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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.”

Zechariah now mentions the chief consolation to which he had referred; for it would not have been sufficient to say in general, and in a few words without explanation, that God gave a kind answer to the angel. For we know how strong were those temptations with which the faithful had to struggle. It was then needful for them to be furnished, not with light weapons, in so arduous a contest. This is the reason why Zechariah more fully expressed the words by which God then strengthened the faith of his people.

He says that the angel had spoken; and he thus intimates that the consolation was not given privately to the angel that he might keep it in his own bosom, but convey it to the whole people. This was not then a secret consolation but what the Lord intended to be proclaimed by his Prophets, according to what is said by Isaiah in the passage to which we have already referred — “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people saith your God.”

What God says, that he was moved with great zeal for Jerusalem and Sion, 2424     Marckius and Henderson have followed this rendering of Calvin, and on the ground of a distinction between [ל] and [ב] following the verb here when followed by [ל] as well as by [ב], see 1 Kings 20:10,14; Psalm 106:16. Our version, followed by Blayney and Newcome, is to be preferred here. There are two kinds of jealousy, as observed by Blayney: the one for disloyalty an unfaithful wife, Proverbs 6:34; and another for the honor and welfare of those whom we love when they are oppressed and wronged, Joel 2:18. God might have been said to be jealous for Jerusalem on either of these accounts. — Ed. is according to the common language of Scripture. For as God cannot otherwise sufficiently express the ineffable favor which he has towards his elect he is pleased to adopt this similitude, that he undertakes the defense of his people according to what is done by a husband who fights with the greatest zeal for his own wife. This is the reason why he says that he was zealous for Jerusalem. And we ought especially to notice this mode of speaking, that we may not think that God is indifferent when he delays and defers his aid: for as we are hasty in our wishes so we would have God to be precipitant in the same manner; and we impute to him indifference when he does not hasten according to our desires. These doubts God checks when he testifies that he is zealous: for he intimates that his slowness did not proceed from neglect or because he despised or disregarded them; but that there was another reason why he held them in suspense. We may therefore be fully persuaded that even when God withholds his aid he is not otherwise affected towards us than the best of fathers towards his own children; and further that the signs of his love do not appear because it is not always expedient for us to be delivered soon from our troubles. Let this then be our shield against all hasty desires, so that we may not indulge our too ardent wishes, or think that our salvation is neglected by God, when he hides himself for a time and does not immediately stretch forth his hand to help us. It follows —

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