free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!
Zechariah 1:2. Sore] Lit. displeased with displeasure, wrath not common, whose greatness is given as a ground for their return.
Zechariah 1:3. Therefore] Lit. and thou sayest, or must say. Return] (cf. Malachi 3:7; James 4:8) Amendment of life and return to work not enough; conversion must be thorough. The threefold “thus saith the Lord,” shows the importance of the admonition, and indicates the boundless power of God.
Zechariah 1:4. Fathers] Warning to shun the example of their predecessors, who were disobedient. Former prophets] before captivity.
THE PROPHET’S COMMISSION.—Zechariah 1:1-3
Zechariah was sent to console and encourage God’s people in distress. But the ground must be prepared Law before gospel, repentance before blessing. Hence in the first words we have the key-note to his message, and the introduction to his labours. In the prophet’s commission we have—
I. Its Divine origin. “The word of the Lord came to him”—his call was Divine not human, real not fanciful; a token of God’s great work among his people, and a guarantee that it would be successfully carried on.
II. Its solemn nature. “Therefore, say unto them,” that God was angry with their fathers, and will be with them if they repent not. The first message is one of warning and judgment. He has to set forth the justice and assert the prerogative of God in the government of the world. Men consider Divine displeasure to be an unreasonable disturbance of their ease, and an impeachment upon the Divine character. But God’s anger is real and terrible. It is visible in providence and in nature. “Wrath and threatening are invariably mingled with love; and in the utmost solitudes of nature, the existence of hell seems to me as legibly declared by a thousand spiritual utterances as of heaven” [Ruskin]. Persistent attempts are made to deny and evade this fact. Sin blinds men, and makes them transfer their own views to God. “Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee” (Psalms 50:21).
III. Its inward pressure. The words in Zechariah 1:2 were delivered to the prophet, and contain the reason for the summons to the people in Zechariah 1:3. “They disclose to us the internal pressure under which he entered upon his office. A due sense of the power of God’s wrath lies at the basis of all true earnestness on the part of his prophets. It is the ‘burning fire shut up in the bones’ (Jeremiah 20:9), which imparts its own vehemence to the message, and produces corresponding conviction in them that hear. We observe it in the Prophet of all prophets, the Saviour himself. His groaning in spirit at the grave of Lazarus, his tears over Jerusalem, show how deeply he felt the terribleness of God’s anger” [Lange]. There is a great demand now for honest, enlightened, and seasonable speech in the Christian ministry. “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20; Job 32:18-20; Acts 18:5).
THE CALL TO REPENTANCE.—Zechariah 1:3-4
Like John the Baptist, Zechariah begins his preaching with a call to repentance, and warns the people, by the history of their fathers, that no spiritual privileges will profit them without holiness, but rather will aggravate their guilt and increase their condemnation if they disobey God. He declares to them that no outward profession of religion will avail; that all notions of self-righteousness are offensive to God; and that what he looks for is personal holiness, and a practical discharge of the duties of piety and mercy [Wordsworth].
I. They had need to repent. “Therefore, say unto them, Turn ye.”
1. Their return was defective. God had delivered them from captivity, and stirred them to work; but zeal without real conversion will soon die out. We must give our whole heart to God, leave self-interest behind, and seek nearer access. “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.”
2. Their delay would be dangerous.
(1) Disobedience would be imitation of their fathers. “Be ye not as your fathers.” Precedents have great influence. Men decry good, but follow evil customs. The sin of Jeroboam was held sacred by his successors. But we should be warned by the sins, and deterred by the punishment, of our fathers. “They did not hear nor hearken unto me.”
(2) Disobedience would bring God’s displeasure upon them. God was sore displeased with their fathers, and would be with them if they refused to turn. Heavier scourges were ready, and symptoms of displeasure already appeared in “sowing much” to “bring in little” (Haggai 1:6). God’s dealings with the past are designed to instruct the present generation. “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples (types): and they are written for our admonition (instruction)” (1 Corinthians 10:11).
II. They had encouragement to repent. “And I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts.” This promise was a motive and a help to them. The duty would be difficult, if not impossible, but for this encouragement. God is always found of those who seek him. If we desire God to turn to us, we must return to him. The flower turned from the sun can never catch its genial rays.
1. The promise is necessary. We require something positive. “We are saved by hope.” The beginning of religious life and duty is often a kind of venture. Hence failure and turning back.
2. The promise is certain. We have not mere possibility or probability, but certainty; assurance which cannot deceive. “I will.”
3. The promise is confirmed. Israel returned to God, and he returned to them. Manasseh sought the Lord and found him. The prodigal went home and was received. “Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you; for I am merciful, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 3:12; Malachi 3:7; Ezekiel 18:30).
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
1. The advantages of their fathers. “The former prophets” enforced the law, and proclaimed the word of God; exhorted to repentance; and predicted Divine judgments.
2. The guilt of their fathers. “But they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the Lord.” Their guilt aggravated by their privileges. “Unto me.” God was in the voice of prophets, but was despised. “He that receiveth you, receiveth me.” “We learn here that the examples set up as a a shield for wrong-doing are so far from becoming of any weight before God that they enhance our guilt. Yet this folly infatuates many, for the Papists claim their religion to be holy and irreprehensible because it has been handed down by their fathers” [Calvin]. Ancient example and long usage will not justify disobedience (2 Chronicles 26:15-16) [Fausset].
No mercy without return, and no return without mercy. Haste that you may not be overtaken.
1. Haste, for your day of grace is short, and even the messengers of grace are passing away.
2. If once you are overtaken, your eyes will open too late, and only with trembling lips can you give honour to the Lord [Lange]. Evil ways. The ways and works of the earlier generations are called evil; in the first instance, because they were morally corrupt, and also because they were followed by sore consequences [Lange].
Zechariah 1:3; Zechariah 4:1. Sin creates distance from God. The sinner is alienated in heart, and turned back from God in his works and pursuits.
2. Repentance is a full return to God. Not partial amendment, but entire renunciation of sin, and coming close up to God in reconciliation and fellowship.
3. God calls men to this repentance. “Say unto them.” His voice is heard in the ministry. His judgments rightly studied declare his will, and are often suspended till we return. But some return, and others do not.
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 1
Zechariah 1:2-3. Turn. Let every man that would avoid a return to his former iniquity, be infinitely careful to avoid every new sin, for it is like a blow to a broken leg, or a burden to a crushed arm. Every little thing disorders the new health and unfinished recovery. [J. Taylor.]
Zechariah 1:5. Fathers] have perished; their fate should warn you. But you may object, the prophets also are dead, and apparently their words died with them.
Zechariah 1:6.] No; the threatenings take hold; overtake them as one flying from the foe. The words and statutes (decrees) of God uttered by the prophets reached them like arrows shot forth, and fulfilled threatened punishment (cf. Deuteronomy 28:15-45). Thought] Decreed to do (Lamentations 2:17).
Zechariah 1:7.] The general plan of the nine following visions (ch. Zechariah 1:8 to end of ch. 6) is first to present the symbol; then, on a question being put, to subjoin the interpretation. Though the visions are distinct, they form one grand whole, presented in one night to the prophet’s mind, two or three months after the prophet’s first commission [Fausset].
Zechariah 1:8-17.] Vision first. A man] i.e. an angel in the shape of a man (Zechariah 1:11-12). Riding] Swift in execution and help; leader of those who follow, and to whom they report. Red] Colour of blood; vengeance to be inflicted upon the foes of Israel (cf. 2 Kings 3:22; Isaiah 63:1-2; Revelation 6:4). Myrtle trees] Symbol of Israel; not a stately forest, but a low shrub, fragrant in smell and beautiful in leaf.
Zechariah 1:8. Behind] horses. Red, speckled (bay), and white] the symbol of victory. These are agencies employed by God, and the colour may indicate the nature of their mission [cf. Lange].
Zechariah 1:9. My lord] The one who answers the prophet, the angelus interpres, whose sole function was to enlighten the prophet, and cause him to understand the vision.
Zechariah 1:10.] The angel of Jehovah replies, and not the interpreting angel.
Zechariah 1:11.] The riders themselves then state the result of their mission. Walked] with unceasing activity (cf. Job 1:7) in God’s errands. Still] Hindrances to restoration removed. Persian wars had ceased, and at that time (Zechariah 1:1) universal peace reigned over the earth; tranquil (Judges 5:26). This statement of peace contrasts with the prostrate condition of Israel, and gives occasion for intercession.
Zechariah 1:12. How?] Intercession. 70 years] does not imply that the period predicted (Jeremiah 25:12) was just closing, for it had already expired in the first year of Cyrus (Ezra 1:1). But the people were in a sad state; though restored, the capital in ruins (Nehemiah 1:3) and the work hindered.
Zechariah 1:13.] Jehovah, the angel of Zechariah 1:12. Words] which promise good, i.e. salvation (cf. Joshua 23:14; Jeremiah 29:10). “In Zechariah 1:14-17, the first two of which assert Jehovah’s active affection for his people, and the latter two his purpose to manifest that love in the restoration and enlargement of Jerusalem” [Lange]. Jealous] for Jerusalem, which is wantonly injured. Displeased] with nations careless and secure, confident in their own strength and prosperity. To Israel anger was only a tittle; to the heathen it was fatal.
LESSONS FROM THE LIVES OF THE FATHERS.—Zechariah 1:5-6
The two questions in Zechariah 1:5 are meant as denials, and are intended to anticipate the objection which the people might have raised to the admonitions in Zechariah 1:4, to the effect, that not only the fathers, but also the earlier prophets, had died long ago; and therefore an allusion to things that had long since passed by could have no force at all for the present generation. Zechariah neutralizes this objection by saying: Your fathers have indeed been long dead, and even the prophets do not, or cannot, live for ever; but notwithstanding this, the words of the earlier prophets were fulfilled in the case of the fathers. The words and decrees of God uttered by the prophets reached them, and they were obliged to confess that God had really done to them what he threatened [Keil]. We have—
I. A motive to activity. Your fathers and the prophets who taught them are dead. No man lives for ever. Others have worked and lived where we dwell; but ministers, teachers, and parents are gone, and their hearers after them. Our course will be finished soon. Hence this is our day of service. It becomes us to redeem the time, to be active and diligent in serving God ourselves, and urging others to serve him.
II. A testimony to the truth of God’s word. Your fathers are not here, but we have their testimony. My words took hold upon them, and they confessed their power in twofold experience. “According to our ways and according to our doings.” If they rebelled they felt the threatening, and if they returned the promise was fulfilled. God’s providence ensures the accomplishment of his word, and compels the acknowledgment of that accomplishment from those who feel it. God is faithful and unchangeable in his purpose. “The word of the Lord endureth for ever.”
III. A warning against apostasy. The fate which overtook the fathers is pointed out as a warning to them.” “Where are they?” They are dead; but did they escape the punishment due to their sins? No; in mournful confessions we have acknowledgments of the fact. There may be delay, and the sinner may think that he will escape; but sooner or later the word will catch him, stick in his heart like an arrow from the Almighty. The transgressor will be made to confess, “Mine iniquities have overtaken me.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Zechariah 1:6. I. The message of God proclaimed by his servants. Unchangeable in its nature. “My words and statutes,” i.e. decrees, given with Divine authority; “which I commanded.” II. Men trying to escape from this message. The words took hold, i.e. overtook them, when fleeing from them in hatred and rebellion. III. The humble confession of men when caught by the word. “Like as the Lord of hosts thought to do unto us,” &c. They have to confess the truth of God, and expose their folly when it is too late. Men should be wise in time. “The Lord is righteous, for we have rebelled against his commandments.”
According to our ways. An acknowledgment—
1. Of the truth of God.
2. The desert of sin; and
3. The certainty of retribution. Sin sweet in taste, but bitter in fruits. Lessons:—
1. Consider the warnings of God.
2. Recognize the hand of God in the punishment of men. “ ‘Like as the Lord of hosts,’ whose power is irresistible, ‘thought’ (devised, determined with himself, and accordingly denonuced by the prophets) ‘to do unto us,’ who did not the words which he commanded us (Jeremiah 11:8), ‘according to our ways,’ which were always grievous (Psalms 10:5), ‘and according to our doings,’ that were not good (Ezekiel 36:31), ‘so hath he dealt with us;’ for he loves to retaliate, and to render to every transgression and disobedience a just recompence of reward (Hebrews 2:2).” [Trapp].
THE MAN AMONG THE MYRTLES, OR THE DIVINE PROTECTION OF THE CHURCH. Zechariah 1:8-13
The prophet received his visions not in a dream, but when spiritually conscious; at night, when most still and free from worldly cares, and most susceptible for Divine communications. In this first vision we have the protection of the Church of God in its weak and dangerous condition.
I. Jesus Christ is in her midst. “Behold, a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom.” The presence of a great personage should give confidence. “Fear not, thou carriest Cæsar.” But “God is in the midst of” the Church; “she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.”
1. Standing to defend her. “He stood” as in his own residence (Psalms 132:14).
2. Riding to help her. Riding in speed, upon a red horse, to inflict vengeance upon her foes (cf. 2 Kings 3:22; Isaiah 63:1-2; Revelation 6:4).
3. Interceding on her behalf. “O Lord of hosts,” &c. (Zechariah 1:12). He was deeply touched with the report given, and with the contrast between the condition of the heathen at ease and that of the Church in desolation. Hence he prays (a.) for mercy. “Wilt thou not have mercy upon Jerusalem?” (b.) For a full display of mercy. The work, long delayed, had only just begun. Much more remained to be done for the city, the country, and the people. As God had executed the threatening, so a fulfilment of the promise is desired.
II. Angels are employed on her behalf. “What are these?… These are they whom the Lord hath sent to and fro through the earth. We have a craving for the knowledge of creatures above ourselves. No system of religion separates the seen from the unseen world. Hence all the various doctrines and theories of angels. In Scripture alone is our natural longing satisfied. We learn that God is pleased to use the agency of supernatural beings; that these heavenly watchmen continually walk about Zion, or visit distant parts of the universe, to counteract the work of Satan (cf. Zechariah 2:11; Job 1:7), to guard his people, and minister to the heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14). Consider—
1. Their number;
2. Their work; and
3. Their obedience. Why despair, like the servant of Elisha? Angels are sent to help when God is pleased with us. “Behold, the mountain was full of horses, and chariots of fire round about.”
“They fight for us, they watch and duly ward,
And their bright squadrons round about us plant;
And all for love, and nothing for reward,
Oh! why should heavenly God to man have such regard” [Spenser].
III. God’s providence defends her. Most commentators take the troop and the colour of these horses as symbolic of the dispensations of Divine providence. Observe—
1. The nature of Providence. “The peculiar nature of the dispensations is indicated by the colour of the horses, and the armour and appearance of the riders” [Hend.]. The red horse to-day in conflict and suffering; soon will the Divine Leader ride in triumph on the white horse.
2. The order of Providence. Red horses “first,” speckled and white follow. Without pressing the point too far, we see wars, famines, and pestilence end in victory. Most wonderfully did God prepare political events, in the restoration from Babylon and in the coming of Christ, for the special condition of his Church. Quietness may reign in all quarters except in the Church. Divine justice may seem to sleep; but it is only the calm before the storm. Amid sufferings and perplexing providences, believers may cry, “How long?” But the uncreated angel intercedes; “comfortable words” shall be heard, and the darkness of the night shall be forgotten in the glory of the day. “Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES
Zechariah 1:8. The myrtle trees in the bottom, from their fragrance and lowness, probably symbolize the Church, as at once yielding a sweet odour, and in a low estate or lowly. The natural habits of the myrtle make it the fitter emblem [Pusey]. The Church of God is hidden, secreted as unobserved in a valley. There is the idea of tranquil security; the myrtle grove in the valley is calm and still, while the storm sweeps over the mountain summits. In the metaphor we have perpetual growth. The myrtle is always green, sheds not her leaves. The Church has ever a verdure of grace, sometimes most verdure when winter is sharpest. Here we have the emblem of peace, and a significant token of victory (Spurgeon).
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 1
Zechariah 1:5. Your fathers. While we shrink with self-diffident dread from the thought of apostasy from Christ and from God, let us see to it that in our different conditions and relations in life—in the family, in the church, in general society—we be found filling up our fleeting day of life with increasingly active devotedness, “not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord,” that so, when it shall, in our turn, come to be said of us, “Where are they?” the recollection of our lives by those who survive us may not be an entire blank [Wardlaw].
Zechariah 1:6. Overtake. Heathen reminiscence of God’s justice acknowledged. “Rarely hath punishment with limping tread part with the forerunning miscreant” (cf. Hor. Od. iii. 9) [Pusey].
Zechariah 1:8-11. Angels. Angels are men of a superior kind [Young]. They bear his will about to every part of the universe. This is their delight. They bless God, who vouchsafes thus to employ them. But when they have fulfilled God’s message, then they return back to him by whom they were sent forth, and stand before him, drinking in fresh streams of life and strength and purity and joy from his presence [Hare].
Zechariah 1:11. Their office was not a specific or passing duty, as when God sent his angels with some special commission, such as those recorded in Holy Scripture It was a continuous conversation with the affairs of men, a minute course of visiting, inspecting our human deeds and ways, and a part of the “wonderful order” in which God has “ordained and constituted the service of angels and men” [Pusey].
Zechariah 1:12-13. That same Christ, who is on earth in spirit on the red horse, is in heaven in person, pleading before the throne. He pleads—he pleads for mercy. Mercy that sent him to earth; mercy is his petition now. He pleads for present mercy. His cry is, “How long?” Eighteen hundred years is it since my blood was offered, and yet my kingdom has not come. Observe the objects of his intercession; he pleads for Jerusalem and Judah. “I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me.” And must he not prevail? Church of God, if thou canst be rejected, yet he cannot be. No! in the name of him who loves, and lives, and pleads before the eternal throne, let us set up our banner; for God has given the victory into our hands in answer to the pleadings of his Son [Spurgeon].
Zechariah 1:16. Returned] to Jerusalem, from whom God had withdrawn. Line] All obstacles removed, the temple completed, and the whole city shall be regular in shape, and exact in its survey.
Zechariah 1:17. Cities] Other cities of Judah belong to God, will prosper and spread] Lit. scattered not by an invading foe, but by growth and abundance (cf. Zechariah 2:4; Zechariah 8:4).
Zechariah 1:18-21.] Four horns] The second vision. The foes of the Jews will be destroyed. Scattered] The people of God surrounded by enemies on all sides. The number four referred to the four quarters of the earth in relation to Palestine [cf. Hend]; by others, to four chief nations.
Zechariah 1:20. Carpenters] Artificers for each horn, indicating the agencies God employs for the destruction of those hostile to his people; “skilful to destroy” (Ezekiel 21:31). Lifted up] Depressed with suffering and fear (Job 10:15). Fray] Terrify and scatter them in their pride and tyranny (Ezekiel 30:9; Psalms 75:4-5).
COMFORTABLE WORDS.—Zechariah 1:13-17
Jehovah replied to the intercession of the angel that he loved Jerusalem, and that this love would be displayed in securing its good. If we wait patiently, and commit our trouble to our Intercessor, we shall have “good words” for ourselves, and “comfortable” words for others.
I. God’s love in its objects. He was jealous for his people, and angry with their enemies.
1. He loved Jerusalem. The city had been wronged by others. His honour was involved in its insults. He was zealous for her interests, zealous, “with a great jealousy,” for her good. He had been ill-requited for kindness—had chastised them for deserts—but his love changed not. In the past and in the present he was “a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14).
2. He was displeased with their enemies. “I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease.” He was “but a little displeased,” when he gave them permission to chastise his people. But they afflicted them more than he desired, and sought their extinction to gratify lust and revenge. “They helped forward the affliction.” God’s displeasure is temporary and for good; men’s displeasure is lasting and cruel.
II. God’s love in its consequences. “Therefore, thus saith the Lord,” &c. (Zechariah 1:16). Judgments were designed to restore them to God—that he might return in mercy to them. God hides his face and we are troubled (Psalms 30:7); he returns and we rejoice. We have mercy instead of wrath—mercies repeated and manifold. “I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies.”
1. The capital shall be built. All hindrances shall be removed, and instead of scattered houses, the whole city shall be measured in order and regularity. “A line shall be stretched forth over Jerusalem.”
2. The temple shall be restored. “My house shall be built in it.” The worship of God should be the concern of men. Cities without churches are cities without ornaments. The palace of the prince must never take the place of the temple of God.
3. The country shall flourish. “Cry yet,” in addition to foregoing promises, “my cities shall overflow with prosperity.” Not only Jerusalem, but subordinate cities of Judah, shall have abundance of outward and spiritual increase. The produce of the vintage and the fruits of the earth; an extension of trade and an increase of population, shall be given. Whatever be the immediate prospects of the Church, God has great consolation for her. He will yet prosper and comfort Zion. The completion of the temple, the restoration of the city, and the increase of the people, are a declaration of his love, a manifestation of his purpose, and a pledge of his fidelity. “The Lord shall comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord.”
THE FOUR HORNS AND THE FOUR SMITHS, OR THE DANGER AND THE DEFENCE OF THE CHURCH.—Zechariah 1:18-21
This second vision is a fulfilment of the foregoing promise. The horn is an emblem of power. The four mentioned indicate hostile powers on every side, which seek to oppress and crush the people of God. The four smiths signify antagonistic forces which God has raised up and commisioned to destroy. Learn—
I. The Church of Christ exists in the midst of conflict. “These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.” The Jews, in every age, were opposed by enemies. In Apostolic and succeeding times, the Christian Church had to contend with powers and principalities—persecutions strong and violent. In every quarter of the earth the people of God have been in danger, have had to endure wrath, conflict, and death. Fiery trials await them everywhere. They are left to be tossed by the horns of the enemies, apparently defenceless, though loyal subjects of him who has all power in heaven and earth. It is God’s will that they should struggle and conquer in conflict with evil.
II. In this conflict God raises up men. Enemies and difficulties may surround the Church, but God provides help, and opens our eyes to discern it. “The Lord showed me four (carpenters) smiths.”
1. Men qualified in strength. Workmen are needed. Men of iron hand and resolute will. Smiths who can wield the hammer and smash the horns in pieces. Right kind of men are often wanting. Jeremiah searched in vain (ch. Jeremiah 4:22-25; Jeremiah 5:1), and another cries with a similar result: “I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge and stand in the gap before me, for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none” (Ezekiel 22:30).
2. Men sufficient in number. For every horn there was a smith to fray or destroy it. Strange that a kind of equilibrium between assault and defence should be maintained. But this is no ground for despair. The agencies to foil are as numerous as the enemies themselves. For every evil there is a remedy, and for every danger a deliverer. The horn may do its work, but the smith will follow to take vengeance.
III. Men of the right kind are raised up at the right time. The prophet saw the horns first, but had not long to wait for the carpenters. Just when they wore required they came ready for work. Men will be called and qualified when God has a work for them to do. They may be in the hut of the peasant or in the school of the prophet, preparing for the contest. Moses and Joshua, Paul and Luther, Knox and Whitfield, were raised up at the right time. Have confidence then. A providence silent and unseen works on and prepares the way. Where God has a people, there he is to defend and prosper them. Rutherford wrote to a little church in Scotland, harassed and ready to despair on account of persecution: “So long as there is any of the Lord’s lost money in your town, he won’t put out the candle.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Zechariah 1:15. God’s displeasure.
1. Towards his people only short. “A little displeased.” “Little,” says Pusey, “in comparison with our deserts; little, in comparison with the anger of the human instruments of his displeasure; little, in comparison with their’s who, in their anger, sought their own ends.”
2. Towards his enemies very great. “I am very sore displeased with the heathen.” At ease themselves they persecute others. Though permitted to correct God’s people, they often with revengeful malice exceed their commission, and thus bring mischief upon themselves (Proverbs 24:17-18). The chastisement of believers is temporary, and in love; the punishment of the wicked will be in anger, and for ever. “God uses not the rod where he means to use the sword,” says Bishop Hall.
1. The nature of the mercies. The rebuilding of the temple—restoration of public worship—rebuilding of the metropolis, and increase of the cities.
2. The source of the mercies. “Thus saith the Lord, I am returned.” “Thou hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve” (Ezra 9:13; Lamentations 3:22).
3. The measure of the mercies. In Zechariah 1:17 there are four yets, and all very gracious ones; to break their hard hearts and to raise their faith on his promised mercies. You shall have plentiful increase of men, cattle, and all manner of fruits of the earth, so that it shall no more be said, This is Zion whom no man careth for (Jeremiah 30:17); yea, you shall have a fulness of all things, not only repletive, but diffusive, not only of abundance but of redundance too; your cup shall overflow into the lesser vessels of others [cf. Trapp].
“Surer to prosper than prosperity
Could have assured us” [Milton].
Zechariah 1:18-21. We learn from these verses that the friends of Zion are numerous as her foes; that her defence is equal to her danger; that as the state of his people requires it, the Lord will seasonably raise up means and instruments for their succour and deliverance. The assurance may be derived from four principles: the love of God—the power of God—the faithfulness of God—the conduct of God. In the first, we see that he may be inclined to appear for them, as they are infinitely dear to him. In the second, we see that he is able to save them. In the third, that he is engaged to do it. In the fourth, that he always has done it. Scripture, history, and experience, being witness—
“Then let the would forbear their rage,
The Church renounce her fear;
Israel must live through every age,
And be the Almighty’s care” [Jay].
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 1
Zechariah 1:18-20. Fray. The Church may rest calmly in the assurance that every hostile power shall be judged and destroyed. The primary reference was to the Jews in restoring the city and completing the temple. But it has a wider significance. In the long history of the Church, it is proved that “no weapon formed against her shall prosper” [cf. Lange]. God directs and overrules all counsels and events for the progress and ultimate triumph of his kingdom.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Zechariah 1". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30