What does it say?
From a priestly family, Zechariah is contemporary with Haggai and the other exiles recently returned from Babylon. While the first part of his book is filled with these visions, the last part (6-14) consists of spoken messages. Zechariah brings future events into sharp detail with many Messianic references.
Zechariah 1:1-7 is a vision of four horsemen representing God’s oversight of the world and is a message of encouragement that Jerusalem will be rebuilt and days of prosperity are ahead. The last part of the chapter is a vision of four horns, a picture of the future destruction of the Israel’s enemies.
The second chapter’s vision of the man with the measuring line foresees measuring for rebuilding the city and also issues a call for the remaining Jews in Babylon (the northland). The vision of the high priest Joshua’s filthy clothing replaced (Jos 3) is a symbol of renewing the covenant promises with Israel after years in captivity. We also see the Branch (3:8) to come, a Messianic vision like Isaiah’s (Isa 11). The stone with 7 eyes or facets is another Messianic image of the all-seeing, all-knowing God.
Chapter 4 is a vision of a lampstand and two olive trees. This imagery returns in final fulfillment in Revelation 1:12, 20 and Revelation 11. Just as the high priest Joshua is validated by the vision of chapter 3, this chapter equally validates the civil leadership of the governor Zerubbabel.
What does it mean?
Detailed commentary on complex, symbolic visions is beyond our scope. Some brief comments: the significance of the number four in chapter 1 represents the world as a whole, as in our saying the four corners of the world.
In chapter 3 God encourages and puts his blessing on Joshua the high priest, and chapter 4 does the same for governor Zerubbabel. We often have the tendency to compartmentalize life into secular and spiritual segments. We see here that God is vitally interested in all areas of life, both secular and spiritual. The lampstand in chapter 4 reminds us of God’s mission for Israel (and now us, too) to be the light of the world. What follows makes it clear that the way we face obstacles in carrying out this mission is in the power of God’s Spirit alone, not our own effort.
How will I respond?
Does God’s light truly shine outwardly from my life to illuminate those who have yet to know him? What step(s) can I take today to be certain that his Spirit has complete control of my life and that I am moving forward in being a reflection of his light in this world?