Today’s Chocolate: Equal Exchange Lemon Ginger with Black Pepper
Today’s Passage: Zechariah 8
It gets better.
That’s God’s message to his people as he continues his monologue from the last chapter. Remember Sharezer and his companions, asking whether to fast, and God’s response criticizing their insincerity? Whether they fast or not in the present, the future holds a time to abstain from fasting–a time to celebrate. Speaking through Zechariah, God declares, “The fast of the fourth, the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth months will become joy, gladness, and cheerful feasts for the house of Judah; so love truth and peace” (19). Whether people formerly fasted out of selfishness or sincerity, they’ll be swapping out fasts for feasts once God completes his work.
And what work is that? Restoration. God scattered his people, but he’s going to gather them back to himself and Jerusalem. He promises: “Old men and old women will again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each man with his staff in his hand because of age. And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets” (4-5). God plans to restore human life to the holy city, where generations will prosper.
It’s not just prosperity for Israel. It never was. “So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord” (22), God states. The scene of all the nations clamoring to seek God’s favor recalls the final line of the Abrahamic Covenant: “In you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). God didn’t choose his people as gatekeepers; he intended to bless all the world’s tribes and nations through them.
Zechariah’s prophecy here was partially fulfilled through the reconstruction of the temple and Jerusalem. In the five hundred years between Zechariah’s day and the advent of Jesus Christ, Jerusalem again became a hub of Jewish cultural and religious activity. In Acts 2:5-13, we see native-born Jews and Jewish converts gathering in the city to celebrate the Jewish Feast of Weeks, in Greek called “Pentecost.” But the prophecy saw deeper fulfillment in Jesus Christ himself. He perfectly lived up to God’s standard for his people laid out in the Torah, in essence acting as a perfect Israel, offering the sacrifice of his life in the temple of his body. Through his life, death, and resurrection, non-Jewish believers like me have been grafted into the tree of Abraham, receiving fellowship with God. Not everything in the world is set right yet, but in Christ we can see God’s work of restoration coming together.
As we survivors of 2016 and 2017 well know, the present isn’t such great shakes. But it gets better.