The Book of the Twelve for Lent 2016
The Branch – Zechariah (1)
Twenty years after the return from exile in Babylon we meet the prophet Zechariah. A contemporary of Haggai, he like his fellow prophet focused on the rebuilding of the temple. This iteration of the temple, to avoid the fate of its predecessor must keep the vision of life of the Torah front-and-center. “And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’” (7:8-10).
“The rebuilt temple will make God’s return concrete. Even more, though, the call to live with trust in God and God’s message in Torah (and not trust in idols), and to practice justice, mercy, and kindness, especially toward vulnerable members of the community (and not gathering wealth and “devising evil” versus each other) remains central to Israel’s future.” (Grimsrud, http://peacetheology.net/short-articles/reflections-on-old-testament-prophets-mwr/reflections-on-old-testament-prophets-zechariah/)
The faithfulness required of the people of this new temple is but the flip-side of the faithfulness of God upon which the whole project ultimately rests.
Lent moves us toward the moment when Zechariah’s prophecy is fulfilled in a way neither he nor those who heard him could imagine. That first Easter weekend and not 516 A. D. was when the temple was truly and finally rebuilt through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Jesus tells us this in John 2:20-22:
“Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’ They replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?’ But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.”
And Jesus’ followers are God’s temple in him: “In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (Eph.2:21-22). As that new temple in Christ we are to declare and demonstrate the wisdom and purposes of God to the world (1 Pet.2:11-12) and even to the “powers” that think to rule the rule but whose defeat has happened in Christ (Eph.3:10-11)!
Thanks be to God!
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