11-6-6 Zechariah's Restoration Prophecies
God's glory would have dwelt not only in the temple but in the
whole city of Jerusalem (Zech. 2:9). But there is no evidence that
the shekinah glory ever actually returned to the rebuilt temple
let alone was visibly present over the whole rebuilt city of Jerusalem.
The Jews were asked to leave Babylon so that Jerusalem would have
an "abundance of peoples", in language evidently appropriate
to the Messianic Kingdom (Zech. 2:8,10). And yet they for the most
part remained in Babylon, and thus showed they didn't want to do
their part in making that prophecy of the Kingdom come true in their
experience. The prophecies that the Gentile rulers of Judah will
be their servants (Zech. 2:10-17) clearly show that Judah wasn't
intended to remain a mere subject kingdom of the Persian empire.
So much was possible- but they chose to remain, to take the easier
option- which is always to remain within the structures we are safe
and familiar with.
Zechariah is also relevant to the restoration period. He speaks
of the day of Israel’s final obedience, when finally “the Lord shall
be seen over them…as lightning” (Zechariah 9:14), just as the cherubim
and lightening had been over Ezekiel and would have been over Israel
at the restoration- had they followed it. Zechariah attributes Israel’s
final success as thanks to “the Lord of hosts”- the hosts of Angels
working with them and for them. In “the time of the latter rain”,
Yahweh will again “make bright clouds” for Israel, reminiscent of
Ezekiel’s cherubim (Zechariah 10:1). Finally, the Lord shall
go before them, as He had wanted to in Ezekiel’s time, and even
the feeble amongst Israel “shall be as the angel of the Lord [who
goes] before them” (Zechariah 10:14; 12:8). They will become as
the Angel in the same way as Ezekiel became part of the cherubim
system, following eagerly where the Angel-cherubim lead. At the
time of the restoration, God could say: “I am returned to Jerusalem
with mercies: my house shall be built…the Lord shall yet comfort
Zion” (Zechariah 1:17). This was the same “comfort to Zion” of Isaiah
40:1. But Israel would not follow God back to Jerusalem, and those
who did generally were consumed with their own petty self interest.
And so the prophecies and promises of “comfort to Zion” were re-interpetted
and fulfilled in a spiritual sense in the ministry of the Lord Jesus.
God had gone ahead of them- He had returned to Zion already, and
bid Israel follow Him there. It was His plan that the light of His
glory would enter into Zion at the restoration (Hag. 2:7); but Israel
had to act as if they believed this, and likewise show forth glory:
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord
is risen upon thee” (Isaiah 60:1). He eagerly prophesied that “strangers
shall build up thy walls…in my favour have I had mercy upon thee”
(Isaiah 60:10)- not ‘I am prepared to have mercy upon you’, nor
‘I will have mercy…’. God had had mercy upon them, and invited them
to respond to it.