Wednesday, March 02, 2016

The great Jewish return

Brooklyn Museum: Reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Herod 
<br /><b> TODAY'S SPECIAL:</b> <a href=
"Reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Herod" by James Tissot
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Zechariah 8:1-123

"Thus says the Lord of hosts:
'Behold I will save My people from the land of the east
And from the land of the west;
I will bring them back
And they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem,
They shall be My people
And I will be their God,
In truth and righteousness.' "  Zechariah 8:7,9

The Old Testament prophets Zechariah and Haggai preached to the people who had returned from exile. Their messages were meant to arouse the returned Jews to finish rebuilding the temple.

In addition Zechariah's writings contain many references to the coming Messiah. Some well-known Messianic prophecies in Zechariah are of Messiah entering Jerusalem on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9) and of the Jews mourning over the One they have pierced (Zechariah 12:10).

Zechariah 8 is the prophecy of a restored Zion (a.k.a. Jerusalem). The prophet paints a picture of a future vibrant, safe, and peaceful city where:

"Old men and old women shall again sit
In the streets of Jerusalem,
Each one with his staff in his hand
Because of great age.
The streets of the city
Shall be full of boys and girls
Playing in its streets - Zechariah 8:4,5.

Our focus verse describes the return of the city's inhabitants. They come from all directions to live in Jerusalem. But they do more than just live there—they come to again be Yahweh's people:

"They shall be My people
And I will be their God."

It was a prophecy that was partially fulfilled in the exiles' return during and after Zechariah's time. But modern Bible scholars also interpret this passage as prophetic of events still to come. My Bible's notes say about chapter 8:

"Many Bible students believe the promises of a restored Zion are to apply primarily to a cleansed and invigorated church…"  and: "Some see this passage as partially fulfilled in God's building of a new people in the church age" David Warren Shibley, Introduction and study notes on Zechariah, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1248 &1256.

There may be some truth here, but I think we need to guard against taking a stand that removes the literal Jerusalem and the Jewish people from the equation. Though Replacement Theology (that says the church has replaced Israel in God's plan) is popular these days, I believe the Bible is unequivocal about the special place of the literal Jerusalem and the Jews in world events still to come.

Instead of writing off the Jews, let's pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6) and the day when the Jews will accept and follow their Messiah (Revelation 7:3-8; 14:1).

Dear God, thank You for the Jewish people through whom Jesus came. As world events unfold, with peoples fighting over Jerusalem, help me to continue to pray for its peace and the salvation of the Jewish people—the "apple of Your eye" (Zechariah 2:8). Amen.

MORE: Anti-semitism
Anti-semitism is on the rise again in the world. Global journalist Martin Himel has put together a series of documentaries called Jew Bashing that show the persecution and harassment of Jews in all quarters:  The Middle East, Anti-Semitism in Europe, Conspiracy of Anti-Semitism, and Canada.  Where anti-Semitism happens in the church, the belief in Replacement Theology is often a precursor to such a stand.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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