I Will Restore Them

By on August 19, 2018

Part 16 in Sermon Series: A Region Ripe for Revival

Scripture reading from Zechariah 10

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  1. Donald McMahon
    August 19, 2018

    “I Will Restore Them” (Zechariah 10)(8.19.18)
    Zechariah 10:1–12 (NIV84) The Lord Will Care for Judah
    10 Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime;
    it is the Lord who makes the storm clouds.
    He gives showers of rain to men,
    and plants of the field to everyone.
    2 The idols speak deceit,
    diviners see visions that lie;
    they tell dreams that are false,
    they give comfort in vain.
    Therefore the people wander like sheep
    oppressed for lack of a shepherd.
    3 “My anger burns against the shepherds,
    and I will punish the leaders;
    for the Lord Almighty will care
    for his flock, the house of Judah,
    and make them like a proud horse in battle.
    4 From Judah will come the cornerstone,
    from him the tent peg,
    from him the battle bow,
    from him every ruler.
    5 Together they will be like mighty men
    trampling the muddy streets in battle.
    Because the Lord is with them,
    they will fight and overthrow the horsemen.
    6 “I will strengthen the house of Judah
    and save the house of Joseph.
    I will restore them
    because I have compassion on them.
    They will be as though
    I had not rejected them,
    for I am the Lord their God
    and I will answer them.
    7 The Ephraimites will become like mighty men,
    and their hearts will be glad as with wine.
    Their children will see it and be joyful;
    their hearts will rejoice in the Lord.
    8 I will signal for them
    and gather them in.
    Surely I will redeem them;
    they will be as numerous as before.
    9 Though I scatter them among the peoples,
    yet in distant lands they will remember me.
    They and their children will survive,
    and they will return.
    10 I will bring them back from Egypt
    and gather them from Assyria.
    I will bring them to Gilead and Lebanon,
    and there will not be room enough for them.
    11 They will pass through the sea of trouble;
    the surging sea will be subdued
    and all the depths of the Nile will dry up.
    Assyria’s pride will be brought down
    and Egypt’s scepter will pass away.
    12 I will strengthen them in the Lord
    and in his name they will walk,”
    declares the Lord.
    The word of God for the people of God.
    Title: “I Will Restore Them”
    LET US PRAY.
    INTRODUCTION:
    In years gone by, when I had more free time on weekends, I would play a lot of chess tournaments. Sometimes, due to poor decisions on my part, I would find myself in a very bad position. The situation called for crazy creativity. It called for taking a risk. The position had to become unbalanced and unpredictable. I was unable to concretely see the end of the combinations. It was only a glimmer of possibility that was revealed. In these desperate positions, I sometimes played my best chess, my most interesting chess. Someone else watching the game might think it was brilliant, but they couldn’t see that the fertile and rich play was a result of weakness and confusion.
    The danger in my sharing this illustration is that you might hear me talking about myself; but, it isn’t about me at all. Throughout each and every day, we all have to make a series of decisions. They often relate to each other and build upon one another. And each day layers on the decisions of the previous day. Sometimes we find ourselves in challenging situations.
    Instead of becoming depressed or despondent, we should look at these bad situations, these bad positions, as opportunities. We can grow as we cope and contend. There is a mystery about life that we can embrace. How will God use me and this situation? How will the LORD turn this for good? Where does my strength come from? It comes from the LORD. Yes, our faith grows as we depend on the LORD to restore us, to bring us through the storms of life.
    BODY:
    This tenth chapter of Zechariah is overflowing with difficult positions for God’s chosen people. There are all kinds of circumstances that must be combatted. Drought; storm clouds; idolatry; falsehood; oppression; lack of direction; battles; muddy streets; rejection by God; exile; troubling and stormy seas; and, international conflict.
    Who is the “primary actor” in this chapter? Clearly it is the LORD. Ask the Lord. The Lord makes. He gives showers. My anger burns. I will punish. The LORD Almighty will care. The Lord is with them. I will strengthen. I will save. I will restore. I have compassion. I rejected them. I am the Lord their God. I will answer. I will signal. I will gather. I will redeem. I scatter. They will remember me. I will bring them back. Again, I will strengthen. And finally, thus declares the LORD.
    We have one avenue of asking the Lord, through prayer. Rain gives life to people and to plants, to crops necessary for life. Finding sustaining water is key to life today as always. If you watch any of the survival television shows you can see how critical drinking water is to human survival. In my Coast Guard survival training we were taught that water is the most critical factor.
    The human race has always sought ways to make it rain and pagan people almost always have some kind of rain or storm god. Even today, we try to make it rain. For years now, we have been trying to seed clouds to make and increase rain. Texas has 16 planes used to seed clouds. This past February an ABC news report said that the studies in Texas give promising though not conclusive results.
    While I found the details of cloud seeding interesting, we don’t have time to go into them now. There is ONE overriding control factor though. You need to have clouds, and certain types of clouds, to make seeding possible. As of yet, the human race has not figured out how to make clouds.
    The scriptures tell us that Elijah prayed and there was drought. After defeating the prophets of Baal on top of Mount Carmel, Elijah went off and literally prayed up a storm. He prayed, then prayed some more; until a tiny cloud was formed. The LORD ended the drought and brought forth a drenching rain. Pray to the LORD in the scorched times of your life.
    Heaven forbid that you should turn to idols. This means false gods and to human made gods. You are deceived if you think there is any life in idolatry. Do not turn to diviners. Do not have any connection with those that deal with the dark spirit world or play with magic. There are a half-dozen portions of scripture that specifically prohibit this.
    They give comfort in vain. People put their hope in shallow and disingenuous promises. One time I met a person who was on vacation. They told me that their psychic had suggested it. While I was tactlessly laughing, I asked her, “Has your psychic ever given you bad news? The conversation ended very shortly afterwards.
    When we turn for guidance to any place other than godly sources, we have lost our compass. We wander around. We are like lost sheep who are easily taken advantage of as if we had no shepherd. It is tragic that even in the church there are shameful shepherds.
    There are bad shepherds; evil shepherds; and ineffective shepherds. Recent news about the church is greatly disheartening. We have hundreds of priests who molested thousands of children. To compound matters, the church hierarchy covered it up.
    Then we have Willow Creek Church formerly led by Pastor (which means shepherd) Bill Hybels. This is a megachurch and for decades they were considered a model church. Every year, they would host leadership conferences and church leaders from all over the world would come to hear wisdom from Bill Hybels’ expertise. He has had to step down due to his systematic abuse of female staff, and the subsequent cover-up.
    The Lord says, “My anger burns against such shepherds.” The apostle Peter tells us that teachers are held to a higher standard. And, the scriptures tell us that to whom much is given, much is expected. Jesus says in Matthew 18:5–6 (NIV84)
    5 “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. 6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
    In contrast to these bad shepherds, we have the Good Shepherd, a title the Lord Jesus claims in John 10:11 (NIV84), “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Back in Zechariah 10:3, The Lord Almighty says that He will care for His flock, the people of Judah. WE, God’s chosen people have received the promised shepherd.
    Verse 4 has several pointers to the Lord Jesus. In several places in scripture we are told the Jesus is the cornerstone. He is the foundational stone that connects the walls of God’s house. The tent peg mentioned is not the type that goes into the ground but the peg that household (or rather “tenthold”) goods were hung on. These are the items used in everyday living.
    The Messiah was and is to come as a great warrior, the King of kings and Lord of lords. The Lord’s army will be mighty and the Lord will ensure their victory. Even though Israel was never renowned for chariots or a cavalry, triumph even over enemy cavalries is promised.
    Next, in verse 6, we have God’s promise of strength and salvation. This is the reason that the Children’s Chat was about the strength of the LORD. It is obviously a central idea in this chapter, especially when you see it repeated in the closing verse 12. I will strengthen them in the LORD. Strength and salvation are then summarized in the promise, “I will restore them.”
    Why? Because I have compassion on them. The King James translations says I have mercy. Compassion is pity; it is sympathy with the people’s condition. When I looked up compassion in my Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary it said to see love. Even though the Lord rejected the chosen people because of their sin and disobedience; because of their idolatry and taking the Lord for granted; because of their failure to love their neighbor; the purpose of punishment was to bring them back into a proper relationship.
    How do I know? God says, “For I AM the LORD their God. (pause) For I AM the LORD their God.” Does that declaration resonate with your soul? Does that declaration reverberate throughout your being? “For I AM the LORD their God.”
    No matter what bad decisions you have made. No matter the terrible position you have created or that may have been thrust upon you, we are still the children of the LORD Almighty. And the Lord goes further: “I will answer them.” He hears our prayer. He hears our cries of distress.
    What is the result of this compassion, salvation, and restoration? Joy, joy. Hearts will be glad as with wine. Children will be joyful, their hearts will rejoice in the LORD. Is there joy in your life? Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, coming in second after love. Christians are to be joyful.
    Rev. Dr. Leonard Sweet writes in I Am a Follower: The Way, Truth, and Life of Following Jesus:
    ”A followership culture is a franchise of joy. It permeates the Bible, in passage after passage.” And, “Life is wasted on so many Christians. The dearth of joy makes me wonder how many Christians have yet to sign up for life. Even if they’ve done that, have they signed up for life full and free?”
    The Lord says he is signaling us, calling us. The sheep know the voice of the shepherd. We are being gathered into the fold. “Surely I will redeem them,” says the LORD of hosts. We have been redeemed by Jesus who gave his life as a ransom; so that we would not have to pay the price ourselves.
    When I hear the promise “They will pass through the sea of trouble,” I think of the Exodus story of God’s chosen people passing through the Red Sea with the Egyptian Army chasing them. I think of God’s chosen people passing through the River Jordan at flood tide into the Promised Land.
    The surging sea will be subdued. Doesn’t this point to Jesus? Matthew 8:24–27 (NIV84) 24 Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
    26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
    27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
    Yes, in our amazement, we are to find strength in our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. God the Father declares, “In His name they will walk.” In fact, Jesus called himself, “The Way.” And, the early Jesus followers called themselves people of The Way.
    We read in Micah 4:5 (NIV84)
    5 All the nations may walk
    in the name of their gods;
    we will walk in the name of the Lord
    our God for ever and ever.
    CONCLUSION:
    I will leave you with these comforting words from a great hymn: (#110 in they hymnal)
    1. A mighty fortress is our God,
    a bulwark never failing;
    our helper he amid the flood
    of mortal ills prevailing.
    For still our ancient foe
    doth seek to work us woe;
    his craft and power are great,
    and armed with cruel hate,
    on earth is not his equal.

    2. Did we in our own strength confide,
    our striving would be losing,
    were not the right man on our side,
    the man of God’s own choosing.
    Dost ask who that may be?
    Christ Jesus, it is he;
    Lord Sabaoth, his name,
    from age to age the same,
    and he must win the battle.

    3. And though this world, with devils filled,
    should threaten to undo us,
    we will not fear, for God hath willed
    his truth to triumph through us.
    The Prince of Darkness grim,
    we tremble not for him;
    his rage we can endure,
    for lo, his doom is sure;
    one little word shall fell him.

    4. That word above all earthly powers,
    no thanks to them, abideth;
    the Spirit and the gifts are ours,
    thru him who with us sideth.
    Let goods and kindred go,
    this mortal life also;
    the body they may kill;
    God’s truth abideth still;
    his kingdom is forever.
    Our Loving God pursues His people to the ends of the earth. There is no power that can withstand the Almighty Lord of hosts. In your salvation, in your redemption, in your restoration, God is glorified. And, His victory is guaranteed.
    Embrace your weakness because it is in God’s strength that you will find restoration. Then you will be able to be used by the Lord. Joyful, joyful, we adore thee; God of glory, Lord of love.
    Amen and amen. Let us pray.

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