“I will strengthen the house of Judah and deliver the house of Joseph. I will restore them because I have compassion on them, and they will be as though I had never rejected them. For I am the Lord their God, and I will answer them.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you even seen someone do a project halfway and then quit? Sometime when you want a chuckle, google “that’s not my job memes.” You’ll be treated to a series of pictures of times when someone obviously did exactly what they were asked to do and not a scintilla more, even though the situation clearly required just a bit more to be made truly right. Well, when it comes to God’s restoration of the people of Israel–and us–He never quits until the job is totally complete.
Much of the second half of Zechariah’s prophecy is all about God’s plans to restore His people on the other side of the exile. But, whereas they were looking and indeed needed a word of hope and restoration for now, while God didn’t ignore that entirely, He was looking further down the road than that. He was looking toward the final restoration of His people that would come when His messianic kingdom arrived.
What this means for us is that we can read some of these words and unlike many of the prophecies about Israel we find in the prophetic books of the Old Testament, we can insert ourselves into the text. Now, we must do it carefully and conspicuously through the lens of Christ, but when God is looking that far down the road, it is on the other side of where our lives are too and so we await the fulfillment of His words along with them.
When God sets out to restore His people, He is driven by His compassion. That should perhaps be an obvious observation, but it’s not so obvious as perhaps it seems at first glance. Okay, but why else would someone restore something other than compassion. It could be driven by a sense of obligation. He feels like He has to make it right again for some reason. It could be an act of face-saving. She moves to set things right again because if she doesn’t it is going to make her look bad. Well, no one wants to simply be someone else’s project. (There’s a bigger message there…) When God moves to restore us in our brokenness, though, there is no obligation or pride driving Him. He restores us from out of His great love for us which moves Him to genuine compassion.
There is an encouragement and a challenge here. The encouragement is that when you encounter the compassion of Christ it never comes with any strings attached. It is pure and simple, offered freely and with entirely altruistic intent. The challenge is that compassion has to actually be received to be effective. If we don’t receive the compassion of Christ it won’t do us any good.
But when we do the outcome is always restoration. Complete and total restoration. We are made totally clean from the brokenness and sin of our past as if it had never happened in the first place. We are like the after image of the shirt with the stain in the laundry detergent commercial. We were stained and dirty and now we are completely clean. God never does a halfway job when it comes to making us whole once again. In Christ we are completely restored.
Saying that, though, let me not leave you thinking something I don’t mean. God’s restoration of us in Christ will be complete. As the apostle Paul would later write, “I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” That’s future, though. What about now? How does that help us today? I’m still dealing with some of the same struggles and sins I was dealing with yesterday. Some have been with me a very long time.
This helps us by giving us hope. If we will stick with Jesus on the journey of life, the end of the road will be our complete restoration in His image. We will be perfect and without blemish, a gleaming reflection of His glory. In the meantime, though, He still honors our choices. We are justified in a moment and are cleansed from our sins, but this is a work that takes a lifetime to complete. Our final form is yet to be revealed. But it will be revealed. We can have absolute confidence in that.
And why will He do this? Because of His great love for us. He is our God and He will answer us. He will answer our cries for help. We simply must be willing to receive His answer.