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A Prophet’s Visions

Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said he was standing in grove of trees in western New York State when God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him. From this vision, Smith taught that God the Father had a physical body and that the Mormon religion was the only path to salvation.

What are we to make of someone’s claim to have received a vision from God? One important test is if such a vision is consistent with the divinely revealed truth of the Bible. Joseph Smith’s vision was not, but the prophet Zechariah’s visions are consistent with the revelation given by God. In the Minor Prophets, sometimes these visions foretold catastrophic judgment; at other times (as in Zechariah), these visions illustrated a future redemption.

The first of Zechariah’s visions is a man among myrtle trees: God will return to Jerusalem and dwell with His people (1:8–17). The second describes four horns and four craftsmen: God will punish those responsible for Israel’s exile (1:18–21). The third depicts a man with a measuring line: Jerusalem will be restored (2:1–13). The fourth describes the new priestly vestments given to Joshua, the high priest: God will forgive sin (3:1–10). The fifth envisions a golden lampstand and two olive trees: God will restore Joshua and Zerubbabel to their respective positions, and temple construction will be completed (4:1–14).

One of the symbols from Zechariah’s vision—the clean garments offered to Joshua as proof of his spiritual redemption—has a long history throughout Scripture, including in the story of Joseph (Genesis 37:3, 23); in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:22), and in the story of Jesus Christ (John 13:4).

Apply the Word

All our righteous acts, done apart from God, are like filthy rags (see Isa. 64:6). But when we trust in Jesus, we are given His robe of righteousness. Let this be your prayer of praise today: “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness” (Isa. 61:10).

BY Jennifer Michel

Jen Pollock Michel is a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog. Her first book, Teach us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith, is published by InterVarsity Press. Jen earned her BA in French from Wheaton College and her MA in Literature from Northwestern University. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and five children, and serves on staff at Grace Toronto Church.

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