“I will whistle for them and gather them in, for I have redeemed them, and they shall be as many as they were before.” (Zechariah 10:8)
In ancient Israel shepherds would lead their sheep, rather than herd them. Often different flocks would share the same watering place, and the shepherd would then walk off, calling his sheep to follow. And they did.
The image in this verse is of God whistling to his flock who are scattered across many nations, and bringing them all safely back to Israel. The people have just returned from their exile in Babylon and are rebuilding the temple. All are being gathered in.
We can see three principles at work here, which are very much part of God’s character. Firstly, look at the ease at which he completes his task: he simply whistles. This is a God who spoke a few words, and creation sprang into being. A God who stills the storm with a word. We can have an entire trust that God will bring about his purposes. He is not battling against forces, but simply whistles and his will is achieved.
Then we read “for I have redeemed them”. Here too is a great truth: it is God who redeems, who sets free. We are not dependant on feelings or our efforts, but on God and him alone. This is where our hope and trust resides, not on ourselves or others.
“And they shall be as many as before”. We have an all powerful God who redeems, and then also restores. The book of Job details the terrible decline in fortunes of that righteous man, but finishes with the words: “And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job … And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning … And Job died, an old man, and full of days” (Job 42: 10,12, 17).
There are seasons in the Christian life, but we should never fear we will end on a low.