A Call to Return to the LORD
1 1 In the eighth month of the second year in the reign of Darius, God's Message came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berechiah, son of Iddo: 2 "God was very angry with your ancestors. 3 So give to the people this Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: 'Come back to me and I'll come back to you. 4 Don't be like your parents. The old-time prophets called out to them, "A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: Leave your evil life. Quit your evil practices." But they ignored everything I said to them, stubbornly refused to listen.' 5 "And where are your ancestors now? Dead and buried. And the prophets who preached to them? Also dead and buried. But the Message that my servants the prophets spoke, that isn't dead and buried. 6 That Message did its work on your ancestors, did it not? It woke them up and they came back, saying, 'He did what he said he would do, sure enough. We didn't get by with a thing.'" First Vision: Four Riders
The Vision of the Horses
7 On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month in the second year of the reign of Darius, the Message of God was given to the prophet Zechariah son of Berechiah, son of Iddo: 8 One night I looked out and saw a man astride a red horse. He was in the shadows in a grove of birches. Behind him were more horses - a red, a chestnut, and a white. 9 I said, "Sir, what are these horses doing here? What's the meaning of this?" The Angel-Messenger said, "Let me show you." 10 Then the rider in the birch grove spoke up, "These are the riders that God sent to check things out on earth." 11 They reported their findings to the Angel of God in the birch grove: "We have looked over the whole earth and all is well. Everything's under control." 12 The Angel of God reported back, "O God-of-the-Angel-Armies, how long are you going to stay angry with Jerusalem and the cities of Judah? When are you going to let up? Isn't seventy years long enough?" 13 God reassured the Angel-Messenger - good words, comforting words - 14 who then addressed me: "Tell them this. Tell them that God-of-the-Angel-Armies has spoken. This is God's Message: 'I care deeply for Jerusalem and Zion. I feel very possessive of them. 15 But I'm thoroughly angry with the godless nations that act as if they own the whole world. I was only moderately angry earlier, but now they've gone too far. I'm going into action. 16 "'I've come back to Jerusalem, but with compassion this time.' This is God speaking. 'I'll see to it that my Temple is rebuilt.' A Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies! 'The rebuilding operation is already staked out.' 17 Say it again - a Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies: 'My cities will prosper again, God will comfort Zion again, Jerusalem will be back in my favor again.'" Second Vision: Four Horns and Four Blacksmiths
The Vision of the Horns and Carpenters
18 I looked up, and was surprised by another vision: four horns! 19 I asked the Messenger-Angel, "And what's the meaning of this?" He said, "These are the powers that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem abroad." 20 Then God expanded the vision to include four blacksmiths. 21 I asked, "And what are these all about?" He said, "Since the 'horns' scattered Judah so badly that no one had any hope left, these blacksmiths have arrived to combat the horns. They'll dehorn the godless nations who used their horns to scatter Judah to the four winds."
The Exiles Summoned
2 1 I looked up and was surprised to see a man holding a tape measure in his hand. 2 I said, "What are you up to?" "I'm on my way," he said, "to survey Jerusalem, to measure its width and length." 3 Just then the Messenger-Angel on his way out 4 and said, "Run! Tell the Surveyor, 'Jerusalem will burst its walls - bursting with people, bursting with animals. 5 And I'll be right there with her' - God's Decree - 'a wall of fire around unwalled Jerusalem and a radiant presence within.'"
6 "Up on your feet! Get out of there - and now!" God says so. "Return from your far exile. I scattered you to the four winds." God's Decree. 7 "Escape from Babylon, Zion, and come home - now!" 8 God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the One of Glory who sent me on my mission, commenting on the godless nations who stripped you and left you homeless, said, "Anyone who hits you, hits me - bloodies my nose, blackens my eye. 9 Yes, and at the right time I'll give the signal and they'll be stripped and thrown out by their own servants." Then you'll know for sure that God-of-the-Angel-Armies sent me on this mission.
10 "Shout and celebrate, Daughter of Zion! I'm on my way. I'm moving into your neighborhood!" God's Decree. 11 Many godless nations will be linked up with God at that time. ("They will become my family! I'll live in their homes!") And then you'll know for sure that God-of-the-Angel-Armies sent me on this mission. 12 God will reclaim his Judah inheritance in the Holy Land. He'll again make clear that Jerusalem is his choice. 13 Quiet, everyone! Shh! Silence before God. Something's afoot in his holy house. He's on the move!
The Prophet's Vision of Joshua the High Priest
3 1 Next the Messenger-Angel showed me the high priest Joshua. He was standing before God's Angel where the Accuser showed up to accuse him. 2 Then God said to the Accuser, "I, God, rebuke you, Accuser! I rebuke you and choose Jerusalem. Surprise! Everything is going up in flames, but I reach in and pull out Jerusalem!" 3 Joshua, standing before the angel, was dressed in dirty clothes. 4 The angel spoke to his attendants, "Get him out of those filthy clothes," and then said to Joshua, "Look, I've stripped you of your sin and dressed you up in clean clothes." 5 I spoke up and said, "How about a clean new turban for his head also?" And they did it - put a clean new turban on his head. Then they finished dressing him, with God's Angel looking on. 6 God's Angel then charged Joshua, 7 "Orders from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: 'If you live the way I tell you and remain obedient in my service, then you'll make the decisions around here and oversee my affairs. And all my attendants standing here will be at your service.
8 "'Careful, High Priest Joshua - both you and your friends sitting here with you, for your friends are in on this, too! Here's what I'm doing next: I'm introducing my servant Branch. 9 And note this: This stone that I'm placing before Joshua, a single stone with seven eyes' - Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies - 'I'll engrave with these words: "I'll strip this land of its filthy sin, all at once, in a single day." 10 "'At that time, everyone will get along with one another, with friendly visits across the fence, friendly visits on one another's porches.'"
The Candlestick and the Olive Trees
4 1 The Messenger-Angel again called me to attention. It was like being wakened out of deep sleep. 2 He said, "What do you see?" 3 And there are two olive trees, one on either side of the bowl." 4 Then I asked the Messenger-Angel, "What does this mean, sir?" 5 The Messenger-Angel said, "Can't you tell?" "No, sir," I said. 6 "This is God's Message to Zerubbabel: 'You can't force these things. They only come about through my Spirit,' says God-of-the-Angel-Armies. 7 'So, big mountain, who do you think you are? Next to Zerubbabel you're nothing but a molehill. He'll proceed to set the Cornerstone in place, accompanied by cheers: Yes! Yes! Do it!'" 8 After that, the Word of God came to me: 9 "Zerubbabel started rebuilding this Temple and he will complete it. That will be your confirmation that God-of-the-Angel-Armies sent me to you. 10 Does anyone dare despise this day of small beginnings? They'll change their tune when they see Zerubbabel setting the last stone in place!"
11 "And the two olive trees on either side of the lampstand?" I asked. "What's the meaning of them? 12 And while you're at it, the two branches of the olive trees that feed oil to the lamps - what do they mean?" 13 He said, "You haven't figured that out?" I said, "No, sir." 14 He said, "These are the two who stand beside the Master of the whole earth and supply golden lamp oil worldwide."
The Flying Roll
5 1 I looked up again and saw - surprise! - a book on the wing! A book flying! 2 The Messenger-Angel said to me, "What do you see now?" I said, "I see a book flying, a huge book - thirty feet long and fifteen wide!" 3 He told me, "This book is the verdict going out worldwide against thieves and liars. The first half of the book disposes of everyone who steals; the second half takes care of everyone who lies. 4 I launched it" - Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies - "and so it will fly into the house of every thief and every liar. It will land in each house and tear it down, timbers and stones." Seventh Vision: A Woman in a Basket
The Woman in the Ephah
5 The Messenger-Angel appeared and said, "Look up. Tell me what you see." 6 I said, "What in the world is that?" He said, "This is a bushel basket on a journey. It holds the sin of everyone, everywhere." 7 Then the lid made of lead was removed from the basket - and there was a woman sitting in it! 8 He said, "This is Miss Wicked." He pushed her back down into the basket and clamped the lead lid over her. 9 Then I looked up and to my surprise saw two women flying. On outstretched wings they airlifted the bushel basket into the sky. 10 I said to the Messenger-Angel, "Where are they taking the bushel basket?" 11 He said, "East to the land of Shinar. They will build a garage to house it. When it's finished, the basket will be stored there."
The Four Chariots
6 1 Once again I looked up - another strange sight! Four chariots charging out from between two mountains. The mountains were bronze. 2 The first chariot was drawn by red horses, the second chariot by black horses, 3 the third chariot by white horses, and the fourth chariot by dappled horses. All the horses were powerful. 4 I asked the Messenger-Angel, "Sir, what's the meaning here?" 5 The angel answered, "These are the four winds of heaven, which originate with the Master of the whole earth. 6 The black horses are headed north with the white ones right after them. The dappled horses are headed south." 7 The powerful horses galloped out, bursting with energy, eager to patrol through the earth. The Messenger-Angel commanded: "On your way! Survey the earth!" and they were off in every direction. 8 Then he called to me and said, "Look at them go! The ones going north are conveying a sense of my Spirit, serene and secure. No more trouble from that direction."
The Symbolic Crowning of Joshua
9 Then this Message from God came to me: 10 "Take up a collection from the exiles. Target Heldai, Tobiah, and Jedaiah. They've just arrived from Babylon. You'll find them at the home of Josiah son of Zephaniah. 11 Collect silver and gold from them and fashion crowns. Place one on the head of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, 12 and give him this message: 13 Yes, he's the one. He'll build the Temple of God. Then he'll assume the role of royalty, take his place on the throne and rule - a priest sitting on the throne! - showing that king and priest can coexist in harmony.' 14 "The other crown will be in the Temple of God as a symbol of royalty, under the custodial care of Helem, Tobiah, Jedaiah, and Hen son of Zephaniah. 15 "People will come from faraway places to pitch in and rebuild the Temple of God. This will confirm that God-of-the-Angel-Armies did, in fact, send me to you. All this follows as you put your minds to a life of responsive obedience to the voice of your God." "You're Interested in Religion, I'm Interested in People"
Insincere Fasting Reproved
7 1 On the fourth day of the ninth month, in the fourth year of the reign of King Darius, God's Message again came to Zechariah. 2 The town of Bethel had sent a delegation headed by Sarezer and Regem-Melech to pray for God's blessing 3 and to confer with the priests of the Temple of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, and also with the prophets. They posed this question: "Should we plan for a day of mourning and abstinence next August, the seventieth anniversary of Jerusalem's fall, as we have been doing all these years?" 4 God-of-the-Angel-Armies gave me this Message for them, 5 for all the people and for the priests: "When you held days of fasting every fifth and seventh month all these seventy years, were you doing it for me? 6 And when you held feasts, was that for me? Hardly. You're interested in religion, I'm interested in people. 7 "There's nothing new to say on the subject. Don't you still have the message of the earlier prophets from the time when Jerusalem was still a thriving, bustling city and the outlying countryside, the Negev and Shephelah, was populated?
Disobedience the Cause of Captivity
8 [This is the message that God gave Zechariah.] 9 Well, the message hasn't changed. God-of-the-Angel-Armies said then and says now: "'Treat one another justly. Love your neighbors. Be compassionate with each other. 10 Don't take advantage of widows, orphans, visitors, and the poor. Don't plot and scheme against one another - that's evil.' 11 "But did your ancestors listen? No, they set their jaws in defiance. They shut their ears. 12 They steeled themselves against God's revelation and the Spirit-filled sermons preached by the earlier prophets by order of God-of-the-Angel-Armies. And God became angry, really angry, 13 because he told them everything plainly and they wouldn't listen to a word he said. 14 I scattered them to the four winds. They ended up strangers wherever they were. Their 'promised land' became a vacant lot - weeds and tin cans and thistles. Not a sign of life. They turned a dreamland into a wasteland."