"many are called, but few are chosen"
The Scriptures are mainly directed towards instruction and reproof. We are so clearly told that they are so directed in the well-known verse of 2 Tim 3:16.
That being so, we also know that Yahweh gave us the Scriptures for many other reasons than just instruction and reproof, and we wish today to look at an extension of those very necessary reasons, and that is of comfort. Brother Roberts wrote two extensive volumes called Seasons of Comfort in which he gathers many varied topics from Scripture, which, when used correctly, are dispensers of comfort to the believer. The comfort comes into effect when the instruction and reproof have taken effect.
We will not be comforted without any effort of our own, Yahweh does not work in that way, that is what man wants, and that is why he, man, is so prone to taking up spurious doctrines such as heaven going or a physical devil, doctrines that allow or require no change or effort on the individuals part.
Paul tells us in Romans 15:4 “… that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope”.
He also reminds us in 2 Cor 1:3 that Yahweh is the “Elohim of all comfort” and Yahweh Himself commands in Isaiah 40:1, Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your Elohim. Jesus Christ takes up the theme in the Beatitudes in Matt 5:4, when he states Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Those quotations alone must reassure us that we can be comforted by our faith and love in the Deity.
WHAT IS COMFORT?
Is it, as today’s society would have us believe, where we are in the lap of luxury, at the peak of self-indulgence, relaxing in soft furniture, catering for every whim and desire. Collins’ Graphic English Dictionary, a publication of some antiquity, defines comfort as; ‘to cheer; to solace; strength and relief under affliction’ and only then it gives ‘a state of quiet enjoyment or whatever causes it’. Strong’s in relation to the word “comfort” in Isaiah 40:1 defines it to mean “to sigh” “breathe strongly” by implication “to be sorry, to repent”, and that leads us to think that a great weight would be lifted from one’s shoulders and therefore one would be comforted.
We can see then that in offering comfort, Yahweh again is the one who fills us with all joy and peace, when we believe. In our reading from Zechariah, in chapter 8 of Zechariah and at verse 6, we have a question put by Yahweh to Israel. Israel had just returned from Babylon; the land was desolate and Jerusalem was in ruins.
The adversaries of Judah were active and Ezra tells us that they were being successful in their opposition to the return of Israel.
All this led to the people being discouraged at the state of things. Nehemiah tells us that they were in “great affliction and reproach”, in Nehemiah 1:3.
Imagine the circumstances, Brethren and Sisters; an Ecclesia has recently gone through a period of desolation, and if we look at their emotional state, you will find a lot of desolation and unhappiness, so let us imagine how Israel felt. They had returned from Babylon with great expectations of a quick and prosperous restoration with all hands at the work, and all being uplifted both spiritually and socially by the effort.
Yet, they found many difficulties, had much opposition both from without, and then, from within. Many lost heart and faith, and that devastating statement of Haggai 1:2 was made, “Thus speaketh Yahweh Tzavaoth, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that Yahweh’s house should be built.”
Will that be said of us, Brethren and Sisters? That we need more time before we would have the Temple set up at Zion?
Haggai and Zechariah were sent to these people to encourage and strengthen them, and in doing so were so influential that the work was finally finished, as Ezra tells us in Ezra 6:14: “And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the Elohim of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia”.
It is in one of the messages that Yahweh sent through Zechariah that the question I referred to earlier was asked of Israel. Yahweh is encouraging the people here in Chapter 8, and they, in their circumstances, thought what He was saying was too good to be true.
In Chapter 7 Zechariah had outlined some home truths to Israel, telling them in verses 4-7 of their hypocrisy in continuing the fasts of the old destroyed Temple, and then in verses 8-10 he exhorts them as to the fasting that Yahweh desires and then in verses 11-14 he tells them what was the cause of their downfall.
Verse 14, at the beginning, once again reminds us that Yahweh is in control of all things. Whilst it was the Babylonians who had taken Israel captive, they were but mere instruments in Yahweh’s hand.
Yahweh then describes the desolation of His land by those who occupied it whilst Israel was away.
Chapter 8 then starts with an exhortation to joy, a promise of Divine support and favour through Yahweh’s love for His people.
Yahweh’s assurance that we will look at is in verses 3-5 of chapter 8;
“Thus saith Yahweh; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of Yahweh Tzavaoth, the holy mountain. Thus saith the Yahweh Tzavaoth; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.”
Some may think that these verses refer to the prosperity as realised through the Babylonish restoration, but if we look at Jeremiah 33:14-16, we can see that the prophesy for the future is most appropriate
Behold, the days come, saith Yahweh, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.
In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.
In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, Yahweh Our Righteousness.
The verses in Zechariah definitely refer to the time described by Jeremiah, where Zechariah holds up the glory of the future as an incentive to labour for the development of Jerusalem and her well being.
Let us look at the question of verse 6 in Zechariah 8.
“Thus saith Yahweh Tzavaoth; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith Yahweh Tzavaoth.”
It appears from the question that there were some who did not believe the words of the prophet as recorded earlier in this chapter, it just sounded too good to be true. It was marvellous in their eyes; they could not believe it. Jerusalem was in adversity, they had enemies interfering in their work, they could not see themselves ever returning to the prosperity they had known some 70 years before.
Yahweh asks them, “Because you cannot see the promise ever being fulfilled, does that mean that I should not be able to see it?”
Was their lack of faith a reason for the thing to be difficult for Yahweh?
It is the same for us, is it not Brethren and Sisters, what we do, our level of faith and commitment has no effect upon the end result. Yahweh is always faithful and will always deliver that He has promised, what we do will have a direct result only upon our own destiny. We are looking for great things, things we know have been promised and will come to pass, for Yahweh is faithful.
- We look for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, who some (even in some hymns) erroneously say ‘delays his coming’, a statement that is not true, because we know not the day or the hour. He will come at the time appointed.
- We look for his restoration of sanity to human affairs, the violent overthrow, at his hands, of all the governments of this world.
- We look towards the establishment of a righteous government, with our dear Lord in Jerusalem, ruling the whole earth in righteousness, with kindness, true enlightenment and irresistible power. Through this perfect and righteous government, mankind shall become united into a universal brotherhood, truly blessed.
- We look forward to participating in that government, towards a place in the innumerable body of kings and priests, through whom the righteous authority of their One head will be administered. This means that we must be redeemed, our vile bodies physically changed to an incorruptible, glorious and immortal body like our exalted Lord’s, again towards which we look in hope.
- We look towards being granted that inexhaustible vigour, that unerring wisdom, angelic grace and endless life, all of which we can use to magnify and glorify our Lord and his wonderful, all righteous and most holy Father.
To summarise; we are looking for the abolition of the present order of things, the putting to an end of the present evil world, and the setting up of a new world in which joy will be established in righteousness and glory to Yahweh.