weekly word – 11/02/23

Zechariah's Third Vision

Zechariah's first vision described the world in Zechariah's time: the nations which oppressed Jerusalem BC were at ease, with no accountability for what they had done.

His second vision described God's plan to cut off the power of these nations which had oppressed Jerusalem.

The third vision begins when Zechariah looks up to see a surveyor (2:1). He asks the man, "Where are you going?" and the man replies, "To measure Jerusalem to determine its width and length." (2:2) Just then, another angel comes running out to the surveyor telling him "Run, speak to that young man, saying, 'Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls because of the multitude of men and cattle within it.'" He tells the surveyor Yahweh's declaration, "Indeed I will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst." (2:3)

In the time of this prophecy, 520 BC, many exiles had returned to their homeland of Jerusalem, but the city was vulnerable to attack because its walls weren't built, nor had the Temple even been reconstructed. It was the people's responsibility to do all these things, but in fear of their local enemies, their work on the temple and city walls had been paralyzed.

By contrast, this vision points them to a future where Yahweh Himself dwells in their midst and His presence acts a firewall against enemy attack. This vision compels the exiles to recognize Yahweh as their only sufficient protection. But it also points them to a glorious future in a spiritually revived Jerusalem where God is the city's sole protection and glory.

The second part of this vision (2:6-9) is a call to all the other Jews and Israelites who are scattered around the world to come back to this new Jerusalem for safety:

“Listen! Listen! Flee from the land of the north”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“for I have scattered you like the four winds of heaven”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “Listen, Zion! Escape, you who are living with Daughter Babylon. For the Lord of Armies says this: In pursuit of his glory, he sent me against the nations plundering you, for whoever touches you touches the pupil of my eye. For look, I am raising my hand against them, and they will become plunder for their own servants. Then you will know that the Lord of Armies has sent me."

Here Zechariah's three visions are starting to form a cohesive message. God has not forgotten the evil Babylon has done to Jerusalem. On the contrary, in the same way that God told Lot and his family to flee Sodom prior to its destruction, God is telling all faithful Israelites to flee Babylon and take refuge in Jerusalem before God takes vengeance on it for its oppression of God's people. His justice will come swiftly upon that city because they touched "the pupil of my eye", a reference to His city, Jerusalem.

The final passage (2:10-13) is a glorious promise reminding us of God's purpose to include believing Gentiles within God's plan to redeem and protect the Israelites in Jerusalem:

“Daughter Zion, shout for joy and be glad, for I am coming to dwell among you”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “Many nations will join themselves to the Lord on that day and become my people. I will dwell among you, and you will know that the Lord of Armies has sent me to you. The Lord will take possession of Judah as his portion in the Holy Land, and he will once again choose Jerusalem. Let all humanity be silent before the Lord, for from his holy dwelling he has roused himself.”

In verse 11, the Hebrew root translated "join themselves" is lavah. It tells us that Gentiles will one day be covenantally bound to Jews. It's the same word used in Genesis 29 when Leah gave birth to Levi and said, "Now my husband will become attached to me." She wanted her husband to be her ally, her genuine friend. The word literally means to be intertwined.

This vision isn't just saying Jews and Gentiles will be friends. It points forward to a time when a genuine fear of Yahweh leads believing Gentiles to form a unified bond with believing Jews. That's why the vision began with a surveyor going to see how wide and long it has become; the total group of people who will be in Jerusalem will be greater than ever before.

How does God make these two people bound together in a covenant? Jesus Christ. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28) This passage means that all races and ethnicities are joined together into one covenant by their singular faith in Jesus Christ.

All Christians, Jew and Gentile, look forward to the time when Yahweh, the Lord Jesus Christ, will dwell with us on earth. He is the basis for the unity of all the church today, despite ethnic, cultural, and other differences. As Paul wrote in Romans 3:29-30, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that faith, is one." 

The one God who loves those of all nations is the same God who intertwines us as one people in the New Covenant.

Pastor David