Zechariah now receives the third of his eight visions all of which occurred in one night. He had to have been overwhelmed with all of these things to absorb. In the two visions we have covered in our previous studies, we have learned that the rider on the red horse provided a picture of hope for Israel in the midst of much persecution and that the horns or craftsmen were the nations whom God raised up to crush the previous nations that overstepped
God’s limit of judgment in disciplining Israel. In this third vision the Lord revealed that the hope of Jerusalem will be realized when the conquering nations are crushed and Jerusalem is exalted. The future glory of Jerusalem will exceed everything Israel could hope for, however the basis of that hope is the Messiah, and Israel’s recognition of her sin and acknowledgement of Yeshua as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10-13:1).
Zechariah 2:1-3 Our attention is drawn to this man, who has been commissioned to measure something of great significance to God. He was told to measure Jerusalem, to see how wide and long it was. Who is this man? There is reason to believe that this man is the “angel of the Lord,” the pre-incarnate Messiah who existed before He was born (John 1:1, 14). The language used here is consistent with other passages referring to the Messiah. The same phrase, “a man,” appears in Zechariah 1:8. In this instance, it refers to the man riding on a red horse, later identified as the “angel of the Lord” (Zechariah 1:11-12) and also as “the Lord” or יְהוָה (I am, I am) (Zechariah 1:13).
Zechariah 6:12 refers to one called “the branch”: which speaks of the Messiah (Isaiah 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5-6). The prophet Ezekiel speaks of this one who is measuring in Ezekiel 40:3 which is clearly a messianic prophecy and refers to the one going out to measure the future Temple in the city of Jerusalem as Israel’s long-awaited one, the Messiah. The clearest and most certain way to understand prophetic images is from Scripture itself.
Zechariah 2:4-5 Here we see three basic promises given to Zechariah: The first was, “’Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of men and livestock in it. This is something that was clearly unusual as cities in that day were always built with walls to protect it against invasion. Jerusalem was a walled city long before David captured it and long before Zechariah.
Jerusalem was known for its walls throughout history yet here Zechariah is told by the Lord that in the future Jerusalem will not have walls. So many people and animals will dwell in the city that it will be impossible to be walled . Zechariah could not imagine a city so densely populated that walls could not contain the people or be necessary. Isaiah spoke of that day as well Isaiah 49:19-20. The Prophet Ezekiel spoke of Temple area in the future that that is larger than we can imagine. Today Jerusalem is expanding rapidly to the north and west. This gives us a foreshadowing of the future expansion.
The second promise is in Zechariah 2:5 “I myself will be a wall of fire around it.’ No man-made walls will be needed when the Lord Himself becomes the protector of the city the Lord will be the wall around the city (Lamentations 2:8,18).
Thirdly The Lord will illumine the city. When Israel was in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land, the Lord put in the midst the camp a covering of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. The cloud and fire indicated that God was in the midst of His people. This light has been described by the Rabbi’s as The Shekinah which embodied the very glory of the Lord.
Torah obedient Jews will not assign form or emotion or utter the name of the Lord יְהוָה (I am, I am). But God through the prophets was always tender and caring described in terms of a loving parent. The Shekinah, is a word which does not appear in the tanakh is the nearest Jewish equivalent to what we understand as the Holy Spirit the third person of the Echad or unity of God.
Other ideas or derivatives are expressed in Scripture as Word, Wisdom, Spirit, and others that serve as a bridge between man’s existence in flesh and God’s realm of The Spirit. The Shekinah is described in such terms in both the Older and New Covenants. It conveys the idea that God dwells in his sanctuary (Exodus 25:8), or among his people (Exodus 29:45).
The Hebrew root of Shekinah is “shakan” ‘to dwell’, the word tabernacle comes from the Hebrew word “mishkan” which contains the same Hebrew root word שָׁכַן.
In the Shekinah God demonstrated His presence throughout Israel’s wanderings in the desert and today is present in us by the indwelling of His Spirit when we come to faith. He leads us in much the same way but the Light is more subtle and revealed through His Word which speaks to His Spirit within us illuminating our mind so that we know how we should walk in this wilderness toward the Promised Land of heaven. He also today is a wall of fire around us giving those that abide in Jesus a protecting wall of fire that surround us as He spoke to Zechariah and would surround Jerusalem and provide security for her inhabitants.
Although the glory of God in the cloud and pillar of fire once dwelt in the midst of Israel, in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple, idolatry caused His glory to leave the Temple. Ezekiel (Ezek. 8:4ff) describes the departure of God’s glory from the Temple, as the Shekinah passed through the Eastern Gate and left Jerusalem and Israel via the Mount of Olives.
The expression, “Ichabod” (the glory is departed) 1 Samuel 4:21, was, from that day, written over the city. Those events described by Ezekiel occurred about 80 years earlier. Subsequently Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian armies entered Jerusalem, destroyed the city, burned the Temple, killed a multitude of Jews, and carried most of the remaining residents into captivity to Babylon. Once the glory of God departed, the city no longer had a divine protector and so inevitably fell to an enemy God raised up to bring His judgment upon her. In much the same way God disciplines us and His Spirit recedes in us as we do not keep the Light of God’s Spirit burning brightly by keeping our Temples (bodies and minds) clean.
Now God is speaking to Zechariah for the Lord to say to him, “I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ ‘and I will be its glory within.’ (Zechariah 2:5b). He knew that protection and safety would accompany the return of the glory of God. Adding this promise to word God gave in 1:16, that God would return and show His mercy and grace and protection to Israel was a great encouragement to the faithfulness of God to His promises.
These verses provide a long-range prediction to the Jewish people; words that are almost identical to those of Ezekiel. It promised that the Lord would dwell among them and protect them during the kingdom age. But, as is so often true with God’s people, they soon drifted away from the Lord again, not into idolatry but into liberalism as expressed by the practices of the Sadducees and legalism as expressed in the Pharisees and nationalism as expressed in the Zealots, and compromise as expressed in the Herodians.
We have the same dynamics today only in with different labels, such as liberal Protestantism or Catholicism and nuances of it in Evangelical and Messianic circles, really nothing has changed the spirit of rebellion still lives among God’s people and his judgment has already begun but like Zechariah God holds out a great hope and truth that one day He will full reign and dwell among His people.
God had not utterly forsaken the people so close to His heart. And one night, as shepherds watched their flocks, “an angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were very much afraid” (Luke 2:9).
The glory of God had returned to the earth, and at the center of that greatest of all lights was the person of Jesus the Messiah. “Glory to God in the highest,” the angelic host shouted (Luke 2:14). Once again God’s glory had come to the earth to live among mankind. “And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father” (John. 1:14).
In Jesus, the glory of God was dwelling among His people. But although He walked the earth, rebellion by God’s people was once again present (John 1:11). His rejection by our leaders led to the Messiah’s crucifixion and resurrection. It is significant to see that following His resurrection, when He ascended to heaven, Jesus traveled the same route as the glory of God had in Ezekiel’s account of the Shekinah’s departure. He left the city through the Eastern Gate and moved to the Mount of Olives, from which He ascended.
With His departure, the glory of God was gone once again. But in Zechariah’s third vision, with its promise of a greatly enlarged Jerusalem in the future, is the promise of the return of the glory of God to the earth when His Son returns in glory to rule and reign as King of kings: “And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will be its glory within.’ “It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne” (Zechariah 6:13).
Today the children of God are the temple of the Holy Spirit. In other words, the actual glory of God dwells in those who are believers. As we look into the face of our God revealed in Jesus through His Word and walk in fellowship and communion with Him, we become reflectors of His glory. Therefore, the way we live daily reflects His glory to a lost world.
Paul explains this in 2 Corinthians 3:18 “ And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 4:6-7.
Zechariah 2:6-7 This verse begins with the words “Come, Come”. When we last gathered two weeks ago we looked at the third vision given to Zechariah in which he gave a word of consolation. Zechariah now gives a stern warning to the Jewish people still living in Babylon. The great majority of the Jewish people were still away from the Land that God had now opened the door to return, only a small number had returned to Jerusalem.
The word translated come is literally the Hebrew word הוֹי pronounced Hoy, this may be where the expression “oy” comes from. This word is generally used in Scripture with the idea of lamentation or mourning. When a word is repeated twice it magnifies the importance, like “holy, holy, holy in Isaiah and woe, woe in Ezekiel.
As we said only a handful of the Jewish exiles who were removed from the Land by God’s judgment had returned to their homeland. The majority stayed behind, and their lives had become deeply rooted in Babylon and the other places where they settled. Some, like Jeremiah, went to Egypt (Jeremiah 43:7), while others went to Moab, Ammon, and Edom (Jeremiah 40:11-12).
The majority of the Jewish people went to Babylon but like to today Jewish people were scattered everywhere. In the 70 years that they lived outside the land, another generation had been born, grown, and settled down. Business was good, and life was comfortable. Consequently, many were not interested in returning home. Zechariah called them to leave their present comfort and return to Jerusalem. His call is for them to flee from the land of the north.
Great changes were coming. Within a few years the proud, pompous Chaldean kingdom would suddenly fall. God used Zechariah to warn the exiles who remained outside of Israel to return home. If they remained in those foreign places, their lives would be in jeopardy.
If they returned to the land, they would again be under the blessing and protection of God. The armies of Darius the Mede would soon take Babylon, and those armies would not distinguish between nationalities. Jewish exiles would die alongside the Chaldeans. The message to flee Babylon was also given by Isaiah 150 years earlier in Isaiah 48:20. Jeremiah gave a similar word (Jeremiah 51:6).
Babylon throughout Scripture is a picture of the world and the work of men to build a kingdom and realm without God. The root of the word in the Hebrew means “confusion”. We see this starting in Genesis 11 and continuing through Revelation 17 and 18, it is also a picture of the world’s system that operates in rebellion to God. Just as God commanded the Jews to flee from that physical land, He commands and pleads with His children today not to get caught up in the system of this world. We are to be holy to the Lord putting His Kingdom and will before all other realms (Matthew 6:33).
Just as the Lord urged His people to return home, he urges us to return home spiritually by placing all our affections on Yeshua our King and His Kingdom. To “flee from the land of the north,” refers to the entire region north of Israel that was known as Mesopotamia (Gk “Land between the rivers). Zechariah 2:7 God called them to escape Babylon.” Israel had been scattered by God, but He pleaded with them to return home of their own free will. He would not force them to return, but He urged them very strongly to do so because God was planning to judge Babylon.
Although Babylon had been commissioned by the Lord to take Israel captive, she had overstepped the bounds of the Lord’s intention for her with regard to Israel. As a result, He was going to bring judgment and Babylon would suffer and many including God’s chosen would suffer as well. Here was an opportunity to avoid the impending judgment and destruction that would come in God’s time. The power of Babylon would shift to Media and then Persia. As always, the Lord was watching over His people. He clearly warned them to run home to His protection. Today we find our protection by abiding in our King and in His Kingdom.
Walter Kaiser, a dear brother and lover of Israel writes concerning this passage regarding the call to flee Babylon lest we think that only speaks of the time of the time when Babylon fell at the hands of Medes:
This is the same command Jeremiah had given in Jeremiah 51:6 (“Flee from the midst of Babylon”) and in Jeremiah 50:8 (“Move from the midst of Babylon”). Now, if Jeremiah’s command had been intended to warn the residents of the exile to flee Babylon before it fell in 539 b.c., why did the prophet and statesman Daniel remain in Babylon the very night Babylon collapsed if, as we know, Daniel knew the prophecy of Jeremiah and regarded it already as Scripture? (Daniel 9:2;Jeremiah 25:12;29:10).
When Belshazzar called Daniel into the banquet hail in Daniel 5 to interpret the writing on the wall, Daniel should have quickly excused himself and made a beeline out of town if the words “Flee from the midst of Babylon” pertained to that day. But apparently they did not; they referred to an eschatological event in which Babylon, perhaps modern-day Iraq, would be involved in the final events of history before the coming of the Lord.
Zechariah 2:8-9 These verses describe the first and second comings of Israel’s Messiah and Lord. “After He has honored me” is a reference to the first coming of Messiah in His death and Resurrection and the establishment of His Bride which consists of people from every nation, who even to this very day honor Yeshua.
But in Zechariah 2:8 we also see the second coming to earth when the Father sends the Son a second time to judge the nations when He will vindicate Himself and bring judgment on all the nations that have raped, pillaged, and plundered Israel, and have raised up their hands against those who have been made partakers of Israel through His Bride the Church.
That judgment will not be limited to Babylon. This passage presents a perspective far broader than that of judgment against one nation. Zechariah 2:8 says that the Messiah is sent to “the nations that which spoiled you.” With His hand the Lord will overthrow the nations.
This is similar to Daniel’s prophecy of a stone cut without hands that comes rolling down the mountain, striking all the Gentile world powers. This will all be done by the hand of the Lord and not by mankind. This speaks of the day when the Lord will deal with all the nations that have touched Israel. This is exactly what He would do in just a few years to Israel’s immediate persecutor, Babylon.
The phrase found toward the end of Zechariah 2:8, “for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye,” is not unique to Zechariah. It is used in several other places in the Older Testament. Solomon used it in Proverbs 7:2 as he spoke to his sons. The Word of God should be as dear to a young man as the apple or pupil of his own eye. The pupil is easily injured, often causing blindness, and it cannot be replaced. In Psalm 17:8, David asked God to protect Him as He would His own eye as he fled King Saul.
Moses used it in describing God’s love for Israel (Deuteronomy 32:9-10). So Zechariah is warning the nations to understand how loved Israel is and those who touch His people without His permission and blessings will receive divine judgment and punishment. This should remind us of how the Lord views Anti-Semitism, as well as any attacks against His bride.
Once again I must quote Dr. Kaiser for some wonderful insight into the expression “apple of his eye”:
Interestingly, although in Hebrew the usual word for “apple” of the eye is אִישׁוֹן esion meaning “pupil (on the eye),” Zechariah uses the word בָּבָה “bavah” a word that occurs only once in the Hebrew Bible. In this context, where the Judeans have just been told to flee Babylon, bavah appears to be a cognate of “Babylon,” Hebrew bābili, which in the Akkadian logographic writing would be KÄ.DINGIR.RA.KI, where KÄ means “gate” and DINGER signals the presence of a deity.
It could well be, then, that Zechariah’s “gate of the eye” is an ironic pun on the pride of Babylon, which called herself the gateway to god! How dangerous it is for the nations to try to oppose God by picking on the people of Israel—whom God had used as the means of bringing His oracles and messianic line to the world!
Zechariah 2:10-13 When the Jewish people came back to Israel from their exile to Babylon they faced overwhelming obstacles. In the face of discouragement they were told to sing and rejoice. The phrase “daughter of Zion” (Zechariah 2:10) is used specifically for Jerusalem but also applies to other nations who will attach themselves to Israel and her God. Why should there be singing and rejoicing? The fact that the Lord will finally be made king in Zion is more than enough cause for breaking loose in praise and thanksgiving.
Four wonderful promises are given God’s people in the vision of Zechariah 2:1-6. Each one tells of what God is going to do when He returns to earth to rule and reign during the Millennium. The first promise is: “Behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst” (Zechariah 2:10b). The second coming of our Messiah, King and Lord is that blessed hope of all Believers: “I will be your God, you shall be my people and I will dwell in the midst of you.” The verb “to dwell” (shakan) is connected with the Shekinah glory of God and with the word for the tabernacle (Mishkan; Exodus 25:8).
It is so sad that many modern interpreters of Scripure have turned their backs on the premilennial interpretation of texts such as these. It is especially sad, since this premillennial coming of the Messiah was practically the only view taken by the church for the first four centuries of the Church. In modern Christianity, some scholars maintain that this view is held only by cultic groups or groups with an off-beat brand of theology.
But premillennialism’s roots go far beyond any of these criticisms. God will conclude history just as He promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He will bring Israel back to her land, and then He will personally reside in the land and will be her King and Lord.
The second promise is: “Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and they shall become My people” (Zechariah 2:11). The term “My people” was generally reserved for Israel, but now it refers to the “Gentiles,” who would be joined, by faith, to Israel to form the new, echad of God. Isaiah 19:25 used the same term to describe converted Egypt and Assyria (Syria and Iraq) who also one day will become “My people.” The conclusion to Zechariah 2:11 is almost identical to the conclusion to Zechariah 2:9. This work of God would be the proof that God was who He said He was and that His word can be depended on.
The third promise is in Zechariah 2:12, the Lord will possess the Holy Land . The phrase “holy land” speaks of a Land set apart. The word holy means set apart for the Lord. While the land is holy the people right now who occupy it both unbelieving Arabs and unbelieving Jews are not holy. One day the people who live there will be as holy as the Land.
There is a remnant today of both Jews and Arabs who are holy but they are few and of little influence at this point. But the day is coming when they and all who come to that land will be holy. Today it is not spiritually a “holy land,” although the country contains many religious shrines and “sacred” places.
This is the only place in Scripture where Israel is called “the holy land.” The expression looks to the day when it will become truly a holy land when the Lord is there and the people will all turn to Him (Zechariah 12:10). God is not finished with the city He chose years ago in 1000 B.C. for the throne of David. It will be God’s chosen center of worship and the place where justice will be rendered during the messianic rule and reign of Jesus on earth during the Millennium.
The fourth promise is that there would be worldwide judgment at the second coming of Yeshua to the earth. “All mankind” will be hushed by His presence (Zechariah 2:13). God will once more rise up (Isaiah 51:9, where the same word is translated “Awake, awake”) from “His holy dwelling.”
The Lord’s movement speaks of the initiation of His work of judgment as He had prophesied in His word. He will leave His heavenly temple (Habakkuk 2:20;Jeremiah 25:30) and come to earth. In the presence of what has been revealed, mankind will stand in speechless awe. A similar concept is portrayed in Isaiah 52:15, which also speaks of the time when He will take absolute and complete control of all mankind.
The Scriptures speak about the “Day of the Lord” in many different portions of Scripture Zechariah’s vision helps to give us some significant aspects of that day. He speaks of the Lord’s return; a day when all the nations will come to know the Lord; Jerusalem will be rebuilt and become the new world capital, and Israel will be restored and take her role as a light to the nations.
Judgment will come from the Lord and there will be a new holy world order for one thousand years. The Lord will be King and truth will be the normal way of life, not the exception.