I stumbled on this chapter the other day, when I was at my Isaiah class, and while one group of scriptures stood out to me, it’s one of those chapters where I keep bouncing around and finding cool stuff just in the whole thing.
It’s in the book of Zechariah, which is the second-to-last book in the Old Testament (KJV). The Lord, speaking through the prophet, is describing how the city of Jerusalem is going to be safely inhabited in the future. That in itself isn’t such an interesting or novel address in the scriptures, but so far, this one stands out to me because he goes in detail about what life will be like, and also compares it to the way things were before.
My favorite passage is verses nine to fifteen:
9. ¶ Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, which were in the day that the foundation of the house of the LORD of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built.
10. For before these days there was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast; neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in because of the affliction: for I set all men every one against his neighbour.
11. But now I will not be unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the LORD of hosts.
12. For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.
13. And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.
14. For thus saith the LORD of hosts; As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the LORD of hosts, and I repented not:
15. So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not.
I was looking through the chapter again yesterday morning I think it was, and verse twelve stuck out to me. One thing I’ve learned to notice in the scriptures, is to look closely whenever the Lord lists things in a sequential list. I’ve found that there can be some significance to that.
The things that will propser, specifically:
For the seed shall be prosperous;
the vine shall give her fruit,
and the ground shall give her increase,
and the heavens shall give their dew;
What I find interesting, is that it goes from the smallest to the largest, from those who have influence in their own realm, and those whose influence stretches far beyond themselves.
The spiritual application that I’m getting from this, is that all of us, from the smallest to the greatest, will be able to reach our potential. To some, it is given to bring forth great things, and to some it is given to bring forth little.
I know there’s a lot of pressure sometimes, in a religious community, to expect more of ourselves than is possible. In that realm of thought, I love the parable of the talents given to the servants (see Matthew 25:14-30). To one servant, was given five talents, and to another two, and to another, one. The lesson is that where much is given, much is required. The Lord’s answer of “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” was the exact same to the servant who doubled his talents, regardless of his initial investment. The Lord gives us all, and he expects all in return.
The last part of the verse is cool as well, and it illustrates how all of this is going to happen, in both a literal sense of economic, social and agricultural stability, but also spiritually and individually:
I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.
The Lord prepares the people, He is the one that effects the change, and the reason we have the scriptures is so that we can know His will and how to change our lives. This chapter just includes some of the promises that will come as people seek to do that.
I can certainly testify from my own experience that lots of personal growth comes from actually living the Gospel of Christ. It’s difficult, but very rewarding.
Good stuff, I tell you. I enjoy studying this stuff. 🙂
Camels and gnats
My commentary this time covers Matthew 23 a little bit. I love the whole chapter. When I was looking at verses 23 and 24, they got me thinking.
The Lord is coming down hard on the scribes and Pharisees for not keeping the weighter matters of the law, or the gospel. The same thing happened in Isaiah’s time as well, and he covers it beautifully in chapter one:
One problem I’ve noticed in my own life is that as I start getting into a good rhythm — as I am observing the camels — there creeps into my life a tendency to start to focus on the small things a little bit. It is borne out of either temptation or anxiety, I’m not really sure which, but my focus on the smaller matters of the gospel tends to cause problems for me, almost to the point of superstition or karma (if I don’t do this small thing, I will lose God’s favor, for example). This has the effect of putting a huge burden on me, for every little action is filtered through the judgement of morality, or, I suppose, a strict interpretation of the law. This intense focus on small things, the gnats, becomes such a burden that I usually give up trying to be religious at all for a time, because of all the expectations I put on myself.
This week, in fact, I was wrestling with this problem. On Sunday I was considering the principles of observing the Sabbath, trying to think of what’s okay to do and what isn’t, and I was in my mind going over the minutae of things. Later on, though, I realized that I hadn’t been seeing to the more important things that week — I hadn’t done any scripture study, I missed my Bible study class because I couldn’t make it, I hadn’t been to the temple recently, and I missed my church meetings for some reason. I was skipping the big stuff and focusing on the small, and it was causing my mind to torment itself. That’s one thing I love about living the gospel, is that when you take care of the big things, everything else just falls into place and naturally makes sense. There are small course corrections, to be sure, but they do not come when you are neglecting the basics.
I’ve also noticed that whenever I find myself in any state of spiritual apathy, I tend to think that there is some special action that I should do that is tailored to my condition. But when I seek for special instruction, the answer is always the same: to do the basics. Read my scriptures, pray regularly, attend services, fast, go to the temple, and do whatever practical things I can with my immediate environment to invite the Holy Ghost. It’s not gnats at all that the Lord is concerned about, it’s the weightier matters.
After finding this revelation, it has been hugely rewarding for me to let go of my focus on the small, imperceptable matters. I know that we are commanded to watch ourselves (Alma 13:28), but again, this is to be done in wisdom and order (Mosiah 4:27).
Finally, I think it’s worth noting that if a camel dies, that small flies would devour it’s carcass. I think that’s what had happened in Jesus’ time, and it’s certainly what happens to me when I push myself too hard.
The grace of God will cover all the imperceptible imperfections. I’m grateful for that. 🙂
Leave a Comment
Filed under New Testament, Personal commentary