Zechariah 1

1 In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, the LORD’s word came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo, the prophet, saying, 2 “The LORD was very displeased with your fathers. 3 Therefore tell them: the LORD of Armies says: ‘Return to me,’ says the LORD of Armies, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the LORD of Armies. 4 Don’t you be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets proclaimed, saying: the LORD of Armies says, ‘Return now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings;’ but they did not hear, nor listen to me, says the LORD. 5 Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? 6 But my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, didn’t they overtake your fathers? “Then they repented and said, ‘Just as the LORD of Armies determined to do to us, according to our ways, and according to our practices, so he has dealt with us.’” 7 On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the LORD’s word came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo, the prophet, saying, 8 “I had a vision in the night, and behold, a man riding on a red horse, and he stood amongst the myrtle trees that were in a ravine; and behind him there were red, brown, and white horses. 9 Then I asked, ‘My lord, what are these?’” The angel who talked with me said to me, “I will show you what these are.” 10 The man who stood amongst the myrtle trees answered, “They are the ones the LORD has sent to go back and forth through the earth.” 11 They reported to the LORD’s angel who stood amongst the myrtle trees, and said, “We have walked back and forth through the earth, and behold, all the earth is at rest and in peace.” 12 Then the LORD’s angel replied, “O LORD of Armies, how long will you not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which you have had indignation these seventy years?” 13 The LORD answered the angel who talked with me with kind and comforting words. 14 So the angel who talked with me said to me, “Proclaim, saying, ‘the LORD of Armies says: “I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy. 15 I am very angry with the nations that are at ease; for I was but a little displeased, but they added to the calamity.” 16 Therefore the LORD says: “I have returned to Jerusalem with mercy. My house shall be built in it,” says the LORD of Armies, “and a line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem.”’ 17 “Proclaim further, saying, ‘the LORD of Armies says: “My cities will again overflow with prosperity, and the LORD will again comfort Zion, and will again choose Jerusalem.”’” 18 I lifted up my eyes, and saw, and behold, four horns. 19 I asked the angel who talked with me, “What are these?” He answered me, “These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.” 20 The LORD showed me four craftsmen. 21 Then I asked, “What are these coming to do?” He said, “These are the horns which scattered Judah, so that no man lifted up his head; but these have come to terrify them, to cast down the horns of the nations, which lifted up their horn against the land of Judah to scatter it.”

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–6

God’s almighty power and sovereign dominion, should engage and encourage sinners to repent and turn to Him. It is very desirable to have the Lord of hosts for our friend, and very dreadful to have him for our enemy. Review what is past, and observe the message God sent by his servants, the prophets, to your fathers. Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings. Be persuaded to leave your sins, as the only way to prevent approaching ruin. What is become of our fathers, and of the prophets that preached to them? They are all dead and gone. Here they were, in the towns and countries where we live, passing and repassing in the same streets, dwelling in the same houses, trading in the same shops and exchanges, worshipping God in the same places. But where are they? When they died, there was not an end of them; they are in eternity, in the world of spirits, the unchangeable world to which we hasten apace. Where are they? Those of them who lived and died in sin, are in torment. Those who lived and died in Christ, are in heaven; and if we live and die as they did, we shall be with them shortly and eternally. If they minded not their own souls, is that a reason why their posterity should ruin theirs also? The prophets are gone. Christ is a Prophet that lives for ever, but all other prophets have a period put to their office. Oh that this consideration had its due weight; that dying ministers are dealing with dying people about their never-dying souls, and an awful eternity, upon the brink of which both are standing! In another world, both we and our prophets shall live for ever: to prepare for that world ought to be our great care in this. The preachers died, and the hearers died, but the word of God died not; not one jot or title of it fell to the ground; for he is righteous.

Verses 7–17

The prophet saw a dark, shady grove, hidden by hills. This represented the low, melancholy condition of the Jewish church. A man like a warrior sat on a red horse, in the midst of this shady myrtle-grove. Though the church was in a low condition, Christ was present in the midst, ready to appear for the relief of his people. Behind him were angels ready to be employed by him, some in acts of judgment, others of mercy, others in mixed events. Would we know something of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, we must apply, not to angels, for they are themselves learners, but to Christ himself. He is ready to teach those humbly desirous to learn the things of God. The nations near Judea enjoyed peace at that time, but the state of the Jews was unsettled, which gave rise to the pleading that followed; but mercy must only be hoped for through Christ. His intercession for his church prevails. The Lord answered the Angel, this Angel of the covenant, with promises of mercy and deliverance. All the good words and comfortable words of the gospel we receive from Jesus Christ, as he received them from the Father, in answer to the prayer of his blood; and his ministers are to preach them to all the world. The earth sat still, and was at rest. It is not uncommon for the enemies of God to be at rest in sin, while his people are enduring correction, harassed by temptation, disquieted by fears of wrath, or groaning under oppression and persecution. Here are predictions which had reference to the revival of the Jews after the captivity, but those events were shadows of what shall take place in the church, after the oppression of the New Testament Babylon is ended.

Verses 18–21

The enemies of the church threaten to cut off the name of Israel. They are horns, emblems of power, strength, and violence. The prophet saw them so formidable that he began to despair of the safety of every good man, and the success of every good work; but the Lord showed him four workmen empowered to cut off these horns. With an eye of sense we see the power of the enemies of the church; look which way we will, the world shows us that; but it is only with an eye of faith that we see it safe. The Lord shows us that. When God has work to do, he will raise up some to do it, and others to defend it, and to protect those employed in doing it. What cause there is to look up in love and praise to the holy and eternal Spirit, who has the same care over the present and eternal interests of believers, by the holy word bringing the church to know the wonderful things of salvation!

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