Our focus shifts a bit in this new section of Zechariah. No more glimpses into the kingdom. They are oracles from God alright, but they speak to all that is wrong with the world. Such a contrast to the messianic rule of peace. Yet, there are promises woven in.
The first problem to fix or restore is finding a shepherd for those who don’t have one. In Zechariah’s context, the whole concept of shepherd would have been a lot different than ours today. My mind went to the perfect solution – Jesus. Jesus is our Good Shepherd. “For the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has arrived to look after Judah, his flock.”
The reforms of Josiah will not keep the people right with God for long. Zephaniah speaks of how Jerusalem’s rebellion continues. After all the attempts to reacquaint people with God’s laws and expectations, how does the city respond? “No one can tell it anything; it refuses all correction. It does not trust in the Lord or draw near to its God.” How do you think God feels when we pull away?
We have all known people who have left the church community for one reason or another. Perhaps they had a life event happen, and rather than embrace God’s provision, turned away blaming God for the misfortune. Maybe there was some personality clash with church leadership leaving them feeling disillusioned about their faith. People will find reasons to trust their own power rather than the Holy Spirit power we’ve been given.
The city of Thebes was the center of the Egyptian Empire for nearly 1400 years! They fell at the hands of the Assyrians in 663 B.C. Yet Nahum boldly asks Nineveh, “Are you any better than the city of Thebes, situated on the Nile River, surrounded by water?” Of course, arrogant Nineveh would answer, “Yes! We defeated them, didn’t we?” Yet Nahum taunts them just the same using yet another metaphor.
Nahum’s provocation is not meant to compare the relative strengths of the two empires, but to announce that human might is nothing compared to God’s power. This oracle is directed at Nineveh’s false sense of security. They apparently thought they were immune to the wrath of God. We probably know plenty of people even today that have that same false sense of security.
Jeremiah gives us a great example of prayer. He is still puzzling over his purchase of land from our last reading. And yet, instead of coming right out and asking God why, he includes the situation in his tribute to God’s power.
Think of your last prayer to God. Did you give him praise and honor for all he has done? Did you specify the mighty works that have gotten your attention? That’s what we see Jeremiah doing. God loves our adoration. Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”