Eight Visions in Zechariah

Zechariah prophesies during the reign of Darius, emperor of Persia (after the Babylon was conquered by Persia). God’s word comes unto Zechariah, and God blames the people of Israel’s fathers for moral transgressions, and He commands the people of Israel to turn back to Him. Zechariah experiences a series of apocalyptic visions from God, with one of His “attendants” or “angels” as the King James translates the term. In each of the visions, a phrase is repeated in the King James translation as Zechariah ‘lifts his eyes’ to see the visions (in total there are eight complete visions). Some have suggested that all the visions take place within a single night (excluding the visions in chapter 7 and 8 which take place two years later), and that they represent a poetic history of Israel. The name Zechariah means something like “God remembered.”

Zechariah recounts speaking with an angel of the Lord, as he experiences a vision at night of a man riding a red horse with other red horses behind him among myrtle trees (1:7-11). God expresses his mercy toward to Israel, and Zechariah sees four horns representing Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem, along with a man measuring the length and breadth of Jerusalem.

Next, he sees the high priest Joshua dressed in filthy cloths beside Satan (“the adversary”) as God rebukes Satan. The angel awakens Zechariah, and Zechariah describes seeing a golden candlestick with a bowl on top of it and seven lamps and seven pipes, beside two olive trees. The vision, according to the Lord, represents the need to complete the temple (recall the plea made by Haggai) to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah (Chapter 4). He sees the vision of a flying roll, representing the sin of stealing, and a woman representing wickedness (Chapter 5). Then he sees four differently colored charioteers as they make their way throughout the earth (6:1-8) -this image will be later expanded upon in the book of Revelation as the popular image of the ‘four horsemen of the apocalypse.’

He prophesies of God’s jealousy and that His people (Israel) will return in prosperity. Many of his prophecies closely mirror the words in the book of Haggai. Book 1-8 of Zechariah contain a more consistent message, and series of visions, while books 9-14 could easily have been plagiarized directly from Ezekiel or Haggai, considering the similar language. However, unlike Haggai, Zechariah does not write directly to anyone in attempt to persuade them to rebuild the temple, instead his message is to the people. Latter Christian theologians interpret the book as a messianic prophecy. In the “minor prophets” we find increasingly frequent use of the phrase “the Day of the Lord.”

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