Saturday, December 21, 2013

Zechariah 7-8 Restoration and Righteousness

Zechariah 8:14-23 For thus says the Lord of hosts: “As I purposed to bring disaster to you when your fathers provoked me to wrath, and I did not relent, says the Lord of hosts, so again have I purposed in these days to bring good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah; fear not. These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace; do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the Lord.” And the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month and the fast of the fifth and the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth shall be to the house of Judah seasons of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts. Therefore love truth and peace. Thus says the Lord of hosts: Peoples shall yet come, even the inhabitants of many cities.  The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts; I myself am going.’ Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”

Zechariah declares the Lord has purposed in the coming days to bless Jerusalem and Judah. It was a sovereign act of God's grace promised to them despite their unfaithfulness during their 70 years of exile: “Say to all the people of the land and the priests, When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted? And when you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves?" (7:5-6).  When the temple was rebuilt, God decided to return to Jerusalem to dwell among Israel. His presence would mean blessings for Jerusalem and Judah again: "Thus says the Lord: I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain."

God's presence in the midst of His people brings blessings. But it also brings moral obligations: "These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace; do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the Lord.” God's presence brings blessings and the power to live a godly life. When that happens, those who do not know the Lord will also want to seek Him and His favor: "Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts; I myself am going" (8:21).

The Good News of the Jesus Christ is that divine favor has replaced divine anger. God has come to save His people: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor” (Luke 4:18). God's favor is demonstrated in His salvation--which is simply a transfer from Satan's kingdom of poverty, bondages, addictions to sinful lifestyle, spiritual blindness and oppression to Christ's kingdom of divine favor. Salvation is exchanging demonic control for divine favor. Once we are transferred from Satan's kingdom into Christ's kingdom, we are indwelt by His Spirit who brings righteousness, peace and joy.

Father, as Christmas draws near, we want to remember Your favor towards all humanity. When we turn to Christ, we are set free from demonic control so that we can experience divine favor. Amen.

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