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God’s Intentions for the World

A GPS navigational system can be a useful tool when driving in unfamiliar territory. Sometimes after taking a wrong turn, however, the best navigational advice is simply, “Turn around.”

Our reading today offers the spiritual equivalent to this GPS command: repentance. Although God was “very angry” (1:2) over Israel’s disobedience, His command through Zechariah was intended to get them back on track. “Return to me . . . and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty” (1:3). The path toward that reconciliation was quite simple: “Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices” (1:4). Repentance is the shortest and most effective means of restoring our relationship with God.

Like many drivers who refuse to follow the GPS advice, previous generations of Israelites failed to heed God’s prophets. Despite God’s warnings, “they would not listen or pay attention to me” (1:4). But now this generation was different; they repented and recognized that “the Lord Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve” (1:6). It was the first step on a path toward a better relationship with God.

The result of their repentance was a beautiful, joyous promise of reconciliation. God urged His people to “Shout and be glad” because “I am coming, and I will live among you” (2:10). The people would once again be restored to the land. But do not miss the bigger picture here. God intended a relationship with more than just Israel. “Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people” (2:11). His call was for “all mankind” to “be still before the Lord” (2:13). God’s intention is to have relationship with all of His creation, not just one particular people group.

Apply the Word

God’s reconciling love. Ask your pastor or local church leaders about opportunities to support missionary efforts, Bible translation, or disaster relief services in Christ’s name. You can be part of spreading the gospel through your gifts and prayers.

BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

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