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Turn to the Lord

I am the prophet Zechariah, the son of Berechiah and the grandson of Iddo.

In the eighth month of the second year that Darius was king of Persia,[a] the Lord told me to say:

2-3 Israel, I, the Lord All-Powerful, was very angry with your ancestors. But if you people will return to me, I will turn and help you. Don’t be stubborn like your ancestors. They were warned by the earlier prophets[b] to give up their evil and turn back to me, but they paid no attention.

Where are your ancestors now? Not even prophets live forever. But my warnings and my words spoken by the prophets caught up with your ancestors. So they turned back to me and said, “Lord All-Powerful, you have punished us for our sins, just as you had planned.”

First Vision: Horses and Riders

7-8 On the twenty-fourth day of Shebat,[c] which was the eleventh month of that same year,[d] the Lord spoke to me in a vision during the night: In a valley among myrtle trees,[e] I saw someone on a red horse, with riders on red, brown, and white horses behind him. An angel was there to explain things to me, and I asked, “Sir, who are these riders?”

“I’ll tell you,” the angel answered.

10 Right away, the man standing among the myrtle trees said, “These are the ones the Lord has sent to find out what’s happening on earth.”

11 Then the riders spoke to the Lord’s angel, who was standing among the myrtle trees, and they said, “We have gone everywhere and have discovered that the whole world is at peace.”

12 At this, the angel said, “Lord All-Powerful, for seventy years you have been angry with Jerusalem and the towns of Judah. When are you ever going to have mercy on them?”

13 The Lord’s answer was kind and comforting. 14 So the angel told me to announce:

I, the Lord All-Powerful, am very protective of Jerusalem. 15 For a while I was angry at the nations, but now I am furious, because they have made things worse for Jerusalem and are not the least bit concerned. 16 And so, I will have pity on Jerusalem. The city will be completely rebuilt, and my temple will stand again. 17 I also promise that my towns will prosper—Jerusalem will once again be my chosen city, and I will comfort the people of Zion.

Second Vision: Animal Horns

18 Next, I saw four animal horns.[f] 19-21 The angel who was sent to explain was there, and so I asked, “What do these mean?”

His answer was, “These horns are the nations that scattered the people of Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem, and took away their freedom.”

Then the Lord showed me four blacksmiths, and I asked, “What are they going to do?”

He replied, “They are going to terrify and crush those horns.”

Third Vision: A Measuring Line

This time I saw someone holding a measuring line, and I asked, “Where are you going?”

“To measure Jerusalem,” was the answer. “To find out how wide and long it is.”

The angel who had spoken to me was leaving, when another angel came up to him and said, “Hurry! Tell that man with the measuring line that Jerusalem won’t have any boundaries. It will be too full of people and animals even to have a wall. The Lord himself has promised to be a protective wall of fire surrounding Jerusalem, and he will be its shining glory in the heart of the city.”

A Call to Action

The Lord says to his people, “Run! Escape from the land in the north, where I scattered you to the four winds. Leave Babylonia and hurry back to Zion.”

Then the glorious Lord All-Powerful ordered me to say to the nations that had raided and robbed Zion:

Zion is as precious to the Lord as are his eyes. Whatever you do to Zion, you do to him. And so, he will put you in the power of your slaves, and they will raid and rob you. Then you will know that I am a prophet of the Lord All-Powerful.

10 City of Zion, sing and celebrate! The Lord has promised to come and live with you. 11 When he does, many nations will turn to him and become his people. At that time you will know that I am a prophet of the Lord All-Powerful. 12 Then Judah will be his part of the holy land, and Jerusalem will again be his chosen city.

13 Everyone, be silent!
The Lord is present
    and moving about
    in his holy place.

Fourth Vision: Joshua and Satan

I was given another vision. This time Joshua the high priest was standing in front of the Lord’s angel. And there was Satan, standing at Joshua’s right side, ready to accuse him. But the Lord said, “Satan, you are wrong. Jerusalem is my chosen city, and this man was rescued like a stick from a flaming fire.”

Joshua’s clothes were filthy. So the angel told some of the people to remove Joshua’s filthy clothes. Then he said to Joshua, “This means you are forgiven. Now I will dress you in priestly clothes.”

I spoke up and said, “Also put a clean priestly turban on his head.” Then they dressed him in priestly clothes and put the turban on him, while the Lord’s angel stood there watching.

After this, the angel encouraged Joshua by telling him that the Lord All-Powerful had promised:

If you truly obey me, I will put you in charge of my temple, including the courtyard around it, and you will be allowed to speak at any time with the angels standing beside me.[g] Listen carefully, High Priest Joshua and all of you other priests. You are a sign of things to come, because I am going to bring back my servant, the Chosen King.[h]

Joshua, I have placed in front of you a stone with seven sides. I will engrave something on that stone, and in a single day I will forgive this guilty country. 10 Then each of you will live at peace and entertain your friends in your own vineyard and under your own fig trees.

Fifth Vision: A Lampstand and Olive Trees

The angel who explained the visions woke me from what seemed like sleep. Then he asked, “What do you see?”

“A solid gold lampstand with an oil container above it,” I answered. “On the stand are seven lamps, each with seven flames. One olive tree is on the right side and another on the left of the oil container. But, sir, what do these mean?”

Then he asked, “Don’t you know?”

“No sir,” I replied.

So the angel explained that it was the following message of the Lord to Zerubbabel:[i]

I am the Lord All-Powerful. So don’t depend on your own power or strength, but on my Spirit. Zerubbabel, that mountain in front of you will be leveled to the ground. Then you will bring out the temple’s most important stone and shout, “God has been very kind.”[j]

The Lord spoke to me again and said:

Zerubbabel laid the foundation for the temple, and he will complete it. Then everyone will know that you were sent by me, the Lord All-Powerful. 10 Those who have made fun of this day of small beginnings will celebrate when they see Zerubbabel holding this important stone.[k]

Those seven lamps represent my eyes—the eyes of the Lord—and they see everything on this earth.

11 Then I asked the angel, “What about the olive trees on each side of the lampstand? What do they represent? 12 And what is the meaning of the two branches from which golden olive oil[l] flows through the two gold pipes?”

13 “Don’t you know?” he asked.

“No sir, I don’t,” was my answer.

14 Then he told me, “These branches are the two chosen leaders[m] who stand beside the Lord of all the earth.”

Sixth Vision: A Flying Scroll

When I looked the next time, I saw a flying scroll,[n] and the angel asked, “What do you see?”

“A flying scroll,” I answered. “About thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide.”

Then he told me:

This scroll puts a curse on everyone in the land who steals or tells lies. The writing on one side tells about the destruction of those who steal, while the writing on the other side tells about the destruction of those who lie.

The Lord All-Powerful has said, “I am sending this scroll into the house of everyone who is a robber or tells lies in my name, and it will remain there until every piece of wood and stone in that house crumbles.”

Seventh Vision: A Woman in a Basket

Now the angel who was there to explain the visions came over and said, “Look up and tell me what you see coming.”

“I don’t know what it is,” was my reply.

“It’s a big basket,” he said. “And it shows what everyone in the land has in mind.”[o]

The lead cover of the basket was opened, and in the basket was a woman. “This woman represents evil,” the angel explained. Then he threw her back into the basket and slammed the heavy cover down tight.

Right after this I saw two women coming through the sky like storks with wings outstretched in the wind. Suddenly they lifted the basket into the air, 10 and I asked the angel, “Where are they taking the basket?”

11 “To Babylonia,”[p] he answered, “where they will build a house for the basket and set it down inside.”

Eighth Vision: Four Chariots

Finally, I looked up and saw four chariots coming from between two bronze mountains. The first chariot was pulled by red horses, and the second by black horses; the third chariot was pulled by white horses, and the fourth by spotted gray horses.

“Sir,” I asked the angel. “What do these stand for?”

Then he explained, “These are the four winds[q] of heaven, and now they are going out, after presenting themselves to the Lord of all the earth. The chariot with black horses goes toward the north, the chariot with white horses goes toward the west,[r] and the one with spotted horses goes toward the south.”

The horses came out eager to patrol the earth, and the angel told them, “Start patrolling the earth.”

When they had gone on their way, he shouted to me, “Those that have gone to the country in the north will do what the Lord’s Spirit[s] wants them to do there.”

The Chosen Leader

The Lord said to me:

10-11 Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah have returned from Babylonia. Collect enough silver and gold from them to make a crown.[t] Then go with them to the house of Josiah son of Zephaniah and put the crown on the head of the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak.[u] 12-13 Tell him that I, the Lord All-Powerful, say, “Someone will reach out from here like a branch and build a temple for me. I will name him ‘Branch,’ and he will rule with royal honors. A priest will stand beside his throne,[v] and the two of them will be good friends. 14 This crown will be kept in my temple as a reminder and will be taken care of by Heldai,[w] Tobijah, Jedaiah, and Josiah.”[x]

15 When people from distant lands come and help build the temple of the Lord All-Powerful, you will know that the Lord is the one who sent me. And this will happen, if you truly obey the Lord your God.

A Question about Going without Eating

On the fourth day of Chislev, the ninth month of the fourth year that Darius was king of Persia,[y] the Lord again spoke to me. 2-3 It happened after the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer with Regem-Melech and his men to ask the priests in the Lord’s temple and the prophets to pray for them. So they prayed, “Should we mourn and go without eating during the fifth month,[z] as we have done for many years?”

4-5 It was then that the Lord All-Powerful told me to say to everyone in the country, including the priests:

For seventy years you have gone without eating during the fifth and seventh months of the year. But did you really do it for me? And when you eat and drink, isn’t it for your own enjoyment? My message today is the same one I commanded the earlier prophets[aa] to speak to Jerusalem and its villages when they were prosperous, and when all of Judah, including the Southern Desert and the hill country, was filled with people.

8-9 So once again, I, the Lord All-Powerful, tell you, “See that justice is done and be kind and merciful to one another! 10 Don’t mistreat widows or orphans or foreigners or anyone who is poor, and stop making plans to hurt each other.”

11-12 But everyone who heard those prophets, stubbornly refused to obey. Instead, they turned their backs on everything my Spirit[ab] had commanded the earlier prophets to preach. So I, the Lord, became angry 13 and said, “You people paid no attention when I called out to you, and now I’ll pay no attention when you call out to me.”

14 That’s why I came with a whirlwind and scattered them among foreign nations, leaving their lovely country empty of people and in ruins.

Footnotes

  1. 1.1 eighth month. . . second year. . . king of Persia: Bul, the eighth month of the Hebrew calender, from about mid-October to mid-November; the second year of the rule of Darius was 520 B.C.
  2. 1.4 the earlier prophets: Those who preached before the fall of Jerusalem in either 587 or 586 B.C.
  3. 1.7,8 Shebat: The eleventh month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-January to mid-February.
  4. 1.7,8 that same year: See verse 1 and the note there.
  5. 1.7,8 myrtle trees: Evergreen shrubs, which in ancient times were symbols of fertility and renewal.
  6. 1.18 animal horns: Horns, especially those of a bull, were symbols of power in ancient times. The number “four” would signal completeness, one representing each of the four directions.
  7. 3.7 with the angels. . . me: Or “with me.” The angels are members of God’s Council, who stand beside the throne of God in heaven and are allowed to speak with him and for him.
  8. 3.8 Chosen King: The Hebrew text has “Sprout” or “Branch,” a term used of royalty (see Isaiah 11.1).
  9. 4.6 Zerubbabel: Governor of Judah (see Haggai 1.1).
  10. 4.7 God. . . kind: Or “What a beautiful stone.”
  11. 4.10 important stone: Or “measuring line (with a stone attached to the end).”
  12. 4.12 golden olive oil: The Hebrew text has “gold,” which possibly refers to the color of the olive oil as it flows through the gold pipe.
  13. 4.14 chosen leaders: The Hebrew text has “people of oil.” In ancient times prophets, priests, and kings had olive oil poured over their heads to show that they had been chosen (see 1 Samuel 10.1; 16.13).
  14. 5.1 scroll: A roll of paper or special leather used for writing on.
  15. 5.6 what. . . mind: Hebrew; one ancient translation “the sin of everyone in the land.”
  16. 5.11 Babylonia: The Hebrew text has “Shinar,” an ancient name for Babylonia.
  17. 6.5 winds: Or “spirits.” The Hebrew word may mean either.
  18. 6.6 goes toward the west: Or “follows behind.”
  19. 6.8 Lord’s Spirit: Or “Lord.”
  20. 6.10,11 a crown: Two ancient translations; Hebrew “some crowns.”
  21. 6.10,11 Heldai. . . Jehozadak: Or “Go to the house of Josiah son of Zephaniah, where you will find Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah, who have returned from Babylonia. Collect enough silver and gold from them to make a crown. Then put it on the head of the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak.”
  22. 6.12,13 stand beside his throne: Or “sit on a throne.”
  23. 6.14 Heldai: One ancient translation; Hebrew “Helem.”
  24. 6.14 Josiah: One ancient translation; Hebrew “Hen.”
  25. 7.1 Chislev. . . fourth year. . . king of Persia: Chislev, the ninth month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-November to mid-December; the fourth year of the rule of Darius was 518 B.C.
  26. 7.2,3 fifth month: Ab, the fifth month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-July to mid-August. The temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in the year 587 or 586 B.C.
  27. 7.7 the earlier prophets: See the note at 1.4.
  28. 7.11,12 my Spirit: Or “I.”