The Future Plan of God
The Future Plan of God
“So I have again purposed in these days to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Do not fear!”
Where is history going? Many people fear the future and what is going to happen. They fear the threat of war that might lead to nuclear disasters, global warming, and environmental and natural disasters. There is a sense of impending doom that unless humanity alters these things, we face threats to humanity's very existence. In Zechariah 8, God paints a different picture. The people were returning to the land of Israel and starting to rebuild the nation. However, in the face of the struggles, they became discouraged, and the task of renewal seemed hopeless in light of the present circumstances (vs. 6). In response, God reminds them that the reasons for their discouragement have passed. God is in the process of renewing the nation of Israel. While he had judged them in the past, he would do a work of renewal and restoration. It will be a time of prosperity and peace. Verse 11 provides the keywords “But Now.” The people no longer needed to be discouraged, for God would do something new.
While there was a partial fulfillment of these promises in the past, the final fulfillment will not be accomplished until the return of Christ when he brings complete restoration and salvation to the nation of Israel (vs4-5, vs. 8). Throughout the book of Zechariah; the message has pointed to the final return of the Messianic King when he shall establish his reign in Israel. Only at the coming of Christ will the full scope of this prophecy be fulfilled completely. Yet this promise is to give the people hope and confidence so that they are not overcome and paralyzed by fear. Twice God reminds the people not to be afraid. Fear comes when we become riveted upon the present and uncertain of the future. Confidence comes when we remain focused on God’s eternal plan. History is not cyclical but linear. God is moving the direction and movement of humanity to his end, which he determined before he created the universe. In Isaiah 46:9-1 God affirms, “I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all my good pleasure’…I have planned it; surely I will do it.” This includes his redemptive plan, in which he chose us before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).
We do not need to be afraid because God is in control, and he is the one who is orchestrating and guiding history, and he is the one who determines when and what the outcome will be. Therefore, we can live without fear about the present or the future. The present existence of Israel is a testimony that God is still fulfilling his prophecy to them. They have yet to experience the reality of God’s complete salvation that he promises in chapter 8. But that day is coming, so they can have absolute confidence that he will deliver them. This future deliverance is also our hope as well. In Christ, we also participate in the New Covenant to participate in this future redemption (Romans 11:11-31).
So how do we respond in the present to God’s future plan? The answer lies in vs. 16-17. We are to demonstrate godly ethical, and moral conduct in our relationships with others. We are to live consistent with the covenant relationship we have with God. We are to promote truth in all aspects of life, from the truth we say to the truth of God. We are to reject what is evil and promote what is morally good. As we wait for the return of Christ, we are to manifest Christ to the world in which we live. As God fulfills his plan in history, we are to live righteously before others and love our neighbor as ourselves. Instead of living in fear of the future, we should live only in fear of God.