Saturday, November 15, 2008

Zechariah 14:1-11

A strange salvation. For the beginning of the chapter has the people refuging in Jerusalem, but the city is taken and the the tragedy of exile relived. The key statement is the final clause of verse 2: the remnant will not leave the city. Rather, Yahweh will battle for them. For he will reconfigure the geography—splitting the Mount of Olives as the place of refuge and then departing his city to go with his people. Suddenly events are of the order of a new creation: there is no light from the heavenly beauties, only a permanent  light that recollects the first day of creation. And living waters flow from the city like an ANE mountain of the dwelling of God, bringing permanent life to the land. And Yahweh rules and he is king. He is known as the only God, in keeping with the Shema. And his city is raised up, subduing all the surrounding land so that his people can finally live in safety.

Here is the hope for the people. They must stick with Jerusalem. Despite the failure of the leadership. Despite their subjugation. God will save the remnant from Jerusalem. Unlike the message to Ezekiel, where the remnant in Jerusalem was lost, here God insists that in Jerusalem he will work salvation. And so the people are to remain devoted to it. (A sentiment known in the days of the Maccabees.)

And so the Son of God comes and heads determinedly to Jerusalem. The night before his triumph he goes to the Mount of Olives, present with his disciples. He has assured them that with faith as small as a mustard seed, God will provide the way of deliverance by casting the mountain even into the sea. And then he goes forth to battle, winning victory not by military might, but through an atoning sacrifice that defeats the powers of evil that ruled his people and prevented their faithfulness and his presence. And in Revelation the geographic recofiguration goes beyond merely raising and lowering mountains. A new Jerusalem descends from the heavens, from which flows a river of live that fills all the earth and nourishes abundant life. As the dwelling place of God with men, Jerusalem remains an important locus of hope. But when God comes incarnate, the geographic locale loses its importance.

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