One Comment to “This is What the LORD Almighty Says”

  1. Donald McMahon
    August 5, 2018

    “This is What the LORD Almighty Says” (Zechariah 8:1–23)(8.5.18)
    Zechariah 8:1–23 (NIV84)
    8 Again the word of the Lord Almighty came to me. 2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her.”
    3 This is what the Lord says: “I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.”
    4 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with cane in hand because of his age. 5 The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.”
    6 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “It may seem marvelous to the remnant of this people at that time, but will it seem marvelous to me?” declares the Lord Almighty.
    7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. 8 I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God.”
    9 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “You who now hear these words spoken by the prophets who were there when the foundation was laid for the house of the Lord Almighty, let your hands be strong so that the temple may be built. 10 Before that time there were no wages for man or beast. No one could go about his business safely because of his enemy, for I had turned every man against his neighbor. 11 But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as I did in the past,” declares the Lord Almighty.
    12 “The seed will grow well, the vine will yield its fruit, the ground will produce its crops, and the heavens will drop their dew. I will give all these things as an inheritance to the remnant of this people. 13 As you have been an object of cursing among the nations, O Judah and Israel, so will I save you, and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong.”
    14 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Just as I had determined to bring disaster upon you and showed no pity when your fathers angered me,” says the Lord Almighty, 15 “so now I have determined to do good again to Jerusalem and Judah. Do not be afraid. 16 These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; 17 do not plot evil against your neighbor, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the Lord.
    18 Again the word of the Lord Almighty came to me. 19 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.”
    20 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, 21 and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the Lord and seek the Lord Almighty. I myself am going.’ 22 And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord Almighty and to entreat him.”
    23 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’ ”
    The word of God for the people of God.
    Title: ‘This is What the LORD Almighty Says”
    Last Sunday during the Blueberry Festival, I sat with David. He asked me about my sermon preparation, “When do you know it is done?” There is no ironclad answer. Yesterday, the LORD Almighty turned my previous five days of preparation upside down.
    Keep in mind that we are still in our Sermon Series, A Region Ripe for Revival. After preaching from two chapters in Nehemiah, this Monday I finished reading Nehemiah. Then I skimmed Amos and Obadiah. I skipped Jonah because I know it well: it covers repentance but not really restoration and revival. And my scripture search continued through the Minor Prophets.
    When I got to the eighth chapter of Zechariah I knew I had my scripture for today. My intention was to explore what the LORD Almighty says here; but, in so doing, I fell into the trap of failing to see the forest for the trees. By focusing on the specifics of Zion and the community described here, I missed the big picture.
    Eighteen times in this chapter, Zechariah declares the Name of THE LORD Almighty. Over and over again, I read, and yet missed the significance. It wasn’t what I wanted to talk about. It wasn’t what I wanted to focus on. I brought a prejudice to my reading of our Holy Bible and it deafened me to the overriding issue that Zechariah was shouting, THE LORD Almighty.
    My friends, this is an easy trap to fall into, and everyone does it. We want the Bible to say certain things that support the god we have created in our own minds. We want Jesus to be someone with whom we are comfortable. We are confident in our own view of the world and we only receive information that conforms with our perception of reality. You and I do not really see what is going on; we do not really see what The LORD Almighty is accomplishing.
    Throughout the Hebrew Testament, God’s desire to restore His holy people and His holy city is revealed. This is Zion. This is the New Jerusalem. The Lord Almighty describes himself as very jealous, with a burning jealousy for Zion. Other translations characterize it as great, exceedingly jealous, with a great wrath or fury. Our language comes up short trying to convey the intensity of God’s heart for the culmination of human history.
    This Jerusalem will be called a faithful city, a city of truth, the mountain of the LORD Almighty, the Holy Mountain. Most importantly this will be the dwelling of our LORD. Zion will be overflowing with people. All the nations and peoples of the world are being prepared to inhabit it. The languages of all God’s people will be heard.
    This prophecy, this promise, is repeated in the closing chapters of our Bible.
    Revelation 21:1–4 (NIV84) The New Jerusalem
    21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
    This is the destination of history that the LORD Almighty is steering us towards. We have such a tiny sliver of time through which to view God’s handiwork. We are oblivious as we go about our daily lives. They may be humdrum. They may be filled with trials and tribulations. Either way, we rarely give God’s ultimate purposes much thought. We barely give the Lord much thought at all. Most Americans think of the LORD Almighty only as the benevolent grandfather in the sky.
    Do you feel anything when you hear the Name of God as the LORD Almighty? The four other English translations that I normally use in my studies translate this name here in Zechariah 8 as LORD of hosts. Hmm…what does that mean? The Voice paraphrases it as the Eternal Commander of the heavenly armies. The Message paraphrases it as, and this is all hyphenated: GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies.
    Is there a glimmer of understanding coming to you? This is where I began to see the need for expounding on the omnipotence, the all-powerfulness of the LORD. When we have a diminished view of the LORD Almighty we get an artificially enlarged view of humankind, of individuals. Our whole understanding of what is happening in the world gets distorted.
    You don’t need an army unless there is a conflict happening. Imagine an army, a host, of heavenly angels. How powerful the Eternal Commander’s forces must be. And if the LORD Almighty is using such a force, the enemy must be formidable. And yet, we know that Satan and his demons will be defeated completely, cast into the lake of fire.
    Revelation 19:19–21 (NIV84)
    19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.
    Yes, this is a gruesome depiction. This is truth. We are part of something far greater than we can comprehend. You and I must have a real understanding about the nature of God and the cosmic conflict of which we are a part, whether we want to be or not. Being ignorant, being nonchalant, being in denial puts our eternity and the eternity of our children in danger. The image we have created in our minds of a disinterested and impotent God is completely contrary to what the LORD Almighty has revealed in the scriptures. He is awesome; to be revered and feared.
    Exodus 20:20 Pew Bible #74 Large Print #117
    Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.”
    Deuteronomy 14:23 Pew Bible #186 Large Print #297
    “You shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and your flock, so that you may learn to fear (revere) the LORD your God always.
    Job 28:28 Pew Bible #518 Large Print #818
    “And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding.'”
    Psalm 19:9 Pew Bible #541 Large Print #856
    The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.
    Psalm 33:8 Pew Bible #549 Large Print #868
    Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
    Psalm 34:11 Pew Bible #550 Large Print #869
    Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
    Psalm 111:10 Pew Bible #603 Large Print #952
    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.
    Psalm 112:1 Pew Bible #603 Large Print #952
    Praise the LORD! How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who greatly delights in His commandments.
    Psalm 128:1 Pew Bible #614 Large Print #968
    How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways.
    Psalm 128:4 Pew Bible #614 Large Print #968
    Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the LORD.
    Proverbs 1:7 Pew Bible #625 Large Print #985
    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
    Proverbs 2:5 Pew Bible #626 Large Print #986
    Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God.
    Proverbs 8:13 Pew Bible #632 Large Print #995
    “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate.
    Proverbs 9:10 Pew Bible #633 Large Print #997
    “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
    Proverbs 10:27 Pew Bible #634 Large Print #999
    The fear of the LORD prolongs life, But the years of the wicked will be shortened.
    Proverbs 14:2 Pew Bible #638 Large Print #1004
    He who walks in his uprightness fears the LORD, But he who is devious in his ways despises Him.
    Proverbs 14:26-27
    Pew Bible #638 Large Print #1005
    In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And his children will have refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, That one may avoid the snares of death.
    Proverbs 15:16 Pew Bible #639 Large Print #1007
    Better is a little with the fear of the LORD Than great treasure and turmoil with it.
    Proverbs 15:33 Pew Bible #640 Large Print #1008
    The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility.
    Proverbs 19:23 Pew Bible #644 Large Print #1013
    The fear of the LORD leads to life, So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.
    Proverbs 23:17 Pew Bible #648 Large Print #1020
    Do not let your heart envy sinners, But live in the fear of the LORD always.
    Isaiah 33:6 Pew Bible #707 Large Print #1110
    And He will be the stability of your times, A wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; The fear of the LORD is his treasure.
    Colossians 3:22 Pew Bible #1167 Large Print #1832
    Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing (in reverence of) the Lord.
    This GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies tells us he is involved in the details of our lives and human history. “I will save my people. I will bring them back. I punished but now I will bless. My people’s fortunes will be completely reversed. I brought disaster, but I will establish Zion and dwell in it.”
    Some Christians that I respect really struggle with the LORD Almighty saying he brings disaster. They will admit that the LORD of hosts allows evil; but, they cannot tolerate thinking that the God of Love is responsible for trials, tribulations, or a refining fire. Zechariah 8 clearly proclaims the sovereignty of the LORD Almighty in all matters.
    Personally, I stand with Isaiah: Isaiah 45:9 (NIV84)
    9 “Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker,
    to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground.
    Does the clay say to the potter,
    ‘What are you making?’
    Does your work say,
    ‘He has no hands’?
    Last week, I concluded that Nehemiah was rebuilding the walls and gates of Jerusalem to prepare for the coming Messiah. Yes, Jesus came to bring salvation. Jesus came to reconcile us to the Father, the LORD Almighty. Followers of Jesus, and ONLY followers of Jesus, will be led into Zion, the Holy City of God. Jesus has secured our citizenship in heaven.
    As we prepare for Holy Communion, I want you to hear the hope, the promise, and the love found in the Communion liturgy. I want you to experience God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit as we partake of the Lord Jesus’ body and blood.
    Amen and amen. Let us pray.


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