A past filled with difficulty and broken
relationships can overshadow the present. Though we have been forgiven our sins
and have turned away from them, we are not automatically freed from the
struggles of sin. If we are not careful, we can allow these struggles to sap our
enthusiasm for life and douse our hopes for the future.
That was probably wat it was for God's people in
Judah. As a result of the repeated sins fo their fathers, their families had
been displaced from Palestine to Assyria and Babylonia. Seventy years later, at
the decree of Cyrus, a remnant of Jews returned to Jerusalem under the
leadership of Zerubabbel. Their first goal was to rebuild the house of God, but
their initial enthusiasm was dampened by opposition from local residents. The
work of rebuilding the Temple was soon stopped.
To counter the hopelessness, God appointed the
elderly Haggai and the young Zechariah to prophecy, encouraging the returned
exiles to rebuild God's Temple in Jerusalem. Zechariah, whose name means "God
remembers", reminded the Jews that God had not forgotten them. Rather, he had a
certain and dynamic plan for their restoration.
Hope for the future can provide
great encouragement for the present. The promise of deliverance makes it
possible to continue in the process of spiritual renewal. Zechariah's book in
the Old Testament part of the Holy Bible is a fascinating study of how God,
through His prophets, led His hurting people from hopelessness to commitment,
through self-examination and transformation to a deepening spiritual perception.
It is an account of rebuilding and spiritual renewal.
Disappointment ca lead to
When faced with disappointment we have a choice: we can
nurture our negative feelings, ro we can confront them and find a solution. The
people of God chose to hold onto the disappointmentthat came from exile. This
led to despair. To avoid despair we need to give our disappointments to God and
confront those aspects of them that we can change. As we use the keys to
spiritual renewal, we will find that our feeling of despair will pass. But we
can not just passively wait for our transformation. We need to become actively
involved in God's plan for our spiritual renewal.
Hope Encourages us
Zechariah's visions of the future gave hope to the people,
helping them face the tasks their present. Our hope of God's complete
transformation of our lives can encoruage us to endure the pain that may be part
of our spiritual growth today. We won't always feel so hurt and confused. If we
follow God's will for us in faith, we will experience His transforming power and
discover the joy that only He can give.
Spiritual Renewal involves the
Zechariah told the people that God did not care about fasts
and religious observances. He did care about the attitudes of their hearts. Our
spiritual renewal involves the attitudes of our hearts; it is not a matter of
just doing and saying the right things. It is only as our minds and hearts are
changed by God that our spiritual renewal can occur. As our hearts are
transformed, our attitudes and actions will also be transformed. If we go
through the motions without even being changedon the inside, our spiritual
renewal will be superficial. We need to be changed from the inside out. Just as
this was true for the people of Jerusalem in Zechariah's day, it is true for us
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