A message came to the prophet Zechariah from the Lord. It was the eighth month of the second year that Darius was king of Persia. Zechariah was the son of Berekiah. Berekiah was the son of Iddo. Here is what Zechariah said.
The LORD who rules over all was very angry with our people years ago.
And now he says to us, "Return to me. Then I will return to you," announces the Lord.
"Do not be like your people years ago. The earlier prophets gave them my message. I said, 'Stop doing what is evil. Turn away from your sinful practices.' But they would not listen to me. They would not pay any attention," announces the Lord.
"Where are those people now? And what about my prophets? Do they live forever?
I commanded my servants the prophets what to say. I told them what I planned to do. But your people refused to obey me. So I had to punish them. "Then they had a change of heart. They said, 'The LORD who rules over all has punished us because of how we have lived. He was fair and right to do that. He has done to us just what he decided to do.' "
During the second year that Darius was king, a message came to me from the Lord. It was the 24th day of the 11th month. That's the month of Shebat.
I had a vision at night. I saw a man riding a red horse. He was standing among the myrtle trees in a valley. Behind him were red, brown and white horses.
An angel was talking with me. I asked him, "Sir, what are these?" He answered, "I will show you what they are."
Then the man who was standing among the myrtle trees said, "They are the messengers the LORD has sent out. He told them to go all through the earth."
They brought a report to the angel of the Lord. He was standing among the myrtle trees. They said to him, "We have gone all through the earth. We've found the whole world enjoying peace and rest."
Then the angel of the LORD spoke up. He said, "Lord, you rule over all. How long will you keep from showing your tender love to Jerusalem? How long will you keep it from the towns of Judah? You have been angry with them for 70 years."
So the LORD replied with kind and comforting words. He spoke them to the angel who talked with me.
Then the angel said, "Announce this message. Say, 'The LORD who rules over all says, "I am very jealous for my people in Jerusalem and Zion.
But I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry with my people. But the nations went too far and tried to wipe them out."
" 'So the LORD says, "I will return to Jerusalem. I will show its people my tender love. My temple will be rebuilt there. Workers will use a measuring line when they rebuild Jerusalem," announces the Lord.
" 'He says, "My towns will be filled with good things once more. I will comfort Zion. And I will choose Jerusalem again." ' "
Then I looked up and saw four animal horns.
I spoke to the angel who was talking with me. "What are these horns?" I asked. He said, "They are the powerful nations that scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem."
Then the LORD showed me four skilled workers.
I asked, "What are they coming to do?" He answered, "They are the powerful nations that scattered the people of Judah. That made them helpless. But the workers have come to terrify the horns. They will destroy the power of those nations. They had used their power to scatter Judah's people."