God Loves

“Up, up! Flee from the land of the north,” says the Lord; “for I have spread you abroad like the four winds of heaven,” says the Lord. “Up, Zion! Escape, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon.”

For thus says the Lord of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me.

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” says the Lord. “Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you. And the Lord will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for He is aroused from His holy habitation!” (Zechariah 2:6-13)

God so loved the world, not just the nice people. Zechariah prophesied to the newly returned former captives from Babylon about seventy years after Jeremiah. While they were rebuilding Jerusalem and the Temple, God told his people to rejoice because he was bringing non-Israelites to join them. God was not just the Jewish God, he was the God for everyone.

That the Jewish people thought in terms of Yahweh being only for themselves was normal for the ancient world. The gods of Egypt were just that, the gods of Egypt. Same with the gods of Babylon, Greece and Rome. It was culturally unnatural to think of one’s gods in universal terms. But that is precisely the message that God was trying to get across to his people. Now that they had returned from Babylon, they understood at last that they were to worship no other gods but Yahweh. At that point, the prophets began working on them to broaden their comprehension of something God had maintained as far back as the first chapter of Genesis: not only was Yahweh the only God they could worship, not only was he the only God that existed, he was not the exclusive property of the Israelites.

Not until persecution in the first century forced the early Jewish disciples of Jesus to share the Gospel, did the universality of Israel’s God finally make sense to them. God really is for everybody, even those we don’t care about.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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