The Lord is my fortress – Saturday, 25th week in ordinary time – Zechariah 2:1-5,10-11a
The book of Zechariah (meaning = The Lord remembers) consists of two parts . The first part of the book consists of eight night time visions and are are written in apocalyptic style. These visions can best be described at times as strange images or bizarre dreams. But these dreams are symbolic dreams like those of Jacob in Genesis 28 or Joseph in chapter 37 of Exodus.
These night time visions give meaning to the current events that took place in the life of the people of Israel who had just returned from 70 years of exile under Babylonian and then Persian rule. But these visions also provide a window into the future. The dreams in the book of Zechariah are arranged symmetrically in such way that the first and the eight dream are similar, the second and seventh dream are similar and so on.
Our text is taken from the third dream entitled in our Bibles, as ‘the man with the measuring line.’ To understand this text we need to situate it in its historical context. The people of Israel have returned to Jerusalem by order of the edict of King Cyrus of Persia. The prophet Haggai moved the people from apathy to action and work on the temple had begun. The prophet Zechariah whose ministry overlaps that of Haggai now has the task of conveying God’s will through a series of night time vision and today’s reading deals with the first stage of actual recovery of the city of Jerusalem.
The work on the walls of Jerusalem which needed to be built in order to defend the holy city and temple, had begun. The ravages of war and the destruction of the temple and city were still fresh in the minds of the people. If this new Jerusalem was to withstand enemies then the wall had to be built. But angels are sent in a night time vision to the prophet to tell them to halt the project. Why one may ask? Clearly this initiative taken up, urgent and necessary as it may seem, was not God’s initiative but mans.
Historically we know that Zerubabel the governor had tried to rebuild the walls. However, the Samaritans who were country cousins of the people of Jerusalem but now estranged brothers and even more, enemies, accused the Jews of disloyalty to the Persian rulers under whose magnanimity the Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem. It was perhaps this reason why the work on the walls were stalled. God wants to send a clear message to the people of Jerusalem through this night time vision to the prophet; despite this setback, they need to trust in God for their security and not in these walls. The Lord “ will be a wall of fire all around the city and he will be the glory within it.”
We need to ask ourselves, what walls have we been busy building in order to be secure in these very uncertain times that we live in? Do we trust in the Lord or is that trust limited to a soulful sining of the lyrics of some beautiful hymn ?