The Character of the Bearer

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“The burden of the word of the Lord concerning Israel.  The saying of the Lord, who stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth, and formed the spirit of man within him…” Zechariah 12:1

Here we are again at that expression “the burden of the word of the Lord.”  Only now it’s tied in with Israel in such a way that Israel becomes a related burden for other people groups and those that “burden” themselves with Jerusalem will be “cut in pieces.”  Since that word burden in speaking about the word of the Lord is massa, let’s go back to the place Massah again.  Remember how massa has its root in nasah which means to test, to try, to prove?  See, this is God’s prerogative and not ours.  God, You are the One who gets to test, try, and prove us, not vice-versa.  But what happened at Massah was that we the people tested Your faithfulness even after You had time and time again proven it.  It wasn’t just about a quarrel the people had with You.  They doubted and challenged Your power to provide and care for them according to their desires, according to their will.  In other words, they thought both You and Moses were impotent and indifferent.  “If You don’t respond our way, we won’t respond to You. Show You are really God by doing things the way we want them.” 

But what I want isn’t always right or the best.  Sometimes I don’t even know exactly what I want.  I just know I’m in need.  Like this morning.  I don’t really want an answer or something to move forward like I want.  Well, I do, but that’s not what I desire most.  There are things I’d like to see You do and make clear and known, actions I would love to see You perform, but that’s not what’s most important.  What’s most important to me this morning is that I just want to see You rightly.  In my heart and soul and mind and body, I want to come to You rightly.  I want to remember who You are.  I want to love You more than I love what You do.  I don’t want You to have to perform for me because You don’t.  I want to understand like Job was learning to understand that “though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”  (Job 3:15)

It’s not like Job totally got it either.  I mean, after all, Job was just a mere man.  He got one part but not the next.  Because right after that he says, “but I will maintain my own ways before him.”  What are our ways before You?  Isaiah showed us what our ways are before You, Lord, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)  But Isaiah stuck some good news in there in verse 8, “But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our Potter, and we all are the work of Your hand.”

The truth is that God, You alone have every right to test us, to prove us, to give us every opportunity to be molded and formed into Your ever faithful image and likeness.  It doesn’t go the other way around.  That’s what You remind us all in this verse in Zechariah.  See, it’s You who stretched forth the heavens.  It’s You, Lord, who layed the foundation of the earth.  It’s You who formed the spirit of man within him.  It’s all because of You.  It’s all in You.  It’s all through You.  We are the product, not the Producer.  You are the Potter, we are the clay.  You are the ever Faithful One, and we, well, Massah proves our unfaithfulness, doesn’t it?

There is coming this day when You will make Jerusalem “a cup of trembling” to all the people around them.  There is coming a day when You will use Jerusalem to test the faith of all the peoples surrounding them and by that faith, or lack thereof, those who stand against that faith shall be cut down.  And Jerusalem will be strong not because the people are strong in themselves, but because the strength of the people comes through the Lord of hosts, their God.  The Lord shall defend Jerusalem.  The house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will be filled with the spirit of grace and of supplication, and they will look to You because they have realized what they have done in thrusting through the “First-born”, the “only Son.”

It’s not about things happening my way or our way or even Israel’s way.  It never has been.  The burden of the word of the Lord is that it’s His burden and not ours.  It’s His burden to shape us and mold us through testing and trials.  It’s Your burden to be the Potter.  You are I AM.  We are not.  But You have sent Your Messiah, Jesus Christ, so that You could place Your Spirit back in us, and remold us into Your image in Jesus. 

What if You choose to put me in the desert for 40 years?  What then?  Does that change who You are?  No, it doesn’t.  But it should change me.  Will I choose to accept Your burden and testing and be molded into Your image, or will I rebel and demand You form into mine?  Who knows better here anyways?  Is it the One who formed the heavens, layed the foundations of the earth, and formed the spirit within me?  Or is it me that can’t do a single one of those things?  Who will I trust?  Who will I surrender my life to?  Who will I cry out to and expectantly wait for?  Will I believe whether I see it or not?  I mean, if the heavens already declare it, then when have I not seen?  What is it we’re looking for, really?  If I want You to be God, then I need to wholly surrender and let You be who You are.  But oh, if I want to be god, I better be ready for great disappointment and loss, ‘cause it ain’t gonna happen. 

Lord, I don’t want to test You.  I don’t want to carry the burden of Your word as though I’m the one in charge.  I want You to be in charge.  No matter what Your decision for me, I want to learn to trust You and to walk forward in faith.  And if You tell me to stand still in faith, even for a terribly burdensome long time, then teach me to stand still as long as it takes until I am demonstrating absolute trust in You and Your decisions for me.  I thank You that You created the heavens and all their intricacies.  You formed the layer of atmosphere around us that gives us air to breathe and offers protection from the sun.  You designed all the different atoms that work together.  You created outer space that is so vast and amazing, man doesn’t know the end of it.  You laid the foundation of the earth and every particle.  And man keeps seeing the amazing nature of the smallest particle and it keeps being able to go smaller so that we haven’t peered into the smallest realm You created yet.  And You delighted to form the spirit of man within him, and I’m one of those.  And to think that I’m not just one of many, but that I’m fearfully and wonderfully made and You know me apart from John Smith.  And it’s not too much for You to know every star by name and every person by name.  Because for You, a name is more than a name.  A name is the character of the bearer.  And I’m so grateful that You are taking the time to give Your name and character to those who surrender to You in Christ Jesus.  May Your will be done and not mine, until You have proved me so that my will has become Yours.

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