I am invisible…to myself
Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
This past week I was able to unplug, unwind, and just enjoy some time alone. Throughout the week, while I spent the majority of my time alone in my hotel room, I did venture out occasionally. While out there, I realized that there is a very big difference between myself, and the culture that I have grown up in, and other cultures that are present right here in my own backyard.
Our behaviors are driven by the cultures and norms that we grew up with. When we enter areas or get into groups that have norms that we don’t understand, we tend to interpret those words and actions through the lens of our own culture. The problem with that is that it can lead to misinterpretation of the culture and damaged relationships.
I would like to share an example of this from a business perspective, but understand that this can be seen across countless other “cultural” norms other than business.
In American business, we tend to expect people to say what they mean and take their word at face value. Unfortunately, that cultural norm doesn’t translate across all cultures. If an American manager assumes an Asian counterpart will understand words the same way, that American manager could be in for a rude awakening.
The American manager looked at his Asian counterpart and asked if he understood on how to move forward with a project. The Asian coworker said he understood and agreed with the American coworker on how to move forward. A few months later, however, the American manager realized that his Asian counterpart didn’t agree at all and the project had never moved forward.
In many Asian cultures, harmony is highly valued. It is rude and inappropriate to disagree with people face to face and even more so in the presence of others, such as in a meeting. So typically, an Asian person may nod and say “yes” but it simple acknowledgement that they understood what you said, not necessarily agreement with what you propose.
Many times, the only way to deduce whether someone Asian agrees or disagrees with you is by watching their nonverbal cues. Do they have a pained look on their face as they nod? Don’t expect them to agree with you.
A key takeaway from this is that the American manager should have scheduled a one-on-one meeting with his Asian counterpart and been more aware of his body language. This would have helped him understand that cultural differences between him and his counterpart.
That was only an example taken from a business perspective.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 – For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
But this past week has been very eye-opening to me. Mostly from a perspective of Caucasian versus African-American.
I’ve never subscribed to the political norms of the day. As a Christian, I am supposed to be right-wing, conservative, Republican. I am supposed to be wearing something preppy (I know, a throwback to the 80s) and focused on building my bank account instead of healing the world.
But that isn’t me. I am NOT a Republican (I am also NOT a Democrat). I am not totally conservative. I hold to some traditional conservative values (I am pro-life, for example). But I also hold some traditionally liberal values (I think we should take care of the immigrants in our country, for example).
I base my Christianity from the Bible, not from commentaries or political pundits. I do not ascribe to political Christianity. We don’t live in a post-Christian culture. We have never lived in a Christian culture. Yes, many of our laws are based from the Bible, but we were never a Christian nation. At best, we are a pre-Christian nation.
But, what I realized this week is that even though I don’t ascribe to many of those cultural norms, they are ingrained in my psyche and my actions.
For so long, I held to the fact that I didn’t need to wear a mask. I thought of it politically. Why did I have to do something that various people (both Democrat & Republican) don’t have to do? On the Democratic side, why does Rep. Lewis get a huge funeral attended by hundreds while it is illegal for the average person to get a funeral for their mom or dad. As for the Republicans, why do I have to have my rights trampled on so I can’t meet at church while I can fill up a Walmart or Home Depot with tons of people who barely know how to wear a mask?
I still don’t fear this virus. I have no reason to. I have a God who is bigger than this virus. But what I need to realize is that my culture, the one I ascribe to, is not being targeted. It is not in jeopardy. I can still worship. I can still praise God publicly. I can still have friends over to my house to talk about the Bible openly. And we can, technically, still have church, even if you are in a state like California where they have banned inside services and small groups in houses (they can still meet outside, whether at their houses or at their churches).
Colossians 2:8 – See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
But this week….
I went away to rejuvenate. After doing ministry through this pandemic the past 4-5 months, I realized that I was a little burned out. The sheep have become more in need during this time and we are trying to reach a community for the Gospel that is not just dying spiritually, but now could very well be sick and dying physically!
I went about 3 hours away to southwest VA. In this area there were a lot of people vacationing. There were Caucasian, Asian, and African-American from what I saw.
All of the stores in the area are required to have a sign on their doors that say “MASKS REQUIRED.”
But that didn’t stop people from not following it.
And it wasn’t a cross-section of each population that was not wearing it. It was a single culture that wasn’t wearing masks…mine.
The Asian and African-American people were wearing the masks. Almost 100% of people of those ethnicities were in masks. But the Caucasians were not wearing masks well or at all!
My wife and I met with a salesperson while down there who spits while he talks. He was not masked as he tried to sell us on something. He had spit coming out of his mouth and landing on the table in front of him.
Then, I asked a few people why they weren’t wearing masks in the places they worked and they said, for example:
“I can’t breathe in them” (that was the most common answer…lame excuse! I have asthma and can breathe perfectly through the mask)
“I am not wearing a mask, it violates my rights.”
“Masks don’t save lives. The studies are all lying to us.”
Then, on Thursday, I went to a convenience store. Inside were 3 Caucasian people working and probably about 10-12 Caucasians buying stuff. Absolutely none of them (except me) had a mask on! Also in there were 7-8 African-Americans. They were all masked up.
So I asked them why they were wearing masks. Here are a couple of their responses:
“It is my duty to protect others.”
“The virus affects the black population more than the white population.”
“Masks work to keep us all safe.”
We can learn from so many people from all cultures and ethnicities. But ultimately, what does the Bible say about this?
My wife and I were interviewed om Saturday for a YouTube video that a couple of missionaries we support in Peru were putting together. During the interview, Mimi brought up a verse that I have always enjoyed to share with others, but never put a lot of thought into it.
Philippians 2:3 – Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Now re-read those answers from the people above and see if they fit within Philippians 2:3 context.
So I need to realize that my own culture…even the one I like to say I don’t ascribe to…is invisible to me and I need to start taking Philippians 2:3 as more than just good words of advice to share with others and let it be something that leads my actions and words.
Zechariah 6 Commentary
Zechariah 6 starts with another vision. This is the eighth and final vision. This vision serves as a connector to the first. The horses that are in the first vision are shown in this vision. This vision shows us the quick judgment that comes upon Babylon.
Zechariah 6:1 – Again I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, four chariots came out from between two mountains. And the mountains were mountains of bronze.
Here comes the war. Chariots symbolize war. In the previous vision, the sins went out of Israel (physical and spiritual) and were taken to Babylon. Now that the sin is in the world, God is declaring war on the sin.
The mountains could have a dual meaning. It could be the physical placement of the mountains as many think they are Mount of Olives and Mount Zion. But the Lord calling these mountains of “bronze” or, in some translations, “brass,” means that they hold symbolic meaning as well. Typically we see the color bronze used with strength.
Putting the strength of the mountains together with the chariots and we see both strength and judgment.
The reasoning behind the physical mountains is because it is the actual Kidron Valley. That is the place that Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe will be the place of final judgment.
Zechariah 6:2 – The first chariot had red horses, the second black horses,
The horses, as we will see, match up to the horses seen in Zechariah 1 with one exception. There is the addition of a black horse.
In Zechariah 1 we see that the horses are on reconnaissance. In this, we see that the horses are hooked up to chariots. This means that we are seeing these horses coming in war, not reconnaissance.
These horses are pretty much the same as the horses as in the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Revelation 6:4 – And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.
Then again in Revelation 6:5 – When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand.
The black horse talks about troubled times and famine.
Zechariah 6:3 – the third white horses, and the fourth chariot dappled horses—all of them strong.
White horses are typically peaceful. The dappled horses are typically mixed times of peace and adversity.
At the end of the day, it is God whose plans are made a reality. Man can plan how this world will move forward, but God’s plan is true. It is timeless. And the strength of these horses show that man cannot have an impact on the mission of these horses.
Zechariah 6:4 – Then I answered and said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?”
Again, as we have seen throughout the book, Zechariah is confused and asking for wisdom. This is the wisdom that can only come from God alone.
Zechariah 6:5 – And the angel answered and said to me, “These are going out to the four winds of heaven, after presenting themselves before the Lord of all the earth.
The symbolism here is the four corners of the world. Similar to the four kingdoms in the book of Daniel, these horses go out to the entire world.
These angels are to present themselves before the “Lord of all the earth.” This is the millennial title of Christ.
Zechariah 6:6 – The chariot with the black horses goes toward the north country, the white ones go after them, and the dappled ones go toward the south country.”
Now this is going to get a little deep. If we look directly at the historical significance of these horses in the physical realm, we can match up the horses to different times in history. The red horse, which isn’t mentioned here, has already occurred. The red horse was the time of the Chaldeans. That empire was already gone, so there is no mention of that horse here.
The black horse was Cyrus. He destroyed the Chaldeans and his kingdom is called “the north” in much of Scripture.
The white horse comes after Cyrus, which is Alexander. He was a fairly peaceful ruler. Which makes sense he would get the white horse.
The dappled horses could be the Egyptian rulers which were had some that were peaceful and others that were cruel.
Israel’s enemies came from the north and south. Babylon and Egypt. God is calling the judgment upon those areas.
Zechariah 6:7 – When the strong horses came out, they were impatient to go and patrol the earth. And he said, “Go, patrol the earth.” So they patrolled the earth.
Who are the strong horses? Rome? Could be. It could also be any of the other kingdoms that strived to go well beyond their boundaries such as the Huns or the Goths or the Vandals.
These horses are told to go an walk to and fro through the earth. This means they have subdued the earth so that they can comfortably go through the world.
Zechariah 6:8 – Then he cried to me, “Behold, those who go toward the north country have set my Spirit at rest in the north country.”
This is most likely a millennial statement. God’s spirit of wrath won’t rest until the Messiah is on the throne. This is looking forward to Revelation 17 – 20.
Zechariah 6:9 – And the word of the Lord came to me:
In Scripture, one of the ways that prophets typically close out their visions is by giving focus to God. Zechariah is no different. He said that the Word of the Lord came to him. This is the moment that the topic moves from the vision itself to the word that God is giving Zechariah about the visions.
Zechariah 6:10 – “Take from the exiles Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah, who have arrived from Babylon, and go the same day to the house of Josiah, the son of Zephaniah.
There are a ton of names here. Each of those names have meanings, as did most names from that day. Heldai is one of the exiles who returned from captivity and his name is based off the word cheled which means worldliness. Tobijah is another man from exile and his name means God is my good. Jedaiah is another formerly exiled man and his name means God has known.
Those three former exiles are to go immediately to Josiah. We don’t really know who this person is other than it is at his house they are crowning Joshua.
An interesting thing is that the name Josiah means God saves. While I am not sure it really works like this, these people were exiled in Babylon, in the world (Heldai). But God’s goodness knows what the exiles needed (Tobijah and Jedaiah)….saving from God (Josiah).
Zechariah 6:11 – Take from them silver and gold, and make a crown, and set it on the head of Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest.
It is interesting to note here that when Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 BC, he allowed the Jews to go back to their homeland. When they arrived, they had joint leadership under Zerubbabel and Joshua. Throughout the history of Israel, God has commanded that the civil and the ceremonial leadership should be separate. Zerubbabel maintained the civil law while Joshua maintained the ceremonial.
The question here is why would they be putting a crown on the head of the high priest? This is not a normal thing. The only time we saw the two offices intermingle was in 2 Chronicles with Uzziah and it brought his death to him.
An interesting note is that Joshua is basically the same name as Jesus. This is most definitely a call out to the Messiah Jesus Christ. When Christ comes He will rule completely. This is a foreshadowing of the one to come from the Davidic line, Jesus the Christ.
Zechariah 6:12 – And say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord.
In the next 4 verses, we learn a lot about Jesus Christ. First, we learn the Jesus will come from Israel and that He will build a temple.
While the crown was placed on the head of Joshua, they are calling out the Branch (capitalized), meaning Jesus the Christ.
Mark 14:58 – “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’”
John 2:21 – But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
John 15:5 – I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Zechariah 6:13 – It is he who shall build the temple of the Lord and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule on his throne. And there shall be a priest on his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”’
I am very confused by the various translations of this verse and, although I do most of my work from the ESV, I am not impressed with the translation of this verse in the ESV. Many other versions have the following:
Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”
When you read other translations, it is very easily seen as a singular person who is taking the role of both ruler and priest. When you read the ESV, it seems as though there are two separate people in this role.
As I believe this is a millennial verse that would go along with the others, I have to believe that this, too, is a millennial verse. If it is, then we learn several things about Christ here. First, we see the Lord’s glory. Next we see that He will be both king and priest. And finally in this verse we see that there will be peace.
Zechariah 6:14 – And the crown shall be in the temple of the Lord as a reminder to Helem, Tobijah, Jedaiah, and Hen the son of Zephaniah.
This crown that was given to Joshua is meant to be kept in the temple as a memorial to those who returned from exile.
This is a verse to speak to the faithful in Christ receiving the crown of glory.
The name “Hen” means gracious and is evidently another name for Josiah, who is being gracious himself.
Zechariah 6:15 – “And those who are far off shall come and help to build the temple of the Lord. And you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. And this shall come to pass, if you will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God.”
The next thing we learn about Christ is that God is opening His kingdom to the Gentiles, that we will know that this is from the Lord, and that it requires our obedience.
1 Peter 2:5 – you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:13-22 – But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
I really appreciate you sharing this!