Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Gracious Words

The LORD answered the angel who was speaking with me with gracious words, comforting words. So the angel who was speaking with me said to me, "Proclaim, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and Zion...Therefore thus says the LORD, I will return to Jerusalem with compassion; My house will be built in it,' declares the LORD of hosts, 'and a measuring line will be stretched over Jerusalem.' Again, proclaim, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, My cities will again overflow with prosperity, and the LORD will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.'" --Zechariah 1:13-17 (NASB)

There are days that just seem impossible; nothing goes right; the best laid plans fall apart. One minute you're on top of the world and the next, your whole world comes crashing down. Sometimes, those days cannot be explained. "That's just the way things are," some will say. Sometimes though, "those kinds of days" are the result of our actions. We don't pay attention; we don't follow directions; and just maybe, some of those days are the result of our disobedience to God.

That's what happened to Judah--they disobeyed God and He punished them by allowing the Babylonians to take them into captivity. They had followed other gods, and desecrated the temple. They even became so bold as to say: "God won't punish us!" (Zephaniah 1:12) But God DID punish. The Babylonians destroyed all of Jerusalem, including the Temple--the symbol of God's prescence among His people. For 70 years, the the city and temple lay in ruins...but then...God spoke with gracious words, comforting words.

You see, God punishes, but He also loves. He loves His children and His ultimate desire is to bring them into fellowship with Him, to care for them, to protect and to bless them. That's what He did for Judah, because of the prophetic words spoken to them, they acknowledged their sin and repented. They "returned" to God, and He "returned" to them. He retuned to them with the promises that He would rebuild Jerusalem, that He would return to her with compassion/blessing. God would bless them beyond what they could imagine and the city would overflow with His goodness.

Those are "gracious words" for us as well. If we will obey God, repent, and return to Him, He will return to us. Gracious words..."amazing grace, how sweet the sound."

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