Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Nov 20 2019 - Zechariah 2 – A measuring line

This short chapter describes a vision in which Zechariah saw a man with a measuring line in his hand who was on his way, "To measure Jerusalem, to find out how wide and how long it is" (v. 2). This picks up the promise we read of in 1:16 where the Lord said, "I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem." What Zechariah sees are preparations for the rebuilding of the city.

But then Zechariah is told to run after the man with the measuring line and tell him that the Lord declares, "Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of people and animals in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it … and I will be its glory within" (vv. 4-5). The city is going to be larger and more glorious than it had ever been before. It will need to be without walls or limits because of all the people it will need to contain; and not just people for it will also embrace the animals that God has created – as in Eden, they too will enjoy dwelling in the presence of God. It will need no walls because God's presence will be its security, and walls of salvation will surround it (compare Isaiah 60:18-20). The city will be glorious because God himself will dwell there in glory.

The prophecy then calls not only for the Israelites to return from the nations where they have been scattered but also declares that people of many other nations will come to be joined to the Lord and his people (v. 11). The vision ends with the call for all mankind to be still before the Lord and to gaze in wonder at what he is now about to do.

This vision finds an echo in the Book of Revelation (as well as parallels in the prophecy of Ezekiel). In Revelation 21, John is given a vision of a new heaven and a new earth and of:

… the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling-place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. (Revelation 21:2-3)

The angel who shows John this vision has a measuring rod with which to measure the city. It is in the form of a cube (resembling the holy of holies in the temple – the place of God's dwelling), and is truly immense – about 1,400 miles long and wide and high. Though this city has walls, yet its gates are never shut. It is so filled with the glory of God's presence that it needs no other light and never knows the darkness of night. "The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendour into it… The glory and honour of the nations will be brought into it" (21:24,26).

Zechariah's vision and prophecy again point beyond anything that was realised in the life of the Jewish nation; they point forward to the Lord Jesus and to the "City of God" that, by virtue of his death, resurrection and ascension, he is populating. It will be the home of people from every nation under heaven yet they will all have this one thing in common, their "names are written in the Lamb’s book of life" (Revelation 21:27); they will all have been redeemed and made the people of God through the shed blood of the Lamb (see Revelation 5:9; 7:9).

Let me pick up one further phrase from this chapter. The Lord says that whoever touches his people, "touches the apple of his eye" (v. 8). This phrase owes its origin to the fact that if you look closely at someone else, their reflection is seen in the centre of your eye, in your pupil. They are the apple of your eye. The living God says his people are the apple of his eye; he always has them in his vision and looks upon them with a loving gaze. He delights in us and calls us to delight in him.

Father God, we stand amazed at the depth and extent of your great love for us shown in the Lord Jesus. As we rejoice in our salvation and long for its consummation in the new creation that will appear at Christ's coming, help us to tell others that the doors of your kingdom are opened wide and that you long for them also to come in.

Peter Misselbrook