Then I looked up—and there before me were four horns! I asked the angel who was speaking to me, “What are these?” He answered me, “These are the horns that scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.” Then the LORD showed me four craftsmen. I asked, “What are these coming to do?” He answered, “These are the horns that scattered Judah so that no one could raise his head, but the craftsmen have come to terrify them and throw down these horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter its people.”
(Zechariah 1:18-21)The Four Horns
In ancient times as well as in the Bible, a horn was a symbol of power and control. Male animals had horns that they used to scatter other competing males, and to dominate their entire herd. So the Lord used this imagery to describe how four political horns would combine to scatter Israel at some point in the future.
While many commentators feel these horns are empires from our ancient past that will once again return to power, some now believe that these four horns have already raised up their heads in our day.
To begin this analysis, if these four horns are historical powers as many surmise, then perhaps they can be identified as the four empires identified in Daniel’s visions, generally thought of us as the following four entities;
2) Media & Persia
3) Macedonia & Greece
On the surface these ‘four horns’ seem to make sense since each of them had historically dominated Israel, and each are referenced in multiple prophecies in the Bible. But I don’t think they would qualify as Zechariah‘s four horns since not all of these nations "scattered"
Israel, as required by the prophecy. Consider the following points;
First, while Babylon definitely did scatter Israel in ancient times, Medo-Persia did not. In fact, the Persian King Cyrus was responsible for the release
of the Jews who were being held captive in Babylon, so instead of scattering Israel from their land, Medo-Persia actually gathered them.
Then there is the matter of Greece, which neither scattered nor gathered Israel in any significant sense. Alexander the Great was destined for much greater conquests than tiny Israel, and he allowed the Jews to live and worship as they saw fit after he ‘liberated’ them from Persian influence. Israel would not be scattered again until Rome replaced Greece as the dominant force of antiquity, sacking Jerusalem and scattering the Jews in 70 A.D.
In short, of the four nations mentioned, only two of them appear to have “scattered”
Israel in the past. So it seems inappropriate to assume that Zechariah’s four horns are these four historical empires that ruled Israel in succession. Instead, this prophecy seems to suggest that the four horns will work together to scatter Israel at one moment in time, which the context of the prophecy suggests is still future. So I would ask, is there a modern-day quartet that would better qualify? The Quartet
In 2002 in Madrid, international leaders formed the “Quartet on the Middle East”
for the specific purpose of imposing a lasting peace in the Middle East. This group of four consisted of the following political powers;
1) United States
2) United Nations
3) European Union
Since it’s formation, the Quartet has been pursuing ‘peace’ in the land of Israel through the heavy hand of political intimidation, attempting to force Israel to give up land designated for a new Palestinian state. In fact, just this past week Barak Obama declared that Israel must return to it’s pre-1967 borders, as though it was the Quartet’s right to determine political boundaries for other sovereign nations. But thank goodness Benjamin Netanyahu rejected this demand outright, because those borders would be akin to national suicide for Israel.
In the adjacent map we can see how the borders of Israel have changed since their return to the land, and why today’s borders are so important. The areas shown in tan were the areas designated to Israel in 1947 by the United Nations, and Jews world-wide were given the right to return to those territories after the Holocaust and WWII.
But upon doing so, fledgling Israel was immediately attacked by the surrounding Muslim countries, whose sole intent was to destroy them before they could organize adequate defenses. Through a series of amazing and improbable (read ‘appointed’) victories, the tiny nation was able to not only defeat it’s Muslim enemies, but to expand it’s territory as well, reclaiming some of the additional lands that God had already granted them by covenant. These expanded borders are represented in green on this map.
Unhappy with their loss of ground to Israel in 1948/49, these Muslim neighbors would attack again in 1967, and Israel would once again defeat them in the 6-Day War. This allowed Israel to take control of the additional areas of Gaza, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights, shown in the illustration in yellow. This expansion finally allowed Israel to maintain defensible borders with adequate buffer zones, and Israel was determined to hold on to them so that history would not repeat itself yet again.
The road was long and hard, but today Israel finally has defensible geography. And this is the geography that the Quartet wishes to take from them, which in effect would return Israel to a less defensible “target” for the surrounding Muslim nations. And make no mistake, there will be no peace if Israel relinquishes this land. There will only be more war. Remember Gaza?
For anyone who believes this ‘land for peace’ ruse will bear fruit, consider what happened in 2005 when Israel gave in to the Quartet and gave up the Gaza strip to the Palestinians. Over the next several years they were rewarded with over 35,000 Hamas rockets fired from the Gaza into the towns of southern Israel. Israel paid a dear price for this concession and had to eventually re-enter the Gaza in order to put down these daily attacks.
But they were not alone in the price they paid for the ceding of Gaza. The United States led this land grab against Israel and paid an equal and corresponding price that most people don’t recognize even today. So let’s return to 2005 for a moment for some perspective. Gaza and Katrina
In response to ultimatums given by the United States over three decades, Israel finally decided to cede the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority, and began removing their own people from their own homes in Gaza on August 17th of 2005. Despite massive opposition by the residents and by Rabbis who warned of God‘s wrath for dividing his land, an Israeli military and police force had cleaned out most of the settlements by August 22nd.
On the following day, Hurricane Katrina
began forming in the Atlantic, clipping the coast of Florida on August 25th. And as the remaining residents were evicted from Gaza later that week, Katrina immediately became a city-killer, devastating New Orleans on August 29th and becoming the most expensive natural disaster in history. The warnings given by Rabbis in Israel seemed to come to fruition; America had been severely judged for being a curse to Israel (Genesis 12:3).
The parallels between the evacuation of Gaza and the destruction of New Orleans don’t end with these corresponding dates however. It’s also true that the same amount of people died in both
instances, and the same amount of people were displaced from their homes in both instances. Also, Israel lost their largest oil port that had been in Gaza, and the United States lost it’s largest oil port that had been in New Orleans.
Even the images on the news were the same, with people in Gaza climbing on their rooftops to avoid the flood of police, and people in New Orleans climbing on their rooftops to avoid the flood of water. It seems that God indeed has a sense of irony.
In almost every sense there was a parallel between Gaza and Katrina, strongly implying the hand of God in this judgment. The lesson?; NO ONE is allowed to divide his land without terrible cost. The West Bank
With all that said, now Barak Obama wants divide the land on a grander scale by forcing Israel to cede the entire West Bank to the Palestinians. This would make Israel only 9 miles wide at several points, making it possible for a coordinated attack to quickly divide the north from the south. And biblical prophecy seems to suggest that this division of Israel will take place, probably sooner than later if the Quartet indeed represents the ‘four horns’ of Zechariah. And while Israel will likely suffer through the time of Jacob’s trouble
in those days, the nations involved in this coercion will suffer far worse, just as the United States did with Katrina. Consider the judgment against these nations as outlined by God through the prophet Joel;"In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land. They cast lots for my people and traded boys for prostitutes; they sold girls for wine that they might drink. Now what have you against me, O Tyre and Sidon and all you regions of Philistia? Are you repaying me for something I have done? If you are paying me back, I will swiftly and speedily return on your own heads what you have done."
Here, the nations are brought down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat to be judged because they “scattered”
Israel and “divided up”
God’s land, just as the four horns will do in Zechariah’s prophecy. So these prophecies seem to be connected, and both may point to the Quartet. And while the Quartet is not specifically attempting to scatter Israel amongst the nations, they indeed ARE attempting to divide the land. And this division will clearly leave Israel’s border indefensible, which in turn will result in Israel becoming scattered one final time (Revelation 12).
I would also point out the nations listed in Joel’s proph
ecy would today implicate Hizbollah
(Modern Lebanon), and Hamas
(the Gaza Strip). How coincidental that these are the two Islamic terrorist groups that are today bent on Israel’s destruction. In the end, the essence of these two prophecies suggest that we could be much closer to the end times than we thought.NEXT TIME:
In Part 2 of 'Four Horns & Four Craftsmen' we'll examine the potential candidates for the 'four craftsmen' that will "terrify"
and "throw down"
the four horns.