Sunday, November 17, 2019

Zechariah 1

Today's reading in our daily plan is Zechariah 1. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • Today, in our weekend readings of the Old Testament, we start the book of Zechariah. Zechariah was written around 500 BC to the Israelites living in Jerusalem. They had recently been permitted to move back from Babylon. They were supposed to rebuild the temple - which was the center of worship of God at the time - but the work had been hard and had stalled. Zechariah encourages and challenges them. (If any of that sounds familiar, it's because Haggai wrote at the same time, to the same people, with the same purpose.) Zechariah includes a lot of visual imagery/symbolism and some prophecies about the coming Messiah, which are fulfilled later by Jesus.
  • Zechariah begins by sharing God's message, "Return to me, and I will return to you." There is a warning to the Israelites to not be like their ancestors.
  • The Israelites had been in captivity in Babylon as a result of their turning away from God and sinning against Him. In the vision of the man on the red horse, an angel complains that the people had been exiled from their homes long enough. God speaks "kind and comforting words" (verse 13) and proclaims (verse 16) that it is time for them to be released and to go home to live and rebuild the temple.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • In the New Testament, in Hebrews 12:1-13, we learn that God is a good Father and will sometimes use the bad things that happen to us to discipline us. Similar to a parent who might give their kid a "time out" to teach them not to lie, God wants to correct our wrong thinking and wrong behavior to lead us to a better life. It's not that God is lashing out to punish, remember he is a "compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love" (Exodus 34:6). He loves you and his desire is to speak "kind and comforting words" to you, and he is always calling you to return to him.
  • The Israelites were to return and their first priority was to rebuild the temple. Why? Because back then the temple was the center of worship, and God was to be their first priority. God deserves for us to put him first, and our lives will only work when we put him first.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Have you been feeling like you're being "punished" by God? You're probably not. But if there is something in your life that you don't want, how might God want to use it to correct wrong thinking or wrong behavior in your life? How might he be using it to call you back to him?
  • Is God the first and top priority in your life? He is God - your Creator, Savior and Sustainer - and should be more than just an "add on" in your life. And if he is not your first and top priority, something else will be, which means you are really making that thing your god. The problem is that nothing else can be a good God for you and therefore your life won't quite work right. Take some time to pray, asking God to reveal what you have truly put first in your life. If it's not God, ask him to help you to change that.