Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Playing in the Streets

Zechariah 8:3-5 (NKJV)
3 “Thus says the Lord: ‘I will return to Zion, And dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, The Mountain of the Lord of hosts, The Holy Mountain.’ 4 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Old men and old women shall again sit In the streets of Jerusalem, Each one with his staff in his hand Because of great age. 5 The streets of the city Shall be full of boys and girls Playing in its streets.’

Two weeks ago we remarked that one of the lessons taught by toddlers is the universality of sin and foolishness. Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. Consequently, as parents we need to be diligent to train our children so that the foolishness is driven out and wisdom is put in its place. Permissive parenting, we saw, is no biblical virtue.

Our text today reminds us that foolishness is not the same as childish joy and fun. Driving foolishness from the hearts of our children does not mean that we need to make them into dour, sour, grumpy kill-joys. Zechariah was prophesying at a time when Jerusalem was in ruins, at the beginning stages of being rebuilt. There was much pain and sorrow, much labor and toil. So Zechariah comforts the people and provides for them hope for the future. What will Jerusalem be like in days to come? In what way will God bless the city? One of the things that Zechariah promises is that once again there will be boys and girls playing in the streets – and that this will be something pleasing to God.

So children, note today that God loves your play, loves your joy, loves your delight, your freedom. What doesn’t please him is when you play in such a way that you steal others’ delight, others’ joy. And notice another thing, children. Just as Zechariah promises that children will be playing in the streets, he promises that the old men and women will be sitting around enjoying the scene. So don’t grow impatient when older folks don’t run quite as much as you.

And parents, note today that God loves joy and rejoicing even while he hates foolishness. Learn, like your Heavenly Father, to distinguish the two. Do not discipline your children when they are appropriately exuberant and joyful; discipline them when they are sinful. Likewise, the members of our community who no longer have children, who like to sit around and have serious conversation – enjoy the joy of the young ones in our midst and delight that they reveal the playfulness of our God.

Reminded that our Lord loves to see children playing and promises to bestow this gift upon His people as they repent and acknowledge His authority, let us kneel and seek His forgiveness.