Among the Myrtle Trees – Zechariah 1

Zechariah, God’s prophet to the former exiles returned from Babylon, was given a series of visions in the night which laid out God’s plans for the eternal future of Judah and Jerusalem in His coming kingdom of Heaven.

Zechariah’s first vision was of a man riding a red horse, followed by other horses.  The vision is a bit mysterious and the interpretations of it vary, but it seems to be a status report given by reconnaissance angels to God the Father (Adonai) regarding the status of the earth at the end of the seventy-year exile period.

“In the night I saw, and behold, a man riding upon a red horse was standing among the myrtle trees that were in the ravine. Behind him were red, sorrel and white horses.

Then I asked, ‘What are these, my lord?’

Now the angel speaking with me said to me, ‘I will show you what these are.’

10 Then the man standing among the myrtle trees answered and said, ‘These are the ones Adonai has sent to walk back and forth throughout the earth.’

11 They answered the angel of Adonai who stood among the myrtle trees saying, ‘We have walked throughout the earth, and behold, all the earth sits quietly and is still.’  ” Zechariah 1:8-11 (TLV)

Typically, a red horse indicates war and a white horse peace and holiness.  The meaning of the sorrel horse and the significance of being in the shade of a group of myrtle trees is not entirely clear.  The myrtle tree may be a reference to Judah, which remained in a state of destruction seventy years after the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar.  The exiles had begun to return to the land, but any reconstruction beyond the foundation of the temple had not yet begun.

The term angel of the Lord is believed by some to be a reference to the pre-incarnate Christ, the future King of the fifth and final kingdom to come.  Just as Jesus does today on our behalf, He was interceding with the Father, the Lord of Hosts (Adonai-Tzva’ot), on behalf of ruined Judah.

12 Then the angel of Adonai answered and said, ‘Adonai-Tzva’ot, how long will You withhold compassion on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah with whom You have been angry for 70 years?’ 13 Adonai answered the angel who was speaking to me with pleasant, comforting words.

14 Then the angel speaking to me said, ‘Cry out saying, thus says Adonai-Tzva’ot, “I am exceedingly zealous for Jerusalem and for Zion 15 and I am infuriated with the haughty nations. I was a little angry with them, but they furthered their own calamity.” Zechariah 1:12-15 (TLV)

For a rare moment in human history, under the Medo-Persian empire, the angels reported that there was peace on the earth.  Yet in God’s eyes, the fact that Jerusalem, His chosen city, still lay in a state of destruction with the surrounding nations not offering help to rebuild it was not acceptable in His eyes.  God would deal with the great human empires of history through the lens of how they treated and respected His nation and His people, and through them, how they respected Him, the Creator of all things.  Countries were allowed to oppress them, but only in His time and for His chosen purposes, such as removing idolatry.  There was a clear limit to what God would allow.

The Lord would confirm that nothing had changed in the long term – He had established Jerusalem as His own home base on earth, and He would rebuild His temple and the city there. (Adonai-Tzva’ot means the Lord of Hosts.)

16 “Therefore,” thus says Adonai, “I will return to Jerusalem with compassion. My House will be built there,” declares Adonai-Tzva’ot “and a measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem.” 17 Again cry out, saying, thus says Adonai-Tzva’ot, “My cities will again overflow with prosperity and Adonai will again comfort Zion and will again choose Jerusalem.’” Zechariah 1:16 (TLV)

Despite the daily failings of people to live the way the Lord wishes us to, He still loves us.  He has made a way to atone for all our sins and shortcomings – the sacrificial death on the cross and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  One day, He will return to earth to reign over the fifth and final kingdom – the eternal kingdom of God.


No matter where we find ourselves, Christ is intervening on our behalf, calling us closer to Him for our own salvation, blessing, and healing.  Nothing can compare to the goodness of God!

Lord, we call upon You for mercy and grace.  Forgive us for all of our sins and shortcomings, and for the times we have turned our back on You to chase after worthless things.  Teach us to number our days to invest our precious time in things of eternal value.  In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.

Psalm 107

(Note: Adonai is a name for the Lord, Elyon means God Most High)

Praise Adonai, for He is good,
for His lovingkindness endures forever.
Let the redeemed of Adonai say so—
whom He redeemed from the hand of the foe,
whom He gathered out of the lands,
    from the east and from the west,
    from the north and from the sea.
Some wandered in a desert, a wasteland.
They found no way to an inhabited city.
Hungry and thirsty,
their souls ebbed away.
So they cried out to Adonai in their distress,
    and He delivered them out of their troubles.
Then He led them by a straight way
to go to a city where they could live.
Let them praise Adonai for His mercy
and His wonders for the children of men,
for He satisfies the thirsty soul
and fills the hungry soul with goodness.

10 Some sat in darkness and deep gloom,
prisoners in misery and iron chains,
11 for they had defied God’s words,
and spurned the counsel of Elyon.
12 So He humbled their heart with trouble.
They stumbled, and no one was helping.
13 So they cried out to Adonai in their distress,
    and He delivered them out of their troubles.
14 He brought them out of darkness
and deep gloom, breaking their chains.  Psalm 107:1-14 (TLV)

(Note: Adonai is a name for the Lord, Elyon means God Most High)

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