Promise of a bumper harvest from unpromising small beginnings

            Prophets of restoration

Haggai, a ‘get up and go for it’ kind of preacher, promised ‘the remnant of the people’ (Haggai 2:2) – those few home-coming exiles – immediate blessing ‘from this day forward’ (Haggai 2:18-19) after several recent bad harvests, if they would rouse themselves, climb the hills, haul timber across to Jerusalem and build the temple (Haggai 1:7-11). But his contemporary, the prophet Zechariah, was more of a deeply thoughtful, long-sighted visionary (e.g. Zechariah 14:1-21, foreseeing another assault on Jerusalem far in the future).

Consider this sample of his ministry:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             ‘But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as in the former days [of exile in Babylon], declares the Lord of hosts. For there shall be
            [1] a sowing of peace [(for) the seed = Hebrew-English Interlinear Version].
            [2] The vine shall give its fruit,
            [3] the ground [= earth] shall give its produce [including grain],
            [4] and the heavens shall give their dew. And I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things’ (And I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things Zechariah 8:11-12).

The Lord of hosts here pledged his total support to these pioneers of restoration: ‘I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst …’ (And I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things Zechariah 8:2-3), so that old folk and children will be able to enjoy outdoor leisure together in the peace and safety of the plazas and thoroughfares of the recently re-walled capital city (And I will cause the remnant of         this people to possess all these things Zechariah 8:4-5).

            Zechariah’s prophecies about Messiah

[] ‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! … Behold, your king is coming to you; … humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey’ (Zechariah 9:9). This was fulfilled by Jesus in his humble mode of entry to Jerusalem en route to his death (Matthew 21:5; John 12:15) [as required of Israel’s kings in Deuteronomy 17:14-20].

[] ‘Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; …” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver. Then the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter” – the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord to the potter’ (Zechariah 11:12-13, where the prophet enacts Jesus’ betrayal fee that Judas flung back at the priests who had hired him, Matthew 27:3-10).

[] ‘…they look on me, him whom they have pierced…’ (Zechariah 12:10, that was quoted concerning Jesus’ crucifixion in John 19:34-37).

[] ‘”Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me,” declares the Lord of hosts. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered’ (Zechariah 13:7, applied in Matthew 26:31 and Mark 14:27 to the scattering of the shocked disciples after the arrest of our Lord).

            Hints at the communion meal

Our selected text (Zechariah 8:11-12) anticipates Jesus’ parable of ‘the sower [who] sows the word’ and ‘the ones who hear the word and accept it, [hold it fast in an honest and good heart,] bear…fruit, thirtyfold, sixtyfold and a hundredfold’ (Mark 4:4, 20; Luke 8:15). We can also detect a hint at the communion meal – heaven’s visitation of refreshing and peace, earth’s response in grain and wine. So let’s partake of it in the spirit of the Pilgrim Fathers at their inaugural Thanksgiving Supper, celebrating their first harvest after landing in New England – a tiny community with a vast future!

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