The twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month of the second year of the reign of Darius may not have been a significant day for the emperor. But it was an important day for Zechariah because during it he received three visions from God about what he was doing. The first was the vision of the man and horses standing in the myrtle trees (which we thought about yesterday) and the third was a vision of a man with a measuring line (which we will think about tomorrow). In between was a vision of four horns and four craftsmen.
The fact that Zechariah had this significant day is a reminder to us that sometimes we too have important days when God gives to us something special. I don’t mean that he gives us something as authoritative or as essential for others as what he gave to Zechariah (we will never be given anything in this way). Yet sometimes we experience special closeness with the Lord or receive clear illumination regarding the meaning of a Bible verse. We should thank God for such occasions and pray for more of them.
The problem for us with some biblical visions is that we are not told what they signify. That is not the case with the details in this vision. The four horns represent those who scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem (the number ‘four’ may indicate that the scattering was worldwide – north, south, east and west, which is what Calvin suggested). The rulers who did this to Israel would be destroyed by four craftsmen whom God would send to punish the horns (he had indicated in the previous vision that he was very displeased with the degree of punishment those horns had inflicted on his people).
The craftsmen may be carpenters or blacksmiths – the trade will depend on whether or not the horns in the vision were made of wood or of metal. The point is that the craftsmen would be able to destroy totally the horns. After all, the powerful horn of Babylon was destroyed completely by the Persian craftsman.
The vision is a reminder that God is in control and governs the nations, even the ones that are directly fighting against him. Even when his people are surrounded by determined opponents, he can raise up others who will remove those enemies without themselves having any desire to further his kingdom.
The fact that God is in control and active in providence would have been an encouragement to those in Zechariah’s day who were involved in rebuilding the temple. And it should be an encouragement to us as we serve God in a society that opposes his kingdom.