Time to Return
Lord, You are my Maker and my God. Guide me today and give me grace to follow You.
Read Zechariah 1:1-6
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Come now, let us settle the matter”, says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isa. 1:18). That’s what happens when we return to the Lord in repentance.
Returning to Jerusalem had, no doubt, been an amazing experience for those who had come back from Babylon. As we’ve just seen in Haggai, however, the excitement began to wear off. Eighteen years on, instead of rebuilding God’s Temple, they were concentrating on their own building projects. However, whereas Haggai’s message is “Build!” Zechariah’s is “Repent!” In between two of Haggai’s prophecies (Hag. 2:1,10), Zechariah tells the people that returning to God is much more important than returning to Jerusalem (1–3). In fact, it’s even more important than rebuilding the Temple. Where are your priorities focused? In the end, doing God’s work is less important than repentance and obedience (4).
These people were in danger of making the same mistake as their ancestors. “Do not be like…” (4) is wise advice (2 Chron. 30:7; Psa. 32:9; Matt. 6:5). Despite constant pleas from the prophets to turn from their ways, they had carried on just as they were. Ignoring the prophets was bad enough, but refusing to listen or pay attention to God (4)? That was dangerous territory and their disobedience had made God “very angry” (2). Some of us may not feel comfortable with the idea of God being angry, but Jesus himself demonstrated such righteous anger (Mark 3:5; 11:15–17). Such anger is the thing which so often empowers those who challenge sin and injustice.
Their ancestors and the prophets may have been long gone (5) but God’s words and commands remained (6). So, the central issue was still repentance, but alongside God’s anger was (and is for us) his amazing grace. He makes the great commitment to them that if they return to him, he will return to them (3). The people’s response was straightforward: they repented (6). God’s judgment (6b) had been fruitful—they changed. It’s still not too late…
Why was God so angry with Israel’s forefathers? What “evil ways” (4) do you need to repent of? If you repent, what does God promise (3)?
Forgiving God, what joy is mine to know that when I confess my sins, they are forgiven, forgotten, forever.
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