Summary: We believe that God will do that which seems “impossible”. We believe that God will take each opportunity, each act of service, each expression of love to one another and use that for His glory and His Kingdom.
I Still Believe
Sept 7, 2008 Zech 8:1-8
I think I used to be more of a dreamer. I was never a pure idealist, with a grand vision of the perfect future “if only…”, but I have been close.
I remember studying Romans 6 and hearing the Holy Spirit loudly saying “YES! It IS possible for you to live a holy life, and to defeat the power of sin in your life!!”
I remember listening to a powerful sermon about really, honestly embracing Jesus, making Him the centre, and feeling so moved and inspired that I walked out of that sanctuary and actually jumped into the air and yelled my “YES!!”, to many rather strange looks from the others around me…
I remember starting in ministry eighteen years ago, with a group of about 12 teens playing a game that ended with all of us hiding in this one dark, close place, where I then led us in a prayer to start our year and I just knew that God was going to change these lives for eternity.
And now I’m 37 years old. I’ve been in ministry for pretty much 18 years. And I confess, it sometimes seems harder to dream.
My belief that we CAN live a holy life is confronted with 18 years of trying and sometimes failing more than succeeding.
My inspiration to live with Jesus always at the centre is confronted with 18 years of regularly looking and seeing how many times I’ve let other parts of life push Jesus out of the center.
My conviction that God is going to change the lives of people to whom I have the privilege of ministering and shape their eternities is confronted with 18 years of the reality that that doesn’t always happen.
I still believe. I still dream. But now I find I have to guard those beliefs and dreams more closely. I have to live in the tension of the grand dream on one hand and the reality that is today on the other hand. I have to find a way to believe the dream, see the reality clearly, and choose today only those things that will take us the very next step from the reality to the dream.
Last Sunday in our ongoing study of Zechariah we read a hard passage, asking us a very penetrating question about whether all the stuff we are doing is really for God, or for ourselves. It left us in a place of confessing and repenting.
Today we move into chapter 8, and the confrontational tone changes completely. One scholar explains, “Abruptly, the tone of rebuke in chap 7 modulates into a description of Zion’s glorious future… in (chap 7) Israel was to repent and live righteously after the punishment of captivity; here she is to repent and live righteously because of the promise of her future restoration.” (Klein, New American Commentary, p. 232. Klein quotes Baker in the second half of this quotation). We move into chapter 8, and we see God’s dream – His grand, captivating, amazing vision. And it is powerful.
Zech 8:1-5 (NLT)
“1 Then another message came to me from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: 2 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: My love for Mount Zion is passionate and strong; I am consumed with passion for Jerusalem!
3 “And now the Lord says: I am returning to Mount Zion, and I will live in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City; the mountain of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will be called the Holy Mountain.
4 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Once again old men and women will walk Jerusalem’s streets with their canes and will sit together in the city squares. 5 And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls at play.”
Our Passionate God (vs.1-2):
This passage is incredible. Beautiful, moving, inspiring. It reminds me of those dreams that I’ve had, and rekindles them. I pray it will do the same for you as we walk through it.
These first 2 verses repeat something we saw earlier in Zechariah, and God takes them further here in chapter 8. What we read here is an emotional explosion from the mouth of the God of the Universe towards His people. Notice the words, “love” that is “passionate” and “strong”, a God who is “consumed with passion for Jerusalem”!
My friends, our God is not some stately old intellectual sitting calmly on some royal throne. Here we see our God with incredibly strong emotion, exuberantly and loudly jumping off the page with energy and life and enthusiasm, because of His love for His people. God is like the young man who has found the love of his life and can’t hold it in, wants to shout it from the mountain tops, has such strong emotion inside that he has to get it out and so even runs up to perfect strangers and grabs them by the shoulders and shouts, “I love her!! I love her!!”