11 December 2018Zechariah 8:1-8
'They shall be my people and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.' (v 8)
Psalm: Psalm 56
Sadly there have been many occasions in the last few years when we’ve seen on our television screens pictures of destroyed cities in the Middle East and other parts of the world. The houses are empty shells, the streets are filled with rubble, and any people who are left behind have very little for which to hope.
The experience of those to whom Zechariah wrote was not much different. When the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem in 586 BC they left widespread destruction behind them. The leadership of the city was taken into exile, and those who remained scratched whatever existence they could from the ruins. Life was hard and people were vulnerable. They must have felt that they were a forgotten people in an abandoned place.
In our reading today, Zechariah hears a very different message from God. The city has not been abandoned by the Lord, and the people are not forgotten. The rebuilt city will have a new energy, but it will be the energy of worship and of walking in God’s ways. Truth and holiness will prevail. Furthermore, the vulnerable will find health and safety, whether they be the elderly or children.
Of course such a picture may seem impossibly fanciful if you’re sitting, listless, in the middle of rubble. However, the prophet assures us, when God is involved nothing is impossible. The key to it all is in verse 8, where God’s covenant with his people is restated, not just for a few current residents but for all whom God will bring home.
- Have you ever felt that you had been abandoned by God? What helped you realise that God was still with you?
- The passage envisages care for the elderly and children as a particular sign of a city where God’s presence is acknowledged. How can our churches reflect this priority?