Christ in Zechariah's Prophecy
John Griffiths, Port Talbot, Wales [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
If a scriptural reason is needed for studying the person of Christ in the book of Zechariah, we might refer to Peter, ‘To him give all the prophets witness’, Acts 10. 43. Christ Himself endorsed such a consideration. He expounded to the two on the Emmaus road ‘the things concerning himself’ ‘in all the scriptures’, ‘beginning at Moses and all the prophets’, Luke 24. 27. Zechariah reveals more of Christ than all the other Minor Prophets combined!
(I) THE ANGEL OF THE LORD, or Angel of Jehovah, is a title of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is first used in Genesis chapter 16 verse 7 in connection with Hagar, who attributed deity to the Angel and declared, ‘Thou God seest me’.
(i) The proprietor of Earth, 1. 11
The Angel of the Lord and the ‘man riding upon a red horse’, v. 8, are clearly one and the same person. ‘A man’ describes one of the pre-incarnate revelations of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul describes Christ as ‘the image of the invisible God’, Col. 1. 15. This refers not only to His incarnation, but to the truth that the invisible God, even prior to the birth of Christ, has always revealed Himself to man in the person of Christ, i.e., Christophanies.
As the Angel of the Lord, Christ is seen in His deity. In the context, He is pre-eminent over the other angel-horsemen, who are reported to be ‘behind him’ and who are debriefed by Him in verse 11. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews goes to great lengths to show that angels are but ministering spirits whereas Christ is the Son of God.
The remnant of Israel, who have been restored to their land, wonder if God is still with them, as they suffer from the oppression of the Gentile nations. They are symbolized in the myrtle trees. Esther was called Hadassah, a myrtle. The myrtle tree was an evergreen of great beauty, lowly and fragrant. Does this not adequately represent a recently returned remnant in God’s eyes?
The Lord appears three times in verses 8 to 11 as ‘among the myrtle trees’, i.e., amongst His chosen earthly people.
Not only is He the proprietor of earth, keeping up-to-date with all that goes on amongst the nations, but He is still amidst His people. He is ready to act against the Gentile nations and for His beloved remnant both in the days of Zechariah and at the close of the Tribulation.
(ii) The intercessor on behalf of Jerusalem/Zion, 1. 12
Christ intercedes on behalf of His people with the ‘Lord of hosts’. This title of God occurs fifty-two times in the prophecy; Jehovah Sabaoth. Its first occurrence, 1 Sam. 1. 3, indicates that the Lord of hosts accepts the worship and sacrifices of His people. Hannah uses it in verse 11, where the Lord of hosts is seen as the prayer-answering God. Its last use, Jas. 5. 4, indicates a God who hears and sees all that is going on and will respond appropriately. God is displeased with the Gentile nations, who are at rest while His people suffer. He will punish the nations and bring prosperity to Jerusalem.
Here, two persons of the Godhead are in contact. Christ’s intercessory prayer will be heard and answered. Christ’s prayers are almost like royal commands; there is no possibility of His requests being turned down. Jerusalem, despite its many military defeats over the centuries of time, will emerge triumphant at last. Christ has prayed for it, God has promised it, so be it!
Blessed be God, it is the same Lord who intercedes for us.
(iii) The surveyor and scrutinizer of His people, 2. 1, 3
‘A man’, verse 1, though distinct from the two angels of verse 3, can be identified by the combination of ‘a man’ and ‘the angel of the Lord’ in chapter 1, since no other detail is given to qualify this.
Zechariah speaks directly to this Man. The measuring of Jerusalem is indicative of ownership and possession. It is to be the place of the Lord’s presence, protection, and pre-eminence, v. 5.1 In each case the measurement is of the Lord’s property, where His presence is to be experienced. The Lord stamps His seal on these places.
The Lord’s scrutiny of His people is illustrated in His presence amidst the lampstands, Rev. 2-3. To each of His churches He says, ‘I know’, and, usually, ‘I know thy works’. The churches are His; they know His presence, protection, and pre-eminence. He, in turn, knows His assemblies through and through.
(iv) The mediator on behalf of Joshua, 3. 1, 6.
Joshua, the high priest, is seen here as representative of the nation of Israel in her unclean condition. His filthy garments are symbolic of her moral and spiritual condition both then and in the future. The Angel of the Lord is about to propose a change of raiment, signifying the removal of the nation’s iniquity. Satan is present as the adversary to hinder this process. The Angel intervenes, calling on the Lord to rebuke Satan.
Two reasons are given for this advocacy on behalf of Joshua and, hence, the nation: (1) the sovereign grace of God in choosing Jerusalem, and (2) the saving grace of God in delivering the nation from Babylon, i.e., ‘a brand plucked out of the fire’. Satan is silenced. Sin is removed, and the saints are addressed about their responsibilities and recompense.
Thank God for the role of Christ in advocacy on His people’s behalf. The work of Christ has effectively silenced Satan’s accusations. We are clean every whit!
‘Reach my blest Saviour first;
Take Him from God’s esteem.
Show Jesus bears one spot of sin,
Then tell me I’m unclean’,
W. Noel Tomkins
(v) The director and leader of His people, 12. 8
In the day of the Lord, with Jerusalem flanked on all sides by invading forces, and totally under siege, the Lord will give His people supernatural strength to resist their foes, until Messiah intervenes at His coming. The Angel of the Lord goes before them as their Leader and Director, just as He had done in the days of their wilderness journeyings and occupation of Canaan, ‘and when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them’, John 10. 4.
Even today, we can appreciate the sentiment of the hymn writer:
‘Jesus lives and Jesus leads,
Tho’ the way be dreary;
Morn to darkest night succeeds,
Courage then ye weary:
Still the faithful Shepherd feeds;
Jesus lives and Jesus leads’,
E. Paxton Hood
‘My strength is made perfect in weakness’, 2 Cor. 12. 9, is as true now as it was then.
(II) THE APOSTLE OF THE LORD, i.e., ‘Sent One’, 2. 8, 9, 11; 4. 9; 6. 15.
On four occasions we read of one being ‘sent’ by God. In each case the result is that those to whom the delegate is sent will ‘know’ that God is active.
There are direct references to Christ and one is symbolic, 4. 9.
(i) Sent unto the nations for their devastation, 2. 8, 9
When is Christ sent? ‘After the glory’! At His second coming to earth, our Lord will deal with the Gentile nations that are oppressing Israel.
Why is Christ sent? ‘For he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye’. What a delightful way to describe God’s valuation of His earthly people! How exceedingly precious they are to Him, the treasure hid in the field for which Christ paid the ultimate price at Calvary; ‘he . . . selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field’, in order that the treasure should be His, i.e., the nation of Israel, Matt, 13. 44.
How will He succeed? ‘I will shake mine hand upon them’. It is almost as if God is treating the nations of the world like naughty children. They are but a drop which splashes over the side of a bucket full of water. A great reversal accompanies His advent. Israel has always been the serf of the nations but now the nations become Israel’s servant.
‘And ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me’.
(ii) Sent unto Israel for their habitation, 2. 11
In captivity they queried, ‘How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?’ Ps. 137. 4. God exhorts them in light of Christ’s return to sing and rejoice. The song of Moses and of the Lamb will be on their lips. Despite the nations joining themselves to the Lord and being called ‘my people’ by the Lord, His promised presence is with Israel, ‘I will dwell in the midst of thee’!
The parallel for the church today is, ‘For where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them’, Matt. 18. 20.
(iii) Sent unto Israel for the completion of the temple, 4. 9
The ‘sent’ one in the context is plainly Zerubbabel. He has returned from captivity and been commissioned to build the temple. Despite delays, the work he has started God confirms; he will complete.
Zerubbabel and Joshua are said to be ‘men wondered at’ or ‘men for a sign’. They are types. Zerubbabel the prince typifies Christ, and hence in our passage what is said of Zerubbabel at the time of writing will be true of Christ when He builds the millennial temple, Ezek. 40-48.
Our blessed Lord always completes what He commences - a practical and pointed lesson for believers today. It is no good putting your hand to the plough and then turning back. It is the hallmark of a steward that he is found faithful. God expects no less in our loyalty to Himself and to His service.
(iv) Sent unto Israel for the consecration of the temple, 6. 15
The Lord has already been described as the builder of the temple. He also occupies it and serves there. As the builder, He oversees the work, but Gentiles volunteer their services to carry out the actual labouring that is required. Inasmuch as verses 12 and 13 describe the Lord’s presence in His millennial temple, I suggest we have the consecration of the house before us not simply its construction.
‘And ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you’.
1 Other instances of the Lord measuring what uniquely belongs to Himself are to be found in: Ezek. 40. 3; Rev. 11. 1; 21. 15.