Summary: We must resist the pressures to secularise our faith and to accept the beliefs of other gods. We must seek the peace of God in His Word, not in the words of humans.
God requires us to come with Clean Hands and a Clean Heart
ZECHARIAH 5:1 – 11
God requires us to come to Him with clean hands and a clean heart. This means that we need to look clean but we also need to be clean inside.
I find it interesting that the world so often concentrates on what people look like and what they have done: image, fashion, eating/drinking the right things, wearing the right clothes, wearing the right make-up.
God is more interested in the inside, what we are and what we are like. Jesus, when He was teaching His disciples, emphasised the importance of what we are thinking and feeling, rather than what we are doing.
Matt 5:21, 22 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
Matt 5:27, 28 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
So, spiritually speaking, where were the people of Israel?
They had returned from a long period of exile in Babylonia. Whilst in exile their pagan idolatry had been cured. They had become a righteous people, following the requirements of the law, observing the sacrifices and the various religious festivals.
Rather like those of us who always make sure that we are in church for Christmas, Lent, Easter, Whitsun, and Advent. Their worship of God had become a process and a procedure; it was of the body not of the heart. They had become self-centred and spiritually dry. They were in the desert of their own religious experience rather than the lush plains of God’s deliverance.
They had been delivered from captivity and exile in Babylon and had been transported into the Promised Land of Israel. However, they had become rich in exile and had brought the wealth with them. Just as Jesus had to make the comment of the rich young (Matt 19: 23, 24) “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.””, He was making the same sorts of statements through Zechariah.
A contemporary of Zechariah, Haggai (1:3-8) rebuked them for living in luxury whilst God’s house was unfinished. But they still relied upon the ancient covenant with Abraham; they believed that they were God’s people and deserving of His favour.
Paul reminds us that we are the temple of the living God (1Cor 3:16, 17) “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.” Have we put our lives right? Are our bodies and lives finished and fit for God to dwell in, or are we still choosing to live our own wayward life and expecting God to honour His New Covenant? Are we trying to have our cake and eat it? Are we claiming salvation and eternal life with God in heaven whilst we carry on living sinful and dishonouring lives?
God demands that we actually do repent in all aspects:
• That we give up all aspects of wanting to serve the Prince of this world, Satan.
• That we become spiritually clean and worship Him inwardly as well as outwardly.
• That we bow the heart as well as the knees.
God spoke to His people through these two visions to correct the wrong attitudes and ideas that the people of Israel had. It was serious, because these people were living their lives right through the doors of hell, not through the gates of heaven that they were expecting, as a chosen people.
Are we making the same mistake? Are we expecting heaven, but living for hell?
1. The Flying Scroll (1-4).
This scroll was huge: 30’ x 15’. It was big enough that no-one could miss it. It reminded them about the law of God (that they were breaking):
(a) Ex 20:15 "You shall not steal.”
(b) Ex 20:7 "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name”
(a) “Every thief will be banished” (3) Ex 20:15 "You shall not steal.”