Summary: This revelation serves to greatly encourage His people's hopes & faith for it shows how entirely God knows the outcome of all circumstances & how completely all results lie in His hand & His purposes.
ZECHARIAH 1: 18-21
The Second Vision
THE HORNS AND THE CRAFTSMEN
[Jeremiah 23:29 / 2 Cor. 4:1-6]
What stands against our church? Why doesn't it move on for God? Is there any satanic power oppressing us and holding us back? Have we repented? Have we prayed for the advance of our church and the growth of the kingdom? God will always act to answer the prayer of His repentant people because it is also an answer to the great Intercessor's prayer.
In this vision the manner of the destruction of the powers which exalts the heathen over Israel will be probed. This second vision is a continuation of the comforting message contained in the first vision. It reveals how those nations with whom the Lord is exceedingly angry because of their extended and excessive scattering of the Jews and their downtrodding of Jerusalem will be terrified and broken themselves.
For God's people today this passage highlights very distinctly just what God is able to do to those who in bitterness oppress and afflict His people. This revelation serves to greatly encourage His people's hopes and faith for it shows how entirely God knows the outcome of all circumstances and how completely all results lie in His hand and His purposes (CIT).
Yet, there is also an overarching element which extends this vision, as all the other visions, beyond ancient Israel and our present need into the end time. For glimmers of hope for the eventual restoration of God's people dispersed and down trodden through out the heathen nations into a unified glorious whole can be gleamed from our text.
I. THE PROBLEM OF THE HORNS, 18-19.
II. THE ANSWER OF THE CRAFTSMEN, 20-21.
I. THE PROBLEM OF THE HORNS, 18-19.
The second vision of God's defeating the destructive powers of nations and repairing their damage begins in verse 18. Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, four horns.
With his head bowed in meditation upon the meaning of the first vision, the prophet is caught up in a second vision. When he lifted up his head he looked (literally 'saw') not just with his physical eyes, but with the inner vision of his soul and spirit which are called up by the supernatural revelation of the vision itself. In this aroused physical and spiritual state, he sees and beholds, meaning He fasten His attention upon for careful scrutiny, four horns.
These separate horns, probably like animal horns, are the focal point of concern. The beasts to whom they belong are hidden from the prophet's view. This makes us have questions about them for not only is the destructive power of the horns relative to the beast it's on, but also because it makes it difficult to definitely define what or who they represent.
Horns are generally used in Scripture as symbols of power and strength (Amos 6:13; Psalm 18:2; 75:45; 89:17; 92:10; 112:9; Jer. 48:25; Lam. 2:3, 17; Mic. 4:13). They can represent the ruling powers, beasts, individuals, nations or the world (Dan. 7:24-28; Rev. 17:3-12). The symbol of ruling power comes from the great crashing power of bulls, rams, wild oxen, etc. where dominate males ram horns together (Jer. 48:25; Lam. 2:3; Psalm 89:17, 92:10, 18:2).
The number four in a secondary sense stands for universal or completeness. [E.g. the four winds of heaven (Ezek. 37:9) or from the four corners of the earth (Isa. 11:12).] The four horns thus could represent all the enemies which surround and threaten Israel on all sides or directions. [Or they could represent the four great world powers or kingdoms of Daniel, chs. 2 & 7, if you call this a parallel vision.]
Zechariah would have had no difficulty in identifying the horns as physical or spiritual powers, but their present significance eluded him. We thus find him again asking questions of the interpreting angel in verse 19. So, I said to the angel who was speaking with me "what are these?" And he answered me, "these are the horns which scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem." (19)
The prophet's puzzlement , possibly because he cannot see the heads the horns belong to, asks to know what they represent or symbolize. The interpreting angel replies that the horns signify the powers of ruthless kingdoms which have come against and scattered God's people (Lev. 26:33; Ezek. 5:10, 6:5, 30:26). The force of the word, to scatter or disperse would be as dust is driven by the wind.
The use of the terms, Judah, Israel & Jerusalem was an unusual designation for the chosen people. No doubt that God is talking specifically of the Hebrew people here [and not the church]. This would be an all inclusive term for the whole nation.
After Solomon's reign the kingdom of Israel split. Ten tribes took their own king and became Israel, the Northern Kingdom with Samaria as their capital. Two tribes, Judah & Benjamin became Judah or the Southern Kingdom with Jerusalem as their capital.