“For I,” declares the Lord, “will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.”
Zechariah’s third vision began when the prophet saw a man with a measuring line in his hand (2:1). When asked his destination, the man told Zechariah, “To measure Jerusalem, to see how wide it is and how long it is” (2:2). This harkens back to the prophet’s first vision, when the Lord had promised him, “I will return to Jerusalem with compassion; My house will be built in it…and a measuring line will be stretched over Jerusalem” (1:16). Then Zechariah observed the angel who had talked with him in the previous visions going out to meet another angel (2:3). This angel told the first one, “Run, speak to that young man,” referring either to Zechariah or to the man with the measuring line who was measuring Jerusalem. The first angel was to tell this young man, “Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls because of the multitude of men and cattle within it” (2:4). The original language implies that Jerusalem would be like a town without walls in the open country because of the large number of men and oxen within her. This would leave the Jews open to attacks from marauders. However, the Lord promised to protect them as cited above (2:5). Imagine how comforted the Jews would be upon hearing this!
Some commentators believe that the Lord is speaking of Jerusalem in a spiritual sense here, prophesying of the spiritual kingdom to come centuries later in the form of the church (cf. Heb. 12:22-23), which is why He speaks of Jerusalem as having no walls. I believe there is merit to that view, but there is also reason to view this as referring to physical Jerusalem as it is being rebuilt during that present time period. It’s clear that the prophecy described in this vision was partly fulfilled around the time the temple was completed during the period of post-Babylonian captivity in the Jews’ history. I also believe the prophecy was completely fulfilled centuries later when Christ’s church was established (Acts 2) and reached out to the Gentiles (Acts 10-11ff).
The Lord then called for the Jews give heed to what He was telling them, which is the meaning of the repetitive “Ho!” (2:6-7). He wanted them to “flee from the land of the north…for I have dispersed you as the four winds of the heavens” (2:6). This would be a reference to Babylon, from whose daughters God wanted the Jews to “escape” (2:7). Jehovah was against nations like Babylon “which plunder” the Jews who were “the apple of His eye” (2:8). The Lord would punish these nations with a simple “wave (of His) hand” by making them “plunder for their slaves” (2:9; cf. Is. 11:15; 19:16). Once again, God was giving a message of hope to these Jews who had just finished 70 years of captivity and were trying rebuild their temple, country, and way of life while still under rule from foreign powers. The Babylonians were indeed being made slaves themselves by the Medes and Persians during this time, who would later be made slaves themselves by the conquering Greeks.
Jehovah then commanded that the “daughter of Zion” should “sing for joy and be glad” because He is “coming and…will dwell in your midst” (2:10). He promised that “in that day” there would be “many nations” who would “join themselves to the Lord…and will become My people” (2:11a), at which point “I will dwell in your midst, and you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you” (2:11b). This is clearly a prophetic reference to the church of Christ which was yet to come and would be made up of peoples from all nations (cf. 2 Cor. 6:16-18). The Lord then promised to “possess Judah as His portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem” (2:12), again providing comforting assurance to the Jews that He was providentially allowing them to return to their homeland and city. This could also prophetically refer to the church (cf. Is. 2:2-4; Heb. 12:22). The vision ends with God commanding “all flesh” to “be silent…before the Lord; for He is aroused from His holy habitation” (2:13).