Zechariah chapter 1, the Bible reads, "In the eighth month in the second year of Darius came the word of the Lord unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, 'The Lord hath been sore displeased with your fathers.'" Now, when we're studying any of these books of the major or minor prophets, one of the most important things that we need to do is understand when this preaching took place. That's actually critical to the understanding of this book. I'm constantly hearing people twist the book of Zechariah and use scriptures form Zechariah to teach false doctrine. The vast majority of these misunderstandings would be solved if they would just understand chapter 1 verse 1 here. There's a reason why these minor prophets begin with words like these. It's not just something that God's putting in for filler, just to fill up some space. He just didn't really know how to start the book. He's putting this information for a reason because it's critical to understanding the book, to understand what was going on at the time this is written. The Bible says here in verse 1, "In the eighth month in the second year of Darius came the word of the Lord unto Zechariah."
Now, when we think of Darius or Darius as some people would pronounce it, what story would we associate with King Darius or Darius? Daniel, right? Daniel being thrown in the lion's den. If you understand the chronology there, we're talking about after the 70 year Babylonian captivity. Let me just kind of bring you up to speed with what's going on. It's critical to even understand chapter 1 and even into chapter 2 to know what's going on in the history of the children of Israel and the children of Judah at this time.
Basically, what had happened was God was angry with the children of Judah, the nation of Judah. Okay. He had prophesied to them through prophets like Jeremiah that they were going to be taken captive into Babylon and that that captivity would last for 70 years. One of the major things that they had disobeyed about the law of God was that they were supposed to be celebrating the Sabbaths. Now, we're not talking about the Sabbath days, but actually every seven years they were supposed to rest the land. Not only was there a Sabbath every week where they would work six days and then take one day off, but also, they would till the land for six years and then for one year, they would let the land rest. They had not been doing that. In fact, they had not been doing that for about 490 years. What God told them was, "For every year that you did not observe my commandments including that commandment," he said, "I'm going to let the land rest. For the 70 Sabbaths that you skipped, I'm going to go ahead and just take you out of that land and destroy your nation, scatter you, take you to Babylon, and then the land will rest for 70 years." There were a lot of prophecies about how God was going to punish them and there were a lot of prophecies about how it would last for 70 years.
Go to Ezra chapter 5. I want everybody to understand what's going on in the Bible at this point. The nation of Israel started out as being one nation, twelve tribes of Israel, but that one nation was split after the death of Solomon. There was a man by the name of Jeroboam that took ten of the tribes and broke off from Jerusalem and the sons of David that were reigning and he established a northern kingdom that was known as Israel with Samaria as the capital. Then, the southern kingdom where Jerusalem was became known as Judah and the sons of David reigned from Jerusalem in the land of Judah. There are two separate nations.
Well, the nation of Israel had already gone into captivity before the nation of Judah. The nation of Israel was always more wicked than the nation of Judah. The nation of Israel was taken captive by the Assyrians. Well, then much later, the nation of Judah was taken captive by the Babylonians. That's the 70 year Babylonian captivity. Well, after that 70 years is expired, God brings the children of Judah, also known as the Jews, he brings them back from captivity and returns them to the promised land and they rebuilt the temple and they rebuilt the city of Jerusalem and they rebuilt the wall around the perimeter. In Ezra and Nehemiah, we read about those building processes. We read about the temple being built in Ezra and the wall being built in Nehemiah.
Look at Ezra chapter 5 verse 1. It says, "Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and in Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them. Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem, and with them were the prophets of God helping them." What were the names of the two prophets of God that were preaching to them and helping them build? It was Haggai and Zechariah. Go back to Zechariah with that in mind. Both from verse 1 where it mentions King Darius and from Ezra chapter 5 verse 1 we can pinpoint exactly when this book is being written. This book has to do with the children of Judah coming back from captivity and rebuilding the temple and re-inhabiting the promised land and so forth after the 70 years captivity. Everybody have our bearings now?
Let's get into this book, Zechariah, beginning in chapter number 1. It says in verse 1, "In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the Lord unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, 'The Lord hath been sore displeased with your fathers.'" What is he talking about? God was so angry with them that he had brought them into captivity. Now they're coming back from captivity because they've turned unto the Lord. But Zechariah is warning them not to be stiff-necked as their fathers were. He's saying, "Look, you were taken captive for a reason. It's because your fathers disobeyed me. Now you're back. Don't be like them or bad things are going to happen again." Why? Because God always has a pattern with the nation of Israel. If they obey him, if they serve him, if they worship him alone, then he'll bless them. He'll give them peace and he will allow them to inherit the promised land. When they disobey God, when they go after other gods, then he always sends an enemy to come in and take land away from them or even to take them fully into captivity and into another place.
God's warning them that he hasn't changed. Just because you're back in the promised land, that doesn't mean that I'm just going to bless you just because you're Jews. Oh, you're Jews and you're back in the promised land. You get an automatic blessing from God. He's saying, "No. Don't be like your fathers. I punished them for a reason and I'll punish you if you don't listen to preaching, if you don't serve the Lord."
People today are even mixed up on this where they think that just because the socalled Jews are back in the promised land that somehow God's going to bless them even though they don't even believe in Jesus. The Bible says if you don't have the son, you don't have the father. Look what the Bible says here in Zechariah chapter 1 verse 2. "The Lord hath been sore displeased with your fathers. Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; 'Turn ye unto me,' saith the Lord of hosts, 'and I will turn unto you,' saith the Lord of hosts." This is how God works. The Bible says in the New Testament, "Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you." He says, "Unto the pure, God will show himself pure. Unto the upright, God will show himself upright." The Bible says, "Unto the froward or wicked, God will show himself unsavory." God treats us the way that we treat him in many ways. It's just like the Bible says in Romans 1 of the reprobates. He says, "Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind to do those things which are not convenient." God says here, "Turn unto me and I'll turn unto you."
God doesn't just turn unto people who don't turn unto him. He doesn't just sit up in Heaven and say, "You know, I'm just going to turn to these people." No, no, no. You have to turn to God. He'll send preachers to call you back to God. He'll send prophets. He sent Jesus Christ into the world and we have his word and we have all of his words that resound through the ages. We have the New Testament in most major languages of the world. God's calling people but they have to turn to him before he'll turn. He says, "Turn unto me," sayeth the Lord of hosts, "and I'll turn unto you," sayeth the Lord of hosts.
Verse 4, "Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the Lord." "Don't be like that generation that I had to take into captivity and remove from the promised land because they did not listen to the preachers that I sent them," is what he's saying.
Verse 5, "Your fathers, where are they?" He's basically saying they're all dead. "And the prophets, do they live for ever? But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? And they returned and said, Like as the Lord of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us." Let me break that verse down to you verse 6 here.
First of all, he says, "Your fathers, where are they? The prophets, do they live forever?" He's saying everybody dies. But he's saying the word of God is eternal. The word of God endureth forever. Like it says on the wall right there. I'm pointing this out because that wall is going to get knocked down soon. I have to point this out while that wall is still there. We're actually expanding that way. "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the word of our God shall stand forever." He's saying God's word is the same now as it was when it came to your fathers. They're gone. The prophets that preached back then, they're gone, but the word of God is still the same. The same word that was preached then is the same word that was preached now. That's what Zechariah is being told here by the Lord.
It says here in verse 6, "But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? And they returned and said, Like as the Lord of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us."
What is he saying? He's saying first of all that when God's word was preached to their fathers, they disobeyed and they went captive as a result. But after they'd been taken captive after the punishment came, then the word that was spoken by the prophets took hold of them and they returned and got right with God, which is why their children now have been raised up in the ways of the Lord and are ready to come back and inherit the promised land once again. Does everybody understand that? That's why there's a difference between what he says in verse 4 and in verse 6. In verse 4, he's talking about how they disobeyed the prophets. That's why they went captive. Then in verse 6 is after they'd been punished. Now they're getting right with God.
Here's the moral of the story. Get right with God the first time you hear the preaching. Don't wait for the punishment to come because then it's too late. I mean, they're all dead now. At least their children get to go into the promised land. They got right with God in Babylon but when they got right with God in Babylon, that didn't change the fact that they're in Babylon. Then, it wasn't just automatic. "Oh, you guys are right with God now? Let's get you home." No, no no. They got to wait 70 years. Guess what happens after 70 years. You're not alive anymore after 70 years. The moral of the story here is that we need to heed the word of the Lord and not make him come and do horrible damage to our lives that's irreparable, that can't be fixed. Then all of a sudden, we're like, "Oh man. I should have listened to God."
Think about how many people are like this where they don't take heed unto the Lord, they won't listen to the word of God that's being preached, until some horrible thing happens in their lives and then all of a sudden, it's like, "Oh, I want to get right with God now." Sometimes, it's too late to undo some of the damage that's been done. Young people, don't wait until you go out and mess up your life and get pregnant out of wedlock or get some disease or get in some horrible car accident or something because God has to punish you because you're not listening to him and you're in rebellion against God's word. Let's not wait for God to have to come down on us before we listen to him. Let's just listen to him by his word.
That's why the Bible talks about how a reproof, which is basically a verbal correction, a reproof enters more into a wise man than a hundred strikes into a fool. A wise man, you just tell him verbally why he's wrong. You just preach the word of God to him and he gets it. A fool, you beat him a hundred times and he still doesn't get it. That's what the Bible is showing us here. Their fathers were a stubborn and stiff-necked people who eventually got the message, but it was only after they lost everything. They lost their land, many of them had lost their loved ones, many people were killed and they're enslaved in a foreign country.
Look what the Bible says in verse number 7. Verses 1 through 6 go together and then he kind of changes gears in verse 7. "Upon the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Sebat, in the second year of Darius." This is a totally different day that Zechariah is receiving this prophecy but it's in the same time period, same year. It says, "Came the word of the Lord unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, 'I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white. Then said I, "O my lord, what are these?" And the angel that talked with me said unto me, "I will show thee what these be." And the man that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, "These are they whom the Lord hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth." And they answered the angel of the Lord that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, "We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest."
Okay. What's going on with this? If we use scripture to interpret scripture, we could go to the book of Revelation to shed some light on this. Okay. Keep your finger there in Zechariah. Let's flip over to Revelation chapter 6.
Now, here's the thing about it. When Zechariah was preaching, they didn't have the luxury to flip over to Revelation like we do. We in the New Testament, we have a much greater understanding of Old Testament scriptures because we have the New Testament to help us interpret things. That's why it's called the book of Revelation because it's actually revealing things that were hidden in the past. It's like where all these cryptic prophecies were given unto Daniel and in Daniel chapter 12, he said he did not understand the things that were preached unto him. The angel tells Daniel, "Seal up the sayings of the book of this prophecy." He's saying, "This is not going to happen for a really long time. Just don't worry about the fact that you don't understand it." Whereas in Revelation 22 it says, "Seal not the sayings of the book of this prophecy for the time is at hand." Okay.
We in the New Testament have much more knowledge and understanding. In the Old Testament, they saw through a glass darkly. The did not have the detail that we have from the book of Revelation. It's like when Jesus talked about in, I believe, Matthew 13 where he says, "I'll utter things which have been keep secret since the foundation of the world." There are a lot of things revealed in the New Testament that were unknown in the Old Testament. Therefore, the best commentary on the Old Testament is the New Testament. You know, man has written all kinds of commentary on Daniel and Zechariah and Genesis. A lot of it contradicts the New Testament. We need to let the New Testament interpreted the Old Testament at all times.
When we think about a red horse and then it's being followed by a pale horse. These things sound family to us don't they if we know the book of Revelation. Look at Revelation chapter 6 in verse number 3. The Bible says we need to open the second seal. "I heard the second beast say, 'Come and see.' There went out another horse that was red and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the Earth and that they should kill one another. There was given unto him a great sword." Then if we want to look at the pale horse, we could look at verse 8 where it says, "I looked and behold a pale horse. His name that sat on him was Death and Hell followed with him and power was given unto them over the fourth part of the Earth to kill with sword and with hunger and with death and with the beasts of the Earth."
What is represented by the red horse? Well he that sits on the red horse has the power to take peace from the Earth and that they should kill one another. Now, we know that Revelation chapter 6 has to do with future events. This has to do with the time of the tribulation. Nevertheless, that's what the red horse represents, bringing in warfare, taking away peace from the Earth. What does the pale horse represent? Death. What is the result of warfare? Death. Hell follows with him. A lot of people die and go to Hell, unfortunately.
Look what the Bible says now in Zechariah chapter 1 with that in mind. He talks about how there's a man riding on a red horse, which we recognize from Revelation chapter 6 is being one who comes to take peace from the Earth. He comes to bring warfare that they might kill one another. What does the man on the red horse say in verse number 11? "They answered," they meaning the man on the red horse and those who follow with him on the speckled and white horses, et cetera. "They answered the angel of the Lord that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, 'We have walked to and fro through the Earth, and, behold, all the Earth sitteth still, and is at rest.'" This great host is there following the man on the red horse and they are reporting unto the angel that the Earth is at peace right now. Does everybody understand? What does the guy on the red horse do? He's there to take peace from the Earth, bring warfare. Let's keep reading now with that in mind.
Verse 12. "Then the angel of the Lord answered and said, 'O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years?'" He's saying, "You've been mad at Jerusalem, you've been mad at Judah, for 70 years. How long until you have mercy on them?"
Verse 13. "And the Lord answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words." Meaning that he's agreeing with him and he's telling him, "You're right. I am going to have mercy on Jerusalem. I am going to have mercy on Judah." Verse 14. "So the angel that communed with me said unto me, 'Cry thou,' saying, 'Thus saith the Lord of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy. And I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease. For I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction.'"
Let's break this down here. Who's at ease here? The heathen nations. These are the nations that attacked Jersulam and Judah, that took them captive, that have abused them for 70 years. God is saying, "I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are ease." Remember a couple verses ago, everybody's at rest, everything's peaceful, but there's warfare coming. Isn't there? There's that red horse being sent out by God. What this represents is that God is going to punish the nations that took the nation of Judah captive, that took the Jews captive for 70 years. Now God's going to punish them.
Now, if you read the book of Habakkuk, Habakkuk deals with this same subject. Habakkuk talks about the fact that God brought in a heathen nation to judge his people. That nation of Israel is his people. The nation of Judah are his people. Right? In the Old Testament, they were the chosen people. God uses a wicked heathen nation to come in and judge them. Habakkuk asks the question, Habakkuk chapter 1, "Why would you bring in a nation that's even more wicked than we are to judge us? They're worse than we are." God says, "No. I do use a more wicked nation, but then I'll turn around and judge that nation."
How this would apply today would be, for example, if we were to think of the United States. The United States in the past was a Christian nation in the sense that the vast majority of people in our nation in the past claimed the name of Christ. Now, even today, more than 50% of people in America would say that they're Christian. It doesn't really mean what it used to mean. You know, very few people are reading the Bible in comparison with past generations where your average American family did read the Bible and where people did believe in Jesus Christ or at least claim to believe in Christ. I'm not saying that most people where saved, but I'm saying that in general the culture was that we worshiped the Lord in this country, that the God of the Bible was our God, that Jesus Christ was considered the savior by our nation. It's sort of like the Old Testament nation of Israel. It's not like they were all saved either, but they were worshiping Jehovah. They weren't like the Philistines were Dagon was their god. You know, it's not like Uzbekistan today or it's not like Indonesia today where they're saying, "Islam is our religion and we're worshiping Allah and the prophet Muhammad."
The nation of the USA in the past was a very Christian nation. I'm not saying that we didn't do bad things or that there weren't a ton of unsaved people or false religions. The point is that our country, anyone would have agreed, is a Christian nation. The vast majority of people claimed the name of Christ. The founders of our nation are dropping Bible verses all the time. Even in courts of law, Bible verses were used to argue cases because it was considered that the word of God is the supreme authority of our land. In God we trust. It wasn't just some supreme being that they're worshiping. It was the God of the Bible. It was Jesus is who the founders of our country paid homage to, as least with their mouth, if not all of them with their hearts.
I mean, does everybody see what I'm saying? That it used to be a Christian nation? Whereas today though, we have drifted away from that where now we've institutionalized atheism in the public school system. The government schools teach atheism. They teach this religion of the Big Bang and evolution, which is a new religion. It's only been around for less than 200 years. They teach all these lies and they mock the Bible and criticize the Bible and so forth. As a result of us turning away from the Lord, what's going to be the result? When a nation worships the Lord and then they turn away from the Lord, what's going to be the result? God's going to send judgement, right? Here's the thing about that. God could even use a wicked nation. He's done it in the past. He'll bring in some wicked nation that's even worse than we are and he'll use that nation to judge us and he's done it in the past. He'll do it again. That's what he does.
You say, "Well, that doesn't seem right. Why would he bring in people that are worse than us to punish us?" That's just what he does. By the way, unto whom much is given of him so much be required. God expects us to know better since our fathers worshiped the Lord and the Bible has been in this country and the King James Bible has been in every bookstore in this country. Since the founding of our nation, we've had the word of God freely available and preachers and baptist churches all over the place everywhere. God expects more from us and he's going to give us a whipping if we don't get it right.
That's what's going on in the story here. God is at a phase now where he says, "I'm going to turn around and judge those who have taken you captive. They're at peace now. They're prospering now but I'm going to bring them down. I'm going to destroy them now." In verse 15, he says, "I'm very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease. For I was at a little displeased and they helped forward the affliction." What does affliction mean? What does it mean to afflict someone? Well, this word affliction is used about Egypt when they afflicted the children of Israel and made their lives bitter with hard bondage. That was affliction. Also this is used about the tribulation when Christians are being persecuted. That's known as affliction. Affliction is when you're being persecuted or your life's being made miserable or you're being enslaved or punished, whatever. What the Bible's saying here when it says, "I was but a little displeased and they helped forward the affliction." He's saying that, "I was upset with the Jews but they went too far," is what he's saying. "I'm going to punish them." They helped forward the affliction beyond what he had intended.
It says in verse 16, "Therefore thus saith the Lord, 'I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it', saith the Lord of hosts, 'and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem. Cry yet,' saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; 'My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the Lord shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.' Then lifted I up mine eyes, and saw, and behold four horns."
Now, here's one of the scriptures where people will start taking this out of context, not understanding the time frame that it's written in and try to misuse and corrupt this scripture. This is just indicative of what they do with the whole book of Zechariah. They'll take a scripture like this that says, "I'm returned to Jerusalem with mercies." Here's what they'll do. They'll just bring that to 2015. "In 2015, I'm returned to Jerusalem with mercies." No, no, no. That was then, this is now. Get the historical time frame.
They worshiped other gods. He'd been angry at them for 70 years straight. Plenty of scriptures about the anger, plenty of scriptures that we could go through in the book of Jeremiah and the book of Ezekiel where we read about the anger. Here's the thing. Now he's past that. Why is he past that? Because they got right with God. Because they got right with God, he says, "I'm returned to Jerusalem with mercies. I'm going to bless you now. I am going to spread abroad the cities with prosperity. I'm going to comfort Zion and I'm yet going to choose Jerusalem." Why? Because they're worshiping the Lord. You can't apply that to a time when they're not worshiping the Lord.
You say, "Well, this is just applicable to all times." Okay. Well, was this applicable like 70 years ago? Like 70 years before this was written was it applicable? No. He wasn't showing mercy. He was mad. He's angry. He's going to punish them. No, no, no. This has to be understood in the context of this chapter. There are so many scriptures in the book of Zechariah about this because it's written at this important time. It's written at this turning point, this key time when the children of Israel have been punished for 70 years straight and they just got right with God. He's saying, "Now, things are going to change. Things are going to go good for you now. I'm bringing you back to the promised land." People will try to take this to 1948. Here's the problem with that. They didn't turn to the Lord. This is not applicable.
This chapter is written to people who have turned to the Lord. This chapter is written to people who are not like their fathers, stiff-necked. No, no, no. They're listening to the prophets. They want the word of God. They love the Lord. You can't just be a God-hater and take this chapter and claim it as your own. "Oh, the Lord's going to have mercy of Jerusalem." As you reject the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let me tell you something. If you don't have Jesus, you have nothing. Jesus, in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. I mean, Jesus is the savior of the world. Jesus said, "If you don't believe that I am he, you'll die in your sins." "If you don't have the son, you don't have the father," the Bible says. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the father except by him.
You can't even talk to the father except by him. He won't even listen to you. You say, "Oh, excuse me, God the father." No. He's not listening. You must go through Jesus. If you're not willing to go through Jesus, you don't go to him. Period. See, we boldly approach the throne of grace, through Jesus, our high priest. Jesus, our advocate with the father. Without that advocate with the father, without Jesus, you can't even talk to God the father.
Listen to me, you can't even talk to him. Benjamin Netanyahu has never spoken to God in his life. Never. Oh, he might have thought he was talking to God, but God wasn't hearing a word because God will not listen to anyone who's not coming through Jesus. Period. The Bible says, "He that turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination." You know what the law does? It all points to Jesus. Jesus said, "Search the scriptures," talking about the Old Testament law. Then you think you have eternal life and they which be they which testify of me. Right?
The law in the Old Testament was the school master to point people to Christ, the Bible says. The law of God it all speaks of Christ. Here's what the Bible said, "If you believe Moses, you believe in me for he wrote of me." If these Jews today are rejecting the law of Moses as evidence by the fact that they don't believe in Jesus and as evidence by the fact that they don't even follow the books of Moses anyway, then their prayer is abomination at that point. You got to go through Jesus. Period. Jesus isn't just a way. He's a way to the father. You can come to the father through him. No, no, no. That's the only way to come to the father. That's the only way.
People are misusing these scriptures like for example where he says that he's going to build his house in it. He says in verse 16, "Therefore thus sayeth the Lord 'I'm returning to Jerusalem with mercies. My house shall be built in it.'" Preacher will say, "The temple's going to be rebuilt in it. God, certainly with mercies, he's bringing them back." Then he'll say, "Isn't it great? The scripture being fulfilled where he's going to gather them from all nations." What they don't understand is that this already happened.
Here's the thing about reading the Old Testament. It already happened. That's why it has old in front of it. Now, all scripture's given by inspiration of God is profitable for doctrine, which is why we're preaching through Zechariah tonight. We can learn things from this because God's nature never changes. God doesn't change, which means that if you turn to him tonight in 2015, he'll turn to you. If Benjamin Netanyahu turns to him, God will turn to him. It's going to be through Jesus. Period. I mean, it's not really that hard to understand this book. Is it? Once you break it down. There are people who just want to take verses out of context. They don't want to get the context. Second year of King Darius. That's what we're talking about here. Verse 1. This doesn't say 1947 or 1948. This is the second year of King Darius. God doesn't change in the sense that he'll always have mercy on those that turn to him. This isn't just a carte blanche for the Jews. Does everybody understand that?
Now, let's keep reading here in verse 18. It says, "Then lifted I up mine eyes, and saw, and behold four horns. And I said unto the angel that talked with me, 'What be these?' And he answered me, 'These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.'" Now you say, "What are we talking about now with these horns?" Well, again we got to let the Bible define itself. What do horns represent int he Bible?
First of all, animals have horns. Don't they? In fact, the Bible will talk about the horn of the unicorn. It talks about being exalted as the horn of the unicorn. Why? Because an animal that lifts up the horn is basically asserting its power. Well, if you study the Bible, the horns in the book of Daniel, another key book on prophecy, and the horns in the book of Revelation, what do they represent? They represent kings. The little horn in Daniel is a specific king. It talks about the seven heads and the ten horns. The ten horns, which thou sawest, are ten kings. If we let the Bible define itself, we understand that these horns are kings. The reason that the horn is used to represent a king is because just as a horn is a majestic feature that an animal such as a unicorn could have to show its power and its grandeur, this is how kings are. They're lifted up. They're ruling and reigning. That's why they're represented by horns in the Bible.
It says in verse 18, "Then lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and behold four horns. And I said unto the angel that talked with me, 'What be these?' And he answered me, 'These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.'" What we're actually talking about is four kings. Four kings that have scattered Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem. These horns could represent kings or the kingdoms that they rule over.
You say, "Which four kings are these?" Well, if he talks about them scattering Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem, maybe we could say that these horns are Assyria, Babylon, Media, and Persia. Basically the four nations that have held the children of Israel in captivity. Either way, whatever the four kings are he's talking about the fact that there are these four horns or four kings that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem. It says in verse 20, "The Lord showed me four carpenters. Then said I, 'What come these to do?' He spake saying, 'These are the horns which have scattered Judah so that no mad did lift up his head, but these are come to fray them and cast out the horns of the Gentiles which lifted up their horn.'" See what I mean about lifting up their horn? "Over the land of Judah to scatter it."
The whole chapter all fits together nicely here. In verses 1 through 6, he's just giving an introduction where he's just warning them. Why? Because he's going to spend the rest of the chapter giving them good news. He's going to spend verse 7 all the way through verse 21 giving them the good news about how the four horns that have scattered them, these four kings are going down. God's going to bring judgment upon the heathen. They're at rest now, they're at ease now, they're taking it easy now, but God's going to bring punishment on them. He was displeased with Jerusalem and Judah, but they helped forward the affliction. They took even further in their wicked. They need to be punished now. He's got good news.
In verses 1 through 6, he's warning them before he gives them the good news. He's warning them, "Hey, don't let this go to your head, people. Don't be like your fathers because, guess what, I punished them and I'll punish you. If you want me to turn to you, you have to turn to me." That's why he spends verses 1 through 6 telling them that. He doesn't want to just come to them with the message in verses 7 through 21. "Hey, you're coming back. God's going to bless you. God chooses you once again and God's going to still choose Jerusalem. The house is going to be built." He doesn't want them to think that it's just a foregone conclusion and that's it's just a carte blanche and that's it's just anything goes. No. He's telling them, "Because you're doing right, because you've sought me, that's why you're coming back and it's conditional." The promises made to the nation of Israel made in the Old Testament were conditional upon their obedience, contrary to popular belief. The land grant was conditional. That's why he keeps taking them out of it. If it was unconditional, then what gives him the right to keep removing them? What gives him the right to bring in a bunch of foreigners to attack them when they don't do it right? It was always conditional on their obedience.
Now, you know what. Salvation is a free gift that's unconditional. Once we believe on Christ, it's a done deal. Nothing can change our salvation physically. Once we're saved, we have eternal life. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. He'll never leave us or forsake us. It's unconditional at that point. Let me tell you something though. God's blessing upon a nation is always conditional. See, when I got saved, when you got saved, we got saved eternally. We can never lose our salvation. When God blesses a nation, he doesn't bless it eternally. When the United States was honoring Jesus Christ and honoring the Bible, God blessed the United States. It wasn't just an eternal promise where America can never do wrong again and America will never be destroyed. No, no, no. It's conditional upon America's obedience. When America turns away from the Lord as we have and begins to promote sodomy and promote abortion and promote atheism and promote wickedness, then guess what. God's going to turn on us. He's going to destroy us and pour out his wrath. It's very clear in the Bible. That's the purpose of verses 1 through 6 was to let them know this was conditional upon your obedience and upon you listening to the preaching of God's word and taking heed unto it.
Then in verse 7, he has the vision of the red horse and the host that follows him. What's their purpose? To bring judgement, to bring war to those that are at ease, the heathen that God's angry with. Who are those heathens? The four horns, those who have scattered the children of Judah.
The part about the horses and the part about the horns, it's all saying the same thing. In a nutshell, here's what this chapter is saying. "Your fathers disobeyed me. I brought them into Babylon, into captivity for 70 years. I scattered them into other nations. They turned to me. That's why you're coming back, because they turned to me. If you will turn to me, then I'll turn to you. If you will not be stiff-necked and hardhearted as your fathers were, then I'll bless you. Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to punish the nations that did this to you. I'm going to bring warfare upon them and I'm going to bring them down from their high and lofty place."
This chapter, even though on the surface it seems like kind of a tough chapter, doesn't it? When you read the book of Zechariah, on the surface it can seem kind of cryptic. If you're reading, you're like, "Whoa, the speckled horses and the red horses and the horns and the carpenters and just forget this. Show me the gospel of John. Where's the proverb of the day?" You can see that once you dig into it though, it actually makes really good sense. It's actually pretty logical and easy to understand once you compare scripture with scripture.
Notice, I didn't turn to any commentaries tonight. No Scofield reference Bible up the sleeve or anything. No commentaries. All I did was just compare it with New Testament. You know what? That's always going to be our best interpretation of the book of Zechariah. All 14 chapters. Let's go to the New Testament. A lot of people, they just want to hang out in the Old Testament. They need to get into the New Testament. The Old Testament's profitable, but it needs to be viewed through the lens of the New Testament in order to get a clear picture. Otherwise, you're looking through a glass darkly and, you know what, you're just the blind leading the blind if you don't shine the light of the book of Revelation and shine the light of Paul's epistles and just let that spotlight of the New Testament illuminate the Old Testament scriptures unto us. If we do that, if we go to Revelation, this makes great sense. The whole book is like that.
Let's bow our heads and have a word of prayer.
Father, we thank you so much for the book of Zechariah, Lord. One of the books that many people would consider a very difficult book, Lord. But through your spirit, Lord, and comparing spiritual things with spiritual, we can understand this book no problem. Lord, I pray that you would just bless your people and I pray that people would be faithful over the next 13 weeks of coming on Wednesday nights, Lord, be faithful to understand this important book. It's relevant today, Lord, for so many reasons. It's extremely relevant and I pray that everyone would be faithful to church and learn this material. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.