In his night visions Zechariah saw four horns and four craftsmen (1:18, 20). The horns Zechariah
saw represent four kingdoms or kings “which have scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem” (v.19).
The four craftsmen have come to throw down the horns of the nations who has lifted up their horns against the land of Judah in order to scatter it (1:21). This was encouraging news.
In chapter one verse sixteen, the Lord said, “I will return to Jerusalem with compassion; My house will be built in it,...and a measuring line will be stretched over Jerusalem.” In this chapter we have that promise illustrated and confirmed. Zechariah saw a man with a measuring line.
Zechariah asked the man with the measuring line, “Where are you going? And he said , ‘To measure Jerusalem, to see how wide it is and how long it is.” He is going to measure Jerusalem in its present state so that it might be determined what additions were necessary for the receiving and containing the multitudes that will come to Jerusalem (Isaiah 60:4).
The angel who was speaking to Zechariah was told, by another angel, to tell Zechariah Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls because of the multitude of men and cattle within it. The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall increase, and multiply so that it shall extend itself far beyond the present dimensions. The purpose of the walls of a city was used to defend it. They also keep the inhabitants confined within the boundaries of the walls. But Jerusalem, even when it is walled, to keep out the enemy, shall be inhabited as a city without walls. It shall be extended as freely as if it had no walls at all, and yet shall be as safe as if it had the strongest walls. When Zechariah saw this vision Jerusalem had no walls about it. She lay naked and exposed.
When she had walls her enemies not only broke through them. Now the Lord will be to her a wall of fire. Some think it alludes to shepherds that made fires about their flocks, or travelers that made fires about their tents in desert places, to frighten wild beasts from them. The Lord will do much more. He will make a hedge around Jerusalem as He did Job (Job 1:10). He will not only make walls around her, walls can be battered down. The Lord will be a wall of fire round her which cannot be broken through, nor scaled, nor undermined, nor the foundations of it undermined nor can it be attempted, or approached, without danger to the assailants. The Lord will not only make a wall of fire about her, but He will Himself be such a wall; for the Lord is a consuming fire to His enemies and the enemies of His children.
Jerusalem will not only be protected by a wall of fire, she will be a great city because the Lord
Himself will be the glory in the midst of the city. His temple, his altar, shall be set up and attended
there, and his institutions observed, and there shall the blessings of His presence and favor be, which will be the glory in the midst of them and will make them truly admirable in the eyes of all about them. The people will honor the Lord and He will put honor upon them.
Those that have the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for their God have Him for their glory; those that have Him in the midst of them have glory in the midst of them. Therefore the church is said to be all glorious within. The people and places that have the Lord in their midst have Him for a wall of fire round about them. All this was fulfilled in part in Jerusalem, which in process of time became a very flourishing city, and made a very great figure in those parts of the world, beyond what could have been expected, considering how low it was brought and how long it laid in ruin.
One would have thought that Cyprus’ proclamation, which gave liberty to the captive Jews to return to their own land, would have brought them all back to their homeland, as when Pharaoh gave them permission to leave Egypt and their house of bondage. There were about 50,000 whose spirits God stirred up to leave Babylon. The greater part of the captives stayed in Babylon. The land of their captivity was to most of them the land of their birth and they had taken root there, had gained a settlement, and many of them a very comfortable one; some perhaps had gotten estates and business. They didn’t think they could better themselves by returning to their own land. They had no great affection to their own land, and considered the difficulties they would encounter if they returned to Judah and Jerusalem beyond what they cared to experience.
This refusal to return to Judah and Jerusalem proceeded from a distrust of the power and promise
of God, a love of ease and worldly wealth, and an indifference to the religion of their country and
to the God of Israel Himself. They expressed their attitude toward the Lord and their homeland in rash and adverse comments about the Lord. This attitude had a bad effect upon the people. They could not sing Psalm 137 because they were so far from preferring Lord and the land that was their joy before the captivity. They preferred what joy they could find in the land of captivity.
This resulted in another proclamation issued by the God of Israel, strictly charging and commanding all his free-born subjects, wherever they were dispersed, to speedily return into their own land and render themselves to the work of rebuilding the temple and Jerusalem. This is the proper thing to do. If the Lord will rebuild Jerusalem for them and their comfort, they must come and inhabit it for Him and His glory, and not continue living in Babylon.
The promises and privileges with which the Lord has blessed us should motivate us, whatever it cost us, to join ourselves to them. The captivity of a sinful state is by no means to be continued in, though a man be comfortable in it.
Those who refused to return to their homeland are with all speed, and lose no time in responding to the call to return to their homeland. To induce them to return they are told to consider their present state. They are dispersed. Some into one corner of the world and some into another. This has been their condition for a long time, and should now think of coming together again, to help one another.
The Lord tells the captives His scattering them was in wrath, and they must take this invitation to return to their homeland as a sign of the Lord’s willingness to be reconciled to them. They have rejected the invitation and determined to assert their own liberty so the Lord tells them to deliver themselves. They are told to flee from the oppressor in the best way they can. When the Lord proclaims deliverance to the captives, which He has caused to be available to all who are in captivity we should “deliver ourselves...Loose ourselves from the bands of our necks” (Isaiah 52:2). We should resolve that “sin shall not have dominion over us.”
The second call is to Zion. It is not fitting that Zion should dwell with the daughter of Babylon, the goddess of Babylon. Zion will be in danger of partaking of the judgment that will come upon Babylon. By returning to their homeland the sons of Zion will not destroy themselves. Although the sons of Zion feel like they have been forsaken and forgotten by the Lord, the Lord will now embrace their cause and will plead it with jealousy.
It was a discouragement to those who remained in Babylon to hear of the difficulties and oppositions which their brethren met when they returned to Judah and Jerusalem and were still in danger of being crushed and overpowered. In answer to the state of mind of those who have remainded in Babylon, the angel, preincarnated Jesus Christ, tells Zechariah what He had been commissioned to do for the protection and the perfecting of the salvation of the sons of Zion.
In this revelation of what will be done for the sons of Zion points to the great redemption, which, in the fullness of time, He was to be the author of. Christ, who is the Lord of hosts, Lord of all the hosts of heaven and earth, in both He has a sovereign power, says, “He (the Father) has sent Me.”
What Jesus has done, and does, for His church, against His enemies, He was sent and commissioned by the Father to do. With great satisfaction Jesus often speaks of the Father that sent Him. He is sent after the glorious beginning of their deliverance He is sent to perfect it, for He is the finisher of that work which He is the author of. Christ is sent, in the first place, to the nation and people of the Jews (Romans 9:4). And He was Himself the glory of His people Israel.
After His care of them He is sent to the nations to “be a light to lighten the Gentiles” by the
power of His gospel to captivate them, and bring them into obedience to Himself. He is sent to take vengeance on them for the wrongs done to Zion. He is sent to lift up his mighty hand against them and to lay upon them His heavy hand, to “bruise them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Psalm 2:9). This passage shows how easily God can subdue and humble the oppressors with the turn of his hand, but it is the shaking His hand over them and the work is done. The oppressors shall be enslaved to those whom they had enslaved, and be plundered by those whom they had plundered.
In Esther’s time this was fulfilled, when the Jews ruled “over those that hated them (Esther 9:1) and often in the time of the Maccabees. The promise is further fulfilled in Christ’s victory over our spiritual enemies, His, “spoiling principalities and powers and making a show of them openly (Colossians 2:15). And it is still in force to the church. Christ will reckon with all that are her enemies and sooner or later will make them “His footstool” (Psalm 110:1; Revelation 3:9). What Christ will do for His church shall be proof of the Lord’s tender care of it and affection to it.
“He that touches you touches the apple of His eye” is a high expression of the Lord’s love to his people. By His resentment of the injuries done to them show how dear they are to Him, how He is concerned about their welfare and takes what is done against them as a personal insult. This should encourage the people of the Lord to pray with David (Psalm 17:8) and as Solomon directs (Proverbs 7:2).
The Jews that had returned were in distress and danger, their enemies in the neighborhood were
spiteful against them, their friends that remained in Babylon were cool towards them, shy of them,
and declined coming in to their assistance; and yet they are directed to sing and rejoice even in
tribulation. Those that have recovered their purity, and integrity, and spiritual liberty, though they
have not yet recovered their outward prosperity, have reason to sing and rejoice, to give glory to God and take comfort to themselves.
If those who have remainded in Babylon will not return to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah many nations will join themselves to the Lord and they will become His people. Then the Lord will dwell in their midst.
The Jewish nation, after the captivity, multiplied by the accession of proselytes to it, that were
naturalized, and were entitled to all the privileges of native Israelites, and perhaps they were equal in number; and therefore Paul mentions it as an honor to him which many Jews had not, that he was of “the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews (Philippians 3:5). The joining of many nations to the Lord, was an earnest of the bringing in of the Gentiles into the Christian church and in the church the fulfillment of this and other similar promises. It was therefore strange that this joining of many nations to the Lord should be so great an offence to the Jews, as we find it was in the apostles’ times, which was promised them as a blessing in the prophets’ times. There had been one law, so should there be one gospel for whatever nation a person may come from, when they join themselves to the Lord. When they join themselves to the Lord they become as dear to the
Lord, as Israel had been.
The Lord will own those for His people who with purpose of heart join themselves to Him; and, when many do so, we ought to look upon them, not with a jealous eye, but with a joyful one.
Angels rejoice, and therefore so should the daughter of Zion, when many nations are joined to the
Lord. Those to whom the Lord comes have reason to rejoice, for He will be to them their chief joy. The Lord will come, not to make them a visit only, but to reside with them and preside over them.
Those who have the Lord dwelling in their midst have a divine power with them no matter where they may go. In the incarnation of Christ, He that promises to dwell among them is that Lord whom the Lord of hosts has sent. He came and dwelt in the midst of the Jewish nation. He is the eternal Word, that was made flesh and dwelt among men. This was the great honor reserved for Israel. They could not be destroyed while that blessing was in them; and the prospect of it, according to the promise, was the great support and comfort of those who looked for the redemption in Jerusalem. It is promised that when Christ comes and dwells among them they shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent Him. Sufficient proofs were given in the miracles of Jesus that Jesus is the One sent by the Lord of hosts to Israel.
The Israelites will have all their ancient dignities and privileges restored to them again. Canaan shall be a holy land again, not polluted by sin as it had been formerly, not profaned by the enemies as it had been of late. Judah shall be in this holy land, shall inhabit it, and enjoy the comfort of it, and no longer be lost and scattered in Babylon. Judah shall be the Lord’s portion, which He will delight in, which shall be dear to Him, by which He will be served, and in which He will be glorified.
The Lord will inherit Judah as His portion, will claim His interest, and recover the possession out of the hands of those that has invaded His right. He will protect His people and govern them as a man does his inheritance, and will be at home among them. He will choose Jerusalem again, as He had chosen it formerly, to put His name there. He will renew and confirm the choice, and continue it a chosen place, till it must resign its honors to the Jerusalem that is from above.
Silence is proclaimed to all the world. But the daughter of Zion must sing. All flesh must be silent
because the Lord has for the relief of his people raised up out of His holy habitation as a man out
of sleep (Psalm 44:23; 78:65), or as a man entering with resolution upon a business that he will go
through with. Heaven is His holy habitation above. All flesh is to be silent because the Lord is about to do something unusual, unexpected, and very surprising. He is going to plead His people’s cause, which had long seemed neglected.