Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Visions and Promises - Zechariah

Today we read from Zechariah 1-3.

This book starts off with a call to return to the Lord
"The LORD was very angry with your fathers. 3Therefore say to them, Thus declares the LORD of hosts: Return to me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts.4Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets cried out, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, Return from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.'
God says to the people, return to me and I will return to you. Turn from your evil ways.
In the past their fathers ended up turning back to God. Why? Because they faced God's word and his statutes.
6But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? So they repented and said, As the LORD of hosts purposed to deal with us for our ways and deeds, so has he dealt with us."
The Zechariah saw some visions: a vision of a horseman, horns and a craftsman, a measuring line, and Joshua as high priest.

Now I have to admit... I don't do visions well. I read them and think...oh... so??? They really don't tend to mean a whole lot to me. So if you want depth of understanding for this passage...you'll have to look elsewhere. :)

In this first vision Zechariah sees a horseman, who behind him as a bunch of other horses
"I saw in the night, and behold, a man riding on a red horse! He was standing among the myrtle trees in the glen, and behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses
These horses are sent from God to patrol the earth. They report back to God saying that the whole earth is at rest. I read that and I think, okay..so that's good right? But then I read this
12Then the angel of the LORD said, 'O LORD of hosts, how long will you have no mercy on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, against which you have been angry these seventy years?' 13And the LORD answered gracious and comforting words to the angel who talked with me. 14So the angel who talked with me said to me, 'Cry out, Thus says the LORD of hosts: I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion. 15And I am exceedingly angry with the nations that are at ease; for while I was angry but a little, they furthered the disaster. 16Therefore, thus says the LORD, I have returned to Jerusalem with mercy; my house shall be built in it, declares the LORD of hosts, and the measuring line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem. 17Cry out again, Thus says the LORD of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity, and the LORD will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.'"
And I quite honestly have no earthly clue! Is it good that the earth is at rest? From the answer I would hazard a guess that no, it is not, otherwise why would the angel ask God to have mercy on Jerusalem? Why would God be jealous for Jerusalem? Why would he be angry with the other nations? I don't quite get it. When I looked up various commentaries cited at the World Wide Study Bible site it was suggested that one reason that God was unhappy was that the whole world was at rest BUT his people still did not have their Jerusalem rebuilt. The Temple had been destroyed and his people had no place to worship him. Quite frankly...that made sense to me. :)

Next vision was of Four horns and Four craftsmen which symbolized the destruction of Israel and the wrath that was to come to the nations oppressing her.

Then we get the man with a measuring line whose job was "To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length." And God's promise that he would be all the protection that Jerusalem needed.

In the final vision of this section we see the high priest Joshua. Satan is wanting to accuse him, and is instead rebuked by God. Joshua's filthy rags are exchanged for new and God promises him that
If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here.

So...even though I didn't understand much of this reading, I do understand God's promise. If I hold to God, he will hold to me. That means I need to walk in his ways, I need to remember his promises to me, I need to keep his laws and statutes and so forth. If I do so, God will remember me, God will provide for me, God will be my shelther.

Now I do want to be careful here, I don't want to give the impression that I live by a works salvation notion. I don't. I know that without my love for God and without my belief in Jesus as the sole reason for my salvation, whatever I do is for naught. But that doesn't negate the fact that as I hold to God and his ways, he holds to me.

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