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A vision of peace

This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.” Zechariah 8. 4-5

Chapters 7 and 8 of Zechariah have to do with the new community which God is establishing through governor Zerubbabel and high-priest Joshua. It is epitomised in verses 4 and 5 of chapter 8 (quoted above), which expresses what the Hebrew word shalom is all about. We translate it as peace yet it is about more than simply the absence of violence; rather shalom is suggestive of life in all its fullness and goodness: old and young living in prosperous harmony together, with a deep and generous sense of gratitude and joy.

This quality of life is a gift of God and does not happen by accident. In chapter 7 God lays the foundations by insisting, through his prophet Zechariah, that faith must be more than empty ritual or outward appearance. So rather than ceremonial fasting, 4 tests are to applied to confirm faithful living: justice for all, mutual compassion and mercy, provision for all in need including refugees, mutual respect.

How would our own society, church community, family life measure up? Interestingly, faith in God does not feature in God's own measure. And that is because God is addressing the Church/ community of faith. In other words, we cannot expect society to behave according to biblical standards, at least until God's own people - the Church - are setting an example. That is what it means to be "salt and light". We do not need another Zechariah. We need to familiarise ourselves with the words of the original prophet of that name and his anticipation of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, who will guide us into all truth and empower us to reach that lofty objective with all its blessings...



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