8 Then the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, saying,
9 “Thus says the LORD of hosts:
‘Execute true justice,
Show mercy and compassion
Everyone to his brother.
10 “‘Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless,
The alien or the poor.
Let none of you plan evil in his heart
Against his brother.’
11 “But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear.
12 “Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the LORD of hosts.
13 “Therefore it happened, that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen,” says the LORD of hosts.
America is in a precarious position today. On one hand we are attempting to help the poor by creating new laws to help them in their plight with better medical care, lower taxes, less bureaucracy. And on the other hand, our government is attempting to create world peace by appeasing tyrannical governments that won’t even think of peace without concessions to their despotism. Over the past two centuries, governments worldwide have marveled at the continuing power and restraint of the US Constitution, how its Bill of Rights has provided a means of ensuring that the people will always have the right to speak their minds. And yet, one of the concessions the US government is willing to make for world peace is to curtail the rights of people to speak out against their governments. “Blasphemy laws” are being instituted all over Europe and are already in place in the Middle East, with the purported aim of preventing “hate speech” and yet with the real aim of punishing those who speak out against religious hypocrisy and governmental abuses.
In today’s passage from the prophecies of Zechariah, we read about how the prophets of old stood up to the evil kings of Israel and Judah, and how the people “stopped their ears so that they could not hear.” Of course, there was another prophet named Zechariah two centuries earlier who had spoken against the king of Judah:
2 Chronicles 24:20-22
20 Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, who stood above the people, and said to them, “Thus says God: ‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, He also has forsaken you.'”
21 So they conspired against him, and at the command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the LORD.
22 Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but killed his son; and as he died, he said, “The LORD look on it, and repay!”
There are a great many people in America today who are standing up like the former Zechariah and speaking the Word of God against the many sins of this great nation, and there are many people who stop their ears and refuse to listen. Those who refuse to listen claim they are defending the “rights” of the people accused of sin. That may well be, but at what price? If things keep going the way they seem to be going, those who speak out will soon find themselves accused of crimes, and men and women of God – who courageously defend the moral standards of the living God – will be oppressed, imprisoned, and seemingly silenced. But God will not be silenced.
In the days of the prophet Jeremiah, King Jehoiakim of Judah had tried to silence Jeremiah. The prophet had written a scroll containing the prophecies the Lord had given him – especially those against Judah. (Jeremiah 36:2-3) When the king heard about the scroll, he had it brought before him and he burned it in a fire. And what did the Lord God do about that?
27 Now after the king had burned the scroll with the words which Baruch had written at the instruction of Jeremiah, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying:
28 “Take yet another scroll, and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll which Jehoiakim the king of Judah has burned.”
32 Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah, who wrote on it at the instruction of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And besides, there were added to them many similar words.
A day is coming when men and women who speak the Word of God as it is written in His Holy Bible will be persecuted even here in America. We may like to think our First Amendment rights will never be infringed, and yet laws are already in the works to start hedging in the rights of those who would speak out against immorality, religious intolerance and government abuse. Jesus told us we would be persecuted and that we would show our true mettle by how we stand up for Him in such times. (Matthew 10:32-39) Such times of persecution have many times come and gone for those who love God and who speak His Word, and now they are coming again.
We who read and cherish the Word of the living God must be ready to stand up for Christ, and speak out like the Zechariahs against oppression, immorality, and persecution. We cannot be shy or fearful about this, because our own worldly governments are rapidly moving to silence us. We are a majority in this country, but a silent majority is no majority at all. It is time for us to be watchful, to be wary, and to not allow the abuses of power to creep in without notice or opposition. Let us take up our crosses daily and stand up for God.
11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
12 “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Lord God in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Give us courage, Father, to boldly speak Your Word, to defend Your standards, Your ways, against those who would silence You. Put the words in our mouths, O Lord, so that only Your Word is proclaimed and so that many will come to the knowledge of the true gospel of peace. Amen.