18 Then I looked up, and there before me were four horns. 19 I asked the angel who was speaking to me, “What are these?”
He answered me, “These are the horns that scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.”
20 Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen. 21 I asked, “What are these coming to do?”
He answered, “These are the horns that scattered Judah so that no one could raise their head, but the craftsmen have come to terrify them and throw down these horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter its people.”
(Zecharaiah 1:18-21 NIV)
Last time we looked at the first of eight visions the Lord gave to the prophet Zechariah. The Lord’s anger and wrath had been against the Israelites’ forefathers for their callous disobedience to Him. Now the Lord was calling this new generation of Israelites back to a relationship with Himself using words of kindness, comfort, peace, and hope.
Today’s text is the second of the eight visions. In the first vision, the Lord pronounced peace in Jerusalem and Judah and expressed anger toward the nations that had warred against the Israelites (v. 15).
Today’s second vision is the continuation of the Lord’s anger toward these nations that brought down Israel. When Zechariah looked up, he saw four horns, like the horns of a bull or ox. These horns represented the strength and pride of the nations that had fought against Israel an scattered her people. The number of horns (four) most likely represented where these armies came from, and where they scattered the Israelites to – the four corners of the earth (north, south, east, and west).
The Lord then showed Zechariah four workmen (craftsmen). These four craftsmen corresponded to the four horns. Their job was to remove the horns, that is, to defeat those who warred against Judah and scattered her people.
Just as the Lord put the fear of mankind into every beast, bird, critter, and fish (Genesis 9:2), so these nations feared the workers that God sent to defeat them. These nations had warred against Judah and scattered its people to the four winds; now it was God’s time of judgment against these nations.
The Lord said that these workers would “throw down” the horns of these nations that had warred against Judah. This statement, along with the fear and terror mentioned above, meant that these nations still had their power, just as a bull or ox still has its power and pride when its horns are attached. However, the Lord would capture these nations, defeat them, and remove their power, just as the craftsmen would capture the bulls and remove their horns.
As I read and contemplate today’s text, I am reminded that God is still sovereign and in control. Psalm 2 is another Scripture passage that points out mankind’s war against the Lord and His sovereignty over the world.
Jesus, in his time with the disciples during the Last Supper, also gave hope and the promise of victory over those who would war against Him and anyone associated with Him:
32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:32-33 NIV, underlines mine)
May you and I live out our lives today in the power and knowledge that Jesus has won the victory over life and death. We are still called to fight the good fight against sin, but the ultimate battle has been won on our behalf through Jesus.