THE PROPHECY OF ZECHARIAH AND THE MERCY OF GOD (Part 3)
Jehovah’s “Seventy Years” of Invective Against His People
“So the angel of Jehovah said: “O Jehovah of armies, how long will you withhold your mercy from Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with whom you have been indignant these 70 years?”” (Zechariah 1:12)
In 1513 BCE, God made a covenant with Israel, through Moses, the mediator (Deuteronomy 4:23). From reading the historical biblical books of the Judges, up to 2 Chronicles, it is evident that the 10 tribes of Israel (after the split), and the tribes of Benjamin and Judah, represented by Jerusalem, did not keep this covenant (Zechariah 1:2–6). To the point, that Jehovah, in the prophecy of Ezekiel 23, compared them with two prostitutes: Oholah (Samaria) and Oholibah (Jerusalem) (The entire biblical book of Hosea (Oshea), is a similar description of the Israel’s marital infidelity towards its owner and husband, Jehovah God). In this chapter, Jehovah vividly describes the infidelities of these two nations. Therefore, Jehovah God would use their respective “lovers” to punish them severely: Assyria would destroy Samaria and deport its inhabitants (Oholah). Babylon would do the same with Judah and Jerusalem (Oholibah): they would be destroyed and its inhabitants deported to Babylon for seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11,12). Although coming from the Levant (east), the Babylonian armies are described as coming from the north, which is the easiest route to attack Israel (for Assyria) and Judah (Jerusalem) (Zechariah 2:6; 6: 6.8 (Babylon); 10:8–12 (Assyria)).
The enigma of the myrtles illustrates the desperate situation in which Judah and Jerusalem find themselves: in an abyss comparable to final death. The prophecy of Ezekiel chapter 37 regarding the valley-plain covered with human bones, is another description of the plight of Judah and Jerusalem. However, this prophecy announces the general resurrection of Israel, Judah and Jerusalem, as a nation (Zechariah 9:11–17; 10:8–12). So, given this information, we better understand the meaning of Jehovah’s response in Zechariah 1:13–17: “Jehovah answered the angel who was speaking with me, with kind and comforting words. Then the angel who was speaking with me told me: “Call out, ‘This is what Jehovah of armies says: “I am zealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great zeal. With great indignation I am indignant with the nations that are at ease, because I felt indignant to a small extent, but they added to the calamity.”’ “Therefore this is what Jehovah says: ‘“I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and my own house will be built in her,” declares Jehovah of armies, “and a measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem.”’ “Call out once more and say, ‘This is what Jehovah of armies says: “My cities will again overflow with goodness; and Jehovah will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem”.
While Jehovah applied an extremely painful discipline, the rest of the prophetic account will show how Jehovah God will exercise mercy on His people. Jehovah God announces that He will ask the nations which have caused devastation to his people Judah, Israel and Jerusalem, to render an account for themselves before Him.
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