God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

September 22 - Zechariah 8-14: God Gives Strength to His Reunited Chosen People

Today’s Reading: Zechariah 8-14

The Message

English Standard Version

Congratulations! You have made it through 34 books. Only 5 left! You also have read 265 days. That means you only have 100 days to go!

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Judah's strength would come from God.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

"I once punished My Chosen People. Now I will bless you. In return, set things right. The world will associate Jerusalem with peace and prosperity. Your king will ride a humble donkey. I will initiate a grand homecoming. I'll make you strong and you will live My Way."
"No more guidance for sheep who beg for slaughter."
Zechariah asked the people for his worth—only 30 silver coins. Insulted, he put them in the offering plate.
"Judah can only survive through My Strength. Then all foreign gods and their priests will vanish."
Soon God will rule over the entire world.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

God asks for us to set things right in return for His Protection and Blessings.

God would return Judah from their exile and give them protection from the people who lived in the area and wanted to hurt them. They would also have bountiful harvests. What did God want in return?
Tell the truth, the whole truth, when you speak. Do the right thing by one another, both personally and in your courts. Don’t cook up plans to take unfair advantage of others. Don’t do or say what isn’t so. I hate all that stuff. Keep your lives simple and honest. (8:16-17, The Message)
God protects His Chosen People so they can set things right.

Foreigners would recognize Israel as representatives of the god who blesses.

In a great shift, Jerusalem would change from a place people wanted to overthrow to a place people would want to visit looking for a blessing. Judeans would be a popular group because God would bless them. The world would want part of God's Blessings. This is God's ultimate plan in the first place—people from all nations worshiping Him. When God's Chosen People set things right, the world wants to pray to our god.

God prepares His Chosen People for their Messiah.

As first seen yesterday, Zechariah uses many images which would be taken up later in the New Testament: a humble king riding on a donkey, the Good Shepherd, and thirty silver coins. These were meant to give Israel mental clues to look for when God sent the Messiah and used by John in the Revelation to pass on information that outsiders would not understand.

Judah could only survive if God was their strength.

God wanted to bring Jerusalem back to power, but this time with the right power—His Power. They would be famous because of their god: The Mighty Uniting God who brought His Chosen People back from their exile. What Judah needed to remember was their strength did not come from within but from God. Our strength comes from the Creator who gives the only strength built to last.

God would punish nations that did not observe the festivals.

This is an interesting passage, especially after yesterday's notion that God was not interested in religion but people. Why would God tell a group they were observing festivals only for themselves and then punish nations for not observing festivals? I believe the reason is that God wants festivals and religious observances which bring us closer to Him. Mourning the loss of a city that disobeyed God does not bring you closer to God. Observe religious times that help get us closer to God, not makes us feel more "religious".

Do you get your strength from God?

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