Dealing with betrayal and unfaithfulness
Zechariah 1: 1-17 (NRSVA)
1 In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berechiah son of Iddo, saying: 2 The Lord was very angry with your ancestors. 3 Therefore say to them, Thus says the Lord of hosts: Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. 4 Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the former prophets proclaimed, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, Return from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.’ But they did not hear or heed me, says the Lord. 5 Your ancestors, where are they? And the prophets, do they live for ever? 6 But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your ancestors? So they repented and said, ‘The Lord of hosts has dealt with us according to our ways and deeds, just as he planned to do.’
7 On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berechiah son of Iddo; and Zechariah said, 8 In the night I saw a man riding on a red horse! He was standing among the myrtle trees in the glen; and behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses. 9 Then I said, ‘What are these, my lord?’ The angel who talked with me said to me, ‘I will show you what they are.’ 10 So the man who was standing among the myrtle trees answered, ‘They are those whom the Lord has sent to patrol the earth.’ 11 Then they spoke to the angel of the Lord who was standing among the myrtle trees, ‘We have patrolled the earth, and lo, the whole earth remains at peace.’ 12 Then the angel of the Lord said, ‘O Lord of hosts, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with which you have been angry these seventy years?’ 13 Then the Lord replied with gracious and comforting words to the angel who talked with me. 14 So the angel who talked with me said to me, Proclaim this message: Thus says the Lord of hosts; I am very jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion. 15 And I am extremely angry with the nations that are at ease; for while I was only a little angry, they made the disaster worse. 16 Therefore, thus says the Lord, I have returned to Jerusalem with compassion; my house shall be built in it, says the Lord of hosts, and the measuring line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem. 17 Proclaim further: Thus says the Lord of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity; the Lord will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.
The above passage in Zechariah, referring to a period in the history of Israel around 500BC, could easily reflect the situation here in the UK, especially when it comes to knowledge of God and adherence to the Christian faith. In many circumstances sometime two or three generations of families have grown up who no longer hold to the Christian traditions and beliefs of their ancestors. The spiritual disciplines of previous generations have somehow gone by the board. We like Zechariah need to begin to pray and work for the renewal of faith among the younger generations. Perhaps Christians need to encourage such people to look again at the spiritual inheritance that has their name on it.
Betrayal and unfaithfulness are often the unspoken words that describe the root causes of a great many of our societal ills. Both leaders of industry and political leaders have often said one thing and done another. In our personal lives so many relationships have gone sour because of broken promises and mistrust among families friends and marital relationships. Betrayal and unfaithfulness are old friends known to so many of us.
The prophet offers a solution to a community of lonely hearts. He suggests that they return home. It’s a spiritual journey he invites them to embark upon. He assures them there is room for all in the heart and city of God. Perhaps this is a call to many of us who feel betrayed and hurt. A call to return home spiritually and receive the welcome of a loving father.
I’ve been thinking
How good it feels to
Be trusted and to trust another
How good it feels to be surrounded by
Love and faithfulness.
Yet for too long
I’ve been living with betrayal and lies
I’m leaving this place
I don’t belong here
I’m coming home
So I’m telling the world
I got it wrong
I was made a fool of
And I made a fool of others too
But I’m dealing with it now
I’m closing this chapter
I’m moving back home
And when I encounter grace
I won’t take her for granted
I’ll trust grace and your amazing faithfulness