Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Evening Sermon Notes -

Zechariah: Paving The Path Toward A Blessed Future
Part III: Instructing God's People About Man-Authored Rituals, Zechariah 7:1-8:23
C. God's Blessings For God-Centered Obedience Over Self-Centered Ritualism
(Zechariah 8:1-17)
  1. Introduction
    1. When God seeks to direct His people to repent of sin that they might be blessed, once He delivers His "negative" message on repentance, He balances it with the promise of blessings for obedience!
    2. After two messages on Israel's need to repent, Zechariah 8:1-17 offers a third message, the first of two final messages, on divine blessings for repenting from self-centered ritualism (as follows):
  2. God's Blessings For God-Centered Obedience Over Self-Centered Ritualism.
    1. God's envisioned blessings for God-centered obedience over self-centered ritualism are so sure, He gave them in seven sections, the number of completeness, and introduced each blessing with the words, "Thus saith the Lord" (KJV at Zechariah 8:2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 14) to indicate the reality of these blessings.
    2. Thus, having introduced this section in Zechariah 8:1, Zechariah presents these sevenfold complete and sure blessings God envisioned for Israel due to her repentance from self-centered ritualism, Zech. 8:2-17:
      1. God noted that He was highly motivated to act for His people's welfare, Zechariah 8:2.
      2. God envisioned fellowship with His repentant people, dwelling in their midst in the sphere of truth and holiness, two critically important requirements for fellowship with God, Zechariah 8:3.
      3. God envisioned that His people would enjoy His complete protection from oppressors, Zech. 8:4-5:
        1. The reference to elderly people in Zechariah 8:4 and to boys and girls in Zechariah 8:5 represents people in the extreme stages of life when they are most vulnerable to harm from oppressors.
        2. However, with God's blessings, both the vulnerable aged and vulnerable boys and girls would safely dwell out in the open streets of the city due to God's great protection, Zechariah 8:4-5.
      4. God envisioned that He would be as happy about such blessings as would His people, that He thus would supply great protection from harm for them when His people heeded Him, Zechariah 8:6!
      5. God envisioned the healing of His people's broken relationships due to repentance, Zechariah 8:7-8:
        1. God promised to reunite His people with one another though they were scattered in nations to the east and to the west, bringing them to dwell together in unity in Jerusalem, Zechariah 8:7-8a.
        2. Besides uniting His people geographically, God promised to renew spiritual relationships, 8:8b,c,d: (1) God promised His people would again be properly related to Him so that He would claim them once again as His people, Zechariah 8:8b. (2) Indeed, God promised that His people would look to Him as their God versus looking to other false gods that had led them into the Babylonian Captivity in the first place, Zech. 8:8c; Jeremiah 1:16. (3) This renewal of relationships would be based on truth and righteousness versus pre-exilic Israel's deceit and sin, Zech. 8:8d versus Jer. 3:4-5 NIV.
      6. God envisioned making the temple rebuilders' work productive in their obedience, Zech. 8:9-13:
        1. Both at the opening and the closing of this sixth blessing, God called the workers who were rebuilding the temple to "let your hands be strong," Zechariah 8:9a, 13b.
        2. Then, explaining this call, God promised that the temple rebuilders would no longer experience the lack of productivity in their efforts as they had before, Zechariah 8:9b-11.
        3. Rather, God promised to make all their agricultural pursuits productive, giving them needed moisture for that blessing, and providing them with honor and making them a blessing to other nations in fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant, Zechariah 8:12-13 with Genesis 12:1-3.
      7. God envisioned a lifestyle in Israel that reflected spiritual reality over the self-centered ritualism from which she had repented, one focusing on truth, justice, mercy and peace, Zech. 8:14-17.
Lesson: When His people exchanged self-centered ritualism for God-centered obedience, they would enjoy God's highly motivated fellowship, protection from oppressors, happiness, relationship healing, work productivity and a lifestyle marked by truth, justice, mercy and peace.

Application: May we repent of self-centered ritualism to practice God-centered obedience to enjoy all these great blessings of fellowship with God and with one another.