As human beings attempt to achieve, they build up themselves at the expense of others. They build cities full of corruption to protect themselves by their own power. They take land from others, imagining it to be their own. They strike at their enemies to establish their glory.
The Lord can only end this cycle if he establishes his own people in his own city in his own land. Thus he called the final remnant of the people – Israelite and non- – to come back to the land. If someone tried to prevent them, then they would pay the consequences. The Lord called his new people into his new city — and neither people nor city would be limited by human institutions.
Jerusalem not constructed by humans
The newest “version” of Jerusalem cannot be constructed by humans–only by the Lord (vv. 1-5 [5-9]; the verse numbers in brackets refer to the reference in the Jewish Bible). In another vision, Zechariah saw a mason, ready to measure and rebuild Jerusalem. One angel raced to the one speaking to Zechariah imploring, “Go and tell that man!” The mason did not understand the plan.
The city would not be built. The city would remain as the pasture land with no limit. It would teem with life such that no walls could contain it. As for protection, the Lord himself would protect the city as a wall of fire. Recalling the unconsumed burning bush of Moses, and the flame of fire that led the people through the wilderness by night, and the purifying flame of the blacksmith, the Lord manifested his protection through flame. Nothing could limit the prosperity of this city, and no enemy could take away from it. Significantly, no human–only the Lord–could build such a city.
All nations should come to the Lord’s city
The Lord implored all to come to dwell in his city. Even though the Lord sent Zion into Babylon, he invited them back to the land (vv. 6-9 [10-13]). The Lord would protect them along the way. He would reverse the previous order, and anyone who would profit from Zion’s weakness would only hurt themselves (literally, their own “eye”). The previous cycle of defeat and captivity would end.
Not only did the Lord invite Zion, but also the nations, to the city (vv. 10-13 [14-17]). In the previous passage, Zion was lifted up again, at the expense of the nations. At first, we might see a continuation of the teeter-totter of being lifted up and brought back that the Lord has affected throughout the Book of the XII. Immediately, though, the Lord invited the nations to come and be lifted up. The Lord would come to dwell in the midst of the city, but he would be bringing the nations who were “bound” to the Lord. Significantly, they would not come as second-class citizens but as the Lord’s people. As the Lord promised way back in the beginning of the Book of the XII (Hosea 1), the Lord would make his people out of those who are not his people. Once this occurred, he chose Judah as his land again (v. 16 ). This creation of a people out of no people silenced all flesh and demonstrated the Lord’s glory: the ability to make something out of nothing.
The Lord without limits
Only the Lord can construct the heavenly, eternal, eschatological dwelling. The Lord invited his people out of exile. As the nations attached themselves to him, they would come to dwell in the city as he came to dwell there. He would live in a city that only he could build, with a people that only he could create or conceive. As we saw in Zephaniah the humble of all nations would become the people of the Lord; in Haggai that the temple could only be built by the Lord’s prompting. Here the city of the Lord could only be built by the Lord. The people of the Lord would come from all nations with no other affiliation besides him. This new phase of history and creation silenced all flesh.