Sermon Notes

May 10th 2020

Thoughts on the Sunday School Lesson May 10th

A New Day is Coming / Zechariah 8:1-8, 11-17 (MSG)

1-2 And then these Messages from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: “I am zealous for Zion—I care! I’m angry about Zion—I’m involved!” God’s Message: 3 “I’ve come back to Zion, I’ve moved back to Jerusalem. Jerusalem’s new names will be Truth City, and Mountain of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, and Mount Holiness.” 4-5 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: “Old men and old women will come back to Jerusalem, sit on benches on the streets and spin tales, move around safely with their canes—a good city to grow old in. And boys and girls will fill the public parks, laughing and playing—a good city to grow up in.” 6 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: “Do the problems of returning and rebuilding by just a few survivors seem too much? But is anything too much for me? Not if I have my say.” 7-8 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: “I’ll collect my people from countries to the east and countries to the west. I’ll bring them back and move them into Jerusalem. They’ll be my people and I’ll be their God. I’ll stick with them and do right by them.”… 11-12 “But things have changed. I’m taking the side of my core of surviving people: Sowing and harvesting will resume, Vines will grow grapes, Gardens will flourish, Dew and rain will make everything green. 12-13 “My core survivors will get everything they need—and more. You’ve gotten a reputation as a bad-news people, you people of Judah and Israel, but I’m coming to save you. From now on, you’re the good-news people. Don’t be afraid. Keep a firm grip on what I’m doing.” 14-17 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: “In the same way that I decided to punish you when your ancestors made me angry, and didn’t pull my punches, at this time I’ve decided to bless Jerusalem and the country of Judah. Don’t be afraid. And now here’s what I want you to do: 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.” Decree of God.

INTRODUCTION

The main message of Zechariah 8 is summed up by God’s words in verse 13: “I will save you that you may become a blessing.” God’s people are blessed to bless others. God pours out His grace on us so that we will slop it over on others who are starving and dying without hope. Because God has promised to bless us abundantly, we should be a blessing to others.
This first word of the Lord to Zechariah breaks into two parts. Verses 1-8 present God’s promise to restore His blessing on the nation after the years of captivity. Verses 9-17 apply this promise to the remnant of Zechariah’s day that was rebuilding the temple.
The primary interpretation of this passage relates to Israel. But there are applications for us as the Church.

INTO THE LESSON

1-2 And then these Messages from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: “I am zealous for Zion—I care! I’m angry about Zion—I’m involved!” God’s Message: 3 “I’ve come back to Zion, I’ve moved back to Jerusalem. Jerusalem’s new names will be Truth City, and Mountain of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, and Mount Holiness.”
The people to whom Zechariah prophesied were a weak remnant of 50,000 people who had returned to a devastated land. Powerful enemies surrounded them. They were under Persian rule. While they saw glimmers of hope, these promises of God seemed distant.
God gave Zechariah these words of promise about the future to encourage His people to persevere. It’s important to note that God’s promised blessings depend on Him, not on us. Eleven times in this chapter we read, “Thus says God-of-the-Angel-Armies,” or some similar phrase. The name, “Yahweh,” occurs 22 times. Over and over God declares, “I will,” or “I am,” to declare His sure purpose. The theological principle is that God is saving, forgiving, delivering, restoring—One who delights to take “Not My People,” and make them “My People.”
*Regarding the Church, it’s important that we understand that God desires to save everyone, but the outcome of who gets saved depends on the free will of each person (John 3:16; Revelation 22:17). We must make the conscious decision to embrace the salvation God provides for us on the terms in which it is offered.
4-5 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: “Old men and old women will come back to Jerusalem, sit on benches on the streets and spin tales, move around safely with their canes—a good city to grow old in. And boys and girls will fill the public parks, laughing and playing—a good city to grow up in.” 6 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: “Do the problems of returning and rebuilding by just a few survivors seem too much? But is anything too much for Me? Not if I have my say.”
The promise of God is that the restoration will be all-inclusive—old and young will find safety, security and satisfaction.
Through the Prophet, God anticipates the response of these despondent people to be, “Yes, but…!” The population had been wiped out by the Babylonian invasion and captivity. The land was devastated and desolate. The thought of a prosperous Israel seemed impossible to them. But God promises that in the future, Jerusalem will be filled with the elderly and with children, living securely.
*Often, we make the mistake of judging God’s ability by our ability! God does not meet the need according to what we have or what we wish we had, but according to His purpose and His power.
7-8 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: “I’ll collect My people from countries to the east and countries to the west. I’ll bring them back and move them into Jerusalem. They’ll be My people and I’ll be their God. I’ll stick with them and do right by them.”
The promise of God is threefold—reclamation (redemption), ownership, and provision. It’s the same promise that God fulfilled for us with the coming of Jesus (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; John 13:1-17).
*We must not forget that, though we have free will, if we have accepted the salva-tion of Jesus, we no longer belong to ourselves, but we have surrendered owner-ship over to God (I Corinthians 6:20). Thus, our charge to is work to be more like the One who saved us.
11-12 “But things have changed. I’m taking the side of My core of surviving people: Sowing and harvesting will resume, Vines will grow grapes, Gardens will flourish, Dew and rain will make everything green. 12-13 “My core survivors will get everything they need—and more. You’ve gotten a reputation as a bad-news people, you people of Judah and Israel, but I’m coming to save you. From now on, you’re the good-news people. Don’t be afraid. Keep a firm grip on what I’m doing.”
God always works through a remnant, which is what the Church is—“a residue from what once was.” Here, Zechariah describes it as God’s core. It’s a reminder that…
• Not all who are called will positively respond.
• God, historically, requires little in order to accomplish much.
• God desires a cooperative venture with us that includes us doing what we can (sowing and harvesting) and trusting God to do the rest (Dew and rain).
God only asks one thing from the faithful remnant—Believe His promises and trust His mighty power to save! His promised blessings depend on Him, not on us.
14-17 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: “In the same way that I decided to punish you when your ancestors made me angry, and didn’t pull my punches, at this time I’ve decided to bless Jerusalem and the country of Judah. Don’t be afraid. And now here’s what I want you to do: 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.” Decree of God.
God often couples His divine sovereignty with human responsibility. Just because God has promised to bless us does not mean that we can do nothing and wait for the blessings to flow. His promised blessings require a response.
In these verses, Zechariah shows the remnant how the Lord expected them to respond to the promise of His blessing. It’s important to note that our devotion to God is represented in how we treat each other. This was the overriding theme of Jesus’ Gospel, and we are made to see that the theme is rooted in ancient Hebrew prophecy:
1. Be holy in our conduct. To call ourselves Christians and then to live like the world is to mock God. The fact that the Lord dwells among us demands that we be known as people of truth and holiness.
Holiness is wrapped up in practicality. It demands that we speak truth to one another, that we discern with truth, that we not devise evil in our hearts against one another, and that we do not love perjury. God says that He hates these things. As His people, we must not only love what God loves; we also need to hate what He hates. Since He is the God of truth, we need to hate false doctrine, deception, lies, hypocrisy, and vague moral standards that drift with our godless culture.
2. We should be a blessing to others. We become a blessing when our witness for God and for Jesus emanates from our lifestyle. Further, we should not rest until everyone has had the opportunity to experience the change that comes to us when Jesus is Lord.

CONCLUSION

An African proverb states, “There is only one crime worse than murder on the desert, and that is to know where the water is and not tell.” Every Christian has come to know Jesus, the living water. He has blessed us with His salvation and He promises to bless us even more abundantly in the future. But He didn’t save us so that we can sit in the lifeboat feeling warm and cozy, oblivious to the lost of the world. He saved us so that we may become a blessing to others.
If we’re saved, but we don’t have our focus on blessing others, we’ve only got half the picture. He blessed us so that we may become a blessing.

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