“I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and Zion.” Zech 1:14
Although I ended up with a passing grade in my high school Shakespeare class, it was by far one of my most difficult classes. There are many reasons why I struggled through it, not the least of which was that I’m a pretty practical guy that has difficulty reading flowery literature with all sorts of allegorical implications. Needless to say, I was thankful for the ‘cliff notes’, without which that class would have been a total disaster in every way!
I can’t tell you how many times I started reading the book of Zechariah and then chose to skip over it, simply because some of the key verses in the very first chapter stumped me. When I came across his first vision and the description of “a man…riding a red horse…standing among the myrtle trees…in the ravine with red, sorrel and white horses behind him…”, I decided that this prophet was not for me. After all, when is the last time you saw a red horse? And, what in the world is the significance of myrtle trees in a ravine? I decided that I was going to leave this prophet to someone a little more ethereal than I to figure out.
However, things are entirely different now, as I can’t seem to get the first of Zechariah’s eight visions out of my heart and spirit! It’s filled with the incredible truth of a loving Messiah who passionately desires to be recognized by the very people who have turned their backs on Him.
When I realized that the ‘myrtle tree in the ravine’ serves as a symbol of the Jewish nation in the midst of difficult times, and ‘the man’ was actually ‘the angel of the Lord’, which many commentators connect to the Son of Man or the Messiah, all of a sudden this once overlooked chapter has become one of my favorite chapters in the Scripture!
Where was the God of Israel during the 70 years of the Babylonian captivity and where was He when Jerusalem was ransacked in 70AD? Where was God during the bloody inquisitions and where was He during the brutal intifadas? And, where will He be when nations turn against Israel in the last days?
I contend that God Himself remains among the myrtle trees, exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and longing to be recognized by those He came to save! I also contend that we, His people, ought to be gripped with the burden of Israel’s salvation too.
Oh, what a day it will be when Israel recognizes their Messiah!