Summary: After Zechariah's opening sermon on repentance a new section of prophecy is given in the form of a series of night visions. After Zechariah followed the Lord's 1st instructions - to preach repentance-the Lord continued to speak to him.
GOD RETURNS TO HIS PEOPLE OR
The Rider Amidst the Myrtle Trees
We now come to visions and revelations of the Lord. After the introduction to the entire book, which was Zechariah's opening sermon on repentance (1:1-6), a new section of prophecy is given in the form of a series of night visions (1:7-6:8). After Zechariah followed the Lord's first instructions - to preach repentance - the Lord continued to speak to him. Maybe the reason God is no longer speaking to you is because you have not followed His first instructions to you. The text tonight is the first in the series of eight visions which unfold a message of Divine Comfort. All of these visions have the same scope in that they encompass the present people of God and then extend into the period of restoration of the kingdom of Israel on earth (Acts 1:6).
These visions that were revealed to the prophet, though each is complete in itself, form a picture of Israel, the God ruled one’s future. They disclose the ultimate hope found in eschatology (final things), though all of the visions had an immediate and significant ministry of comfort and encouragement to the poor and feeble remnant that had returned from Babylonian exile and were desperately struggling to establish themselves in a ruined city under the heel of a foreign power.
The general format in all these visions is first to present a symbol and then a question is asked and then the interpretation is given.
The Lord responds to the pleas of His people (CIT. 1:7-17).
I. The Vision and its Manifestation, 1:7-8.
II. The Vision and its Meaning, 1:9-11.
[III. The Vision and its Message, 1:12-17.]
Vision 1 (1:7-11) presents the message of the LORD's concern for Zion, which is elaborated on in vision 2 [(1:18-21) seen in the overthrow of her enemies,] and in vision 3 [(2:1-13) seen in the protection and prosperity of the restored community. The visions convey truth to Zechariah which he is to pass on to the people of Jerusalem. Their purpose is to encourage them to abandon the survive–for–the–moment mentality that persisted among them and to persevere in the work they are undertaking, by setting before them the glorious promises of God concerning their future as the people of God.]
Let’s now look at the visionary rider amidst the Myrtle trees.
I. THE VISION AND ITS MANIFESTATION (1:7-8)
The people of Zechariah's day were unsettled and uncertain. They were not sure what was happening to them and how God was working in their lives, in their nation, and in the world. Their perplexity was undermining their confidence, so God sent Zechariah to show them that He had not abandoned His people. By means of the symbolic representations in the visions, God revealed to them the spiritual dimension to the events of their day. This first vision emphasizes that all human life is under God's supervision, and the situation of His people is near to His heart.
Verse 7 again sets the background for the revelation. On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month (which is the month Sebat) in the second year of Darius, the Word of the Lord came to Zechariah the prophet, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo, as follows:
About three months after the introductory message of repentance comes this second visionary message also called “the Word of the Lord.” Hebrews 1:1 says that “the Lord spoke at various times and in many ways.” Divinely communicated visions were one of these diverse manners (Num. 12:6). Prior to the people’s repentance they had been disobeying the Lord by twisting their priorities and motives. They had been serving themselves and their work had not prospered. Their fields had not flourished. Their vines and trees had not been fruitful. But when they heeded Zechariah's and Haggai's call to repent, God said their fortunes would change.
During this three month interlude from Zechariah's first word the prophet Haggai had delivered his last two stirring messages. The first ending with “from this day forth will I bless you” (2:19) and the second containing the announcement that God would shake the heavens and kingdoms of the nations to accomplish the restoration and exaltation of the Davidic House (2:22).
Now, two months after Haggai’s last recorded message that the Lord would bless His people and would glorify them in the future; the Lord begins giving Zechariah visionary symbols and imagery of this blessing and glorification.
Verse 8 begins the vision by focusing on a man and the horses He leads. I saw the night and behold, a man was riding on a red horse and he was standing among the myrtle trees which were in the deep with red, sorrel and white horses behind him.