A Promise of a Better Kingdom

Zechariah 2:10-12

10 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the Lord. 11 And many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. 12 And the Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.”

To the Jew of the sixth century BC, the return of Judah from Babylonian captivity was a major event. It must also have been loaded with questions. Now that God has judged us for our sin and returned us to our land, what should we expect? Will Messiah come and make us a political power? Is the promise still alive? What does it look like?

Here in Zechariah, we see some glorious truths of the promise of God that were made under the Old Covenant but which can only be fulfilled by the establishment of the New Covenant. Notice how God speaks of what will occur beyond the physical return of exiles to Jerusalem. It is cause for joy. God will dwell in the midst of his people. That is bigger and better than even the Old Testament experience of the Jews with the temple or the tabernacle. While those edifices symbolized the presence of God, their walls were there to tell the people that there must be a separation between the Lord and them, a boundary that the people cannot cross. This dwelling in their midst promised in Zechariah sounds bigger and better.

Verse 11 points to the fact that God will gather to himself more than the Jews. Yes, the Jews who trust in him will be included. But God is gathering for himself a people out of all the nations. Again and again, as God makes his ultimate promises, he points to the building of a new people of God, one not determined by ethnicity but by faith.

In verse 12, we see the Lord taking Judah and Jerusalem for himself. Something about this promise of God will include God in Jerusalem accomplishing his kingdom purposes. The place where the temple stood, the place where David ruled, that place will be the great launching point of the blessing of God.

If we put this all together, we see the gospel in sign form. On the surface, this looks like a major promise of blessing on Jerusalem—and it may be that. But well beyond blessing the city, God is going to accomplish his eternal purpose. Jesus, the Son of God, will come into Jerusalem declaring himself King. Jesus will bring to God a nation made up of people from all nations. There will be rejoicing and blessing for the people, as god will live in the midst of his people in a way never before experienced in Israel. The Spirit of God who came to his church in Acts 2 is the better fulfillment of the promise of God dwelling among his people. And, by grace, we also look forward to the day of Christ’s return when God will dwell in our midst both physically and spiritually forever.

A Single Day of Change

How long does it take for the Lord to make a major change? We need to stop and consider that question from time to time. After all, we look at our world, and we are not always hopeful. We see the oncoming persecution and rejection we face, and we think there is just no way that things are going to get better.

While it is true that the Lord does not promise us anything like an easy life in the here and now, we also should not forget the fact that the Lord can accomplish world-changing moves in a single moment. The Lord can bring about great salvation and sudden destruction in a single day.

I thought of this concept when reading through Zechariah 3. Most Christians know this chapter of Zechariah because of its depiction of Joshua the high priest who stands accused by the devil. Joshua is given clean clothes and a clean turban by the Lord. And this reminds us of the work of Jesus to cleanse us before the Lord and to come to our defense against the devil who accuses us.

After Joshua gets his clean clothes and is clearly under the protection of the Lord, we read something else that is lovely to see.

Zechariah 3:8-10 – 8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch. 9 For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day. 10 In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.”

I see three things that I love to see this morning. There is a servant, the branch, who will come. He will remove iniquity in a single day. And the result of his coming will be life and joy.

The servant or the branch is a reference to the Messiah. While Zechariah presents something here that is pretty complicated with images, one thing is for sure: Jesus is coming. God’s servant, the branch of God, is going to arrive. As we find ourselves at the beginning of the advent season, we should remember how great was the longing and the hope of godly people that the Messiah would come. And we look forward to the second coming of Messiah as well.

Without trying to touch the imagery of the stone, we can still see the declaration of the Lord. In a single day, he will remove the iniquity of the land. In one day, the Lord will fix what generations of humanity could not get right. In a single hour, the Lord will set right what kings and priests could not do on their own. Yes, we saw in the Old Testament that the high priest would make atonement for the sin of the land on one special day of the year. But here, It looks like a greater, a more forever, atonement is being made. IN a moment, the world is changed. In a single act of grace, God is doing what man cannot do.

And the result in verse 10 is that those who are atoned for will have life and joy. These men sitting under their own vine and inviting others to come are people who have been blessed by God so that they can share that blessing with others.

This is our great hope. Jesus came. Jesus is the Messiah and the branch. Jesus, on a single day, made one and only one offering for sin. Jesus laid down his life to substitute for us in the judgment we should receive. Jesus took our place, bearing the wrath of God on our behalf, so that we could be forgiven. IN his perfect blood and imputed righteousness, Jesus cleanses us as we see symbolized in Joshua and his clean clothes.

In a single moment, Jesus changed the world. In a single hour, the one God had promised would come crushed the head of the serpent. In a single moment, Jesus took the wrath of God for us and bought for us eternal life. In a day, he took our iniquity.

And in that act, Jesus grants us the blessing of God. We are promised life. We are promised the rewards that God has for his children. We are promised adoption into God’s family. We are promised heaven. We are promised fellowship with God. We have greater than a vine to sit under with our neighbors; we are promised membership in the family of God and his holy church.

The Christian should see this passage represents God’s past faithfulness, as the Lord really did take away our iniquity in a single day in Christ. It represents God’s future faithfulness, as we look forward to the return of Christ when he will reign with his people forever. And it reminds us that God can change the world. It reminds us that God can do the impossible. In a single day, the Lord takes away sin, sets up reward, and shows us his glory. Let us find life and hope in this glorious word.