We are reading Zechariah, a prophet associated with Ezra (5:1) in the return from captivity to rebuild the Temple. First he addresses the Jews in Babylon, saying “Up, escape to Zion, declares the LORD” (2:7). Then Zechariah makes a fascinating point, “for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye” (verse 8). This phrase means someone who is special in someone’s eyes, usually a father or mother.
For this reason they are to return to their homeland and rebuild the temple and Jerusalem. After some problems and pressure, they succeeded. But five centuries later, the people fail again, this time in a terrible way; they reject and kill their Saviour, God’s Son! As a result Jesus predicted, “Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24).
We live in the time of the fulfilment of this prediction – it is clear that Israel has not ceased to be “the apple of his eye”. What we find intriguing are the long range prophecies Zechariah makes, of events which are unfolding in our times. We read today, (3:9) “… I will remove the iniquity of the land in a single day”. In coming days we will read many more such predictions.
We can see parallels in God’s dealings with Job to His dealings with Israel. Job initially lacked faith and a long term vision as the nation did. Job admitted, “the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me” (3:25). Israel lost faith, it had no long term vision, its people only thought of the blessings of the present – and later, the lack of them.
This is a lesson for us. Are we doing the same? Look at the parable Jesus told in Luke 12:35-48; the final words contain the punch line, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrust much, they will demand the more.” God has entrusted His revealed word to us, indeed to the whole world in these final days!
For over three years Jesus preached in Israel. He said, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22). Our final thoughts come from the end of Jude. May our prayer similarly be – “to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy …” (verse 24).