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.”
What a great verse for its simplicity, its repetition, and, obviously, ultimately its meaning. “Thus declares the Lord of hosts,” so this is God speaking through Zechariah. And how does God refer to himself? As the Lord of hosts. The Lord, you can’t see it as you’re listening to this, but it’s capital L, small caps O-R-D, which whenever we see that spelling of the Lord in the Old Testament, we know this is Yahweh, the covenant name God revealed himself as to his people, the covenant-keeping, steadfast, loving, always faithful God who loves his people, the Lord of hosts, of heavenly armies, of angels, myriads and myriads of them, who are at his bidding, who are singing and shouting of his glory at all times. “Says the Lord of hosts,” this is Yahweh, who rules and reigns over heavenly armies and all that is on the earth. He is speaking to you. “Thus declares the Lord of hosts.” Like, feel that even right now in your own life. The Lord of hosts speaks to you through his word, is speaking to you right now through his word.
Despite our sin, God is calling us to return back to him.
And obviously, we want to be careful whenever we’re reading passages in the Old Testament, for example, not to just directly apply them to us. We want to understand how people would have understood these things in the Old Testament, think through how we understand these things in light of the New Testament, the new covenant, and what Jesus has done for us on a cross. But this verse is super simple and clear. And it’s what we see Jesus saying from the very beginning of his ministry in the New Testament. “Thus declares the Lord of hosts: ‘Return to me.'” Three words. “‘Return to me,’ says the Lord of hosts.” So he says it again. Remember who I am. He says, “Return to me.” This is what Jesus came proclaiming. Repent. Turn from your sin. Turn from yourself. Turn to me.
Obviously, here return means there once was relationship and the people have wandered from that relationship, have turned away from the Lord of hosts. And the Lord hosts is saying, “‘Return to me and I will return to you,’ says the Lord of hosts.” In other words, I will restore you by the grace and mercy of God. When we turn from him to ourselves, to our sin, by his grace and mercy, we return to him and he restores that intimate relationship that he desires for us to experience in him.
And so I just ask you, as we prepare to pray, what specific ways do you need to return to the Lord of hosts? Like where in your life, in what ways have you turned to yourself, turned to specific sin, trusted in yourself, pursued idols in this world, done that which God has commanded you not to do or not done that which God has commanded you to do? Like how do you, today, even right now in this moment, need to return to him, hear him saying Zechariah chapter one, verse three, “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.”
I pray for your grace in my own life. Thinking of specific ways right now that are coming to my own mind in which I need to return to you. God, I pray that over every single person who’s praying with me right now, God, that by your spirit, you would soften our hearts and open our eyes to see ways that we need to return to you, all the ways where we have turned from you or trusted in ourselves or pursued other things in the way we should only pursue you. Help us to see ways where we have disobeyed you in our thoughts, in our words, in our actions, desires even, or ways we’ve not obeyed you in what you’ve called us to do, how you’ve called us to speak, how you’ve called us to live, what you’ve called us to desire.
God, we pray that you would, by your grace that’s available in the new covenant, in the blood of Jesus, who paid the price for our sins on the cross, God, by your grace, we pray that you would restore us to intimacy with you. I just pray over my own life and over every person listening right now, God, that when we, in our foolishness, turn to sin or turn to ourselves, God, we pray that by your grace, by the conviction of your Spirit, the power of your Spirit, your mercy in our lives, we pray that we would be quick, quick to return to you, the Lord of hosts. And we praise you for your mercy that makes returning to you possible and the way you return to us, the way you restore us by your grace and your mercy. All glory be to your name. In Jesus’ name we pray, who makes this returning possible. Amen.
Throughout the fall, we are following the McLean Bible Church Reading Plan. You can access the reading plan here.