When I hear the words “Return to me” I think of a song by Dean Martin that includes these words:
“Return to me
Oh my dear, I’m so lonely.
Hurry back, hurry back!
Oh my love, I am yours.” (listen to the full song here.)
This morning in my quiet time, the Lord took me to Zechariah 1: which says,
‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty. Do not be like your forefathers to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices,’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the Lord. Where are your forefathers now? And the prophets, do they live forever? But did not my words and decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your forefathers? “Then they repented and said, ‘The Lord Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.'”
The words, “Return to me, […] and I will return to you” are underlined in my Bible, and as I read them, I heard the words of the song being sung by Dean Martin. The Lord began to speak these words, and this is what I recorded:
“Return to Me. My people have turned away to follow after the gods they have made in their hearts. They call me Lord, but do they serve me? No. they serve their gods of prosperity; of abundance; of going after the lusts of the flesh. I am calling out to all who would listen. I stand at the door and knock. I am preparing My saddle and My horse. I am waiting for My Father to give the word. Don’t be caught building your castle on sand. I have called you to build My kingdom, but you must first return to Me.
The enemy is robbing you of my presence and my presents. You do works in My name that I have not commissioned because you have been fooled. Come back. Wake up! Stir yourself up in holiness and righteousness. My people are called to come out of Babylon, not assimilate to her ways. Find Me again. Return to Me.”
It’s Time To Return
To Return means:
The act of coming or going back to the same place.
Takes little journeys and makes quick returns.
2. The act of sending back; as the return of a borrowed book or of money lent.
3. The act of putting in the former place.
4. Retrogression; the act of moving back.
5. The act or process of coming back to a former state; as the return of health
Zechariah was born in Babylon during Israel’s exile, and he was among the first to leave to return to Israel to help rebuild the temple of the Lord. Zechariah was a prophet, anointed by God to speak to and instruct Israel regarding the heart of Yahweh. During that time, it was said that God’s people were suffering from spiritual apathy and discouragement because the new temple was minuscule in comparison with Solomon’s temple.
Like Father Like Son
God warned Israel not to be like their forefathers who did not obey the instructions of the Lord. God’s love for us is so great, that he will warn us many times. It’s like a father trying to protect his child by telling her not to touch a hot stove. He’d say, “Honey, you’ll get hurt if you do that.” “Listen to me, I don’t want you to suffer harm.” “If you don’t listen, you’re going to get burned and have a consequence.” It’s understandable that a lot of people can get it twisted with God “always telling Israel what to do”, but God is a loving and covenant-bound father. He warns us before he disciplines us, because he always wants to give us the choice. But we need to understand, just like a father who has loved, tried to protect, warned, and warned several times more, if we do not listen, we are making the choice to disobey.
Deuteronomy talks about the blessings for obedience and the curses for disobedience. You can read it here.
God is just, meaning that he gives to everyone what he is due. You could also substitute the words equitable, fair, and/or impartial. He judges without favoritism.
Last Days, Last Call
What I believe the Lord is saying, is that he is calling out to this present generation to examine their ways, and to return to him in this hour, saying that we have been tricked or robbed of the gifts of time with God and the gifts of the holy spirit. There’s a saying, “The devil is in the details” and the devil has some of us so busy striving after other things, many of which we’ve assigned good intentions to, but it’s not God’s will for us. We as children of the kingdom of God are called to advance his good news. We are called to make him known in all the earth. We are called to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all other things we will be given to us. At the end of days, will many of us discover that we were on the wrong path all along?
Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door [of the church] and continually knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him (restore him), and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). We are the church, and while there are churches that need to let Jesus back into the four walls of the church, the original church was the body of Christ. The people, not the building. What’s going on in the body that would make Jesus say, “If anyone hears My voice..” I interpret that to mean that something was happening that makes the church hearing-impaired to the voice of God. Is it human philosophy? Is the doctrine of demons so captivating that people tune out truth? Are people dazed and confused? Distracted? Does his church know the way, the truth, and the life anymore? Is any of this resonating with you? Think about the church you frequent? Do you make time for His presence and his presents?
Jesus died to save us, but that was only the beginning. When Jesus says he will come in and eat with whoever opens the door for him, he is saying he will fellowship and have a relationship with him. If we make room for him.
Cultural Christians and Cultural Assimilation
Don’t make Jesus the salt you sprinkle on your buffet of life. I say that to mean, a dash of Jesus isn’t enough to fulfill your God-given purpose in this earth. We are not called to be like the world. Jesus said in Revelation 18:4, “Come our of her (Babylon), my people, so that you will not share in her sins so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. 2 Corinthians 6:17 (AMP) says, “So come out from the unbelievers and be separate,” says the Lord, and do not touch what is uncleans; And I will graciously receive you and welcome you [with favor].
God isn’t saying to distance yourself from unbelievers, but he is saying not to participate in their ways. If that means you can’t associate with people who drink or do recreational drugs or those who think that cheating on their spouse is ok, then I’m telling you that you should break up with those friends. If it means that you can’t associate with people who talk the Christianese but aren’t applying a biblical worldview to their life, you’ve got to evaluate what God is saying to you about them. The company you keep will influence your character, and it’s wise to evaluate what your relationships may end up costing you in the end.
Cultural assimilation is the process in which a minority group (in this case, Christians) or culture comes to resemble a society’s majority group or assimilate the values, behaviors, and beliefs of another group whether fully or partially. If you’ve ever said, “I’m spiritual, not religious” you’ve assimilated into Babylon. If you’ve ever said, “Jesus drank wine, therefore so do I” and used it as your license to get rip-roaring drunk, you’ve assimilated. If you think being spoon-fed the word of God by your pastor or honoring God by going to church only on Easter or Christmas, you’ve assimilated. God is saying, “WAKE UP, STIR YOURSELVES UP! Be holy as I am holy. Be right. Be set apart.
All Saddled Up
I wanted to leave you with this verse that mentions the horse and rider to lend insight to what God is saying about the nearness of the hour to Jesus’ return.
Revelation 19: 11 says, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron sceptor,” He treads the winepress of the furt of the wrath of God Almighty. One his robe and on his thigh he has the name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
You Have Been Commissioned. Will You Answer The Call?
Jesus tells us today that he is preparing his horse and waiting on the word “GO, ” And just like a faithful and loving father, he’s calling out to you again to return and focus your mind’s attention and your heart’s affection on him. He is calling you to build his kingdom. Not yours. Return. Repent. Be restored, and let’s build according to his will.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24-27).