And I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand! 2 Then I said, “Where are you going?” And he said to me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its breadth and what is its length.” 3 And behold, the angel who talked with me came forward, and another angel came forward to meet him, 4 and said to him, “Run, say to that young man, ‘Jerusalem shall be inhabited as villages without walls, because of the multitude of men and cattle in it. 5 For I will be to her a wall of fire round about, says the LORD, and I will be the glory within her.’”
Ho! ho! Flee from the land of the north, says the LORD; for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heavens, says the LORD. 7 Ho! Escape to Zion, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon. 8 For thus said the LORD of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye: 9 “Behold, I will shake my hand over them, and they shall become plunder for those who served them. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me. 10 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion; for lo, I come and I will dwell in the midst of you, says the LORD. 11 And many nations shall join themselves to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in the midst of you, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. 12 And the LORD will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.”
Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD; for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling. Zech. 2:1-13
This is the same year that Haggai gave a short teaching on the need to rebuild the temple. It had been 19 years since their return to the land, and they had only built the foundations. Haggai’s intent was to strengthen the peoples resolve to get it done. However, it was not to be until 515 that Darius would reissue permission to rebuild the temple [Ezra 6].
Here in Zechariah 2 and in Haggai, in a yet future day, the temple will have even a greater glory than it did before. All the silver and gold of the nations will eventually, in that day, come to the temple. Zechariah takes a more spiritual course here in Chapter 2 and tells the people that the glory of the LORD shall be there. The returning exiles may have seen the city and temple as small, but the LORD will build His holy temple and city on a grand scale. And, He will be in the midst of His people.
Jerusalem is measured or “sized up” by a young man. He is not identified, nor are his measurements given. In fact, an angel informs the young man that the city will be too big to be walled. Its size will be too large due to number of exiles who are still being encouraged to return from Babylon.
A city without walls was unheard of in the ancient world. No matter the size, they needed walls to protect them from flaming arrows and barbaric hoards with battering rams. This was true until the advent of gunpowder. No wall could be constructed that could stand up to cannon fire. So the LORD assures them that in the absence of walls, He will be a fire “round” the city much like the Exodus fire between the Egyptian army and the fleeing Israelites[Ex 14]. The LORD declares He will be in her midst as the protection they need. This was all very true, for although they were rebuilding in “troublesome times” as Daniel had predicted [Dan 9:25], they were never openly attacked.
FYI: Measuring lines of the city and/or the temple are also mentioned in Jeremiah 31: 38-40; Ezekiel 40; Revelations 11:1-2. 21:15-17. In Zechariah 4, Jeremiah 31 and Revelation 11 no measurements are given. In Ezekiel 40 and Revelation 21, truly large measurements are given. The former seems to be about measuring the people’s faith rather than the size of the city. The later remains to be fulfilled. There are those who feel they are literal dimensions, while others think that they are symbolic. Time will tell.
The LORD says for His people to flee Babylon and the other the nations where He has scattered them. The escape is both a physical escape at the time of the vision, as well as a call for a spiritual return to their God. This escape is perhaps more importantly, to leave Babylon spiritually and return to Zion. The LORD wants to dwell with His people and return to worshipping Him. The escape to Zion is contrasted with a leaving behind of Babylon, or the origin of all false worship.
The vision is both contemporary to Zechariah in its immediate physical sense, and also in a prophetic future grandeur. As a type, the immediate restoration of Judah and the temple is contrasted with its antitype, the future of the New Jerusalem with many nations gathered there and the glory of the LORD present forever.
FYI: The Bible always speaks of Babylon being in the North. This is because in order to travel there, one must first go north to the river Euphrates before turning east and traveling down the river. There was just no thought of going due east and attempting to cross the desert.
FYI: From the first mention to the last mention of Babylon in the Bible, we see that it stands for all idolatry [Gen 11; Rev 17-18]. This is because all idolatry can be traced back to Babylon. No matter where one goes on this earth, there is always a thread of the story of the flood followed by that tower and Nimrod the mighty hunter. It is the great shared experience of all tribes and peoples. Somehow after a flood a great hunter saves the people from, or pushes out of the way, the sky God. The story of Adam and Eve maybe separate or interwoven; always explaining a way to get back the knowledge that the serpent provided. In all paganism, the serpent is the good guy, and the God who loves and protects us is presented as evil. They make God the evil one who does not want humans to have knowledge. (See Also; Paganism 101)
Babylon at the time of Zechariah was the trading center of the world. Life was soft and easy there. Spiritual Babylon has always been the center of the worlds false religions. Faith therein, was spiritually hedonistic and easy.
From Babylon to the present day, none of the nations that have preyed on God’s people will be forgotten. Nor, will the daughter of Babylon or her “offspring” slip by unnoticed. Her subtle lies and inaccurate representations of who God is, will once and for all be done away with. God does not wish His people to be the slaves of the godless. He does not wish us to submit ourselves to this false knowledge. We are to worship only in truth.
These nations have touched “The apple of my eye,” an English phrase that means “the pupil of my eye”. Literally, the Hebrew usually says “the little man of my eye”. However, in Zechariah what is in the eye is a word used just this one time, “bava”. When a word is used only one time, it is quite difficult to be sure of its exact meaning. It could mean “gate” or “opening” or it could also come from an arabic word “bebe”, “my child, my beloved”, or “the little one of my eye”. What is conveyed here is that which is precious to my eye. The LORD of Hosts has not forgotten a single tear that His people have, or will yet, shed because of the persecution of these nations. He is sending one identified here as “me” to the nations to exact vengeance.
The standard rule of grammar must be applied to find the “me”. It must be the last person identified by name in a preceding paragraph. The only person mentioned that qualifies is the Angel of the LORD [Zech 1:12]. So it must be the Angel of the LORD who will exact vengeance. by shaking His hand over them.
This waving or shaking of the hand symbolizes the exertion of omnipotent power [2 Kings 5:11, Is 11:15, 19:16; Ezek. 6:14]. As in Haggai 2:6, the Lord will shake the heavens – shake all nations. The “slaves”, are here the Jews who lived in Babylon, will plunder “Babylon” after the LORD “shakes His hand” over them. In Haggai 2:7-9, this results in much gold and silver flowing to a future temple.
The daughter of Zion is commanded to sing and rejoice, blessings will come to her. The LORD will dwell in the midst of them. Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD, in that day; He himself, will make Judah his portion and Jerusalem his place of rule [See also: 2012] . When we see whole nations instead of the current individual people, joining with the LORD and Him dwelling in Judah and ruling from Jerusalem, then all His people will know that the LORD of Hosts has sent the Angel of the LORD to them.
And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. Dan. 7:14
All people are encouraged to observe in quiet worship, The LORD is rousing Himself to action. The gathering to Zion and the scourging of the nations has begun.
In that future day, He will rule from Jerusalem.