Monday, December 24, 2012

Jerusalem, the Faithful by Ida Newsom (reprinted from Advent Devotions - 1996)

Zechariah 7:8-8:8
 And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’
11 “But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears. 12 They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry.
13 “‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the Lord Almighty. 14 ‘I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations, where they were strangers. The land they left behind them was so desolate that no one traveled through it. This is how they made the pleasant land desolate. 
8The word of the Lord Almighty came to me. This is what the Lord Almighty says: “I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her.”
This is what the Lord says: “I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.”
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.”
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “It may seem marvelous to the remnant of this people at that time, but will it seem marvelous to me?” declares the Lord Almighty.
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God.”

This passage of scripture from the prophet Zechariah seems almost contradictory. First, Zechariah tells us how God had abandoned the children of Israel because they would not listen, driving them to other lands.  Immediately following these verses in chapter 7, the prophet then tells us in chapter 8 how God came back to dwell in Jerusalem and with love gathered his children unto him.

How often, as parents, have we felt the way God must have felt in the first part of today’s scripture.  When our children have tried our very souls, we oftentimes wonder why we continue to love them. But then we remember that they are ours, to hug, to love, to nurture, and as we draw them back to us, we put all of the bad times behind us. So it is with God’s love for us! Regardless of what we do or how far we might stray, God always welcomes us back as His children and invites us to live anew in His love.

Dear God, help us to remember that you always love us and that you are always there to welcome us home. Amen.

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