Zechariah builds the House Meditations: 10. Postscript
Zech 7:1 In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah
And So: I have titled this series “Zechariah builds the House” because that, I believe, is what all these words and pictures have been about. As we see from the verse above another two years pass before he gets another word from the Lord, and so before we conclude we might do well to review where we have been and how my title is justified.
1:1-6 A Call to Return: The word comes.
“‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ (1:3) The implication is that the hearts of Israel, as revealed by the years of their history before the Exile, were needing to be adjusted. The purpose of the Exile had been to purge the nation of unbelief. Back now in the Land, having started rebuilding the temple, if they wanted God’s blessing they needed to be whole-hearted in turning their hearts to God. Coming back to the Land is insufficient, their hearts need to be changed from what it had been. The parallel for us is that to come to Christ we have to leave the old life behind and totally give our hearts to God so that Jesus can be our Saviour and deliver us from our Sin, and also be our Lord so he can lead us down new paths in line once again with God’s design for humanity, as His children.
1:7-17 Reaffirmation of Calling & Warning to the World: Vision 1 – The Riders
“We have gone throughout the earth and found the whole world at rest and in peace,” (1:11) “I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion, and I am very angry with the nations that feel secure,” (1;14,15) “‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt.” (1:16) “the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem.’” (1:17) God’s intent to bless Israel reiterated several times and His displeasure over the rest of the world. Similarly with us today, when we come to Christ we are promised abundant eternal life (which begins today) but the unbelieving world remains as the object of God’s displeasure.
1:18-21 Judgment will fall on the World: Vision 2 – the horns and craftsmen
“the horns that scattered Judah … the craftsmen have come to terrify them and throw down these horns.” (1:21) Other godless nations may have been used by God to discipline Israel, but God will still hold them accountable. God clearly used the sinfulness of the authorities of Judaism to bring about the sacrifice of His Son (Acts 2:23) but He held them responsible. God holds every person accountable for their Sin and so only the Cross of Christ saves from that Final Judgement.
2:1-13 Blessing and growth for God’s People: Vision 3 – the man with a measuring line.
“Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of people and animals in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’” (2 4,5) The past is being put aside and God’s intent for Jerusalem is blessing, growth and protection. For us, as members of the kingdom of God, we are to know the same assurance. Jesus. seated at his Father’s right hand is working to expand the kingdom, grow the church, bless and protect it.
3:1-10 Establishing Identity is Crucial: Vision 4 – Joshua Restored
“Take off his filthy clothes… See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.” (3:4) Joshua as the spiritual leader of the returned people had to know that his past and their past is forgiven. Satan is rebuked for his constant accusing of Joshua and Joshua is re-clothed and re-commissioned. We too have to know that we are what we are because we have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. We are children of God because God has made us so as a result of a) us simply responding to and believing the Good News, b) Him declaring our forgiveness and sonship on the basis of Christ’s work on the Cross and c) Him empowering us to live new lives by Him imparting the indwelling Holy Spirit.
4:1-14 It is now all about the work of the Holy Spirit: Vision 5 – Lampstand & Olive Trees
“‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” (4:6) The Lampstand (the people of God) are made to shine the Light of God into the darkness of the World and that light comes through the supply of the Holy Spirit. Today it is exactly the same. We, the people of God, are called to let the light of Christ shine through us into the darkness of this world as we are empowered, gifted and directed by His Holy Spirit.
5:1-4 God calls for Righteousness: Vision 6 – the Flying Scroll
“every thief will be banished, and according to what it says on the other, everyone who swears falsely will be banished.” (5:3) All wrong behaviour and wrong words are to be excluded from the holy people of God. We likewise are to be a holy people with wrong behaviour and wrong words removed from our lives.
5:5-11 Unrighteousness belongs in the godless world: Vision 7 – the woman in a basket
“This is the iniquity of the people throughout the land.” (5:6) “To the country of Babylonia … the basket will be set there in its place.” (5:11) Evil belongs in the ‘world’, not in the people of God, today the people of the Church, and there it will be judged. This calls for distinction and separation.
6:1-8 God sends His Spirit across the World: Vision 8 – Four Chariots
“These are the four spirits of heaven.” (6:5) “they went throughout the earth.” (6:7) The Lord sends His Spirit across the world to whoever will receive Him. A sign of the Lord’s desire to reach the whole world which is still true through the church today (Acts 1:8)
6:9-15 The call for the people of God to rule: Final Word over Joshua
“It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne.” (6:13) This was a change from a monarchy to a people led by the high priest, God’s direct representative. We too today, are called to rule “in Christ”, to be those led and inspired by his Spirit and thus bring change to his world.
And Following? We have limited this series to the prophecies of chapters 1 to 6 that came in the second year of Darius. In 7:1 we see the next word comes two years later to answer a question about fasting (7:1-3) where the Lord challenges the reality of what they had done previously (7:4-8) and in a rather Isa 58 manner called them to live and act justly (7:9,10) and rebukes them for past unbelief (7:11-14) which takes us back to the first word in ch.1 calling for a return. In chapter 8, still encouraging the rebuilding (8:9) there are ten promises of blessing on Jerusalem for the days to come.
In chapters 9 to 14 the prophecies take on a completely different tone, seen as two ‘oracles’ or ‘burdens’ – that some have titled Ch.9-11 The Advent and Rejection of the Messiah and Ch.12-14 Jerusalem delivered and saved but as there are no date indications or references to building, it is often suggested they came after the completion of the temple rebuilding.
And So? The chapters we have been reading are clearly in the time of the rebuilding and overlap and flow on from Haggai’s prophecies. They are in a completely different form to Haggai’s, apart from the initial word and the last word (in ch.7) being filled with pictures seen in the ‘night visions’. Zechariah doesn’t directly challenge and encourage as Haggai had done, but instead builds pictures that convey principles and instructions of a far broader dimension involving repentance, reassurance, and hope for the future. The ‘building’ we might refer to in respect of Zechariah is not so much the physical temple but the building or temple that is the people of God themselves. Their state, their attitude, their outlook, their understanding is what this has been all about. They are the people of God, the dwelling place of God as it will be when the Spirit is poured out at Pentecost. The Old Testament revelation is of God whose dwelling is heaven (e.g. 1 Kings 8:30, 39, 43,49) who has chosen Jerusalem as His earthly dwelling place (e.g. 1 Kings 11:13,32, 14:21) and it’s Temple His focal point (1 Kings 5:5, 8:10) His ‘local’ dwelling.
And Us? In the New Testament we find all believers are described as the temple (1 Cor 3:16,17 – note the word ‘together’, 2 Cor 6:16, Eph 2:21). The temple was the place where the glory of the Lord was revealed, and where fellowship with God was experienced, and restoration of fellowship could be brought about. Zechariah’s people still were to reveal God to the nations (2:11-13), an example of the blessing of God with mankind. Today you and I are part of this body, this bride, this building that belongs to God and is used by God to establish a distinct people throughout the earth who are made anew, forgiven and cleansed, given a new identity and purpose and power and a hope to be fulfilled.
This was true of Israel and even more true of us today. May we live in the wonder of it, having heeded the various calls and lessons of these prophecies to come to God, trust in Him and leave the injustices of the world to him, to receive His renewing, His blessing, His power through His Spirit, and with His call to reign (2 Cor 5:17,21, 1 Cor 4:8, 2 Tim 2:12, Rev 5:10). May it be so. Amen.