a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

Israel Urged to Repent


In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the L ord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berechiah son of Iddo, saying: 2The L ord was very angry with your ancestors. 3Therefore say to them, Thus says the L ord of hosts: Return to me, says the L ord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the L ord of hosts. 4Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the former prophets proclaimed, “Thus says the L ord of hosts, Return from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.” But they did not hear or heed me, says the L ord. 5Your ancestors, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? 6But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your ancestors? So they repented and said, “The L ord of hosts has dealt with us according to our ways and deeds, just as he planned to do.”

First Vision: The Horsemen

7 On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the L ord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berechiah son of Iddo; and Zechariah said, 8In the night I saw a man riding on a red horse! He was standing among the myrtle trees in the glen; and behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses. 9Then I said, “What are these, my lord?” The angel who talked with me said to me, “I will show you what they are.” 10So the man who was standing among the myrtle trees answered, “They are those whom the L ord has sent to patrol the earth.” 11Then they spoke to the angel of the L ord who was standing among the myrtle trees, “We have patrolled the earth, and lo, the whole earth remains at peace.” 12Then the angel of the L ord said, “O L ord of hosts, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with which you have been angry these seventy years?” 13Then the L ord replied with gracious and comforting words to the angel who talked with me. 14So the angel who talked with me said to me, Proclaim this message: Thus says the L ord of hosts; I am very jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion. 15And I am extremely angry with the nations that are at ease; for while I was only a little angry, they made the disaster worse. 16Therefore, thus says the L ord, I have returned to Jerusalem with compassion; my house shall be built in it, says the L ord of hosts, and the measuring line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem. 17Proclaim further: Thus says the L ord of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity; the L ord will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.

Second Vision: The Horns and the Smiths

18 And I looked up and saw four horns. 19I asked the angel who talked with me, “What are these?” And he answered me, “These are the horns that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.” 20Then the L ord showed me four blacksmiths. 21And I asked, “What are they coming to do?” He answered, “These are the horns that scattered Judah, so that no head could be raised; but these have come to terrify them, to strike down the horns of the nations that lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter its people.”

But we must join the latter part, — that God showed also to the Prophet four smiths, for these two visions are connected together. Whosoever then takes only the first part, acts very absurdly, for the meaning of the prophecy will not be thus evident. If then we would not mutilate what is connected, we must not separate what is added respecting the four smiths. Inasmuch then as the Jews had been on every side oppressed, God shows that he has remedies enough, and even from various quarters. The Prophet had seen four horns; he now sees four smiths, that is, he is made to know that God can immediately find means to check all disorders and tumults; for he can beat as it were on an anvil these horns, and break in pieces those which had previously scattered the Jews. The same view then is to be taken of the number four as in the former instance: for as the Chaldeans had raged against the Jews, so the Lord shows that he had enemies ready at hand, as he had already in part made it evident; for how was it that the Persian and Medes had so suddenly taken possession of Babylon, had they not been workmen whom God had employed to strike down the Babylonian horn? And whence was it that the Syrians, the Egyptians, and other nations had been made prostrate? It was because they were horns. But the Lord broke down the ferocity of so many nations by his many workmen, for he employed these as though they were hired and ready to do his service. We now apprehend the real object of the Prophet.

But though the Prophet intended by this prophecy to encourage and animate to patience his own nation, as the Spirit of God had given him this office; yet there is here set before us by the Lord as in a mirror, the real condition of the Church at this day. Let us not then wonder if the world rage on every side against the Church and if storms and tempests arise from the east as well as from the west: nor is it a new thing that many enemies from various parts unite together; and that God’s Church should thus have to bear many assaults. This is one thing. In the meantime let this be our consolation, — that God has many smiths at hand. Very apposite is the Prophet’s metaphor; for the hardiness of the horns was formidable LO the Jews; but the Prophet intimates that there is hardness in the hammers, capable of breaking in pieces all horns. God then, though we may be struck by our enemies, will find smiths to break them in pieces; and this indeed is what we have found by experience. How comes it, that the small number of those who purely worship God continue to exist, notwithstanding the rage of enemies, and in spite of so many consultations and devices? For what do all monarchies desire more, or with greater avidity, than to extinguish the memory of the gospel? If then we enquire, what is the condition of the whole world at this day, we shall find that there is hardly a city or a people, or a monarch, or even one of the least princes, whose race is not exhibited against the Church. How then comes it, that they do not put forth their strength and demolish the Church, which by one breath might a hundred times fall to the ground? How is this, except that God by his handlers breaks the horns, and that by means of smiths?

VIEWNAME is study