Monday, September 30, 2019

Monday - Zechariah 10 - Just Like It Never Even Happened

HE greatest kind of forgiveness is the kind that can treat an offender just as if the offence never even happened. This is the nature of God's brand of justification. You have surely heard the exposition of that word that plays on the sound of the syllables of the word itself: I'm justified - "It's just as if I’d never sinned." Here in Zechariah 10:6 we find that God promises THAT level of grace to the nation of Israel in their future. Among other things, He said, "They shall be as though I had not cast them off."   Now, that's grace! What marvelous generosity!

The Jews have been living in a prolonged spiritual drought. For many generations, they have felt God's anger. But that era will end someday. God will be with them and will bless them so extravagantly that they will forget their former sorrows. They will be redeemed. They will rejoice with joy unspeakable (1st Peter 1:8). They will multiply and prosper. They will fill their land until their population spills over its borders (vs. 10). They will be strong. God's perfect plan of blessing for Israel has been on hold for a very long time, but He has not forgotten or forsaken them. The Jews will yet enjoy their place of centrality in God's economy. God still has wonderful things in store for His chosen people.  And remember, the security of God's promises to us is an extension of His ability to keep His promises to Israel.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Friday - Zechariah 9 - His Great Beauty

N Matthew 21:2-7, you can read about the fulfillment of the exact prophecy that we find tucked quietly away in here Zechariah 9:9. Jesus, as Savior and King, did indeed ride into Jerusalem on a donkey just as this prophet foretold. Now, perhaps many have ridden into Jerusalem on donkeys, I do not know, but they didn't come with salvation as Christ did. Zechariah prophesied that this One would bring salvation with Him. Jesus did that. He was a poor and lowly carpenter, but He was also the perfect Son of God. A week after His entrance, He was pouring out His blood on a wooden cross; providing for the rescue of Israel, and of us.

Once more, we must remind ourselves concerning who exactly was in Zechariah's immediate audience. What was important to the construction workers to whom he made his address?  Well, consider the more obscure content of Zechariah's sermon here. Notice the naming of the many cities and peoples that surrounded Israel. In their weak position in Jerusalem, perhaps one of the primary concerns of the post-exilic Jews was the hostile Gentiles that lived all around them?  They certainly were looking forward to a day when they would be safe in their land. The idea of a strong king standing up in Jerusalem again would have been one of the most appealing ideas that could have possibly been postulated in Zechariah's day. And, indeed, this is exactly what Zechariah did speak about.

Now, while it should be admitted that the Jews wanted (and still want) a Messiah to step in with deliverance politically, militarily and economically, Zechariah indicated that what Israel needed most was a spiritual Savior. It is true that Israel needed material and practical peace, but what they needed first was a spiritual revival. Jesus of Nazareth did what was necessary for them to have just that.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Thursday - Zechariah 8 - Blessings upon Jerusalem and the Jews

E have endured enough bad news concerning the Jews and Jerusalem. Prophet after prophet has unpacked for us the dreadful transgressions in Israel's past and the manifold curses that they have encountered for their guilt. It is refreshing here to read about a coming time of perfect peace in Israel, and such a marvelous peace that it almost seems surreal to read its description. There have been many centuries of suffering in the holy land, but that will eventually come to an end. God's jealous and angry absence will be replaced with His blessed approving presence. What a day that will be!

Read the following word picture as a simple example of this future reality: "The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof' (Zechariah 8:5). That's just part of what it will be like when God is again accepted as THE God of Israel (Zechariah 8:8). Truth will dominate, Jews will return to their land and the whole world will look to Palestine and to the Jews with yearning and appreciation (Zechariah 8:23).

These were the wonderful promises that Zechariah was allowed to share with the Jews as they worked on the rebuilding of the temple (Zechariah 8:9). It isn't hard to see that such good news would have been quite a boon to the spirit of those workers. A new day was dawning (Zechariah 8:11).  Prosperity and success were within view (Zechariah 8:12), yet we should admit that to this very day we are still awaiting the fulfillment of the promise.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Wednesday - Zechariah 7 - Adamant Stone

F there is anything that God despises, it is a hard heart. The pre-captivity Jews were guilty of being so hardhearted that even their tears were insincere and self-centered.  Beyond that, the Jews who endured 7 decades in Babylon weren't altogether humble in their ritualistic worship either.  According to God, both their feasts and their fasts were little more than formal navel-gazing (Zechariah 7:5-6).  Still, the Lord had a message for that post-exilic population, and He sent that message through Zechariah.

God reminded these people that there had been a time in the past when their forefathers had cried, but they had not been heard (Zechariah 7:13). Even so, for these relatively noble Jews, if their tears were insincere, God would not be fooled by them. God looks for truth in the inward parts (Psalm 51:6 & Zechariah 7:9). He looks for genuine generosity and compassion in our actions (Zechariah 7:10 & Luke 18:22). God looks at our heart as we perform our rituals, not at the rituals themselves (Zechariah 7:10-12). He looks for humility and contrition rather than pious exhibitions. He WILL allow us to become adamant in our rebellion, He just won't let our adamancy go unpunished.