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One summer after a long vacation trip, my five-year-old son Drew recognized the large grain silo that marked the edge of our town. “Hooray!” he cheered. “We are at the end of home!” There is nothing quite like coming home. The Jewish exiles felt a great longing to return to Jerusalem. Not just because it was their home, but also because it was the center of their worship.

Homecoming is one of Zechariah’s great themes. God had not really forgotten His people in exile. The Hebrew word for “scatter” in verse 9 is an agricultural image. Israel’s exiles had been “sown” among the nations. God preserved them as a people and caused them to grow. The promise in verse 10 envisioned a growth so great that the land would not be able to contain it. The scope of these promises extended beyond Zechariah’s lifetime to a greater restoration during the time of the Messiah.

The list of nations is representative rather than exhaustive (v. 10). Egypt was the prototypical land of bondage for God’s people. It was the location of their first great deliverance. The first wave of exile came when the Assyrians invaded the northern kingdom of Israel. The prophet Jeremiah mentioned Gilead in one of his laments over the fall of Jerusalem (Jer. 8:22). The mention of Gilead and Lebanon signaled the restoration of Israel’s land to its original boundaries. This passage speaks of a spiritual restoration as well. Not only will there be a return to the Land of Promise in the last days, but there also will be a great turning to Christ.

God did not forget His people during their exile. When they were cut off from the sanctuary in Jerusalem, God was their sanctuary (Ezek. 11:16). He promised to make a home for them in the distant lands to which they had been sent (Jer. 29:28).

Apply the Word

God has the power to use our times of greatest adversity to make us grow and prosper. He is the master of our circumstances. He also does not confine His presence to a particular location. He is with you, no matter where you go! Whatever situation you find yourself in today, turn to Him. He promises to meet you there.

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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