20 December 2007

Zechariah 8:1-17

"Thus says the Lord of hosts: Even though it seems impossible to the remnant of this people in these days, should it also seem impossible to me, says the Lord of hosts?" (v.6)


Like other Old Testament prophets, Zechariah was also a priest. He was born in exile in Babylon but later returned to Judah.

In common with his fellow prophets, Zechariah is looking forward here to a new "golden age", in which God's promises to his people are fulfilled. There have been many times in history when God's people have seen themselves as just a few, powerless individuals - a "remnant" of what has gone before.

In many of our churches today, there's the feeling that congregations are smaller, older, less able to be effective than in times past. But Zechariah reminds us that even if we are a "remnant", to whom many things seem impossible, that doesn't make God any less powerful.

He goes on to emphasise the covenant relationship between God and his people (v. 7-8). This is a recurrent Old Testament theme - God will do his bit and his people will do their bit, and all will be well.

So being a whole, healthy community founded on God's promises is actually a realistic hope, even at times when it seems far away.

To Ponder

To what extent do we see ourselves as a "remnant", for whom many things are impossible?

How do you understand being part of the covenant relationship between God and his people?

Bible notes author

The Revd Peter Byass

Peter is a Methodist minister who spends a large part of his time working on the global health scene, from his working base as professor of Global Health at the University of Umeå (in Sweden) and on frequent field visits. Until recently he also chaired the Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF).