Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Youth Page

Written by Peter Langbroek
It's lunch hour this Friday in June as I sit at my desk listening to the children play beside my classroom. There are shouts and squeals of children playing games; cheers reverberate behind the backstop. Five girls giggle contagiously near my window.

Why are they having so much fun? I'm a teacher and I know the reason. Having taught for ten years, I've learned two things. First, it takes hard work for children to have fun. Second, I've learned the difference between good play and bad play, between good laughter and evil laughter. When I hear these children play, I'm reminded of the prophecy of Zechariah who commanded Israel:

"Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment,
and show mercy and compassions every man to his brother: And
oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the
poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in
your heart (Zechariah 7:9,10).

Guaranteed, when children follow the four rules in this passage, there will be peace and truth which are necessary for good play and good laughter. These four rules are:

1. be fair;
2. show kindness;
3. never pick on the weak or vulnerable;
4. never plot evil in your heart.

Children , I ask you an honest question: how many times have these rules been broken?

I know of no child who doesn't want play and laughter. Yet, many times, children will ruin what they want by breaking the rules that show how it can happen.

You see, when Zechariah prophesied, the Israelites had returned to Jerusalem after seventy years of captivity. Seventy years earlier, God had taken them from Israel and scattered them as captives in other lands because they had served other gods and had not followed these four rules.

God sent prophets to warn them, but they stubbornly refused to listen (Zechariah 7:10-14).

God had shown mercy to them by saving them in captivity and allowing them to return to Jerusalem. Yet, the Israelites were puzzled and disappointed. Jerusalem was a war zone with enemies who hated them; the streets in Jerusalem were not safe to walk. Crops were failing and Jerusalem had few people living in it. Moreover, the Israelites were too scared to continue to rebuild the temple.

"What has gone wrong?" they asked.

God sent the prophet Zechariah to answer this question and to spur them into living their lives for Him. Follow these four rules, God promised, and there will be peace and truth in Jerusalem (Zechariah 7:8-10). Then God gave them a marvellous promise:

I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of
Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and
the mountains of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain. Thus saith
the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell
in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his cane in his
hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full of
boys and girls playing in the streets thereof [emphasis mine,
P.L.] (Zechariah 8:3-5).

Children and old people suffer the most during war and they are usually the first to die. I know most (if any) of my readers do not live in a place of war, but the news reports will tell you this is true. A peaceful country, on the other hand, has many children and the old aged are happy and secure.

How can peace and truth take place? It happens when we love truth and peace (Zechariah 8:19), and when we love the God of truth and peace. It happens when God lives in our hearts and directs our lives. It happens when we have "peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).

As I said before, everyone wants the joys of peace, but many are surprised when they don't receive it. It's because they do not seek peace with God first, nor do they come to worship Him.

Back to the classroom I'm sitting in. There are boys and girls inside the classroom, punished for breaking the four rules. One has bad-mouthed a teacher. The other put on her coat in class when the teacher had just told her not to. And in the office, Mrs. Stam is tending a boy with a cut above the eye. Another boy smashed his head through a window because he had been teasing him. Never mind the bad language that goes on in the bus and on the playground.

Children, the laughter and play I hear outside is pleasant. Although things are not perfect there either, these are sounds of good play. These are pictures of heaven, where there will be perfect peace and truth.

When you play together, remember to follow the four rules of Zechariah, not for their own sake, but in the fear of the Lord. Guaranteed, you'll experience joy and peace.

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