Access, Asking, Bible, Cleansing, Cross, Direction, Escape, Forgiveness, God's Will, Heaven, Salvation, Scripture

WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING?

ZECHARIAH 5:10

“So I said to the angel who was speaking with me, ‘Where are they taking the ephah?’”

If you have children, you have probably put up with “explorations.” We put up baby gates and all sorts of contraptions to try to keep the little buggers contained. But lo and behold, they would find ways to escape. I can remember sitting and watching my children trying to figure out how to get loose. I would jokingly ask them, “Where do you think you’re going?”

Zechariah just watched the two winged women swoop down and pick up the ephah with the woman (wickedness) inside and fly away. His first thought was “Where are they going?” I don’t think he was concerned about the woman’s welfare. He was just curious about their destination. By this time, Zechariah wasn’t afraid to ask anything of that angel. (Come back tomorrow to see where they take her.)

APPLICATION

As I was thinking of an application for this verse, the thought came to me – what happens to our sins? Where does God carry them? We have the answer right in Scripture. Psalm 103:11-12 says, “11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our wrongdoings from us.”

That’s a long way! You can’t get to the east by traveling west or vice versa. You just keep traveling in the direction you are going, whether that be heading east or heading west. In other words, you can’t get back that sin once it has been forgiven. It’s gone. Now, you may choose to sin again, but it won’t be that same sin. It will be a brand new one.

God could pile all our sins up in one big heap in heaven (mine would be mountainous) and show them all to us when we get there. But no, He removes them. So, we don’t have to ask that question I asked earlier. We know where He carries our sins – to the cross, where they are forgiven forever. Amen? Amen!

Burdens are lifted at Calvary, Calvary, Calvary
Burdens are lifted at Calvary, Jesus is very near

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Angels, Bible, Forgiveness, Scripture, Wickedness

STORK WINGS AND A BASKET

ZECHARIAH 5:9

“Then I raised my eyes and looked, and there two women were coming out with the wind in their wings; and they had wings like the wings of the stork, and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heavens.”

Once, while walking a beach in Florida, I witnessed an osprey (a large raptor) swoop down and grab a little dog that was walking by its owner. Fortunately, the dog was on a leash. However, this meant that now there was a tug of war between the lady and this bird. I watched as she snatched her dog out of the bird’s talons and back to the beach. (In case you are wondering, as far as I know, the dog lived happily ever after.)

We are near the conclusion of this vision, but not without another strange sight. Zechariah sees two winged women fly down and pick up the ephah with the woman inside and carry it away. Scholars have all sorts of opinions about this verse. No one seems to come to a concrete decision about who these women were and where they were going. It is obvious the wickedness in the basket is being carried away. We have to speculate these women were agents of God who alone has the power to vanquish sin. Let’s leave it at that.

APPLICATION

With that view in mind, we need to see how this verse applies to us. Remember, every verse of Scripture is inspired by God and applicable to us. So, how does this verse apply to us. If you use the explanation that I ended the previous paragraph with, God is the one who has the power to take away our sin. He has done that through His Son, Jesus Christ. I don’t know what the two women in Zechariah’s vision represented. All I know for certain is they carried away the wickedness. Don’t you want God to do that for you?

I am involved in a men’s group that meets each Thursday evening. We are in the book of Romans right now and are in chapter 6. Oh man, is that chapter good. Verse 6 and 7 apply here. “6 …knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for the one who has died is freed from sin.”

Did you catch that? “our body of sin might be done away with.” The Greek word for “done away with” actually means to completely make inoperable. It might as well be carried away and dumped. Once we are in Christ, our old man is dead, gone, done away with. Aren’t you glad? I sure am.

Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me; Buried, He carried my sins far away; Rising, He justified freely forever: One day He’s coming—O glorious day!

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Accused, Bible, Captivity, Death, Devil, Evil, Forgiveness, Judgment, Redemption, Salvation, Satan, Scripture, Sin

A WHAT IN A WHAT?

ZECHARIAH 5:7

“And behold, a lead cover was lifted up. He continued, ‘And this is a woman sitting inside the ephah.’”

I have seen some strange things in my life. I remember once in Liberia; I saw a woman carrying a car engine on her head. That’s right, a car engine. I was told by a Liberian man that a Liberian woman could carry whatever two men could lift and put on her head. Now, that was strange. I wonder how she got it down.

I bet Zechariah was a little shocked when he saw what was inside that ephah. Under the lead cover was a woman. A what? A woman. What in the world? Albert Barnes explains it this way. The woman represented Israel’s sin. Her sitting symbolized their comfort in their sinful condition. And the lead cover showed the weight of their sin. Not a pretty picture. The largest measure (ephah) with the heaviest weight (lead) was what Zechariah was seeing.

APPLICATION

Do you realize the weight of your sin? Hebrews 12:1 says, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us,…” You can’t run weighted down. Sin is heavy, much heavier than you think.

I love this quote. “Sin will cost you more than you ever thought you would pay. It will take you further than you ever thought you would stray. And it will keep you longer than you ever thought you would stay.” Zechariah saw the weight of Israel’s sins portrayed in his vision. We can see it all around us today.

Sin destroys families. It cost people their livelihoods. It wrecks relationships. And it keeps some people tangled in unhealthy lifestyles. You don’t believe in sin? Satan loves that. He loves you not believing in it because he knows he has you right where he wants you. But there is a way out. You can be set free from the chains that bind you. Just come to Jesus.

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free. My God, my Savior has ransomed me. And like a flood His mercy reigns, unending love, amazing grace

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Appearance, Battles, Bible, Confession, Deception, Evil, Forgiveness, Judgment, Salvation, Scripture, Sin

THE APPEARANCE OF EVIL

ZECHARIAH 5:6

“And I said, ‘What is it?’ Then he said, ‘This is the ephah going forth.’ Again he said, ‘This is their appearance in all the land.’”

Let me begin this blog by saying that I cannot get the picture of our world right now as it relates to this verse out of my mind. Every day when I walk around our city, I see the appearance of evil. Maybe the Lord has just given me spiritual eyes right now. I do not want to sound judgmental. Believe me, I know my sins stink just as bad. But there just seems to be a flaunting of sin all around us.

God, through the angel, is showing Zechariah the ephah, the measuring basket, that is full of the people’s sins. They had been unrepentant. Their sins were rampant. They had reached a full measure demanding justice. Some scholars equate the use of the ephah with their sin of stealing mentioned earlier since they would use it falsely for measuring grain to sell.

APPLICATION

I recall my late brother-in-law telling me that the older he got, the more he saw how sinful he was. The light exposes sin, and the closer we get to it, the more we see it. Look at the words of Paul in Ephesians 5:11-13. “11 Do not participate in the useless deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.”

Our sins will be exposed one day. As a matter of fact, they are exposed now to God. He knows everything we do. I love verse 8 in Psalm 90 which says, “You have placed our guilty deeds before You, our hidden sins in the light of Your presence.” Actually, I don’t really love that verse, but you know what I mean.

Don’t let your sins fill the ephah. Empty them out every day. Confess them to the Lord and seek His forgiveness. If you are not a believer in Jesus, come to Him now and receive forgiveness and eternal life. If you are a believer, purify your heart and walk in holiness today.

Cleanse me, Father, and let me walk hand in hand with You today.

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Accountability, Bible, Confession, Forgiveness, Judgment, Redemption, Scripture

FOR ALL TO SEE

ZECHARIAH 5:4

“‘I will make it go forth,’ declares the LORD of armies, ‘and it will enter the house of the thief and the house of the one who swears falsely by My name; and it will spend the night within that house and destroy it with its timber and stones.’”

We have all done things which we hope no one ever finds out about. When we were little, we would lie to cover up a broken lamp. The infamous “nobody” did it, right? We lie to cover up another lie. We steal and hope no one sees. Am I right? Of course, I am. Sin lurks in dark places.

Today’s verse continues the thought from yesterday’s blog. Those who swear and steal will be found out and their homes will be made into a spectacle by the Lord. He wants all who see them to know that this is what happens to those who break His commands. This is what happens to the unconfessed.

APPLICATION

God’s wrath is still real today. Those who thumb their nose at God and His commands will suffer judgment. Romans 1:18 tells us, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,…” It doesn’t have to be that way.

But John tells us plainly in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We want the world to see this. We want all the world to see us confessing and being forgiven. Why? To draw them to Christ. Confessing our sins is a great way to show the power of our holy God.

So, let me ask you something. Are you all “confessed up”? Are you clean before Him? If Jesus appeared right now, how would He find you? I come to Him every day with a repentant heart because I long to be more and more like Him. I want to be holy because He is holy. Don’t you?

Father, I do not have anything hidden from Your sight. Purify my heart this day.

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FREE ACCESS

ZECHARIAH 3:7

“‘The LORD of armies says this: “If you walk in My ways and perform My service, then you will both govern My house and be in charge of My courtyards, and I will grant you free access among these who are standing here.”’”

What does “free access” mean to you? I picture going to an amusement park and having a ticket that allows you to ride all the rides, eat all the food you want, drink all you want and having reserved parking in the parking lot. But even with that you still would not be allowed behind the scenes of these rides or in the offices of those who made all the decisions.

The LORD of armies is saying through the angel that if Joshua would “walk in My ways and perform My service” then he would have free access. But to where? He would be promised to be with the angels who were around him when he died. Eternal life, promised heaven. Who wouldn’t jump at that offer, right?

APPLICATION

We are promised the same if… Our “if” is receiving Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. There is no other way to gain free access to glory. Jesus tells us that in John 14:6. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.’”

Paul says something similar in Romans 10:9. “…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;…”

You can’t get much plainer than that. Free access comes one way – through Jesus. Let me ask that question again. Who wouldn’t jump at that offer, right?

You may be surprised. Many think coming to Jesus will cramp their lifestyle. They will have to give up too much. They don’t understand the freedom they could have in Christ. That’s where you come in. You have to tell them. You have to show them. You have to live in such a way that they come to you asking you about your freedom. Free access is available to all. Help others come to it.

I am free, Father, to live my life pleasing You. I can’t wait to see You face-to-face.

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Accused, Angels, Bible, Forgiveness, Guilt, Power, Redemption, Scripture

FILTHY

ZECHARIAH 3:3

“Now Joshua was clothed in filthy garments and was standing before the angel.”

I have been filthy! Yep, I have, but I mean that in the physical sense. I grew up working. I have had some pretty demanding and nasty jobs. Few came close to working in the tobacco fields when I was young. When you are handling wet tobacco leaves, the tar from the leaves covers your hands and clothes. I could literally stand my jeans up upon returning home due to the stiffness of the material from being soaked all day in that tar. And I was filthy!

But the Lord is not referring to that kind of filth on Joshua’s garments in Zechariah’s vision. That filth was due to the sins he and the nation of Israel had committed. But I want you to see something in this verse. Even though his garments were filthy, he still was able to stand before the angel. You see, God takes us right where we are – filth and all. We’ll see what happens in the next few verses. Come back and see.

APPLICATION

Are you filthy? Do you have unconfessed sins in your life. Perhaps you are not a believer. In that case, you stand filthy before the Lord. Those sins stain you, just like that tobacco tar stained me. I love the last part of James 1:27. “…and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” This old world will definitely stain you with all the filth that is in it.

So, what do we do about that? We come to Jesus. He has the ultimate cleansing power. 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Did you catch that? He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. What a promise! What a claim to make.

When we confess our sins as a believer, His blood, which has already saved you, washes it away. And for the unbeliever, His blood does the same. That blood will never lose its power. It never loses its strength. It can cleanse the filthiest sinner and make him white as snow. Have you been cleansed? Come to Jesus.

What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

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WHAMMO

HAGGAI 2:14

“Then Haggai responded and said, “‘So is this people. And so is this nation before Me,’ declares the LORD, ‘and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean.’”

I love to watch a really good hitter in professional baseball. It’s a battle between the pitcher and the hitter. The pitcher is trying to strike out the batter and the batter is trying to get a hit. Good batters know how to watch the pitcher and even manipulate the batter’s box to get the pitcher to throw a pitch they want. And when they do – whammo – out of the park.

Verse 14 is kind of like that. The Lord set up the priests for His response in this verse. He said, “So is this people. And so is this nation before me, and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean.” He could not accept anything from them at this new temple until they cleansed themselves. He was telling them to look inward at their uncleanness because it was resonating across the nation.

APPLICATION

Jesus addressed this very thing in Matthew 5:23-24. “‘23 Therefore, if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.’” Do you get the picture? God cannot honor your offerings if you are harboring sin against a brother.

I have been in church my whole life, and I have seen people sitting in church who couldn’t sit by certain people because of old grudges. Beloved, we can’t be that way. We must be forgiving and willing to ask others to forgive us. God tells us that He will humble the proud and exalt the humble. We cannot expect God to be honored and worshipped under such conditions.

I have had to go to people and ask for forgiveness. It’s not easy. It is very humbling. In most circumstances, that person has forgiven me. In others, they haven’t. But that is not on me. All I can do is be obedient to God. I can’t force them to do the same. If you have something against someone else right now, go to them or call them. Don’t text. That is so impersonal. Make it personal. And then pray together. It is really hard to stay mad with someone you are praying with.

Lord, I need to ask You to forgive me for any harm I caused in another believer’s walk with You. Give me the chance to make that right.

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Accountability, Accused, Bible, Confession, Forgiveness, Lies, Repentance, Scripture, Truth, Witnessing

TELL NO LIES

ZEPHANIAH 3:13

“‘The remnant of Israel will do no wrong and tell no lies, nor will a deceitful tongue be found in their mouths; for they will feed and lie down with no one to frighten them.’

How many lies do you think you have told in your lifetime? Come on, be honest. We have all told lies for one reason or another. As a child, we would tell lies to our siblings, our friends and even our parents. Some lies are told to stay out of trouble. Other lies are told to brag or boast. Whatever the reason, lying is lying.

Can you imagine then that Lord says here in verse 13 that the remnant that He lives in the land will “tell not lies”? How is that possible? Remember where this remnant was. They were in the land that had been devastated by God’s judgment, yet they had been saved from death or exile. Surely, they were desirous of living to please Jehovah.

APPLICATION

Psalm 34:12-13 says, “12 Who is the person who desires life and loves length of days, that he may see good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.” Peter repeats this verse in his first letter, 1 Peter 3:10. It’s obvious the Lord does not approve of lying. Why is that?

The Lord is truth. Anything deceitful is abhorred by Him. Here in the U.S., any witness in a court proceeding is sworn in for their testimony. They have to swear to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God.” The whole legal system is built on telling the truth, being honest. I wish that were always the case, but many have told lies while on the witness stand.

Listen carefully, beloved. When you are on the witness stand before God, there will be no lie which you can tell that will get you out of His judgment. Because God is THE truth, He exposes all deceit. Won’t you come to Him today and lay down your lies? Confess your deceit. Repent before a holy God and receive His forgiveness and grace. Instead of lying, lie at His feet.

Father, forgive me for lying to You and others. Let truth reign supremely in my life.

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Abiding, Bible, Forgiveness, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Shame

NO SHAME

ZEPHANIAH 3:11

“‘On that day you will feel no shame because of all your deeds by which you have rebelled against Me; for then I will remove from your midst your proud, arrogant ones, and you will never again be haughty on My holy mountain.

Carl Willis, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Boy, I heard that a lot growing up. Either my mom or a teacher was always getting on to me for my behavior. I was just a mischievous boy. Did I feel ashamed? Well, sometimes I was but most of the time I wasn’t. I didn’t do horrible things, but they were not nice either.

The Lord is telling His people in verse 11 that they felt no shame. Why? Because they did not think about the consequences of their actions. They certainly found out. God says He was going to remove the proud, arrogant and haughty people. They had no right to be on His holy mountain. They would be judged by the God of heaven.

APPLICATION

Shame! Does God shame us? Well, His Word should cause us to be ashamed. Why? Because none of us are sinless. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We should feel shame when we dishonor God and His commandments. It’s that disgrace that drives us to repentance. Even once we are saved, the Holy Spirit will use that to lead us to confession of the sins we commit.

So, shame in and of itself is not a bad thing. However, the devil will take that shame (if unconfessed) and whisper that we are not worthy of God’s forgiveness. That shame then grows and leads us to an even darker place. Shame that does not lead to repentance is not of God. God always wants to reconcile us back to Himself, never further away.

The closer I get to the Lord, the more aware I am of my sin. It’s like the Holy Spirit in me is blaring warnings at 110 decibels. The Word which is implanted in me drives me to confession. We must help those without Christ to hear Him speaking to them drawing them to Himself. Don’t let their shame consume them. Give them the antidote.

I am so thankful I know where to unload my shame. I am so glad I can come to You with a repentant spirit and receive a cleansing.

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