W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for this Volume What is New
The TWO-EDGED SWORD
FOR and AGAINST
and the setting is
SIN or SALVATION
DISQUISITION FROM THE BIBLE
In this Chapter, pursuing the theme of man and God, Israel and the nations, invasion and reply, taunt and truth, the contemptuous and the contemptible, becoming one maze of malaise and menace ... we plan to look at
Zechariah 2:7 merging to 2:11., 12:2ff.,
With this, we move more toward the ultimate, given more scope yet in Chapter Nine. Already however, we find the ancient rules, principles and standards, as in Obadiah, do not alter as we come to Zechariah, with his magnificent revelation of the coming of Christ, His immediate cleansing operation, He pardon and His power, His humility and His majesty to come in this earth, on His return. Micah takes us to some of the finale itself, and with what power and unrestricted thrust does the Lord answer questions, as the tennis commentators like to put it, that have been put to Him in all the disordered follies of successive generations of wrong-doers, spiritual fidget-midgets, always gnawing away on a dead bone without meat, and avoiding the celestial food which supports, cleanses and renews all at once.
First look at Obadiah. Here is simplicity. One nation, Edom, saw a neighbour afflicted, suffering, molested and resolved to make it rich from its desolation, to prey on its remains, left by the more massive predators. God is unimpressed with oppression. Again and again, we find it; but do not the nations wallow in it, either within or against their neighbours. It does not work with man, cannot work, is short-term nonsense, whether with a religion meaning SUBMIT and practising it with a false god who has no attestation but a negative one (More Marvels ... Ch. 4, The Divine Agenda Ch. 6, Highway to Hell) or with other forces working against the word and work of God Almighty.
Clear is the divine condemnation and its ground, as indeed its result:
"You should not have entered the gate of My people
In the day of their calamity.
Indeed, you should not have gazed on their affliction
In the day of their calamity,
Nor laid hands on their substance
In the day of
"You should not have stood at the crossroads
To cut off those among them who escaped;
Nor should you have delivered up those among them who remained
In the day of distress.
"For the day of the Lord upon all the nations is near;
As you have done, it shall be done to you;
Your reprisal shall return upon your own head."
The consequences were worked out over blighting centuries for Edom. J. Barton Payne, in his Encyclopedia of Prophecy, p. 418, notes that by 500 B.C. , Arab tribes once allies of Edom completely expelled Edomites from their former lands; and further, by the time of the Maccabees, most of then extended area, once called Transjordan, was taken by the expanded Jewish State.
Neither God nor His servants are to be characterisable by haste; in the end, the result is sure. Time is used both to pounce and to renounce, for attrition and for exhibition. When speed counts, that too, it is done. When patience is to be tried, this also, it comes ... God always does what He says, and what is to be brought to account finds that the books have long records, and sometimes startling entries, staggering to unbelief, norms to faith. So here.
Zechariah 2:7 merging to 2:11,
with Zechariah 3;
In Zechariah in these reaches noted above, we come to an intensity of profound emotional attachment in the Lord, which is one of principle, practice and historical zeal. This setting focusses repeatedly, now the restoration from Babylon, and then the restoration to the Messiah in the most practical glory and eventual rule on this earth in person (Zech. 14:5). It is shown following a massive movement of conversion of that Messiah, whom they pierced, Jesus Christ (Zech. 12:10ff.). It is expressed in the most personal manner, with depth and penetration to the very heart.
In Zechariah 2, the personal emphasis in the Lord is great:
"For thus says the Lord of hosts:
'He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you;
for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.
'For surely I will shake My hand against them,
and they shall become spoil for their servants.
Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me.
'Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion!
For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,' says the Lord.
'Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day,
and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst.
Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you.
And the Lord will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem.
'Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for He is aroused from His holy habitation!' "
In Zechariah, this precedes enormous emphasis on the Messiah, as in Ch. 3, where a pantomime is executed, the High Priest, called Joshua, having fouled raiment removed and clean garments of his office garbed and draped upon him. This is made to represent the Messiah in this way:
" 'For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH.
For behold the stone
That I have laid before Joshua:
Upon the stone are seven eyes.
Behold I will engrave its inscription,'
Says the LORD of hosts,
'And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.' "
Here the single impact of the substitutionary atonement of the Christ is shown, for as in Hebrews 7-10, it is not in multiple sacrifices, now that atonement is to be found for sin, that pardon is to be found. This symbolised; the Messiah has paid. Indeed as Isaiah 66 emphasis, following the portrayal of Christ bearing sin in Isaiah 52-53, it is not animal sacrifice any more at all. In one death by one Messiah it is all finished at a blow. That is the basis. It is a permanent, sufficient basis; it is its application which then becomes focal.
Thus the present, the contemporary restitution is most tellingly made, for those back from Babylon, to be the occasion for vast revelation concerning the eventual issuance for all sin, and for all atonement. IN ONE DAY, sin is covered; in one day, its vile dynamic is received and engraved on the Stone of holy portent, even the strength of the Lord (as in Isaiah 28:16), the Messiah in Person. In that day, in that way, atonement is not with vast numbers, but in One; not in repeated ceremonies but in one situation; not in symbols but in life, not to depict but to remove. ONCE, in ONE day by ONE method on ONE person, it is done, finished as in Micah 7:18ff..
It is not in oblivion of such things that Israel is to be kept, but as in Zechariah 2:12, in a joint fulfilment so that not only is part I, the blessing to all nations through a descendant in the flesh, from Abraham to be fulfilled, as in Genesis 12. More than this, is to come with it. Therefore in additon, the Lord's claim as Creator to apportion land to those whom He chooses to do a job as He pleases, and to use that land as He chooses for His own plenipotentiary sacrificial action as in Hosea 13:14, this too is vindicated, as required in Genesis 17:7ff., as seen in Zechariah 2:15. It is however with blessing to many nations emanated from the restored nation, newly placed in an evangelical setting, signified by the Stone!
Thus there is a certain merging from the revelatory thrust of Zechariah 2:7ff., on to the day of the Messiah, and in particular that day of His ruling on this earth, as in Psalm 72, Micah 4, Isaiah 2 and 11, His coming as in Isaiah 59.
This gives some BACKGROUND and BASIS for some of the other features of the divine attitude towards Israel.
In Zechariah 12:2, we find that the site for the Lord's crucifixion, that other temple with that other priest for that other coverage of sin, the Messiah's death (cf. Luke 13:33ff.), that parallel monument not made with hands, is to become a pain to others as well. Thus, Jerusalem, site for the crucifixion of deity in human format, as in Micah 5:1ff., Zech. 12:10-13:1, is towards the end of the Age (seen at 14:5) to become a source of dissension, difficulty, a burdensome weight, a non-benign cancer in the eyes of its would-be property owners and disturbers. Busy-body nations, foreign manipulators are at risk! If it is afflicted, then affliction it will be used to be dispense to the international operators who most unwisely seek to intervene.
Whatever has the intended effect of 'heaving away' Jerusalem would do better to suffer one million watts of dashing energy. Being 'cut to pieces' is not to be desired. Yet do not blame the knife if you court its cutting. How slow to learn are the nations. God's word never fails, and they seem always to be intent, like some bumptious dog, to finding it out anew.
Already the trials and woes of those near and far, seeking to legislate, invade, seduce, propagandise, with grave or grasping mien, Jerusalem fuss in vain, and are given warning enough!
Iif the Jews are to be dispersed, then so will be those who seek it to be so. If Judah is to be overrun in a new onrush of ludicrous breach of the League of Nations consignment of the 1920s, then a little quiet reading of Zechariah 12 would not be in vain.
As they give, they will get, burden for burden and affliction for affliction, and what they throw at it, this will become what they receive, like an echo. In fact, as to those who would seek to heave it away - and obviously, this does refer to those seeking to air lift it elsewhere, but rather to those who would like to evict Jews and eviscerate their capital, the scene of Christ's appointed crucifixion with rampantly unholy hands, there is a certain motif. They fail and they suffer.
It is not as if God had finished with Israel, for instead He is making it an magnificent emblem of His power to predict and to be faithful (as in Romans 11): thus theirs is a peculiar result, who desire to outwit, outweigh, outdistance the Almighty.
"All who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces,
though al nations of the earth are gathered against it."
So speaks Zechariah 12:3, and note those to be met: "All the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege aginat Judah and Jerusalem." For all involved, it is a back-straining weight; for others a drastic folly, and a deadly one.
It is not really wise to gather against it, whether verbally, contractually, concertedly in apparently overwhelming power (as so many have already done to their sorrow since 1948, when Israel was re-instituted as a nation "in its own place" not in some metaphorical substitute); and those who want to dis-establish it in terms of Israel, as to them, one sorrows and laments in advance, as did Jeremiah for Jerusalem in his day (Jeremiah 9). But note the emphasis: not only are we advised in terms of that unique phenomenon, Israel, in its history of relationship with the Lord, that Jerusalem, city of Israel, is to be established in its own place: we get more. This is further identified in case perhaps some wandering mind or will sought relief in fantasy: "in its own place - in Jerusalem."
Here is advance irony for those so glib with the word of God that they seek to force their own traditions on it. It is like mockery 2500 years in advance, as God surveys the distant scene, and proclaims with His own ultra-temporal knowledge, PRECISELY what is to be.
Zechariah is then moved*1 to go on to display almost like a news report, the type of program which has been seen in sequence since 1948, millenia in advance; but to the Creator of our version of time, this is a nothing, since He knows its ends before it begins. The actual spiritual salvation of Israel, as portended in Ezekiel 37, then follows.
In all of this, from the etching on the Stone which is the Messiah ("My servant, the branch" is another designation of the Deity in 6:12, where He bears the glory), to the details on Jerusalem (such as its being half-regained at one phase), are intensely practical exhibits of the intention of God. It is not only to DELIVER Israel, to RESTORE it to its place, to RESIST and overthrow the contenders to make the Divine Real Estate come to nothing, robbers of God who made all lands. It is more. It demonstrates the word and will of God, in His plan of salvation and all its more and less distant ingredients, symbols, situations and securements, to be consummated as decreed, applied as decided and fulfilled as required.
WHO will be counsellor to the Almighty, or re-writer of His word ? Many would be so; none will achieve it: for it is a vain pursuit. In the meantime, the faithfulness and entire reliability of the Almighty, not to turn to poetry clear promises, but with or without poetry to do all that He has decreed, is attested. 'Surely you mean ...' comes the chorus of aggressor and diplomat alike, seeking to seduce the word of God from its moorings, or else too intoxicated spiritually to know what they do. Not at all, is the reply, in Jerusalem will the restoration be, of Jerusalem, for the purposes as specified.
Contest ? and it will be contested. Be avid, and be hungry. There are some things God will not feed, and arrant rebellion and deranged directions for Him to follow, these are among them.
The sense of this sovereign, majestic, assured and certain development, in particular towards what remains of Israel, with increasing stress on what comes to Him by faith (as in Zechariah 12:10ff., rather near the end of the Age as specified in Zech. 14*2), is beautifully and movingly exhibited in Micah Ch. 7.
In Micah 7, there is a hinterland to the dramatic dynamic of terminal events for this Age. We see, or more precisely hear, a long way back, as the day approaches, a voice dwelling on sufferings on hpe.
It appears a REMNANT VOICE, surveying the scene of the ruins which Israel was to suffer, first in part in the day of Babylon (which city paid without cease as predicted), and then in that latter day as seen in Daniel 9, one of continuing desolations which in fact have covered all but two millenia.
These fugues of sorrow, this tower to trouble, is one of grief of heart, as hope moves in the speaker in Micah 7, sped by faith, to see ahead. What then is so seen ? It is nothing less than that day, revealed by the Lord, when HE will act for a repentant people, at last sober before Him: one who indeed at some point, will LOOK UPON ME WHOM THEY HAVE PIERCED (Zech. 12:10).
The pitiful and poignant call comes in Micah 7:8:
"Do not rejoice over me, my enemy;
When I fall I will arise:
When I sit in darkness,
The LORD will be a light to me" -
and it comes from a repentant heart ("I will bear the indignation of the LORD" - 7:9)
A sorrow at first drab, but vested with a first distant and then more immediate expectation and realisation, becomes apparent as Micah 7 proceeds. For how long will this remnant, to be seen as coming into history in its time, and mourning in spirit in those years preceding, mourn and look up in hope. It is one already in part realised in the Lord, as Jews in fact were used in the very foundation of the Christian Church! ... but for how long is it so to mourn before all is fulfilled ?
It will do so "Until He pleads my case, and executes justice for me."
What then, when having borne the sin, and presented relief from the neighbours of evil ambition and intention towards it ?
bring me forth to the light;
I will see His righteousness" - as in Psalm 71, HIS ONLY!
This contrasts heavily with the endemic fault in the disbelief of the dispersion since the day of Rome's invasion and destruction of the Temple, as seen in Romans 10! The gift of imputed righteous is at last taken from the only hands, the pierced ones, competent to convey it (Romans 5:17ff.). Indeed, it is HIS righteousness which was denied in the appalling fraud of a false trial with Pilate (who admitted it, but conceding righteousness in word, yet ignored it in judgment against Christ). Now it will be seen. THEN ?
Then a few things happen. Firstly, "she who is my enemy will see, and shame will cover her who said to me, 'Where is the LORD your God!' "
This is a warning to religious assault on Israel from outside the Book of the Lord. While she has turned from its pivotal point, the Messiah, in salvation, yet other gods do not even have contact at all! She has suffered for her omission of the centre, but others will suffer for their ignoring of the whole, or its perversion in scandalous misuse of it. If only one could warn participants to consider ... but it is with the Lord. There is to be a 'trampling down' of the evil aspirants, to seduce, to overturn this capital of Israel (Micah 7:10), and this is only the beginning as specified in the verses to follow.
In the day when her walls are to be built (Micah 7:11), such things loom. That of course is now: for it is utterly famous how Israel has been building this vast, high and remarkable wall about a territory. Back come many from many nations, as has happened: so we read in Micah 7.
Then comes an explosive retort from the Regality of the Lord.
"As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt,
I will show them wonders."
These acts are to be at a level of international vastness, of elemental divine power such as that shown in the Exodus at the time of the plagues and the escape! It proceeds:
"The nations shall see and be ashamed of all their might;
They shall put their hand over their mouth;
Their ears shall be deaf.
"They shall lick the dust like a serpent;
They shall crawl from their holes like snakes of the earth.
They shall be afraid of the Lord our God,
And shall fear because of You."
What goes around, comes around, some say in unspeakable failure to realise the significance of sin, or perhaps in rather a superficial coverage of one aspect; but here what comes around is the result of millenia of persecution and the removal of the weakness that Israel suffered, and this result will be freed not least because of the return now at last, of a vast and conspicuous segment of Israel to the Lord, as in Zechariah 12-13. The centre of it all ? the pierced Messiah.
The vibrant nations, filled with the exuberance of their power over the prey, will once more learn as did Egypt, as did Babylon, as did poor old wasted and for long, archeologically lost Nineveh, that in confrontation with God, once mercy has played it profound part, and when oppression and evil is in view, there is a certain finality.
Yes, "they shall be afraid of the LORD our God," as might well occur after they have learned "to lick the dust like a serpent."
Play serpents and endure their conditions, then! Irony continues to find its place for those rebelling in acrimony, lust and incontinence of spirit, swelling as the yes close in a staggering blindness.
But it ends in those glorious verses of Micah 7:18-20.
"Who is a God like You,
And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in mercy.
"He will again have compassion on us,
And will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea.
"You will give truth to Jacob
And mercy to Abraham,
Which You have sworn to our fathers
From days of old."
So far from wanting, with desire, these terminal events, like the end of a long battle against cancer, the Lord loves to show mercy, whether to Babylon (cf. Jeremiah 51:9) or Moab (as in Jeremiah 48) or Nineveh (as in Jonah, a major thrust of the entire book, culminating near the end of it in Ch. 4). Yet He WILL do it, terminating the trials, confronting the frauds, exalting the place of faith, rescuing what needs rescue and concluding the embroilment.
His rescue is deliberate, planned and sure; and as we see in Revelation 7, and in 19 where the bride comes home, not in parts but as one (as in Romans 11), it leads for many to the place in heaven which precedes the temporary reign of Christ on earth, before it is removed (Isaiah 51:6, Matthew 24:35, II Peter 3).
Yes for a repentant and returning remnant in Israel, that unique nation, as for ANY who call upon His name (as in Joel and Acts 2, as in Isaiah 42:6 and 49:6), with the divine enaction of Isaiah 52-53 in view, its mercies as in 54, and its free gift as in 55: there is peace at last. The historical fulfilled, the spiritual consummated, the divine plan culminates in glory.
In particular, the Lord will fulfil that plan for a repentant remnant, restored Israel as in Ezekiel 37, coming first back to the land and then to the Lord who first gave, and who in His Christ, suffered in its very midst and in its very capital, the just for the unjust to bring us to God.
Then ended at last, all begins for eternity as in Revelation 20-22.
Waiting ? It is a wonder for which one waits, and the wonderful being its focus (as in Isaiah 9:6), even the Lord Himself, it is a glory which shows wonder in the very presence of the One who is Wonderful in Himself, by His very nature. Go earth, come heaven: for then, the time has come!
See II Peter 1:19-21, I Peter 1:10ff.. See further, Deity and Design ... Section 5 as marked.
See on Zechariah and its elements, development, chapters and explanation such sites as:
The Open Door ... Appendix,
The Pride of Life... Ch. 6,
The Bright Light ... Ch. 5.