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The Scriptorium

Double Dose

Zechariah arrives in Jerusalem. Zechariah 1.1-6

Return from Exile: Haggai (2)

Pray Psalm 78.1-4.
Give ear, O my people, to my law;
Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings of old,
Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD,
And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.

Sing Psalm 78.1-4.
(Foundation: How Firm a Foundation)
Give ear, O my people, attend to my word,
dark sayings and parables sent from the Lord,
things we have before by our fathers been told,
which we would not dare from our children withhold.

Read Zechariah 1.1-6; mediate on verses 5, 6.

1. What message did God give to Zechariah?

2. In what way were the people in Jerusalem acting like their fathers?

Two months after Haggai was sent to Jerusalem to call the people to consider their ways, God called Zechariah to join him (v. 1; cf. Hag. 1.1). His message was clear: Returning to the land is not enough; the people must return to the LORD before He will fully return to them (v. 3).

Here again we glimpse the continuing captivity of the returnees. They were like their fathers (v. 4), who did not heed the words of the prophets to turn from their evil ways. They had no time for the Word of God because they were too busy with their own “first things”.

Haggai’s message was to call the people to consider their ways—to see how far they had drifted from the LORD’s agenda for them. Zechariah’s message was for the people, having considered their ways, to return to the words and statutes of the LORD and all the words of the prophets (v. 6). It’s not enough to turn from our selfish distractions and diversions; we must also turn energetically and continuously to the Lord and His Word.

Zechariah was to remind the people how the Word of God had overtaken the fathers in their sin (v. 5). Did the people who heard Zechariah think He would deal any differently with them? What God has written in His Law and given through His prophets and apostles, He will fulfill. If we will not hear or heed His words, they will surely overtake us. Then our captivity will be exposed, and God will do to us “according to our ways and according to our deeds” (v. 6). To the extent we have not fully turned to the Lord, we put ourselves in danger of His discipline (Heb. 12.3-11).

And that is never a pleasant experience.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
The NKJV foreword to the book of Zechariah states: “Zechariah is commissioned by God to encourage the people in their unfinished responsibility. Rather than exhorting them to action with strong words of rebuke, Zechariah seeks to encourage them to action by reminding them of the future importance of the temple…But future blessing is contingent upon present obedience.”

“Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it;
unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Ps. 127.1).
The people didn’t seem to respond even though God tried everything. He tried exhortation with strong words, He tried action words abounding in encouragement.

And Zechariah, like so many of God’s dear past, present, and future prophets, met a bitter end. As Jesus recounted in Matthew 22.34, 35: “Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah (Zech. 1.1), whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.” (There is controversy concerning the identity of the prophet Jesus spoke of, but it seems likely to me that whether this was a verbal or physical murder, Zechariah’s message concerning the unbuilt temple and the built altar was not accepted or heeded. Thus, it could be this very Zechariah that Jesus spoke of).

Truth be told, none of the prophets then or now, were or are, well liked or listened to. Not when they are speaking the hard truths of Scripture.

The Church is full of those who cannot be exhorted or encouraged to build the temple of themselves: “They are like the deaf cobra that stops its ear, which will not heed the voice of charmers, charming ever so skillfully” (Ps. 58.4, 5). “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6.19, 20).

Let God help you build your temple to Him. Hear His exhortation and encouragement. “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever” (2 Pet. 3.18). Don’t be like our forebears who dawdled around, waiting to get busy on building, whilst they frittered away their lives on temporal things. “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus…” (Heb. 12.1, 2).

For reflection
1. Paul says we are temples of the Lord. In what sense is that true?

2. What is our responsibility in “building” our temple to the Lord?

3. The church, too, is a temple to the Lord (Eph. 2.19-22). What is your role in helping to build this temple?

Since then God has so severely dealt with their fathers, the Prophet bids them to know that God ought to be feared, lest they should grow wanton or indulge themselves in their usual manner, but that they might from the heart repent, and not designedly provoke God's wrath, of which their fathers had so severe an experience.
John Calvin (1506-1564), Commentary on Zechariah 1.1-6

Pray Psalm 78.4-16.
Praise God for all the good work and glorious deeds He has done, both for you and for His people through the ages. Seek an opportunity today to encourage a fellow believer in the works of the Lord and to share the Good News of Jesus with someone in your Personal Mission Field. Commit your work to the Lord and call on Him for the grace and strength you will need.

Sing Psalm 78.4-16.
(Foundation: How Firm a Foundation)
The glorious deeds of our God in His might,
and all of the works He has done in our sight,
together with all of the words of His Law,
would we on ourselves and our children bestow.

Lord, let all our children arise and declare
the truth of the Lord every day, everywhere,
and set all their hopes in God’s wonderful Word,
and never forget all the works of the Lord.

Our fathers were stubborn; they would not obey;
when faced with their foes they in fear turned away.
God’s work of redemption they wholly despised,
forgetting the pow’r He had shown to their eyes.

T. M. and Susie Moore

Two books can help us understand our own captivity and lead us to seek revival and renewal in the Lord. The Church Captive asks us to consider the ways the Church today has become captive to the world. And Revived! can help us find the way to renewal. Learn more and order your free copies by clicking here and here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available free by clicking here.


T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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