The Good News in the Bible

The Four "Horns" and the Four "Carpenters" of Zechariah 1:18-20.
What Do They Represent?

William Diehl

If one considers the symbolism of the Tabernacle Service of ancient Israel, one can see where this symbolism of the four "horns" comes from. The sanctuary encampment of Israel was composed of four encampments surrounding the tabernacle: on the east (Judah), south (Reuben),west (Ephraim), and north (Dan). Each of these encampments had a figurative "guarding angel" which executed justice and judgment according to the decrees of the Lord God of Israel. Each of these cherub had a face which corresponded to the four encampment emblems, of a Lion, a Man, an Ox, and an Eagle. It was these 4 angelic "horns" who had power to execute the decree to scatter apostate Israel and bring her into the Babylonish captivity for the 70 years of Jeremiah's prophecy. After these "horns" of the sanctuary altar had scattered Israel, they were then bidden to become rebuilders or "carpenters" to restore the Temple and the city again. We read about the restoration and rebuilding of Israel in Ezra and Nehemiah and the decrees of the Persian kings which allowed the rebuilding. Thus, in chapter 2 of Zechariah, we read of the "measuring" of the city by the carpenters to restore and reinhabit the city.

Chapter 3 depicts Joshua the high priest who was clothed in filthy garments with Satan standing beside him to accuse him. Joshua, as the representative of Israel, symbolizes the people of Israel who were defiled by apostasy, but then are cleansed by the Lord and given a change of raiment over the intense objections and opposition of Satan. This depicts beautifully the tender mercy and love of God for Israel and His cleansing power as He first punishes Israel and then restores her after punishing.

Chapter 4, using the symbols of the 7 lamps of the sanctuary and the two Olive trees which supply oil which gives light to darkened Israel, shows that the rebuilding of the Temple will not be by the might nor power of man but "by my Spirit saith the Lord" This Spirit is the spirit of "Grace, Grace", the unmerited favor of God, by which the capstone of the city shall be laid in the foundation.

Chapter 5 and 6 show the covenantal scroll that is 20 X 10 cubits (the dimensions of the tabernacle tent) flying through the encampment of apostate Israel in judgment to cut off all those who disregard the covenant and thus are consumed by its curses. This cutting off takes place by sending the nation into the Land of Shinar (Babylon). This carrying away of Israel is depicted allegorically as a woman of "wickedness" shoved into a basket with a heavy lead lid binding her in as she is carried into Babylonish captivity.

In chapter 6, we again see the four cherubim (the four spirits or winds of judgment, see also Revelation 6:1-7 and 7:1 and 9:14) of the encampment riding upon their war horses of judgment. These horsemen have executed punishment as they ride the length and breadth of the Land and are now finishing their work. God's justice is then fulfilled by the 70 years of the captivity of Israel in the "north country" and "have given rest to My Spirit in the north country". Then in verse 9, we see that the gold gifts of the people are made into a beautiful crown and placed upon the head of Joshua the priest king of Israel and the glory of Israel returns in the re-establishment of the Kingdom of God in the Holy Land. The remaining chapters of Zechariah are the beautiful poetic verses which relate God's joy and encouragement of Israel at the rebuilding and rededication of the Kingdom and the complete destruction of those nations who are the enemies of God and Israel.

These themes of the Judgment of God proceeding from the heavenly throne, the covenantal scroll, the four living creatures executing judgment, the Babylonish captivity of Israel, the desecration of the temple by the northern army, and the rededication of the Temple after the seventy years of Babylonish captivity, all are used as the background for the symbolism of the apocalyptic books of Daniel in the Old Testament and Revelation in the New Testament.

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