A. A call to return to the Promised Land.
1. (1-5) The man with the measuring line and the protection promised.
Then I raised my eyes and looked, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand. So I said, “Where are you going?” And he said to me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length.” And there was the angel who talked with me, going out; and another angel was coming out to meet him, who said to him, “Run, speak to this young man, saying: ‘Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls, because of the multitude of men and livestock in it. For I,’ says the LORD, ‘will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’”
a. A man with a measuring line in his hand: This was undoubtedly an angelic being and some think it was the Angel of the LORD. Angelic beings never truly become human beings, but they can take human form.
b. To see what is its width and what is its length: Apparently, Jerusalem was measured to make sure that it is large enough for the multitudes God would bring to it. In the time of Zechariah, it seemed strange to worry about Jerusalem being big enough, because there seemed to be too few people for the city.
i. It is as if the man with a measuring line went into a huge old cathedral where only a few attended the church services and started to make sure it was large enough for the crowds God was sure to bring.
c. Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls.… For I…will be a wall of fire all around her: God promised to bring so many people to Jerusalem that the crowds would overflow the walls of the city. The effect on the walls would not matter because God would be their protection. He will be a wall of fire all around her.
i. This prophecy had a short-term fulfillment in God’s protection of the rebuilding work and blessing of the city under Ezra and Nehemiah. But clearly, its ultimate fulfillment will be rebuilding under the rule of the Messiah.
ii. Today Jerusalem is indeed a city without walls because in modern warfare they are useless for defending the city. Ultimately Jerusalem will be a city without walls because the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) will reign from Jerusalem and He will be her protection.
2. (6-7) Exiles exhorted to return.
“Up, up! Flee from the land of the north,” says the LORD; “for I have spread you abroad like the four winds of heaven,” says the LORD. “Up, Zion! Escape, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon.”
a. Flee from the land of the north: In Zechariah’s day, few of those who were carried into captivity in the Babylonian Empire returned to the Promised Land when they were allowed to. Here the LORD exhorted His people to return to their land.
i. Sadly most of the exiles were comfortable in Babylon and refused to endure the challenge to build a work of God.
b. Escape, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon: Throughout the Bible Babylon is used as an idea as well as a literal city. If Jerusalem carries the idea of “God’s city” then Babylon carries the idea of the city of the world. Zechariah’s call to come out of Babylon is both literal and figurative (Revelation 18:4-5).
B. Reasons for rejoicing.
1. (8-9) God promises to protect His precious people.
For thus says the LORD of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. “For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me.”
a. He who touches you touches the apple of His eye: The phrase “apple of His eye” was used to describe something precious, easily injured, and demanding protection.
i. “He esteems them as much as men value their eyesight, and is as careful to protect them from injury, as men are to protect the apple of their eye. The pupil of the eye is the tenderest part of the tenderest organ, and very fitly sets forth the inexpressible tenderness of God’s love.” (Spurgeon)
b. They shall become spoil for their servants: God promises that those who enslaved the people of God would become spoil for the restored people of God. The enslavers would become enslaved. This will be ultimately fulfilled in the millennial reign of Jesus.
i. I will shake My hand against them: All God needs to do to bring such a dramatic reversal of standings is to shake His hand against the enemies of His people.
2. (10-13) The promise of the presence of the LORD.
“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” says the LORD. “Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. “And the LORD will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD, for He is aroused from His holy habitation!”
a. Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: God didn’t expect His people to be passive or reserved given such dramatic promises. He expected them to sing and rejoice.
b. I am coming and I will dwell in your midst: God’s people should be excited because He will be among them in a unique and powerful way.
c. Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day: God’s people should be excited because God will bring many into His kingdom. God’s desire to bless Israel was never intended to stop with Israel, but to use them as a channel of blessing for many nations.
d. In the Holy Land: This is the only place where the phrase Holy Land is used in the Bible. The land is holy because it is separated to God in a unique way. Some assume that it is only the people of Judah and Jerusalem that are God’s holy inheritance but passages like this show that the land itself is holy and precious to God.