Photo credit to someone on the internet.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts; ‘In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, ‘We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.’” Zechariah 8:23
Imagine that. Imagine looking at someone and thinking, “Wow! God is with them. Just look at their life.” I know people that I look at and see that. Their life just exudes that You are with them. And it’s not because everything in their life is always going wonderfully. It’s something different. It’s like in the verses in this chapter that talk about the old men and women and boys and girls dwelling in the streets of the city again. It’s about dwelling or living in You in contentment and safety. It’s about being brought into the midst of You. It’s about being Yours and You being theirs. It’s about truth and righteousness. It’s about prospering in You and bearing Your fruit like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It’s about receiving Your provision and Your goodness. And it’s reflected in how we speak truth and treat others in truth and peace and fair judgment. It’s reflected in how we don’t want to treat others wrongly, or lie. It’s in joy and gladness and celebration because of who You are and what You do. And others see this and are drawn to know You in their lives.
So this is what You were telling Israel that You would do with them. You wanted to do it already but they had chosen another way. And now You wanted to give them a flavor of what it tasted like and felt like to be a light to each other and the Gentiles again. But You also wanted them to know that they were to be a part of the building of an even larger kingdom than themselves.
Those who are not of Israel, must not lose sight of Your vision, Lord. Because You still have a plan for Israel to be Your light. And Israel is our light through the Jewish Messiah, Jesus, who lived and died and rose again for Jew and Gentile to be reunited in You and to You. But You have not forgotten Israel, Lord, and neither should we. Maybe if the Gentile community of believers focussed more on the heart of Your word in all of Scripture instead of following “church history” we might have the kind of relationship with our Jewish brothers and sisters that would help them to see the Messiah. And maybe we would be part of helping them to fulfill this vision as they are drawn back to You when they see others with a living relationship with You. What if they became jealous for a relationship with the Holy One like that?
Paul was a “Jew of Jews.” It took a “knock you off your donkey and blind you” experience for him to stop and rethink and see Jesus. Paul knew what it was to be wholly Jewish. As a matter of fact, he never stopped being Jewish. But listen to what he said about his Jewish brothers and sisters who did not know or accept Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God. “So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.” Some Jews believed, but not the majority. You, Lord, had already implemented a plan before time began and that was to use Gentiles to minister back to those who had ministered to them. Why? So that, “in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them,” said Paul. Why would any one want someone else to receive Your love and care, more than us? We looked on and saw that love and wanted it for our own. Are we demonstrating that kind of love that was shown to us so that they would want it for their own and miss it in their lives?
Listen. The Lord of hosts wants to take Israel, and have people of every nation taking hold of the robe of a Jew and wanting to go with them, together, to the God that is with them. Why? To worship together. But look at that idea of grabbing the skirt or robe of the Jew because if we stop to look back to what this is really saying in the original language, it’s beautiful.
The word for skirt or robe here is kanaph. It means an edge or extremity, especially like that of a bird or army, like a wing. It is also used as the word for the tzit tzit on the edge of the men’s shirts/robes in those days. They are still used today on Jewish men’s shirts. So a kanaph has to do with the outer edge or corners of this cover, or shirt. And as I said, it could be used for bird wings, or wings of other heavenly creatures. Metaphorically, it could be used for God’s protective covering. Could this tie in with the Messiah? Listen to Jesus’ words to Israel, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which kills the prophets, and stones them that are sent unto you; how often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen does gather her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Luke 13:34)
So could this grabbing on have to do with the “wings” of this garment on the Jew and grabbing on to Your protection, Lord? Kanaph isn’t just about a garment or skirt. Canapé is about that specific part, that part attached to the corners. That’s where the tzitzit comes in. It’s the ritual knotted fringe worn on the edges of the prayer shawl. It represents Your word, the Torah. Remember that woman with the bleeding issue all those years? Remember how she grabbed the hem of Jesus’ robe? She was doing the same things these people from other nations would be doing. I suppose she was setting an example for those in the future or maybe she just understood. Why did she do that? Maybe she understood that one could find “healing in the ‘wings’” of Jesus, of Yeshua. So maybe what You are saying through Zechariah is that the nations will grasp Your word, even that of the Torah, the Old Testament, and join in it’s righteousness with the Jews. Why? Because they’ll see God in them.
God’s vision has already started. God was bringing it to pass when Naman took hold of his little Jewish slave girl’s advice and came to Israel for healing in the Lord. The woman at the well took hold of it when she heard the words of Jesus at the well. There’s no way any of us can come, Jew or Gentile, without taking hold of the wings of that Jewish carpenter who is the Messiah. Either we come under the protection of His wings and enter into His life by living in His Word or we live outside of any true protection.
And although Jesus is the Ultimate One we must cling to, I still believe that You, Lord, have a heart for Your people Israel to shine Your light in Jesus Christ throughout this world again for all to see. So I pray that You would make me a light to them, to those who haven’t seen You yet, that I might see You as You really are all throughout Your Word, because You are the Word, in order that they might be able to see You where they haven’t seen You before. It’s not that there is anything wrong with being Jewish or practicing Judaism. It’s a vision problem. It’s a matter of whether one sees the wings of the One who has always been there to protect and be theirs. It’s a matter of abiding under the Mother Hen’s wings and seeing things Her way or just following the traditions of our fathers. And the fact is, today is no different than the days of Zechariah and we can get lost in traditions of men. And we can follow traditions of God without understanding the heart of it, or His heart. But what a joy it would be for Jew and Gentile to grab hold of each other’s hands and run together to the city of God with nothing but rejoicing and gratitude and worship and love in our hearts. Lord, Your will be done, and may I be a part of that and may Israel rise up to it’s calling.