By Mae Stallard
February 16, 2014
“And I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the Lord thy God, and I will hear them.” (Zechariah 10:6)
Zechariah lived and prophesied during the period following the Babylonian captivity. The prophet Jeremiah had predicted that the Israelites would return to the Promised Land after seventy years of discipline in exile. God began fulfilling this promise when He raised up Cyrus King of Persia, whose military exploits brought about the capture of Babylon in 539 B.C. Following his victory, Cyrus decreed that all exiled people could return to their homelands. The first group of Jews returned under the leadership of Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. (Ezra 1:8) The altar for the temple was erected in the Fall of that year but construction of the temple itself did not begin until the spring of 536 B.C.
Opposition to the temple rebuilding by enemies of the Jews living in and around Judah resulted in the abandonment of the work until 520 B.C. During these sixteen years of neglect the people of Judah lost their vision and sense of spiritual purpose resulting in divine chastening. (Haggai 1:11, 2:17)
Because the people stopped building the temple and it lay in ruin, while they kept busy building their own homes, God called for a drought on the fields and the mountains on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of their hands. (Haggai 1:7,9,11) Both Zechariah and Haggai called on the people to recognize their spiritual priorities and rebuild the temple. When they committed to restoring worship of the Lord and the temple, God poured out his blessing on a repentant and spiritually revitalized people. The temple was completed in 515 B.C. and rededicated with great rejoicing. God will do the same for those in our land who return to Him and give Him first place in our hearts and lives.
Even when we sin against our God,
And His will we refuse to obey,
If we return unto Him,
His forgiveness is only a prayer away.
So help us heavenly Father,
To be sorry for our sin,
And to humbly beg your forgiveness,
Praying that you will cleanse us within.
Dear Father, how blessed we are to have a wonderful, forgiving God who is a God of second chances. May we also be forgiving to others. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.