“Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen.” -Zechariah 1: 20, ESV
It is useful to remind ourselves how the Lord always has things well in control. Here were the people, back in Jerusalem with the edict to rebuild the temple and the city walls, the people have floundered in their responsibility, and God reminds the people through Zechariah that help is on the way. The rebuilding of a city is a monumental task and required skill not only in the building but skill in the management of the builders. Looking back at this from modern eyes, we can only cry out to the people, “Hold fast brothers! Nehemiah is on the way!”
Yet, if we satisfy ourselves with Nehemiah and his group as being the ultimate fulfillment of this prophesy, we significantly underestimate God. Nehemiah will come, that is true, but the wall that is ultimately rebuilt hardly provides a permanent defense against their enemies. Soon the Greeks will come. Then the Romans will come. Later, the Romans will sack the city and destroy the temple with it never to be rebuilt again. Today there is an abomination built upon the old temple mount.
Of course this is not the final fulfillment, but it is a partial one. Nehemiah and his group are a reminder to the people that God is still with them and they point to the greater work that God will do in the giving of an eternal temple. The very word of God took on flesh; God the son walked with his people. And oh the craftsmen that God would send out from his son. A dozen apostles would be sent out (11 who were called during his ministry and Paul who was called after his resurrection), four gospels would be written, and the church would blossom, being built up with living stones by these craftsmen and spreading throughout the world. No longer would the horns of oppression scatter the people of God away from their promised land and from their temple, for the Spirit of God would dwell within them.
It is that same Holy Spirit that dwells in us today as the people of God. The God that saved us from our sins on the cross is the same God that pursued us and brought us to faith, and is the same God that pursued Zechariah, showing him such a series of visions. Brethren, this is the master craftsman at work. It is God himself who has ordered all things according to the perfect wisdom of his will that has written the very pages of history. This is the very God that we have come to worship. Oh, what a blessed redeemer! He is the God of ages past, of here and now, and for all the future. Let us rest in him.