New International Reader's Version

Zechariah 1

The Lord Wants His People to Return to Him

1A message from the Lord came to Zechariah the prophet. Zechariah was the son of Berekiah. Berekiah was the son of Iddo. It was the eighth month of the second year that Darius was king of Persia. Here is what Zechariah said.

The Lord who rules over all was very angry with your people of long ago. And now he says to us, “Return to me. Then I will return to you,” announces the Lord. “Do not be like your people of long ago. The earlier prophets gave them my message. I said, ‘Stop doing what is evil. Turn away from your sinful practices.’ But they would not listen to me. They would not pay any attention,” announces the Lord. “Where are those people now? And what about my prophets? Do they live forever? I commanded my servants the prophets what to say. I told them what I planned to do. But your people refused to obey me. So I had to punish them.

“Then they had a change of heart. They said, ‘The Lord who rules over all has punished us because of how we have lived. He was fair and right to do that. He has done to us just what he decided to do.’ ”

A Vision of a Horseman Among Some Myrtle Trees

A message from the Lord came to Zechariah the prophet. Zechariah was the son of Berekiah. Berekiah was the son of Iddo. The message came during the second year that Darius was king. It was the 24th day of the 11th month. That’s the month of Shebat.

I had a vision at night. I saw a man sitting on a red horse. He was standing among the myrtle trees in a valley. Behind him were red, brown and white horses.

An angel was talking with me. I asked him, “Sir, what are these?”

He answered, “I will show you what they are.”

10 Then the man standing among the myrtle trees spoke. He said, “They are the messengers the Lord has sent out. He told them to go all through the earth.”

11 They brought a report to the angel of the Lord. He was standing among the myrtle trees. They said to him, “We have gone all through the earth. We’ve found the whole world enjoying peace and rest.”

12 Then the angel of the Lord spoke up. He said, “Lord, you rule over all. How long will you keep from showing your tender love to Jerusalem? How long will you keep it from the towns of Judah? You have been angry with them for 70 years.” 13 So the Lord replied with kind and comforting words. He spoke them to the angel who talked with me.

14 Then the angel said, “Announce this message. Say, ‘The Lord who rules over all says, “I am very jealous for my people in Jerusalem and Zion. 15 And I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry with my people. But the nations went too far and tried to wipe them out.”

16 “ ‘So the Lord says, “I will return to Jerusalem. I will show its people my tender love. My temple will be rebuilt there. Workers will use a measuring line when they rebuild Jerusalem,” announces the Lord.

17 “ ‘He says, “My towns will be filled with good things once more. I will comfort Zion. And I will choose Jerusalem again.” ’ ”

A Vision of Four Horns and Four Skilled Workers

18 Then I looked up and saw four animal horns. 19 I spoke to the angel who was talking with me. “What are these horns?” I asked.

He said, “They are the powerful nations that scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.”

20 Then the Lord showed me four skilled workers. 21 I asked, “What are they coming to do?”

He answered, “The horns are the powerful nations that scattered the people of Judah. That made Judah helpless. But these four skilled workers have come to terrify the horns. The workers will destroy the power of those nations. Those nations had used their power to scatter Judah’s people.”

The Message

Zechariah 1

11-4 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: “God was very angry with your ancestors. So give to the people this Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: ‘Come back to me and I’ll come back to you. 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.’

5-6 “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. 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

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:

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.

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?”

13-15 God reassured the Angel-Messenger—good words, comforting words—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. 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.

16-17 “‘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.’
    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

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.”