Summary: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts (Zechariah 4:6).
THE FOUR CRAFTSMEN
The four horns (Zechariah 1:18) in this vision represent the nations which have scattered Israel (Zechariah 1:19; Zechariah 1:21). Horns are also used in Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation. Animals use horns to thrust and to overpower.
The four craftsmen (Zechariah 1:20) - translated variously as ‘carpenters’ or ‘blacksmiths’ - are those who will overcome the horns (Zechariah 1:21). There were four horns on the side of the altar in Jerusalem, suggesting their subjugation to the cause of God: to be built into the altar they must have been ‘frayed’ by carpenters - or perhaps ‘forged’ by blacksmiths. In the process, the trades are also brought into the service of God - as we would expect, on a spiritual level, from the New Testament (e.g. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6).
The number four is significant throughout Scripture. Elsewhere, ‘four winds’ is often used to represent universality. Revelation has four horsemen, and four angels. Zechariah also speaks of four chariots (Zechariah 6:1).
What is interesting here is that it is not soldiers of war that God was going to use to overcome the might of the nations, but humble craftsmen. Zechariah was living in a day of small things (Zechariah 4:10), when old men wept at the smallness of their new Temple as compared to that which they remembered from their youth (Ezra 3:12-13). Yet we need not mourn the smallness of our gift when we are giving our all to the service of the LORD (Haggai 2:8-9).
Jerusalem was surrounded by enemies on every side, and there were those who would seek to hinder the building of the Temple. Yet it was precisely in the job at hand, the building of the Temple, that God was going to bless His own people - gathering them from the four corners of the earth, and subjugating those who remained unrepentant. One day, too, the Lord would suddenly come to His Temple (Malachi 3:1) - and from Jerusalem the word of the LORD would go forth to the ends of the earth (Micah 4:2).
How can our small offerings, our meagre services, make any impression against the might of those who would trample God’s name underfoot? Our particular skill - such as it may be - may seem so miniscule, so insignificant when set against a world that doesn’t care. However be assured, dear believer, that we are on the victory side - and those who stand against the work of God will not prevail.
The Lord says, ‘My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9).
‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts (Zechariah 4:6).