Scripture Focus: Zechariah 5.3-4
3 And he said to me, “This is the curse that is going out over the whole land; for according to what it says on one side, every thief will be banished, and according to what it says on the other, everyone who swears falsely will be banished. 4 The Lord Almighty declares, ‘I will send it out, and it will enter the house of the thief and the house of anyone who swears falsely by my name. It will remain in that house and destroy it completely, both its timbers and its stones.’”
Reflection: Defilement, Deconstruction, and Reconstruction
By John Tillman
Many of Zechariah’s visions are about cleansing and rebuilding afresh. Those returning from exile face a destroyed and defiled landscape.
It isn’t so hard for us to imagine something similar today. Millions of people have fled the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the cities and towns left behind have been bombed to rubble in ways not seen since World War II. Not only bombed buildings but mass graves await those who hope to one day return. Destruction and defilement.
Like post-war Europe, much of Jerusalem in Zechariah’s day would have to be reconstructed from the ground up. However, God isn’t only concerned with physical reconstruction. He wants to reconstruct the people’s faith, starting with their hearts.
God is and always has sought to deal with the corruption and defilement of human hearts. The mental, social, and physical damage we cause one another flows from inner corruption. When our cities are wicked, our hearts are the source. When our countryside is corrupt, our hearts are the cause. When Jerusalem and its walls and Temple were destroyed and burned with fire, it was because of their hearts.
As the new community of Jerusalem rebuilt the Temple, their homes, and eventually the wall, God was concerned that no spiritual defilement would be present. Zechariah sees a vision of a flying scroll that represents a curse. This curse will target those whose hearts seek wicked ways of prospering and will destroy their homes.
Zechariah’s “timbers and stones” language echoes some passages about physical molds in Leviticus. (Leviticus 14.35-45) Priests inspected homes with mold. If the mold spread, the first step was to remove only the affected stones. But if the mold returned, the entire house had to be deconstructed, “stones, timbers, and all the plaster,” and removed from the community.
May we never allow ourselves to think we, or our culture, are immune to the rot of sin. In our individual lives, our churches, and the structures of our denominations and nations, we all face defiling influences from our cultures.
Defiling influences have to be fully removed to save existing structures. If small steps do not stop the seeping spread of defilement, more extreme measures are required. Defiled structures must be completely deconstructed and rebuilt.
Cutting out corruption is salvific. Destruction is not God’s goal. Reconstruction is. Take care to deconstruct and destroy only when corruption persists.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; early in the morning I make my appeal and watch for you. — Psalm 5.3
Read more about Treasuring Our Temples
Through the Babylonian destruction, God did not allow the Temple to be defiled. He took the first step to cleanse it.
Read more about What Time is It?
Our time is not so different…We see around us the elements of the song. Love and hate, war and peace, deconstruction and reconstruction…