Listening with One Ear

July 31, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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There was a time when God’s people were in captivity for a period of 70 years as chastening for their disobedience and idolatry. During that time, they formally fasted and wept in the fifth and seventh months of each year. These practices were done in obedience to God’s law, but they were done halfheartedly, and God was not deceived.

Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?

Zechariah 7:5-6

How often are we guilty of observing some type of religious routine without really doing it for the Lord? Have you ever read your Bible or done your devotions with only half of your mind engaged? Doing the assignment or reading the regularly scheduled passage without really listening for the voice of God to speak to you personally? How often do we sit through church sermons with one ear attuned to the preaching of God’s Word and the other ear tuned to other matters, drifting in and out of attentiveness as though we were attending a history lecture or a math lesson while waiting for the school bell to ring?

There is a real danger that, in our selfishness and laziness, we will miss out on what God wants us to know. His Work and His Spirit were not given for our amusement and they are not optional if we are to live victorious Christian lives. God has given us a great gift in being able to listen to His voice through the reading, preaching, and teaching of His Word. The consequences of listening casually without really hearing can be dire.

But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts. Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the Lord of hosts: But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.

Zechariah 7:11-14

A man with only one ear engaged when God is speaking may not necessarily hear half as MUCH as the man with two ears, but the problem is that he only hears half as WELL.

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The Possessiveness of God

April 6, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Posted in Zechariah | 6 Comments
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Lord, please make those of us who have received Christ to be a people that do not love the world. Help us to crucify our love for material things. Help us to use the gifts You’ve given us not as toys to play with, nor as weapons to fight each other with, nor as trophies to admire – but as tools to build with for Your glory. In the Name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.

Zechariah Chapter 7 tells us that, once the walls and the temple had been rebuilt, the people wanted to know from Zechariah if they needed to continue celebrating the fast that commemorated the burning of the temple.

Then came the word of the LORD of hosts unto me, saying, Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?

Zechariah 7:4-6

Traditions are often good, even though traditionalism is bad. We have about 2000 years of Christian tradition, documented history, and writings. Even more important than that, we have the immutable Word of God. No Scripture is of private interpretation. If my interpretation disagrees with 1900 of the 2000 years of Christian scholarship, it does not automatically mean my interpretation is wrong, but it certainly means that we should scrutinize my interpretation very carefully in light of the Bible. For the people in Zechariah’s time, God did not want to address the issue of the fasts that commemorated tragedies right away. First He wanted them to know that it’s more important to repent of the sins that caused the tragedies.

Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother: And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.

Zechariah 7:9-10

In Zechariah 8 God begins to speak through Zechariah, not as if this was a starting-over of His covenants, but as if this was a renewing of His covenants.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury. Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain.

Zechariah 8:2-3

It is as if God is saying, “You’ve been away from Me, and I had to chasten You. But I am a jealous God. I am jealous of my people, and I am coming back.” It was a great blessing for the Lord’s presence to dwell among His people, for it meant that they were safe. But He is not speaking euphemistically when He says “My” people. These people were His favorites. They belonged to Him – He owned them. He considered them to be married to Him.

It is a terrible thing to cheat on an earthly spouse, but people do it and take their chances. To cheat on a jealous God Who rules the universe is another matter – far more serious. This doctrine of “I will be your God, and you will be My people” runs all through Scripture.

And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.

Zechariah 8:8

This is the love of God. He loves His people. He doesn’t plead with them to know that He is God – He wants to be their God. And He does not need to change so the people will like Him better. He must give His people a new heart because sinful hearts are not just indifferent about God. They are God-hating and God-mocking.

As Christians, we live on promises, not explanations. When I am sick, I go to the doctor and I want him to give me medicine, not a medical book. The love of God is beyond our ability to explain. But we must receive it by faith. Looking in the mirror of God’s Word and seeing my sin, and believing by faith that God loves me, is a great miracle. We will be His people and He will be our God.

The Lord answers the questions about the fasts in Zechariah 8:19: “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.” His answer is that fasting will turn into feasting.


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