Today we close out Majoring in the Minors (next week we start a study on Forgiveness!) by looking at the Old Testament Book of Zechariah. After 70 years in exile, the people of Israel are FINALLY returning home, and one of the 1st things they want to do is rebuild the temple- the place where God dwells.
They are quick to build altar and the foundation of the temple but then they meet with resistance, and a long delay ensues. To encourage the people, God sends Zechariah (which means “Whom God Remembers”), a man of priestly descent, to try and jumpstart them.
For many, this book is considered one of the most difficult in the Old Testament- it is FULL of Apocalyptic (end times) images. But it is also very messianic (predicting the coming of Jesus) in nature. The book, in part, focuses on 8 visions that Zechariah has- all in 1 night. And through these visions, Zechariah motivates Joshua and the people to rebuild. God uses Zechariah to inspire both the leadership and the people. And through it all, there is a basic message that pervades the book- God is zealous for Zion.
Zechariah 1:11-2:11- “Then they spoke to the Lord’s angel, who was standing among the myrtle trees. They said, “We have gone through all the earth, and everything is calm and quiet.” 12 Then the Lord’s angel asked, “Lord All-Powerful, how long will it be before you show mercy to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah? You have been angry with them for seventy years now.” 13 So the Lord answered the angel who was talking with me, and his words were comforting and good. 14 Then the angel who was talking to me said to me, “Announce this: This is what the Lord All-Powerful says: ‘I have a strong love for Jerusalem. I will return to Jerusalem with mercy. My Temple will be rebuilt, and the measuring line will be used to rebuild Jerusalem.’ 2 Then I looked up and saw a man holding a line for measuring things. 2 I asked him, “Where are you going?” He said to me, “I am going to measure Jerusalem, to see how wide and how long it is. Jerusalem will become a city without walls, because there will be so many people and cattle in it. 5 I will be a wall of fire around it,’ says the Lord. ‘And I will be the glory within it. 10 “Shout and be glad, Jerusalem. I am coming, and I will live among you.” 11 “At that time people from many nations will join with the Lord and will become my people.“
Zion…Jerusalem…is in ruins, and the people are talking to an angel. And when one talks to angel, you are talking to God. Zechariah’s intercession is a bit…unusual…here. Usually the prophet represents God to the people. But here, it’s a bit different. The people want to know (to quote those great theologians U2 from their song Sunday, Bloody Sunday) “how long must we sing this song?” Israel expresses a deep desire to have God step up and act on their behalf. And God comes through- the 70 years of captivity are over, and God promises 6 blessings for Israel:
1) His unconditional love
2) a return to Jerusalem
3) the rebuilding of the Temple
4) the restoration of their ruined city
5) an enrich by the fulfillment of God’s promises
6) they will again be God’s chosen, through a New Covenant
Their protection and the rebuilding process are only a part of the larger picture- they will also witness the return of Shekinah- God’s glory has been promised to them. And when that happens, the people’s joy will be complete. The restoration of the temple is completed in 4 years after the time of the prophecy. The partial rebuilding of the city is completed a full 80 years later. But the true, full shekinah glory of God is absent…until Jesus Christ comes.
Zechariah 9:9-10- “Rejoice greatly, people of Jerusalem! Shout for joy, people of Jerusalem! Your king is coming to you. He does what is right, and he saves. He is gentle and riding on a donkey, on the colt of a donkey. 10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the horses from Jerusalem. The bows used in war will be broken. The king will talk to the nations about peace. His kingdom will go from sea to sea, and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth.”
The people are called to rejoice, to shout for joy! The King coming- the One Who does right, the One Who saves. he is not a ruthless conqueror, but a humble King Who will fill their vision, even the very horizon. And what will be this Messiah’s 1st order of business? Justice, balanced by salvation. In a great contradiction to the proud kings of the day, this Messiah comes with great humbleness, gentle, on a riding donkey- the symbol of peacetime kings. What disarmament treaties could not accomplish, He will, by offering words of peace to the nations. The peace He offers is a spiritual peace- what good is political peace if our hearts are out of tune with God? His kingdom of peace will be universal, from sea to sea, even to the ends of the earth.
So hundreds of years before the coming of Jesus, this Old Testament Minor Prophet tells about His coming. Hundreds of years before a baby was born in Bethlehem who would split time in half, Zechariah told us about it. Jesus- Emmanuel, God with us, who wrapped our injured flesh around Himself, breathed our air and walked our sod. Why did God send Jesus? John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everasting life.” And if that’s NOT enough, John 3:17 says, “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.” And if THAT’S not enough, how about Zechariah 8:1-2- “Again the word of the Lord Almighty came to me. 2 This is what God says: “I am very zealous for Zion.”
Why does God want the best for us? Why is He always pushing for us to take the next step?
Why does He challenge us to greater things? Why does He want us to reach out, make disciples?
Because He is zealous for Zion…for His people! What does it MEAN…to be zealous? It means to be enthusiastic, eager, intense, passionate and devoted. God is enthusiastic, eager, intense, passionate and devoted…to us. And He calls us to be the same- enthusiastic, eager, intense, passionate and devoted!
Hosea, Joel, Amos, Jonah, Micah, Habakkuk, Zechariah- ordinary people called to do extraordinary things. You and I are also ordinary people, being called to do extraordinary things.
How will we answer? Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!