Listening to the word of God spoken by His ancient prophets helps us remember who God was, who God is and who God is to come. That way, we get to see and understand His character, His personality and His heart and it shall speak to us words of encouragement in our different circumstances. The prophet Zachariah talks about Jerusalem, a city uniquely favoured by God but fell into sin and perversity that God had to send His prophets to warn them. By way of discipline, God allowed them to fall into the hands of the Babylonians.
To understand God as the God of restoration, we need to go back to the beginning where it all started with the covenant between God and Abraham, through to David’s generation. I am taking it as far as David not because the other people in the genealogy of Jesus Christ are irrelevant but because it marked a significant period in the history of Israel. The link with the root of David was so important that in Luke 18:38 when the blind man heard Jesus was passing by, he cried out “Thou son of David, have mercy on me”. Remember the story of Joseph and how he found favour with the Pharaoh of the time? Israel prospered in Egypt until a generation came which knew not the special relationship that existed between Joseph and Pharaoh so the Egyptians became jealous and insecure and they started to maltreat the Israelites. God then raised Moses to take them out of Egypt and throughout their journey through the wilderness, they saw the mighty works of God. Fast-forward to the time of judges, in Judges 21:25, the Bible records that “in those days, there was no king and everyone did what was right in their eyes”. The people then wanted a king just like other nations and they had several kings but the time of David and King Solomon was regarded by many scholars as the “golden age”. They experienced lots and lots of prosperity and everything was rosy, then things plummeted and went from one disaster to another. God then sent revivalists like Elijah, Elisha and Jehoshaphat but still there was no denying the fact that things were on a downhill trajectory until it ended in a major disaster- Israel was carried away to Assyria and Judah to Babylon. Up to this point, we know how ungrateful, short-sighted and disobedient the children of Israel were, yet God gave them chance after chance after chance. God asked Jeremiah to go to the house of the potter and he would have a message for him. In Jeremiah 18:6, God showed prophet Jeremiah what He was capable of doing with Israel.
With the Babylonian exile well in the past, the Jews that had returned home understood the task of rebuilding the temple. This was after Nehemiah oversaw the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. 16 years after the work had begun, it was still not completed. Haggai tried to stir the nation into action with renewed courage, holiness and faith in God. However, Zachariah approached it differently by using strong words of rebuke and emphasised the importance of rebuilding the temple. Future blessing is contingent on present obedience.
WHAAT IS RESTORATION?
Restoration is an action of returning something to its former place or owner, position or place of authority.
Restoration of man back to God is an act of mercy as seen in vs 16 of Zachariah chapter 1.
The psalmist in Psalm 23:3 said “he restoreth my soul”
Joel 1:1-4 talks about how God sent the locust as punishment for the iniquity of Israel, whilst chapter 2 vs25-27 shows how merciful God is.
SOME OF THE REASONS WHY WE SUFFER LOSS
Some of the reasons why we suffer loss are as follows;
- Lack of Discernment
Hebrews 2:1 warns us to give heed to what we have heard lest at any time we let them slip. We ought to be vigilant. Matt 13:25
- Nonchalant Attitude (Carelessness)
We are less interested in the things of the kingdom but fiercely focussed on our personal self-development. We ought to give more attention to issues concerning the kingdom.
Hosea 4:6, Psalms 82:5-7
The sons of Issachar understood the chronological time and they also understood spiritual times. They could discern what God was doing, when He was doing it (1Chronicles 12:32). It is very important as children of God, that we understand the times we are in and what we ought to do in terms of both our physical and spiritual lives. Ephesians 5:16 tells us to make the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Proverbs 4:23 “keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life”.
- Lack of Industry
Matthew 25:14-30 is the parable of the talents where one was given five, another two and another one talent. The ones with five and two went ahead and invested whilst the one with one did nothing with it. What is that talent of gift that God has given unto to you? How are you utilising it?
- Trial and Temptation
Certain times we go through difficulties to test our faith with the aim of promoting us. However, sometimes it is temptation from the enemy. We may struggle to discern whether it is trial or temptation but if we enquire of the Lord, His spirit that lives within us is capable of revealing to us. God does not tempt and whenever He allows us to go through tough times, He makes a way of escape. If we look at the story of Job in the Bible, we could see clearly God’s intention to promote Job. During this pandemic, a lot of us have suffered losses; jobs, friends, business, loved ones etc. Is this punishment from God? I don’t know but what I know is that God has our attention now more than ever before. Joel 1:1-4 shows how God visited the iniquities of the children of Israel.
KEYS FOR RESTORATION
2 Chronicle 7:14
Anyone who comes before the throne of grace with a penitent heart and a contrite spirit shall receive mercy. It does not matter how far you have fallen; the grace of God can pick you up, dust you up and restore you. In Jeremiah 18:2 God asked prophet Jeremiah to go to the potter’s house because he would give him a message. There, the prophet saw how the potter dealt with the marred clay and how he turned it into a beautiful vessel. The message was that God is able to restore you no matter how bad things have been; Jeremiah 18:6. Iniquity steals(subtracts) from us but righteousness through Christ multiplies. 2 Peter 1:2. Joel 2:21-27 shows us the benefits of repentance and how God intends to restore us when we turn away from sin.
We are encouraged to constantly evaluate ourselves to see areas of improvement both physically and spiritually. The story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15: 11-32 tells us of someone who took for granted what he had and after squandering it, came back to his senses and returned back to his father. He felt unworthy to be called his father’s son but his forgiving father wrapped his arm around him and welcomed him home. Jesus came to do just that, to put us in right standing with our Father in heaven. Ephesians 2:8-9
- Renewing of Your Mind
The moment we give our lives to Christ, we are made righteous. However, it is not easy to go through life without the enemy wanting to win us back to him. It then becomes imperative that we realise that we are new creatures and must do away with our previous ways. We need to constantly study the word of God and pray that our minds would be renewed towards the things of the kingdom. Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 5:17
- Seek Him
Seek God’s face for guidance
1 Samuel 23: 4-6. A report came to David that the Philistines were raiding Keilah and looting the grain so David enquired of the Lord before engaging the Philistines. God gave him the instruction to go and attack them and he was victorious. We need God’s guidance in everything we do.
- Declare Your Restoration
Isaiah 42:22 clearly shows us that we ought to declare our restoration having faith in our God that since he was able to deliver Israel in time past, he can deliver us from any form of difficulties we may be facing. Whatever the enemy has stolen from us, if we declare by the power that is in the name of Jesus Christ, be rest assured that restoration is coming.
Sermon delivered on February 21, 2021.