TODAY’S READING: Zechariah 1–4
Zechariah, a contemporary of Haggai, was a little more poetic and visionary. Not exclusively focused on the temple, he envisioned a rebuilt nation, a glorious new Jerusalem, and a Davidic king. He referred to both Zerubbabel (from David’s line) and Joshua (the priest, called “the branch”) with messianic language, symbolism understood to have international and missionary implications: When David’s heir was established, all nations would be a part of that kingdom.
Zechariah explained to the people that judgment fell because of their failure to keep covenant with Jehovah. In a series of bizarre dreams, God communicated the way forward, the way to not repeat past sins. God spoke through dreams and continues to do so today to seekers around the world. Zechariah’s dreams are arranged symmetrically, bookended by a picture of God’s four horsemen attentively watching over the nations (dreams 1 and 8). Dreams 2 and 7 refer to past sins that led to exile, and dreams 3 and 6 focus on the rebuilding of a new Jerusalem that will be a beacon to all nations who join God’s people in worship. The center of the dream sequence (dreams 4 and 5) concern the key historical figures of that time: Zerubbabel the political leader and Joshua the priest. The point being that neither politicians nor ministers can do anything outside of the Spirit of God (Zech. 4:6).
Zechariah 4 is my favorite chapter of the Bible. I love the image of a weak, chastened people staring across the global landscape wondering how on earth the God of heaven will use them to glorify Himself among all peoples. The answer is quite simple; it centers on grace, faith, and Spirit. When faced with mountains (monolithic religious systems that deny the deity and supremacy of Jesus), we stand our sacred ground and shout grace at them: “Who are you, O great mountain? You shall become a plain before the Messiah’s glory!” There is something powerful about shouting grace at giants, about rising up in faith, about not despising our small reality (v. 10), and about charging in the Spirit. It is the spirit of David that runs towards the challenge crying: “Who are you to defy the Lord God of Israel? You come against me with weapons of terror, but I run at you with the armor of grace that all the world will know there is a God in Israel!”
Pulsating through our veins and spirits as we charge over boundaries and barriers, as we struggle through language learning, as we lean into gale force winds of resistance, as we battle for visas and residence, as we push through heat and fatigue, as we jostle with friends and foes for sure footing, as we engage unreached peoples, as we struggle through sleepless nights, as we absorb the blows of the accusing enemy, as we swing our Bible swords and throw our prayerful spears, as we sow our gospel seed must be the reminder and encouragement: Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord of hosts.