God’s Grace for troubled People, Pt. 2

God’s Grace for Troubled People, Pt. 2
Zechariah 8:9-17
March 19, 2023

I suppose everyone likes a surprise (happy) ending to a story.  The Bible is filled with stories of unexpected endings — tragedies and loss that are unexpectedly transformed (what one writer calls “redemptive reversals”). These stories begin appearing in the Bible almost on the first page — and they persist throughout the book:

  • Abraham and Sarah, who became pregnant, long after her child-birthing years had past
  • Joseph, who was sold into slavery and anonymity but resurfaced as the second-most powerful man in Egypt
  • A nation of 2 million Israelites fleeing from the Egyptians, finding themselves looking at the Red Sea in front of them and an army behind them, and escaping because the Sea parted and dried, allowing them to cross
  • Ruth, whose husband died unexpectedly and early, who was childless and in a foreign country, and yet received a husband and became part of the Messianic lineage
  • Three men thrown into a bellowing furnace of fire and surviving — and their friend surviving a night in a den of hungry lions
  • A group of 12 unknown, uneducated men being used to influence the world — even to this generation
  • And of course there is the story of Jesus Himself, who was crucified and buried, His closest followers without expectation of a happy ending, and He was resurrected and ascended.

The Bible is filled with these reversals.  And among the sweetest reversals known are the ones where God’s enemies become His friends through grace — when God saves and defends and provides for those who had been opposed to Him and gives them benefits that were unimaginable to them.

It is just that kind of story that we find in Zechariah 8.  Fifteen years after the return of the nation Israel back to its land from captivity in Babylon, and the temple still was not rebuilt.  Under the influence of Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah, the reconstruction was begun.  By the time of Zechariah 8, the work was about halfway completed.  The people were evidently becoming complacent, so a contingent of leaders from Bethel came to the priests in Jerusalem and said, “Can we stop the fasts we have done for 70 years” (7:3)?  They apparently believed that their safety was procured by their ritualistic practices rather than by God’s grace.  So in Zechariah 7-8 God responds with a series of four oracles (declarations) in which he corrects the Bethelite leaders.  The first two oracles (ch. 7) are condemnations of their unrighteous thinking; the last two (ch. 8) are filled with grace.  In the first part of chapter 8, last time we said that God’s power and grace are adequate to provide for His people.  In 8:9-17 we will see that…

God’s power and grace are adequate to reverse the fortunes of His people.

Because of what God has provided, twice He calls the people to be strong (vv. 9, 13) and twice He tells them not to fear (vv. 13, 15).  Because He has promised, they can be strong.  We will see four calls to be strong…

  1. Because God Has Promised, Be Strengthened to Work (v. 9)
  2. Because God Has Promised, Be Strengthened by Grace (vv. 10-13)
  3. Because God Has Promised, Be Strengthened in Trust (vv. 14-15)
  4. Because God Has Promised, Be Strengthened for Transformation (vv. 16-17)

Download the rest of this sermon on Zechariah 8:9-17.

The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.

Clouds and Sun rays by dotcompals is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Success! You're on the list.

2 thoughts on “God’s Grace for troubled People, Pt. 2

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s