[June 08]—Learning From Mistakes

Zechariah 1:1-6

            Before we get into today’s passage, I need to present some disclaimers. Nothing you haven’t heard from me before, but I need to emphasize them. First, please keep in mind that this is a devotional, not a commentary. In no way do I feel called to do a verse-by-verse commentary. Second, as a devotional I’m going to keep this as practical as possible. If it doesn’t affect your walk with Christ, I’m not going to dwell on it much.
            That’s why I’ve skipped vast portions of the prophets, and why I won’t be discussing every verse in Zechariah. His book describes a lot of visions which can be interpreted in different ways. I have my own interpretations of them, but a lot of them relate to the End Times (or at least how I’ve taken them), and getting into the specifics on that is beyond the scope of this blog. I’m going to mainly keep to thing on which all (or most) Evangelicals would agree.
            With that in mind, we still need a little background on this book, since understanding will thus be made a lot easier. Zechariah is another post-exilic prophet, a contemporary of Haggai and apparently a colleague. The people he faced were largely discouraged: They had to rebuild their nation practically from scratch, they were surrounded by hostile nations, and they’d never been weaker. Therefore the post-exilic prophets tend to focus a lot on God’s sovereignty and how to avoid discouragement. But lest you think that they went easy on their audiences, such was not the case. Jonathan Edwards considered despair a sin, and obviously it can lead to other sins.
            That leads us to today’s passage. The Lord spoke through Zechariah, and the first words quoted from God could really summarize much of the prophetic literature: “Return to me. . . and I will return to you.” All day long he’s been holding out his hands to a stubborn and rebellious people.
            Then he points to the past, and that’s my main point for today. Nothing we haven’t talked about before, but it bears repeating. There are lots of stories in the Bible to which we’re supposed to read and respond thus: “I sure don’t want to end up like that guy!”
            That’s the main point of today’s passage today. The audience knew their history, or at least they should've known it. The Lord had sovereignly called Israel out of bondage in Egypt, had provided for her, protected her, and gave his Law for their benefit. And their response had been to rebel and sin against him, taking every opportunity to worship everything but him.           
            And then he sent prophets, and their reactions ranged from indifference to violent opposition. The prophets warned time and time that their rebellion would cost them dearly.
            It did. Every word came true.
            And now he’s asking them two questions. First, he asks them to ask themselves: “Where are my ancestors?” The answer: The grave, many of them in a foreign country. They'd gambled that they could play games with God, and they lost. Moses, in one of my all-time favorite lines of all time, solemnly warned and predicted to his generation of Israelites that "you may be sure that your sin will find you out."
            The second question he asks is a bit more mysterious: “Do the prophets live forever?” Obviously no. They’re also in their graves. So what’s the point of the question? Based on what the Lord says in vs. 6, it seems that he’s emphasizing to them that unlike the prophets, his word does live forever. It'll eventually overtake everyone who ignores or opposes it. People have compared it to an anvil: Skeptics come along and swing a hammer at it, attacking it with all their might, and all they end up with is a broken hammer in their hands.
            Hopefully most of the people who’re reading this know that the Bible is true, both its promises and warnings. But I thought it’d be a good reminder for all of us: No one in all of human history has done things God’s way who ended up regretting it. And the converse is true as well.
Father God, I know that your way is best, and I certainly have enough examples to learn from, both positive and negative. By your grace, I want to follow it. And I will. 

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