Daily Family Worship

Zechariah 1: A Horseman Among the Myrtles

by | Dec 14, 2023

zechariah 1

In the Book of prophecy that we are now beginning to study, we ought to give our most diligent attention; for there are very many rich and precious things in it, which point to Jesus and His glorious character as Mediator.

About a month after the message which Haggai preached in chapter 2:1-9, “the word of the Lord came unto Zechariah.” And Zechariah prefaces his prophecies with a very tender message. It is true that he does not ignore the sins of the past among His chosen people, but he hastens to emphasize the Lord’s tender mercy and encourage their return. There will never be a backslider for whose return the infinite love of God does not yearn, and after whom it does not send such messages of Divine love that far exceed human love. Even in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, the boy’s father did not send messages into the far country, where he sat among the swine; but this is precisely what God does!

In verse 7, three months had passed since the preceding vision (verse 7), and the month had come when the trees begin to bud in the land of Canaan; and now Zechariah says, “I saw by night.” What did he see? If we follow the suggestion of one commentator, we may imagine that not far from the prophet’s home, there was a green valley filled with graceful myrtle trees – amidst which, a stream had its way. Perhaps he was accustomed to resort to this peaceful place for prayer, just as our Lord retired among the olive trees outside Jerusalem. On the night in question, Zechariah – in a vision – was in his favorite valley, surrounded by the myrtles; and behold, in the midst of them, he saw “a man riding upon a red horse” (verse 8). And behind him, there was a group of companions who were mounted on horses of various colors. The whole valley seemed to be alive with these mysterious figures! Naturally, the prophet’s curiosity was aroused; and he sought the significance of the heavenly vision. In response to Zechariah’s query, a “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.” Then, as the prophet waited and listened, he heard the report which the angel-scouts handed in; and it was a report in which they agreed with perfect unanimity: “We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest.” This was indeed a time of almost universal peace among the great empires of the world. But to the peace and prosperity of all the surrounding countries, the condition of the returned remnant of Jews presented a notable and strange contrast. If any spot should be verdant and radiant, surely it should be the hill which the Lord had chosen for Himself; and yet it was desolate! This astounding contrast elicited from the Angel of the Covenant (Jesus) an earnest entreaty that God would show Himself strong on behalf of those whom He had brought back from exile. This is a beautiful glimpse of the intercessions which emanate from our Savior’s unchangeable High Priesthood. He always lives to intercede for us! He has engraved us upon the palms of His hands, our state is continually before Him, and He speaks to us with good and comfortable words – just as He did to Zechariah (verses 13-17), pronouncing declarations of comfort for Judah.

The next vision that Zechariah saw was also full of comfort (verses 18-21). The good and comfortable words of the previous scene are continued, like the long-drawn-out sweetness of a lullaby. As the little group of returned exiles looked nervously out upon the mighty world-empires which surrounded and threatened them, they were filled with alarm; for how could they cope with them? “Then lifted I up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, four horns.” In a society of shepherds, such as the Jews were, “the horn” naturally represented the pride and power of the ravager and oppressor of the flock of sheep. The number four is a symbol that indicates that wherever the people turned, there were foes who were sworn to resist their attempt to renew their national and spiritual life. However, this vision of the four horns also includes all earthly rulers and Satanic forces that take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed. But as long as God’s people are loyally obedient toward Him, they do not need to fear the power of any adversary whatsoever! The prophet says, “The Lord showed me four carpenters” (verse 20). These carpenters represent the persons or organizations (whether physical or spiritual) in every age of His Church, who take a stand against the “four horns” and smash them to the ground – thereby breaking their tyrannical dominion over the persecuted and oppressed children of God. When commenting on this passage, Mr. Spurgeon noted, “Providence does not find clerks, or architects, or gentlemen to cut off horns – but carpenters! The work needs a man who – when he has work to do – puts his whole strength into it, and beats away with his hammer; or cuts through the wood that lies before him with might and main.” In every age, the Lord has found His appropriate messenger and worker for His Church. Athanasius contended against Arianism, and Augustine against Manichaeism; Luther resisted the Pope’s power in Germany, as Hugh Latimer did in England. God knows where to find His servants; and when the appointed hour strikes, His workmen are ready to work.

Son or daughter of the King! There have been many “horns” engaged in destroying you. Year after year, they have worked sad havoc in your plans, and cost you bitter tears. But your Almighty Friend is greatly displeased that they have hurt you, and He has resolved that they shall be smashed!

Lord, we beseech You to raise up strong reformers who are valiant for truth, and who serve as “carpenters” to destroy the “horns” of the devil’s agents! Amen.

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