“I looked up and saw a man with a measuring line in his hand. I asked, ‘Where are you going?’ He answered me, ‘To measure Jerusalem to determine its width and length.’” (CSB – Read the chapter)
This week I will be taking my church through the parable of the prodigal son. This is one of the most famous and beloved Jesus ever told. A big part of the reason for this is that it takes the longing we all have to be home and gives it the affirmation that we can find our home in God’s house if only we will return to Him. What we see in this next vision of Zechariah is that this longing has always been a part of the human experience and there’s a reason for it: We were made to be home. We were made to be home and our God intends to bring us home.
This third vision falls fairly neatly into four sections. Let’s take a look at each one. It starts with the vision introduction we find here. Zechariah sees a man with a measuring line who is going to figure out how big Jerusalem is. Now, why would he be doing that? The implication of the second part of the vision is that he is going to measure it for a wall.
All cities of any consequence then had walls. The walls were primarily for protection. You needed a wall to keep out marauders and bandits and the like. You needed a wall to convince an opposing tribe’s army to leave you alone. Walls also gave people pride in their city. They gave them a sense of security and confidence. Thus, there was an important economic component as well. The whole book of Nehemiah is about his leading the people in rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls. So, of course this guy is going to measure Jerusalem for new walls. The Lord is going to bless her by seeing her rebuilt entirely.
But then comes the second part of the vision. Zechariah’s angelic guide is hurrying to stop the man from measuring because Jerusalem is going to be rebuilt without walls. Actually, that’s not quite what he says, is it? He says the city is going to be inhabited without walls. In other words, it is going to have so many people living in it that walls won’t surround them all. Now, why would he do such a thing? The city needed walls. How was it going to survive without them? Because God Himself was going to dwell with them and be all the protection they needed.
This was an even greater picture of restoration than what the first part of the vision hinted at was coming. The people were going to be safe from attack and God Himself would be their safety. He would be their strength and shield. He would be a wall of fire without and glory within them.
This kind of glory is attractive and leads to the third part of the vision. Here, Zechariah is given ear to a call from the Lord to the people of Israel who are still in exile. They can return in confidence because the city will be safe and secure by God’s presence in it. They should return because He is going to bring judgment on the nations that have conquered them. He announced just how precious are His people to Him—the apple of His eye.
The fourth part of this vision comes back to land where the second part was: God’s promise to be with them. But now, the promise of His presence is greater and stronger than it was before. And, the second part of the vision is infused with the third part here, but taken to a greater level. The Lord talks about not just Israel returning, but many nations wanting to come be a part of what He is doing in Jerusalem. Many nations will come, seeking to be His people.
So, what do we make of all this? This is a vision of restoration. It is a vision of restoration that went beyond anything they could have imagined. He was not just going to restore her to her former glory, He was going to bring her to a place beyond what she was before. He had talked before about seeing Israel become an invitation to the nations to be a part of His kingdom. God’s plans for us are always bigger than ours are. This was certainly the case for Israel. It’s the case for us as well.
As for what we can actually do with this beyond marveling at the character of our God who restores us beyond what we can imagine, this is one promise that may have been made to Israel, but it was made with us in mind. In other words, we are the heirs of this promise. God’s vision for His kingdom was always to have as many people in it as He could—that includes you and me. He’s been working since the beginning of time to see that we are able to be the beneficiaries of His grace. He’s done all this incredible work over the centuries with you and me in mind. That’s just the kind of God He is. The only question remaining now is this one: Will you receive Him? He’s been planning on you all along. Why not take up the invitation into the life that is truly life? You’ll be glad you did.