“Sympathy is no substitute for action.”

David Livingstone

TODAY’S READING: Zechariah 5–8

A group of Israelites asked Zechariah in December 586 BC if they should stop grieving the destruction of the temple, if it’s wrong to grieve if God’s Messiah is soon to arrive. Zechariah responded by repeating the ancient missionary challenge—that the generation that will see Messiah come is the one that fulfils the covenant and extends Jehovah’s blessings to all peoples of earth. Zechariah reversed their question and asked: “Will you become the kinds of people who are ready to receive and participate in God’s coming kingdom?”[1]

The answer to Zechariah’s question is the same today as it was then. Because God is immutable, there is no possibility of His plan and purposes changing. From the beginning to the end of the Bible, God desires a people that will be holy, so He can live among them and bless them, so they may bless all the nations of the world. This is why God’s Spirit has rest when His people go to dark territories (Zech. 6:8), for God is at peace when His glory is extended globally. This is why God sets up earthly kings and eternal kingdom, that both would be branches to bear His glory among all peoples (vv. 12–13). This is why the prophet foretold the worship of every tongue as “even those from afar shall come and build the temple of the Lord…if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord” (v. 15). Yes, indeed God is zealous for Zion and surely He will “save [His] people from the land of the east and from the land of the west…and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. They shall be [His] people and [He] will be their God” (8:7).

The error of Christian Zionists is not that they are wrong about God returning the Jews to their land; the error is to separate physical presence in the promised land from spiritual union with the promises of God. A return to the land is meaningless outside of the Jews returning to their God and thus being a missionary blessing to all nations of earth. There is no enduring guarantee of land without Lordship. There is no legitimate Lordship without missionary impulse. For “just as you were a curse among the nations…so I will save you, and you shall be a blessing” (v. 13). This is the exact verbiage God used with Abraham: You shall be a blessing. To whom? To all the nations for “thus says the Lord of hosts: Peoples shall yet come” (v. 20).

The prophetic message is so consistent: Because you failed to be the holy missionary people of God winning the nations to Jehovah, you were punished and exiled among the nations. When God brings you back to unmerited favor, it is that you extend His blessings to all peoples of the earth, for both exile and restoration center on God being glorified among the nations. If by God’s grace you return from the exile and pain of disobedience to the God of all nations, do not think for one moment that restored favor will linger outside of a sustained fervor for the glory of your gracious God among all peoples of this earth. In all our inconsistencies and changes, God remains immutable. He never deviates from orchestrating all things for His own fame among all His peoples of earth.

[1] Tim Mackie. Read Scripture: Illustrated Summaries of Biblical Books. Portland: The Bible Project, 2018. 78.

Prayer Focus: Israel

Today’s Unreached People Group: Jew, Eastern Yiddish Speaking
Population: 273,000
Language: Yiddish, Eastern
Primary Religion: Judaism
Evangelical: 0.0%
Estimated Workers Needed: 5

[Source: Joshua Project]

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