Zechariah 1

Return to the Lord

1 When Darius had been king of Persia for two years, Zechariah the prophet heard a message from the Lord. It was the eighth month of the year. Zechariah was the son of Berekiah, and Berekiah was the son of Iddo.

1:1When we write Lord like this, it is a special name for God. Sometimes people write it as ‘Yahweh’, or as ‘Jehovah’. It is his own name that he told Moses. See Exodus 3:14. It means ‘I am who I am’. This shows that God has always been there and he always will be there.

2 This was the Lord's message:

‘I, the Lord, was very angry with your ancestors. 3 Now I, the Lord Almighty, say this to you: “If you return to me, I will return to you.” 4 Do not be like your ancestors. Many years ago the prophets gave them a message from me. The message was, “Stop doing those evil and wicked things.” But they did not listen to me. They did not think that my message was important. 5 That was a long time ago. Your ancestors have been dead for a long time. So have the prophets. 6 I told my prophets to speak my message and my commands. I punished your ancestors, as I warned them I would do. Then they turned back to me. They said, “The Lord Almighty has punished us for our sins, as he said he would do.” ’

The man on the red horse

7 On the 24th day of Shebat, the 11th month of the year, the Lord spoke to Zechariah the prophet. This was when Darius had been king for two years.

8 During the night I, Zechariah, had a dream from the Lord. I saw a man on a red horse. The horse was standing among some trees called myrtle trees, in the valley. And behind him were red, brown and white horses.

9 I asked him, ‘My lord, what are these horses?’ The angel who talked with me said, ‘I will show you what they are.’

10 The man who was standing among the trees answered, ‘The Lord has sent these horses to go to all the places on the earth.’

11 And the horses spoke to the angel of the Lord who stood among the trees. They said, ‘We have gone all over the earth. All the earth is without trouble.’

12 Then the angel of the Lord said, ‘Lord Almighty, how long will you be angry with Jerusalem? How long will you be angry with the cities of Judah? You have already been angry for 70 years.’ 13 And the Lord answered the angel with kind words.

14 The angel said to me, ‘Tell this to the people. This is what the Lord Almighty says: “I love Jerusalem. Jerusalem is mine. 15 I am very angry with the countries that are safe and without danger. Those countries were too cruel to my people, when I was only a little angry with Jerusalem.” 16 So this is what the Lord says: “I will return to Jerusalem to be kind to the people there. I will build my house again”, says the Lord Almighty, “and I will build the city again.” ’

17 The angel told me that I must say this: ‘The Lord Almighty says, “My towns will be rich again. I will again speak kind words to Jerusalem. I will choose Jerusalem again as my own city.” ’

Four horns and four workers

1:18In this story, a horn means a country that is powerful.

18 And I looked up and I saw four horns. 19 And I asked the angel that talked with me, ‘What are these horns?’ Then the angel said to me, ‘These are the strong enemies of my people. They took my people out of Judah, out of Israel and out of Jerusalem.’

20 Then the Lord showed me four workers with hammers. 21 I said, ‘What are these men coming to do?’ The Lord answered, ‘The horns are the enemies that destroyed Judah. They destroyed Judah and they made the people ashamed. The workers came to frighten and to destroy the enemies because they killed many of my people. The enemies took many of my people out of Judah.’