Zech. 1:18 And I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, four horns! 19 And I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these?” And he answered me, “These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.”
20 Then the LORD showed me four smiths. 21 And I said, “What are these coming to do?” He answered, “These are the horns which scattered Judah, so that no man raised his head; and these have come to terrify them, to cast down the horns of the nations who lifted up their horn against the land of Judah to scatter it.”
Even though this little prophecy at first glance seems very different from the horses in the myrtle that just proceed it, it is in fact a continuation of the same scolding that Judah was being given. The Jews had just returned from 70 years of captivity. They were looking to return to the days of Solomon, when they were the center of world trade and commerce. The Lord using symbolic language that they would have understood, informs them that their punishment is far from over. The scattering would continue.
Horns in Scripture are symbolic of kings and kingdoms [Psa. 132:17, 148:14; Dan. 7:8, 21; Amos 6:13]. We here in North America have only faint memories of king or queens and their pomp and circumstances. We have no common knowledge of crowns and diadems. Our schools and institutions do not teach of royalty or potentates, or their need to display power. This is what crowns are, a display of power and wealth. Crowns are simply stylized representations of horns, and for the forging of these crowns very talented craftsmen or smiths are needed.
These four horns are presented over and over in scripture. In Daniel and the Revelation they are beasts, and the horns of beasts. They represent the four great empires that have ruled over the nations including Israel. From Babylon to the Roman Empire these nations were to have sway over the children of Israel for 2520 years, or seven times. This was the agreement that they had made with God just before entering the land. That if they did not keep all the commandments that they would be the victim of beasts for seven times [Lev. 26:22]. They were to be ruled over by all four empires, one after another, until the Fullness of the Gentiles be fulfilled [Rom. 11:25].
The power behind these bestial empires is quite clearly Satan [Rev. 13:4]. It is he and the spiritual powers that have provided these crowns. He has given his power to these bestial nations. The Scriptures only give subtle hints as to how spiritual powers work with the nations. But there is enough there to tell us that we are not in control of events as we think we are. There are several other places in scripture that we are told that the spiritual realms control the rise and fall of nations. [Dan 10:13]. Our struggle is not with unrighteous peoples but with these spiritual powers [Eph. 6:12]. Our victory is assured because Messiah is at the right hand of the Father [1 Pet. 3:22]. Satan is responsible for wars [Rev 20:3, 7-8]. These smiths or spiritual powers are not only the maker of the authority of each empire, they also are the agents of the empires destruction when their time is ended.
This bring us to the great paradox of the ages. Philosophers both great and small have struggled over this great problem. “Is God responsible for evil?” Here we have on the one hand, smiths or spiritual forces causing the rise and fall of nations. At the same time God claim these actions are doing his bidding:
- Assyria is a rod of My anger [ Isa 10:5].
- Nebuchadnezzar is the LORD’S servant [Jer. 25: 9].
- Cyrus is His shepherd, [Isa 44:28] and His anointed to subdue nations [Isa 45:1]
What ever the ultimate answer turns out to be, according to Zechariah 1:15, the Lord says these nations had furthered the disaster, perhaps going beyond the proscribed limits of Israel’s punishment.
The Jews had not kept the covenant. They had not kept His commandments, they had spurned His ordinances, and they had worshiped other gods [Lev. 26:14 -15]. One empire after another was sent to rule over them. For this they were left without a sovereign nation for 2520 years. Some how in all of this the church has not taken the lesson to heart. Believers go on about their faith as if they will be immune from this same kind of wrath.
For the last 150 years the futurists have been teaching that “the law has passed away” [Rom. 3:31], telling believers that there will be no penalty for our lawlessness 2Th. 2:3. They teach a fable, the Rapture that all will be taken off the earth while He disciplines the unbelievers. Nothing could be more unbiblical. As a result of this myth, whole congregations have stopped being salt and light [Matt. 5:13-14].
They have pulled inward, separating themselves further and further from the world; no longer holding themselves or others to truth and justice. They have stopped showing up at public meetings, they have stopped voting, they no longer feel that it is their responsibility to run for public office. They have allowed unrighteous, power grabbing, evil men to take those places instead; all because of this false belief that it is only going to get worse. They fear public ridicule more than they fear God. They cling to their belief that God is going to take them out of this self-made mess with a Rapture.
The truth is Messiah is not returning to save His people, He is returning to discipline His people. Like the Jews before us, we have not kept His commandments. It’s not wait till your father gets home, it is, wait till the Master gets home Luke 12:41-48.