Yesterday, I had the honor and privilege of preaching Zechariah 1:7-21 to the saints at Grace Community Church in Martin, TN.
We began the service with a call to worship from Psalm 85.
Psalm 85 parallels the flow of Zechariah 1 remarkably closely. The Jews of Zechariah’s day have returned to Jerusalem after the exile, and Zechariah preaches to them (in 1:1-6) that they must repent of the sin in their hearts, lest they follow in the destructive footsteps of their forefathers. They do indeed repent at the preaching of Zechariah (1:6b), which is where Psalm 85 begins:
“LORD, You showed favor to Your land;
You restored Jacob’s prosperity [or, restored Jacob from captivity].
You took away Your people’s guilt;
You covered all their sin. Selah
You withdrew all Your fury;
You turned from Your burning anger” (85:1-3 HCSB).
Then, the sons of Korah ask the same question as the Angel of the LORD in Zechariah 1:12–“Will You be angry with us forever? Will You prolong Your anger for all generations? Will You not revive us again so that Your people may rejoice in You?” (Psalm 85:5-6 HCSB).
The answer given in Zechariah 1 is also the answer given in Psalm 85: trust what God has promised, fear His holy name, for His salvation is never far from His people.
The LORD’s answer is that He is extremely jealous for His people and fiercely angry against the nations that wronged them. His faithful love to Israel joins with the truth of His promises (Psalm 85:10); He will bring about justice and righteousness in Jerusalem again.
His promises of abundant blessing and prosperity are mirrored by the closing of Psalm 85 as well.
In response to the reading of God’s word, we sang “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” and “Come, People of the Risen King.”
This sermon comes in the midst of a series through the book of Isaiah, in which God promises the judgment of exile for sin, but also the reality of mind-boggling blessing and prosperity in their restoration. The exile had come, just as God promised. A man named Cyrus came to power, just as God had promised. This Cyrus sent the people home, just as God had promised. But the blessing and prosperity and peace and rest that God had also promised had not yet come. The people were wondering if Yahweh had given up on restoring His covenant love with the people.
In “God Moves in a Mysterious Way,” we sing of our trust in God’s sovereignty in all things, even when things are dark and foreboding. “Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face” is a helpful reminder when God’s promises of good are slower in coming than we would expect or wish.
“Come, People of the Risen King” calls all believers to rejoice in the truth of the Gospel, regardless of what makes us different or alike. Those who are struggling can rejoice with those who are strong, and we can all remember the great faithfulness of our promise-making and promise-keeping God.
Then we hear the word of the Lord from Philippians 3:7-21.
In this text, Paul understands the reality of difficulty and suffering, but he holds on to the promise of future rest and glory. He ends the chapter with a reminder that this world, this age, is not our homeland, but we are citizens of the World and Age to Come. This world has broken into this present age through Jesus, and His return will complete the takeover. We, along with everything in creation, will be made sinlessly pleasing to God, and we will forever exalt and exult in Him.
We respond to this word by singing “A Mighty Fortress” and “How Can It Be?”.
The great enemy rages against us, and he is no pushover. He does all within his “craft and power…armed with cruel hate” to crush our hope and turn our hearts away from trusting Jesus. However, the “little word” of the gospel is the mighty sword that can fell the ancient serpent.
The culmination of all the promises of God is Jesus. In Him all things hold together, and in Him all the promises of God are “yes.” It is a miracle and blessing beyond expression that He delights in us to save us, and we express this joyous wonder in “How Can It Be?”.
The sermon text is Zechariah 1:7-21. The sermon audio can be found here.
We celebrated the Lord’s death and return in the Lord’s Supper, then we sang “Before the Throne of God Above.”
The text speaks of horns–symbols of strength and power–that were raised to oppress, wound, and crush God’s people. Instead, God sends His craftsmen to terrify and cut down those horns.
In the cross, empty tomb, and heavenly throne, the strength and power of sin, Satan, and death are all terrified and cut down. We celebrate this by taking the Lord’s Supper, proclaiming His victorious, vicarious death and eagerly awaiting His return.
We trust the future return of Jesus with hopeful rejoicing, because we know what He has already done for us, and also because we know He now intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father. “Before the Throne Above” speaks of the kindness and comfort from God that He is indeed jealous for us.
The closing benediction was 2 Timothy 4:18.
We leave gathered worship with the promise that no evil can ultimately prevail against the Lord or His Church; He will bring us all safely home into His kingdom.