Michelangelo's Zechariah

Michelangelo's Zechariah

While there is no specific text which describes creation in Zechariah, there are several locations where the writer alludes to the Creative God, or assumes God’s status as creator as a basis for judgment. To say it another way, there is no outright creation story in Zechariah, yet there are adverbs and adjectives which describe God as creator in some fashion.

The text of Zechariah 12 illustrates the point: Verse one says, “The burden of the word of the LORD concerning Israel. Thus declares the LORD who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him”. This shows that during the 2nd temple period of Zechariah, God was thought to have created the earth, and the language to describe that act occurs here in anthropomorphic terms.

One might even say that verse four alludes to God as creator: “”In that day,” declares the LORD, “I will strike every horse with bewilderment and his rider with madness. But I will watch over the house of Judah, while I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness.” I say this because God has power over animals – not just human power – but the power to affect animals with afflictions which do not seem natural.

The basis for the right to judge the remnant of Israel in Zechariah 12:1-9 is that God has created the world, and is in charge of it – as well as the conduct of its inhabitants. As the Creator, God cares how humans act and has the power to respond in judgment with a power unique to the Creator.

Then, in chapter 14:3-5, God is portrayed as having the power to move mountains and cause earthquakes in the renewal of creation. So, the role of creator carries over into the apocalyptic new creation for Jews during the 2nd temple period.

Additionally, the basis for the judgment of the nations in Zech 1:14-15 and 8:2 is not some covenant with those people, but the fact that God is creator… In 8:12 and 9:17 God promises that in the new creative order things (plants, ecosystems) will function the way they were intended to, to benefit humanity.

I hope to work this out further in a paper this semester.

I am indebted to Terence Fretheim’s God and World in the Old Testament for this idea. The scripture quotations are from the NASB.

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