Scripture: Zechariah 1:7-17
Key verse: (16) “Therefore, thus says the LORD, I have returned to Jerusalem with compassion; my house shall be built in it, . . .”
Reflection: The prophet Zechariah is not typically the book most people turn to when reading the Bible. It is best known by most Christians as the book that predicts the coming of the Messiah: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, our king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he. Humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zech. 9:9). This book does prophecy the hope of a future for the people of Jerusalem. Reduced from a population of 6,000-7,000 before the destruction of 586 BCE, there were only a few hundred people left by the time of this prophecy in 520 BCE. Zechariah’s prophecies sounded too good to be true. And yet, these prophecies are all about reversals and God’s power to restore. To the modern reader, the visions of Zechariah may seem strange but they point to “the ongoing story of God’s judgment and promise”, as one commentator notes. At the beginning of the book there is a promise: Return to me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you. (v. 3) In today’s text, there is a vision of a man riding a red horse. This rider is part of the horses and riders who are patrolling the earth. These riders have discovered that the whole world – not just Jerusalem – is at rest and peace which was another way of saying that the nations were complacent. So, the LORD will now return to Jerusalem and show mercy.
The imagery of Zechariah is strange, but the message is one that resonates with us today. There continues to be a longing for restoration and a yearning for hope. These themes continue to be important in our world. God, in the book of Zechariah, was determined to “rearrange things”. God gave Zechariah an alternative vision of what the world could be. To people who had suffered the weight of judgment and the destruction of Jerusalem, which included the total disruption of their lives, suffering and death, the words of Zechariah gave them hope for the future. Something new was going to be born. What about the state of the world in which we now live? Most of us are unbelievably comfortable, but most of the world is not. There is tremendous unrest and destruction in so many places. Even in the lives of those who have so much. All of us feel the weight of judgment because of our choices. Some of these choices are more damaging than others. But, the LORD who restored Jerusalem can also restore our lives because the LORD who invited Jerusalem to return to God, also invites us to return. Our God is full of compassion so we hold on to hope.
Prayer: Loving God, help us to respond to you. Show us the way, restore our hope and help us be part of solutions that will strengthen our community giving hopeless people hope. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Author: Deborah Conner
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].