Richards: Pay Attention to What the Lord Says

“In a recent conversation with a person I asked him a question. His response was puzzling: he inferred from my question that I was making an unrelated point. I assured him I was asking the question—get this—because I wanted an answer, not because I was making a point. We often assume there is something else being communicated through our words, and language often works this way. Some use language to hide or cover up what they’re actually saying, so it can be a surprise when someone speaks in a straightforward manner. The TV show “The Office” captured this well in an episode in which Kelly and Darryl briefly date one another. After Darryl was honest and straightforward with her Kelly complains to the camera:

Darryl Philbin is the most complicated man that I have ever met. I mean, who says exactly what they’re thinking? What kinda game is that?

While people can be duplicitous in their words, there is one who is never duplicitous, one who truly says what he means, and while he often does not say everything that he could say, what he does say must be taken at face value. Consider these opening words from the prophet Zechariah.

In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, son of Iddo, saying, “The LORD was very angry with your fathers. Therefore say to them, Thus declares the LORD of hosts: Return to me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets cried out, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, Return from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.’ But they did not hear or pay attention to me, declares the LORD. Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? So they repented and said, ‘As the LORD of hosts purposed to deal with us for our ways and deeds, so has he dealt with us.’”

Zechariah 1:1–6 ESV

What a tangled mess of quotes! Zechariah quotes God who quotes himself who quotes the former prophets who quoted him and quoted their fathers who also quoted him. I think.

Zechariah is writing to the people in exile. They had been sent into exile because of their fathers’ refusal to repent of their evil ways. Despite Judah’s current status in exile, God says that if they will return to him, he will return to them. The sins of their fathers do not have to be continued or repeated. If they will turn from those sins and will trust in the Lord, he will be restore them to himself. God calls them to reject the unbelief of the generations that led to exile. Though God sent prophets who proclaimed his message clearly to previous generations, they rejected those prophets and their message. However, in response to God’s word to this generation, Zechariah tells us they repented. Notice closely what they say:

So they repented and said, “As the LORD of hosts purposed to deal with us for our ways and deeds, so has he dealt with us.”

Zechariah 1:6 ESV

The temple was in the process of being rebuilt when Zechariah wrote this. The generation that was returning from exile was involved in building the temple. They recognized that when God said he would restore them, he meant he would—get this—restore them. God said exactly what he meant, and he meant exactly what he said.

God has not changed. He is trustworthy. He does not speak out both sides of his mouth or with a forked tongue. There is no lying or deceit in him. He does not tell us everything he could tell us, but what he tells us is completely truthful.

Let’s praise God today for being trustworthy. His word is true. His promises of salvation and of the cosmic restoration of all things are true promises and as the returning exiles said, as the Lord purposed to deal with us, so he will deal with us. His promises of salvation and blessing will come true. So will his promises of judgment. He promises to give rest to all who come to him. He promises he would never turn away those who do come to him. 

This world is weary. We’re tired of lies and deceit. We’re tired of political slogans and dishonesty. We’re tired of trying to sort out what others really mean. Let’s rest in this today: God says exactly what he means, and every word he says can be trusted. Let’s read his word and let’s trust his promises. Let’s rest in him today.”

-J–T Richards

pay attention to what the Lord says

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