Promises Kept: Understanding Why We Can Trust God

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from Zechariah 1:7-6:15


In the second year of Darius, on the twenty-fourth day of Shebat, the eleventh month, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah, son of Berechiah, son of Iddo:

I looked out in the night, and there was a man mounted on a red horse standing in the shadows among myrtle trees; and behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses. I asked, “What are these, my lord?” Then the angel who spoke with me answered, “I will show you what these are.” Then the man who was standing among the myrtle trees spoke up and said, “These are the ones whom the Lord has sent to patrol the earth.”And they answered the angel of the Lord, who was standing among the myrtle trees: “We have been patrolling the earth, and now the whole earth rests quietly.” Then the angel of the Lord replied, “Lord of hosts, how long will you be without mercy for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah that have felt your anger these seventy years?” To the angel who spoke with me, the Lord replied favorably, with comforting words.

Oracular Response. The angel who spoke with me then said to me, Proclaim: Thus says the Lord of hosts:

I am jealous for Jerusalem
    and for Zion intensely jealous.
I am consumed with anger
    toward the complacent nations;
When I was only a little angry,
    they compounded the disaster.
Therefore, thus says the Lord:
I return to Jerusalem in mercy;
    my house will be rebuilt there—oracle of the Lord of hosts—
    and a measuring line will be stretched over Jerusalem.
Proclaim further: Thus says the Lord of hosts:
My cities will again overflow with prosperity;
    the Lord will again comfort Zion,
    and will again choose Jerusalem.

Second Vision: The Four Horns and the Four Smiths. I raised my eyes and looked and there were four horns. Then I asked the angel who spoke with me, “What are those?” He answered, “Those are the horns that scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.”

Then the Lord showed me four workmen. And I said, “What are these coming to do?” And the Lord said, “Those are the horns that scattered Judah, so that none could raise their heads any more; and these have come to terrify them—to cut down the horns of the nations that raised their horns to scatter the land of Judah.”

Third Vision: The Man with the Measuring Cord. I raised my eyes and looked, and there was a man with a measuring cord in his hand. I asked, “Where are you going?” And he said, “To measure Jerusalem—to see how great its width is and how great its length.”

Then the angel who spoke with me advanced as another angel came out to meet him and he said to the latter, “Run, speak to that official:Jerusalem will be unwalled, because of the abundance of people and beasts in its midst. I will be an encircling wall of fire for it—oracle of the Lord—and I will be the glory in its midst.”

Expansion on the Themes of the First Three Visions. Up! Up! Flee from the land of the north—oracle of the Lord;—For like the four winds of heaven I have dispersed you—oracle of the LordUp, Zion! Escape, you who dwell in daughter Babylon! For thus says the Lord of hosts after the Lord’s glory had sent me, concerning the nations that have plundered you: Whoever strikes you strikes me directly in the eye. Now I wave my hand over them, and they become plunder for their own servants. Thus you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me. Sing and rejoice, daughter Zion! Now, I am coming to dwell in your midst—oracle of the LordMany nations will bind themselves to the Lord on that day. They will be my people, and I will dwell in your midst. Then you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion of the holy land, and the Lord will again choose Jerusalem. Silence, all people, in the presence of the Lord, who stirs forth from his holy dwelling.

Prophetic Vision: Joshua the High Priest. Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, while the adversary stood at his right side to accuse him. And the angel of the Lord said to the adversary, “May the Lord rebuke you, O adversary; may the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?”

Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clad in filthy garments. Then the angel said to those standing before him, “Remove his filthy garments.” And to him he said, “Look, I have taken your guilt from you,and I am clothing you in stately robes.” Then he said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” And they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with the garments while the angel of the Lord was standing by. Then the angel of the Lord charged Joshua: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: If you walk in my ways and carry out my charge, you will administer my house and watch over my courts; and I will give you access to those standing here.”

Supplementary Oracle. “Hear, O Joshua, high priest! You and your associates who sit before you! For they are signs of things to come! I will surely bring my servant the Branch. Look at the stone that I have placed before Joshua. On this one stone with seven facets I will engrave its inscription—oracle of the Lord of hosts—and I will take away the guilt of that land in one day. On that day—oracle of the Lord of hosts—you will invite one another under your vines and fig trees.”

Fourth Vision: The Lampstand and the Two Olive Trees. Then the angel who spoke with me returned and aroused me, like one awakened from sleep. He said to me, “What do you see?” I replied, “I see a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl on top of it. There are seven lamps on it, with seven spouts on each of the lamps that are on top of it. And beside it are two olive trees, one on the right of the bowl and one to its left.” Then I said to the angel who spoke with me, “What are these things, my lord?” And the angel who spoke with me replied, “Do you not know what these things are?” I said, “No, my lord.”

An Oracle. Then he said to me: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, and not by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you become a plain. He will bring forth the first stone amid shouts of ‘Favor, favor be upon it!’”

Then the word of the Lord came to me: The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundations of this house, and his hands will finish it. Thus you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. For whoever has scorned such a day of small things will rejoice to see the capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel.

Resumption of the Vision: Explanation of Lamps and Trees. “These seven are the eyes of the Lord that range over the whole earth.” I then asked him, “What are these two olive trees, on the right of the lampstand and on its left?” A second time I asked, “What are the two streams from the olive trees that pour out golden oil through two taps of gold?” He said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” I answered, “No, my lord.” Then he said, “These are the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”

Fifth Vision: The Flying Scroll. Then I raised my eyes again and saw a flying scroll. He asked me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a flying scroll, twenty cubits long and ten cubits wide.” Then he said to me: “This is the curse which is to go forth over the whole land. According to it, every thief and every perjurer will be expelled. I will send it forth—oracle of the Lord of hosts—so that it will come to the house of the thief, and into the house of the one who swears falsely by my name. It shall lodge within each house, consuming it, timber and stones.”

Sixth Vision: The Basket of Wickedness. Then the angel who spoke with me came forward and said to me, “Raise your eyes and look. What is this that comes forth?” I said, “What is it?” And he answered, “This is the basket that is coming.” And he said, “This is their guilt in all the land.” Then a leaden cover was lifted, and there was a woman sitting inside the basket. He said, “This is Wickedness,” and he thrust her inside the basket, pushing the leaden weight into the opening.

Then I raised my eyes and saw two women coming forth with wind under their wings—they had wings like the wings of a stork—and they lifted the basket into the air. I said to the angel who spoke with me, “Where are they taking the basket?” He replied, “To build a temple for it in the land of Shinar. When the temple is constructed, they will set it there on its base.”

Seventh Vision: Four Chariots. Again I raised my eyes and saw four chariots coming out from between two mountains; and the mountains were of bronze. The first chariot had red horses, the second chariot black horses, the third chariot white horses, and the fourth chariot dappled horses—all of them strong horses. I asked the angel who spoke with me, “What are these, my lord?” The angel answered me, “These are the four winds of the heavens, which are coming forth after presenting themselves before the Lord of all the earth. The one with the black horses is going toward the land of the north, and the white horses go toward the west, and the dappled ones go toward the land of the south.” These strong horses went out, eager to set about patrolling the earth, for he said, “Go, patrol the earth!” So they patrolled the earth. Then he cried out to me and said, “See, those who go forth to the land of the north provide rest for my spirit in the land of the north.”

The Crowning. Then the word of the Lord came to me: Take from the exiles—Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah—and go the same day to the house of Josiah, son of Zephaniah. (These had come from Babylon.) You will take silver and gold, and make crowns; place one on the head of Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. And say to him: Thus says the Lord of hosts: There is a man whose name is Branch—and from his place he will branch out and he will build the temple of the LordHe will build the temple of the Lord, and taking up the royal insignia, he will sit as ruler upon his throne. The priest will be at his right hand, and between the two of them there will be peaceful understanding. The other crown will be in the temple of the Lord as a gracious reminder to Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah, and the son of Zephaniah. And they who are from afar will come and build the temple of the Lord, and you will know that the Lordof hosts has sent me to you. This will happen if you truly obey the Lordyour God.