Saturday 26 September 2009

Bible Book:

"I will dwell in your midst." (v.11)

Zechariah 2:1-11 Saturday 26 September 2009


Zechariah was a contemporary of the prophet Haggai. He hadreturned to Jerusalem when Zerubbabel and Joshua had led the Jewswho had been released from captivity by King Cyrus. Zechariah's grandfatherIddo, a priest, was listed among the other returnees in Nehemiah,and Zechariah went on to succeed him as head of a priestly family.The meaning of his name really resonates with the prophecies herecords - it means 'The Lord (Yahweh) remembers'. The visions andprophecies of Zechariah keep coming round to God's perpetualfaithfulness (verse 11), 'remembering' the people and setting outpromises of deliverance (verse 8).

The chapter begins with an angel telling Zechariah that because ofan immense increase in the population, Jerusalem (the 'new'Jerusalem) will be so large that there will be no city walls. Citywalls have two functions - to protect inhabitants from enemies andto confine inhabitants - but in this new Jerusalem, God's presencewill surround it and the presence of God will inhabit it. Godpromises that "many nations" will be drawn to the city and willlive as God's people.

Much of the energy in this passage comes from encouraging thehearer or reader to think ahead of the glorious future that awaitsthe whole community of God's people. Today, we see this return tothe new Jerusalem in a very different light to Zechariah. Those whoare drawn to the new Jerusalem are not necessarily drawn to aphysical location but are drawn to be part of a community builtaround Jesus Christ as Messiah and Lord. And we know that thiscommunity does not come from one ethnic group butis global, and all are before God in totalequality.

In contrast to Haggai, who placed a lot of stress on the Temple andits rebuilding, Zechariah has a slighty different perspective. Theancient Jewish community was taught to venerate the Temple as theplace where God's presence was experienced, but in readingZechariah, we start to get the picture that it was really throughthe people's faithfulness to God, illustrated by their commitmentto the building project, that God's presence was known. So,although he was also committed to the project, Zechariah saw it asa prelude to the eschatological age, or the end times, and that thebricks and mortar were of much less importance than livingfaithfully in light of the message of the Law of Moses.

And on both these counts, I think Zechariah presents a model of acontemporary faith community

To Ponder

What does the new Jerusalem mean for you and thefaith community you may be part of?

Throughout history (and sadly sometimes still thecase) Christianity has been twisted into a defence of bigotry,sectarianism and exclusion. Perhaps you have experienced this orhave seen it in action in your community? In what ways can you linkthis passage with the good news of Jesus and make it relevant toyour experience, or to those who have experienced bigotry orexclusion?

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