11-3-1 Zechariah Chapters 1-3
The first half of this prophecy is packed with Angelic language and insight into exactly how the Angels scattered and restored the Jews. The allusions to Angelic activity appear to diminish in the second half of the prophecy, as the emphasis shifts away from the primary fulfilment in the restoration to the more glorious regathering of Israel and the establishment of the Kingdom.
Zechariah Chapter 1
v. 3 "Thus saith the Lord of Hosts (Angels); Turn ye unto Me, saith the Lord of Hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts".
The triple repetition of "Lord of Hosts" clearly points towards the Angels. 'Turning' back to God has the implication of patching up a marriage: "If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again?. . . yet return again unto Me, saith the Lord" (Jer. 3:1). This is similar to Jer. 31:32 and Mal. 2:14 already considered, where again in an Angelic context God, through the Angel, implies He would be justified in divorcing Israel.
Mal. 3:7 seems a parallel passage : "Even from the days of your fathers (cp. Zech. 1:2,4,5) ye re gone away from Mine ordinances (given by an Angel), and have not kept them. Return unto Me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts" (Angels).
v. 4 "The former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the Lord of Hosts"- Angels responsible for inspiration. "They did not hear"- alluding to Jer. 34:14, where the context is about the keeping of bondmen. This was a problem during the restoration period (Neh. 5:1-12).
v. 6 "Like as the Lord of Hosts (Angels) thought to do unto us. . so hath He dealt with us"- as if the idea came into the Lord's mind and He decided to act on it; the language of limitation, surely, seeing the 'logos' was with God Himself from the beginning.
v. 8-11 "A man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees"- defined in v. 10,11 as an Angel: "O my Lord, What are these? And the Angel that talked with me said. . . they answered the Angel of the Lord that stood among the myrtle trees". The red, speckled and white horses behind him (1:8; 6:2-7) would therefore also appear to be ridden by Angels- indeed they are called "the four spirits (Angels; Ps. 104:4) of the Heavens" in 6:5. The horse riders of Rev. 6 are clearly based on this vision in Zech. 6, and they would therefore be Angels. Zech. 6:5 describes the horses as "standing before the lord of the whole earth"- the mighty Angel of the Cherubim that stands for the land (earth) of Israel. In 1:8 they are behind Him, although He then sends them out to survey the state of the land of Israel. They return to Him, reporting that "we have walked to and fro throughout the earth (land), and behold, all the earth sitteth still and is at rest". Is there any reason to doubt that these Angels literally walked about in the land, albeit unseen, at a similar speed to which we walk? They walked "to and fro" because it is not in their ability to know the exact situation of a country just from a cursory glance. The comment of the Angel on this was: "I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease" (v. 15)- that were sitting at rest in God's land. This scenario is similar to that in 1 Kings 22, where Angels come and go from God, reporting back information and receiving commands, showing how much the Angel in the myrtle trees, "the Lord of all the earth" (land), was a representation of God Himself.
v. 12 "The Angel of the Lord answered and said, O Lord of Hosts, how long wilt Thou not have mercy on Jerusalem"- an Angel praying 'O God of us Angels. . '? Angels have the same problems grappling with time periods as we do! Notice it was the "Lord of Hosts" (Angels) who "had indignation these threescore and ten years" against Jerusalem.
v. 13 "And the Lord (of Hosts) answered the Angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words". These words of comfort therefore came from a "comforter"- the title of Israel's Angel (see Chapter 13). There must surely be a highly significant connection here with Is. 40, the start of Isaiah's prophecies concerning the restoration:
"Comfort ye My people, saith your God" (Is. 40:11)- the God of Israel was manifested through an Angel. "Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her appointed time (the 70 years) is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned" (40:2). Zechariah explains how the Angels spoke comfortably to Jerusalem, enabling the restoration. "Comfortably" means literally 'to the heart'- and we have seen that the Angel, "the good hand of. . God" acted upon the hearts of Ezra and Nehemiah, stirring up the spirit of Cyrus, to enable the restoration. Nehemiah actually means 'Comfort of Yah'; 'Nehemiah ye, Nehemiah ye My people'. The Angel spoke comfort to Jerusalem through the words and work of Nehemiah.
Jerusalem had by the end of 70 years " received of the Lord's hand (the Angel) double for all her sins". Is. 40 can therefore be seen as the Angel preparing the way for Cyrus' decree. This is confirmed by the similarities between Is. 45 concerning Cyrus and Is. 40:
v. 3,4 "Prepare ye the way… make straight in the desert a highway. . . the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain".
v. 1,2,13 "Thus saith the Lord to Cyrus. . I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight. . . I will make straight all his ways. . he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives"
Notice too the emphasis in both chapters on the natural creation.
Indeed, Cyrus is closely identified with the Angel using him; "He is my shepherd. . . saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built" (Is. 44:28), exactly as the Angel-shepherd (Is. 63:9-11; Ps. 80:1) of Israel said. This explains why an Angel can be called "the prince of Persia" in Dan. 10:13. Is it an 'undesigned coincidence' (not that any exist in Holy Scripture anyway) that John the baptist and his disciples (cp. Elijah's school of prophets) are called Angels (Mal. 3:1; Lk. 7:24)? It is as if the same Angel worked through Nehemiah and Cyrus to "prepare. . . the way" as worked through John years later.
Malachi 4 is relevant to all this. It speaks of "The Lord of Hosts" (Angels); notice the triple repetition of this phrase in the few verses of the chapter, and the reference to this Lord giving the Mosaic Law in v. 4; which was Angelic work. The Angel says that the day was coming upon Israel when the earth (land) would be smitten with a curse (4:6), and a day of fiery trial would result in them not being left "root nor branch" (4:1). These are both clear titles of Christ. The Angel can change His mind, we know. It seems that the Angel is threatening to totally cast off Israel and leave them without even the hope of Christ, the root and branch which had previously been promised to Israel in their times of lowest spiritual ebb (e. g. in the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Zechariah) to remind them that although they sinned, a root and branch in the person of Christ would still arise to save them. Such a threat cannot have been made by God Himself, who knew from the beginning the nature of His purpose with natural Israel as the seed of Abraham His friend. This Angel warned Israel that "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet. . lest I come and smite the earth (land) with a curse" (v. 5,6). Elijah being sent by an Angel here in Mal. 4 confirms our interpretation of Is. 40- that Cyrus and the Elijah prophet were sent by an Angel.
v. 14 "Thus saith the Lord of Hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion (the temple) with a great jealousy". "Jealous" being the same Hebrew word translated "zealous", we see the tremendous zeal of the Angels for the restoration. Hence the ability of Ezra and Zerubbabel to achieve so much, seeing that they worked with the Angel. The pathetic, half hearted response of the Jews due to their obsession with materialism as decried by Haggai, Malachi, Ezra and Nehemiah must have been so 'frustrating' for the Angels, who were willing to provide so much power and success for those who would whole-heartedly commit themselves to the work. How many similarities with the new Israel?
v. 16 "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". As the Jews literally returned to Jerusalem, the Angel too physically returned to "My house"- where He used to live. To some limited degree the Angel must have literally been in the temple- as Ez. 40 prophesied would happen. However, in the same way as the temple described by Ezekiel was not built on the scale intended by the Angels because of Israel's apathy, so maybe the Angelic presence too was greatly diminished to what it could have been. The presence of the temple Angel in Lk. 1 indicates that He was there to some degree. The Lord of Hosts stretched the line upon Jerusalem by the Angel surveying and measuring Jerusalem as described in Zech. 2, Rev. 11 and Ez. 40-47.
v. 18,19 "Four horns. . . which have scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem". The number four is associated with the four cherubim Angels- the four types of Angel-controlled punishment explained elsewhere in these studies.
v. 20,21 "Four carpenters. . . are come to fray them (the four horns), to cast out the horns of the Gentiles, which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah to scatter it". The four carpenter Angels "frayed" the horn Angels which had scattered Israel. For another example of Angels casting out other Angels from a previous position, see 'Angels and the ending of the Law' in Chapter 12. The Hebrew for 'fray' means 'to hasten (with anxiety), to frighten'. Thus one group of Angels hastens the fulfilment of other Angels' work; hence in v. 12 an Angel prayed to the Lord of Hosts (Angels) encouraging them to end their indignation because the 70 years were ended. Similarly the Comforter Angel says that Jerusalem has "received of the Lord's hand (Angel) double (i. e. too much?) for all her sins" (Is. 40:2), and that her warfare ('appointed time') has ended, or expired. The phrase "appointed time" is the same word translated "host", used concerning the Angels, thus indicating that the period of the captivity was under Angelic control. Thus Dan. 10:1 also points out that "the time appointed was long"- implying too long, seeing that "the thing was true"?. This helps us to explain Angels being in some ways in opposition to each other in Daniel, e. g. the Angel prince of Persia withstanding another Angel in His action because of the need to execute a certain time period first.
Zechariah Chapter 2
This chapter exemplifies the relationships between the Angels in implementing God's purpose. Chapter 1 has described the continuing sins of the Jews, and the Angelic actions in punishing both the Jews (by the four horse-Angels), and their oppressors by the four carpenter-Angels. In chapter 2 an Angel begins to prepare judgements on Jerusalem, but is interrupted by another Angel who describes God's plan to restore Jerusalem, and quickly corrects the impression made on Zechariah by the first Angel.
v. 1 "A man with a measuring line"- the Angel of 1:16; cp. Ez. 40:3; 47:3; Rev. 21:15-17 and the idea of "the measure of a man, that is an Angel". Measuring is a figure of judgement- e. g. "judge not. . . for with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you" (Mt. 7:12); "shall I come unto you with a (measuring) rod?" (i. e. in judgement- 1 Cor. 4:21).
v. 3 continues: "The Angel (i. e. the one doing the measuring) that talked with me went forth, and another Angel went out to meet him, and said unto him, Run (i. e. run back), speak to this young man (the observing Zechariah), saying, Jerusalem shall yet be inhabited".
The Angelic language continues: "Thus saith the Lord of Hosts (Angels). . . I will come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee" (v. 8,10)- i. e. the Angel would physically return to Jerusalem (the temple? In which case this has yet to be fulfilled). The primary fulfilment of this was in the return from Babylon- the Angel led them back across the deserts, physically moving with them, to enter Jerusalem. This would explain the restoration from Babylon in terms of the wilderness journey and the Angel's guidance of them then- because this very same Angel was involved in leading them through a different wilderness, back to Israel.
v. 5 especially has reference to the Angels' part in the restoration: "I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her". As the Angel had been a pillar of protecting fire to Israel previously, He would be to them instead of a physical wall as they started rebuilding Jerusalem amidst great opposition, with no physical wall to protect them.
Zechariah Chapter 3
A theme of Zechariah's early prophecies is the opposition between groups of people, individuals or Angels who want to rebuild the temple and restore Israel, and adversaries to them. Thus in chapter 1 there are the carpenters opposed to the horns, and the Angel who wants to measure (judge) Jerusalem being countermanded by the Angel who decrees that Jerusalem is to be inhabited in chapter 2. This is continued in chapter 3 by the vision of Joshua and satan standing before the Angel. It is suggested that this 'satan' is an Angel (we are familiar with satan Angels from 1 Chro. 21:1 and Num. 22:22 at least); this is because groups of people, even evil ones, have their viewpoint represented or brought to the notice of the court of Heaven by a satan Angel- a 'devil's advocate', as it were!
The satan Angel "resists" the Angel representing Joshua. The resisting was during the 21 year period when the temple rebuilding was suspended (Ezra 4:24). This corresponds to the 21 days (years), during which the Angel prince of Persia resisted Gabriel's work of rebuilding (Dan. 10:13). Taking this further, this 21 day-year period is the same as the three weeks (21 days) which Daniel spent praying for the rebuilding to commence. Somehow- and the complexity of the situation is well beyond the present writer- the period Daniel spent praying was over-ruled; there is a sense of time in the court of Heaven, and probably will be in the Kingdom too (e. g. Zech. 14:16). His prayer was answered from the first day he prayed (Dan. 10:12), but despite one Angel being eager to answer it, another opposed it. Why. . . how. . ?
v. 1 "And He shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and satan standing at His right hand to resist him". The prayers offered by Joshua the high priest came before the Angel to whom all prayers go initially, in the form of an Angel presenting his case; whilst the satan Angel opposed Him. He was a satan by reason of representing the Samaritan opposition. In our notes on Jer. 24:1 we suggested that the two baskets of figs placed before the Angel in the temple laid the basis for this vision. The baskets represented the faithful and apostate Jews. The Joshua Angel would have represented the faithful Jews eager to rebuild Jerusalem, whilst the satan Angel would represent the apostates whose very existence militated against God answering the prayers of the rest of Israel. Does the same principle apply to Israel after the spirit- that the apostasy and apathy of some hinders the answering of the common prayers of the others? And our common prayer is surely for the second coming and the greater restoration of the true temple.
v. 2 "And the Lord said unto satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee". The Angel-Lord (Jude 9) says that despite the sins of the bad figs in Israel and the opposition of the Samaritans, His choice of rebuilding Jerusalem will stand. Jude 8-10 lends support to this line of interpretation. Jude says that Michael the Archangel did not "bring a railing accusation" against the satan Angel, nor did He "despise dominion" (another Angel-ruler) or "speak evil of glories" (AV:"dignities"; the same word is in Jude 24 "the presence of His glory"- the Angels). This marked lack of aggression which Jude emphasizes shows that there was no conflict between the Angels, as may be wrongly inferred from the severity of the English word "rebuke".
Our demeanour generally, especially with each other when it is necessary to have divergent opinions, or to correct others' ways of executing God's purpose as they see it, should be done in the same mutually loving spirit. Notice how Jude 8 links the satan of Zech. 3 with a "dominion"- a ruler or 'prince'. The satan Angel who resisted the Joshua Angel for 21 days is "the prince of Persia" in Dan. 10:13. "The Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee; is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?". Another allusion in Jude (v. 23) interprets this: "Others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh". The implication is that the Angel just about decided in favour of saving Jerusalem out of the 'fire' of eternal punishment (cp. Jer. 17:27) for her sins- He had "compassion, making a difference" (v. 22). The "garment spotted by the flesh" must connect with the "filthy garments" worn by Joshua as he came into the Angel's presence.
v. 4,5 The Angel "answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee. . so they (the Angels that stood by). . . clothed him with garments. And the Angel of the Lord stood by".
Does this mean that the Angel commanded other Angels to arrange Joshua's forgiveness and to end his being "polluted from the priesthood" (due to lack of proven ancestry and the high priestly garments), in order that the prayers he presented should be more powerful? This would explain why he was given both a mitre and garments (v. 5). In passing, why did Zechariah suggest giving him a mitre (v. 5)? The greater Joshua was also clothed with a change of nature by the Angels (as outlined in Rev. 4 and 5).
v. 7 "Thus saith the Lord of Hosts (Angels); If thou wilt walk in My ways, and if thou wilt keep Mine ordinance (of Lev. 18:30 about the abominations of the surrounding nations). . . thou shalt also judge My house. . . My courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these (Angels) that stand by".
"My house" refers to the Angel dwelling in the temple; the offer of places to walk among the Angels is the same idea as being "made equal unto the Angels" in Lk. 20:35,36.
v. 8 "I will bring forth My servant the Branch". As shown earlier, it would seem that an Angel was personally associated with arranging the advent of Jesus, as He arranged that of Zerubbabel, the type. Ps. 80 has a clear Angelic context; it describes the God of Hosts, His right hand, making "the branch. . . strong for Thyself" (i. e. so Jesus could fully reconcile them with God?).
v. 9 "I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. . . saith the Lord of Hosts" (Angels). Again, the ability of an Angel to arrange forgiveness of sins.