We spend the whole of Christmas week hearing Zechariah, and particularly the visions of the prophet. Visualize as we read, as if it were a multi-media show between your ears. The actual high priest and governor are in the show, alongside the angels, and so far that’s not a big reach from earlier scripture concepts of divine messenger or intermediary. Zechariah goes much further!
We place Zechariah’s scroll in a context Babylon empire replaced by Persian empire. Imagine Iraqi, then Iranian dominance not only military and political, economic and bureaucratic, but also cultural. Egyptian pharaohs claimed divine status, but this Zoroastrian worldview has a fully populated enchanted universe. Just as we refer to ‘Mother Nature’, Hebrew people adopt the diction of ‘gods’.
What is conveyed by this ‘multi-media show’? This is a discourse about things ‘bigger than me, and smaller than God’, and how those transpersonal entities and realities interact, and how humans respond. Whatever specific narratives are played out on this stage, including Zechariah’s vision – we are introduced to a theatre we will revisit right through our gospels to the Revelation to John.
I invite you all you all to join me this afternoon at the Apollo Cinema under my garret, for the 4:30pm viewing of ‘Anna and the Apocalypse’, a zombie Christmas musical movie. Zombies, along with the Marvel universe ruling the big screen these days, inform and express the culturally dominant culture, and I don’t need to ‘believe in zombies or superheroes to join the conversation!
Monday, high priest Joshua faces the ‘angel of the Lord’ with Satan the accuser, and the event of setting a cornerstone for the Second Temple is put in cosmic context.
Tuesday, Zechariah is wakened to a vision of a lampstand and a pair of olive trees, including governor Zerubabbel in this cosmic context, as the civil authority during the reconstruction of the temple.
Wednesday, look up and see a flying scroll, with a message (and threat) for each and all of us about personal alignment with God – and a big basket containing Wickedness (visualized as a woman) being flown away to Shinar, far from us.
Thursday, the second half of this week begins with a vision of 4 chariots, each with a team of horses of a distinct colour, patrolling the world, and continues with an appeal to big name patrons among the returnees to sponsor key costs related to the crown and the temple.
Friday, it’s Chislev, (late November to mid-December) and agents from Bethel come to Jerusalem to ask for advice on how to observe the holy days, in penitence or celebration, but Zechariah turns them to an ethical focus.
Saturday, the promise is elaborated, with conclusions about how to practice religion in a more balanced response to the emissaries from Bethel, the competing northern shrine of the remnant.
Enjoy the show, whenever you find or make some time this Christmas week, or in the coming year(s) – people visit these posts on their own time.