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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

The Heavenly Horseman (Zechariah 1:7-17)

Three months after his previous message, Zechariah received the first of a series of visions – the record of them takes up the first six chapters of his book.

The vision was of man on a red horse standing one night among myrtle trees along with other horsemen. Zechariah was given an angel to help him understand what the vision meant. The man on the red horse was the Angel of the Lord and the other horsemen were angels who had been patrolling the earth on behalf of God. Then Angel of the Lord turned to speak to Another who was there and it turns out that Another was the Lord himself. The Angel asks the Lord how much longer was mercy going to be delayed for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah. The Lord gave him gracious and comforting words in reply (vv. 7-13).

Having received those words, the angel who was with Zechariah then outlined for him the message that he was to preach. The message was to include (1) God’s deep love (exceedingly jealous) for his cause; (2) his anger against the nations for being far harsher than they should have been against his people (he had wanted the nations to punish them a little); (3) Jerusalem and its temple will be rebuilt because the Lord had returned in mercy; and (4) there would be great spiritual blessings experienced once again in Jerusalem (vv. 14-17).

The vision includes those angels reporting to God about what they had seen. Among the things they have seen was the state of Jerusalem. The Angel of the Lord then intercedes for Jerusalem with God and receives information about his divine plans for the city.

Who is Angel of the Lord? He is the mysterious divine person whom we meet many times in the Old Testament. Reading those incidents inform us that he is also a divine person, distinct from the One he addresses as God and yet equal to him. This Angel is Jesus performing roles for his cause before his incarnation.

The vision reveals the priority of the Angel’s heart (his cause), the protection it is given (the angels), his prayers for that cause and the prosperity that is assured. No doubt, this secret information, conveyed to him in the form of a vision, was a great encouragement to Zechariah. And it would be for the people as well once he began to pass it on to them.

The message that Zechariah was given informed him and his listeners that spiritual success is connected to Jesus. What was true for them is also true for us. 

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