Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Keeping God's Blessings

The Minor Prophets Speak To Today

Securing Joy And Peace

Zechariah 8:18-19 NLT


18 Here is another message that came to me from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.19 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: The traditional fasts and times of mourning you have kept in early summer, midsummer, autumn, and winter are now ended. They will become festivals of joy and celebration for the people of Judah. So love truth and peace.

A Return To The Original Question

Perhaps you have forgotten the original question which God has been addressing:

Chapter 7: On December 7 of the fourth year of King Darius’s reign, another message came to Zechariah from the Lord. The people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regemmelech, along with their attendants, to seek the Lord’s favor. They were to ask this question of the prophets and the priests at the Temple of theLord of Heaven’s Armies: “Should we continue to mourn and fast each summer on the anniversary of the Temple’s destruction, as we have done for so many years?”

Since the asking, God has addressed the motives of the question, the motive for seeking a favor, the history behind the question, and several other issues. Now, after what must have seemed like God ignoring the nuts and bolts of the question, even the question itself, he returns an answer.

God's Answer

Chapter 8, verse 19: "The traditional fasts and times of mourning you have kept in early summer, midsummer, autumn, and winter are now ended."

Simple direct and to the point.
God has not forgotten.

God's Addendum

In God's wisdom, our human questions are never as simple as we think. The answer we seek from the divine is always richer than we envisioned. And so it was with God's answer to the representatives from Judah.

What is ended is replaced.
What is taken away is not left void.

Yes, the fasts and times of mourning are now ended. But they become festivals of joy and celebration. The duty removed does not leave a void. Ending worship by fasting and mourning does not do away with worship. Instead, the people must continue to gather. They must continue to stand before the Lord in worship. But the form of worship will now be a deep heartfelt joy welling up into outward celebration.

Remember, there was not a lot of joy among those who had returned to Judah. Rather, there was discouragement, weariness, downheartedness, and other conditions, but not joy. They did not ask can we substitute celebration for fasting and mourning. Pragmatic, they merely asked if their restoration to the land meant they could stop the fasting and mourning, the crying out for the day of return.

What they did not ask for God willed - joy and celebration.

What he willed, he would provide.

But there remained a condition, something he desired. Somethings he addressed and required them to abandon before he answered their request. But stopping these practices that God detests was not the goal.

God's goal was shalom - the love of truth and justice.

What is the cornerstone of keeping God's blessing?
What secures to us joy and celebration?
A deep love of truth and justice.
Our deep love of truth and justice.

For What We Love We Will Practice.

Photo Credits: 
Dangerous and Delicate by Wayne Anson, some rights reserved

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