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Well, the first thing we can do is to be clear about the nature of prophecy. Prophecy is not, as one Anglican Bishop once suggested, the history of events before they happen. Itís no use picking up an OT prophecy and expecting to read in it precise predictions of things that were to come. Thatís what some people expect isnít it? A bit like the writings of Nostradamus, with explicit dates included, so weíll get it right. No, OT prophecies donít work like that. Listen to what Peter tells us about the prophets: (1 Pet 1:10-12 NRSV) "Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours made careful search and inquiry, 11inquiring about the person or time that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated when it testified in advance to the sufferings destined for Christ and the subsequent glory. 12It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in regard to the things that have now been announced to you through those who brought you good news by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things into which angels long to look!" They searched for the truth of what they were writing, but couldnít understand it until Christ came. In other words what they were writing contains clues that werenít enough by themselves, but which were given to help us recognise events when they occur, without necessarily being explicit about the details of those events. Not clues like we had in the murder mystery night the other day, mind you, that are designed to make you ooh and ahh when the detective reveals the murderer, but clues that allow us to recognise when God is acting to fulfill his plans.
The second thing to understand when we read the OT is that the key to understanding the OT is the Lord Jesus Christ. As much as we might gain some sort of insight from the OT about the nature of the world and the nature of God, itíll never be quite clear until we come to Jesus Christ, because the OT prophets find their fulfillment in him.
So how do we read something like Zechariah? Well, we look in it for clues that point us forward to Jesus Christ. Sure, Zechariah points us to actual events. He speaks of 30 pieces of silver, of a humble king coming, riding on a donkey, but he also gives us a theological interpretation of these events so we can recognise God at work when he acts decisively in history. What we find here in Zechariah, is the beginning of Godís promises being worked out, but more importantly, a pointer to their fulfilment.
So, for example, God says return to me and I will return to you. Well,
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