URC Daily Devotion Tuesday 23rd May 2023

Tuesday 23rd May 2023
 
Zechariah 1:18-21

Then I looked up, and there before me were four horns.  I asked the angel who was speaking to me, “What are these?” He answered me, “These are the horns that scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.” Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen.  I asked, “What are these coming to do?” He answered, “These are the horns that scattered Judah so that no one could raise their head, but the craftsmen have come to terrify them and throw down these horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter its people.”

Reflection

This short vision is about judgment on those who had been responsible for the scattering of God’s people in the past and the downfall of Jerusalem nearly seventy years earlier.  Horns are symbolic of power and frequently represent Israel’s enemies in poetic or visionary texts.  The number four probably signifies totality rather than being a reference to specific nations; but the vision looks back to the downfall of the northern kingdom of Israel to Assyria two hundred years ago, as well as the defeat of Judah by Babylon.  The blacksmiths, skilled artisans, represent God’s agents who will subdue any warring forces and restore God’s sovereign rule. 

The point is being made that God is interested in the past as well as the present and future.  If past wrongs are unresolved, if resentments are allowed to fester, if threatening forces remain unchecked, if justice isn’t administered, there is little likelihood that peaceful co-existence will become a reality.  God is ensuring that the community re-establishing itself in Jerusalem will have the best chance of flourishing alongside its neighbours.
It can be tempting to say ‘let bygones be bygones’ as we focus on plans for the future.  Sometimes we say that we have forgiven whomever hurt us and so the matter can be forgotten.  However, unless the issue’s been addressed by both parties there can be no reconciliation and there will always be the danger that it resurfaces and causes yet more harm.

Churches often suffer because of incidents in the past; and the same can apply in a family or community.  Congregations and communities have long memories and the truth of what happened is often lost, or embellished, over the years.  Is there anything in your past that needs addressing and resolving before you can move forward confidently with those around you?

Prayer 

Eternal God, we pray for communities and nations 
in our world that continue to be destabilized 
by the consequences of historic conflicts;
for churches where divisions of the past 
still haunt attempts to work for unity as Christ’s people; 
for families that remain fractured 
because of problems in a previous generation.
Grant us wisdom to identify the key issues 
and to tackle them, that your kingdom might come.  Amen
 

 

Today’s writer

The Rev’d Dr Janet Tollington is a retired minister living in Cambridgeshire; she is a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge.

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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