ZECHARIAH: Israel’s Enemies Destroyed Jerusalem Delivered Part Two
In our first study in the Book of Zechariah we learned that God gave the prophet a series of eight visions in one night. These visions cover the first six chapters of the book, In the first vision the Lord did three things: He comforted the people by letting them know He was still with them; He announced to this discouraged band of Jews that their Temple would shortly be rebuilt; and finally, He pointed out to them that in a later day a rebuilt Jerusalem would be His city.
However, there were still some questions to be cleared up. An immediate one was; What would happen to their very real and everpresent Gentile enemies? How could they be overcome? This was anticipated by the Lord and covered in the second vision given to Zechariah that awesome night.
THE GENTILE ENEMIES OF ISRAEL WILL BE DESTROYED
In Zechariah 1:15, the Lord had already indicated His displeasure with the Gentile nations.
He had used them to punish idolatrous Israel, but they had overstepped His bounds. They had persecuted the people far beyond what He desired. He could not let them go unpunished for what they had done.
The Four Horns
In verse 18, the prophet looked up and saw four horns. These were animal horns used for blowing, or as receptacles to hold things. They are also used often in the prophetic Scriptures as symbols of Gentile power, and this is their use in this instance.
This prophecy parallels those of Daniel, chapters two and seven. There Daniel speaks of four Gentile world powers which would come upon the world scene and dominate Israel. They are identified as the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman Empires. The four horns which Zechariah saw are these same Gentile powers.
The Four Carpenters
Very briefly, the word used for carpenters refers to any artisan that uses a hammer. It could be a smith or carpenter. It would probably be best to call them four hammerers.
Zechariah, as he did many times, used a question to learn what the Lord was trying to teach him. “What come these to do?” (v. 21). The answer was very simple. The hammerers came to “terrify” or “to cast out” the Gentile nations which raised up their power over Israel to scatter and destroy her.
For every horn or power that came up, God raised up a hammerer to break that horn. Babylon came into power, but went too far in her mistreatment of the Jew. Then God raised up a hammerer, the Medo-Persian Empire, and beat her down. This power then went to her head, and she became the second horn. God raised up the second artisan, Greece, to put down the Medo-Persian Empire, but the same process continued.
Greece became a horn and the Lord raised up the third hammerer, the Roman Empire, to destroy her. Rome, too, overstepped her bounds. As an empire, she seemingly fell in about the fifth century. However, the Bible promises that there will yet be a ten nation confederation (Dan. 2 and 7) to be raised up out of that old Roman Empire in the end times. Furthermore, from those nations will arise the Antichrist who, after a covenant of peace with Israel, will turn against her (Dan. 9:27), This revived Roman Empire, along with her leader, will be destroyed by the fourth hammerer. He is the person whom Daniel calls “a stone cut out without hands” (Dan. 2:34). He is the Lord Jesus Christ, who will ultimately destroy the Gentile world system.
The Reason for Their Destruction
God used the Gentile nations to punish Israel for her sins. However, they overstepped the bounds allowed by the Lord, and He had to punish them. They were, and will be, judged for what they did to Israel and the Jew. In their place Daniel promises an eternal kingdom upon earth with God’s King, the Messiah, on the throne.
The Lord comforted Israel with this second vision. The Jew cannot be destroyed. For every horn or power that comes up against Israel, there will be a hammerer to smash it. God will destroy all these Gentile enemies and finally bless His people.
THE FUTURE REBUILDING OF JERUSALEM
In the first two visions, God made it clear that He is not finished with either the Jew or Jerusalem. He promised the destruction of her Gentile enemies. He also promised her comfort and a future glory, the details of which are left to the third vision.
This vision amplifies the promise of Zechariah 1:17. “… My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad, and the Lord shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.” Remember, the Jewish people at the giving of this vision were a small minority, helpless and wondering if that city would ever be theirs again. It was in ruin, the walls were nothing but rubble and the Temple was destroyed. They were discouraged.
The City Is To Be Rebuilt Beyond Measure
This time Zechariah lifted up his eyes only to see a man with a tape measure in his hand. Not knowing the purpose of what he saw, the prophet asked the man where he was going. To measure Jerusalem (v. 2) was the reply. Really, there wasn’t much to measure; All was in ruin.
If this were an ordinary man measuring an ordinary city, there would be no significance in it. However, such was not the case. Because all of the other visions have a prophetic element to them, let us assume the same in this case.
First, the man with the tape measure is probably the same one who was riding the red horse (1:8). He is also probably the final hammerer to crush the Gentile kingdoms. Furthermore, we know from other Scriptures that the one who will eventually rebuild the city and establish the eternal kingdom will be the Messiah, Jesus. The impression is given that Christ is laying out the dimensions of the future city of Jerusalem.
This probably befuddled Zechariah. The man was measuring something so vast and huge that the prophet could not comprehend it. Since Zechariah was so perplexed with the complexity of what he saw, the Lord sensed his need. The angel who interpreted things for Zechariah was dispatched to give him an answer.
“Run, speak to this young man” (v.4). The angel was given a specific message for Zechariah so that he might understand; “Jerusalem shall be inhabited like towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle in it” (v.4). Ancient Jerusalem of Zechariah’s day was not a large city. Even today, with a brisk pace, a person can walk through the walled city in fifteen minutes. Zechariah was living among that little handful of refugees who had returned from the Babylonian Empire. The Temple they wanted to rebuild was very small. They didn’t need a great city. All they wanted was a place to worship and walls for protection. They desired only to dwell safely in the home which God had promised them.
The city described in verse four was mind boggling to the prophet. It was huge! It would spread out so far that a wail could not be built around it. The population would be beyond comprehension. It would be a wealthy city, with many men and cattle, signifying great prosperity.
The Lord gave Zechariah a message of a city that would far transcend what he would ever see in his lifetime. It is a picture of a yet future city in which the Lord himself will dwell.
Jerusalem Is To Be Protected By God
But, what about protection? Walls provided defense for the people against their enemies. If there were to be great prosperity and no walls, surely an enemy would attack and they would be defeated.
God had already answered the question of protection, but the prophet had not caught it. The last hammerer, Jesus, will defeat the Gentile nations. When that future city is built, there will be no enemies left. However, the Lord reassured Zechariah when He promised, “. . . I . . will be unto it a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of it” (v.5). There are two promises closely related in this verse. First, He would be the wall of fire to defend her. This is not new in the Bible. Elisha, in Dothan one night, was surrounded by Syrian troops. His servant lad was afraid. He prayed for the Lord to open the eyes of the boy, and He did! “… The mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (2 Ki. 6:17). God was protecting them, nothing could harm them, and so it will be in the future. The Lord himself will be Israel’s protection then, just as He was in the past.
Second, the Lord “will be the glory in the midst of it” (v.5). Not only will God protect the city, but His shekinah glory will return to her. This is also promised in Ezekiel 44:4b and Isaiah 40:5. The glory of the Lord will one day permanently rest upon Israel. The Lord himself will dwell in Jerusalem.
The Jews Are To Flee From Babylon
“Ho, ho” (v.6). No, this is not the cry of a store window Santa Claus at Christmas. It is a call to draw attention to the importance of the coming message. The concept in the Hebrew would be, “Get this!” “Listen!”
On the surface, it appears this is only a call to the many Jewish people who, when taken captive to Babylon, had contented themselves with settling into the society and culture there. They had not returned home with the remnant. This is a call for them to flee from Babylon. Within two years of the penning of this prophecy, terrible tragedy would come, as Babylon itself would fall. God was warning them to get out.
However, this plea to flee goes far beyond that disaster. It envisions that which still lies in the future. God was crying out that there is a great day coming for Jerusalem and the Jews had better get out of the world political and religious system before they were totally engulfed in it. It is the same message given in Revelation 17 and 18. Babylon, that final world system, will fall. Trust the Lord and get out of it.
Jerusalem’s Enemies Will Be Destroyed
First, the Lord of Hosts sends the Lord of Hosts against the nations who touch Israel. How can this be? How can the Lord send the Lord to the nations? If you reject the messiahship of Jesus, you have a problem. The answer is simple. The Father, the Lord of Hosts, sends the Son, the Lord of Hosts. The Son is deity. He is the One who will deliver Israel. He is the One who has been rejected for so long. It is His people who have been downtrodden. When the Son destroys the enemies of Israel, He will become the King of kings and Lord of lords God intended Him to be.
There is another precious truth in verse 8: “ . . for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.” To what is He referring? The Hebrew speaks of the little man in the eye. This refers to the pupil, where the image is formed. When you look into the pupil you see only an image of yourself, or the little man. God promises that Christ will be sent to the nations which touched Israel. He will shake His hand over them. The nations who plundered Israel will become plunder to their servants. God will ultimately get the glory. There will be a final and complete deliverance of Israel!
Jerusalem Will Be Permanently Indwelt By God
“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion . . .” (v.10). What a message for that remnant of Zechariah’s day. Huddled in the valley of Hinnom, with hope almost gone and about to give up, the Lord encouraged them. There is a future! Victory will come! The city will be rebuilt! Don’t be sad! Praise the Lord!
“I will dwell in the midst of thee!” (v.11). This refers to the fact that the Lord himself will reside or abide in the midst of Israel. This is what the feast of tabernacles looks forward to — a day when God will dwell with man. It is interesting to note that the Prophet Ezekiel, in the last verse of the book bearing his name, says of Jerusalem: “. . . and the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there” (Ezek. 48:35). What a great promise! The Lord will then dwell permanently with man.
God’s People Will Be Enlarged In That Day
“… many nations shall be joined to the Lord. .. and shall be my people . . .” (v. 11). There will be a host of redeemed from all over the world. There will be worldwide salvation as the millennial reign of the Messiah begins. The unbelievers will have been cast off. The curse will have been removed. What a day that will bel
God’s Land Will Be Israel and Judah
Many times in Scripture, the Lord has spoken of His inheritance and His possession. The term Holy Land is often used when referring to Israel, but this is the only place in the Bible where it is mentioned. Israel has never been, and is not now, the Holy Land. This is a millennial term for Israel, used only after God will “remove the iniquity of that land in one day” (3:9). Only then will it be holy. Merrill F. Unger has put it so appropriately in his book, Zechariah: Prophet of God’s Glory, when he said, “Well might all flesh be hushed into silent awe in the presence of Him who shall come forth to smite the earth in judgment to destroy His enemies as well as to deliver His own people. He is the Holy one, who alone can make Palestine The Holy Land, when He comes out of His holy habitation to execute His holy acts.”
The second and third visions show us that God will destroy the enemies of Israel. Jerusalem was rebuilt in Zechariah’s day, but in a time yet future its size will be beyond measure, and it will be the city where the Lord himself will dwell.
The first three visions of Zechariah are external. They deal with physical changes. They had great historical significance in the day of Zechariah. The people did reclaim the city, the Temple was rebuilt and Jerusalem was restored. The next five visions speak of spiritual changes. As we watch these unfold in our next several articles, we will soon note that the physical changes are only preparatory for the spiritual ones that will take place.