Summary: thinking outside the box, or outside the wall.
A City Without Walls: Zech 2
July 20, 2008
Here is a simple little puzzle to get you thinking: can you draw a continuous line through each of these nine dots in only four strokes (straight lines only)? (solution is at the end)
O O O
O O O
O O O
This is the classic little puzzle designed to help people see the need to think “outside of the box”. Most can’t do it, because we see the outside dots as edges, limits, and so don’t extend the line past those limits. The puzzle was first published in 1914, and then resurrected in the 1960s and 70s by management consultants who wanted to help their clients get creative with the problems they faced, and find new ways to look at and thus solve those problems. (http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/think-outside-the-box.html)
Zech 2: (NIV)
Our study in Zechariah brings us this week to chapter 2, and we are going to see a 5th Century BC example of the need to think “outside the box”; or perhaps “outside the walls…”. There are three parts to this chapter. First is Zechariah’s vision (vs. 1- 5). Then there are two prophecies – one in vs. 6-9, and one in vs. 10-13. We’ll read the whole chapter, but I’m going to focus on the vision in vs. 1-5.
Today I’m using the NIV text, not the same one as our pew Bibles so please follow along on the screen:
Zech 2 (NIV):
1 Then I looked up—and there before me was a man with a measuring line in his hand! 2 I asked, "Where are you going?"
He answered me, "To measure Jerusalem, to find out how wide and how long it is."
3 Then the angel who was speaking to me left, and another angel came to meet him 4 and said to him: "Run, tell that young man, ’Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of men and livestock in it. 5 And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the LORD, ’and I will be its glory within.’
6 "Come! Come! Flee from the land of the north," declares the LORD, "for I have scattered you to the four winds of heaven," declares the LORD.
7 "Come, O Zion! Escape, you who live in the Daughter of Babylon!" 8 For this is what the LORD Almighty says: "After he has honored me and has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye- 9 I will surely raise my hand against them so that their slaves will plunder them. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me.
10 "Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you," declares the LORD. 11 "Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you. 12 The LORD will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem. 13 Be still before the LORD, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling."
The Vision (vs. 1-5):
This is Zechariah’s third vision, and like the one’s previous there is a “rebuilding” theme to the vision. Remember the setting – the city of Jerusalem, including the incredible temple built be King Solomon 400 yrs earlier, had been destroyed and the Israelites carried away into slavery. But now they have come home, and begun the work of rebuilding their nation. Earlier in Chapter one we read, “16Therefore, this is what the Lord says: I have returned to show mercy to Jerusalem. My Temple will be rebuilt, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, and measurements will be taken for the reconstruction of Jerusalem.”
And so the vision begins, and Zechariah sees a young man getting to work. He has a measuring line in his hand, and he is off to measure the city, presumably so that they can get started on the re-design and rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem. And this makes perfect sense to us, and probably to Zechariah also. It is a good place to begin, seems like a very energetic and obedient young man who is just doing the first thing that needs to be done – measuring the city so that construction can begin. But he is interrupted… “Run, tell that young man, ‘Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of men and livestock in it. 5 And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will be its glory within.’”
Now, to really understand the idea here we need to remember the times. A city without walls, especially one on a major trading route like Jerusalem, was just begging to be captured. There would be no security, no safety, no refuge, no way to repel invaders or thieves. Really, there would be no control for the people who lived there. The walls of the city were the safety net, the way to keep out people you didn’t want in, the way to maintain control over who could come and who could go.