Zechariah continues to use symbols and metaphors in his apocalyptic book. Almost every new section uses a new symbol: the menorah for light of the Lord, olive trees for fruitfulness, a personification of Wickedness taken away to Babylon, etc. But it’s not just a parade of symbols; they each have meaning for the returned exiles to encourage them in their work to rebuild the Temple.
Never despise the day of small things
Here’s an example of the encouragement to rebuild the Temple. Amidst symbols of God’s light and faithfulness and the fruitfulness of God’s servants Zerubbabel and Jeshua (Joshua) is a called to avoid dismissing the small beginnings of the work of rebuilding. Sometimes great, great works are begun with very small resources and skills. It would appear that the beginning efforts of the Jews to rebuild the Temple were, well, underwhelming; and it had resulted in discouragement. We know that there were some older people present who had seen Solomon’s Temple before destruction and who now wept at the considerably lesser glory of foundation for this rebuilt Temple (Ezra 3:12,13). Perhaps the enemies of Israel, those who wanted to see them fail, had pointed out the pitiful outcome of their efforts. But the point here that it is a mistake to judge the final outcome of an effort on the basis of its beginning.
As I noted a number of times in this blog over the past months, God seems to be especially attracted to small, underwhelming people and projects, because His power and might is especially easy to see when they succeed beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. God wanted these discouraged Jews, and discouraged future generations, to remember that small and inglorious starts don’t count — great and glorious finishes do. In the case of the second Temple, Solomon’s great Temple was not going to be architecturally equalled, but the second Temple’s worship and worshippers would far excel Solomon’s. And the church, the Temple of the New Testament, may have started with a motley collection of fishermen, tax collectors, and women, but grew greatly and grandly to be a glorious Temple of the Lord. And the same might be said for any good work of God’s people. God’s people, above all other peoples, must always remember to avoid despising the day of small things.
A huge flying scroll
The judgment of God upon a wicked mankind was not small. The enormous size of this declaration of judgment (5:1-4) — 30 feet long and 22 feet wide — speaks of the thoroughness of what God had seen and what He would punish among men. This needs to warn us and all mankind of God’s thoroughness and in “cleaning the dish of mankind” one day in judgment. No one and no one’s sin will be able to slide under God’s radar or otherwise go unnoticed. Not our little sins, not our “white” lies, not our covetousness, not our lust, not our hatred.
A crown for the “Branch”
The Branch (in 6:11, in 3:8, and also in Isaiah and Jeremiah) is another name for the Messiah. And in the midst of encouragements about the building of the Temple, it is noted for us that He will build a grand Temple indeed. This may have been a mystery to the Jews who lived prior to Jesus, but for those on this side of the cross, it is clearly a reference to the Christ who did build the glorious Temple of His church, and who reigns as both King and High Priest (Hebrews 7).
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.