In Zechariah 1:8, is the man on the red horse Jesus Christ? Also, the first several chapters speak of the Angel of the Lord; do they refer to Jesus Christ?
The verse reads, “I saw by night, and behold, a man riding on a red horse, and it stood among the myrtle trees in the hollow; and behind him were horses: red, sorrel, and white.”
These are the first words uttered by Zechariah as he began to receive a series of eight visions from God. They are not mere dreams as we frequently have at night, but are similar to the God-sent vision the apostle Peter had during his trance, as recorded in Acts 10.
I believe that the man on the red horse is the Lord Jesus and that further references to “the Angel of the Lord” (vv. 11, 12) prove it, because this title is used in the Old Testament for God and because the Lord Jesus is God, the Messiah.
Turn to Zechariah 3. Here we find further indication of the preincarnate Christ; here we see deity in address and function as Advocate. In the New Testament, Romans 8:34 and 1 John 2:1, among other verses, present Christ as Advocate: “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
These passages demonstrate that Christ, and only Christ, forgives sin and does the work of cleansing. Zechariah 1:8 states that the Lord is riding a red horse. In Scripture, red stands for blood, and it is Jesus’ blood that cleanses from all sin (1 John 1:7). But red also speaks of bloodshed, as in war; and Isaiah 63:1–6 indicates that the Lord’s garments will be stained from the blood of Israel’s enemies as He delivers her just prior to His second coming. Revelation 19:13 notes concerning Christ, “He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.” (See also John 1:1–14 and Romans 11:26 and 27.)
In the book of Zechariah, we see Him standing watch over the nation of Israel, His beloved. Although Satan is the ruler of the world, the Lord is the One Who is truly in control. Satan can do only what God allows him to in keeping with His divine purposes. The rider of the horse is a picture of the Lord as He takes charge of all the earth, but in the meantime He patrols and watches over it (“stood,” v. 8). He governs all the affairs of mankind. If He did not, we would be in trouble; we wouldn’t even be able to exist.
The additional horses of red, white, and sorrel mentioned in verse 8 speak of the hosts of angelic beings who, under Christ’s command, assist in all the heavenly activity brought to bear on earth and mankind. The colors of the horses probably indicate the varied responsibilities they have, although many Bible scholars believe the color white suggests victory.
The red horse stands among the myrtle trees in a hollow (“valley,” “deep place”). Myrtle trees depict Israel, due to the tree’s fragrance. However, Israel is, at the time, in a state of degradation, as indicated by the term “valley” or “deep place.” Some see this degradation illustrated in the Gentile powers, such as Persia and Babylon, that surrounded Israel.
It is wonderful to note in this regard that although God has used Gentile powers to surround and deal with Israel, the Angel of Jehovah is seen not among the Gentile monarchies but, rather, in lowly Israel. God still loves the people of Israel and will not forsake them. In Isaiah 55:13, the myrtle is used to describe the ideal conditions of the Millennium and its productiveness. Then Israel will be as she should be.
I should point out that there is another angel mentioned in addition to the Angel of the Lord. In Zechariah 1:9 we see an “interpreting” angel (“the angel who talked with me”), not to be confused with the preincarnate Christ “Angel.” The interpreting angel is seen in other passages in Zechariah. The duties of this angel involved instructing and explaining, and in this way that angel was a go-between for the Son of God and the prophet as visions unfolded. We don’t see this angelic function among believers in our church-age dispensation, since we have the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26, 27; 1 Corinthians 2:11, 12; 1 John 2:27).
Someone reading Zechariah 1:12 might wonder how the Angel of the Lord could be Christ, when it says He prayed to the Lord Almighty, or Lord of Hosts. Actually, the verse is easily understood when we remember how the Lord Jesus prayed to the Heavenly Father during His ministry on earth. So we have here an important Old Testament reference to the Trinity.
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