King Of Peace

Look, your king is coming to you.
    He is righteous and victorious,
yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—
    riding on a donkey’s colt.
I will remove the battle chariots from Israel
    and the warhorses from Jerusalem.
I will destroy all the weapons used in battle,
    and your king will bring peace to the nations.

Zechariah 9:9b-10a New Living Translation

This is one of the most familiar passages in the collection of Zachariah’s prophecies since the Gospel writers use it in their account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem just before His crucifixion and resurrection. Through Zachariah, God points the remnant Israelites toward a coming day when He will send a New King, the Messiah, to Jerusalem to set up a kingdom of peace that will be not only for the Hebrews but will bring peace to all nations. The victory march represented here is different than all other victory marches people experienced the ancient near east at the time. There is no triumphalism or pompous attitude by a conquering king. This King will be marked by humility. Instead of riding in a war chariot through the streets of the city, He will ride the colt of a donkey. God will use this King to destroy all the weapons of war and bring peace to all nations.

This King described in this prophecy is best represented by Jesus. God’s desire was that all nations would be blessed through the descendants of Abraham. Jesus was the fulfillment of this prophecy. He is the one who will bring an end to all war and bring a time of peace for all nations. Many critics will point out that war is often caused by differences in religion. The key to remember here is that Jesus did not come to create more religion. He came to call people from all nations into His Kingdom of peace and to open a way for the Holy Spirit to again dwell in them and give them peace in the midst of the chaos and war around them.

As the followers of Jesus, we have the opportunity to live in the peace He calls us to. We also can be messengers of peace to the world around us. When we give in to the nationalistic tendencies of our earthly nations and focus only on our own interests we fall short of the call to be a Kingdom of peace for all people groups. In those times, God by His Holy Spirit calls us back to be peacemakers again and lay aside the weapons of our warfare.

Jesus, thank You that You are a King of Peace. Help us to be people that live out the call to be peacemakers for all nations.

New Clothes

Jeshua’s clothing was filthy as he stood there before the angel. So the angel said to the others standing there, “Take off his filthy clothes.” And turning to Jeshua he said, “See, I have taken away your sins, and now I am giving you these fine new clothes.”
Zechariah 3:3-4 New Living Translation

In the vision recorded in Zechariah 3, Jeshua stands in to represent the entire community of Israel. The vision begins with Jeshua wearing filthy clothes and Satan laying accusations against him. If Satan wanted to prevent the rebuilding of the temple, one of the easiest ways to thwart this effort would be to discredit the priests and the generation they represent and make them feel unworthy of entering into the presence of Yahweh. There was much that Satan could accuse the people of Israel of, since they had inherited the rebellion of their ancestors. Still, God would have nothing to do with it. He spoke of Joshua (and the generation he represented) as being like a stick rescued from the fire. God had allowed Israel and Judah to experience the consequences of their rebellion but He was now rescuing this generation from the consequences of their ancestors’ sins and renewing the covenant with Abraham through them. He also offered Jeshua new, clean clothes and a clean turban to represent the redemption and grace He was offering this new generation of Abraham’s descendants.

In our own lives, Satan wants nothing more than to derail the work of the Kingdom of God in us. His most common weapon to prevent us from experiencing the fullness of God’s work is to make us feel unworthy of being a part of God’s kingdom and plan. He will remind us of our sins of the past and try to make us feel guilty and unworthy. If Satan can keep us wallowing in the mud of condemnation and guilt, he can keep us from pursuing the mission of God in our lives. God will have nothing to do with this, though. He rejects the accusations of Satan against us and offers to make us clean in order to represent Him well before a world that needs to know His grace and mercy. Our part is to trust God in His offer of grace and to begin to walk in the righteousness He is offering us through Jesus Christ.

God, thank You that You offer us new, clean clothes of righteousness through Jesus Christ and the blood He shed on the cross. Help us to trust that You are making us worthy of walking in Your presence and being a part of Your mission on earth.

Renewal of the Covenant

The Lord says, “Shout and rejoice, O beautiful Jerusalem, for I am coming to live among you. Many nations will join themselves to the Lord on that day, and they, too, will be my people. I will live among you, and you will know that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies sent me to you. The land of Judah will be the Lord’s special possession in the holy land, and he will once again choose Jerusalem to be his own city. Be silent before the Lord, all humanity, for he is springing into action from his holy dwelling.”
Zechariah 2:10-13 New Living Translation

Zechariah is one of two prophets sent to encourage the people of Judah during the time of the rebuilding of the Temple. He and Haggai tend to fulfill the role of Moses for their generation, as they guide a new generation into understanding God’s covenant with Abraham and how they fit into His plan. In this section of his prophecies, Zechariah turns his attention to Jerusalem and the role it will play in the plan of God again. He points ahead to a day when His presence will be known in Jerusalem again and people from many nations will join themselves to the Lord.

Zechariah’s words point ahead to the day that Jesus will walk among the people of Judah and will initiate the beginning of God’s transcultural Kingdom that is not defined by a nationalistic agenda. It points to the day that the ultimate goal of God’s promise to Abraham will be fulfilled. It points to the day that all nations would be blessed through the offspring of Abraham. God’s goal was to bless all nations through the descendants of Abraham, not simply one nation. In spite of all Israel’s failings in holding up to their end of the covenant, God was still faithful to His promise to bless all nations.

Many of us are recipients of that blessing. We may not be able to trace our biological ancestry to Abraham. Still, we have been joined to God through the coming of Jesus into our lives and we share in the blessing of a restored relationship with God through Jesus entering our world. We also have the opportunity to share that blessing with others as we invite them to join us as part of God’s transcultural family. If we try to hold that blessing to ourselves, we miss out on the opportunity for the greater blessing of partnering with God in His mission to restore all people to Himself.

Lord, thank you for the blessing of opening the doors of relationship to all people, including us. Help us to be faithful in inviting and welcoming others into your family.

Restoring The Messianic Line

On that same day, December 18, the Lord sent this second message to Haggai: “Tell Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, that I am about to shake the heavens and the earth. I will overthrow royal thrones and destroy the power of foreign kingdoms. I will overturn their chariots and riders. The horses will fall, and their riders will kill each other.

“But when this happens, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, I will honor you, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, my servant. I will make you like a signet ring on my finger, says the Lord, for I have chosen you. I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!”

Haggai 2:20-23 New Living Translation

At the end of his short book, Haggai’s prophecies turn from being for the general community of Judah to a specific promise for Zerubbabel. Because of his obedience in leading the rebuilding of the Temple, God was giving Zerubbabel a place of honor in His Kingdom. He compared Zerubbabel to a signet ring that was used to place the seal of kings on their decrees. The signet ring was often worn around the neck of the king to make sure it was alway available when it was needed. God valued Zerubbabel that much.

Zerubbabel would have an important place in God’s future plans to shake the nations again. If God’s promised Messiah would be someone from the lineage of David, there needed to be a path through which the lineage of David was passed. Zerubbabel represented the fourth generation after Judah’s last righteous king, Josiah. The three sons of Josiah (and one grandson) had all been placed in exile by different nations (one to Egypt and three to Babylon). God’s promise to David could have ended with them. Instead, though, God used Zerubbabel to be the conduit within the lineage of David through which the promise would continue. Zerubbabel would be the seal marking the restoration of the succession line of David and would be the route through which the Messiah would come. God would continue to shake the nations as two more empires would take their turn of ruling the area around Jerusalem and would eventually set the stage to fulfill vision He had given Nebuchadnezzar through a dream. (See Daniel 2)

We each have a role in carrying out the mission of God throughout history. As we faithfully serve the purposes of the Kingdom of God, God values us much like the role Zerubbabel played in His plan. We may not be in the earthly lineage of the Messiah but to each of us who works faithfully at the priorities of the Kingdom of God at whatever capacity He gives them has the promise that they will hear “well done thou good and faithful servant at the final fulfillment of the Kingdom of God when Christ returns. Then God will shake the nations one final time and His true servants will be seen for who they are as they are sealed with His great signet ring, the Messiah who came through the lineage of Zerubbabel.

God, thank You that You have called us to be part of Your mission to call all things back into alignment with You. Help us to stay focused on the end goal, the final fulfillment of Your Kingdom.

Greater Glory To Come

I will shake all the nations, and the treasures of all the nations will be brought to this Temple. I will fill this place with glory, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. The future glory of this Temple will be greater than its past glory, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. And in this place I will bring peace. I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!”
Haggai 2:7-9 New Living Translation

Growing up a Packer fan in the 1970s and ’80s was challenging. We were constantly reminded of the glory days of the past when teams feared a trip to Lambeau Field and we racked up all those NFL Championships and Super Bowl wins. We lived in a time when we thought an 8-8 season was a pretty good year and we hoped that we may get lucky enough to see a team play in the wild card round every once in a while. When my father told people at boot camp in the 1960s that he was from Green Bay, they were excited because that was where the Packers came from. When I went to college twenty years later the fact I was from Green Bay bought expressions of sympathy and chuckles because that was where the Packers were from. Little did we know at that time that the Packers would again become a perennial contender for the Super Bowl.

The Israelites of Haggai’s time seemed to feel this weight of comparison as well. This portion of his prophecy seems to indicate that there were some who noticed how much smaller and more basic the Temple they were building was compared to the splendor of the great Temple that Solomon built. God again promised that He was with the Judeans in their work of rebuilding the Temple. He was again going to do something great in the world and shake the earth. He had access to all the gold and silver of the world and they could trust Him for provision of all they needed at the time it was needed. He promised that the treasures (literally desire) of all nations would be brought to this Temple. This Temple would see a greater glory than the Temple Solomon built.

About 500 years later, this Temple had been expanded by Herod the Great and was the Temple that stood in Jerusalem during the time of the Roman Empire. Rome’s network of roads through their empire would make it possible for many nations to travel through Jerusalem at that time. It was to this Temple that a young couple would bring their baby named Jesus to be dedicated before God. That baby would be the one that people from all nations would come to desire as God began to recreate the transcultural Kingdom that would draw all nations back to Himself. This is the Temple that would see the Messiah come to earth to open the way for God’s rule and reign to be realized on earth as it was in Heaven. The Temple built by Zerubbabel and the people of Haggai’s day would surely know a greater glory than the Temple they remembered from the past.

As we pursue the mission of God in our lives, we often experience times of discouragement. We may feel that our work pales in comparison to the work we see happening in other places in the world or at other times in history. It is in those times that God asks us to trust that He is still at work bringing about His Kingdom, which will be more glorious than anything we have known before.

God, thank You for Your promise that you are doing a great work, even when we don’t see it. Encourage us in the times when we are discouraged. Give us a vision of the final fulfillment of Your Kingdom coming with the return of Jesus.