Zechariah Devotional, Part 10
God’s promises sometimes seem far-fetched, especially when they are very different from what we see in our daily lives. It is often hard to believe God’s promises when they so contradict what may seem to appear before our eyes. In our passage (chapter 8), Zechariah received a word of encouragement from the Lord to His people. Let us recall that in the previous century they had gone through some very tough times and been ransacked by wicked nations, but God’s promise for a future salvation brought a sustaining blessing that carried them through to those times ahead.
8 Again the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying,
2 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury.
3 Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain.
These verses speak of God as a jealous God. We may often be accustomed to think of jealousy as a negative personality trait or a form of insecurity, but there is a such thing as righteous jealousy. A woman with a cheating husband has a right to be jealous for his affection. And just as you would not want to mess with a mama grizzly bear’s cubs, so God’s tender affection for his chosen ones burns with hot fury against any who would come against us. Israel may have been punished by the Lord’s fatherly hand by evil nations, but woe to those nations! It would be better for them if they had never existed than to face the jealousy of God for his chosen ones. He who was angered by Israel’s past sins will not be angry forever. This applies to the Church, which is the “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16), today as much as it did in Zechariah’s day. He will yet establish Zion. God is jealous for His people and will never utterly forsake them, but will raise them in Christ and bless them forever.
As the Church of Jesus Christ, it seems like we are a dim light shining in an ocean of darkness. So many churches have lost the last flicker that remained of their light, whether through compromising the pure word of God in order to conform to the world, or by outright closing their doors. But God is jealous for His Church, which is Mt. Zion, the New Jerusalem. (Hebrews 12:22, Revelation 21:2.) The Lord who has established her has promised to yet build her so that she continues to be the place of His presence with men. (Matt 16:18) Though the worldwide Church of Jesus Christ is experiencing difficult times, there is a promise of future blessing to come. Let this be a comfort and sustaining source of joy for us when we think about our place in this world as the mountain of God on earth, the place of His presence and glory. Let us continue diligently in worshiping God and doing everything that Christ commanded, knowing that our God does not dwell in buildings made with hands, but in the hearts and praises of his people gathered in His name.
This mountain of God is to be called a “place of truth.” The Church is where God’s truth is proclaimed and believed. The word of God is central to her worship, and the Holy Scriptures are the sufficient standard and regulative norm of all of her activities. We can be sure of God’s presence as long as the truth of his word is proclaimed among us. Where His word if faithfully proclaimed, that is where He is. Unto this mountain which is the “place of truth” we must gather and never forsake it.
This mountain of God is a holy place. It is “set apart” for Him, which is the meaning of the word holy. In the Church of Jesus Christ, common worldly ways of doing business do not hold sway, but only the commandments of the Lord administered through the offices He has appointed. The Church is holy because it has been set apart by God for himself. Just as the whole is holy, the individual members of the body are holy.
Do you think of yourself as set apart for God in day to day work and activities? Although Christians must and do engage in lots of things that are very common ways of life even for non-Christians, like work, recreation, family ties, etc., yet the Christian is set apart for the Lord. There should and must be a noticeable difference in the way that we do things versus the way the world does things. This comes out especially in motives. Whereas those of the world are looking out for their own self-interest as commonly understood, their safety and income, those belonging to the Lord are firstly and foremostly concerned with minding the things of God. They are “set apart”, holy, and consecrated to Him so that nothing will entice them to do something contrary to the glory of God. And, although we all fail deeply in many ways all the time, there is a high calling to holiness in Christ for all who are in him. Let us be diligent to be holy, to be consecrated to God when we gather to worship as His church and also in whatever we do in life, for this is God’s work in us, to make of us this mountain his holy place.
4 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age.
5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.
6 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the Lord of hosts.
God confronts the doubting spirit of His people. They had been in a state of war and slavery for so many years that it was almost too much to imagine children playing in the streets and old men and women alive in the city. It is hard to imagine such things when all the old people have died and the young children cannot be allowed to play outside. The modern culture that surrounds us commonly looks down upon children and the elderly. Yet despite what our modern culture would have us to believe, having children is a blessing from God, and so is living to an old age. What is impossible for us to imagine is possible with God. His miracles are far beyond any of our expectations. There will come a day, God says, fulfilled by Christ for His Church, when peace will be won and victory so established that His kingdom reigns in majesty, symbolized here by the peaceful and unworried presence of children and old men. While this prophesied blessing is partly fulfilled in the kingdom of Jesus Christ on earth, especially in the churches where His word is purely preached and the sacraments administered with discipline, the full fulfillment must await the consummation, when Christ Jesus will return. Every tear will dry from our eyes and all will experience God’s peace. On that day, and we will not have to worry about any enemies harming us, and perfect peace and happiness will reign forever.
God’s gracious plan in Christ brings peace to us that we can now only taste a little and imagine, but someday we will dine on the full meal. We can trust it because it is God himself who has promised, as unlike what we see before our own eyes as it may be. We can work diligently building His holy Temple assured that He who has promised will bring it to pass in His own timing. Thank God for this precious promise. Let it sustain us in difficult times.