As God’s word calls us to repentance and as we soften our hearts in obedience to Him, He then brings the word again to Zechariah’s and Judah’s prepared heart. In the exact same structure and wording as 1:1, 1:7 says “the word of the Lord came”. This time however, it comes even more personally. From the third person relaying of God’s message of rebuke in 1:1, Zechariah now relays a word through a personal vision in which he encounters the Angel of the Lord among the myrtle trees. In the verses that follow it becomes clear that this Angel of the Lord becomes an intercessor before God Himself on behalf of the spiritual salvation and renewal of the people (1:12ff, 3:1ff). So why does God’s word come to Zechariah though the Angel of the Lord in the myrtle trees? More specifically, who is the Angel of the Lord, what is the significance of the myrtle trees and what is God teaching his people here?
The Angel of the Lord appears 62 times in the Old Testament, 8 times in Zechariah. In these passages it becomes clear He is an eternally existent spiritual being who manifests in bodily form as one who speaks to, for and with God the Father (https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?qs_version=NASB&quicksearch=angel+of+the+lord&begin=1&end=46). As this person and His ministry parallels with the ministry of Jesus (Zech 3:1ff, Colossians 1:15ff) He is none other than the pre-incarnate Christ.
The imagery of the myrtle trees is illustrated nicely in a parallel passage from the prophet Isaiah (41:17-20):
Isaiah 41:17-20 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
17 “The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none,
And their tongue is parched with thirst;
I, the Lord, will answer them Myself,
As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.
18 “I will open rivers on the bare heights
And springs in the midst of the valleys;
I will make the wilderness a pool of water
And the dry land fountains of water.
19 “I will put the cedar in the wilderness,
The acacia and the MYRTLE and the olive TREE;
I will place the juniper in the desert
Together with the box tree and the cypress,
20 That they may see and recognize,
And consider and gain insight as well,
That the hand of the Lord has done this,
And the Holy One of Israel has created it.
The myrtle tree grove (and Zechariah’s “standing among them” meeting the pre-incarnate Christ) is a strong scripture picture of “afflicted and needy” people and fellowships, parched and drained, finding new life through the coming ministry of the Angel of the Lord, the Intercessor, Jesus Christ.
What a powerful and faithful promise of God given to us through Zechariah that as we listen to His call on our lives to repent, soften and obey, He will send His Son Jesus to us to bring us new life. This is “the Word of the Lord” spoken to Zechariah in 1:1-11.