Today’s Reading: Zechariah 1-7
Today’s Reflection: Zechariah 7:8-11
8) And the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, 9) “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, 10) do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” 11) But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear.
Much of the writings of the prophets are warnings of God bringing destruction against various peoples. Most often the people of Israel and Judah. His people. But there’s a very good reason for this and Zechariah talks about it in today’s text. God builds relationships with people then gives them instruction. His relationship with Israel began with Abraham (Genesis 17:1-5), grew with Isaac (Genesis 17:19-21), then Jacob (Genesis 35:9-15) and his 12 sons who would ultimately become the 12 tribes of Israel. God’s instructions were passed down to a people who knew Him, who had been blessed by Him, who had been freed by Him (Exodus 20:2), and who had been given the Promised Land by Him (Deuteronomy 6:1-3). Yet when it came to the obedience necessary to truly be God’s people, they refused. They were happy to receive the blessings, but not to truly acknowledge or follow God as their Lord.
And this isn’t just a matter of disagreeing with God’s laws or instructions. If it was they could discuss their issues and concerns with God. Just like Abraham challenged God’s plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:22-33), or how Moses objected when God threatened to destroy the children of Israel and begin a new nation with him (Exodus 32:9-14). In fact God invites us to reason with Him (), but there’s no sign of Israel trying to do this here.
No, the behaviour Zechariah is describing showed Judah turning away from the word of God, plugging their ears so they couldn’t hear His instructions. They didn’t turn away because they questioned the rightness of God’s words. They turned away because they knew God’s words were true, but didn’t want to be bound to them. They didn’t want to be held accountable. They wanted to continue to live selfishly comfortable lives. So they ignored God and His prophets, hoping to pretend not to know better, hoping to be able to claim ignorance should judgment ever come upon them. But the next verse told what the outcome of their behavior would be:
Zechariah 7:12-14 – 12) They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the Lord of hosts. 13) “As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,” says the Lord of hosts, 14) “and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations that they had not known. Thus the land they left was desolate, so that no one went to and fro, and the pleasant land was made desolate.
Perhaps the most terrifying thing here is God saying to Judah, in effect, “since you’re saying you can’t hear me when I give you instruction, I can’t hear you when you pray to me in times of need, trouble and anguish”. As the Word says, sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2).
What God wants from us is a relationship, and that requires giving as well as and taking. Just as a friendship or marriage would be dysfunctional if one person gave all the time but never received anything in return, the same would be true in our relationship with God.
The amazing thing is God is willing to give abundantly to us to begin with, then wait patiently for us to respond to Him with our love, devotion and obedience.
1 John 4:19 – We love because he first loved us.
But God can’t wait forever. Judgment is coming.
Isaiah 1:18-20 – 18) “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. 19) If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; 20) but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”