In our last study, we were shown the first of eight visions that Zechariah was given in one night. This first vision was of a man riding on a red horse, which was standing among the myrtle trees down in a ravine. Other horses with their riders were behind the man, and they reported that all was peaceful and quiet in the world.
An angel explained to Zechariah that these were those whom God had sent to patrol the earth. He was also told that, although things were peaceful, they would not be for long. You see, God was going to judge the nations that had afflicted His people, the children of Israel. He also promised that He would bless His holy city and His temple.
Tonight, we come to more of the visions which Zechariah saw that night. The same angel who had explained the previous vision is there with him again.
In this second vision, Zechariah saw four horns. He turned to the interpreting angel and asked for an explanation of what they were. The angel explained that they were the horns which had scattered the children of Israel from the Promised Land.
If the vision was hard to understand, the explanation doesn't seem to help does it? Were there really horns that scattered the children of Israel, which drove the people out of the land?
It was, actually, figure of speech - one which was readily understandable in that day. Today, if I said, "These are the chariots that drove them out; These are the swords which scattered the people," then we could understand. The horns are very similar. You see, before mankind had high-power rifles, animals with horns were intimidating. Those with tusks were in charge. Those with large teeth instilled fear in mankind. So naturally, the horn became the symbol of strength and authority, of power and might, of pride and glory. You will see this all throughout Scripture. One example is Jeremiah's prophecy regarding the defeat of the Moabites:
Jer. 48:25 "The horn of Moab has been cut off, and his arm broken," declares the LORD.
And so the four horns were the four powers that had scattered the nation.
Now that we understand this, we might think it a simple task to identify them and then move on. Unfortunately, it's not that easy. We are never told which four powers are held responsible for scattering Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.
Instinctively, we would have to blame Assyria for scattering Israel and Babylon for scattering Judah and Jerusalem. But then who would the other two be?
Some commentators say that they are the four world powers described so often in Daniel's visions: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. This seems like a plausible explanation, but the trip-up there is that the angel says, "which HAVE scattered." God often prophesies by speaking of the future as if it were the past, so this could the proper interpretation.
A few writers say these four horns simply represent all the kingdoms from the north, south, east, and west, while others say that it is just a representative number. I don't buy those explanations, because I believe the Lord had four specific powers in mind, whom He held responsible for scattering His people. While I lean towards tying them into Daniel's four, I cannot be dogmatic about that.
After Zechariah saw the horns, then he was shown four craftsmen who had come to terrify the four horns, to throw them down.
The Hebrew word khaw-RAWSH is interpreted craftsmen here. It is a word that can mean "craftsman, artisan, engraver, or carpenter." The main idea here seems to be that these four guys have hammers, and are much more powerful than the horns. After all, when a horn meets a hammer, the hammer wins!
It is important for us to remember that when the enemy is swinging a horn around that God has a hammer waiting for it. Isaiah prophesied,
Isa. 54:17 "No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me," declares the LORD.
Psalm 121 says,
Ps. 121:7-8 The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever.
And Paul told the Thessalonians that...
2Ths. 3:3 ...the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.
Now, Zechariah has a third vision - a man with a measuring line. Instead of asking the angel this time, Zechariah asked the guy directly, "Where are you going with that tape measure?"
The man explained that he was going to measure the width and length of Jerusalem. This is a fulfillment of God's promise in chapter one, when Zechariah was told to prophesy to the people of Israel,
Zech. 1:16,17 Therefore, thus says the LORD, "I will return to Jerusalem with compassion; My house will be built in it," declares the LORD of hosts, "and a measuring line will be stretched over Jerusalem... My cities will again overflow with prosperity, and the LORD will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem."
The man is about to go measure Jerusalem to document the growth and prosperity that the Lord will give to the city.
At this point, Zechariah's interpreting angel had left his side, and met up with another angel, who told him, "Go back to your young friend the prophet and tell him about the blessings that will be given to Jerusalem, how it will be expanded and prospered." The Lord had promised that the city would outgrow its walls, but that He would be a wall of protection around her from her enemies.
When would this be fulfilled? It would have been fulfilled on Palm Sunday, 32AD, had the Jews received their Messiah. Remember that as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, He cried out,
Matt. 23:37-39 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'"
Now, this promise will not be fulfilled until the Millennial Reign of Christ comes at the end of the Great Tribulation.
The second angel continues to tell the interpreting angel what to tell Zechariah. In fact, Zechariah is being given prophecy to communicate to the children of Israel.
He is to tell those who still live in Babylon to leave that captivity of exile and return to Israel. They are to leave that they might experience the blessings that God will bestow upon Jerusalem, and to escape the judgment that is going to befall Babylon.
As you remember from last week, God had promised to judge the nations that had afflicted Israel. He says,
Zech. 2:8 "...he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye."
Another strange expression - one which continues in use today, although most people have no idea what it means. As a kid, I always thought that it meant that when you were hungry and looked at an apple, it was the best thing ever. But, as it turns out, "the apple of my eye," is literally, "the pupil of my eye" - the hollowed-out, middle, black part of the eye. It sure doesn't look like an apple to me, and I haven't been able to discover where the expression came from.
But what God is communicating here is that when you mess with His people, its like you're trying to poke God in the eye. That promise is no more evident than it is regarding the descendants of Abraham. God said,
Gen. 12:3 And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse...
When you are an enemy of Israel, you become an enemy of God. The Babylonians are going to find this out the hard way.
During the Millennial Reign, God will live on earth, on Temple Mount, tabernacling among His people the Jews. However, the other nations of the world will also recognize the Lord as their God. Isaiah writes,
Isa. 2:2-4 Now it will come about that in the last days, the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways, and that we may walk in His paths." For the law will go forth from Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.
What a time to live!