Great Walls of Fire! (Zechariah 2:1-5)

 “Will things ever turn around?” I think that’s a question all of us have asked ourselves at one time. Zechariah probably asked himself that question on a daily basis. At the time, things look bleak for the returned exiles. Their city lies in ruins. The city walls are torn down. Things seem hopeless. God, however, keeps surprising Zechariah with messages of hope and restoration. He promises to return to Jerusalem and restore her fortunes, and judge her enemies. (1:14-17, 18-21). In addition, God again gives Zechariah a vision of Jerusalem’s future restoration.

Zechariah 2:1-5

[1] When I looked again, I saw a man with a measuring line in his hand. [2] “Where are you going?” I asked. He replied, “I am going to measure Jerusalem, to see how wide and how long it is.” [3] Then the angel who was with me went to meet a second angel who was coming toward him. [4]The other angel said, “Hurry, and say to that young man, ‘Jerusalem will someday be so full of people and livestock that there won’t be room enough for everyone! Many will live outside the city walls. [5] Then I, myself, will be a protective wall of fire around Jerusalem, says the Lord. And I will be the glory inside the city!’”

The substance of the vision is found in verse 5: God will protect Jerusalem and be the glory in her midst. God will be a wall of fire around Jerusalem, which is symbolic of God’s protective presence.[1] The use of fire recalls Exodus where God led Israel by a pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21). God also came down in the form of fire at Sinai (Exodus 19:18). In contrast to the helpless community of Zechariah’s day, God will protect His people so that they will never fear invasion.

Much more, God Himself “will be the glory inside the city!” (2:5). When the first temple was constructed, God’s glory filled it (2 Chronicles 5:14). Later, because of Israel’s sin, God’s glory vacated the temple (Ezekiel 10:18-19).

According to this vision, God’s glory would not be confined to the temple; it would fill the whole city! Zechariah 14 confirms this: common household pots and utensils in Jerusalem would be considered “holy”…the same designation of pots and utensils used in the temple. In other words, God’s glorious presence, which was at first confined to the temple, will encompass all of Jerusalem!

Beeline to Christ

Jesus the Christ is the hinge on which all of God’s work turns. His body is the true temple and those who are now united with Christ comprise God’s Last Days temple (John 2:21-22; Ephesians 2:11-22). In addition, God’s glorious temple presence will descend from the heavens and fill the whole new creation (Revelation 21-22). But all of God’s restorative purposes could only happen through the desolation of His Son. Only through His Son leaving the glories of heaven could God turn His affection toward sinners.

Present Humiliation, Future Glory

The story of Jerusalem is much like the story of any Christ-follower, because it is ultimately the story of Christ. Jesus lived a life of suffering and humiliation. He was a man of sorrows who was rejected by His own people. He had no place to lay His head. He marched to the cross to die the most dishonorable death of His day. But His suffering and humiliation was not the end of the story.

And it’s not the end of your story too. It is true that all Christians follow in Christ’s footsteps of suffering (1 Peter 2:21). But we also know that “the suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glories which will be revealed to us!” (Romans 8:18).

So although your current situation may seem pretty pathetic, all is not lost. Just as God was working through the small community of Zechariah’s day, He can also work through you. Even if you are laboring under the strain of suffering, you have a more glorious future awaiting you than you can even imagine. It will be glorious that you won’t even remember the pain. That’s a hope worth holding on to.






[1] I think the vision makes clear that the wall of fire is not to be taken literally because Jerusalem is described as being inhabited “without walls”  (2:4, NASB). The New Living Translation obscures the meaning of this important phrase. Thus, if the walls of fire were to be taken literally, the author would be implying that Jerusalem doesn’t have walls, but has walls!  I don’t think that in the new Jerusalem that people will have to make it through a literal wall of fire in order to enter the city. It’s a symbol for God’s protective presence.

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