When Work Attends Church

A rebuilt altar, temple, and city require a rebuilt people. Zechariah reminds the exiles of the behavior of their forefathers, “But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the LORD of hosts. Therefore it happened, that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen . . . ” (Zechariah 7:11-13).

Because of this history, therefore, Zechariah addresses both the tasks given to the exiles and the friction among them as they work together, “‘These are the things you shall do: speak each man the truth to his neighbor; give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace; let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; and do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,’ says the LORD” (8:16-17).

God’s “to do” list differs from that of His people. The people’s list is noticeably short—build the temple, rebuild Jerusalem, establish a new life, and fast and mourn in the fifth and seventh months—while God’s list is fairly comprehensive:

  • Administer justice
  • Be merciful and compassionate with others
  • Don’t be oppressive toward the widow or the fatherless, alien or poor
  • Be accepting of others; don’t be suspicious and think evil of others
  • Be truthful with others in your actions toward them
  • Be honest in your dealings with others so that no one takes you to court
  • Don’t entertain evil thoughts about others
  • Be honest in all of your speech

Living in community demands justice, mercy, compassion, etc.

Messes occur while completing tasks, but once the task is completed the mess generally disappears. God’s call for rebuilding Jerusalem requires a lot of doing together, which strains relationships and creates messes that are not easy to clean up.

Man’s “to do” lists generally have more to do with tasks than with relationships, while God’s list revolves around relationships. He is much more interested in who we are because it is out of who we are that we do what we do. Being trumps doing—every time.

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Zech. 6:1-8:23; Ezra 5:2-6:13):
Review Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:15-17. How does this compare with Zechariah 6:12-13? What does this reveal about the Spirit’s work across generations?
What occurs that interrupts the rebuilding of Jerusalem and her walls, and how is the issue resolved? What has God done in the past to ensure the continuity of His work in the present?