Christianity 201

August 22, 2020

Take Us To Your Leader

“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: In those days ten men from different nations and languages of the world will clutch at the sleeve of one Jew. And they will say, ‘Please let us walk with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”
-Zechariah 8:23

Over a year ago I copied and pasted this scripture into a devotional draft and then never returned to it. But the verse has been on my mind for quite some time. If we were to carry this principle into the New Testament era, I like the idea of them coming to us; the notion that they (those outside the faith) see something desirable about Christ-followers and want what we have.

Is that the general outlook non-believers have about Christians right now? I’ll leave it to you to check out the Barna Research or Pew Research survey results, but I think you know ahead of time what you’re likely to find.

BibleStudyTools.com quotes John Gill, whose classic commentary takes the Christological approach to this passage and harmonizes the idea of ‘clutching the sleeve’ being parallel to the woman who touched the hem of Christ’s clothing:

…the woman of Samaria knew he was a Jew, ( John 4:9 ) and very probably he wore the fringe the Jews did on the border of his garment.

He continues that ‘going with you’ can mean one of three things,

…either with Christ, resolving to follow him [wherever] he goes; to hold to him the Head; to abide by his truths and ordinances; to walk on in his ways, whatever they suffer for his name’s sake: or with his ministers and people, determining to go along and join with them in all religious exercises…

StudyLight.org quotes another classic commentary from Joseph Benson:

The meaning of the passage, therefore, is, that the heathen should apply themselves to the Christians, particularly to Christian pastors and ministers, for instruction, in order to qualify themselves for admittance into the church.

(The language is interesting in that we rarely hear the unchurched or seekers described as heathen much these days!)

On the forum, Quora.com, a very different answer from reader Ronald Jones. He reads it prophetically, and considering this is Zachariah we’re quoting, it could be argued that this is the only way to read the larger passage where this verse is found:

A time is coming shortly called the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus Christ. This period of time will last 1,000 years, and will come to pass after the rapture and the tribulation.

During this time, Jesus will reign in Jerusalem and the Israelites will be His emissaries. It will be a time of peace where the people of world will love Christ and long to be with Him. So much so, that they will beg the Jew to bring them to Israel so they may worship Him.

But Quora is a forum where anyone can post comments, and while it breaks up the rhythm here perhaps, it’s important to consider the above Christological interpretations of this passage from the view of Moshe Dawid Kohain, a Jew:

This is a prophecy found in the Tanakh. I’m not sure why Christians read the man that they worship into this verse. This verse is telling them and all others that their religions are not true. That Judaism is the only truth.

The Jews in Zechariah 8:23 are the observant Jews. The ten men from nation are the Christians, Mormons, Hindus, Zoroastrians, atheists, non-observant Jews and so on.

(Responses like this are important to keep in mind when discussing prophetic writings in the Hebrew Scriptures with people for whom those texts represent their Bible!)

The Message Bible renders this passage,

A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:

“At that time, ten men speaking a variety of languages will grab the sleeve of one Jew, hold tight, and say, ‘Let us go with you. We’ve heard that God is with you.’”

Bible Hub offers some parallel passages:

This is what the LORD says: “The products of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush, along with the Sabeans, men of stature, will come over to you and will be yours; they will trudge behind you; they will come over in chains and bow down to you. They will confess to you: ‘God is indeed with you, and there is no other; there is no other God.'”
 – Isaiah 45:14

and this New Testament passage:

But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, and the secrets of his heart will be made clear. So he will fall facedown and worship God, proclaiming, “God is truly among you!”
– I Cor 14:24-25

I did mention this passage at the end of an article in March, 2016: We were discussing the idea of Christians not keeping company with the world (a valid principle in general) but with necessary allowances for evangelism and, in the case of Zechariah 8:23, the times they come to you.

This is the ultimate goal for the follower of Christ, for them to see the presence of God in both attitudes and actions; and to know who this God is. I love this passage because it’s so much the opposite of Psalm 1:1 (Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.)

In this case the foreigners and strangers want to walk in the counsel of the godly. It’s a complete 180-degree spin on who is hanging out with who!

Let us walk with you for we have heard God is with you. We had a pastor who concluded ten years of ministry with us by saying, “Don’t let people come to you and say, ‘You’ve got a great church.’ Rather, let them say, ‘You’ve got a great God.’”


Go Deeper: The citations above are entirely from page one of search engine results. Now it’s your turn. Using the internet or more modern commentaries you already possess, why does our key verse say ten men? (Okay, ten people if you prefer the inclusivity.) There are lots of answers online.