Day: November 3, 2018

The Vision of the Surveyor

Zechariah 2:1-13 

Surveying, GIS, mapping – how to measure: straight-line distance, follow the contours. Results depend on your perspective, tools used for measuring. Keep this in mind: idea of tabula rasa is wrong according to Bible. No one from before birth onward has mind that is totally blank. Means we all approach every subject / situation with some kind of preconception. Is important that preconceived ideas be informed by good input. Of crucial importance… when approaching God’s word, what happens when ideas / beliefs / principles we have and follow don’t correspond with the Bible? Do we allow God’s word to change our perspective?

In third vision prophet Zecharah experienced on that busy night, once again sees something designed to reorient his perspective on the future, in particular what God intended to do. Already know one thing about vision – designed to encourage Zechariah who would then declare what he saw/heard to fellow Jews… for their encouragement.

A. Image  v. 1

man with measuring line

different image of surveyor than what we might expect – are more familiar with surveying as 2-person operation, one with stick, other with transit

not that many years ago other tools were used, e.g. chains with carefully made links of specific dimensions – here, a rope of specific length… made so as not to stretch

in his hand – ready… but not in use – incomplete picture, made necessary for prophet to ask for help to understand – only thing obvious: what kind of professional, what he would be likely to do

B. Question   v. 2a

where are you going?

on the move, enough clues in vision to make this valid question, one we would ask under wide variety of circumstances

sent from… to…

could tell he was purposely headed somewhere – apparent from his demeanor even though origin and destination unknown

could surmise had been sent by someone to do task – who sent him, for what purpose had he been sent – obviously to measure something, but what and why


more than one-word answer would be welcome… and was forthcoming – anyone hearing question would know that, to give barest minimum answer often sign of “attitude”

curiosity on part of questioner rarely limited solely to destination… unless picking up a hitch hiker – most times will readily accept any / all information person is willing to offer

prophet gets start of explanation from surveyor – what he has to say, its significance an encouragement to Zechariah and people

but will see very soon: more to this than meets the eye – a plot twist in store for Zechariah, twist that will significantly change his perspective about what God presently doing, what God intends to do in future

C. Explanation  v. 2b-5


Jerusalem – center of Jewish life: social, religious, political, iow a significant element in functioning of family, church and state

pilgrimage feasts 3 times a year, only authorized location for sacrifice, meeting place for Sanhedrin (court) and home of king

picture of the church – all three institutions certainly affected by God’s comprehensive plan, not all of equal standing: church is foremost (Eph. 5:25)

must admit: if Jerusalem of Zechariah’s day an accurate reflection of church / God’s kingdom, things not looking very good!


surveyor declares intent to measure width / length of the city – first step to establish / re-establish a city, define boundaries

in just minimal response is clear to prophet: God by no means finished with Jerusalem and all it represents – God has a plan and is working his plan, also has a goal or end in view

remember condition of city: Temple would be completed March 12, 515 BC… wall surrounding city not completed until September, 445 BC… seventy years later

which raises question: what was the surveyor going to measure, where would he put in his stakes? marking present footprint of the city? or some other boundaries (larger or smaller)?

plot twist

prophet hardly has time to process information before scene changes – interpreter angel shows up, then another angel

interpreter angel going out to gather more information (perhaps) from surveyor but is met by another divine messenger – did he speak loudly enough for surveyor to hear?

wrong perspective – go tell the prophet he and his people have wrong idea about future of Jerusalem

small, undefended, few people, humble beginnings of replacement temple, wouldn’t have rubble cleared from Babylonian conquest for another 70 years but… that is limited human viewpoint

God envisioned something much different: prosperous well-populated community of people too large to be enclosed by walls

promise (5)

but wait, there’s more: God had (still has) way more in mind for his people than simple return to specific piece of real estate

this is language of covenant… God intends inhabitants of his city to be his people and he will be their God and… will include Gentiles as well as Jews!

God doesn’t intend reconstructed Temple or rebuilt city to be source of pride and glory – God himself will be the glory of his people… something not even dreamed about in modern Jerusalem

NOTE: this promise a general one, indicates God’s attitude toward his people, his enemies – promise includes specific future events, but not limited to them

certainly includes glory of coming Messiah to Jerusalem but not limited to that – looks beyond to glory of Christ in his church

D. Oracle  v. 6-13

warning (6-7)

God’s plan fully comprehensive – intends to bless his people, also to protect them… and vindicate them – show by how he treats their enemies that they are his people

judgment will come – seen already in “rise and fall of nations”, would continue but… recognize hand of God in directing those actions on world stage

side note: God not on sabbatical, is still involved in world affairs… including those of Koreas, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran

comfort (8-9)

don’t forget: God acts, he doesn’t react – all that takes place is part of his eternal plan, designed for his own glory and good of his people – is true whether we grasp details / interconnections or not

God acts for the sake of his own glory – glory of his grace as he cares for his people, glory of his justice in dealing with enemies

glory of his holiness as he makes his people holy; glory of his power in ruling and overruling forces of nations and nature; glory of his truth in bringing understanding / light to minds darkened by sin

each occurrence of God’s acting throughout course of human history skirmishes previewing and promising final battle and victory over sin and Satan and death… and its glorious eternal outcome

God’s people are his special possession – lit. “pupil of his eye”, Hebrew idiom, only here, can be understood with two senses

what is seen there is focus of vision / attention – people of God are ones he is primarily concerned with, focused on, attentive to, acting with regard for

one of most sensitive parts of body, instinctively protected and defended from harm… for good reason – God just as committed to protecting / defending his people

acting on their behalf brings him glory – think about circumstances of Jewish people, Christ’s church through centuries

overpowered by vastly superior numbers / forces, humiliated, marginalized, persecuted and killed – when God pushes back, his glory seen more profoundly than in matters of daily life

response (10-13)

praise – here is ultimate fulfillment of promise to Abraham (Gen. 12:3; 15:5) – salvation extending far beyond Jewish people

worshiping community with God dwelling among / within his people “redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation”  (Rev. 5:9)

worship – praise, yes, and reverent silence because overwhelmed by majestic glory of conquering sovereign Lord of all creation

This glorious Lord carrying out his purpose through the church… the church in the wilderness, the church in Zion, the church of NT period. Church is “pupil of his eye” because God most supremely loves his Son, head of the church and one with his church, his body.

Several take-aways for us: must be sure are measuring right thing with right instrument – Christ’s kingdom from perspective and with standard of God’s word. In all circumstances, remember who we are – God’s people, his special possession with a glorious future.