Thursday, November 06, 2008

Zechariah 6:1-8

OK, I'm highly influenced by my lecturer on this one. First, we follow the Hebrew original in seeing the white horses following the black ones to the north. Second, we notice the connection with chapter 1. The horses represent God's powers at work through the world. And here, rest comes from the Northern land. Because in chapter 4 God's Spirit is at work through Zerubbabel and Joshua, we must ask whether here it acts independent of human agency. Or, does God's Spirit at rest in the north suggest that Yahweh is at work even through the powers of Persia as they go out, first to quell rebellion in the Babylon and Assyria (who would normally attack from the north) and then in Egypt. It would fit with the general picture that claims God has brought peace in a historical context where the Persians are still ruling (better than ever, in fact). If so, this passage sanctions the Persian rule, even as the heart of the vision insists that Joshua and Zerubbabel will complete the work.

The Yehudites are being told that God is at work through the power of a foreign force. This is revolutionary. No longer are they to strive for independence as part of the realisation of the temple. This may only be a temporary measure—Zerubbabel still lurks in the background—but it is still astounding.

And in the New Testament, God can be at work even in human authorities, so that Timothy is to pray for them (1 Tim 2). Realising the Kingdom of God is not the defeat of human powers when Christ comes, but nor is it denying the reign of his chosen king. Rather, we wait in hope knowing that all things work to our good (Rom 8).

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