Zechariah reminded the Israelites that God was angry with their fathers because of their irredeemable rebellion which caused the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. But God’s wrath is not for those who are being addressed by the prophet. God wants to bring to them all the blessings he had promised the house of David. In verse 3, God tells Zechariah, “Therefore say to them, thus declares the Lord of hosts: Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.” “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies” is the most frequently repeated term in the post-exilic prophets for God. It’s sometimes translated as the “Lord of Hosts” as it is in the English Standard Version. It means all power & all control are in His command. The roll of the dice is His to determine. The success & failure of all our deeds are in His hands. He determines the rainfall, crops, weather, wealth, health, happiness, peace, joy, the nations, and everything else in the world. He is our creator and the one to whom we truly owe our allegiance. He made this the first commandment in the big 10. “I am the Lord your God, and you shall have no other gods before me.” When we break that commandment, God is rightfully jealous, and it is called sin.

No one likes the term “sin” anymore. It sounds too religious and too pompous to the world. We call it a “mistake.” At times it is just confusion or psychological flaws that we’ve received from our parents. We see our proclivity for one kind of sin or another as something that’s either genetic or imposed upon us by our society. But it is not our fault. The world needs to accept us as we are and not be judgmental. If I was born a male but want to be female, then you must make uni-sex bathrooms and make sports gender-neutral. You can’t impose any of your religious restrictions on me. Don’t you dare tell me that homosexuality is a sin? When the church surrenders to this position, all hope for such individuals is gone forever. We help perpetuate the secular standards in the society in which we live. But when we call it what God calls it: sin! There is hope! Sin is the best news there is, because, with sin, there’s a way out. You can’t repent of confusion or psychological flaws inflicted by your parents—you’re stuck with them. But you can repent of sin. Sin and repentance are the only grounds for hope and joy, the grounds for reconciled and joyful relationships with God and others. This is what John the Baptist and Jesus preached in the Gospels. The call was to “repent.” Turn back to God and he will turn back to you and restore the true joys of life.

Sexual sin is not the only sin, of course. We all have our proclivities, but God has sent Jesus to demonstrate his love for us and open the door of deliverance to all of us regardless of our own personal sins. I think we need to understand God’s call to us all through Christ is one of forgiveness and reconciliation it’s not one of judgment. We often feel that if we admit we’re sinners, we will face God’s judgment. The Gospel truth is that when we admit we’re sinners there is real hope for redemption. Alan Jackson sang the old song, “Softly and Tenderly” which captures God’s call. It goes:

“Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling – Calling for you and for me
See on the portals He’s waiting and watching – Watching for you and for me

Come home, come home – Ye who are weary come home
Earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling – Calling, ‘O sinner come home’”.