Family Study: Zechariah 1:7-17


The Man Among The Myrtle Trees


“I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and Zion.” Zech 1:14

Although I ended up with a passing grade in my high school Shakespeare class, it was by far one of my most difficult classes. There are many reasons why I struggled through it, not the least of which was that I’m a pretty practical guy that has difficulty reading flowery literature with all sorts of allegorical implications. Needless to say, I was thankful for the ‘cliff notes’, without which that class would have been a total disaster in every way!

I can’t tell you how many times I started reading the book of Zechariah and then chose to skip over it, simply because some of the key verses in the very first chapter stumped me. When I came across his first vision and the description of “a man…riding a red horse…standing among the myrtle trees…in the ravine with red, sorrel and white horses behind him…”, I decided that this prophet was not for me. After all, when is the last time you saw a red horse? And, what in the world is the significance of myrtle trees in a ravine? I decided that I was going to leave this prophet to someone a little more ethereal than I to figure out.

However, things are entirely different now, as I can’t seem to get the first of Zechariah’s eight visions out of my heart and spirit! It’s filled with the incredible truth of a loving Messiah who passionately desires to be recognized by the very people who have turned their backs on Him.

When I realized that the ‘myrtle tree in the ravine’ serves as a symbol of the Jewish nation in the midst of difficult times, and ‘the man’ was actually ‘the angel of the Lord’, which many commentators connect to the Son of Man or the Messiah, all of a sudden this once overlooked chapter has become one of my favorite chapters in the Scripture!

Where was the God of Israel during the 70 years of the Babylonian captivity and where was He when Jerusalem was ransacked in 70AD? Where was God during the bloody inquisitions and where was He during the brutal intifadas? And, where will He be when nations turn against Israel in the last days?

I contend that God Himself remains among the myrtle trees, exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and longing to be recognized by those He came to save! I also contend that we, His people, ought to be gripped with the burden of Israel’s salvation too.

Oh, what a day it will be when Israel recognizes their Messiah!

This is from a Jewish source, Chabad- Look and see how much the Jews need to recognize & accept the Messiah:

More than Your Average Angel

The angel that convinced Abraham was no ordinary angel. From the teachings of Rabbi Bachya ben Asher

"G‑d's angel called to him from heaven and said…, 'Do not harm the boy. Do not do anything to him.'" (Gen. 22:11-12)

The apparently strange phenomenon in this paragraph, that G‑d is the one who subjects Abraham to the trial whereas the angel prevented him from going through with it, needs to be understood as follows: The "angel" mentioned in our paragraph is not of the category of the "nifradim" ["disembodied spiritual creatures"], but it belonged to what are known as the "netiyot" ["the emanations of G‑d", a divine voice much closer to G‑d's Essence than "mere" angels].

The voice which the Torah describes as emanating from an "angel of G‑d" was of a superior divine level….

Had the angel who called out to Abraham and instructed him to desist belonged to the category known as "nifradim", Abraham would have ignored him, and would not have allowed himself to be countermanded by a subordinate of the One who had instructed him in the first place. Moreover, it is quite unthinkable that an angel of the "lower" category of nifradim would have been allowed to say to Abraham, "You did not withhold your son from Me"; he would have had to say "from Him". All of this proves that the voice which the Torah describes as emanating from an "angel of G‑d" was of a superior divine level.

This "angel" is also known as the "great angel" who manifested himself in Exodus 14:19, when the Torah describes him as traveling in front of the encampment of the Jewish people [performing all kinds of miracles]. The words "malach ha Elo-him" employed there by the Torah do not mean "angel of the Lord", for the word "malach" [usually translated as "angel"] is not a possessive clause, the angel being merely an attribute of G‑d. The word "Elo-him" in that verse must be understood as an explanation of the word "malach". When the Torah describes this divine emanation as "malach" the meaning is that G‑d is "contained, present" within this divine emanation.

We encounter something similar in Exodus 23:21 where G‑d explains to Moses that the angel / malach who will be accompanying the Jewish people needs to be related to with the utmost reverence as "My name within him". Apparently, the word substituted for this attribute of G‑d we call "the awe of Isaac", an attribute which brooks no defiance of any sort.

When we read in Genesis 48:16, when Jacob blesses before his death, "The angel who has rescued me…is in the midst of the terrestrial world," which is an allusion to the attribute of "mastery" ["Adnut"] which this "angel" represents. He has authority within the whole terrestrial universe.

Additional lessons to listen through this week:

Dr. J. Vernon McGee

Download the whole PDF to print here:

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