August 6, 2018 – Hope in the Midst of Gloom and Doom

May I be transparent for a moment? Zechariah is scary. It is a difficult book to match up with church music. I considered playing Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor for this coming Sunday. I am certainly looking forward to hearing what Pastor Jim is going to teach us.

In all seriousness, as I was reading Zechariah, several things stood out to me: God is holy; God is just; God is merciful. When we read the prophets, we are often tempted to focus on the wrath and punishment. It is so easy to read, “People’s flesh will rot off their bones…their eyes will rot in their sockets and their tongues in their mouths,” and be slightly put off!

Focusing on the gloom and doom of the passage causes us to miss the point. God was using Zechariah to reinvigorate God’s people to rebuild the ruined Temple. Eugene Peterson, author of The Message, says it this way in an introductory essay about Zechariah:

[The] people were faced with more than a ruined Temple and city. Their self-identity as the people of God was in ruins. For a century they had been knocked around by the world powers…. [They] had been treated with contempt for so long that they were in danger of losing all connection with the past, losing their magnificent identity as God’s people.

[Zechariah’s] messages forged a fresh vocabulary that gave energy and credibility to the long-term purposes of God being worked out in their lives.1

The Israelite people had grown complacent in their dire state. They had faced a century of debasement and ridicule, and had lost their passion for worshiping God. But God sent Zechariah to reinvigorate and encourage. God always has a mission for God’s people.

Zechariah’s enigmatic visions, working at multiple levels, and his poetically charged messages are at work still, like time capsules in the lives of God’s people, continuing to release insight and hope and clarity for the people whom God is using to work out [God’s] purposes in a world that has no language for God and the purposes of God.1

We have a mission to do God’s work, to spread God’s light, and to share God’s love in the world. God is not a God of destruction but a God of restoration!

O Zion, Haste

 O Zion, haste, thy mission high fulfilling,
To tell to all the world that God is light,
That God who made all nations is not willing
One soul should perish, lost in shades of night.

Publish glad tidings, tidings of peace,
Tidings of Jesus, redemption and release.

Proclaim to every people, tongue, and nation
That God in whom they live and move is love.
Tell how God stooped to save God’s lost creation
And died on earth that man might live above.

Publish glad tidings, tidings of peace,
Tidings of Jesus, redemption and release.

Give of thy sons to bear the message glorious;
Give of thy wealth to speed them on their way.
Pour out thy soul for them in prayer victorious;
And all thou spendest Jesus will repay.

Publish glad tidings, tidings of peace,
Tidings of Jesus, redemption and release.

Lyrics by Mary Ann Thomson
Music by James Walch

– Shelton

 

1 Peterson, Eugene H. The Message Remix: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2006.