Saturday, November 17, 2012

Zechariah 12 & 13 - Redemption and Refining

LINK: Zechariah 12-13

BACKGROUND 


These chapters are about the destruction of the Gentile nations that opposed Israel (12:1-9) and Israel's spiritual deliverance that included the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (12:10a) and repentance as people put faith in Jesus, the Messiah (12:10-14)! 


The Scarlet Thread of Redemption


The one who is pierced in 12:10 is Jesus and foretells His rejection as God Incarnate and His Crucifixion. When Jesus comes again, He will be recognized as the Messiah, and people will turn to Him. Hadad Rimmon was a village near Jezreel and refers to the slaying of one of the few "good" kings of Judah, Josiah, at that place (2 Chronicles 35:20-27). 


There will be a cleansing fountain (13:1) and all idols and false prophets will be removed from the land (13:2-6). Then, the True Prophet/Shepherd (13:7-9) will come. This goes along nicely with previous prophecy in Zechariah:

  • Smitten Shepherd by sword and directed by God (13:7a) - piercing of the Messiah (12:10; 11:7-8; Isaiah 53:4, 7, 10)  
  • Scattered  sheep (13:7b-8) - abandoning of the sheep (11:9)  
  • Saved remnant (13:9) - restoration of covenant relationship (13:1-2)

Jesus quoted Zechariah 13:7 before His arrest in Matthew 26:31,32. The Roman "sword" put Christ to death, and His disciples (sheep) would be scattered when He was arrested (Matthew 26:56). The scattering also refers to the scattering of Jews all over the world at the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in A.D. 70 (Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21).  This scattering and trying has gone into modern history where the Jews of the Holocaust were "refined like silver." 


REFLECTION 


A little over a week ago, toward the end of our wonderful Washington, D.C. vacation, my family and I spent 6 hours in the Holocaust Memorial Museum. I was confused about having to wait in another long security line (my email from our congressional aide said we were to bypass all lines and go directly to our VIP passes). 


In the midst of this, a European woman in the security line nosed in on our private conversation to tell us we had to wait in line, and we needed tickets. No excuse, I bit her head off. "We have VIP tickets, and our instructions say not to wait in line. Do you know what 'VIP' is?  As I was saying this, I thought to myself, "She is probably even German!" (Bad, I know. At this point you are probably wondering why am writing about the Bible with that kind of response to a foreign visitor.)


Going through the museum, you learn of Jews being herded like cattle to their deaths (After emerging from the Holocaust experience, a volunteer told me they even made the exhibit very narrow at this point so that the visitors are literally on top of one another so they can experience this herded feeling.) There were no VIPs at Auschwitz, and I was convicted about my irritation with that women. This museum was so sobering. I emerged from the darkness of the concentration camp into the light of a warm Washington, D.C. day with a new appreciation for life. 


Petty inconveniences are nothing compared to their horrors. I felt bad for my irritated response to that lady. Even though she should not have been so nosy (She did not understand we already had tickets waiting for us AFTER the security line, and I was just confused and needed clarification from someone official.), I did not need to snap back at her, and I wished I could have apologized to her afterward, but she and her family went through the Museum very quickly compared to us. 


Gratefulness in everything, large and small, was my "take away" from this museum.  


I did not cry until I sat in the last area with film interviews of survivors. One of them was bitter toward God for what had happened. He felt God had turned His back on the Jews. When he noticed a fellow prisoner praising and thanking God, he had an interesting exchange that impacted me.  I could not remember the exact quote, but I found this excerpt of an article of another person who had a similar reaction to mine:

A man told the story about seeing a friend of his in the concentration camp praying in the middle of the day. Orthodox Jews pray at the beginning and at the end of the day but not usually in the middle of the day. So he asked his friend what he was doing. The friend said, "I'm being grateful to God." 
"Grateful to God?" the man said, "What could you be grateful to God for in the middle of hell?"   
His friend's response was profound. He said, "I'm thanking God that I am NOT LIKE THEM!"   
That's when tears came to my eyes.  
(http://lithyem.net/articles/power_8-19-02.php reprinted from http://boazpower.com/. The FULL article is well worth reading.) 

This is where I lost it emotionally too. 


When tragedy strikes, many people turn their back on God. Not so with this grateful man, and I hope it is not so with you or me. 

Continuing with Mr. Boaz' story: 

Some people have the ability to find something to appreciate, even in the middle of something horrible. It is truly a choice. now, whenever I get upset when something doesn't go my way, I have a little talk with me. I remind myself that, no matter how many challenges I have, there are many people in the world who would gladly change places with me. 
Somehow my disappointment at having to wait in line when we were "VIP's" seemed so trivial after all of this. 

God uses everything to refine us and try us so that we can come forth as silver and gold. God says through Zechariah:



And I will bring the third part through the fire,
Refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them;
I will say, "They are My people,"
And they will say, "The Lord is my God.”
Zechariah 13:9


It is all a matter of perspective. 

APPLICATION

Is the Lord your God even in the midst of hard times? Can you be thankful and see the glass half full?  

Read the full article linked above (his application was my application long before I read his article). Look up the cross references I have included in the Scripture above and Psalm 66:10, Proverbs 17:3; Job 23:10.

Are you grateful today in spite of circumstances?

PRAYER

Lord, teach us to be grateful today. In Jesus name, Amen. 
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