Zechariah’s next vision contains a familiar reference to the four great human empires from the times of the prophets until today. Just as in Daniel’s earlier prophecies, four horns will represent the four great leaders of the world empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Ancient Greece, and Rome. At least portions of these empires would oppress and scatter Jerusalem in their time.
1 Then I lifted up my eyes and behold, I saw four horns! 2 I said to the angel speaking with me, ‘What are these?’
He said to me, ‘These are the horns that have scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.’
3 Then Adonai showed me four craftsmen. 4 I asked, ‘What are these coming to do?’
He answered, ‘These are the horns that scattered Judah, so that no one could raise his head, but the craftsmen have come to frighten them, to cast down the horns of the nations that have lifted up their horn against the land of Judah to scatter it.’ Zechariah 2:1-4 (TLV)
The first three empires, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece were defeated and incorporated into the empire that followed it. These were three of the four victorious “craftsmen” sent by the Lord to punish the previous empire because of what they had done to God’s people.
In the case of the fourth empire, Rome, it was never conquered by an outsider, but fell apart from within. Its remnants survive today in the form of its descendant countries and their former colonies. Scripture tells us that there will be another attempt to reunify that nation of iron in the end times, ten nations led by the Antichrist, corresponding to the ten iron and clay toes in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2. But this final world government will be defeated by the fourth craftsman, the Lord Jesus Christ, as He brings in the kingdom of Heaven to reign over the earth forever.
As God had told Abram (later renamed Abraham) at the beginning, when he was first called out to initiate a chosen people:
2 My heart’s desire is to make you into a great nation, to bless you,
to make your name great so that you may be a blessing.
3 My desire is to bless those who bless you,
but whoever curses you I will curse,
and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed. Genesis 12:2-3 (TLV)
This promised blessing to all families on earth would come through their Messiah, Jesus Christ. By His sacrifice on the cross and resurrection from the dead, all believers around the globe now have direct access to the throne of God, and by the blood of Christ have been purified and cleansed and are able to live in God’s holy presence forever.
The promised curses against those who curse and attack God’s people, even when the Lord permits it as a chastisement, are just as certain to come about in the Lord’s timing. That is not a side of history one wishes to be on.
Israel is and has been the apple of God’s eye even when going through times of punishment. Today, God is calling out to all humankind through the Messiah, Jesus Christ. We, too, may be walking far from the path of God when His call to us comes, but His call is irrevocable.
25 For I do not want you, brothers and sisters, to be ignorant of this mystery—lest you be wise in your own eyes—that a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
“The Deliverer shall come out of Zion.
He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
27 And this is My covenant with them,
when I take away their sins.”
28 Concerning the Good News, they are hostile for your sake; but concerning chosenness, they are loved on account of the fathers— 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you once were disobedient to God but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, 31 in like manner these also have now been disobedient with the result that, because of the mercy shown to you, they also may receive mercy. Romans 11:25-31 (TLV)
Lord, show us Your mercy for all the times we have been disobedient to You. Draw us close to You so that we may abide under the shadow of Your wing and enjoy Your great blessings and protection. Thank you! We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.