“Therefore say to the people: The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, ‘Turn to me,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, ‘and I will turn to you,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Zechariah 1.3 NET.
Here is the great principle: God is waiting for us to turn to him. If we want him to deal differently with us, we must act differently toward him, by repenting.
This principle is timeless. It appears through Scripture. James puts it this way: “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” 4.8a. That is why David wrote, “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” Psalm 145.18 ESV.
This principle applies to my personal sin and to the way of approaching God in worship and service as a part of his people. Repentance is required on my part, even if others refuse. In fact, others will refuse, but I must not allow this to discourage me from turning. And it may mean separating myself from them.
God has a standard. I often must go against the actions of those around me or against, as per Zechariah, my forefathers (see verses 2 and 4), in order to enjoy the approval of God. Some people today insist on doing things and belonging to groups as their parents or grandparents did. That position is not a laudable one in and of itself. It’s dangerous.
The divine standard is defined by the covenant. The call to turn is in fact a call to return to the revealed heres-covenant with all its promises and conditions. God established covenants as the framework for dealing with mankind. Today’s covenant, it bears repeating, is the covenant (and Testament) of Christ — and not of Moses.
In a single declaration the prophet records God stating no less than three times that he is the Lord of the heavenly armies. Why the repetition? Some see a hint of the triune God in the repetition. Others, an emphasis on the solemnity of the call to repent. (Compare Luke 13.3, 5 for emphatic repetition.) A few Bible versions unfortunately omit the repetition.
It may seem ironic, but God’s turning is a sign of his constancy. In his covenant, he warned (and warns today) what he would do if the people abandoned his ways. He showed himself faithful. He did not go back on his promises. In every situation, he demonstrates his holiness and goodness. No one should expect God to do differently that what he has affirmed in his covenant.
Let us turn to God, that he might turn to us. That’s the best deal of all.
Have you turned yet?