Sunday: Comforting Words of Life
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Read Zechariah 1.

Image © Rolf Jansson from GoodSalt.com

Image © Rolf Jansson from GoodSalt.com

What is the essential message here? Focus especially on Zechariah 1:3. What is the Lord saying to the people?

The return from the exile to Babylon sparked joy in the hearts of the remnant people. But the return also caused anxiety. Would they be safe and secure in their land, or would enemies come again to harass them? Had God forgiven their past unfaithfulness, or would He continue their punishment? What did the future hold for God’s chosen people and for the nations?

In his vision, Zechariah saw the angel of the Lord move to intercede for Judah. He began with the question, “How long?” In the Bible, this question is often used as an expression of people’s distress and appeal to the Lord for help (Ps. 74:10Isa. 6:11Dan. 8:13). The answer to the question came directly through the interpreting angel, who then passed it on to the prophet. It contained words that promised God’s kindness and comfort.

Zechariah was told to proclaim that their Lord was very jealous for Jerusalem (Zech. 1:14). Jealousy can have negative connotations, but in the Bible it can also be an expression of God’s love. God loved His people and expected them to be faithful. In contrast to His love toward Jerusalem, the angel said that the Lord was angry with the nations that had treated His people so harshly. The full charge against the nations was that they added to the calamity of the divine discipline by going too far in their harsh treatment of captives.

Zechariah 1:14 acknowledged God as having been angry, but He promised to repay with comfort. His purpose, which the prophet was commissioned to proclaim, was to return to Jerusalem with compassion. The Lord would comfort Zion (see Isa. 40:1), while His anger would be directed to His enemies. Jerusalem was going to be restored, and it would again be the dwelling place of the Lord.

Look again at Zechariah 1:3. How does one “return” (NIV) unto the Lord? In what ways is this a call for a restored personal relationship between God and His people? How do we (or do we?) “return” unto the Lord every day?

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Sunday: Comforting Words of Life — 24 Comments

  1. Reading the sabbath school on the net has helprf me a lot to understand things better. At first, i have no interest in studying the sabbath school book because i don't understand when i read it, but thank God he has showed me another way on how to comprehend it by your discussion.

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  2. Am in situation where the only chance to pray and be a vibrant member of this remnant church is my online and SDA Radio here in Malawi. So keep up and God continue blessing you, you are touching alot of souls like mine.

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  3. [Moderator's note: Please add your surname - it helps with id.]
    14 So the angel who spoke with me said to me, 2“Proclaim, saying, In my Bible reference the text quoted from Zechariaha 1:14 reads ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts:

    “I am zealous for Jerusalem
    And for Zion with great zeal." Sunday's lesson replaces this with the word 'jealous', which infers something different, in my opinion.

    Any ideas on that/

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    • Elizabeth, I think the fact that there are so many different translations of the same materials can be confusing. In english, zealous and jealous have different meanings but each can also be used to describe both negative and positive characteristics.

      The lesson above somewhat describes that NIV uses "jealous," in this verse, to describe a positive feeling from God toward His people in relation to the negative feeling He has toward the four nations that went too far in punishing God's people for their infidelity toward Him.

      In my opinion, the author of one translation (NIV) means to emphasize the negative feeling God has toward the four other nations. In your translation, the author wanted to emphasize the positive feeling God had toward His people.

      I am not a Bible scholar; but I think it all depends on the author(s) of the translation you're using. I find that when I am confused I can use the online Bible websites to delve further: 1. to look up same verse in different translations to compare verbiage; 2. to cross reference the word or verse in other parts of the Bible to compare usage, (www.biblia.com; www.biblegateway.com.) You can access these websites by clicking the verse links in the lesson study.

      I am also thankful for this online study; it does help me understand the lessons.

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    • Jealous and zealous in English both derive from the same origin. Like all modern languages the meaning of words changes over time. While the two words have different meanings now they were originally much closer together. Thus it is that "jealous" in the KJV is likely to be replaced by zealous today to reflect the original intent.

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  4. God is love! His punishments are meant to bring us back into the right path. Many a times we drift away, instead of coming back, during the hard times. May God help us to search for His will in every situation.

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  5. Certainly, the attitude of the heart and the focus of the mind can return to the Lord--repentent for sins and seeking God earnestly for today. The returning is prayer and studying the Bible along with continual turning to Him, focussing on Him and praying for help and guidance. As His Presence is real to me through the day, I can talk to Him about everything I am doing and experiencing. I can pray for others as they come to mind. This experience is that growing relationship that God wants and I need! PTL!

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    • Something else also comes to mind. Maybe it is a result of the foundation you explained. Almost every one of the "Minor" Prophets commands God's true people the same way . . .

      7 Isn’t this the same message the Lord proclaimed through the prophets in years past when Jerusalem and the towns of Judah were bustling with people, and the Negev and the foothills of Judah* were well populated?’ ” 8 Then this message came to Zechariah from the Lord: 9 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. (Zach 7: 7-8, NLT)

      By seeking to live as God describes, we return to Him through our actions.

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  6. God's word gives us guidance. Truly returning to God is seeking direction in life from God.

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  7. Isn't God amazing! Even when we are reaping the inevitable consequences of our misconduct God is weeping for us and is eager for us to be liberated. He is like a loving parent who must discipline a delinquent child, but hurts as well in the process and wants to maximize his child's happiness. God's attitude toward the erring Israelite reflects mercy, compassion, and rehabilitation for the undeserving people. What are the implications for us? Often times we run into individuals who have badly messed up their lives, it may seem reasonable to conclude, "It's your fault, you reap what you sow." We may not be able to remedy their problem(s), but we can activate hope. Recently I met a homeless woman who was crying on the street, I approached her and inquired how I could help; thank God, it was rewarding for her.

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  8. @ Elizabeth, I've checked both the KJV and NIV and they both say jealous and not zealous. Which version were you reading?

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  9. We need to do more than just return to the Lord. We need to have the kind of relationship that qualifies as a true return. That comes with doing what Jesus did when on earth. And that is, putting oneself aside for others. Not an easy task, but if we truly come back to God, that will be the result, and we will surely hasten the coming of the Lord.

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  10. In this text(Zechariah 1:3)God is calling His people to repentance. Our sins are what separate us from God. It is important to stay prayerful, and to study God's word because its so easy to get wrapped up in life that our thoughts become concerned with worldly issues. If our hearts are not connected, we become easy targets for negativity and calamity. Returning to God daily gives us the strength to withstand everything that Satan has designed for us to turn away from the will of God. The bible says to pray without ceasing. In doing this, we stay spiritually connected with God. That is my interpretation of this text. Returning to God means to repent and to stay in tuned with Him for direction, for comfort, for strength and everything else that He provides for us on a day to day basis. Returning to Him also keeps us focused on the most important and that is our Salvation.

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  11. God loves us and He want us to be part of His family. Everytime we do something right or disappoint Him, He still want us to repent n' submit to Him cause @ da end of the day He might be big on disciplining but His the greatest comforter.

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  12. [Moderator's Note: Please include your surname]

    @ ELIZABETH: I also agree with the different word meanings jealous vs zealous. I'm using the King James Version which used the term " jealous for Jerusalem ...". But it seems that the online study quarterly uses the NKJV

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  13. Despite how far we drift from God , He wants to save us so much he awaits and beckons our return to his fold. Thank you Lord.

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  14. So many times we drift from God and fall into the traps of the devil.But it is only when we go back and cry to the Lord that we realise that the Lord is forever jealous of us even in our iniquities.
    I love verses 3 and 4 of chapter 3 Joshua presents himself in his filthy garments he does not take them off but he waits for the Lord to renew his garments.Our problem is that we sometimes try to cleans ourselves instead of letting God be the renewer of our lives.

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  15. The question is, how does one return to the Lord? We are like sheep we have gone astray. Maybe we need to look at the parable of the lost sheep more closely, I don,t see the sheep returning to the Lord. I see The Good Shepard when He finds the lost sheep carrying it back to the fold. I do believe we return to the Lord by surendering ourselves to Him totally without reserve. I look at sheep not as squealing and trying to get away, but in total surrender, glad to be in the arms of The Good Shepard.

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  16. From dictionary: Zealous - ORIGIN early 16th cent.: from a medieval Latin derivative of Latinzelus ‘zeal, jealousy.’

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  17. Many years ago while visiting with a friend, his little boy needed disciplining. This lesson brings to mind the lesson I learned that day. Father and son retreated into the privacy of the bedroom where the sound of a sound smack and a wail told of the discipline being meted out. A few minutes later they both returned and the boy spent the rest of the meal on his father's lap. Our heavenly father does not abandon his children and assures them of his forgiveness and love when the need arises for discipline.

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  18. The first step to "returning to God" is through REPENTANCE. For without it we can never realise how sinful we are and how much we need Him. Secondly,through porayer,even if it mean 7 times a day then we shall do it. Through prayer a communication is established and. Relationship is maintained. We get to expreience God's love and plabs for our lives through talking to Him. Lastlt through diligent study of His word. This is vital in the sense that we get to understand His purpose for us,the way of life He wants us to follow and we then stay closer to Him by every verse and every chapter.

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