THE MEMORY OF GOD
I praise you, God of the old and the new. I praise you for yesterday and today, I open myself to your fresh grace.
Read ZECHARIAH 1
A Call to Return to the Lord
1 In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo:
2 “The Lord was very angry with your ancestors. 3 Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty. 4 Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the Lord. 5 Where are your ancestors now? And the prophets, do they live forever? 6 But did not my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your ancestors?
“Then they repented and said, ‘The Lord Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.’”
The Man Among the Myrtle Trees
7 On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo.
8 During the night I had a vision, and there before me was a man mounted on a red horse. He was standing among the myrtle trees in a ravine. Behind him were red, brown and white horses.
9 I asked, “What are these, my lord?”
The angel who was talking with me answered, “I will show you what they are.”
10 Then the man standing among the myrtle trees explained, “They are the ones the Lord has sent to go throughout the earth.”
11 And they reported to the angel of the Lord who was standing among the myrtle trees, “We have gone throughout the earth and found the whole world at rest and in peace.”
12 Then the angel of the Lord said, “Lord Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?” 13 So the Lord spoke kind and comforting words to the angel who talked with me.
14 Then the angel who was speaking to me said, “Proclaim this word: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion, 15 and I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry, but they went too far with the punishment.’
16 “Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,’ declares the Lord Almighty.
17 “Proclaim further: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘My towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem.’”
Four Horns and Four Craftsmen
18 Then I looked up, and there before me were four horns. 19 I asked the angel who was speaking to me, “What are these?”
He answered me, “These are the horns that scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.”
20 Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen. 21 I asked, “What are these coming to do?”
He answered, “These are the horns that scattered Judah so that no one could raise their head, but the craftsmen have come to terrify them and throw down these horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter its people.”[a]
- Zechariah 1:21 In Hebrew texts 1:18-21 is numbered 2:1-4.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.’1
Zechariah’s ministry begins shortly after Haggai’s. Zechariah’s name (‘the Lord remembers’) encapsulates all that chapter 1 proclaims. God remembers his people’s sins and urges them to apply the lessons learned! God remembers their suffering in captivity. The horse-riders (first vision) report that the nations are at peace. God will judge the ‘horns’ of strength (second vision) for being over-zealous, by sending ‘craftsmen’ to work their destruction (most likely other more powerful nations)! Restored and forgiven, the returnees can look forward to the ‘hope and a future’ promised through the last pre-exilic prophet, Jeremiah.2
A principle we find in both the Old and New Testaments is that God cannot turn a blind eye to wrongdoing. When the German poet Heinrich Heine3 was on his deathbed, he was urged by a priest to make his peace with God. He is said to have replied, flippantly, ‘God will forgive me. That’s his job!’ Such presumption is, to say the least, dangerous. No person, whether believer or not, can willfully and unrepentantly sin and expect God to ignore it. God remembers, not vindictively but out of settled opposition to all evil. But God pardons and remembers no more those sins we confess and renounce.4
Zechariah’s message brought his hearers the double blessing of knowing that repentance ensured their forgiveness and that judgment awaited their cruel oppressors. Christian, when you sin and God disciplines you, run and confess to him and be pardoned! You will receive ‘kind and comforting words’ (v 13). Follower of Christ, when you are hated and harmed for Jesus’ sake, know that God sees and will one day call to account all who mistreated you! You are loved with a divinely jealous passion!
‘One thief on the cross was saved, so that none should despair; but only one, so that none should presume.’5 Meditate!
Lord, my heart rejoices today for your forgiveness, and for those kind and comforting words that follow my repentance.
1 Hab 1:13 2 Jer 29:11 3 1797–1856 4 Isa 43:25; Heb 8:12 5 JC Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Gideon House Books, 2016, Matt 20:1–1
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