Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

Zechariah 2:11-12 The holy land

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, June 27, 2022

11 “Many nations will be joined with the LORD
  in that day
  and will be my people.
  I will dwell among you
  and you will know that the LORD of hosts
  has sent me to you.

“In that day” in this verse has two meanings. The first meaning deals with the specific day of Christ’s return, which the New Testament calls the parousia or “coming” (Matthew 24:3). Then it will be too late for anyone’s sudden conversion. This is Christ’s own teaching, for on Judgment day there will no longer be room for repentance or forgiveness, but “the door will be closed” (Matthew 25:10). But on that day it will be clear to everyone that “many nations” have been joined to the Lord and are counted among his people. This does not mean that entire nations are saved on account of their social, political, or family ties, as if all Norwegians will be saved on account of their being Norwegian. It means that Gentiles (including many Norwegians, to continue my example) will be saved because they came to faith in Christ when the Gospel was offered to them. In this sense, “in that day” can refer to the day of Christ’s return for judgment.

Second, “in that day” can also refer in general to the end times or last “days,” which according to Acts 2:17 is the whole time of the New Testament. Peter uses the term with the plural “days” in his second letter when he says: “in the last days scoffers will come” (2 Peter 3:3). Throughout the New Testament era more and more Gentiles and pagans have been turned to faith in Christ, first through the preaching of Peter and Paul. “Some time ago God made a choice among you,” Peter said, “that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe” (Acts 15:7). This continued through the missionary work of Paul and ever since through many throughout the world. So Jesus says, “I will dwell among you,” which takes place through the means of grace, the proclamation of the gospel in word and sacrament. By the word of God, people from all nations would and have become inhabitants of the true, spiritual Israel.

12 The LORD will inherit Judah as his portion
  in the holy land
  and will again choose Jerusalem.

The term “holy land” only occurs once or twice in the whole Bible, apart from the Apocrypha. In Psalm 78:54, Asaph recalls that God brought Israel to “his holy (land),” although he uses the word “border,” so either he says “the border of his holy place” or “his holy border,” but I think that the former is correct. It is a reference to the physical land there. Here in Zechariah, “holy land” doesn’t mean Israel the country at all, but the true Israel, the Holy Christian church. In this context, both Judah and Jerusalem can only mean the same thing, as if to say, “Every single individual with faith in Christ will be my true Israel, and I will choose them all to be saved.”

As to God’s choice, we remember Jesus’ words: “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (John 15:16). Jesus refuses to let anyone say that they chose to come to faith in him or belong to him. He condemns those who want to imagine that they can choose him with Isaiah’s words: “They have chosen their own ways, and their souls delight in their abominations” (Isaiah 66:3). The Scriptures demand that we understand that we are chosen by God. He calls us, “the people he chose for his inheritance” (Psalm 33:12). He says, “I chose Israel. I said to them, ‘I am the Lord your God’” (Ezekiel 20:5). And the Apostle Paul says: “The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers” (Acts 13:17); and “He chose us before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (Ephesians 1:4).

The Christian never needs to wonder, “‘Am I good enough for God to choose me? Is my faith strong enough for God to elect me?’ Away with all such questions! They have nothing to do with God’s choice. Your faith is neither your own work nor the result of your own merit nor the consequence of a coincidental birth in a Christian family or near a Christian church. No, it is all God’s arrangement.” This is why we confess in the explanation to the Third Article: “I believe that I cannot by my own thinking or choosing believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him. But the Holy Spirit has called me by the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.”

Zechariah says that the Lord will inherit Judah as his portion. The term “portion” usually means a share in something, such as a share or serving in a banquet (Genesis 43:34), a share or portion of an offering which could be eaten by the worshiper, the priest, or their families (Leviticus 7:35), or a share of a piece of land (Joshua 15:13). Yet there is another way of using this word. Believers refer to the Lord himself as their true portion: “The Lord is my portion,” Jeremiah says, “therefore I will wait for him” (Lamentations 3:24). And here the Lord claims Judah as his portion. So while on earth, in our lifetime, a portion might be an object or a piece of land, but in eternity, we belong to the Lord and he to us (Romans 14:8). This is also what Micah means when he says, “We will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever” (Micah 4:5). Everything we truly need comes from the Lord our God as a gift. He has given us this lifetime to see this in ordinary terms, and in heaven we will experience it purely, fully, and in extraordinary ways. We will be cared for and we will serve him. This is the perfect bloom and flower of our faith, with petals, fragrance and color that will never wilt or fade, forever.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


Browse Devotion Archive