The Second Vision: Four Horns, Four Craftsmen

18Then I looked up—and there before me were four horns! 19I asked the angel who was speaking to me, "What are these?" He answered me, "These are the horns that scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem."

20Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen. 21I asked, "What are these coming to do?"

He answered, "These are the horns that scattered Judah so that no one could raise his head, but the craftsmen have come to terrify them and throw down these horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter its people."

As we study the visions of Zechariah, we will see that the visions are closely related, and they present a unified picture of what will happen in the future to the people of Israel. In Zechariah’s first vision, the angel of the Lord received a report from messengers that He sent out throughout the earth. The report said that the whole world was at rest and in peace. The Lord was very angry at the nations that felt secure and who persecuted the Israelites (see Zech. 1:15). Here in Zechariah’s second vision, we find out what will happen to the secure nations who persecuted the Israelites: "Then I looked up—and there before me were four horns! I asked the angel who was speaking to me, ‘What are these?’ He answered me, ‘These are the horns that scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.’ Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen. I asked, ‘What are these coming to do?’ He answered, ‘These are the horns that scattered Judah so that no one could raise his head, but the craftsmen have come to terrify them and throw down these horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter its people.’" (vss. 18–21).

In the Bible, and in the culture of that time, a "horn" (a bull’s horn, or a ram’s horn, not a musical instrument) was a symbol of strength, power and pride (see Ps. 75:4,5; Micah 4:13; Dan. 8:3,4). The strongest of a herd was always furnished with horns. In his second vision, Zechariah looked up and saw "four horns" before him. Zechariah, as was his style, helps us in the interpretation of the vision by asking a question: "What are these?" (vs. 19). The angel who was with Zechariah answered: "These are the horns that scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem" (vs. 19). So, the "horns" represent the nations that scattered the Israelites out of the promised land. Some think that the reason there are "four" horns is that they represent the four world kingdoms that Daniel sees in his visions (see Daniel 7). Others, including myself, think that there are "four" horns to symbolize nations throughout the earth, coming from all four directions: north, south, east and west. This last interpretation is supported by the fact that later, in Zechariah’s eighth and final vision, the Lord sends out "four" spirits to go throughout the earth, one to each direction (see Zech. 6:1–8).

Next, "the Lord showed [Zechariah] four craftsmen." Again, for our benefit, Zechariah asked, "What are these coming to do?" (vs. 21). The angel answered: "These are the horns that scattered Judah so that no one could raise his head, but the craftsmen have come to terrify them and throw down these horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter its people" (vs. 21). So, the thrust of the whole vision seems to be that for every enemy of the Israelites, God would provide a counteracting power to destroy it. This was one of God’s first promises to Abraham: "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse" (Gen. 12:3). And God has been faithful to this promise. The nations that have persecuted the Israelites throughout history have come and gone. The Israelites remain. They were scattered by the Assyrians and Babylonians, but they returned to the land to rebuild the Temple. They were scattered again by the Romans in 70 A.D. Nevertheless, through the many years they were out of the promised land, the Israelites miraculously maintained their national identity, and have recently returned to the promised land to found again the nation of Israel. "Israel is indestructible. The bush may burn, but it cannot be consumed, because God has said: ‘Though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee.’ (Jer. 30:11, AV)" [Baron, 51].

 

The Third Vision: Man with a Measuring Line

1Then I looked up—and there before me was a man with a measuring line in his hand! 2I asked, "Where are you going?"

He answered me, "To measure Jerusalem, to find out how wide and how long it is."

3Then the angel who was speaking to me left, and another angel came to meet him 4and said to him: "Run, tell that young man, ‘Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of men and livestock in it. 5And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will be its glory within.’

6"Come! Come! Flee from the land of the north," declares the Lord, "for I have scattered you to the four winds of heaven," declares the Lord.

7"Come, O Zion! Escape, you who live in the Daughter of Babylon!" 8For this is what the Lord Almighty says: "After He has honored me and has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of His eye—9I will surely raise my hand against them so that their slaves will plunder them. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me.

10"Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you," declares the Lord. 11"Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. 12The Lord will inherit Judah as His portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem. 13Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because He has roused Himself from His holy dwelling."

The third vision expands upon this statement in the first vision: "Therefore, this is what the Lord says: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,’ declares the Lord Almighty" (Zech. 1:16). Here in the third vision, Zechariah meets the man with the measuring line: "Then I looked up—and there before me was a man with a measuring line in his hand! I asked, ‘Where are you going?’ He answered me, ‘To measure Jerusalem, to find out how wide and how long it is.’" (vss. 1–2). A "measuring line" was used to measure dimensions before construction, so as to determine the correct amount of materials needed to finish a construction project. In the first vision, when the Lord said that "the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem" (1:16), He was intimating that Jerusalem would be rebuilt. Here in this vision, the "man with the measuring line" is measuring Jerusalem "to find out how wide and how long it is", apparently to prepare to build a wall of protection around it.

Another angel intercepts the man with the measuring line and says: "Run, tell that young man, ‘Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of men and livestock in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will be its glory within.’" (vss. 4–5). So, this second angel interrupts the man with the measuring line, and has a message from the Lord that such measuring is futile, for two reasons. First, Jerusalem will grow to be so large that building a wall around it will be impractical. Second, no wall will be needed around Jerusalem because the Lord Himself, in His glory, will reside there and protect it.

In Zechariah’s second vision, the Israelites were scattered; in this vision, the inhabitants of Jerusalem are too numerous to count. This vision must surely have been an encouragement to the remnant in Zechariah’s time, who were attempting to rebuild the Temple. Jerusalem at that time was in a shambles. Here, in this vision, the Lord encourages the Israelites by telling them that Jerusalem will once again be a great city. More than that, Jerusalem will become a glorious city, filled with the glory of the Lord Himself. In the last fifty years, we have seen Jerusalem once again become a great city, in which the children of Israel once again reside. Moreover, we have recently seen evidence of God’s protection over the children of Israel, through His miraculous protection of the nation of Israel from their many adversaries. This, however, is not the complete fulfillment of the prophecy made in this vision of Zechariah. That fulfillment is yet future, because the fulfillment of that prophecy requires that glory of the Lord—that is, their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ—be present in Jerusalem. As of now, the children of Israel still by and large reject their Messiah. As we will see in the next few verses, the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecies in this vision will come at a time when the children of Israel will realize that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Messiah.

In the rest of the third vision of Zechariah, the Lord as Messiah addresses the children of Israel. This address contains great promises and prophecies concerning the Messiah, whom we know now to be the Lord Jesus Christ. First, the Lord exhorts the children of Israel to leave Babylon: "‘Come! Come! Flee from the land of the north,’ declares the Lord, ‘for I have scattered you to the four winds of heaven,’ declares the Lord. ‘Come, O Zion! Escape, you who live in the Daughter of Babylon!’" (vss. 6–7). This exhortation is marvelous in its scope. It had application to the children of Israel during Zechariah’s time, as well as to the children of Israel in times beyond Zechariah’s time. It also has spiritual application for the children of God, at all times. In Zechariah’s time, though Cyrus, the ruler of the conquered Babylon, allowed the children of Israel to return to the promised land, relatively few did return. Josephus, the Jewish historian, tells us the reason: "When Cyrus had said this to the Israelites, the rulers of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with the Levites and priests, went in haste to Jerusalem, yet did many of them stay at Babylon, as not willing to leave their possessions" [Josephus, Antiq., 11.8]. The Israelites had prospered in Babylon. They had made themselves at home, acquired possessions, lived as Babylonians, and thus they had no desire to return to God’s promised land. Thus, God must exhort them: "Come! Come! Flee from the land of the north."

We also should heed this exhortation. Babylon, throughout the Bible, is a type of the world and the world system. Many of us, like the Israelites, find ourselves entrenched in Babylon, living as Babylonians, prospering by worldly terms, and reluctant to return to the promised land of God. "Believers are altogether out of their place when they are mixed up with the world, so as to identify themselves with its God-forgetting tastes, pleasures, and pursuits" [JFB, 666]. The Lord exhorts us too, to "flee from the land of the north." He tells us: "Escape, you who live in the Daughter of Babylon!"

In Zechariah’s vision, the Lord tells the Israelites to flee Babylon and the land of the north for their own good, for He is ready to punish those nations: "For this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘After He has honored me and has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of His eye—I will surely raise my hand against them so that their slaves will plunder them. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me’" (vss. 8–9). This passage is referring to future times. The Messiah is speaking of the time when He will punish the enemies of Israel. This passage is amazing in the accuracy of what it implicitly prophesies about the Messiah. First, this passage contains Trinitarian theology. The Messiah, who is speaking, is called the "Lord Almighty" ("For this is what the Lord Almighty says…"), but then the Messiah speaks of being sent by the "Lord Almighty" ("…Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me"). So, we have the Messiah, who is called "the Lord Almighty", being sent by "the Lord Almighty." This would be a great mystery, if we weren’t already schooled in the doctrine of the Trinity. Our Lord Jesus Christ, we know, was indeed sent by our Father in heaven. Also, this passage speaks subtly of the Messiah coming twice. The Lord says: "After He has honored me and has sent me against the nations that have plundered you…" After His first coming, the Messiah was "honored" by God. He was raised from the dead and now sits at the right hand of the Father (see Heb. 1:3). In His second coming, the Messiah will be sent "against the nations that have plundered [the Israelites]." This passage also prophesies that the Israelites will accept the Messiah at His second coming. The Lord says that after He has raised His hand against the enemies of Israel, "then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me."

The prophecies continue in this vision: "‘Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. The Lord will inherit Judah as His portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem. Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because He has roused Himself from His holy dwelling’" (vss. 10–13). Here we have prophesied that, through Jesus Christ the Messiah, the Gentiles will be accepted as children of God: "Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people." Paul speaks of this in Ephesians: "Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised’ by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision’ (that done in the body by the hands of men)—remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ… For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord… This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:11–13;18–21;3:6).

Then also, once again, this passage prophesies that the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ, will be accepted by the children of Israel as their Messiah: "I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you" (vs. 12). This is something that Christians should be reminded of. The Lord is not finished with Israel. It is prophesied in both the Old and New Testament that the children of Israel will accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their Messiah. They will be our brothers in Christ. Their rejection of Christ as Messiah is temporary. Paul emphasizes this: "I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The deliverer will come from Zion; He will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.’" (Romans 11:25–27).

The prophecies in the book of Zechariah are, you must agree, amazing. They are so accurate concerning Jesus Christ, His mission, the events of His coming, and the theology of the New Testament, that those who study this book cannot but be convinced that this is the Word of God. Who else but God would know these things hundreds of years in advance of their occurrence?

Indeed, we praise You, O Lord, for Your perfect Word. We thank You that You have given it to us, so that we may be sure, through the fulfilled prophecies concerning Your Son, that indeed You sent Him to save us from our sins. Bless us as we study Your Word. Help us, by Your Spirit to understand it in truth, and interpret it accurately. In the name of Jesus, whom You sent to save us, we pray these things, Amen.

 

Home | Next Article | Back Issues | Table of Contents | Complete Index | Mailing List Request

To contact us:

ssper@aol.com