Friday, November 8, 2013

Daily Old Testament: Zechariah 3-4 and My Own Article on "What DId I Say?" (Part 3)

Introduction – This prophetic work originates in the same year as Haggai – two or three months after in 520 BC. Zechariah is a priest and a prophet, grandson of Iddo who was head of the priestly families returning from the exile. He is writing to encourage the returning remnant to repent and renew the relationship with Yahweh.

Zechariah 3 - In a fourth vision, the prophet sees a court of justice at heaven’s gate presided over by God. Joshua is the high priest [a footnote says he represents the Jewish people] and Satan is the accuser. Joshua’s dirty clothes are removed and he is given “splendid robes of state” to wear. The angel of Yahweh puts a stone in front of Joshua – a stone with seven eyes. Yahweh also tells Joshua that He intends to raise a servant named the “Branch” [the footnote says this is a messianic title].

Zechariah 4 – The angel asks the prophet what he sees, and the prophet says he sees “a lamp-stand entirely of gold with a bowl at the top of it; seven lamps are on the lamp-stand, and seven lips for the lamps on it” (4:2). There are two olive trees – one to the left and one to the right of the lamp-stand. He asks what this means and the angel explains the lamps are the “eyes of Yahweh” – symbols of his omniscience. The olive trees represent the two anointed ones “who stand before the Lord of the whole world” (4:14).

Of Zerubbabel [descendant of David who returned with his people from the Babylonian captivity and helped them rebuild the Temple], the word of Yahweh is “not by might and not by power, but by my spirit. He will lay the “chosen stone” of the Temple.

From Leadings: A Catholic’s Journey Through Quakerism -
“What Did I Say?”
Part 3
I tried to look at the story [the scripture narrative] without interpreting too much. I wanted the kids to see what Friends had seen there, but I also just wanted them to see the whole as it presented itself as they would any book they were asked to read.

For most of the story, the version of the story early Quakers saw seemed fairly convincing. Mankind is created by God to care for the creation and be “his image” in it, but man rebels against God’s clear command to him and falls away from the closeness that was intended by God to exist between them. He doesn’t physically die, but enters into a kind of spiritual death, which according to the story results in all kinds of misery and violence. The “fall” is thus the “problem” or “conflict” (as any English teacher will tell you, you must have conflict in a narrative) that propels the story forward and lays the foundation for God’s continuing involvement in it—his efforts to redeem his work or bring it to the perfection he has intended from the beginning.

It is to fulfill his original creative intent that God stays involved in human history, to bring man out of the death he has chosen into the fullness of life it was always God’s intention for him to enjoy. It is crucial to man’s identity as God’s “image and likeness” and crucial to God’s creative intent that the relationship of love and dependence God intended for man be entered into freelythus the importance of “the test”. The serpent is that power of evil in us and in the world that tempts us to choose things other than dependence on God. But there is a promise given early in the story that the “head of the serpent” will eventually be bruised (Gen. 3:15) by the “seed” or offspring of the woman—Eve—and one of the things the story will show is how trustworthy the promises of God are.

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