We’ve been reading through Zechariah during Wednesday morning Bible study at the Prayer League. I’ve read this book a number of times and have always been struck with wonder and beauty. Two images struck me this week as we considered this vision that met Zechariah in the night.
Then I raised my eyes and looked, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand. So I said, “Where are you going?”
And he said to me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length.”
And there was the angel who talked with me, going out; and another angel was coming out to meet him, who said to him, “Run, speak to this young man, saying: ‘Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls, because of the multitude of men and livestock in it. For I,’ says the Lord, ‘will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’” —Zechariah 2:1-5
Here is Israel, having returned to Jerusalem and considering how they might rebuild. They’d begun the task, become discouraged, abandoned the project, and now face the prophetic voices of Haggai and Zechariah calling them to return to the work. As they consider again taking up the task, it would only seem natural to pull out the blueprints and the measuring tape – as the angel has done here in this vision. But, if I may paraphrase the other angel (who comes with an authoritative word), “Why is it that you measure? Do you not know? This city shall have no walls, for it will be filled with people and the Lord Himself shall surround you. His fire shall be about you and His glory among you.”
Can you picture it? Imagine the farmer setting fire to field. Imagine the forest raging with flame. In this same way, God is to surround His people. The walls are on the move, purifying the land, stripping it of old growth so that something new might be born.
Violence shall no longer be heard in your land,
Neither wasting nor destruction within your borders;
But you shall call your walls Salvation,
And your gates Praise.
The people of God do not find their place according to how they measure up, but according to the fires of Salvation. They enter in with Praise and dwell in the glory of the Living Son! This is the people of God. This is who we are, Church! We live within the walls of salvation for Jesus has come to restore and establish the glory of God in our midst.
O, that our hearts would burn as the hearts of those who walked the road to Emmaus.
And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” —Luke 24:32
Why should our hearts not also burn? With words, we measure reality. It is here – as we walk and talk with one another, as we retell our stories – that we grapple with the substance of our existence and probe the depths of His mystery. With words, we attempt to size up the shape of this life and capture the tick-tock of eternity.
But then… God moves.
“Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for He is aroused from His holy habitation!” —Zechariah 2:13
He is aroused and our mouths are stopped. Words fail and our walls fall. He is up to something more magnificent than we can imagine. Oh, do you see it? The beauty! The flames burn wide and far – even beyond the horizon now. It is salvation to every nation, tribe, and tongue.
Thanks for this, Joshua. This talk about walls and “measuring up” brings me to think about our denominations, and our denominations denominations. We are the Church!
Oh, yes! Together we stand. May the scales fall, our eyes see, and all our pretentiousness be undone.
Hi Joshua! Thanks for your reflections! Yes indeed: God does something among us that cannot be measured. It is grace beyond calculation. It is mercy beyond degree. Your reflections make me think of these things once again this evening. Be blessed!
Thanks, Chuck! Such things don’t come by bucketfuls, but by the breath of God. You, also, be blessed tonight.