Weekly word – 7/11/24

Zechariah 10:1-6

To understand the core of this passage, look at five words at the beginning and the five words at the end.

(1) Ask the Lord for rain in the season of spring rain.
The Lord makes the rain clouds,

and he will give them showers of rain

and crops in the field for everyone.

(2) For the idols speak falsehood, and the diviners see illusions;
they relate empty dreams and offer empty comfort.
Therefore the people wander like sheep;

they suffer affliction because there is no shepherd.

(3) My anger burns against the shepherds,
so I will punish the leaders.
For the Lord of Armies has tended his flock, the house of Judah;
he will make them like his majestic steed in battle.

(4) The cornerstone, the tent peg,
the battle bow, and every ruler—
all will go out from him together.

(5) They will be like warriors in battle
trampling down the mud of the streets.
They will fight because the Lord is with them,
and they will put horsemen to shame.

(6) I will strengthen the house of Judah and deliver the house of Joseph.
I will restore them because I have compassion on them,
and they will be as though I had never rejected them.
For I am the Lord their God, and I will answer them.

“Ask the Lord for rain…and I will answer them.” 

One of the most common themes in the Bible is God telling us to bring our needs, cares, and desires to Him in prayer. Jesus’ ministry often showed God’s willingness to respond to our sincere requests. And we believe in Jesus; but we still neglect to ask Him for what we need.

Ancient Judah was no different. Even though its population had recently returned from exile to rebuild the temple and worship Yahweh, they were still infected by paganism. Chapter 10:1-6 reveals that they desperately needed God, but instead they turned to “idols” and “diviners” who gave them “empty dreams” and “empty comfort” (3).

Zechariah wrote this in the late 6th century BC. Later, Ezra and Malachi confirmed idolatry had continued in Judah in the 5th century:

“After these things had been done, the leaders approached me and said, “The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated themselves from the surrounding peoples whose detestable practices are like those of the Canaanites, Hethites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites.” (Ezra 9:1)

“‘I will come to you in judgment, and I will be ready to witness against sorcerers and adulterers; against those who swear falsely; against those who oppress the hired worker, the widow, and the fatherless; and against those who deny justice to the resident alien. They do not fear me,’ says the Lord of Armies.” (Malachi 3:5).

In the ancient world, one of the main concerns was rain. No rain meant no crops, which meant no food or income, which meant their nation would fail. Instead of turning to the Creator, many Judea’s turned to pagan gods for help. 

Zechariah writes that this pattern of idolatry took a heavy spiritual toll on the nation at the end of verse 2, “Therefore the people wander like sheep; they suffer affliction because there is no shepherd.” Cut off from the Good Shepherd, they walked in darkness and suffered apart from God’s protection or blessing.

But in verses 3-6, God’s anger at these false spiritual leaders causes Him to bring Judah back into His fold. They will go from being lost sheep to a “majestic steed in battle”. This means He will use them to make a massive military victory one day.

The passage ends with four promises about this time: “I will strengthen the house of Judah”, “I will restore them”, “I will have compassion on them”, “they will be as though I had never rejected them”. These statements reveal that God’s commitment to the seed of Abraham doesn’t end with their initial rejection of the Messiah. That rejection only delayed the fulfillment of those promises.

God’s promises all depend on one thing only for assurance that they will be fulfilled: “For I am the Lord their God”. God has declared Himself their God and He will live up to His name. One day, when they turn back to Him and cry out, God promises “I will answer them.”

The same is true for you. When you turn back to Him and cry out for help, God will answer you. What do you need to ask Him for?

Pastor David