Day 7      Zechariah 8 ... Raising Sights

Another, younger prophet named Zechariah joined Haggai in his campaign to lift the spirits of the settlers in Jerusalem (Ezra 5:1 lists both these prophets by name). The two had a similar message, but a different approach. Whereas Haggai asked the Jews to look around at their current conditions and then make some needed changes, Zechariah called them to look beyond the present and envision a new Jerusalem, a "City of Truth."

At the time, the pioneers were focusing on immediate goals: the next planting of crops, basic shelter for their families, repopulating the deserted city. Zechariah lifted their sights toward a far more glorious future, when Jerusalem would b a light to the world and people from many nations would stream to the city "because we have heard that God is with you." The prophet gives his prescription for reaching such a state: The new society must be built on justice, honesty, integrity and peace.

It took years to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, and centuries for Israel to regain some form of political independence. The Jews who labored so hard must have asked themselves often, "Is this all God has in mind for us?" Zechariah replied with a resounding "No!" He insisted that the small refugee community in fact held the key to the world's future: Their new beginning would lead the way to a Messiah who would bring hope to the whole earth.

Following Haggai's lead, Zechariah seized upon the need to rebuild the temple as a vital first step. These prophets saw that as long as the temple lay in ruins, Israel's distinctive character as a people of God was suspect. Together, the two men had a remarkable effect on their countrymen. At their urging, the Jews organized to build again, and within four years the temple was complete. Once more the nation had a central reminder of its original covenant with God.

Point to Ponder: How well does your commiunity measure up to the society God describes in this chapter?