Would you please explain the Vision of the Horses, as described in Zechariah 1:8-11


We explained in an earlier Q&A on Zechariah’s vision of the four chariots (in Zechariah 6:1-8), as well as in our free booklet, “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World,” that the horses mentioned in this first vision, as well as other visions in the book of Zechariah, describe angels or spirit beings. Angels can appear or manifest themselves in the form and shape of animals, including horses, as well as men. In Zechariah’s first vision, which begins in Zechariah 1:8, angels manifest themselves both as men and as horses. Notice the exact wording:

“(8) I saw by night, and behold, a MAN riding on a red HORSE, and it stood among the myrtle trees in the hollow, and behind him were HORSES: red, sorrel and white. (9) Then I said, ‘My lord, what are these?’ So the ANGEL who talked with me said to me, ‘I will show you what they are.’ (10) And the MAN who stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, ‘These are the ones whom the LORD has sent to walk to and fro throughout the earth.’ (11) So they answered the ANGEL of the LORD, who stood among the myrtle trees, and said, ‘We have walked to and fro throughout the earth, and behold, all the earth is resting quietly.”

While most commentaries apply this passage strictly and exclusively to the time and circumstances of Zechariah, all the visions of Zechariah, as we saw in previous Updates, deal mostly with the end time, just prior to Christ’s return. Of course, some aspects ARE limited to the events in Zechariah’s days–but even then, underlying principles still apply to our time.

(1) A World at Rest

In Zechariah’s first vision, a picture is painted of a world “at rest” (notice verse 11).

As Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible states to verse 11:

“There is general peace through the Persian empire, and other states connected with Judea; but the Jews are still in affliction; their city is not yet restored, nor their temple built.”

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible adds:

“Wars, although soon to break out again, were in the second year of Darius for the time suspended [when Zechariah received his first vision]. The rest, in which the world was, suggests the contrast of the yet continuing unrest allotted to the people of God. Such rest had been promised to Israel, on its return from the captivity, but had not yet been fulfilled. Through the hostility of the Samaritans the building of the temple had been hindered and was just recommenced; the wall of Jerusalem was yet broken down…; its fire-burned gates not restored; itself was a waste…; its houses unbuilt…”

The Ryrie Study Bible explains:

“God’s patrols report that the earth ‘sitteth still, and is at rest’; i.e., the heathen nations still flourished and were self-confidently secure, while Israel was downtrodden.”

(2) A Short-Lived Rest

The peaceful rest of the world was short-lived. As mentioned above, wars would break out soon between the Persian and the Greek Empires. In any event, the peaceful rest of the Gentile nations was in opposition to the “downtrodden” condition of Israel.

In fact, the reaction of the angel of the Lord in verse 12 shows that this “rest” was detrimental to the condition of Israel: “Then the ANGEL of the LORD answered and said, ‘O LORD of hosts, how long will You not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which You were angry these seventy years?'”

We also read in verse 15 that the nations opposed to Jerusalem were “at ease”–unaware of the destruction which would come upon them.

(3) God’s Anger for Seventy Years

We read that God was angry with Israel for seventy years. What does this time period refer to?

Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible points out:

“This cannot mean the duration of the captivity for that was nearly twenty years past. It must mean simply the time that had elapsed from the destruction of the temple to the time in which the angel spoke. As the temple was destroyed in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, and this vision took place in the second year of Darius, the term of seventy years was completed, or nearly so, between these two periods.”

The Nelson Study Bible agrees, stating:

“The seventy years refers to the period of exile during which the temple lay in ruins (586-515 B.C., see Jer. 25:7-14).”

It is important to note that Zechariah’s vision–as is the case with ALL the visions of Zechariah–is DUAL. It has application for us today–speaking of nations and individuals alike who are not willing to obey their Maker.

(4) No Anger for Seventy Years in the End-Time

However, there is no indication in prophecy that a period of seventy years of destruction of a physical or spiritual temple will apply to end time events. That is, there is no indication in prophecy that the modern nations of Israel and Judah, after they have been defeated in war and captured by their enemies, will remain enslaved for seventy years, before Christ returns to bring them out of slavery. Nor can we say that the spiritual temple–the Church–has been, or will be in ruins for seventy years, prior to Christ’s return.

(5) A Church at Ease

In fact, just the opposite is true:

The end-time Church of God was revived, beginning in the 1930’s. But it IS correct that the building of the spiritual temple, the Church, has not been completed yet, and the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God must still continue.

Unfortunately, we are facing a situation now where many in the Church (spiritual Israel) have become disillusioned and frustrated, and, being bogged down by own personal problems, have lost the zeal to finish the Work and to overcome sin in their own lives, rather than striving ever more for perfection.

In addition, we have also witnessed a terrible complacency within the modern nations of physical Israel–especially the USA. Even though the handwriting of national disaster and calamity is clearly on the wall, many in the USA still believe in the “American way of life,” which is going to save them from all their problems. Their trust in themselves–rather than in God–will be their downfall.

Relative peace or “rest” or a life “at ease” in this world has lulled the senses of many inside and outside the Church of God, who are asleep and who are not aware of the storm which will engulf this planet very soon to bring “sudden destruction” (compare 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3).

(6) The Work Will Be Finished

We read in Zechariah 1:13 that God answered the angel with “good and comforting words.” Verse 14 states that God is zealous for Jerusalem and for Zion; and verse 16 adds that He will return to Jerusalem with mercy and that His house or temple will be built there. The physical temple would in fact be finished at the time of Zechariah within four years after his first vision. This shows us that when God intervenes to motivate His people to finish His work, it will be done within a VERY SHORT time.

Again, these historical events foreshadow what is prophesied for our day and age. When the prophet Habakkuk announced sudden destruction, he quoted God’s words in Habakkuk 1:5: “Look among the nations and watch–Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days Which you would not believe, though it were told you.”

Habakkuk continued to state in verse 6 that God will raise the Chaldeans to bring punishment on others. But Paul later applied this passage in Habakkuk 1:5, of raising up an “unbelievable” work, to the work of the preaching of the gospel (compare Acts 13:41). Since the preaching of the gospel in all the world as a witness is a sign of Christ’s impending return (Matthew 24:14), we can see that a most powerful work of preaching the gospel must still occur–so unique that “you would not believe, though it were told you” (compare again Habakkuk 1:5).

Paul also explains in Romans 9:28 that this final work will be quick and short: “For He will FINISH THE WORK and CUT IT SHORT in righteousness, Because the LORD will make a SHORT WORK upon the earth.”

(7) Time Is Short

When Christ returns, His bride–the Church–has made herself ready, and she will be arrayed with fine white linen (Revelation 19:7-8). But this does not mean that everyone “in the church” will be ready.

Rather, Christ warns us in Revelation 16:15: “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” Also, Christ warns His end-time Church in Laodicea: “[You] do not know that you are… naked. I counsel you to buy from Me… white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed” (Revelation 3:17-18).

The time is short (1 Corinthians 7:29). Satan knows it (Revelation 12:12). He knows that God will crush him under our feet shortly (Romans 16:20). He knows that all the things which are written in the book of Revelation must come to pass shortly (Revelation 1:1; 22:6). The question is, Do we in God’s Church know this, too? And if we do know it, do we ACT accordingly?

Let us heed the prophetic warning of Zechariah’s first vision. He wrote it down for us today “upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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