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In the second chapter of his book, Zechariah records a vision in which he saw a man with a measuring line going to measure Jerusalem. I'm not sure what this is supposed to signify. Two verses later, another angel says,

"Hurry, and say to that young man, 'Jerusalem will someday be so full of people and livestock that there won't be room enough for everyone! Many will live outside the city walls." —2:4 (NLT)

That is certainly relevant. But also, I wonder if there is connection to Ezekiel's vision of the glory of the restored temple, when he is escorted about by a man who also goes around measuring everything:

In visions of God he took me to the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, on whose south side were some buildings that looked like a city. —40:2

That seems like a strong parallel, particularly considering that Zechariah together with Haggai were preaching at the restoration of the earthly temple.

What is the meaning of Zechariah 2:2? How ought the parallel to Ezekiel be understood?

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it may be a parallel to Rev 21:16 –  warren Jun 22 '12 at 3:03

2 Answers 2

I apologize for the length of this one but your question demands a thorough answer.

Who is the man? From the immediate context his is only what it says, 'a man'. He is a man who has a 'special interest'. He is a man provisioning for the miraculous visionary, prophetic and thus mysterious future expansion of Israel. In the immediate context this vision is meant to comfort those Jews who cut their roots from Babylon and returned to rebuild and worship in Gods holy temple. Even the building of it must have been somehow related to the hope that once more God's presence would fill the temple and they would be 'true Israelites' worshiping God as in the days of King David.

Yet how depressing! How far was this life from the heavenly hopes they had, running up in there prayers that Messiah would come and Israel would reign over all nations. In such despair the prophet promises the Messiah is still yet to come and that they need not be depressed:

10"Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you," declares the Lord. 11"Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. (Zechariah 2:10-11)

Even rabbinic ancient writings* identify that this person in Zechariah 2:10 is the Messiah. Yet this does not answer the question.  Is the man in verse 2 the same as verse 10?  Was he also a future type of the God-Man, the Son of Man, or not? On this passage alone we would probably have to conclude it is not the Messiah. This is confirmed by the lack of evidence from rabbinic writings to show otherwise. Even the man in Ezekiel 40:3 'whose appearance was like bronze' does not have sufficient proof to be understood by rabbis as 'Messianic' before Christ.

However, we have 'new pressures' from  additional scripture, to make us suspect it is the Son of Man. Here He is taking such interest in the expansion of his beloved church that we suspect He was not just a surveyor, but the 'builder' (Hebrews 3:3). 

The biblical pressure comes from three symbols brought into various combinations throughout the Bible: Fire, Bronze, and a Man. The man starts as a seed of the woman who would crush the devils head. (Gen 3:15) He seems then to appear as a man, or in the form of a man at various times in the Scripture, sometimes more subtly than at other times. One place we see him where the connection with 'fire' occurs with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace:

24Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”
25He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:24-25)

In another place we see Him connected to bronze in Ezekiel doing a similar thing again, measuring a large mystical temple.

He took me there, and I saw a man whose appearance was like bronze; he was standing in the gateway with a linen cord and a measuring rod in his hand. (Ezekiel 40:3).

But do fire and bronze meet anywhere that would associate this man to both? Yes, the burnt offering was set ablaze on a bronze altar. In act the fire was to burn as long as the temple stood. (Leviticus 6:12)

Now see the Messiah, in the oven, as a walking altar absorbing the fiery punishment for sin, so that those Jews inside did not burn. Fire is hellfire flying out of God's throne upon sin. The Bronze Altar is Christ who absorbs that fire without melting. Bronze also shines and manifests a kind of shimmery glory, being easily reflective of light. This must have spoken unconsciously while the millions upon millions of liters of blood was splashed against its sides every day over the years. The glistening red, with fire, ever burning but never quenched must have struck a similar feeling of eternal judgment borne by the unquenchable branch and alter, when  God spoke to Moses from a bush.

Just as the bronze sin bearer paid for the very curse brought about by Satan, by being lifted up on a tree, so:

Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived. (Numbers 21:9)

There are now too many connections to make! Messiah seems to be everywhere! Yet we must not think the original hearers understood this at all. Part of the reason for all prophecy was to set up a incomprehensible riddle that was encrypted with a hidden key. A key that no one could find. Like a scroll of history, whether past, present, or future, all was put behind a veil. The scroll was rolled up and sealed with no one worthy to open it.

However Christ by his work on the cross is the great collector of all prophecies, that were otherwise scattered in details leading to as many questions as answers. He was the great decoder key, where instantly all the prophecies were made into heavenly convincing fireworks. He also was given authority to break the seals of future revelation (Revelation 5).

And so although this man in Zechariah's prophecy would not have been understood to be the Messiah, now that Christ has unlocked those previously hidden mysteries we can fathom that In deed he was. How fitting that the Bible ends with that same man, a permanent 'walking atonement altar' furnishing His final building of that same mystical Jerusalem:

12I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. (Revelation 1:12-15)

10And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. (Revelation 21:10-12)


*See rabbinic views in Alfred Edersheim's Life and Times of Jesus Appendix 9, on of the Midrash on Cant. 1:4 and comments on the Targum

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I highly appreciate the Messianic nature of your answers. +1 –  Kazark Jun 23 '12 at 3:59
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@Kazark - Thank you. You might find in interesting how jewish expectation saw the literal accomplishment of this glorious temple would be (below link). "The City itself would be lifted to a height of some nine miles" .etc See here: worthychristianlibrary.com/alfred-edersheim/… –  Mike Jun 23 '12 at 4:56

In sensus plenior, measuring is a type of judgement. Jerusalem is measured in two directions, representing a judgement of it's spiritual works and it's earthly works. The man is Christ, to whom all judgement has been given.

4 And said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein:

Since cities are the inheritance of the Priests. Towns without walls are those without an inheritance in the priestly kingdom. This is a pronouncement, that Jerusalem has failed to be the spiritual and holy people God has called them to be and they are to be cut off.

There are two reasons for cutting them off:

There are lots of Adams and lots of beasts

Adams Adam is the same word used for the red which is the color of sin:

Isa 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

They are being cut off for their multitude of sins like Adam's where he rebelled, knowing that he was sinning.

Beasts

As shown elsewhere, the nature of original sin is in placing the instinctive nature that we share with beasts (the flesh) before the word of God. The invective that Jerusalem is filled with beasts is another condemnation of their sins of the flesh, like Eve's.

The lock

The word for breadth is Rachab which is also the name of the prostitute. The sin of the prostitute is a rebellion against God being a symbol of idolatry.

The word for length refers to a physical (earthly) measurement of distance or time. The sins of the flesh are sins of deception as was Eve's. God is more tolerant of these sins. And the word for length also means patient. God was patient with Eve's sin, to the point that he did not condemn the world because of her. Sin came into the world because of Adam's rebellion.

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