For the Love of God, Volume 2/December 15
From Gospel Translations
2 Chronicles 17; Revelation 6; Zechariah 2; John 5
THE LAST FEW VERSES OF ZECHARIAH 1 (which we did not think through in yesterday’s meditation) are fairly straightforward. “Horn” represents strength or kingdom or kingly power. The four horns that scatter Judah and Israel may not be four empires, but a way of referring to all the powers that had any hand in it (as in “from the four corners of the world” or “the four winds”). But the “craftsmen” ultimately overcome them—again, four, to correspond to the four who decimate the people of God. Historically, of course, the Persians overcame and incorporated the territory of the preceding empires into their own. The general point is clear enough and is repeated in many ways in the prophets: all nations meet divine retribution, especially those that attack God’s covenant people.
That sets the stage for Zechariah 2 and the third vision. Here Jerusalem has a divine protector: it no longer needs walls. Indeed, the great number of people and livestock belonging to the city makes walls impractical. But Jerusalem is not thereby threatened. Far from it: “‘I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will be its glory within’” (2:5). Parts of this vision anticipate the vision of the new Jerusalem (see especially Rev. 22:1ff.).
Elements of this vision resonate with other biblical themes. (a) The Lord will plunder the nations that have been faithless and cruel. That theme crops up in every major Old Testament corpus, and it surfaces in the preceding chapter. (b) The Lord’s covenant people are “the apple of his eye” (2:8). True, to be the elect of God may mean being first in line for chastening (Amos 3:2), but it also means being loved by God from before the foundation of the earth, cherished by him, preserved by him, and finally brought into eschatological glory. (c) The missionary theme surfaces again: “Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people” (2:11). This should come as no surprise. The first announcement of the covenant with Abraham promises that all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him (Gen. 12:3). (d) “Be still before the LORD, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling” (2:13). In other words, in light of the glorious revelations God has given through Zechariah, the appropriate response is quiet reverence, hushed awe. How much more should that be our response as we contemplate the fulfillment of these promises and glimpse something of the horizon of the achievement in the Gospel and its entailments!