New Lights on Zechariah's First Vision I-Purim

---By Amos Lee

Opening words
In this sharing, I would contribute some of the new lights I have received during pursuing the book of Zechariah. I would not get into the entire background or common introduction in detail because we all have pursued this book recently, as well as Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther,Haggai and Malachi, i.e. books after returning. Rather, I would only focus on what I have enlightened and inspired this time. Most were brandnew and modified from what I have shared in the meetings thus supposing finding no other where, for God's glory as "the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" ( Isa 11:9, NIV).

The book of Zechariah in the Old Testament is full of visions and prophets and almost ended the Old Testament; just like the book of Revelation ends the whole New Testament by visions and prophets. Actually, many special things in the visions of Zechariah were also encountered in the book of Revelation; such as the golden lampstand (Zec 4:2, Rev 1:12; Rev 11:4), two olive trees (Zec 4:3, Rev 11:4), seven eyes (Zec 3:9, Rev 5:6), four horses (Zec 1:8, Rev 6:2-8), measuring the city (Zec 2:2, Rev 21:15). Chronically, after the book of Revelation, the senior apostle John also wrote epistles John I, II, and III but exhibiting visions no longer. Correspondingly, being later to the book of Zechariah, there still was a book of Malachi yet conformably showing vision no more instead of prophecies. Hence, in certain angle, the book of Revelation ended the whole New Testament with bountiful visions predicting things coming after while the book of Zechariah also ends the Old Testament by visions vividly predicting the things lying ahead! Nevertheless, these precious visions in Zechariah have not been fully revealed to God's people so long.

Astonished structures
After an opening message, Zechariah started this book with eight perplexing visions (1:7~6:8). Nevertheless, these eight visions are indeed astonishingly well structured.

The first vision was in a dark night and in the low bottoms (1:8, RV; KJ: bottom; NIV: ravine) while the eighth (the last) vision shone out two high bright bronze mountains (6:1). The first vision then showed us four horses in different colors while the eighth vision also four chariots of horses in variant colors. The first vision illustrated the earth sitting still and being quiet (1:11) while being fighting in the eighth vision. As being contrasted so well so carefully, what for, why needed and what meant? This indicated that God purposely contrived these visions to reveal important events coming soon in symbols! Ignoring these, ignoring a lot of God's speaking and desires! In brief, the important events on that land in the fivehundred more successive years were wholly prophesized till around Christ's incarnation.

Vision one, part one - Purim
Now, let us start. Briefly, after short words without any vision that God firstly spoke to Zechariah in the eighth month of the second years of Darius (Zec 1:1-6), God next showed considerably more in the second time to this young man with eight visions and a symbolic charge in the eleventh month in the same year (Zec 1:7-6:15). By comparing the times of God's speaking in Zec 1:1&7 to Hag 2:1&10, we can clearly observe that God spoke to both Haggai and Zechariah alternately in the same period. This is absolutely contrary to those strange teachings that God's speaking is always through unique person in a period.

In Zec 1:8, the first vision started from seeing men ridding on four horses among the myrtle trees. These actually prophesied things recorded in the book of Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah. Without opening this vision, ones can hardly understand the whole picture of God's hidden movements in these recovering books. Neither says any proper experiences or application.

Zechariah was charged to strengthen Zerubbabel (4:7) because he had returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the house of God, the Holy Temple, but the work was stopped by the command of the gentile king (Ezra 4:21~24) for many years. So, God's words came to Zechariah to promise the house of God as well as Jerusalem would be restored (Zec 1:16-17). However, Zerubbabel finally only rebuilt the house of God successfully. For the walls and the gates of Jerusalem, they were eventually rebuilt by another one, Nehemiah (Neh 6:15, Neh 7:1).

Wasn't God zealous to rebuild the walls and the gates of Jerusalem? Didn't God say to Zechariah "I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion" (1:14)? Then, why God did not let Zerubbabel build the walls and gates of Jerusalem together but wait until Nehemiah's era around 65 years later? What did God promise here exactly? Yes, the city of Jerusalem would be restored but God did not clearly mention if it would be taken place by Zerubbabel. God seemingly meant here to Zerubbabel and us that knowing the rebuilding of Jerusalem, seeing the first vision given to Zechariah in advance!

Zechariah's first vision began with seeing a man ridding on a red horse standing among the myrtle trees in the bottom at the night (Zec 1:8). What did these myrtle trees indicate? God's people? Then, what kind or which group of God's people? "Myrtle" this word in the Bible can only be found six or seven times (Ne 8:15; Isa 41:19, 55:13; Zec 1:8, 10 & 11). It has been so hard to determine what did God really betoken concerning these myrtle trees after comparing all these verses because almost all scholars missed another important verse containing this word "myrtle", Esther 2:7. Therefore, almost none of the Bible scholars has ever properly explained this vision. However, this is the first determinant and might be a crucial starting to those visions in the book of Zechariah. What did God mean these myrtle trees specifically?

In Esther 2:7, we see that the Hebrew name of Esther is Hadassah which means just "myrtle"! As well, her situation once just coordinated what described in this vision, at the dark night and in the bottoms, because of Haman's plot (Esther 3:13). Seemingly, all Jews and Esther had no hope (without light, in the dark night) because all the Jews no matter young or old, women or little children, on a single day would be massacred. They were indeed in a low circumstance ("in the bottoms"), yet especially spiritual humility because Esther, her maids and Jews in Susa city did not eat nor drink for three days and nights praying for Esther (meaning "star", also called Hadassah, i.e. "myrtle" here) for changing this disastrous fate. Thus, according to the spiritual point of view, they were also turned to myrtle trees together with Hadassah (Esther) because they fasted on food and water and prayed for Hadassah; namely, myrtle (tree). This made myrtle trees (plural) in the bottom at the night.

It was indeed dark and low as well as so desperate. In contrast, there was God's securest protection and unimaginable actions as an angel of the Lord (1:11) ridding on a red horse with them. How precious this is because no matter how tragic the outer conditions would become, God's angel can still make any impossible things possible, death to life and woes to blesses!

The first red horse
This angel was ridding on a red horse. This indicated that God appointed to this angel somewhat a bloody mission when God took care or answered these selfhumble myrtle trees by slaughtering their enemies around, i.e. in the city of Susa because the first red horse and its rider stayed around myrtle trees. Truly, after Esther's beseeching to the King, for selfdefense in their place Susa, Jews then killed 500 men of enemies in the first day plus 300 in the second day who might still try to attack Jews (Esther 8:11, 9:5&15) as well as the ten sons of the evil plot's instigator Haman, a descendant of Agagite (Esther 9:10); Agag, the king of Amalek (1sa 15:8, etc.) and "Jehovah will have war with Amalek from generation to generation" (Ex 17:16). As well, God "will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven" (Ex 17:14). This reminds us the principle of fighting to Amalek. Glory and justice to God!

The second red horse
Behind this red horse, there were also another red horse and other two horses (Zec 1:8). Why there was another red horse showing behind with the same color again? What did this mean precisely? Another bloody mission? Yes, this means that besides the slaughtering enemies in Susa, there were also other slaughtering enemies (red horse, Zec 1:10) outside of the city of Susa, i.e. in all the Persian Empire except Susa. Indeed, in Est 9:16, we saw its fulfillment that "the remainder of the Jews who were in the king's provinces also assembled to protect themselves and get relief from their enemies. They killed seventy five thousand of them but did not lay their hands on the plunder." (NIV) Once again we see, those Jews were for protecting themselves not for greedy plundering nor for bleeding innocent blood. Eventually, God dramatically turned these two days (the 14th and 15th day of the month of Adar, Est 9:26) of tragic, terrifying and irreparable bloodbath toward Jews into a jubilant, feasting and giftgiving Jewish festival of salvation (Est 9:19, 22, 26, 32), i.e. so called "Purim". How can't glory be to God!

Two red days in two areas
Therefore, according to locations, the first red horse implied the slaying in Susa while the second red horse behind hinted the slaying in the remained whole provinces outside the city of Susa. However, because the two-day's Purim was from the two-days' slaughter, we can also consider that the two red horses connoted the two bloody days according to the two times of its taking place.

Anyway, this was God' wisdom that using the two riders and the two red horses to symbolize the bloody missions of protection in two days and two areas. A red horse among the myrtle trees with another red horse showing just behind thus definitely locate out the description in the book of Esther and the two red self-defenses persuadably.

The melodious onset in obedience
It is so sweet that these eight visions started from Hadassah's being in the low place and dark night. Their fast on food and drink for three days and nights in a spirit of obedience (Est 7:4) "allowed" God to echo them with dramatically changing the enormous crisis into magnificent blessings. Imaging that Haman was once in the highest seat of honor (Est 3:1&2) and had allotted Mordecai's fate to be hanged on a wood (Est 5:14). Yet, Mordecai did not give up his insistence toward God (Est 5:9) so God could resoundingly turned things just over by letting Haman be hanged instead (Est 7:10) and let Mordecai replace Haman to hold king's signet ring (Est 8:2). Such dramatic change reminds us the principle of fighting against Amalek again by lifting the obedient hands (Ex 17:11), or not, circumstances would be turned over. This might be God's desire here. Obeying to what? Obey to God and God's words. So, first understanding God words. Rather, here further came out the obedience to a Gentile king; even to Esther, the Gentile king husband.

Peace for building-up
After Amalek was dealt, finally, the earth became in peace and at rest. However, these were for the further building up of Jerusalem and cities of God (Zec 1:17). Without myrtle trees' commencement, Jerusalem and around cities could hardly be restored. God used Esther not only to save her people but also to strengthen and exalt His people for the further holy building up and recovery. As well, His Christ's first coming.

Obedience is the strength
It is amazing that God did not use a strong warrior or insightful politician to deal with the Amalek but a young lady Esther holding no real power on royal court and daring not let other know she is a Jew at that moment although she had been the queen. This denoted that the determinant strength is not of outside might, wealth or position but the inside lowliness, obedience and God's blessings because history is in God's sovereignty. So, the glory of all these events regarding the Purim should surely be to God!

Comparing to the seven festivals of Jehovah, the way of celebration of Purim settled in Est 9:22 and 31 was good (feasting, giving presents and to the poor as well as fasting and lamentation and gathering not to Jerusalem) but not so exquisite. From all the fellowship above, in remembrance of the Purim (not for rituals or demands of reigion), let us remember and glorify God (Even Esther's fasting was initiated and long foreseen by God.)

~ Amos Lee © all rights reserved. V2: '09.01.08.

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