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Fine and dandy

“’In that day each of you will invite your neighbour to sit under your vine and fig tree,’ declares the LORD Almighty.” Zechariah 3.10

On this World Refugee Day it seems fitting to be considering a text which was addressed to a community of refugees who were engaged in rebuilding their homeland - albeit two and a half thousand years ago! But that is the enduring appeal, relevance and inspiration of the Holy Bible: it speaks specifically in its original historical context, yet its message resonates with eternal significance so that it speaks with the same authority in any age.

After a brief exhortatory introduction, the prophet Zechariah describes 8 night visions, the first four of which speak words of encouragement to the embattled Israelites who are struggling to rebuild Jerusalem, despite the best efforts to thwart them by their hostile neighbours, themselves refugees who have been resettled in what used to be the northern kingdom around Samaria.

In the first vision, concerning a horseman among myrtle trees, God expresses his indignation at the complacency of Judah's enemies and his positive intention to restore his people's fortunes. The next vision foretells the mutual destruction of these enemies, represented by 4 horns and 4 craftsmen. In the third vision a man with a measuring line confirms that God's intentions go so far as to his sojourning among his chosen people - a clear nod towards his coming in Jesus. Finally, the high-priest Joshua, is reclothed out of filthy rags into pristine garments as a sign of God's commitment to purging all sin from his domain, which we refer to as The Kingdom of God - less a geographical entity, more a reference to everywhere that God's authority holds sway.

We are left with the beguiling image at the top of the page: every person able to offer hospitality under the shade of their own vine/ fig tree.



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