The children of Israel did not repent when called to by Zechariah. They continued their evil ways. God’s patience was wearing thin, and the time for God’s judgment was at hand. God sends Zechariah as He does with many of the OT Prophets, a series of visions predicting the judgment of God. Phillips compares these visions with the visions of Charles Dicken’s familiar Christmas Carol. He writes, “Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future. These visions leave Scrooge a changed man; no longer the champion of humbug, he becomes a paragon of charity and joy. The book of Zechariah tells us about a night even Dickens never dreamed of, in which the prophet received not three but eight visions, and not fantasy ghost visits but actual revelations from the God of heaven. One after another, they came, all in one restless night, and the record of these visitations makes up the first six chapters of this book. Like Scrooge, that night of visions changed Zechariah forever. He became a prophet and a messenger of good news to the people.”[1] Zechariah points out the exact time and date of his first vision of God’s coming Judgment. In Zechariah 1:7-8, he says, “On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, son of Iddo, saying, ‘I saw in the night, and behold, a man riding on a red horse! He was standing among the myrtle trees in the glen, and behind him were red sorrel, and white horses.’” The three images of the vision are important, a man riding a red horse, myrtle trees in the glen, and three more horses.

The man riding the “red horse” is a mystery until we consider the rest of the visions. The rider appears to be “The angel of the Lord.” He is the Commander-in-Chief of the Lord’s army of angels to bring mercy and restoration to all of Israel. Feinberg discusses the rider and agrees with this conclusion. He says, “Jerome says, ‘The Jews suppose the man on the red horse to be the Angel Michael, who was to avenge the iniquities and sins against Israel.’ Students of the passage can be arranged on one of two principal sides: those who maintain that he is an ordinary angel as the other riders and those who hold him to be the Angel of Jehovah. We take our stand with the latter, finding clear proof and confirmation in verse 11. There the man among the myrtles is definitely stated to be the Angel of Jehovah. The other riders report to Him their findings in a manner that reveals His authority over them and His separate position from them.”[2] Shepherd agrees and says, “The Angel of the Lord appeared in Zechariah’s fourth vision, rebuking Satan and declaring Jerusalem and the nation as the cleansed and restored people and the priesthood of God. With this declaration comes the promise of the coming Messiah and His kingdom.”[3]

If red represents war, it’s the spiritual warfare during which Jesus wins the ultimate battle with Satan. Red is the color of blood. Knap says, “The Man on the red horse is the Mediator of the New Testament in His blood and at the same time as Lord of the angels. We are under His protection. He sends out His angels as quick messengers to serve our salvation. The cluster of myrtle trees, ignored by the world, is the focal point of heavenly powers—the angels of God surround us, even if we do not see them, and above all, there is the Man in our midst for our consolation!”[4] This war began before time began when Satan fell. It continued in the Garden of Eden, and it can be traced through the entire history of mankind, but it finds its conclusion at the cross of Christ, where the Messiah Himself shed his blood to pay the penalty for our sins.

[1] Phillips, Richard D. 2007. Zechariah. Edited by Richard D. Phillips, Philip Graham Ryken, and Iain M. Duguid. Reformed Expository Commentary. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[2] Feinberg, Charles Lee. 1940. “Exegetical Studies in Zechariah.” Bibliotheca Sacra 97: 436.

[3] Shepherd, Richard L. 2004. Life Principles for Following Christ. Following God Series. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

[4] Knap, J. J. 1997. The Loins Girded. Translated by Martien C. Vanderspek. Ontario, Canada.