggested is —
(1) That there are varied orders. "Behind Him were there red horses, speckled, and white." This is the troop that followed the man. When the eyes of Elisha's servant were opened, he beheld a "mountain full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha." Horses are emblems of force and fleetness. In Christ's army there are hosts, mighty in power and swift in motion. "Are they not all ministering spirits?" How infinitely varied are God's ministers — varied in kind and measure of faculty, in experience, attainment, and aspect too — thrones, principalities, powers, and dominions. In relation to these agents it is suggested —
2. That the whole world is their sphere of action. "These are they whom the Lord hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth."(1) They "go to and fro" through the earth. They are ever journeying; some are swift as lightning in their speed; some of them are "full of eyes," and see all things.
(2) They know the state of the world. "We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest." "At rest," not in the rest of righteousness, not in the repose of goodness, but in carnal security and sin. Another fact suggested in relation to God's government in the world is —
II. That IT HAS NOT ONLY DIFFICULTIES, BUT AN INTERPRETER ALSO. "Then said I, O my lord, what are these?"
1. The difficulties of God's government. What are these? The prophet understood not these strange appearances; and in amazement he exclaims, What are these? What thoughtful man has not asked such a question as this concerning the Divine government over and over again? "What are these? What are these elements, forces, laws, existences, events? What are they? Are they messengers of mercy or justice? O my lord, what are these?" We are all moving in mystery.
2. The interpreter of God's government. Who answered the question "The man that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, These are they." Some other creature, the angel that talked with them, was asked first; but the answer came not from him, but from the man, Christ Jesus. In Revelation 5:2, "a strong angel" is represented as crying with a loud voice concerning the mysteries of God's government, inquiring who was able to "loose the seals"; but no one was found in heaven, in earth, or under the earth worthy to "open and read the book." There was only One found. "It was the Lamb in the midst of the throne." Christ is the only interpreter of God. He is the Logos.
III. That IT IS ESPECIALLY CONCERNED IN THE INTERESTS OF HIS PEOPLE. His people are supposed to be here represented by the "myrtle trees." The Jewish Church at this time was not like a forest of stately cedars, but a grove of myrtles, fragile and obscure.
1. These seem to be the centre of Divine operations on the earth. Now, in the myrtle trees is the "man riding upon a red horse." And in the myrtle trees were the "red horses, speckled, and white," the whole troop was there. The "myrtle trees" seemed to be the centre of all the agents. From it they started on their mission, and to it they returned. The true Church is the temple, the residence of God Himself.
2. The object of special intercession. "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?" The duration of their captivity in Babylon. Who is the angel that makes this appeal? It was He that "ever liveth to make intercession for us." "If any man sin, he hath an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."
3. The subjects of the Divine communication. "The Lord answered the angel that talked with me, with good words and comfortable words." The prophet is here commissioned to proclaim —
(1) God's zeal on behalf of Jerusalem. "Cry thou saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts."(2) His displeasure for the enemies of Jerusalem. "I am sore displeased with the heathen." His merciful purpose was to bestow blessings on Jerusalem. "Therefore thus saith the Lord," etc.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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,
WEB: On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of Yahweh came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo, the prophet, saying,