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. Then I said, ‘What are these, my lord?’ The angel who talked with me said to me, ‘I will show you what they are.’ So the man who was standing among the myrtle trees answered, ‘These are they whom the Lord has sent to patrol the earth.’ And they answered the angel of the Lord who was standing among the myrtle trees, and said, ‘We have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth remains at rest.’ Then the angel of the Lord said, ‘O Lord of hosts, how long will you have no mercy on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, against which you have been angry these seventy years?’ And the Lord answered gracious and comforting words to the angel who talked with me. So the angel who talked with me said to me, ‘Cry out, Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion. And I am exceedingly angry with the nations that are at ease; for while I was angry but a little, they furthered the disaster. Therefore, thus says the Lord, I have returned to Jerusalem with mercy; my house shall be built in it, declares the Lord of hosts, and the measuring line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem. Cry out again, Thus says the Lord of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.’” Zechariah 1:7-17 ESV
Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.”
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness. Psalm 96:10-13 ESV
In the late 1800s gold was discovered in northern Canada, and many people came to the area hoping they would strike it rich. When there is a gold rush, there are often problems as people hurry to an area and try to find gold for themselves, while there might not be enough places to live or other services for them. Canada sent a large number of its North-West Mounted Police to patrol the area on horses and keep the peace. They had to deal with fights and other bad behavior as well as people who weren’t prepared to live with the harsh conditions and lack of food of northern Canada in the winter. Many of the North-West Mounted Police (later called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) rode horses to patrol their area, but far north near the Arctic some of them patrolled by dogsled!
The prophet Zechariah spoke the word of God at the same time as the prophet Haggai, and he was given a vision of different colored horses with men riding on them to patrol the earth. These were actually angels, and they were sent by God to keep order in the world. This vision was a picture of the way God sends his holy angels to work out his purposes among the people and nations of the world. Sometimes God allows wars and other troubles in the world, and the people of Judah had known captivity and exile away from their homeland for many years. Now they were home again, but weak and discouraged, and the Lord’s angels were asking God how soon it would be before he would help his people again. The Lord’s answer was that the time for him to help his people had come. He was angry with the nations for going too far in the way they had carried out God’s judgment against the people of Judah. Now was the time that God would give the Jews mercy and comfort. The temple would be built again, and there would be peace and prosperity for Jerusalem and for the land of Judah.
We can’t always know why God lets things happen in the world the way they do, but we can be positive that he is in control and that he is watching over his people. The picture of angels patrolling the earth on horseback like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police can be a very comforting one when it seems like everything in the world is bad and scary. God works his purposes out in history in ways we don’t always understand, but we can always be sure of the greatest purpose God worked out. At the perfect time, he sent his Son Jesus into the world to be our Savior. Jesus was put to death on the cross and rose again from the dead on the third day to break the power of sin and evil in our lives. Because of what Jesus did for us, we can be sure that we are God’s people and that he is watching over us, no matter what happens.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being in control of the world. Help us trust you when things seem bad and scary. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.