Summary: The way we have acted in the past in our relationship with God changes as we grow and understand the purposes God has for us. We need to constantly keep our spiritual eyes open to the spiritual newness God has brought into our lives and then be open to transformation.
You can listen to the full message here:-
Jexit: Judah Comes Home
It Is Time To Move Forward
A sermon on Zechariah 8:1-23
There is an iconic image from the Vietnam War. It is of a 10 year old girl running towards the camera and screaming - she is one of many victims of a napalm bomb.
Her clothes have been burnt completely off and she needed to spend more than a year in hospital having countless painful skin grafts and other surgeries to help her survive.
Her name is Kim Phuc. She is now 53.
At 19, she became a Christian … and she credits her faith for helping her embrace life again.
"I really want to thank God that he spared my life when I was a little girl," she says. "Whatever happened to me, I have another opportunity to be alive, to be healthful, to be a blessing, to help honour other people."
Another opportunity to live. That is important isn’t it.
When we have gone through difficulties in life it can be hard at times to move on can’t it.
Maybe you have had a really tragic circumstance in your life, or a faith crisis.
Perhaps it was the result of moral failure, or huge consequences for the rest of your life as the result of poor decisions.
You let yourself down. You let others down. You let God down.
But that was in the past, and now you are here.
And the question we are asking is “How do you move forward?”
This is one of the issues that was being faced by the people who had returned from Judah.
They have gone through a really difficulty.
70 years in exile. But now they are on the other side of that situation.
The exact moment we have in mind here is spoken of in Zechariah 7:1-3
1 In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, the month of Kislev. 2 The people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-Melek, together with their men, to entreat the Lord 3 by asking the priests of the house of the Lord Almighty and the prophets, “Should I mourn and fast in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?”
It is 7th December 518BC.
The people have returned from Babylon in 538BC - 20 years earlier … they started building the temple and had the foundation, but then got discouraged and stopped.
After a lot of messing around the finally began to build the temple in earnest in December 520BC … two years ago.
We will get to it in a further sermon but the temple will be finished on 12th March 515BC … just over 2 years from now.
They are about halfway through the building project.
So if we picture the situation we can imagine the building taking shape and good progress being made.
People are noticing the change.
In light of the progress Sharezer and Regem-Melek ask a really good question.
Do we need to keep fasting?
In the Old Testament the act of fasting was connect with repenting from sin and acknowledging the consequences of sin.
Fasting was also connected with times of mourning-especially when a death had occurred.
We know that while the people were in exile they regularly had times of fasting. In fact they had four fasts. And the month of these fasts coincided with events connected with the destruction of Jerusalem.
3 In the ninth day of the fourth month … 7 They killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. Then they put out his eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. (2 Kings 25:3, 7)
This is significant because it means the line of king David on the throne has been cut off.
There is a fast which remind people of this event.
On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He set fire to the temple of the Lord … (2 Kings 25:8-9)
This is the fast that Sharazer is talking about … the temple is destroyed.
In the seventh month, … all the people from the least to the greatest, together with the army officers, fled to Egypt for fear of the Babylonians. (2 Kings 25:25-26)
Once this has taken place it means there is no more possibility for a Judean person to rule in Judah. All who could have possibly taken the role have fled to Egypt.
The fast is a reminder of this void.
So in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. (2 Kings 25:1)