Bible Focus: Zechariah
So tell the people, 'This is what the LORD of Armies says: Return to me--this is the declaration of the LORD of Armies--and I will return to you, says the LORD of Armies. Do not be like your ancestors; the earlier prophets proclaimed to them: This is what the LORD of Armies says: Turn from your evil ways and your evil deeds. But they did not listen or pay attention to me--this is the LORD's declaration. Where are your ancestors now? And do the prophets live forever? But didn't my words and my statutes that I commanded my servants the prophets overtake your ancestors?'"Zechariah 1:3-6 CSB
So the people repented and said, "As the LORD of Armies decided to deal with us for our ways and our deeds, so he has dealt with us."
About a week ago, I had the opportunity to visit Athens, Georgia, which is the home of the University of Georgia (UGA). I once attended UGA and lived in the area for years after I graduated. I have many fond memories of Athens; I could have stayed there a couple days without running out of places to see. But I only had a few hours to spare, so I had to be selective about where I went.
One of the places that I visited was the intersection of Alps Road and Broad Street. It’s an unremarkable corner not far from the UGA campus, and the intersection probably means very little to the thousands of people who drive through it each day. But to me, the place marks a significant point in my spiritual journey. It’s the place where God convinced me, once and for all, that I was saved.
Alps Road and Broad Street in Athens, Georgia (U.S.A.)
The moment happened over thirty years ago. I was headed somewhere, driving alone, having an internal debate with myself that had become all too familiar. I knew I had trusted in Jesus as a child, but I seriously questioned whether that decision had been real. Had I really repented and believed? I kept trying to answer that question by examining myself according to what the Bible said was right. I always came up short, so I kept coming to the fearful conclusion that I couldn’t have genuinely trusted in Christ. If I had, then why did I still struggle so much with sin?
That day, as I approached the intersection of Alps Road and Broad Street, God flipped my focus. I stopped examining myself and I began to examine him. Was Jesus able to save me? Of course! I absolutely believed that. I believed Jesus was the sinless Son of God who died in my place for my sin. I knew that he loved me and that he was willing and able to save me completely. My doubt disappeared, and my fear diminished as swiftly as the intersection of Alps and Broad in my rearview mirror.
When we believe in Jesus, we’ll learn to obey him more and more. However, we’ll still be sinful, imperfect, and inconsistent. If we try to trust in ourselves, we’ll always find something to doubt. But when we turn in faith to God himself, we’ll realize how powerfully he wants to save. We’ll know that we are saved when we let God do the saving.
After living in Babylonian exile for seventy years, the Jews were allowed to return to Judea. Many of them chose to return and help rebuild Jerusalem and its temple. Zechariah was one of the prophets that God used to speak to the Jewish people during that time. The people seemed to respond well to Zechariah’s message. They repented of their ancestors’ ways of ignoring God, and they admitted that God had done what was just and right.
Through Zechariah, God told his people that he himself would rescue them, restore them, and protect them. Some of Zechariah’s messages involved startling visions in which angels gave Zechariah guidance. Zechariah was told that God would come to live among his people–a people that one day would include more than just Jews.
"Daughter Zion, shout for joy and be glad, for I am coming to dwell among you"--this is the LORD's declaration. "Many nations will join themselves to the LORD on that day and become my people. I will dwell among you, and you will know that the LORD of Armies has sent me to you."Zechariah 2:10-11 CSB
In one of his visions, Zechariah saw Joshua (the Jewish high priest) standing in filthy clothes next to an angel. The angel commanded that Joshua’s filthy clothes be removed. The angel said that Joshua’s wickedness was removed and that he would be given fresh clothes to wear. Then the angel gave Joshua a message from God about a special servant that would soon be sent:
"Listen, High Priest Joshua, you and your colleagues sitting before you; indeed, these men are a sign that I am about to bring my servant, the Branch. Notice the stone I have set before Joshua; on that one stone are seven eyes. I will engrave an inscription on it"--this is the declaration of the LORD of Armies--"and I will take away the iniquity of this land in a single day."Zechariah 3:8-9 CSB
The angel didn’t give further guidance about this message, but Zechariah would have already known who the Branch was. The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah had previously used that term to refer to the Messiah, the anointed servant-king that would come to save God’s people from their sin. Zechariah received other messages regarding the Messiah, including this one:
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout in triumph, Daughter Jerusalem! Look, your King is coming to you; he is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem. The bow of war will be removed, and he will proclaim peace to the nations. His dominion will extend from sea to sea, from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth.Zechariah 9:9-10 CSB
Here’s the good news: the Messiah has come, and his name is Jesus. He is our God who came to dwell with us. He is the King who entered Jerusalem on a donkey just days before he died. He is the Branch who took away the sin of the world in a single day by his death on the cross. He rose from the dead and went back to heaven, but his Spirit lives in all those who believe in him. He will return one day to rule over all the earth in peace.
Our source of salvation is found in Jesus alone. He’s already won. So if we are trusting in Jesus as our Savior and King, then we don’t have to doubt that we are in his kingdom. We will forever dwell with our humble and righteous King in both this world and the next.
Featured image from Lance Asper on Unsplash.
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3 thoughts on “The One Who Saves”
When we focus on Him! It certainly corrects our perspective. Thank you Pastor Jeff.
So beautifully pinned, Jeff. I wanted to share this to my Facebook page but it will not let me do so even though it offers me that option. Any suggestions?
Hi Jim! I think something went weird. I’m going to try reposting it to my page, maybe you’ll be able to share that.