Read: Zechariah 7-14
Zechariah has all kinds of words of encouragement, a song to sing for all to hear and be glad. He spends little time on past sins (thankfully), focuses on joy and laughter, then paints a picture of the future to give us all great hope.
Two years into the reign of King Darius, Zechariah speaks again to get the attention of God’s people:
“Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted? And when you were eating and drinking, were you not just feasting for yourselves? Zechariah 7:5-6
Those people in that day refused to truly turn their hearts to God, they only did what appeared to be righteous, but their hearts were set on selfish desires and personal gain.
“‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 7:13
Oh wait, “they” are “us!” Zechariah is speaking to the people of that time about their actions, but repentance is only a word away. The Lord is jealous for his people, he longs for the day of restoration. I love the picture he paints here:
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.” Zechariah 8:4-5
Peace will prevail. One day the streets will be filled with laughter as we sit and watch our children’s children play without concern. What can we do to see this dream become real?
These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the Lord. Zechariah 8:16-17
Love each other. Be truthful and kind. Stop being so self-centered! Zechariah keeps it real and simple: “love truth and peace” (Zechariah 8:19).
I dream of a place where we gather as a people of God with clean hands and pure hearts, with such love that the world sees our family, the true brotherhood of saints, and longs to be part of this thing we call church.
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’” Zechariah 8:23
Stop for a moment and image the day when ten people surround you and beg you to tell them about Jesus, not the other way around! It seems that we try to convince people that Jesus is real, that there is one who came to save us, that we needed to be saved–on and on we speak such words, but our actions don’t match our language. What if we simply committed to doing what Jesus said? What if we loved God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind? And what if we loved our neighbors as ourselves? I don’t know how this looks for every person in every situation, but I am convinced that when we love as Christ loved, people from all around us will ask us how they can become a part of our family, our church.
Zechariah continues to provide encouragement, pouring on words of assurance. After years in exile, lost and far away from the Promised Land because of the failures of their ancestors, the Lord will reclaim his people. The rest of the narrative gives us all hope for the day when Jesus will return and all will be set right. Here are some verses I found encouraging:
But I will encamp at my temple
to guard it against marauding forces.
Never again will an oppressor overrun my people,
for now I am keeping watch.
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
From Judah will come the cornerstone,
from him the tent peg,
from him the battle bow,
from him every ruler.
They will pass through the sea of trouble;
the surging sea will be subdued
and all the depths of the Nile will dry up.
Assyria’s pride will be brought down
and Egypt’s scepter will pass away.
I will strengthen them in the Lord
and in his name they will live securely,”
declares the Lord.
They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. Zechariah 12:10
“On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. Zechariah 13:1
On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. It will be a unique day—a day known only to the Lord—with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter. Zechariah 14:6-8
Receive these words of assurance: one day the Lord will make all things new. We are on the winning team. The gospel we preach has the power to save. May our lives reflect this truth and may the light of Christ shine bright for all to see.
I’m stuck on Zechariah 8:23, can’t wait to see that day!