connecting theology and life in gospel-centred ways to the glory of God and our joy in Him
What does the beautiful life actually look like? Today’s passage and message will focus on one aspect of that beautiful life: forgiveness.
Lack of forgiveness separates close friendships. A lack of forgiveness can grow a hardness within us. You end up destroying yourself if you cannot or won’t forgive. The hardness you carry around you place upon others. It leads to loneliness and isolation due to the lack of reconciliation – so you end up shifting from friendship to friendship.
How can one live the beautiful life of forgiveness? First because God has sent the beautiful saviour in Jesus Christ.
God invisible is made visible – not because we are actually seeing God, but because we see the perfect image of him in Jesus Christ. If you see that image you are truly seeing God – and what God is like. Where is the image of God? In the Son.
The Son is also the firstborn over all creation – what does this mean? Firstborn typically means you’re the oldest. But that’s not it’s saying here. In the Biblical context the firstborn is the one who inherits all things. God has gifted over to Jesus ownership rights over everything. Everything belongs to him. Not that he is first in time, but he is the one to whom all things belong.
How did Jesus receive everything? Was someone alive, then die, and then pass it on to Jesus? V16 explains it for us – everything was created by Jesus. Jesus owns everything because Jesus made them all.
You don’t get to make Jesus Lord. We call him Lord because he made us. He is our maker – we’re not the one who make him into our Lord.
Colossians 1:19-20 – Jesus has not only made everything, he has made peace.
Pause for the moment to consider how Jesus makes peace. Who is it that reconciles to whom? We have been fighting against God in our mind and behaviour. Who makes peace with whom then? Who has to go make peace, who has to receive the apology in order for peace to be made?
God is clearly the one aggrieved.
V19 – in Jesus God is dwelling in his absolute fullness – then in v20 through Jesus he reconciles all things to himself. This is extraordinary.
Who is the aggrieved party? In v20 God is the aggrieved party and the one to whom satisfaction and reconciliation is made. But who is the one who is making peace with God? It’s extraordinary that it’s God also who is the peacemaker. It is God who has dwelled fully and truly in Jesus who makes peace.
The gospel is that God has come to calm God down concerning ourselves.
This is the extraordinary heart that the prophets kept pointing to.
God by himself, up on the cross, bore his own anger – he pacified himself – in the death of Jesus God bore the suffering and wrath we deserved.
The prophetic word was that God has this beautiful life planned out in the Torah, and the prophets looked forward to seeing the Torah come into our lives more wondrously and radically. The prophetic word saw a beautiful saviour who would come to do this.
Jesus is here, he has done it.
The beautiful life is then partly revealed in Colossians 3:1ff.
As those who have been made new in Christ there is new life ahead – the beautiful life.
Part of that new beautiful life is forgiveness. In Jesus Christ is a person who forgives. Forgiveness is who you are now – you have entered into a world of forgiveness, not because we changed ourselves but because Christ has entered our lives and radically changed them.
What happens when you have been aggrieved by someone in church? Either through intentional or unintentional sin. Putting up with someone who has hurt you is not easy.
And yet from another angle isn’t it nice to know that you have friends and brothers and sisters who will put up with you even if you have caused them pain, hurt, and embarrassment? That they have been there with you during the sad and bad times, but also that they have remained with you when you have caused them hurt?
Jesus has been a friend to us even when we have aggrieved and embarrassed him.
If we have such a friend in Jesus then our lives should also reflect his posture towards us.
Martin Luther – the great reformer – commented on a lot of scripture but gave up with Zechariah!
Zechariah is a longer vision of God’s plans and purposes – and gets an insight into ‘that Day’ – the Day of the Lord. So what is this going to happen, and what will happen on that day?
As you work through these chapters you’ll find that it’s a very long day. It starts when the Davidic shoot shows up (ie Jesus) and the day doesn’t stop until the new universe is constituted. Hence we seem to be living in this Day now…
In Zechariah 14 he sees a war that leads to worship. History, the Day in which we are living, is all about a war that leads to worship.
Zech 14:1 – a day is coming for Yahweh – it’s a day for him, his centre-stage day, a day that is ultimately about him acting for his glory. This is God’s day, so prepare to meet him and see him in action.
Our God is relentlessly and mind-blowingly impressive. The single most reason to read the prophets is that they ensure that our God is big enough and expansive enough. They explode our small mindedness and expose our rather small view of God.
And yet he is introduced as Yahweh – his personal name. The expansive God invites him to know him personally :)
So what will happen on this day?
People gather for battle, women are raped (a covenant curse) and half the city goes into exile. Yah, fun. For the other half who stay home there is small comfort of staying at home. And yet in v3 Yahweh will go out to battle against the nations.
Previously there have been references to the battle belonging to Yahweh, but here we see him appear on the scene.
We so instinctively forget that we are embroiled in a cosmic conflict – our enemies are God’s enemies. No amount of positive thinking can change this – because everywhere we go in the Bible we see this war. It is a jungle out there and we are caught up in this war.
In Church there is a growing sense of wanting to be sensitive to people, focus on sharing our story, invest in people first so that we’re real friends with them, then they’ll react better to the gospel. Not be obnoxious is a good thing… but never forget that the Bible says we are caught up in a war and you do have to be on one side or the other.
Blood will be spilled – the default position of the world is anti-God. The world hates the message because it hates what it says about them and hates the One behind the message.
The good news is that God is not a general way at the back of the battle – our God comes and fights with us and for us.
Zech 14:4-5 – here God is providing the avenue for safety for his people – splitting a mountain to do that! It’s important the he comes from the East to do this. In Ezekiel he left the Temple and headed east, not he’s coming back from where he disappeared from and is coming to the rescue of his people.
God is a God who fights and will win in the end. And as his people we will share in his victory – not that we do anything, the people run away and hide among the rocks. But they get to celebrate in the victory together.
V6 – there shall be such a dramatic victory that on that day the sun, moon and stars will come to a grinding halt (lit: they will congeal together), And a new unique day starts – the whole of creation is now changed and transformed.
Through this whole section God is the victor – he is the main subject. And he’s working all things in this section for his glory.
Sometimes we have to stop and ask ourselves how God-centred our churches and ministries are. Would it make a difference is God disappeared from our gatherings?
The one thing that matters more than anything else here is that God speaks to reveal himself to us through his Word by his Spirit. And when this God, the God of the prophets, the God of our Lord Jesus, when he speaks he cuts through our defences and meets us.
Our God is king over all the earth and yet he says, ‘Behold your God’
Through Jesus our God has made it possible to know him. That is the highest privilege offered to us, children of the living God. Is that the pulsing reality at the heart of our existence?
Jonathan Edwards – there is a difference between an opinion of the goodness of God and the sense of the goodness of God in the same way that one can have an opinion of the sweetness of honey vs one who has the experience of the sweetness of it all.
Zechariah is challenging us to not just know about God but to know him personally.
Zech 14:10 – where are these places? After exile the land was flattened and didn’t really contain much. Zechariah is seeing the glory of old Jerusalem rebuilt.
By 14:11 the war is over and security is achieved.
So when does this war happen? Both the cross of Jesus, the final moment of the end of time when Jesus appears to wrap up history, and also the final moments between then and then where we live now because Jesus is king and the war is over. Life now is lived in this mopping up period – and while there will be casualties and losses it is all on the way to an inevitable victory.
This is great news, but this is not where the prophets stop.
In 14:12-21 God works to bring his people to him to enjoy his presence. It is done in a way that replays the Exodus.
The plagues sound pretty bad – but they are a reminder that you don’t mess with our God.
14:16 reminds us that God brings the nations to worship him – and if they don’t they will be excluded. 14:17 reminds us that those who do not worship Yahweh will have the covenant curses rained down on them.
14:20ff – all the horse bells and all the crockery will be holy to God. Everything will be holy to him! 14:21 – no ‘trader’ (Canaanite) in the house, no crooks.
The war that is won reminds us that God is a God who is determined to battle to bring his people to him so they can gasp in awe and delight of him.
Jesus is the one who brings this to pass. The one who brings judgement upon himself for us, and upon everyone else, who brings us into reconciled relationship with God, in order to help us sit before his Father in awe.
Piper – Missions exists because worship doesn’t… at the end when we all before the throne enjoy God missions will be no more…
This is the picture we see in Revelation 7 – al the nations who have bowed to Jesus in awe of him.
Everything ultimately leads to worship – everything in this world is designed to say ‘behold our God’. This is what we were made for, why we do what we do, why we gather as a local church, when we open the Bible together – when all that happens we hear ‘I am your God, you are my people.’
The prophets knew that this was our future and hope, That Father, Son and Spirit fight for us so that we might worship Him forever. This is what life is about.
The prophets proclaimed God’s word to show us his majesty and draw our focus on his goodness and glory. They champion this message, grieve when people turn from it, and remind us of this solid hope – that there is only one outcome of the war that God is waging: the worship of God, Father – Son – and Spirit.
[What a wondrous way to finish – to be reminded that the goal of all that God does is his glory and our beholding of that!]
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