June 30, 2011

Friday after the First Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 40:1-16, Num. 23:27-24:13, 25, Lk. 4:14-30
Evening - Ps. 41, 54, Zech. 8:1-13, Acts 10:24-33

Commentary

God is returned unto Zion (Zech 8:3). This refers not to His actual presence, for God is present in all places and in all times. It refers to His presence in grace. It is His presence in the way we mean when we say, "God be with you, and with thy spirit." He is present to defend, to lead, to bless, and dwell in peace with His people. The time of His wrath has ended. The conquest, the captivity, the scattering of the people of Jerusalem into the surrounding nations is over. God allowed that to happen because of sin in his people. The holy city of Jerusalem, and even the Temple itself, had become unbearable in God's eyes because of the sin of the people. The Temple had been filled with idols. The worship offered in it was vain and insincere. The morality of the people was as that of Gentiles who did not know God. All of this is recorded in the Bible from Genesis to the prophets. So God allowed His people to reap what they had sown and receive what they had sought. They wanted to be as the Gentiles, so God gave them over to the Gentiles, to be conquered and murdered and dominated by them. But all of that is over. God has brought them back to Jerusalem. God has called them to return to the Covenant, to being the people chosen by God to be His unique people among all others. God has returned to them in grace, and calls them to return to Him in faith.

The rest of the reading tells of the restoration and glory of Jerusalem after the Temple is rebuilt. The people will not be killed by invaders, they will live to ripe old age, and the streets will be filled with children. Thus, the Jews are to "Let your hands be strong" (8:9), strong for the work of rebuilding the Temple and the city, but most of all, for rebuilding their faith.

This passage has obvious application to the New Testament Church. God will bring His people into it from many nations and countries. It will be a City of Peace, for the peace that passes all understanding, which is not as the world giveth but as Christ only can give, will dwell in it. God Himself will dwell in this New Zion, and it will be blessed and a blessing. Therefore, we who dwell in this City of God must let our hands be strong. Let them be strong for the work of the Kingdom. Let them be strong in faith. Let them build spiritual things now and for generations yet to come. For we will possess all things.