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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Zechariah: Good and Comforting Words

Part One – The Preincarnate Ministry of Messiah (Zechariah 1.8-17)

David Baron wrote concerning the chastening of Israel at the hand of the Father the following (see v. 15):

It is as if while a father was reluctantly punishing his froward (bold to do wrong) but still but still beloved child (Israel) with a stick, a stranger (Gentile nations) were to come and begin to smite him with an iron rod (Baron, The Visions and Prophecies of Zechariah, 35).

The name of the prophet Zechariah means YHWH remembers. It is certain that He does remember His people throughout the prophecy. If Israel will return to God, then God will return to her (1.3). She is suffering in the midst of exile; she must repent. The Word of God will always “overtake” (1.6) offenders until they decide to repent. Israel is encouraged to do so with a message of hope from the Man (Angel of YHWH; the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ, see Genesis 16.13; 22.12; Exodus 3; Judges 6.21; 13.19-20) among the myrtle trees (1.8-11). Merrill Unger writes of this Angel:

The red-horse rider was an angel in human form, yet not merely an angel … [but] none other than the Angel of the Presence (Exod. 22:23), Jehovah Himself, the Messiah in His preincarnate glory” (Unger, Zechariah: Prophet of Messiah’s Glory, 27).

It is a message of identification with and intercession for Israel, a message filled with “good and comforting words” (1.13).

The Man Among the Myrtles: Jesus Identifies with Israel (Zechariah 1.8-11)

The Man is seen standing among the myrtle trees in our text. The trees must symbolize Israel. The Man, Jesus Christ, is among them to show He is ever-present with His people (i.e., “in their midst”). Jesus is in the “hollow” with Israel (KJV, “at the bottom”). This seems to indicate that Jesus is there in the deep struggle of their exile. Another angel reports to Zechariah that while Israel remains afflicted, the Gentiles are at rest (1.11).

Good and Comforting Words: Jesus Intercedes for Israel (Zechariah 1.12-17)

Jesus speaks to the Father concerning Israel’s exile (1.12; cp. w/ John 17; Matthew 23.37-39). The Father answers with these good and comforting words recorded in 1.14-17. He is zealous for Israel with great zeal (1.14). He has not forgotten His love for her. He is also continuously angry with a great anger toward the Gentiles who are at ease (1.15). He will demonstrate His great mercy toward His people, Israel (1.16). His abundant provision for her will be yet seen in her future prosperity (1.17).

The nations used to chasten Israel are at ease while God allows this stranger to smite His children with an iron rod. But God knows what is happening to his chosen and is in complete control. However, they must repent; they must return to Him.

We operate under this same design. If we desire hope for the future, then we must repent. I may know factually that I belong to Jesus for all eternity; knowing this experientially means that I will not stay in sin and carnality (exile). I belong to Christ, therefore, I must repent! When I do, He returns to me with hope which springs eternal. I must not deceive myself into believing that the Word of God will not “overtake” me. The hope of “good and comforting words” will always direct true believers to repentance and purity. This is the message of Zechariah.