The LORD Chastens And He Blesses

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The LORD Chastens And He Blesses

The LORD Chastens And He Blesses

Zechariah 8:9  Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, which were in the day that the foundation of the house of the LORD of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built.
10  For before these days there was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast; neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in because of the affliction: for I set all men every one against his neighbour.
11  But now I will not be unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the LORD of hosts.
12  For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.
13  And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.

In II Timothy 2:15 we read:

II Timothy 2:15  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Some people like to use the Bible as an interesting story book. They like parts of the history and even some of the prophecies. They look at it as a book that was written at some time, but it does not have much application for today. They would like to believe in a God of love, but they want to ignore any reference to any negativity that might apply to themselves. Many people never got weaned of the soother they used as babies. They still want a feel good message, but don’t tell me the truth.
God is the God of truth. He is truth. He knows man. He gave us the Bible to help us to get past ourselves and to know how to be right with Him, rather than living in a mushy feel good world that is not reality.
Much of the Bible is prophetic. God knows the past and He knows the future. He wants us to know His peace and blessing. Biblical prophecy does not always follow a chronological order. It is important to pay attention to what God is saying and to see where He is taking us as He speaks. Zechariah was God’s chosen prophet to speak to the nation of Israel during and after the exile of Judah into Babylon. It covers quite a span of time in this short book. God spoke directly to the people of Zechariah’s day about their current situation. He also spoke words of encouragement about things that were going to to take place when they would finally submit to His will. Unlike many people, God does not make empty promises. He has the power to fulfill every promise that He makes.
In our text God was directing Zechariah to encourage the faithful Jews in regard to the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem at that time. As we noted in our past devotionals, there were Jews who had developed extra-Biblical feast days that were important to them, but not relevant to God at all. They were concerned that God was not blessing them for keeping those extra days. They wrongly lumped their extra days with God’s prescribed days. They were wondering of the validity of trusting in God.
Thus there were delays in the building of that temple. Yes, there were enemies of the LORD who tried to stop that work from being completed. They did not want to see Jerusalem be rebuilt. They did not want to see Israel back in their land. That part is still true today. Hamas and Hezbollah and Iran and others in the Middle East, and even in other parts of the world are trying to keep Israel from prospering in their land. They want that land to be occupied by the enemies of God.
There were also internal enemies. The hearts of the people were not right and they wondered about the need for the temple. What would it benefit them? Israel has no temple today. It will be a few years yet before they have a temple. God has set aside the temple for the time being. Jesus Christ promised to build His church upon Himself. True churches are a necessary part of the Christian life. Yet there are Christians today who have been discouraged and they dismiss Jesus’ promise to build His church upon Himself. They allow smooth talkers to convince them that they as individuals are the church and a building is immaterial. We need to be people of the Book.
In verse 9 of our text, the LORD of hosts encouraged the Jews to be strong in building the temple. We can read more about this in Haggai 2 and Ezra 3. The LORD knew that Israel needed to have a temple. They needed a place to come to worship Him. They needed a place to bring their offerings and sacrifices. As we have mentioned before, the temple was a type of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the New Testament Jesus was mocked for stating that He would rebuild the temple in three days. The unbelieving Jews knew that Herod had been 46 years getting the material temple to the place it was at while Jesus was on this earth. How could He possibly rebuild it in three days. Jesus was speaking of His body. He is the fulfilment of all the typology of the temple. The material temple was to be central to the life of the Jews. Jesus Christ must be central to the life of any person that is going to be able to live successfully.
We have already noted that some of the Jews had come back from captivity and wondered why God had not accepted their humanistic attempts to please Him. There are many false Christ’s today. Many people have embraced a Jesus that cannot be found in the Bible. It is important to know and follow the true Jesus. He chose twelve disciples while He was on earth. He told them to follow Him and He would make them fishers of men. Eleven of those twelve were true followers and it took 3 1/2 years of teaching to prepare them for the next step. However, it also took the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” in Acts 2 to enable them for the ministry they were called to. They needed God’s strength to be able to do the work. Christians today, do not need a special “baptism of the Holy Spirit” moment. Every true born again Christian receives the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation.
In Zechariah’s day, the people needed God’s strength to build the material temple under a time of testing. They needed to hear the words of the prophets. They did not need politicians brainwashing them. They needed Godly prophets to declare the Word of the LORD of hosts to them. The prophets had given the instructions to lay a strong foundation. The prophets had also given the instructions needed for a strong building built upon that foundation.
The apostle Paul stated:

I Corinthians 3:11  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

It is not possible to build a right life on the fictitious Jesus’s that abound today. There is much noise in the religious world, but there are only few that are following the truth.
In our text, Zechariah reminded the people there was no one willing or able to build the temple for 70 years. God did not allow them to build it during those years. They had forsaken God for 100s of years and they needed to be punished for their rejection of the truth. They needed to see the disaster that would result from Him withdrawing His hand from them for a time. God still had prophets speaking to the people during their exile. He still worked even through pagan kings to show Himself strong. After the seventy years, He called the Jews back to Jerusalem and He commanded them to rebuild the temple. He created the conditions so that work could be completed. The time was now for them to be unified in the work.
The LORD was going to prosper the people in their work. Zechariah reminded them that they could not prosper without the LORD. That is still true today. We cannot prosper without the LORD.
Currently our government is being exposed for corruption related to the “ArriveCan” app. The government is trying hard to hide the truth of this massive waste and corruption. Some reports say this scandal may finally be the one to cause the government to fall. We will see. We know that millions of tax dollars were wasted on this app. We know that the oversight was not there and that it is possible that the corruption goes far deeper and broader than we currently understand.
We are constantly being reminded that trusting in man as the highest end is futile. Those who hope in man and his systems will always come up short. They will be disappointed. We see that in the fact that every so often we have a change of government. People get tired of one and they put in another. Then after a while they get tired of that one and put in a different one. This same thing can happen in churches. Carnal people get tired of the man of God and they want him gone and they want someone else. They either depose the man or they leave and go to some other religious place to try to get their itchy ears scratched. Many times, pastors change to try to appease the flesh of the restless. That is what has happened in New Evangelicalism over the years.
In our text, God directed Zechariah to remind the people that as they had been a curse among the heathen, God was going to make them a blessing. Since that time, the Jews have been a blessing in the world. God has blessed them with minds that have developed some very important and good things for society. Many people have despised the Jews for their ingenuity.
More importantly, God had blessed the Jews with continuing to receive His Word and write it down for future generations. The Lord Jesus Christ came from Israel. His mother was a faithful Jew. Joseph was a faithful Jew as well, although he was not Jesus’ father. He was the guardian that God chose to provide for Mary’s needs in raising Jesus as a boy. Jesus was not very dependent upon them. At the age of 12 He was at the temple debating with the Jewish leaders, and astounding them with His words. He was subject to Mary and Joseph during His younger years. At His crucifixion He made sure that His mother would be looked after.
Humanity has certainly been blessed in the coming of the Messiah. We have also been blessed with the completion of the Scriptures at the hands of the Jews. Then too, it was the Jews that continued to copy the Scriptures until the time of the printing press. God blessed mankind with the truth.
The Jews of Zechariah’s day needed to strengthen their hands in the LORD. Again, the final fulfillment of this will be found in the Millennium, when the Lord Jesus Christ rules from His temple in Jerusalem. Those who are saved now have the promise of the Lord’s soon return. We know we have the gift of eternal life through repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Those who are lost need to turn to God and be saved while there is still opportunity. God wants to bless us. We need to be willing to receive His blessings.
Pastor Bartel

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