Saturday, November 15, 2008

Zechariah 12:1-13:1

A new oracle begins and portrays an eschatological intervention on behalf of Jerusalem and Judah. Yahweh is presented as the universal sovereign, forming earth and heaven and disposing the affairs of every human. As in chapter 9, there is the promise of Yahweh fighting on behalf of the people. Judah will be united with Jerusalem and will trust in it as a refuge, but in turn will be raised up to an equal position with its capital. But note the people are not merely humbled. They are clumsy. In fact, they are eventually portrayed as penitent. They have stabbed someone who may be identified with Yahweh himself. They have judged wrongly and only by Yahweh's intervention do they realise they were wrong. We think of Zechariah, who was rejected as their leader in chapter 11 and how again and again the fulfillment of his prophecy has been promised as the vindication of his message (2:8,11; 4:9; 6:15). How much more so given the conflict between experience and promise in this latter period of prophecy?

The passage is a clear declaration of God's faithfulness to his promises. Despite the message of the previous chapters, God's promises will be fulfilled. He will liberate his people from the nations which have lead them astray in unfaithfulness. He will bring them to repentance for rejecting his messenger. God will vindicate himself but also regain his people.

And so Christ comes as God's promised king yet is rejected by his own. But this doesn't thwart God's purposes but fulfill them. And on the day of Pentecost, the house of Israel, listening, hear Peter's accusation and mourn and seek salvation. And in so doing, God keep his promise to his people and saves a remnant as his very own. The people of Israel become the centre of the future kingdom of God. Remembering both their rejection and their repentance is important if we are to avoid anti-Semitic patterns in the history of the Church.

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