1 During the eighth month of the second year of the reign of Persian King Darius, the word of the Eternal One came to the prophet Zechariah (Berechiah’s son and Iddo’s grandson).
Message: 2 The Eternal became very angry with your ancestors. That’s why He turned His back on them. 3 Now, tell your people what the Eternal, the Commander of heavenly armies, has to say: “Return to Me, so I may turn back to you.” This is the message the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, burdens you with today, Zechariah.
4 Do not be like your fathers and mothers, whom the prophets of their own time warned, “Here is what the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, has to say: Turn away from your evil thoughts and your evil acts.” Even then they did not listen to Me. That was the message the Eternal One burdened His prophets with a generation ago.
Eternal One (to Zechariah): 5 Where are your ancestors now? And what about the prophets I sent to warn them? They did not live forever, did they? 6 Didn’t My words and My rules that I dictated through My servants the prophets outlive your rebellious ancestors? That’s why they repented eventually and realized, “The Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, has done to us exactly what He decided He would do if we behaved this way. His punishments match our evil thoughts and acts.”
Zechariah has a series of eight visions one night in early 519 b.c. These visions are filled with symbols, numbers, unusual sights, and distinct sounds. In order to understand what he is seeing, God sends a heavenly messenger to serve as Zechariah’s guide and interpreter. All the visions relate to some aspect of the restoration of Jerusalem and her people.
7 On the 24th day of the 11th month (called Shebat by the Babylonians) of the 2nd year of the reign of Persian King Darius, the word of the Eternal came to me, the prophet Zechariah (Berechiah’s son and Iddo’s grandson). This is what happened: 8 During the night, I had eight visions. I opened my eyes, and there was a man riding a red horse and bringing a message. He was in the middle of a stand of ever-blooming myrtle trees down in the lowest part of the Kidron Valley. Behind him stood horses of red, tan, and white.
This is not just any messenger who comes to Zechariah in his vision; he is a heavenly messenger whom Zechariah addresses as “lord.”
Zechariah: 9 What are they, my lord?
Heavenly Messenger: I will show you.
10 The man standing among the myrtle trees explained.
Heavenly Messenger: The horses and their riders have been sent by the Eternal to patrol the whole earth.
11 And they began to give reports to the Special Messenger of the Eternal One, who was standing among the myrtle trees.
Patrols: We have traveled back and forth across the surface of the whole earth and found it resting peacefully.
Special Messenger of the Eternal: 12 O Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, how long will You keep Your mercy from Jerusalem? How long will You keep Your mercy from the cities of Judah, which have endured Your anger for the last 70 years?
13 The Eternal One answered him, speaking kind and comforting words to the heavenly messenger who had been talking to me. He shared with me the message.
Special Messenger of the Eternal (to Zechariah): 14 Tell everyone these words of the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies: “I am very jealous for the people of Jerusalem and Zion. 15 Also, I am very angry with those nations that feel at ease. I was only slightly angry with these other nations, but when they attacked more ruthlessly than I commanded them to, they made the situation much worse for themselves. 16 Here’s what I will do: I, the Eternal One, will turn back to Jerusalem with that mercy they’ve missed for 70 years. My temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem,” says the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies; “surveyors will stretch out their measuring lines over Jerusalem, and craftsmen will return to rebuild it.” 17 You must reiterate to your people what the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, says: “My cities will once again be so prosperous, they will overflow. Once again I will comfort the people of Zion, and once again I will choose Jerusalem as My earthly home.”
18 That night I had a second vision of God’s wrath. I looked up and saw four horns.
In a second vision of the power of God’s judgment, God’s people are oppressed by the nations, who are represented by four horns.
Zechariah (to the heavenly messenger): 19 What are these?
Heavenly Messenger: These are the horns of the nations that have been raised in battles to scatter and oppress Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.
20 Then the Eternal showed me four craftsmen.
Zechariah: 21 And what are these people coming to do?
Heavenly Messenger: These are the horns of the nations that have scattered the people of Judah, and because of them, no one may lift his head up in dignity. The craftsmen have come to wreak havoc and inflict terror on the nations who own the horns, to strike down those who raised their horns before attacking Judah and sending her people into exile.