Day 277: Zechariah 11-14; The Lord Comes and Reigns

The final chapters of Zechariah the coming of the Messiah and the time when He will set up his reign on earth.  There are a lot of varying images that come from this reading.  Zechariah is attempting to describe something here that is completely incomprehensible by human standards.  While the first coming of Jesus did indeed usher in a new age and a new time when the relationship between God and humanity is restored, the restoration of all creation has only begun to take place.  We cannot possibly comprehend what it will be like when Christ comes again in His glory and sets up His reign here on heart, so Zechariah, seeing these images from God, puts them into words used by common people.

We have seen some of this reality described for us in Isaiah 2 and in the book of Micah as well,  a vision of what the world will be like when the final consummation happens.  God will be raised up above all other powers and gods.  He will reign on high from His city, which is referred to here at Jerusalem, and all of the nations will either come to Him or be cast out forever.  Zechariah describes it quite uniquely in chapter 14,

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.

Some of this makes no sense to us.  Why does it matter where the water flows and when?  How can their be light in the evening?  The water if a vision of provision and plenty to the people of Israel.  Their planting and agriculture were dependent heavily on the rivers and the rains.  This river flows both to the East and to the West, which is seemingly impossible, and covers the whole land with the water needed for life.  The description of no need for lights and the days/nights being the same shows up in multiple places, many of which describe the presence of God and His glory being the only “light” we will need.

Finally, Zechariah talks about the words “Holy to the Lord” being inscribed on seemingly normal, everyday things.  This is actually a really cool image of what the world will be like when all things are made right.  When Christ comes again, everyday objects will become holy, an amplification of its former self.  What we are seeing here is a foreshadowing of the “already/not yet” reality in which we live.  Through Christ’s work on the cross, we find redemption and reconciliation, a foretaste of the glory that is to come.  We put on this cloak of righteousness after shedding our old self.  In the same way, all of creation will be glorified, transformed into its true self.  In eternity, all things will be holy.  As Zechariah says, “cooking posts in the Lord’s house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the alter.  Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the Lord.”  All things will be made right, reconciled, and transformed to the glory of of God!



Day 276: Zechariah 7-10; Who Are You Doing it For?

In chapter seven of Zechariah, God poses an rather pointed question to the people in response to their inquiry about fasting at certain times throughout the year.  When I read it, the words almost stung in my heart, their sharp truthfulness cutting to the very core of my being.  The Lord asked,

“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?”

Ouch…

Not sure if I am having a guilty conscience issue, or if my worship leader training is just rushing back into my head, but it seriously made me stop and think about what it is that I do as a worship leader on Sunday morning… and what we do as we worship God corporately and individually.  Is it really for God that we come to worship?  Or are we more concerned with out we look to our neighbors and friends?

Is it really God we are singing to?  Or are we more concerned with the style of music?

Are we really listening for God’s voice?  Or do we get caught up looking around at other people or critiquing the sermon?

These are difficult questions for us because their penetrate deeper than the skin.  They literally get at the heart of the issue… and that is our hearts.  This is, once again, what the prophets have been saying all along.  Worship of God isn’t so much about what we do but the heart in which we do it.  Honoring God with our lives is not about what we do but the heart in which we do it.  God has no room for fake and/or false piety.

Yet even after posing these tough questions, God goes on to more prophecies about the coming glory of Jerusalem, the time when He will return to the city and dwell within it again, and the time when things will be made right and God will “care” for Judah once again.  It seems strange that these things would proceed from such difficult questions as those raised in chapter seven.  However, if we think about God and the covenantal relationship He has with His people, it makes perfect sense.  While there are still questions about faith, personal piety, and even the nature of our worship, none of these have any baring on the work that God is doing.  Sure, these are important questions to ask ourselves, and we are indeed called to live lives that are “worthy of the calling that we have received,” salvation, redemption, and God’s work towards the ultimately reconciliation are not effected by our inability to live up to God’s standards.  And really… THANK GOD for that!  We do not believe in a God that has set out a system of works righteousness in which we have to earn our way into heaven.  NO!  God has opened that door for us through the work of Jesus in His life, death, and resurrection.  God is working to bring about the reconciliation and consumation of all things regardless of our selfish natures.  This is the beauty of grace… and of the covenant.  God has formed a covenant with His people in which, no matter how many time and how badly they mess up, He is still working for them, still their God, and still the same loving and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love God that He always was.  Where we fail, God does not.  Hallelujah!



Day 275: Zechariah 1-6; Intro to Zechariah

Zechariah is the second of the three prophets that correspond with the final three books of the Old Testament Scriptures.  He, like Haggai and Malachi was one of the remnant of people that returned to Judah from the exile in Babylon during the reign of King Darius.  While Haggai’s message centered greatly on the rebuilding of the Temple and less on the glory of what was to come, Zechariah’s turns sharply from the rebuilding of the Temple to the coming of the Messiah.  In fact, apart from Isaiah, Zechariah holds the title as being the prophet that speaks most about the coming of the Messiah, speaking some 500 years before the prophecies would be fulfilled.

A great deal of Zechariah’s messages in the first eight chapters come while the Temple is being rebuilt and, while Haggai was also delivering messages to the Jewish remnant, Zechariah’s messages focused in on remaining faithful, casting out sin, and being purified while continuing their work on the Temple.  These messages were also filled with hope for the people.  If you remember back to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, everything was in ruins and there was a great deal of opposition from the locals as well.  People that lived in the land once the Hebrews were forcibly removed had absolutely no interest in the Temple or the walls of Jerusalem being rebuilt so they harassed and caused trouble for the Jews.  The message that Zechariah brought to the people gave them hope not only for completing the Temple, but for the future when their King would come and rule them again.  We also see pictures of the priesthood, which before the exile had become unbelievably corrupt, functioning in the way that it was meant to as a mediator between God and the people.  Zechariah also sets forth images of Israel as it was meant to be, with great prosperity and blessing as the people of God.

Zechariah is a very important book when it comes to understanding the coming of the Messiah.  He speaks God’s message to the people of Israel time and again about the coming of the true king that will reign over His people with justice and righteousness.  This message holds true for us as well.  While the hope that Zechariah first refers to is that of the coming of Jesus, the coming of which ushered in the Messianic age in which we can find salvation in Christ’s blood, we too look forward with anticipation to the second coming of Jesus.  When He comes again, we will see the truest and deepest fulfillment of these prophecies when all will be consumated to Him and made right for all eternity.  In our time of waiting, we too are called to cast off sin and continue to try and remain pure in all that we do, working each day in anticipation for Christ’s coming again.