Flee to be Free (Zechariah 2:6-13)

With a new year comes a bevy of resolutions to change your life. According to the Bible, change occurs through repentance. Repentance is hard because it means fleeing from the sinful things you love. It means laying down the idols of power, approval and control. But with repentance comes the blessing of freedom. Freedom from slavery to sin. Freedom from God’s judgment.

In Zechariah 2, God commands the exiles to come out Babylon. Coming out of Babylon leads to blessing, for Babylon will be judged and God’s people will be restored.

Zechariah 2:6-13

[6] The Lord says, “Come away! Flee from Babylon in the land of the north, for I have scattered you to the four winds. [7] Come away, people of Zion, you who are exiled in Babylon!”

[8] After a period of glory, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies sent me against the nations who plundered you. For he said, “Anyone who harms you harms my most precious possession. [9] I will raise my fist to crush them, and their own slaves will plunder them.” Then you will know that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has sent me.

[10] The Lord says, “Shout and rejoice, O beautiful Jerusalem, for I am coming to live among you. [11] Many nations will join themselves to the Lord on that day, and they, too, will be my people. I will live among you, and you will know that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies sent me to you. [12] The land of Judah will be the Lord’s special possession in the holy land, and he will once again choose Jerusalem to be his own city. [13] Be silent before the Lord, all humanity, for he is springing into action from his holy dwelling.”

What does the vision mean?

The whole vision is wrought with difficult parts. For example, does the passage refer only to Zechariah’s day, the future, or a combination of both?

I think that 2:6-7 refer to the future for two reasons. First, the return mentioned here is worldwide in scope: the exiles come from “the four winds” (i.e. the whole world). It is also not surprising that Babylon is used to symbolize the evil world system which opposes God’s people (Revelation 17-18). The second return from exile is greater than the first because it is world-wide in scope. Second, Israel’s exile had two components: physical and spiritual. So although the people returned physically to the land, they still did not return spiritually to the Lord (Hence the command: “Return to Me!” 1:3).

Next, in 2:8, the speaker changes and refers to Zechariah’s day. The speaker is no longer the Lord, but Zechariah. Zechariah explains his ministry. After God revealed His glory to him, God sent him out to prophesy against the nations. God will come in judgment against the pagan nations because of what they have done to Israel (1:9).

After a message of judgment against the nations, Zechariah records a word of future hope for Israel. God is coming to them! When God comes, “many nations will join themselves to the Lord on that day, and they, too, will be my people” (1:10). Alongside the incorporation of the Gentiles in God’s people, God’s glory returns to the land (1:11-12).

Finally, everyone is commanded to be silent before the Lord, because of His great work (1:13).

When will these things be?

It’s important that biblical prophecy is not abstracted from the person and work of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, both Jesus’ cross and second coming are part of His work. So not every prophecy points to His first coming, but some point to His end of the age return. In many cases, both aspects of His work—Jesus’ first and second coming—are in view due to the already/not yet nature of God’s kingdom. In other words, some prophecies have a beginning fulfillment in Jesus’ first coming, with a climactic second fulfillment at His second coming.

It is probably that case here. Jesus came to the earth and dwelt among us (John 1:14). After Jesus’ ascension, through the preaching on Pentecost, many nations joined themselves to the Lord (Acts 2:41). The restoration of God’s people begins through the death and resurrection of Jesus. He is forming a restored Israel, which first begins with Jews and Gentiles turning in faith to the Messiah, and is later culminated in Israel (as a nation) coming to Christ which in turn triggers even more Gentiles being included in God’s people (Romans 11:11-15).

So what does this mean for me?

Zechariah 2 is a call to you for repentance. It is a call to “flee from Babylon,” the evil world system which ensnares all of us to some degree. What do you love more than Jesus? Is it power? Do you need to be right all the right? Do you always need to get your way? Is it approval? Are you workaholic because need someone to validate you? Is it comfort? Do you try to achieve comfort at all cost, even getting mad when you are inconvenienced?

Release your idols and come to Jesus this year. He will give you the freedom you long for.

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