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The Prophet soon enters upon the account of his vision, after giving his name, and descent, and the date of his prophecy. The close of this Chapter is with gracious promises to Jerusalem.
"In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, "
If the Reader be interested to discover the exact date of Zechariah's entrance upon his prophetical office, by comparing it with what Haggai saith of his time of ministering, he will find there were but two months between them. Haggai 1:1 .
"The LORD hath been sore displeased with your fathers. (3) Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. (4) Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD. (5) Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live forever? (6) But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? and they returned and said, Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us."
The leading points of this first sermon is, to show the people the cause of God's judgments upon his people, by causing them to go into Babylon. Some of the Prophets, such as Hannaniah, had taught their fathers lies. And when the Lord called upon them to return, led away by the false teachers, and their own corruptions, they would not return. Now, saith the Lord, where are these prophets? They are dead. But my words live forever. See Jeremiah 28:0 throughout, a solemn Chapter.
"Upon the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Sebat, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, (8) I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white. (9) Then said I, O my lord, what are these? And the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will show thee what these be. (10) And the 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. (11) And they answered the angel of the LORD that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest. (12) Then the angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years? (13) And the LORD answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words. (14) So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy. (15) And I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease: for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction. (16) Therefore thus saith the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem. (17) Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem."
The Prophet is very particular as to the date of this Sermon, for he mentions the name of the very month in which he delivered it, which we do not find in any Prophet before. Perhaps it is on account of the greatness of the vision, for in every point of view it is great and interesting. Zechariah tells the Church, that he saw by night, that is in visions of the night, a man riding upon a red horse. It will be highly proper to enquire who this was. And if we look diligently to what is said, it will not, I apprehend, be difficult, under divine teaching, to discover.
First then, let the Reader observe, that this man, who is called a man in the eighth verse, is called an angel in the eleventh verse. And then let the Reader next observe, that the Prophet addressed himself to him, and called him Lord, that is, Adonai, a well known name of Christ. See Psalms 110:1 . The Lord said unto my Lord, my Adonai. A plain proof whom Zechariah instantly considered this Almighty Rider to be.
Let the Reader go on, and hear what this august person promised Zechariah to instruct him in; concerning those that ministered unto him. And lastly, and above all, let him not fail to behold and remark the intercession of this glorious person, speaking to Jehovah in behalf of Jerusalem.
When the Reader hath brought all these considerations into one mass of particulars, let him determine for himself, whether this person could be any other than the God-man Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ. Reader! recollect in how many instances we meet with such gracious manifestations as these, in the Old Testament. Call to mind that instance to Joshua. See Joshua 5:13-15 . Look at another shown to Gideon at Ophrah. Judges 6:11-22 . Manoah and his wife. Judges 13:3-20 . And were not all these so many plain and incontestable evidences of the earnest longings Jesus had to appear to his people, and to tabernacle openly with them, when the time appointed should come for the accomplishing of redemption. See Revelation 6:2 . and Revelation 19:11 .
And Reader, do not overlook in this most beautiful and interesting vision, the gracious part in which God the Father is represented. The Lord answered the angel that talked with the Prophet with comfortable words; that is, confirming the covenant engagements we may suppose. And do not also overlook the commission, which this angel of the covenant gave to Zechariah, in consequence of all this. He was to inform the Church of it, and to do as another Prophet had been commanded to do, both to show his people their transgressions, and to set forth the Lord's comforts in pardoning. Compare Isaiah 58:1 , etc. with Isaiah 40:1 , etc. Now, Reader, from the whole, if you have any doubts upon your mind concerning this vision referring to the God-man Christ Jesus, do as Zechariah did, ask the Lord himself, and he will be still the same Jesus in grace to you as to him!
"Then lifted I up mine eyes, and saw, and behold four horns. (19) And I said unto the angel that talked with me, What be these? And he answered me, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem."
Probably (but I do not determine) by these four horns as they are said to have scattered, Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem, may be meant those four kingdoms which did indeed sadly afflict the Lord's Church; that is the Chaldean, the Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman; thus extending to the time of Christ's coming.
"And the LORD showed me four carpenters. (21) Then said I, What come these to do? And he spake, saying, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, so that no man did lift up his head: but these are come to fray them, to cast out the horns of the Gentiles, which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah to scatter it."
It is possible, (though here again I only venture to enquire, not to decide,) by these four carpenters, may be intended, in a special allusion, the four Evangelists, whose doctrines of the person, work, and ministry, of the Lord Jesus, might in this figurative way, be said to hew down the enemies of the Church. But, as we are certainly not taught to consider any specific number in the literal sense of the word, but only as a certain quantity mentioned to imply the certainty of the thing itself; no more than in the parable of the virgins, because five were wise, and five foolish, we are to conclude the happy and the miserable will be equal in the great day of account; so I humbly conceive, that the vision is here intended to show, by four horns, the enemies of Christ, and by the four carpenters, the friends of Christ. Of what number soever each are, be they many, or be they few, the Lord showed the Prophet the sure end of the blessings that must take place in his Church and kingdom. The word of God is the sword of the Spirit, and his servants are commissioned in the use of it for the comfort of his people, and the destruction of his foes. I have hewed them by the Prophets, saith the Lord, and I have slain them by the words of my mouth. Hosea 6:5 .
Reader! let us both pause over this first chapter of the Prophet:, and beg for grace to bless God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, for the grace manifested by each, and by all, in their office, character, and work, in the glorious covenant of redemption, as set forth most blessedly in this precious portion of prophecy.
Surely, Almighty Father, nothing can more fully show the tenderness of thine heart, and the soundings of thy bowels towards the Church, than in thy gracious answers, as contained in this Chapter, to the all prevailing merits and intercession of thy dear Son.
And surely thy Church, blessed Jesus, must be lost to all sense of love and affection, if such views as are here set forth of thee, in thine unequalled condescension, when coming down among the myrtle trees of this lower world for our salvation, do not call forth every faculty of the soul in adoration, attachment, and praise to thy glorious person, both as One with the Father, in the essence of the Godhead, and as one with us in our nature; bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh.
And no less do we find cause to look up in love and praise to thee, thou holy and eternal Spirit, who from thine own sovereign power and Godhead, and in thy covenant engagements, as the Comforter of the Lord's heritage, thou hast given such a precious testimony of the same superintending care over the present, and eternal interests of the redeemed, as is here displayed, by the appointment of the ministry of thy holy Word, in bringing the Church acquainted with such wonderful things of salvation.
Hail! holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty! in thy threefold character of Person, while existing in the union of the Godhead! The whole Church, in heaven and earth, do praise thee! And blessed forever be that wisdom of God, in a mystery, whereby we can and do approach the Lord, in and through the glorious mediation of an Almighty intercessor. Blessed, blessed forever be God, for Jesus Christ! Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Zechariah 1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28