Staying in line with his family business, this book bears the name of its author the priest-prophet Zechariah. It begins with a heartwarming story you can almost visualize of his grandfather returning to Jerusalem after exile with his little grandson, Zechariah, in tow at his side.
A co-grandparent (from the side of one of my bonus sons) shares this story about our mutual progeny. The subject of the story is the first generational grandson and first grandbaby to either side of the family.
“R and I had spent the day together watching a cartoon movie in the morning and then went to the Cog Railway in Colorado Springs to take the train up to Pikes Peak. I purchased box lunches to eat on the train, which of course included a prize in his. As (the train was) climbing the mountain, I got a pair of binoculars from my pack and gave them to him to keep when the ride was over. I had also brought a package of candies M&M’s, which was sparingly distributed a few at a time during the trip. At some point during the ride, R turned to me and said, “Grandpa, when I grow up, I want to be a grandpa.”
That same little tyke told me once when I asked him what he wanted to be, anticipating the answer would be some profession, he wanted to be a daddy. He is set for life if he already knows his most important role is with family. There is truth in what the sage Confucius says, “The family unit is the basis for ideal government. If we can get our priorities right in the family unit, we can get the world right.”
One of the most self-nurturing things for me was what my children gave me, particularly when they were little. The love and acceptance they bestowed (whether I had bad hair or breath, whether I was grumpy or unpleasant) was the closest thing I consciously can remember of unconditional love. I re-nurtured myself during their early years through the general course of mothering them, if that makes sense. Then that same expression of love happened again years later. It was when I was going through a period of feeling lonelier than usual and I had a sleepover with the coolest two and a half-year-old granddaughter who slept in my bed with me. She was a mover at night, periodically flaying her arms, murmuring words in her sleep and settled herself in the middle spot on the bed. Then I noticed while she sleep that she was a cuddler and through the night would hug or be up against me. It was pure bliss. It fulfilled a sorely desired felt need in me.
I don’t think we ever stop parenting, we are always accountable to our children (even when they are adults) to set an example. As parents, how we model and project our being a parent to our sons and daughters may influence their desire as to whether they have children. I would hear a neighbor who criticized and berated her husband, putting their relationship down in front of her kids with her now appearing clueless when she bemoans why her adult children aren’t married nor given her grandchildren. He ended up having an affair and left her.
Zechariah’s name means “Yahweh (the Hebrew name of God used by the Jews) remembers.” He was young compared to his contemporary Haggai. Both prophets had different styles of approach but the same message. It’s a great example of how the presentation in style of the church’s message can change but not the substance. Where Haggai was direct and clear in his communication approach while Zechariah was visionary.
This book contains some of the clearest and largest numbers of Messianic passages among all the minor prophets. With that in mind, it’s possible to think of the book of Zechariah as a kind of miniature book of Isaiah. In total, there are eight prophetic oracles derived from dreams or “night visions” in this book. To not know the fulfillment of the story of Jesus from this side of the cross, understanding who the final oracle is proclaiming in Zechariah 9 to 14 is shrouded in mystery.
It’s easy to get caught up in the dailies of living and lose perspective to live like people without hope. The book of Zechariah gives us an antidote for that tendency by telling us he is a prisoner of hope (9:12).
Zechariah, five hundred years before the event, spoke about the judgment and salvation of God and the coming of Jesus who would be a priest, governor, humble king and afflicted shepherd in Chapter 9-14. The branch mentioned in chapter 6 verse 12 is Jesus. He even talks about His return after his atoning death to rescue repentant people (12:10-14) There will be a new King (Jesus) and a new kingdom.
The people did not listen and turned away (Zec. 7:11). The same response can be found today from the New Testament, “you knew the things that make for peace (Lk. 19:42) it would be hidden from your eyes (because you would not listen).”
The world at peace, with no war, is a universal prayer. I have dealt first-hand with the paradoxical notion of peace through military strength what with many family members serving their country in the military. The world has only seen 268 years free of war out of the last 3350 years. Now many countries are engaged in the War on Terror. Currently, America is serving in the longest war (sixteen years) at this writing.
I became keenly aware of a difference of perspective and training in a seemly innocent conversation a decade ago while watching a random movie about of an American cowboy who entered a horse race across the Arabian Desert (the movie was Hidalgo). A comment was made during a scene when a Muslim character was ranting his bravado, saying that is the way it is with all of them. It could have been made easy for anyone from any country to boast in a competitive or combatant scenario. At the time, I was in the thick of studying theology and comparative religions of the world. The company, watching the movie with me, was frustrated when I called him down on his remarks. I judged it as a racist and defamatory remark toward all Muslims. We still train the warrior this way, although not quite as openly in the press or general public. If not careful it breeds xenophobia, as it did with my friend. I think it is one of the reasons for long-running racism in America today. We seldom untrain the indoctrinated. Why does national pride have to be defended by attempts to show superiority?
I was struck by the difference between our worldviews of mine in the mission field compared to his military one of preparing for battle. The different viewpoints partly could be explained by differing outlooks in psychology versus anthropology. Earlier in my undergraduate study, when I realized I was short an elective to graduate, I took a course called “War and the Warrior.” It discussed how a warrior is trained for war. Intellectually, I grasp what we do to prepare minds for battle, but my heart breaks when I think about it. Christian author Philip Yancey in his book What’s So Amazing About Grace writes, “Politics draws lines between people; in contrast, Jesus’ love cuts across those lines and dispenses grace. That does not mean, of course, that Christians should not involve themselves in politics. It simply means that as we do so, we must not let the rules of power displace the command to love…”
In the Bible, God’s peace treaty covers actual warfare to include internal warfare experienced individually. Of course, when parts of the peace treaty are rejected then the treaty gets elusive. It is hidden from our lives. It is a consequence of what happens when God moves in our life yet eyes do not see, ears do not hear (1Cor. 2:9).