Zechariah builds the House Meditations: 5. The Place of Real Security
Zech 2:6 “Come! Come! Flee from the land of the north,” declares the Lord,
Recap: In one sense everything about God’s prophetic word that comes to us, is about changing our attitude, our outlook, our intentions and our will. The first word called us to return to the Lord, to come back to Him, to come close to Him from wherever we’ve drifted. The second word brought reassurance that although the world seems uninterested in our plight, God is on our case. The third word brought reassurance that although sin and injustice have brought us harm, God will hold accountable those who caused it. The fourth word brought reassurance that God’s intent is to bless and expand His people. All of these things are intended to bring heart change, to strengthen, encourage and comfort us, to change us to be more fully and ably the people of God, the house of God.
A Bigger View: But this vision has not finished in bringing its message. This part of the vision in chapter 2 has brought great encouragement that Jerusalem will be a city without walls, a city that grows and grows, is full of people and animals, and yet a city that as it grows will remain surrounded by the fire of the Lord, fire that protects, fire that denotes that everything within it is holy. But the picture is not only about the literal physical Jerusalem, it is also a picture of the people of God generally. At the end there will a new heaven and a new earth and a New Jerusalem (Rev 21:1,2) and that New Jerusalem is the ongoing dwelling place of God with His people (v.3) At the heart of God’s plans for mankind, is the goal of bringing about a people related to Him through the death of His Son, Jesus, a people who will share eternity with Him.
Familiarity can be a Danger: And yet there is a problem, for Jerusalem is supposed to be filled with the people of God and when Ezra and Nehemiah came, they came with only a percentage of the exiles living in Babylon. While they had been living there Jeremiah had sent a letter with a prophecy and instructions, including, “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jer 29:7) This they had done and they had settled and prospered there, they had become familiar with living there and familiarity breeds a sense of security, and so when a good number returned to the Land, many others didn’t.
The Action Word Comes: “Come! Come! Flee from the land of the north,” declares the Lord, “for I have scattered you to the four winds of heaven,” declares the Lord.” (2:6) Some suggest that this may apply to the Babylonians who the earlier part of the vision said would be dealt with by one of the ‘craftsmen’ but what follows indicates that this is to God’s people: “Come, Zion! Escape, you who live in Daughter Babylon!” (2:7) No, this is clearly a call to the Jews who remain in Babylon who literally settled there with hearts and minds settled there.
The Warning Word Comes: Then comes an explanation: “For this is what the Lord Almighty says: “After the Glorious One has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye— I will surely raise my hand against them so that their slaves will plunder them. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me.” (2:8,9) See the various parts to this. “For this is what the Lord Almighty says.” This is God’s message to be heeded. “After the Glorious One has sent me against the nations that have plundered you.” Then comes the revelation of the destroying angel who is being sent out to bring accountability to those who had plundered Israel. “for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye.” An aside that explains why God is moving against them – because Israel is precious to Him. “I will surely raise my hand against them so that their slaves will plunder them.” The Babylonians will be brought down by the hand of the destroyer so that slaves will rise up as the power of Babylon is removed. “Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me.” When all this happens, all you who have heard this word will know that this happened at the hand of the destroying angel of the Lord, performing His will. To summarise – get out of Babylon before this destruction comes on that land, get back to Israel where you belong!
A New Day: The reassurances continue: “Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord.” (2:10) There is no doubt about the Lord’s intentions for the people back in the Land: they will not be there on their own with an empty temple, the Lord will return and be with them. Now when the temple was finished there was no filling it with the glory of the Lord as had happened when the Tabernacle had been finished (Ex 40:33-38) and when Solomon’s temple was finished (1 Kings 8:10,11) but He will still be with them. And yet there is perhaps a much bigger meaning behind this for the word continues, “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. The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem. Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.” (2:11-13) Perhaps ‘that day’ will be the day of Jesus when the people of God will eventually include Gentiles from all over the world. God has been declaring His good intentions for Jerusalem, a city without walls, a city that constantly grows with ever increasing numbers of God’s people, a ‘Jerusalem’ that is far bigger than the physical city.
Key Lessons? As this prophecy has unrolled, so to speak, we have seen first of all God’s intent to bless and build His people. Second we have seen His call to His people still living in the world of Babylon to leave there before His destruction comes on Babylon and come back to the place of gathering with God in His house, as His house, in the place of His calling. We may add to this a third thing that comes out of this: real security is being in the presence of the Lord, being where He is, not being in the familiarity of the world, a world doomed to destruction. When David wrote, “and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever,” (Psa 23:6b) it was a reminder to us that the calling of the people of God is to stay close to God where He is.
And Us? The book of Revelation speaks of Babylon which is the administration and economy of the godless and unrighteous world, and there we see it destroyed (Rev 14:8, 16:19, 18:2) accompanied by the call that echoes that which we’ve seen in these verses: “Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues.” (Rev 18:4) In the second study I referred to Gavin Calver’s meeting with a friend who had once been on fire for God but was now on fire for his house or yard remodeling, an example of how we can take good things (there is nothing wrong with upgrades while we maintain godliness and righteousness) and allow them to fill our vision and dilute our zeal for the Lord.
Although politics in the West has involved turmoil in recent years, for many of us in the West, affluence has meant peace and ease where our spirituality gets pushed to the periphery of life. It is seen as our relationship with the Lord gets limited to an orchestrated hour on Sunday mornings or five minutes skipping through someone else’s notes each morning and calling that ‘a quiet time’. Neither of these things are demonstrations of a true relationship with the Lord. We may like the thought of the blessing of the city without walls, but we also need to take on board the discipline that requires us to come out of the world’s self-centred, godless and unrighteous ways of thinking and living. We can’t have one without the other.