Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 28th, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Bible Commentaries
Zechariah 1

Sermon Bible CommentarySermon Bible Commentary

Verses 5-6

Zechariah 1:5-6

I. Consider, first, the solemn and yet familiar thought here of the passing away of the hearers and the speakers alike.

II. Notice, next, the contrast between the fleeting hearers and speakers and the abiding word. There is nothing so transient as the words that are spoken by Christian teachers. Of all the seed that is sown, our Master taught us that three-fourths, at least, was likely to perish. And even where the word takes root in men's hearts, how swiftly the speaker of it passes and is forgotten! And yet, in all these fleeting and mingled human utterances, does there not lie an immortal and imperishable centre, even the word of the living God? The word of the Lord endureth for ever, and this enduring word is that story of Christ's incarnation, death for our sins, resurrection, and ascension, which by the Gospel is preached unto you.

III. Consider the witness of the past generations to the immortal word.

Our prophet is speaking to the men who returned from exile, and he appeals to them concerning the history of the preceding generations which had been carried away into captivity, according to the threatenings of the pre-exilian prophets. And, says Zechariah in effect, though the prophets' words no more sound, and the men that heard them are stiff in death, that past generation is a witness that even through human lips and to careless ears a word is preached that will be fulfilled.

A. Maclaren, Christian Commonwealth, December 9th, 1886.

Verses 7-17

Zechariah 1:7-17

The rider in the myrtle grove.

I. The prophet saw a grove of myrtle trees in a hollow or low place. By the myrtle grove all are agreed is signified the covenant people, the nation of Israel, and by its being in a low place is indicated their depressed and sad condition. In the Hebrew mind the idea of modest beauty and freshness was associated with the myrtle, and hence we find this introduced as symbolical of the Church under the reign of the Messiah, when, "instead of the briar," the symbol of the world under the curse, "shall come up the myrtle tree" (Isaiah 55:13 ).

II. The mounted rider, though in appearance as a man, is described as the angel of Jehovah. By this appellation is designated in Scripture a being who on various occasions appeared to men, and who, though coming forth as the angel or messenger of Jehovah, is at the same time represented as a Divine being, having the power of God, receiving the honours due only to God, and exercising the proper functions of the Almighty (cf. Genesis 16:7-14 , Genesis 22:11-19 , Genesis 21:11 , etc., Genesis 48:15-16 ; Exodus 13:2 , Exodus 23:20-21 ; Joshua 5:13-15 ). A comparison of these passages leads to the conclusion that the angel of Jehovah is none other than God manifest in human form, the Being who, as the Captain of the Lord's host, led up Israel to Canaan, the Being who came forth to execute vengeance on the enemies of the covenant people, and who was known to Israel as their Protector and Advocate. That this Being is the same who in the fulness of time came to our world as the Angel of the Covenant the teachings of the New Testament lead us confidently to believe.

III. For the consolation and encouragement of the people, the prophet had to tell them that, depressed as was their condition, the Angel of the Lord, the Leader, the Protector, the Redeemer of Israel, was still in the midst of them. He was there, standing and still, but ready to ride forth in their defence, and to send judgments on their adversaries, which was indicated by the vision of His being mounted on a red horse, the symbol of war and bloodshed. He is also with them as their Intercessor with God. Hence He appears in this vision as making intercession for them, beseeching God to have pity on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah; and, now that the time of chastisement was at an end, that He would be gracious to them, grant them full restoration and establishment in their own land.

W. Lindsay Alexander, Zechariah's Visions and Warnings, p. 1; see also Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., p. 61.

References: Zechariah 1:8 . Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 270. Zechariah 1:8-21 . Ibid., Sermons, vol. x., No. 598. Zechariah 1:12 , Zechariah 1:13 . Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 55.

Verses 18-21

Zechariah 1:18-21

I. As physical emblems of force, horns are in the prophetic visions representative of earthly powers or kingdoms. The number four, in its prophetic acceptation, is the signature of the world, and is used here to indicate powers coming on every side or from all quarters. As in the former vision the riders were represented as having gone over the whole earth and found all quiet, so here all the earthly powers hostile to the people of God are, in general, indicated by the four horns.

II. As the prophet continued to look, Jehovah showed him rather caused him to see four workmen or artificers, and informed him that the workmen had come to frighten away, or discomfit and cast down, these oppressors. "These are come to fray them." In modern usage the verb "fray" signifies to rub or file down, but in old English it is used in the sense of terrify or frighten. The four workmen do not symbolise four special powers by which the enemies of Judah were to be discomfited and cast down; as the horns were four, so an equal number of workmen came to indicate the completeness of the overthrow of the enemies of Judah. Each horn has its destined destroyer.

III. What was thus showed for the comfort of the people of God in the old time is no less for the comfort and encouragement of the Church in all ages and places. The Angel of the Lord, the Divine Redeemer, abides for ever with that Church which He hath purchased with His blood. And exalted as He is to the throne of His glory, having all power in heaven and on earth, He can send forth at any time agencies by which the power of the Church's enemies shall be broken and all their forces routed. It behoves the Church, then, to have faith in her exalted Head, and patiently to wait for Him.

W. Lindsay Alexander, Zechariah's Visions and Warnings, p. 17; see also Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., p. 220.

References: Zechariah 1:20 . Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 342.Zechariah 2:1-5 . Ibid., Sermons, vol. x., No. 604.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Zechariah 1". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/sbc/zechariah-1.html.
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