“I lifted up mine eyes and saw” (Zechariah 1:18, 2:1, 5:1, 6:1 RVIC).
by Joe Megacz
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In this article, we will consider the visions Zechariah saw, all in one night, and see in them a thumbnail sketch of the Divine Plan of the Ages. These visions are highly symbolic. Some of them can have more than one interpretation.
Vision One: Horses among Myrtle Trees (Zechariah 1:7-17)
In this first vision God shows Zechariah the end from the beginning by giving him a glimpse of the ultimate goal of His Divine Plan of the Ages — the peaceable kingdom of righteousness. The main character in this vision, a man on a red horse, pictures our Lord Jesus. It is through his work of redeeming and restoring mankind, that this kingdom will come to pass. Horses usually symbolize doctrines, so the red color of this horse represents the doctrine of the ransom sacrifice — the merit of Jesus’ blood, which satisfies God’s justice and secures man’s release from the penalty of Adamic death. The myrtle trees symbolize perfect mankind, with the white flowers on the myrtle trees suggesting the righteousness of those who have completed their walk up the highway of holiness. The words “in the bottom,” in verse eight, indicate that this peaceful meadow is in a valley — protected on all sides by a mountain — the mountain of God’s everlasting Kingdom.
There are two possible interpretations of the other horses. Since horses usually symbolize doctrines, perhaps these horses, in their improving colors, red, spotted, and white, represent the atonement doctrines of resurrection, the sin-offering, and restitution, respectively. These illustrate man’s progress up the highway of holiness from a sinful, red condition, through a spotted condition as the old Adamic patterns of thought and habit are eliminated, to a white or perfect condition.
The second interpretation of these horses is suggested in the words of the next three verses. “These (horses) are they whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth, and they answered the angel of the LORD that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, ‘We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest’ “ (Zechariah 1:9-11).
From this description, the horses seem to be watchful sentries on the earth who observe and report back to the man on the red horse that all is well. These faithful sentries, sent by God to walk to and fro in the kingdom, might picture the Ancient Worthies. Supporting this interpretation, in the eighth and last vision, we will see another use of various colored horses to represent classes of people in God’s Plan.
The next visions come in pairs: visions 2-3 about fleshly Israel, 4-5 about spiritual Israel in the flesh, 6-7 about counterfeit spiritual Israel, and the two scenes of vision 8 about faithful spiritual Israel overcoming and being rewarded.
Vision Two: Four Horns and Four Carpenters (Zechariah 1:18-21)
Zechariah’s second vision of four horns and four carpenters is a vision of an important period of time in the Divine Plan of the Ages — the Gentile Times. Horns symbolize power, and these four horns are described as having scattered God’s chosen people, Judah and Israel. Thus, we can easily identify them as the four universal empires of Gentile dominion: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. God gave these four Gentile powers dominion over the nation of Israel and the world around it. But who are the carpenters (Hebrew: fabricator or engraver)? Perhaps they represent God in His four attributes of wisdom, justice, love, and power. God “frays” the horns, meaning He uses them according to His will, like a carpenter measures, cuts, shapes, and carves wood. Then, God casts out each of them in turn, ending with the last of the four Gentile empires when their seven times or 2,520 years of dominion expired in 1914.
Vision Three: A Man Measuring Jerusalem (Zechariah 2:1-13)
Zechariah’s third vision of a man measuring Jerusalem is about a key element in the Divine Plan of the Ages-the Restoration of Israel. God had judged (measured) Israel and punished them for their sins and disregard of God’s Law Covenant with the loss of nationhood during the Gentile Times. Now their punishment at the hands of the Gentiles is complete, and God’s favor returns to Israel. A measuring line was used to lay out the construction and building of new structures and cities.
In verses three through seven, the vision portrays the restoration of natural Israel to peace and prosperity after God regathers them from whence he had scattered them during the Times of the Gentiles. He will be a protecting wall of fire around them and no enemy shall scatter them or trouble them again. His presence will be within them, in their midst. We have already seen in the last century the beginning of the fulfillment
of this vision, as God began to regather his people to the land of Israel. The glorious completion of this vision of the restoration of natural Israel is soon to come.
These visions may have multiple applications, and in this case, there is an application also to spiritual Israel, the church in the Gospel age, in the words of verse seven, “Deliver thyself O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon.” During the Gospel age, true Spiritual Israel was captive in Babylon until Jesus returned, and the call to the daughters of Zion to come out of Babylon went forth (Revelation 18:4). But our Lord has come to gather his bride, the apple of his eye, unto him, and now we rejoice with him.
Vision Four: Joshua the High Priest (Zechariah 3:1-10)
Zechariah’s fourth vision is of Joshua the high priest. It is a vision respecting a fundamental doctrine of truth — the high calling to a heavenly salvation of the Church class during the Gospel Age. The Hebrew name Joshua is the same as the Greek name, “Jesus,” and in this vision, Joshua the high priest represents body members of the Christ. The filthy garments mentioned in verses three and four show the unrighteousness of the body members before we are justified. From the beginning, Satan stands in our way to tempt us away from making a consecration and tries to thwart God’s plan to call out a bride class for his son.
In verses four and five the scene changes and the church class, the body members, are clothed with the robe of Christ’s righteousness — justified by faith in the merit of Jesus’ sacrifice. In verse seven, the high calling of the church is stated this way: “If thou wilt walk in my ways [the narrow way], and if thou wilt keep my charge [be thou faithful unto death], then thou shalt judge my house and keep my courts [be kings and priests in the kingdom].”
In verses eight and nine, the vision moves forward in time to the coming Kingdom. Zechariah is shown a stone with seven eyes, picturing the divine wisdom of Jesus and his church in the kingdom as the chief corner stone, just as shown on the chart of the ages, in the Kingdom period. In verse ten we have the familiar word picture of the Kingdom in which Christ and the church will invite every man and his neighbor to be blessed under their own vine and fig tree.
Vision Five: A Candlestick and Two Olive Trees (Zechariah 4:1-14)
Zechariah’s fifth vision is a beautiful picture of God’s loving care over the Church class. The candlestick (Hebrew: lampstand) in this vision is much like the candlestick in Israel’s Tabernacle in the wilderness, with two notable additions. (1) The bowl on the top, filled with oil from which pipes carry the oil to the seven lamps, and (2) two olive trees. In the Tabernacle picture, the golden candlestick, with its daily renewal of oil, pictured the supervisory work of Jesus in seeing that the holy Spirit is always available to us. The trimming of the wicks pictures the trimming and pruning of our old natures through trial and experience.
In Zechariah’s vision, this more elaborate candlestick represents a larger picture, the complete organization for the care and development of the Church. This seven-branched candlestick, like the one in the tabernacle, represents the church as a whole (developed in the seven stages of the Gospel Age), being supplied with the holy Spirit from the one head, the bowl on the top, which represents our Lord Jesus.
In Zechariah 4: 11, the prophet asked what the two olive trees are. In verse 14 the answer is given, “These are the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” The margin in the KJV Bible says “sons of oil” for anointed ones. In Revelation 11:3,4 there is a similar expression describing God’s two witnesses — the Old and New Testaments as two olive trees, standing before the God of the earth. Thus, these two olive trees in Zechariah’s vision are likewise the Old and New Testaments, picturing how we receive the holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, from our Lord through the word of God.
Vision Six: A Flying Scroll (Zechariah 5:1-11)
Zechariah’s sixth vision, of a flying scroll, is a vision of God’s law, the letter, and the spirit. In this vision, Zechariah beholds a roll of a book, or scroll, flying through the air. It is a big scroll — twenty by ten cubits, or thirty by fifteen feet unrolled. This scroll is a curse to two classes of people. It is a curse to those who steal (thieves), whose judgments are written on one side of the scroll, and it is a curse to those who swear falsely by God’s name, or covenant breakers, whose judgments are written on the other side. This curse upon those two classes is affected by the scroll entering and destroying the house of the thieves and the covenant breakers.
A clue to the meaning of this vision is in the writing being on both sides of the scroll, one side for each class of law-breakers. There is another well-known writing on both sides, on the tablets of stone with which Moses received the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai (Exodus 32:15). The Ten Commandments are divided into two groups — the first four being man’s responsibility to God, and the last six being man’s responsibility to his fellow man.
Perhaps the covenant breakers who swear falsely represent those who disobey the first four commandments relating to God. Likewise, the thieves represent those who disobey the last six commandments, stealing from their fellow man his goods, family harmony, reputation, and even life. This vision gives a warning to natural Israel to obey God’s Law Covenant or else their house would be destroyed. The Jewish people did not keep God’s law and were cast off. Their house (nation) was left unto them desolate, as our Lord declared shortly before he was crucified.
While this vision describes the sins of Babylon, perhaps there is also a lesson for us, the Gospel Age Church class, in this vision. We who have made a covenant by sacrifice with God must take care that we are neither covenant-breakers, denying our faith, nor thieves, attempting to rob God of the loyalty and devotion of our hearts promised to Him. Our desire is to not have our names written among the disobedient but to have our names written in the Lamb’s book of life. The house represents our hearts and the characters that we build. If we have the spirit of God’s law-abiding in our hearts and controlling our thoughts, words, and deeds, and if we build with gold, silver, and precious gems, into a character-likeness of Christ, our work will stand. If we build with wood, hay, and stubble, our work will crumble and be consumed as Zechariah saw.
Vision Seven: A Woman in an Ephah (Zechariah 5:5-11)
Zechariah’s seventh vision portrays a key development in the Divine Plan of the Ages; the rise of the nominal church systems — Babylon, mother and daughters. An ephah was a unit of dry measure, like our bushel, only smaller. The woman in the ephah pictures the Roman Catholic church, whom the angel declares to be wickedness, slamming a lid of lead upon the ephah. Lead is a counterfeit of gold, heavy in weight, but without the beauty and incorruptibility of true gold. Gold in the scriptures is a symbol of things divine, particularly divine truth. Thus, the lead cover pictures the counterfeit doctrines and corrupt practices of Babylon.
The two women who emerge might picture the mother and daughter — Catholic and Protestant sectarian church systems. They have wings and bear the ephah to the land of Shinar to build a house for it there. In Genesis 11:2 the land of Shinar, where the tower of Babel was built, was a flat plain between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, further identifying this vision with the development of symbolic Babylon. The wind in these women’s wings represents the power of Satan, the prince of the power of the air. The house built in Babylon upon its own base, the nominal church system, is Satan’s masterpiece. It is built upon its own base of error, and not upon God’s truth and
Vision Eight: Horses, Chariots, Mountains of Brass; Crowns of Silver and Gold (Zechariah 6:1-15)
Zechariah’s eighth and last vision is divided into two separate scenes. The first, in verses one through three, pictures an overview of the entire Divine Plan of the Ages. Brass, or copper in the scriptures, represents perfect human nature, and mountains represent kingdoms. The two mountains of brass in this first scene represent two perfect human kingdoms — the first in Eden, which Adam lost, and the second being the future kingdom on earth when what was lost will be restored.
The four chariots come out from between the two mountains of brass. What is between these two mountains of brass? The entire plan of God as shown on the Chart of the Ages, from Paradise lost to Paradise restored.
Notice that there are four chariots, but five colors of horses — red, black, white, and with the fourth chariot, two colors — grisled and bay. The horses and chariots come out from between the mountains, but the horses only, without (1) the chariots, go in various directions. Although five colors of horses come out from between the mountains, only four colors are mentioned as going toward a destination.
This vision is highly symbolic. The four chariots are God, His attributes, and His agencies that bring to pass His plan for mankind. The five colors of horses represent five classes
developed by this plan. The black horses, which go toward the north and quiet God’s spirit, are the church class. Black is a color not often associated with the little flock, but there is an example in Song of Solomon 1:5 where the bride says: “I am black but comely.”
The white horses, which follow the black to the north are the great company with robes washed white in the blood of the lamb. These follow after the church both in time and in honor. The grisled horses are mankind in the kingdom. They go to the south, the opposite direction of north, just as the earth is in the opposite direction of the heavens.
The bay horses, or strong horses as some translations render it, are the Ancient Worthies who, as verse seven describes, walk to and fro in the earth just as in the first vision. The red horses came out from between the mountains but are not mentioned as going in any direction. The red horses have no destination so they could represent the second death class.
In the second scene, the Lord tells Zechariah to make crowns of silver and gold and put them on the heads of Joshua and others, representing the glorified Christ, head and body, kings and priests in the Millennial Age. In verse fifteen, “they that are far off” represent the world of mankind who are far from mental, moral, and physical perfection when first awakened from the grave, but eventually they come and build in the temple of the Lord, by walking up the highway of holiness, building righteous characters, fit for eternal life on earth with the help of the glorified church.
(1) Editor’s Note: One need not think the chariots were unharnessed, and so ceased to help their passengers make progress. “In the fourth chariot grizzled strong horses,” per ASV (and KJV margin), appears more literal; so no fifth color need be interpreted. (But
Rotherham says, “horses spotted deep red.”) Also, compare the four spirits/winds of the heavens with “the four winds” of Ezekiel 37:9, which are to breathe life into Israel.
In conclusion, Zechariah’s eight visions come back full circle to his first vision — the ultimate goal of the Divine Plan of the Ages — God’s everlasting Kingdom of peace and righteousness on earth. In Zechariah’s closing words (Zechariah 6:15) he tells us that “this (the fulfillment of all the visions) shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God.”
As each of the eight visions encourages us, may we: (1) Be obedient to our consecration vows. (2) Keep our faith in the coming kingdom strong. (3) Trust in God’s abiding protection in our lives. (4) Be neither a thief nor a covenant-breaker. (5) Resist the devil and keep our change of raiment white and unspotted. (6) Be filled with the holy Spirit. (7) Hold fast that no man take our crown. (8) Make our calling and election sure. And (9) Learn to have a love for even our enemies; so that we may become worthy to bless them in the Kingdom.
What an inspiring vision!