Today's passage is Zechariah 8:1-13. Let's go!
Zechariah 8:1-2 (NIV)
1 Again the word of the LORD Almighty came to me.
2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her."
On verses 1-2: What does it mean when the Bible says that God is a jealous God? It means that God is passionate about us. He's jealous for our love and devotion. He will not tolerate any rivals for our love. So when we are more devoted to people or to other things than to God, it grieves Him.
God knows, and hopefully we know too, that we were made for a life with Him at the very centre. When God is not at the centre of our lives, God is grieved and our lives are not as joyful, peaceful, or full as God intended it to be. Remember today: God is jealous for you. So give Him your attention and full devotion.
Zechariah 8:3 (NIV)
3 This is what the LORD says: "I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain."
On verse 3: God makes an awesome promise to His people: "I will return and make you 'the City of Truth', my 'Holy Mountain', the place where My presence dwells." It's amazing that no matter how many lies we've spoken, God calls us His city of truth. No matter how many sins we have committed, God calls us His Holy Mountain. No matter how many times we've pushed Him aside, God still longs to fill our lives with His presence.
Why is that? How is this possible? It's only possible only through Jesus Christ. Five hundred years after God makes this promise to His people in verse 3, God would send Jesus Christ to die on the cross for their sins and our sins. Jesus traded our lies for His truth, our sins for His holiness, and our emptiness for His presence. Through Jesus Christ, we become God's city of truth, His holy mountain, and the place where His presence dwells by His Spirit.
Zechariah 8:4-5 (NIV)
4 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with cane in hand because of his age.
5 The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there."
On verses 4-5: Here the Lord through Zechariah describes blessings that will accompany His people. God promises that:
- people will not die prematurely, but live to a ripe, old age (v4)
- children will play in the streets without fear (v5)
- God's people who had been scattered to distant places will be brought back home (v7-8)
- the land will be blessed and bear fruit (v12)
- Judah and Israel would stop being a curse word and start being a blessing to other nations (v13a)
- from disciplining His children God would move into a season of blessing His children (v11).
For the people living in Jerusalem at that time, hearing these promises may have seemed too good to be true. For at the time Judah was filled with poverty and economic depression ("no wages for man or beast" - v10a). People lived in much fear and shame (v10b). It was not a safe or comfortable time for the people of Judah.
Yet God says, "It may seem marvelous to the remnant of this people at that time, but will it seem marvelous to Me?" (v6) In other words, nothing is too difficult for God. Ultimately, these visions will find their final fulfillment when Jesus comes again.
Are you in a discouraging place right now? Are you depressed, frustrated, financially strapped, living in fear? Remember this: with God all things are possible. He is the expert at creating streams in the desert and bringing hope where there is no hope. Rely on Him and trust in His promises, and He will make a way for you.
Zechariah 8:9 (NIV)
9 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "You who now hear these words spoken by the prophets who were there when the foundation was laid for the house of the LORD Almighty, let your hands be strong so that the temple may be built.
On verse 9: After giving all these promises, the Lord tells the people to be strong "so that the temple may be built" (v9). Twice He says, "let your hands be strong" (v9, 13). Keeping the vision God had painted in their minds, God's people were to work hard and diligently at rebuilding the temple. What can we learn from this?
The vision of your heart will determine the strength of your hands. In other words, if your vision is strong, your hands will be strong. If your vision is weak, your hands will be weak. What is your vision? God has a powerful vision for your life. For as long as you keep that vision strong in your mind, there will be strength in your hands to do the work necessary to turn that vision into a reality.
If you're not sure what God's vision is for your life, it's time to ask God to show you. Start taking steps to discover God's vision for your life: start reading His Word like never before, seek advice from godly leaders, and pray. I think you'll discover over time that God's vision for your will involve 5 parts: that you would worship Jesus, become more like Him in character, serve Him with your talents, lead others to Jesus and love your spiritual family.
Once you know God's vision for your life, never let it go. For the vision in your heart will give strength to your hands.
Heavenly Father, thank You that You are jealous for me. Thank You for wanting to be involved at the centre of my life. Thank You for all the blessings that follow me when I place You at the centre. May Your vision for my life be strong in my heart. Let Your vision strengthen my hands to do the work I am to do today. In Jesus' name, AMEN!