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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
Zechariah 2

 

 

Verses 1-13

The Third Vision. The Man With The Measuring Line (Zechariah 2:1-13).

Having learned that nothing has been happening among the nations which will aid in the recovery of YHWH’s people (Zechariah 1:7-11), and having received an oracle to the effect of God’s displeasure at the situation (Zechariah 1:12-17), and having learned that He has now begun to work to that end (Zechariah 1:18-21), Zechariah now sees evidence of God’s intentions. The fact that Jerusalem is to be established (in other words God's dwellingplace with His people) is indicated by it being measured up by ‘a man with a measuring line’.

Zechariah 2:1-2

‘And I lifted up my eyes and saw, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand. Then I said, "Where are you going?" And he said to me, "To measure Jerusalem, to see what its breadth is and what its length is."

The act of measuring Jerusalem is a sign that God has plans for its rebuilding and establishment. It may seem to have had poor beginnings but it will finally prosper under His hand. This is why He has pared back the nations. This will be partly fulfilled in the making of Jerusalem secure and prosperous prior to the first coming of Christ, but more completely fulfilled in the new Jerusalem which is above.

Zechariah 2:3-4

‘And behold the angel who talked with me went forth, and another angel went out to meet him, and said to him, "Run, speak to this young man saying, "Jerusalem will be inhabited as villages without walls because of the multitude of men and cattle within it."

The angel who has been speaking with him goes out to see what is happening, but he is immediately sent back by another angel who tells him to race back to the young prophet to tell him that Jerusalem will yet be so heavily populated and will have such abundance of cattle that it will be impossible to build a wall large enough to go round it. Nor will they need a wall, for God will be their protection.

As we know as we look at the times of Jesus, Jerusalem did grow and extend, and reach out beyond its walls and become prosperous. But this glorious vision found an even deeper fulfilment when ‘Jerusalem’ spread and spread to take in all the people of God around the world (compare Isaiah 2:3). And, of course, its final fulfilment is found in the New Jerusalem in Heaven, ‘Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem’ (Hebrews 12:22; compare Galatians 4:26), where God's people will dwell with Him in glory for ever (Revelation 21:1 to Revelation 22:5).

Six Oracles Concerning His People.

1) "For I," the word of YHWH, "will be to her a wall of fire round about, and I will be the glory in the midst of her" (Zechariah 2:5).

2) "Ho, ho, flee from the land of the north," the word of YHWH (Zechariah 2:6).

3) "For I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven," the word of YHWH. "Ho, Zion, escape, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon." (Zechariah 2:7).

4) For thus says YHWH of Hosts, "After glory has he sent me to the nations who spoiled you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye." (Zechariah 2:8).

5) "For behold I will shake my hand over them and they will be a spoil to those who served them, and you will know that YHWH of Hosts has sent me" (Zechariah 2:9).

6) "Sing and rejoice, Oh daughter of Zion. For lo I come and I will dwell in the midst of you," the word of YHWH (Zechariah 2:10)

Zechariah 2:5

"For I," the word of YHWH, "will be to her a wall of fire round about, and I will be the glory in the midst of her."

The angel, who must surely be the Angel of YHWH, and thus essentially YHWH Himself, will be her protection and will be among them in all His glory. This will be in the same way as YHWH’s glory went with the people of Israel in fire by night as they went through the wilderness (compare Isaiah 5:4). We find a fulfilment of this ‘glory in the midst of her’ in Zechariah 14:4; Zechariah 14:9; Zechariah 14:16. Initial fulfilment came when Jesus Christ came among us and revealed His glory in Jerusalem. But thet Jerusalem rejected Him Thus Paul tells us that this new Jerusalem is 'the Jerusalem that is above' to which belong all who truly believe in Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:26-31). John will later describe the final fulfilment of this in the new Jerusalem which represents the glorified people of God in the new earth in Revelation 21-22 in the presence of God and of the slain Lamb, Jesus Christ. It is the final fulfilment of God's promises to Abraham (Hebrews 11:10-14).

‘The word of YHWH’. A prophetic phrase (‘neum YHWH’) denoting a word from YHWH. It is not YHWH Himself Who is speaking but a person who is revealing His prophetic word.

Zechariah 2:6-7

"Ho, ho, flee from the land of the north," the word of YHWH. "For I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven," the word of YHWH. "Ho, Zion, escape, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon."

God’s call goes out through His angel to those whom He has scattered. His people have been widely scattered, which itself was the work of God, but they must now return. They are God’s people, Zion, and they must cease to dwell in Babylon and escape back to Jerusalem. For the idea of fleeing from Babylon compare Isaiah 48:20.

‘As the four winds of heaven.’ That is in four directions, like the four winds.

‘The land of the north’. The Mesopotamian nations were all seen as ‘from the North’ for that is the direction from which they came when they invaded. (Compare Zechariah 2:11; Jeremiah 3:18; Jeremiah 16:15; Jeremiah 23:8; Jeremiah 31:8).

Some of His people were obedient, but the majority enjoyed the comforts and consolations of Babylon and remained there. This is ever so. When the call comes, those who respond are few. Yet such is God’s sovereign power that He is not thwarted. When He sent out the Apostles into the world with the Gospel it was these very people of the Dispersion (of the Jews) that were to be the foundation of their success. God has often to use ‘second best’ because we refuse His first best, but He is still successful.

‘The daughter of Babylon’. This phrase contrasts with 'the daughter of Zion' (Zechariah 2:10). The relationship would seem to speak of the people as the daughter of the city. Thus 'the daughter of the people Zion' represents those who have sprung from Jerusalem. They can thus be called 'Zion' (Zechariah 2:7). What the people are the city is. Essentially the city is its people.

Zechariah 2:8

‘For thus says YHWH of Hosts, "After glory has he sent me to the nations who spoiled you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye." ’

YHWH here speaks of Himself in the third person. He has sent Himself (in the form of the angel of YHWH?) to achieve glory by turning the tables on the nations who have been spoiling His people, Judah and Israel (all true believers). His people are cherished by Him as the ‘apple of His eye’, in other words they are seen as that which is of the most importance to Him. Thus their deliverance, and especially the way in which it will be accomplished, will bring glory to Him. Then they will return and He will be the glory in the midst of her (Zechariah 2:5). The final end will be the glory of YHWH (see Zechariah 14:9) and their having a part in it (Zechariah 14:7).

Zechariah 2:9

"For behold I will shake my hand over them and they will be a spoil to those who served them, and you will know that YHWH of Hosts has sent me."

This continues to be enigmatic for here YHWH of Hosts has again been ‘sent’ by YHWH. The solution lies in the close relationship of the angel of YHWH to YHWH. YHWH has sent Himself (as the Father sent the Son).

God will shake His hand over the nations who have spoiled Judah and Israel, and will in turn make them the spoils of Judah and Israel. The tables will be turned, as they had been at the Exodus (Exodus 11:2-3; Exodus 12:35-36), and His people will triumph by the power of YHWH. This found a glorious fulfilment in the spread and triumph of the early church. Then they will know truly that YHWH has sent Himself to their aid, and He will receive glory.

Zechariah 2:10-11

"Sing and rejoice, Oh daughter of Zion. For lo I come and I will dwell in the midst of you," the word of YHWH. "And many nations will join themselves to YHWH in that day, and will be my people. And I will dwell among you and you will know that YHWH of Hosts has sent me to you."

The daughter of Zion is Jerusalem as representing His people. If His people return He will dwell (tabernacle Himself) among them. Then many nations will respond to YHWH and become His people, being adopted into the people of God. Thus God will dwell among His people and the people will know that this is God’s working, for He has ‘sent’ Himself to do it.

But there is again here a ‘sent one’ Who is in some way distinctive from YHWH, and yet is Himself YHWH. If we accept that the angel of Yahweh is prominent here we see its wonderful fulfilment later in Him Who was made flesh and tabernacled among us, the One of Whom it could be said ‘we beheld His glory’ (John 1:14).

But because the people as a whole were not obedient, apart from the comparatively few, once He had accomplished His victory there He would have to leave the city of Jerusalem behind. Instead of the people flocking to Jerusalem (as they did to begin with in Acts 2-6) His disciples would finally leave Jerusalem, and then ‘Zion’, His people, would go out among the nations, fashioning a new ‘Zion’, a new people of God, a new Israel, from the old. Thus Jerusalem, the physical city, would lose its favoured position and service through final disobedience, to be replaced instead by Zion, the people of God. But it would still be, as God had promised, the focal point from which salvation went out to the nations.

The message is that God continually works through ‘the few’, the remnant. Only the few returned to Jerusalem. Only the few responded when God came in Jesus Christ. But it was enough.

Zechariah 2:12-13

‘And YHWH will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will yet choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh, before YHWH, for he has woken up out of his holy habitation.’’

The prophet is now satisfied that God will act. God will establish His people in the land that He has set apart for the fulfilment of His purposes. This is pictured in terms of God as beneficiary receiving the inheritance allotted to Him (by Himself). It is no accident but part of His sovereign purpose. Initially 'Judah' was re-formed in the holy land and Jerusalem was established. But in the end they rejected Him. And thus God now has a new Judah (Matthew 21:43) and a new Jerusalem (Galatians 4:22) which is composed of all who are truly His people. Like Abraham and the patriarchs they are looking for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. They are looking for the heavenly country (Hebrews 11:10-14).

‘Judah as His portion in the holy land.’ Here it isthe peopleof Judah who are spoken of as Judah, God's people, for they are distinguished from the land itself. The essence of the message is that God’s people will be established and triumphant. God has a future for His people. It is a stress of the New Testament that the church is ‘the Israel of God’, and that all Christians are incorporated into the true Israel (Romans 11:13-24; Ephesians 2:11-22; Galatians 6:16; 1 Peter 2:9).

‘Will yet choose Jerusalem’. God has also yet a purpose for Jerusalem. Jerusalem, the people of God, will yet be His instrument of salvation. He will ‘choose’ them. That is, in His chosen time He will effectually call them to carry out His will and purposes. As the New Testament demonstrates it was in Jerusalem that the Spirit was first poured forth and the infant church began to flourish, and from Jerusalem that His word finally went out to the nations. It was chosen to be the centre from which would go out the greatest work of the Spirit that the world has ever known.

All flesh (everyone) should therefore watch in awed silence and wait in expectation. For God has, as it were, woken up and will no longer stand apart.

‘The holy land --- His holy habitation.’ Where God dwells is holy, set apart and uniquely different. Thus from His eternal dwelling place He will possess the land that He has set apart for His purposes for the fulfilment of those purposes. It was the land to which He would send His Son, which would be the seed bed of the Gospel. Here would 'God made man' live and walk and dwell. And through Him it would be the centre of blessing to the world. And that will then lead on to the perfected Jerusalem, the heavenly Jerusalem which will be the foundation of the new heavens and the new earth (Revelation 21).

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Zechariah 2:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/zechariah-2.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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