I’m reading through the Book of Zechariah at the moment and am sharing a few basic reactions and thoughts. We started off with the introduction to the book – you can read that here: The Book of Zechariah: It starts with sorry.
What follows next is a series of visions in the night.
Fighting my sense of panic
Sometimes I feel a sense of panic at how the world is turning out. So many aspects of my culture are unrecognisable from when I was growing up.
The pace of change is overwhelming. I can be shaken when I focus the growing militancy of godlessness. Especially when I consider the world in which my children will become adults.
Zechariah’s first vision in the night (Zechariah 1:7-17) has helped me this week. It has calmed me and strengthened my trust in the living God.
Horses and mysterious men
This is how the vision starts:
“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.”
Straight away we are in the dark, encountering mysterious people, trees and horses. I’m on edge and unsure of myself looking in on this scene.
In the vision, the horses are sent from the Lord to patrol the earth and report back to the angel on the horse, and to Zechariah. They find the earth at rest.
Isn’t rest always a good thing?
Initially it sounds like a good thing. Isn’t rest always a good thing?
But the angel of the Lord is disheartened. How can the earth be at rest when God’s people are under attack? They are in exile in Babylon. They cannot worship the Lord with freedom. They are being squeezed and sidelined.
This resonates with my feelings today. Sometimes when I spend time reading the press, I think, where did everyone go? Every voice there seems to be at peace with the world and at odds with what I believe. God’s people are, at best, irrelevant and at worst, persecuted.
And it’s a small step from there to thinking, the Lord, too, has gone away and left us to the mockers. Which of course, He hasn’t. But it is possible to feel that way, even fleetingly.
What will God do about the mockers?
But the Lord gives words of comfort to the angel and Zechariah.
He is angry at the nations who are at ease while God’s people are in exile. He sees those who mock and He will not tolerate it. We are not abandoned. The Lord will intervene for His people.
“Therefore, 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.”
The Lord has returned – His mighty presence is with His people. His house will be built – He will be worshipped as only He should be. And the tape measure will be put to use all over His city – building up His people.
We do not need to be afraid of those who mock now. The end result is not in doubt: “my house shall be built”.
It’s inspiring and heartening and triumphant. It’s the ultimate answer to bullying. Just wait til my daddy gets here.
Here’s a couple of reflections on Zechariah’s first vision:
appearances can be deceptive
The world appears at ease with the denigration of the Christian faith, but it won’t last. I need to be careful to teach my children the theology of the Cross – that following Jesus will always involve some people ridiculing us. But that the story doesn’t end there but with the glory of the Resurrection. “God has made foolish the wisdom of the world.”
the Lord is with us now
His presence is with us now. He is building up His church now. And the future is ultimately full of hope – the measuring line is being stretched out over the whole earth. Sometimes I let the negative feelings of the world get the best of me, but I need to focus more on the joy of our relationship with the Lord now.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Comforter, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17