There are many times in life where we can feel like does not care about us. God can seem so far away when we are going through life’s struggles. The people in the days of Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah felt the same way. They had come back to do God’s work but it was not going well. In trying to serve the Lord, the people were experiencing resistance and ridicule. So God sent Haggai and Zechariah to encourage the people to continue to work for the Lord. The encouraging messages of Zechariah can give us the same encouragement when we need to see how much God cares for us. The second chapter of Zechariah is going to give three encouraging pictures showing how God cares for them and why they should be stirred up to continue God’s work.
A City Without Walls (2:1-5)
Zechariah’s vision begins by seeing a man with a measuring line in his hand, going to measure the length and width of Jerusalem. Now this is already a hopeful picture because it is showing a restoration of the city. Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Babylonians. The people have come back and are desiring to rebuild God’s temple. But the city remains in ruins. So the vision shows a man determining to measure the city of Jerusalem. But look at what happens next. An angel tells another angel to go tell the man that there is no need to measure the walls of new Jerusalem. The new Jerusalem is going to be inhabited without walls because there are going to be so many people and so many animals in it. The picture is that there are going to be so many people living in the city that there will be too many for walls. The people are going to spread all over New Jerusalem that having walls would be impossible.
Now anyone in ancient times hearing that they would live in a city without walls, you would be thought of as crazy. Walls are what kept the enemy out back then. Every city needed to have walls for the protection of the people who lived in the city. But notice what God says in verse 5. New Jerusalem will be a city without walls. How will that be possible? How can the people possibly live in such a situation? God says that he will be a wall of fire around it and the glory within it. God is going to be your defense and protection.
This image is reminiscent of the time of Israel’s exodus. When the people had come to the Red Sea and the Egyptians were coming after them, we read that God became a wall of cloud between the Egyptians and Israelites, protecting them and giving them light (Exodus 13:21-22; 14:19-20). The people did not need a wall because God was their wall. God was their light, their protection, and their help. This is what God is showing. This New Jerusalem is going to have so many people in it that there cannot be walls. But that going to be a safe city because God will be a wall of fire around it and the glory in it. An innumerable city is exactly what God had promised Abraham (cf. Genesis 15:5). Abraham was told that his offspring would be more numerous than the stars of the sky.
Friends, we can clearly realize that this never happened in a physical, observable way in the history of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was rebuilt with walls. In fact, by the time of the first century Jerusalem had three separate walls that had been built around it. Not only this, remember that the book of Nehemiah is about how he returned to build the walls of the city. Why did God send Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem when Zechariah said that new Jerusalem would not have walls? The reason why is the prophet is speaking of a greater glory to come that these people understood. This New Jerusalem was a powerful kingdom of God. The number of people in this kingdom would be too many to count. We see this in the book of Acts where multitudes upon multitudes are coming to Jesus and belonging to his kingdom. The church was multiplying (Acts 9:31). Please think about the kingdom of God since its arrival when Jesus came. How many people belong to it? Our country does a census every 10 years to know how many people there are so that we can have proper representation along with other benefits. But think about this: the number can be counted. Even though the United States counted 332 million people, it could be counted. But this kingdom of God is going to be so large that a city with walls could not hold it. God is the only protection they need.
You are not alone. You have God as your walls of fire around you and you have so many people who are joined with you in faith that we all could not live in a city with walls. Even though time and geography separate us, there are too many people to begin to count who belong to the Lord. Do not be discouraged. You are not alone.
The Apple of My Eye (2:6-9)
Second, God wants to give us a picture of how much he cares about us. God calls for the people to run to the New Jerusalem, Zion, and leave Babylon (2:6-7). Now think about what God does here. Zechariah is prophesying to the people who have left Babylon and come to Jerusalem. These are the people who made the sacrifice and return to Jerusalem. Is he speaking to the people who remain back in Persia? Maybe he does. But I think it is much more likely that Zechariah is talking to the people who are in front of him. He is preaching to the people in Jerusalem, telling them to leave Babylon and come to Jerusalem. What is he saying? Even though they had physically left Babylon, they still lived like the culture they had come from. Their hearts were not into the work for God in Jerusalem. Rather, they had brought their cultural thinking with them and were worrying about their own houses and schedules.
Think about how many times God warns us about coming out of our slavery but still desiring our slavery. When the people of Israel came out of Egyptian slavery, their hearts wanted to go back to Egypt often. They kept their idols. They longingly thought of the food they ate when they were there. They even made plans to go back. Think about Lot’s wife who looked back toward Sodom because Sodom had so infiltrated her life. God is telling us that you have come out of Babylon with your body but not with your heart. You are in the church building but you heart is for when you get out of here. You say you are a Christian but your heart is to be like the rest of the world. The problem is that we have been set free but our minds and hearts are still enslaved to sin. God is constantly calling for his people fully leave their slavery like in Revelation 18:4. But listen to the apostle Paul.
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13 ESV)
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:20–23 ESV)
God is trying to free us. Now listen to how God encourages us to make that decision to leave Babylon with our hearts and minds. Look at Zechariah 2:8. “The one who touches you touches the apple of my eye” (NRSV). There are two ideas with this that come together. You are precious in God’s sight and he wants you to be free. Not only this, we are quick to protect our eyes and God will be quick to protect you. God says in verses 8-9 that those who plundered you will be plundered by God. The reason is God will protect you because you are precious to him. God does care about you and will act for you.
One of the things we can fail to see if that God shows his care for us by laws. God’s law are like honey and for our good. The rules parents give to their children are for their life and well-being. Every rule is to be for their good. I am showing that I care for you by giving you rule. You might think they are dumb but I have good reasons and those reasons are for your good. God cares for us. We are the apple of his eye. He is trying to protect us. His word is for our good. Leave Babylon and come to the Lord in your heart because God is working for your good. You are God’s treasured possession.
God In Your Midst (2:10-13)
Finally, come to New Jerusalem and be set free from Babylon’s thinking because God is in your midst and wants to dwell with you. Look at verses 10-13. Sing and rejoice because God will come and live in your midst. Even people from all over the world will join themselves to the Lord and belong as God’s people. Now carefully read verse 11 because it is amazing.
“And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you.” I will live among you and when I do that, then you will know the Lord has sent me to you. Who is talking? He just said the Lord will show that I was sent to you when I live with you. You are going to belong to the Lord again. You will be his people. You will enjoy God’s inheritance. You will be chosen by God. You will know that the Lord has chosen you and that you belong to him when “I dwell in your midst.” Friends, this is the power of the coming of Jesus as the Christ. Listen to what the apostle John declared.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 ESV)
“And from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” (John 1:16 ESV)
How will you know that God cares for you? How will you know that you belong to him? How will you know that you have been restored to the Lord? Because Zechariah was pointing to Jesus and telling that his coming would prove God’s love for you. Jesus came so that you could return to him and belong to a kingdom without walls because God will be a wall of fire around you. Jesus came so that you could leave the worldly thinking and culture of Babylon and belong to the Lord. Jesus came so that you would see that you are the apple of God’s eye. You are precious to the Lord and he will protect you like we would protect our own eye. Jesus came so that God could be in our midst and be with us because we are made holy by the blood of Lamb. What more can God do to show how much he cares for his people? What more can God do to show how much he cares for you? Praise the Lord because he came and is living among us and from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.