Have you ever been tempted to think that God has given up on His Church? The Jews in the time of Zechariah, were. Zechariah proceeds to illustrate God’s loving attitude to His chosen people in a series of visions. These visions are like word pictures, images seen by the prophet which have a meaning that the Lord intends to convey to those to whom Zechariah is prophesying, the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Remember that the Jewish people had returned from their captivity in Babylon, but that nations which did not know God had been oppressing them and impeding their progress in rebuilding the temple which had been destroyed. Nothing had been built but the foundation. The first vision of Zechariah starts off like this:
Zechariah 1:8 I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white. 9 Then said I, O my lord, what are these? And the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will shew thee what these be. 10 And the man that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, These are they whom the Lord hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth. 11 And they answered the angel of the Lord that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest.
The nations which did not know God were resting at ease. They had harmed the Jewish people, God’s chosen nation, and now were easing back in the saddle as if nothing could endanger them. But what they don’t realize is that God was merely using them for His purpose. Though they have been victorious over God’s people, they were just a tool in His almighty hand to correct, to chasten those whom He loves, in order to bring His people to mourn for their sins, and to come back to obedience to Him.
So often in our own generation, it may seem as though God’s power has left His holy Church. So much of the church is either falling from the true faith, conforming to the world, being caught sleeping in time of battle, or is simply dying out. The world with all its forces of unbelief, skepticism, and idolatry is oppressing the souls of those who trust in the Lord. The very air we breathe is completely polluted by the emptiness of mankind’s disregard for the Creator. That holy city, the Church of Jesus Christ where His word is proclaimed in truth, where baptism and the Lord’s Supper are faithfully practiced, and where Christians are walking together in love and discipline seems to be either vanishing before our eyes, or rendered completely irrelevant. These are things that can be distressing to the one who forgets that great God who rules over human events, the One who chastens His people in love and smites to heal. But even in all of these things, God is working His purpose. And the good of His people whom He loves is what He is working toward, whether we can see it or not. In the following verses, He goes on to say,
12 Then the angel of the Lord answered and said, O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years? 13 And the Lord answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words. 14 So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy. 15 And I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease: for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction. 16 Therefore thus saith the Lord; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the Lord of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem. 17 Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the Lord shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.
The Church of Jesus Christ is that holy city, the Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 3:16, Revelation 21:2) and Israel of God (Galatians 6:16.) It is composed of all those of every nation, Jew and Gentile, who trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It is this Church of Christ which meets in particular locations in particular congregations at set times all over the world. God is not done with her! God promises to the inhabitants of Jerusalem through the mouth of Zechariah, that those nations which troubled His people will finally and fully be eliminated from the picture. He used them for His purpose, but when He sees what they have done to her, He is jealous for her! This is a prophecy about the kingdom of Jesus Christ. The Jewish nation as a political entity was never restored to full sovereignty or liberated from Gentile rule. Rather, this prophecy about the restoration of the full freedom of Israel finds its fulfillment in the renewed and restored nation that Jesus established at Pentecost, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you,” (Acts 1:8) We, the Church of Jesus Christ, the Israel of God, can look forward in faith to the day when we will be fully liberated from all our enemies. For although the world may criticize and marginalize us as weak and insignificant; our great God is the One who will judge those who have come against His people. Our place, brothers and sisters, is to keep the faith, to have hope, and continue to be obedient to Him, no matter what the world may throw at us. We are to be about the business of building His temple. And we have this comforting promise, that no opposition of the world, no sadness, death, or demonic forces will thwart God’s blessing upon us as His holy Church.
“I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the Lord of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem. …My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the Lord shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.”
Let us, brothers and sisters, love, cherish, contribute our time and talents, to this Holy Bride, the Church of Jesus Christ, which gathers regularly as His people. And as we continue to build this temple of the living God, let us have faith and hope that the one who has blessed her in the past, will continue to bless.