[June 09]—Protection and Glory

Zechariah 2

            For the purposes of this devotional, we’re going to skip the visions in chapter one and get to chapter two. As with much of Zechariah, there’s much that Christians might debate over, based on each person’s interpretation of what’s called the End Times. But again I think we can get some application from this in our daily lives.
            The vision starts with a man with a measuring line in his hand. Zechariah asks him what he’s doing, and the man tells him that he’s going to measure the perimeter of Jerusalem. An angel has been accompanying the prophet, and then another angel comes to everyone with a very important message: The days are coming when Jerusalem will be a city without walls because it’s been filled to overflowing with so many people. But I’d like to focus on vs. 5 for a moment.
            The Lord says two things about his relationship with the Jerusalem to come. The first is particularly relevant. As I write this, large portions of Texas are being destroyed by an out of control flame; this has caused millions of dollars of damage and has claimed at least one life.
The first part of the verse says he will be a “wall of fire” around the city with his people in it. The first mention of fire in the Bible is another wall of flame: It was a fiery sword that surrounded the Garden of Eden to keep out our first parents out after they sinned. This was a fire of judgment mixed with mercy: They couldn’t live forever in human bodies infected with sin (which is mercy), but this also sentenced them to eventual death.
            Also God’s word is called a “fire” in the book of Jeremiah. As we noted before, the same fire has different effects on different materials: It hardens wax, softens clay, consumes dross and purifies gold. So his word will help or harm you, depending on what type of person you are.
            I sense a pattern here, don’t you? Just like fire can be either your best friend (on a cold night) or your worst enemy (as you watch your house burning down), so is the Lord.
            The Lord is repeatedly pictured in Scripture as coming in judgment like a fire, for example in Amos. Of course the writer of Hebrews continues this as well. And what’s the image of the final, ultimate punishment? A Lake of Fire.
            But the thing that strikes me here is that in this verse the Lord is once again pictured as flame, but this time he’s a ring of fire that surrounds his people in protection. Anything or anyone who wants to do his people/city has to come through him, and of course that's never happening.
            He’s the same God, the same consuming fire. If we’re right with him, on the “right” side of him, he’ll be a wall of flame that surrounds and protects us: we’ll be the apple of his eye. But if we’re on the wrong side, then, well. . .
            And then we come to the second thing he says about the Jerusalem to come: He'll be the glory within it. This is especially poignant, considering that just a few years prior, another prophet had been forced to watch as the Lord’s glorious presence had departed the temple and then the city.  When the Lord left, there was only something like a termite-eaten tree behind: It looked alive on the outside, but inside there was only rot and death, and it only awaited the final fall which would display to the outside world what had already happened inside.
            But that will be reversed in the future. He will fill his city, and all the nations will see it and bring gifts to offer to him. They will come and join his people, and all of them will united into one body.
            But we can’t forget that there’s a practical application to all this. The Lord was encouraging his people to return themselves from exile. To do so would entail some risk and faith. Despite all the obstacles, however, they needed to know that God is in control, and if they just trust him, everything will come out all right in the end.
            The key words are “Trust” and “Obey.”

Father--by your grace--I do, and I will. You have so much in store for me, how could I not?

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