Then I raised my eyes and looked, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand. So I said, “Where are you going?” And he said to me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length.” And there was the angel who talked with me, going out; and another angel was coming out to meet him, who said to him, “Run, speak to this young man, saying: ‘Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls, because of the multitude of men and livestock in it. For I,’ says the Lord, ‘will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’ ” “Up, up! Flee from the land of the north,” says the Lord; “for I have spread you abroad like the four winds of heaven,” says the Lord. “Up, Zion! Escape, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon.” For thus says the Lord of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me. “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” says the Lord. “Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you. And the Lord will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for He is aroused from His holy habitation!” (Zechariah 2)
The Apple Of His Eye
Jerusalem is a city of despair as its ruins herald the great destruction brought upon it more than eighty years before. A remnant has returned from bondage and the effort to restore the Temple is half completed. The city is a place of despair. Walls that once glistened in the Palestinian sunlight are broken and gates that protected the citizens of Jerusalem lay burned. Rebuilding the Temple is becoming a hard and difficult task with oppression, persecution and apathy. Haggai the prophet has been preaching his fiery sermons of renewal to get the people back on task. Zechariah is also exhorting the builders to return to the important work of restoring the glory of the holy city. His appeal is to the hearts of the people. He wants to remind them of their love for God and how the Lord has delivered them.
Times of renewal call for harsh words of rebuke. It is also important to know the reasons why the work of the Lord is so important. The book of Zechariah is filled with visions showing the mercy of God upon the people. They have been punished with captivity to a foreign land but those days are over. God’s wrath does not remain forever. He is a God of love and compassion and forgiveness. In this second vision of the message the prophet reminds the people that although the walls of Jerusalem lie in ruin the Lord is a wall of fire all around them and He is in their midst. When the people returned to Jerusalem the walls were not built first as would seem logical. The holy temple of God was built first so the people could invoke the spiritual protection of the Lord. Walls of stone and mortar would come later under the leadership of Nehemiah. Today God is the wall of fire all around her.
The reason the people have returned to Jerusalem is because of the mighty power of the Lord. He, and only He, made this possible. While the earlier prophets warned the people that if they did not repent, the Lord would carry them away to a foreign land; the prophets of the post-exile were reminding the people the anger of God does not last forever. Zechariah is appealing to the heart of Jerusalem and telling them that all those who would come against the children of Abraham are inflicting harm upon the apple of God’s eye. This expression appeals to the words of Moses and David as they wrote about God’s people being so precious in His eyes. You hurt Jerusalem – you hurt the Lord. Terms of endearment express the love God has for His people. In the midst of ruin the city of Jerusalem would sing again. The Lord will dwell with His people again and bless them with His presence. God’s love is true and sure.
God’s people are precious in His eye. His care for them is without description. The manner of His love for the people of Israel is defining the character of God for those who follow Him in righteousness. As people of God, we are the apple of His eye. We are so precious to Him because of our love for Him. Like Israel, we struggle with our faith and often fail in our obedience. The Lord is a God of mercy, truth, love and forgiveness. His anger does not last when we return to Him seeking His grace. The story of the children of Israel throughout the Old Testament is a story of our lives. It also describes the love God has for us even when we sin. Saints of God are the apple of His eye. Wearing the name of Christ in the walk of a Christian declares that we are the precious of God. We are separate from the world as holy children of God who can cry out, ‘Abba Father.’ Eternal life is a promise given to the apple of His eye alone. We walk in the light and know that one day we will dwell in the light. We can sing and rejoice because we are saved. Heaven is not a mystical maybe – it is a reality of truth.
When we worship the King, the Lord of hosts, we should remind ourselves of who we are. Being the apple of His eye was made possible through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. By grace we are saved and through the death of Jesus can stand among the ruins of this world and behold the temple of God that awaits us in glory when the Father will embrace us eternally. We are His own special people. How wonderful to be God’s child.
Love is the greatest thing that God can give us; for Himself is love; and it is the greatest thing we can give to God. (Jeremy Taylor, Holy Living, 1650)