“Thus says the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country and from the west country and I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And they shall be My people, and I will be their God in faithfulness and in righteousness.” Zechariah 8:7-8
This passage sounded so familiar to me when I read it this morning so I went back and looked up some old footage. There’s a good reason it sounded familiar:
Exodus 6:6-8 “Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be My people, and I will be your God who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.”
Is it just me or is there a refrain in those two verses? “I will save”, “I will bring”, “I will deliver”, “I will redeem”, “I will be your God” and “I will give it to you”, it’s all about what GOD will do… for YOU. If I’ve learned anything over the last few years it’s that I’m NOT perfect. I’ve learned that no matter what I do, it’s still never good enough for me. No matter how hard I try I will still sin and I will fall oh so short of the glory of God.
I’ve also learned that it’s not about me. The Bible, life, it’s ALL about Jesus. They’re all about what Jesus said and what Jesus did – for ME. And for YOU.
In Genesis God calls Abram to come out away from his family and everything he’s ever known and follow God wherever He decides to take him. Abraham agrees and he heads out into the unknown territory. (Which, fun fact, just happens to be where his father was headed when he stopped short of his own goal.) Then in Genesis chapter fifteen God takes Abraham out to count the stars and tells him that although childless at the moment, he will have as many descendants as there are stars in the sky and sand on the shore. Then, in order to make sure that Abraham is able to see how serious God is about this promise He has just made, He has Abraham go get a heifer, a goat, a ram, a turtledove and a pigeon and cut them in half. Then to seal the covenant Abraham took the halves of the animals and laid them out on the ground with space between the halves so that a person could walk between them through their blood. This is what’s called a blood covenant, people would do this to symbolize that if one of the parties involved in the covenant didn’t hold up their end of the bargain their fate would be the same as the animals sliced in half. It was kind of like a gory adult version of cross your heart, hope to die, stick a needle in your eye.
Anyway, the really interesting part of this blood covenant that God makes with Abraham is that when you read Genesis chapter fifteen you’ll notice that God doesn’t make any stipulations on Abraham in order to fulfill His promise to Abraham. All the requirements of the agreement are on God Himself. AND Since there is no higher authority than God, God swears by Himself that He will fulfill ALL the requirements of the covenant in order to fulfill His promise to Abraham to bless him with more descendants than the stars in the sky.
Fast forward to Hebrews chapter nine and I think you’ll find something VERY interesting. “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” (verses 11-12) My friends, God used the blood of a cow, goat, sheep and birds to secure His promise to Abraham and He kept it. How much more faithful do you think He’s going to be to His promises to you when they’ve been secured by the blood of His own SON!?! Hebrews 9:13-14 says, “For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” In the Old Testament when someone sinned they had to take their BEST animal and kill it, spilling its blood, as atonement for their sins. That animal sacrifice purified them of that sin until the next time they sinned when they would have to repeat the process. Over and over and over again. Blood was constantly pouring over the altars of Israel as their sins continued. While the blood of those goats and bulls had the power to purify, it didn’t last, it wasn’t strong enough.
BUT GOD had a better plan. The blood of a PERFECT lamb, His Son, offered as a blood sacrifice the propitiation for our sins that justified us by His Grace as a gift through the redemption of Christ Jesus. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins. It was to show His righteousness, at the present time, so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:24-26) See, again, ALL GOD, no you. GOD is the one who has covered you, God is the one who has justified you and purified you from all your unrighteousness. According to 1 John 4:17 as Jesus is so are we in this world.
In Zechariah 8:7-8 and Exodus 6:6-8 God says, “I will” and leaves nothing for His people to do except receive the things He is promising to do for them. Today God is saying the same thing to you through Christ, “I will deliver you from slavery to the law. I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Law. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment on JESUS. I will take you to be My people and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Law. I will bring you into the land of rest that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.”