Zechariah’s Message and Warning Also Applies to Christians

August 8, 2018 at 11:44 AM 4 comments

What is fascinating throughout the 14 chapters of Zechariah is that it is not that difficult for Christians to see ourselves in his message. I want to be clear here though, because I hate it with a passion when people quote aspects of the Old Testament that speaks directly to Israel and they believe God was speaking to them (Christians) today. There are always or nearly always applications we can make to our own lives, but it is extremely important to keep things in context because the context itself often helps flesh out the meaning of Scripture.

If we look to the first chapter of Zechariah, we note that there are several things happening here. After an extremely brief introduction of himself, Zechariah moves into the main reason he spoke to Israel/Judah. He comes right to the point in verse 2 of chapter one:

The Lord hath been sore displeased with your fathers.

This is quite an indictment. Why was God so displeased with the previous generation of Israelites? Because they were spiritual adulterers (idolaters)! Zechariah is referring to that nation’s forefathers, those who were alive leading up to the capture and captivity by Babylon. Zechariah issues a warning to this newly released generation of Israelites that the very thing that happened to their forefathers could just as easily happen to them if they were not careful.

“Sore displeased” literally means “furious” or “full of wrath.” This is not Someone who is perturbed a bit. This is God who is so angry that it compelled Him to deal justly with a nation of people who not only ignored Him but slapped Him in the face continually through their cavalier attitude of “worship.” Outwardly, they often did what they were supposed to do, but it did not come from the heart. It was simply something they put on like a hat. By wearing this “worship hat,” they believed that they would be accepted by God. Once they were done “worshiping,” they removed that “hat” and went their merry way, continuing their evil practices.

God did not have a beef with this newly released generation of Israelites…yet. He was more than willing to give them an opportunity to prove their spiritual mettle to Him. For that reason, God sent Zechariah to provide an indictment, a warning, and a promise. The indictment was against their forefathers and would also be against them if they chose the same path as their forefathers had chosen. The warning was for this new generation of exiles returning to the Land of Israel that they should do all to ensure that they are worshiping God in truth, from the heart. The promise was given so that they would know the benefits of richly and truthfully serving and worshiping the God of the universe and no other.

All of this came from the prophet Zechariah to the people of Israel; Jews who had been in captivity by Babylon’s Nebuchadnezzar for 70 years. God was extending a very worthwhile olive branch. The hope was that they would not follow the same path as their forefathers had followed. If they did, they would come to the same end. The choice was really theirs to make.

Interestingly enough, commentator David M. Levy, in his commentary on Zechariah notes the following about this particular generation of Jews.

Although permanently cured of idolatry, this new generation was in danger of giving only lip service to the Lord instead of giving Him their hearts. Zechariah’s message disseminates an ageless truth that repentance must always come before blessing and that change must follow repentance. All too often, believers pay lip service to God’s message and show little change in the way they live. [1]

Let’s be honest. Does this describe you and me? Most likely. As Christians, we don’t simply repent once and are done. That would be the case if once we received salvation, God excised our sin nature at the same time. This is not something He does though and because of it, we will continue sinning from time to time (or greatly) throughout the remainder of our lives. How much we sin will depend upon how much of our heart is given to God (1 John 1:18).

But just as we initially come to repentance because we begin to see that we cannot save ourselves and Someone far greater on the outside must do it for us, there will be times in our lives when we will need to repent again. When was the last time you repented? When was the last time you realized you did something wrong and confessed it to God, our loving Father?

We all have “soft” spots where sin seeks its way. We all have faults and weaknesses that we all too often give into. I have them. You have them. The first chapter of James explains this perfectly. Read it and worship Him.

Lately, the Lord has been really working on me in a particular area. It may seem to be absolutely nothing to you but it’s huge to me. I’m not sure why, though I have my suspicions. When I hear dogs in the neighborhood barking non-stop, it’s like someone hits me with a baseball bat in my gut. It is an automatic visceral reaction that makes me want to go and smack the person who owns the dog. It’s not really the dog’s fault. It’s the owner’s fault and God love them, those people never seem to be bothered by dogs who bark incessantly. Of course, my reaction is not one that brings God glory!

I was talking to my neighbor (nicely) about his dog who does this. He’s got a Black Mouth Cur. This particular breed makes a great hunting dog…if properly trained. They can be ferocious against animals including deer. They generally need a good area to roam in. They should be put through a training program starting at four to six months. When you walk that dog, they should never be allowed to walk in front of you because it sends the wrong message to the dog, making him think he’s in charge. It should also not be allowed to simply bark whenever it wants to bark. It must be taught the difference so that it knows when it’s time to hunt and when it’s not time to hunt.

While I was talking to my neighbor I gently mentioned his barking (it was admittedly tough to be gentle here). His response: “He’s a hunting dog. That’s what he does.” I knew this was not correct and I also knew this guy knew nothing about this particular breed.

But why has God allowed this into my life? Why is my reaction so visceral and quick in response to a barking dog? I can listen to cows moo and even “yell” and that doesn’t bother me. I can listen to our chickens cluck and chatter and that doesn’t bother me. When I hear a dog bark, I start to go bonkers.

So far, God has not released me from this “thorn in my flesh” but I’ve finally figured something out that I’ve missed for too long (duh). These types of situations come into our lives from time to time and for me to respond to them in anger is simply, flat-out wrong. There must be a better way! What I’ve finally begun to see (again, duh!), is that in spite of how much a barking dog grates on my nerves, God wants me to respond to it in a way that brings Him glory, period! What does this mean?

It means simply that in my response, I must not sin in any form. That may seem really obvious, but think about your own particular pet peeves and how you respond when faced with them? It is difficult at times to respond in a way that brings glory to God once our negative emotions get involved. These tend to push common sense and accountability off to the side. We end up thinking or saying things we ought not to think or say (James 1:26).

The bottom line is that if I am truly a Christian (I am), and I want to please God in all things (I do), then clearly, I have to adjust my thinking and allow my heart to be softened by Him. It is not enough to repent or feel bad about a reaction to something. God is there to help us overcome. Amen?

For awhile, the guy next door had gone up to Michigan and had taken his dog with him. When we returned home from our vacation last week, he had arrived back home after several months of being away. I was devastated because I knew the relative peace and quiet was over. I was right.

My initial reaction was anger, sadness and feeling at my wit’s end. What could be done? There were sinful things that could be done, but they were completely off-limits to me as a Christian. I stewed. I cried out to God. Finally, the truth set in. God was and is teaching me that any reaction I had to any situation must be one that brings Him glory. In order for this to occur, sin cannot be involved in any form.

So last week, I spent all day (while I went through my day), thanking God that I was dealing with this particular situation (James 1:2-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:18). I knew of nothing else to do! Through praise, I was submitting myself to God for His working in and through me and for His glory.

I finally concluded that God wanted to bring me to a place where my reaction was in line with His and therefore would be one that would bring Him glory. I’m not there yet, but I believe through God’s strength, I will be there. I believe that one day – hopefully soon – I will react automatically in a way that brings Him glory and gives no room for the flesh (sin nature) to thrive.

I believe that Christians have the same obligation that the Jews of old did in the sense that our hearts must be thoroughly dedicated to God. We must be willing to live in a way that brings God glory. If not, we will always be seeking our self. This self-aggrandizement is anathema to God. He wants better for us. Much better.

Zechariah first presented God’s indictment of Israel’s forefathers. He then warned that newly released from captivity generation that the same would happen to them if they took the same path. Even though they had been cured of idolatry, they were guilty of being very complacent where God was concerned, simply going through motions that made them appear outwardly to be spiritual. God wanted their hearts because true spirituality flowed from a heart centered on God and His will, His way, and for His glory.

My pastor was preaching from Romans 8 this past Sunday. Among other things he focused on Romans 8:18, which says, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

We think we have problems? We think we are so pressed down it is difficult to look up? We all have our individual weaknesses and tendencies to give into areas of temptation that are specific to our personalities and upbringing. God can help us overcome all. He may not remove the problem, but He will certainly be willing to help us overcome its power over us.

Zechariah insisted that the Israelites follow God with a pure heart, an undivided heart. This would require quickly admitting when they failed. We need to do the same thing. We need to acknowledge our failures before God, not to dwell on them. Not to beat ourselves over the head with them. We must admit and confess them so that we can regain fellowship with God once again. Christians who do not do this may think they are in fellowship with God, but they are not. They are in fellowship with themselves only. This can happen to any Christian! It’s happened to me and it’s likely happened to you.

I do not want to stand before God one day and be thoroughly embarrassed and filled with dread because of my lack of heart for God in this life. I know that I will never be in danger of losing salvation, but it is of growing importance to me that I do not misuse or take advantage of His grace.

[1] David M. Levy, Zechariah, p. 21

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Cultural Marxism, Demonic, devil worship, Emotional virtue, eternity, israel, Judaism, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, second coming. Tags: .

Ark Encounter Predators in Pulpits?

4 Comments

  • 1. Paul H Faruga  |  August 8, 2018 at 2:47 PM

    Hello Mr. Modres.
    I follow your posts avidly and whilst I do not always agree with your own conclusions I always have time to read and ponder what you have to say. Personally I think this is a good thing because if all Christians were thinking exactly the same way at exactly the same time then perhaps I missed the rapture.

    On this particular issue I believe you are spot on.

    Without going into specifics the argument was over a parking space (which anybody is entitled to use but who one guy though was his own space because it was outside his house). I just happened to be the one on whom he decided to spew his venom out onto.

    By the grace of father, and the fact that I am too old for that kind of stuff anyway, it did not descend into fisticuffs. The fact that the desire was there still bothers me and I am still praying this through.

    I heard a preacher recently say that Jesus has placed us on top of the mountain and we should not descend from the summit. He was referring to loss of salvation. I believe that we have indeed been placed on top of the mountain and as we journey towards the summit the thorns of the flesh are removed, as in Jesus crown of thorns, until we arrive when the job will be complete.

    I give thanks to Father that this guy did not decide to physically attack me as I would surely have been defeated in the flesh. I give thanks to Father that I can still pray to him for my spiritual healing (breaking the tenth commandment) and I give thanks to Father that He does not give up on us. I pray that I may at sometime be able to bear a proper testimony to this man as to the grace of Jesus and at least adopt a live and let live policy on this earth if nowhere else.

    Forgive my lack of literary skills but I pray in the spirit you will get the spirit of what I am trying to communicate.

    May the good lord continue to bless you in your ministry.

    • 2. modres  |  August 8, 2018 at 3:31 PM

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to write with your thoughts. I appreciate that greatly. No worries on not agreeing with me on everything I write. There is certainly wiggle room within theological circles and it’s more important that we agree on the fundamentals of the faith.

      Regarding your situation, I can absolutely relate. It’s heart-breaking isn’t it when we get a glimpse of ourselves for what is within us? As we draw closer to the Lord on a daily basis, we will also encounter more of our SELF seeking its own, seeking to glorify itself. Big sigh here. That will be the way it is until we see Him face to face. I look forward to and long for that day. I cannot imagine existing without a sin nature. I read 1 Corinthians 13 and other sections of Scripture that speak of the real definition of love and the fruit of the Spirit and in so many ways, I just fall short of that. It helps me to understand what the apostle Paul meant when he stated, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24).

      It’s a very good question. We will always exist within the dichotomy of realizing and dealing with our corruption, shortcomings, and fallen nature on one hand, while giving thanks for His righteousness imputed to our account on the other and the indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit who helps us in our infirmities. It can be tiring and frustrating, but we are the ones who sinned, not God. He graciously stoops so that we will, like Peter, reach for Him when we find ourselves sinking in the waters of life.

      I pray the Lord’s tremendous blessing on you and yours as well, Paul. Thanks again for writing.

      • 3. Paul H Faruga  |  August 8, 2018 at 6:02 PM

        Thank you for your reply and encouragement brother;
        AMEN
        MARANATHA

      • 4. modres  |  August 8, 2018 at 6:25 PM

        Thank you as well, brother 👍🏼😎


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