Zechariah Lesson 19
Chapter 8: 14-17
For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Just as I determined to punish you when your fathers provoked Me to wrath,’ Says the Lord of hosts, ‘And I would not relent, So again in these days I am determined to do good To Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Do not fear. These are the things you shall do: speak each man the Truth
to his neighbor; give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace; Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; and do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,’ says the Lord.’”
There are many times that we take, or at least I take, a look at the world around us and find a sense of despair. We live in tumultuous times. We live in a time of coldness and a lack of caring for our fellow man.
Just over the summer when we had two devastating hurricanes come through the USA, we found that people were hoarding food and toiletries and that the government had to make sure people did not price-gouge those who had been affected by the bad weather. There were incidents where people actually tried to gouge people on fuel, food and accommodations. These actions of taking advantage of people in dire situations are so prevalent in our time.
It may seem at times that there is no hope for us. And, for the most part, we know that this world is not going to get better until the Lord Jesus returns and cleans this mess up. But, you and I can make a difference where we are. We can take responsibility for our circle of influence. This is where I would like to focus. There is a song called “You can Be One.” The gist of the song is why sit around and wait for a miracle when you can be a miracle to someone today. You and I can be light in a dark world, salt in a tasteless world, and salve in an all-too-often painful world.
Judgment is Coming, verse 14
God has told us in the Bible that these are the last days, and the next chapter is about the judgment of the world around us. We can already see the judgment of God falling on us with the seemingly exponential growth of the homosexual agenda and the exposure of the depth of the Sexual
perversions that envelop all aspects of society.
Romans 1:18-27 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse; because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
“Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
“For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”
Notice the progression, in verses 14-21: The people suppress the knowledge of God. It is not that they do not know God; they know Him but deliberately turn their backs on Him and refuse to honor Him and worship Him as God. These are not misguided actions; rather, these are a wanton defiance of the place, position and person of God.
In verse 20-23, they were thankless and decided to worship the creation rather than the Creator, thus the rise of theories like evolution and the ‘big bang.’ These are made-up ideologies that are simply there to defy God. Make no mistake, one cannot be a true scientist and not know there is a God. The very creation, its order, its magnificence, its precision and its durability demand that there not only be a Creator but a Sustainer. God is all that and more and they know it, but they refuse to submit to God, and promote their hatred for God in our schools in the name of science.
Then in verses 24-27 we have God’s reaction to their defiance; God gave them over to uncleanness. He just let them have what they wanted, and they became more and more evil. It is like a drug; the more they thought they could get away with, the more they sought to get away with. God took off any natural restraints that their consciences would have had; they no longer seem affected by guilt or shame. Thus, the natural God-given aversion to sin that we got in the creation was dulled or removed, and the depth of evil that people can do is now limitless.
In the last three months, we have seen unmasked the deep sexual perversions that run rampant amongst our ‘celebrities.’ These men and some women are sexual predators that have used and abused young women and young men alike, selling fame for sexual favors. We have learned that the whole system of Hollywood had turned a blind eye to these practices. We see that the glamour on the ‘red carpet’ came with a price, one’s dignity and one’s shame.
But that was not far enough. In verses 26-27 we see that God gave them over the ‘vile passions.’ Let us be adults here for a bit; sex has been around for 6,000 years. Men and women have misused sex forever. We know of the sexual exploits of even biblical men like David and Solomon; we know about Abraham and Hagar, and we know that Rahab was a prostitute. The work description has not changed in 4,000 years.
While sex outside of marriage is always wrong, it is not an abomination. Sex was designed to be between a man and a woman; this is not a perversion of the Creation. But we have seen the rampant growth of homosexuality and lesbianism, bestiality, and ridiculous growth of pedophilia. In the last year I think I have seen more female teachers being arrested for sex with their students than men.
Make no mistake; this rampant, sexual decline is a part of the judgment of God. It is the results that are meted out when we defy God as a society and as a people. It is what we get as our just desserts when we look God in the face and then turn our backs on His ways and His laws.
Things are going to get worse; sexual perversion is going to get worse; your kids’ TV shows will show more sex, and promote more of the sexual identity problems. Even the show “Riverdale” about the Archie Comics has a gay character in it. The transgendered lifestyle is being pushed down our kids’ throats by the world around us. This is a part of the judgment of God on a defiant society. It would be easy for us to give up and give in, but we are still here, and the full wrath of God has not fallen as yet. We can still make a difference to someone around us, and this is where we find ourselves in our next section.
How to Live Until the Judgment, verses 16-17
God gives some simple ideas to help us to live as His people until the end comes. These sound like simple things; but in a world that is corrupt and perverted, the simple things will seem to be revolutionary.
Have you ever wanted to be the rebel, wanted to fight society and leave your mark? Have you ever wanted to matter and to make a difference? Have you ever seen a movie where the hero goes against the tide of the masses, where he or she fights the system and swims upstream when all are swimming downstream? Stay with me for a few more minutes and I will show you how to be a hero, how to be an individual, how to get God’s attention in a good way and how to be different.
God lays out 4 ways to be a hero in our world today:
(A) Tell the truth to your neighbor, verse 16. In the New Testament, it showed us in the story of the ‘Good Samaritan’ that anyone could be our neighbor. We are to be truthful in dealing with the people we come across in life. No matter where we encounter them, deal truthfully and with integrity. God loves the truth. He is Truth. How hard can this be to simply deal truthfully with people?
(B) Make sure that our justice system is honest. The phrase ‘your gates’ in verse 16 refers to the seat of judgment. Senior men sat at the gates to a city, and there they executed judgment on all matters. You will recall in the book of Ruth that Boaz went to the men at the gates and did the business of redeeming Ruth and her land. While we are not deliberately responsible for the justice system, we should make sure that, if called upon, our testimony is true and honest. Each man or woman is presumed innocent until proven guilty without a doubt.
(C) Do not think evil of people. If they prove themselves to be untrustworthy, that is different. Even in that we are called to be forgiving and compassionate. Give people a chance to prove themselves and always have in mind that, even if and when they fail, be ready to forgive and offer another chance. We should forgive as we are forgiven. Each one of us is made in the image of God, a unique creation in His sight. Let us approach each other with the highest of regard and frame our minds to think of each one as better than ourselves.
(D) Keep your word. Do not make an oath that you have no intent to carry out. We all get busy, we all can forget, and all can make mistakes. But it is absolutely wrong to swear to an oath that you have no intention from the get-go to follow through on.
These sound so simple, but in our current world they are actually revolutionary. These attitudes and actions will set you apart from the rest of the society around us. God hates dishonesty and distrust, but He loves the truth and loves integrity. Let us be revolutionaries together. Let us bring a bit of light to this dark world. Let us make a difference for the Kingdom of God in someone’s life today and until Jesus comes. Come let us humble ourselves before the Lord and obey Him.
Psalm 119: 105-106 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn and confirmed that I will keep Your righteous judgments.”
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