Bible Commentary: Zechariah 2

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Zechariah 2

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Measuring Jerusalem for Future Expansion

Zechariah 2 brings us to the third vision of the night (verses 1-13). Feinberg states: "If the second vision be seen as an amplification of the truth of Zechariah 1:15, then the third vision is an elaboration of the promise in Zechariah 1:16" (p. 279). This seems entirely reasonable, as 1:16 related not only the temple being built but also a surveyor's line being stretched out over Jerusalem, signifying the future reconstruction and expansion of the city. This is also described in Zechariah 2:1-2. Notice that Jerusalem will be like "towns without walls" (verse 4). The populace will overflow the city walls, the prophecy continues, as the people will not need to huddle within them. This is because God Himself will serve as the people's defense. Yet the absence of defensive fortifications has not characterized the city of Jerusalem from the time of Zechariah until now. Indeed, the setting is clearly the messianic age. "The wall of fire, indicating security and safety, is reminiscent of the pillar of fire in the Exodus. (Note Exodus 14:24 [and verses 19-20, where the pillar stood between the Israelites and Egyptians], also Isaiah 4:5 and Zechariah 9:8.) God will be her wall of salvation and protection (Isaiah 26:1). The Shekinah glory is promised here" (Feinberg, p. 280).

The presence of God's indwelling glory also ties back to Zechariah 1:16, which this section appears to be amplifying. It was there mentioned that God's house, His dwelling, would be in Jerusalem. Again, it seems likely that there is a partial fulfillment of this verse in spiritual Jerusalem, the Church of God, which experiences God's indwelling presence and miraculous protection in lieu of physical defensive fortifications. But clearly what is written here is mainly a prophecy for the last days. As Feinberg remarks: "Surely it will not be denied that the fulfillment of this prophecy is in millennial times (Habakkuk 2:14). The theme of the vision is the rebuilding and resettlement of Jerusalem, bearing out the words of Zechariah 1:16-17, and the full accomplishment of these words will be the establishment of Jerusalem in the earth as the city of God's dwelling. Blessed day for Israel and all the earth that will be" (p. 280).

The remainder of the third vision (Zechariah 2:6-13) gives more details regarding the future expansion of Jerusalem, both spiritual and physical, and its becoming God's permanent dwelling.

Verses 6-7 states that more people who are to be of Zion need to flee out of Babylon. This probably has several levels of meaning. First of all, there was an application for Zechariah's own time. Recall that when the Persian king Cyrus entered the city of Babylon he preserved it intact. But it would fare worse later. Darius had just crushed two rebellions there. And Darius' successor, his son Xerxes, would sack Babylon in 482 B.C. After later rebellion, it was conquered yet again by Antiochus III Ochus around 340 B.C. It seems reasonable to believe that, on some level, Zechariah was warning the Jews still dwelling comfortably in Babylon of these upcoming invasions and resultant destruction.

Additionally, consider that God is addressing those He has "spread...abroad like the four winds of heaven" (Zechariah 2:6). This may be speaking to Jews all throughout the Babylonian Diaspora (or Dispersion) from Zechariah's time until today—that they return from a Babylonian-rooted society to dwell in Jerusalem or its environs, thereby swelling its population. Quite likely there is also a sense of spiritual return to God intended here. Those who would be part of spiritual Zion, the Church of God, are to come out of the "Babylon" of this world's false ideologies and values. And there is clearly an end-time application to escaping from Babylon, just as with God's nearly identical admonitions to do so in other passages (see Jeremiah 50:8; Jeremiah 51:6; Isaiah 48:20; Revelation 18:4). The terminology "daughter of Babylon" (Zechariah 2:7) may even imply the end-time counterpart of the earlier system.

In verse 8 we find the "Lord" saying, "He has sent Me..."—that is, evidently, the preincarnate Christ is saying that God the Father has sent Him—in this case to bring judgment on the nations that have acted against His people. Touching—harming—God's people is like touching the "apple of His eye," meaning the eye's pupil, one of the most important and guarded parts of a person's body. In short, God says, attacking His people is like poking Him right in the eye. God will give these nations as spoil to the ones they've oppressed, that is, to both physical and spiritual Israel (verse 9).

Yet this is not a hopeless message for the nations. For when God comes to dwell in Zion (verse 10), "many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day" and they will become His people too (verse 11)—thereby vastly expanding the "city of God," in both the physical and spiritual sense. Indeed Jerusalem, as in many prophecies, represents the entire nation of Israel, and all other nations must become part of Israel spiritually to be God's people and, ultimately, part of His Kingdom. In that Kingdom they will dwell with Him and He will dwell with them as one family for all eternity. Incidentally, the phrase "the Holy Land," though rather commonly used today, occurs in Scripture only in verse 12.

The conclusion in verse 13 for the world to be silent in anticipation of God's intervention and judgment is essentially repeated from Habakkuk 2:20.