Just as the nation of Israel are God's chosen people, so too are the Church God's chosen people. He wants to use them to accomplish His purposes. If, however, they are too focused on their own selves and will not acknowledge Him, He will chasten them just as a Father chastens his children when they are disobedient.
If You Think the First Christmas is Exciting, Listen Up to the Return of the King
The Good Shepherd's Rejection, Response, Replacement and Future Reign
Is Your Life Motto Consistent with the Life You Model?
Do They See God for Who He Really Is?
Don't Think Fast... If You Want to Know What True Spirituality Is
The Last 3 Night Visions: How to Avoid Going to Hell in a Handbasket
The Fifth Night Vision: If You Want Your Light to Shine Bright, It Won't be by Might
Jesus the Messiah: The Servant, the Shoot, the Stone, Our Savior
The Fourth Night Vision: Israel and You - Guilty as Charged, Cleansed by Grace
The Third Night Vision: A Word of Hope, a Word of Warning
The Second Night Vision: Horror for the Horns, Hope for Us
The First Night Vision: The Messiah Among the Myrtle Trees
Introduction to Zechariah
I think I've maybe shared this before, but my little girl who is now 4 years old, when she was 3 we were leaving church. I asked her, "Sweetie, what did you do today in your Sunday school class?" She looked at me, and she said, "I just played with some friends." I said, "Daddy did that where he was. I played with some friends. What else did you do?" She said, "We sang some songs." I said, "That's funny because Dad sang some songs." She looked at me strangely.
I said, "What else did you do?" She said, "We learned some things about Jesus." I said, "You know what? That's exactly what I did." She stopped, and she goes, "How old are you?" What we try and do every week when we come here, no matter how old we are, is a couple of central and core things. We gather with a bunch of friends, folks who we're really struggling through life with.
We're not trying to be a pretty people, a beautiful or strong people. We're trying to be a group of friends who really believe the truth of Scripture. Specifically, we believe the Scripture is fulfilled in one man, Jesus Christ; Lord of Sabaoth is his name. So we gather to sing songs of encouragement about who he is, what he has done, and what he will do for us, to fellowship together, to spur one another onto love and good deeds, and to study the word about him that we might more fully conform to his life. Pray with me that he would accomplish that in us.
Father, we thank you for your word, which leads us, directs us, teaches us, reproves us, and equips us that we might be men and women of God ready and adequate for every good work. We thank you for the parts of the Scripture which at first seemed foreign to us which are packed with truth and encouragement and hope for us today in 1997.
Lord, we are grateful that we don't have to stand up here and be brilliant and make the Bible relevant. It is your Word. Therefore it is relevant through all the ages because you are a God not limited by time. So allow us, then, to leave our cultural elitism and to dive back into 2,000-old words that you gave to us then which speak powerfully to us now. In Christ's name, amen.
We are in the book of Zechariah. The easy way to find it is to go to Matthew and flip back two books to your left. You'll see Malachi, and then you'll see Zechariah. It means the Lord remembers. He's the son of Berechiah which means the Lord blesses. He's the grandson of a man named Iddo, which means at the appointed time.
At the very beginning of this book in Zechariah 1:1, you see this guy, Zechariah born of Berechiah, son of Iddo, and their very names in the Hebrew mean this. God remembers and blesses at the appointed time. It's not a coincidence that's stuck in there. God, in his sovereignty, will do these things. He'll show you the theme of the entire book based on his prophet who he has appointed to give you that word.
It is a very discouraging time in the nation of Israel's history as you see and we looked at last week in Zechariah 1:1. He dates the time that the word of the Lord came to him by a king whose name is Darius, who is the king of a foreign land that is completely unique.
As you go back and read in your Old Testament, typically when prophets would speak or when things would happen, they would date them by David or by Jehoiada, the high priest, or they would date them by some other leader in the nation of Israel. Israel, at this point, has no king. It is a nation of slaves. As a reminder of the despair they are in, as a reminder of the fact they are still under a time of discipline, God has said, "You have no King of you own, so to date this, I have to go to a Pagan (gentile) king."
If you'll go read in the book of Daniel in chapter 2 and chapter 7, there's this event going on called the times of the gentiles. God has ordained in his sovereignty that there would be one nation that he would use to represent him to the rest of the earth. That nation was to be Israel. We're going to find again tonight that God is not looking just to have a team he wins the Super Bowl with. He wants an obedient team.
When he says he's going to do a little reform program with his team, he doesn't do it halfway. He'll lose a few years and spend a few years at the bottom of the NFC East, if you will, maybe the Middle East, in order to get a holy people who represent him well. That's when he'll win not just any annual Super Bowl, but the battle of Armageddon. He'll do it with a holy army, a royal priesthood, a chosen people.
He wants Israel to be that team. It's God's team. He's not going to let them just take that mantel and run haywire all across the world. He wants them to walk in holiness. Until they do that, he will discipline them. They are at this great point of discipline in their nation's history. They just were sent to their room for 70 years.
He sent them back now to training camp, and they're down in a 100-degree dormitory down in Austin, Texas. They're trying to get ready to work themselves back together that they might then win the things that God has purposed for them to win. They think that spanking was all they needed, and they thought now all the needed to do was go through the motions.
God's trying to grab their attention again. He's going to say, "Yes, this isn't the glory years. You don't have King David as your coach anymore. You have a various sundry group of leaders, but I don't want you to despair. I know right now the Lombardi Trophy reigns over there in Persia, but you're going to get it back. It's not going to be any Lombardi Trophy. It's going to be the one trophy that will reign for all eternity if you return to me and let me fight the battle for you. I don't want your own efforts; I want you to yield to my offense and run my plan and let my Spirit be completely in you."
That's the book of Zechariah. It is a dark day in Dallas, if you will, when you have to date it and say, "It was August 24, 1997, during the reign of Mike Holmgren in Green Bay." That's where they are. God is saying, "Do you want the trophy back? Then you return to me and don't be obstinate like your fathers were, or I will discipline you as I discipline them."
God uses Zechariah's name. He uses his father's name and his grandfather's name to show that he's sovereign. When he wants to speak through a prophet, he'll even use that very prophet's ancestry to show you he is in control.
You go back to the very first genealogy (we looked at it last week) from Adam, the first man, to Noah whose name means rest. You'll find if you trace the names of those individuals (Adam meaning man, his son, Seth, meaning appointed) all the way down through the line, you'll have the theme of the entire Bible right there in the first genealogy from the first man to God's appointed Savior for the world at that time.
We read it: man is appointed mortal sorrow, but the blessed Lord shall come down teaching that his death shall bring the despairing rest. That is the genealogy of Adam to Noah translated from the Hebrew to the English. The theme of your whole Bible is there. The theme of the entire book of Zechariah is right there in the genealogy of chapter 1.
If you think that's a coincidence, take the genealogy of my family. Robert, my dad, means bright star. Todd means either fox or wise one. Have you ever seen The Fox and the Hound? They call the fox in that little Disney Classic "Todd," because that's the literal meaning of the name Todd. Not in the sense of Farrah Fawcett, as you can readily see, but more wise as a fox, innocent as a dove. And Cooper, my son, means barrel maker. So if you take our ancestry, it means a bright barrel maker will attain great fame. So we have wonderful things happening for Cooper. We're going to save on a college education, and just let him make real pretty barrels.
With Zechariah, he said, "God remembers and blesses at the appointed time. It's a dark day in Israel. You're at the bottom of the Middle East, but I intend for you to do great things." He goes through, and he says, "Return to me." He doesn't want them to confuse returning to me with form. We went through, and we saw. He says, "Learn from your fathers." He says that twice in the first six verses because he's pounding home this central truth.
It's easy to follow a bad example. Have you found that true in your life? I know I have. He says, "Don't learn from that bad example that went before you. You get right with me. Don't confuse getting right with me with the works of your hands only." He tells them to rebuild the temple. The fact they didn't rebuild the temple when they went back where they could have a relationship with the living God was only evidence of the problem that was within. It was an illustration of the fact that their hearts had not returned to the Lord.
So what the people began to do is they began to rebuild the temple. God said, "No, no, no. You've missed it. Now you're doing with your hands the things that are right, but your hearts are still far from me. I don't want you to rebuild just the temple. I want you to return to me with your hearts. When you return to me in love, you'll begin to date appropriately. You'll begin to file your tax returns right. You'll begin to be a businessman with ethics. I don't want those things substituting for a relationship with me."
This is an intimate God who longs to have a relationship with his people. He doesn't want just the works of their hands. He wants the possession of their hearts. He goes through, and he tells them, "Don't be like your fathers. Where are they? They are dead and disciplined, and you will be there too if you don't walk with me."
Do you want to summarize the first six verses of Zechariah? It's simply this. "I want to do great things with you. I want you to win the battle of the ages, but I will not do it unless you are a righteous and holy people who trust not in your own ingenuity, not in your own athletic ability, not in your own cleanliness, not in own moral law, but you trust in me, the Lord of Hosts who loves you. When you do that, I will do great things with you."
He seeks to come alongside them during their great time of labor and encourage them and build into them and say, "What you're doing now is right, but do it for the right reasons because you love me, and look where I'm going to take you."
God takes the very practical exhortation of "Do righteous things," and he combines it with a prophetic promise from Psalm 1 into the future that the righteous shall live forever. "They shall bear their fruit in season. Even though the heat comes, their fruit will not wither. You will be an evergreen people, no matter what the circumstances are around you for a time. Then, one day, I will put you in a place where there are no harsh circumstances, and you will live evermore with me in a place of peace."
That, my people, is his vision for the nation of Israel. That, my friends, is his vision for us. As you will find out, Israel didn't take the exhortation of Zechariah. Oh, they did for a certain season. They had two-a-days for a while, and it looked pretty good. Ultimately, the Promised One, the one who this book ultimately rotates around, is the one who, when you follow the prophecies of Scripture at the appointed time to the very day… He predicted when the Messiah, who is the central figure in this book, would ride into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey, which wasn't because he was just to be a pauper. That was the transportation of a king.
Jesus made a very simple claim. "I am the Messiah. I am your hope. Trust in me." What'd they do? They gave him lip service. They said, "Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Lord." He said, "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." He made it clear again. "I'm not looking for a room full of people who gather at 6:30 on Sunday night and sing songs of worship and encourage one another and are kind to each other. I'm looking for people who that's not just what they do with their lips, but I want that to be the condition of their hearts."
That nation, Israel, rejected him. They gave a feigning feeling or a feigning action or movement towards him, but ultimately, they were not going to walk with him. So they rejected him, and God said, "I'll raise up another people for a time as I continue my discipline with this nation, Israel. I'll make them a great nation. I will give them my Spirit. It will dwell in them, and they will walk in righteousness with me."
The question we have to ask ourselves tonight as we look at what's God's promise is for his people is…Will we do what we need to do that he might accomplish her purpose with us? Did he not say to Israel, "You will be a great nation"? He guaranteed it with the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 12 and again in 15.
He guaranteed it with the Davidic covenant in 2 Samuel 7, that there would always be a descendant of David who would reign at his throne, even forever. He said, "I promise you, literally, that Israel will be a great nation with a great king and all the nations of the world will ascribe glory to them because I am their God, and so ultimately glory to me."
God will do that, but he's only going to do with a righteous Israel, an Israel who recognizes Messiah and trusts alone in the Lord Sabaoth, the Lord in whom they find rest because they are a despairing people knowing their own efforts in science and brilliance will never get the job done.
In the New Testament, Matthew 16, he says, "I'm going to raise up a new people, and they're going to be called the church." He says to them, "The gates of hell will not stand against my church." The gates of hell will not stand against God's church, but we must ask ourselves this: Will the gates of hell stand against this church?
God is not looking for us to fill up the room at 6:30 on Sunday nights. He's not looking for us to sing well. He's looking for us to return to him, not with our lips but with our hearts. Then when our hearts are right with him, our lips will follow, our hands will do the good deeds which are evidence of the fact that we believe in the promise that he has offered us.
So we do not fret because of evildoers, and we are not envious towards the wicked doers for we know they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green earth. We will trust in the Lord and do good. We will dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness because we believe he is a rewarder of those who believe that he is and a rewarder of those who seek him with a right heart.
There's Zechariah. Zechariah says, "Repent Israel, so I can do great things with you. This is my intention: to make you a great nation." He's going to say at the end of verse 6, "If you will get right with me, this is where you're going." He gives this man Zechariah eight different visions, not dreams. He sees these things. They're apocalyptic visions. They're things that he sees, if you will, in the spirit world.
God takes Zechariah like he took Paul, like he took John, and he places him in a realm, and he shows him things that are to come. He sees, if you will, in the future things that are happening in the spirit realm, in the heavenly. The one who is the Lord of Hosts, the one who is the Lord of the heavens shows him where ultimately the heavens will take things that God's plan might be accomplished on earth.
He's saying to this nation of Israel, "You can have this if you walk with me." It's the vision of something far greater than a Lombardi Trophy. Can you imagine, and you do this in fact, at any type of sporting camp… The very first thing you do during your training camp is you tell them, "This where you could be."
If it's a basketball team, you'll show them clips of last year's Final Four. You'll say, "Can you imagine playing next year with billions of people watching you on TV for the national championship forever being enthroned? One of you guys here is going to be the MVP, but we have to work hard. We have to be a team." Or at the beginning of a football training camp, you'll show them great clips of last year's Super Bowl, and you'll say, "That can be you. You guys can get there." You'll hear people say, "We know what it takes."
What God's doing is he's putting before you something far better than a fleeting trophy, a fleeting season of greatness, but an eternity where you will reign with him. That's his vision for you. Don't miss it. Look what it says in verse 7. Here comes the first of the eight (what are called) night visions. He has all eight of these visions in one evening.
The first one starts in verse 7 and goes all the way down through verse 17. That's all we'll look at tonight. It says, "On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month…" If you will, it's February 519 BC. Aren't you glad you know that? "…which is the month Shebat, in the second year of Darius…" Darius, again, is the king of a pagan land. You have to date this by a Pagan king because you don't have a king. It's a dark day.
"…the word of the LORD came to Zechariah…" I want to say this right here. That is always the standard line of the prophet. It's what gives somebody authority. I will tell you when I stand up here and speak with as much confidence as I speak every week, it's not because I'm brilliant or have figured it out, but because I speak from God's Word even as you can speak from God's Word.
Each of us is called to be a prophet and to go tell the world how God can make a perfect heart. Not by disciplining your flesh but by yielding in sorrow to God's plan to crucify your flesh and have his flesh substituted for yours. So if you ever hear somebody stand up and espouse great philosophies, you can check out right then.
In fact, if you go back and look, there aren't a lot of great Jewish philosophers. You don't see a lot of Jews talk about questions like the meaning of life or the purpose of existence or why we are here. Jews have an answer to that question because they found it in the Lord. Plato himself said until we hear a more sure word from God, we are destined as two bards, two ships, working our way through the night to trust only the best opinions of men.
The Jews didn't need philosophers like the Greeks did because they already had something better than the best opinions of men. They had the more sure word from God. So Zechariah speaks, and he says, "This is not my opinion. This comes from the Word of the Lord." He speaks about one central hope to this nation, and it exists in a man. That man's name is Messiah. The Greek for Messiah is Christ. You all know the one who we believe is that Messiah is Yeshua,which means the Lord saves.
Again, it's not what you do, it's what he has done. Christianity is not what we do do or don't do; it's singularly whom you trust. What you must ask yourself tonight is who do you trust? Do you trust in the Messiah of the book of Zechariah, Yeshua the Christ, Yeshua the Lord saves with the Messiah, the Anointed One who alone will take this meager nation and make it great, and who alone will take a motley people stuck in their sin and make them blameless in God's holy sight. There's our hope.
What you're going to be asked in a little bit tonight is this: What is your hope? Who do you trust in? When this Messiah came and spoke, if you remember in Matthew 7, he wouldn't say as everyone else would say, "The word of the Lord has come to me," or he wouldn't say, "As the rabbis have taught," or he wouldn't say, "As the scribes have written." He said this: "Truly, truly, I say to you."
Have you ever wondered about that? If you go read the Sermon on the Mount, at the very end in Matthew 7, they gather. They go, "Who is this man who speaks with such authority? Not as our teachers and the scribes do, but he says, 'I say to you.'" They would think that is so arrogant. I'll tell you who he is. He is the theme of the book of Zechariah. He is the one who gave the word to Zechariah. He is King. He is the Lord of Hosts, and he is the feature of chapter 1, verses 7 through 17. It says this.
"I saw at night, and behold, a man was riding on a red horse…" If you go read Revelation 6:4, you'll see there are four horsemen who come. One of them, the first one, is riding on a white horse. That is symbolic of victory or conquering. Another will come on a red horse, and it says in Revelation 6:4 that the one on the red horse is one who brings with him war and death. So there is one who is covered and riding on death, and death is what he will make ultimately as his triumphant carrier.
"…and he was standing among the myrtle trees…" Does anybody know what a myrtle tree is for all you little arborists out there? It's the same as a Periwinkle or a California laurel tree. It's all a myrtle if any of that makes any sense to you. The easiest way to communicate it is it's a tree that's always green, that never fades no matter what circumstances it's in. Even in the middle of a desert, a myrtle tree, a Periwinkle, a California laurel will always keep it's leaves and be green. Even in heat, its leaves will not wither. See how this relates.
"…a man was riding on a red horse, and he was standing[he's dismounted]among the myrtle trees which were in the ravine…" What's it mean to be in a ravine? It means you're in a valley. Not up in the great areas where people's eyes are naturally attracted, but down here amongst the lowly. Look what is going on where they lowly are. There are myrtle trees; something that doesn't wither when the heat comes. Even though circumstances aren't ideal, there still is hope, and there still is life. "It will bear its fruit in season," Jeremiah 17 says about the righteous man.
Here is this man who was riding on a red horse which brings with him, as you know, war and death. He's in the valley away from the glory of the mountains that surround it. It says, "…with red, sorrel…" Which is the same as brown. "…and white horses behind him." We're grateful to Zechariah because he asked an angel, who is in this Spirit world with him, a question.
"My lord, what are these?" He uses the word lord there not capitalized because he's not speaking to God. He's speaking to what an angel is. What literally means sent one, one who sent forth from the Lord. God has given him an accompanying angel to go with him and help him understand his eight night visions he has.
"'My lord, what are these?' And the angel who was speaking with me said to me, 'I will show you what these are.'" All right. Let's get on with it. Verse 10. "And the man who was standing among the myrtle trees answered and said, 'These are those whom the LORD has sent to patrol the earth.'"
What happens here is Zechariah is having a vision. He sees a guy who was riding a red horse. He rides into a valley so low. In that valley it's green, and it's lush. No matter what the environment might mean, it still sustains itself. This man got off his horse. He stands next to this horse, which is death (which he rode).Behind him are white, red, and brown horses. He says, "What's going on here?" The angel says, "I'll explain it to you."
Before he can speak, the angel, or the person who was riding that red horse, speaks up. That's what you had there in verse 10. "And the man who was standing among the myrtle trees…" That's the guy back there in verse 8. "…answered and said, 'These are those whom the LORD has sent to patrol the earth.'" Look at verse 11. "So they answered the angel of the LORD…" Now, catch that. You're going to get a little description of who that initial rider on that red horse was.
His name is the angel of the Lord. If you go and look at your Old Testament, every time the angel of the Lord is in Scripture, he accepts worship. The angel of the Lord in just a few chapters will forgive sins. The angel of the Lord will always accompany deity. We call him a theophany, or he is a physical representation of theos or God.
Some people call him the preincarnate Christ, if you can function that in your little mind. It is Jesus, the captain of the Lord's hosts, we find in the book of Joshua. He is the one who is standing, that is riding this horse of death amidst the myrtle trees which are down there in the valley, not up in the great mountains of the day.
A group of us were just up in Colorado with a family camp. A good friend of mine and was up there with me, and he talked about this thing called mountain glory. Mountain glory is what happens where late in the day or early in the morning, if you're on top of a large mountain and you stand up on the very pinnacle of that mountain and the sun is just right, your entire shadow casts out over the valley below.
And we did. We stood at the very top of Mount Shavano, which is 14,100-something feet. There's one rock that's clearly higher than other rocks all around you. We stood right there on that little rock, and we went, "We're there." It's this thing called mountain glory when you stand up there and the sun is just right and you entire shadow casts out over the valley below. You can see miles and miles and miles of self, and you are Lord over the valley.
It's a great picture for what's going on here in Zechariah 1:8. Because there are people, if you will, who are exalted on top of the mountains. They are looking at how great they are. What is true of an individual who is experiencing mountain glory? I'll tell you what's going to happen. The sun is going to set on their little joyride, and they're going to be exposed for what they are. That is a speck on top of a pound of dirt of which they're about to make a little bit higher when they themselves return to that dirt from which they came.
It's those who are with the Lord of Hosts, the angel of the Lord, in the valley which doesn't look so great right now, but it's a much better place to be in the valley of the myrtle than on the mountain of the moment. The mountain of the moment sure looks good sometimes, but I will tell you what. It will fade quickly like the herb and wither like the grass.
You have to right now, look around you and see. You know what? It looks like there are people who don't know the Lord, who are on the mountain of the moment. They're having it big time. They cast a large shadow. It's been well said that you know the day is short when short men cast a tall shadow, that the sun is about to set. It's true. Better to be in the valley of the myrtle than the mountain of the moment.
Look what the Lord says himself. He's answering Zechariah. He said, "These guys behind me, I sent out to patrol the earth because I want to know what's going on. I am in control. It's true that Satan is the prince of this world, but he is not the sovereign of this world." God himself is still sovereign, which you will find in the seven night visions which we're going to continue studying next week. God is always monitoring what is going on throughout the earth. It never is outside of the purposes of his plan.
You'll see in the book of Job that Satan does the same thing. He has his legions which he sends out throughout the earth, not for the purpose of protection and blessing but for the purpose of finding those who he might bring down. But Jesus is different. He is intimately aware of where his people are. He has made a promise to these people a valley that he will do great things with them. For a moment, it doesn't look too good, but he says, "I'm there in your midst. It's better to be there with me than in the mountain of the moment."
It says as these men responded to that angel in verse 11, "…who was standing among the myrtle trees…" We know now him to be Jesus himself. It says that the guys on all the different colored horses said, "We have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth is peaceful and quiet." What he's telling them is, "It looks good on the mountain. I know, Jesus, you're here amongst the lowly, but right now, it looks pretty good up there on the mountain as well, and the view is a whole lot better." But watch what goes on in the heart of Jesus Christ.
What happens here is he says, "It might be well up there. There's peace up there. But there is no peace in the valley right now. My people are in great despair. They have no king. They have no temple. They have no army to protect themselves." So look at the prayer of Christ in verse 12. The angel of the Lord answered their report that the rest of the world is at peace, but Jesus is not at peace because his people are not at peace.
He says, "O LORD of hosts…" and he himself intercedes even as he did when he was here on earth in the High Priestly Prayer in John 17 and Hebrews 7 where it talks about how he is our High Priest. It is the job of the high priest to intercede for the people, to pray for the people, that God might not judge them. So Jesus here models his future role.
By the way, people will say, "Where is the Trinity? It doesn't exist in Scripture." You have it in the Old Testament. This is evidence of the fact that God, who is one, in essence, is three in person and subordinate in the way they relate to one another, and that Jesus himself as the mediator for the nation of Israel, as their future Messiah, as our future High Priest, as our advocate before the Father Hebrews 9 says, prays for the people. He says, "God, how long will my nation, Israel, suffer while the Lombardi Trophy reigns high up there in that mountain?"
Look what it says. "The LORD answered the angel who was speaking with me with gracious words, comforting words." This is the good news. After he was done praying and interceding, he turned to the angel who was with Zechariah. Christ told the angel who was with Zechariah, "Tell Zechariah these things." This is the word of the Lord. This is the word of the Messiah to the angel to give to Zechariah to tell the people. Look what it says starting in verse 14.
"So the angel who was speaking with me said to me ["This is what I just heard"] , 'Proclaim, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and Zion." Zion is the city of the Lord. "I am jealous for them. Don't doubt my love for you. I long for you to be in a place of blessing, and I know you're not. I know it's a tough day," but watch what he says.
"But I am very angry with the nations who are at ease…" Those people who are experiencing mountain glory right now, I'm angry with them. Why? "…for while I was only a little angry, they furthered the disaster." He saying, "There was a time when I wanted and I raised up Nebuchadnezzar, and I brought him over to bring you to a time of discipline. But Nebuchadnezzar didn't go about executing justice for me. He went beyond what I asked him to do, and he exalted himself."
Let me throw in a little application here for parents. God has put you in a position of authority over your kids. It says in the Scriptures, "Parents [or fathers] don't exasperate your children." Have you ever heard your dad say this to you? "It's going to hurt me more than it's going to hurt you. Bend over and grab your ankles." You look at him, and you go, "No way this is going to hurt you more than it's going hurt me."
As a dad, I know now that I wait to discipline my children, and I don't do it at that moment that I'm angry. Or if you will, in the biblical sense, you don't do something at the moment you want to exalt self and serve self. You see parents who discipline that way, don't you? Do you see parents who are sitting there and their kid is bothering them and annoying them, and all of sudden they go, "Will you stop?" Then they go, "Oh, I'm sorry. What were you saying?"
What they just did, they did not do for the benefit of that child. They did it for the benefit of self. They went beyond what the Lord wants them to do, which is to be a teacher, a reprover, a corrector to that child, and they satisfied their need. That is what these nations did in a sense. They didn't discipline Israel for being a wicked and rebellious people. They did because it would exalt them and make them experience that moment of glory.
God said, "When I let somebody in a position of authority, and they don't use that authority to serve those who are underneath them but to exalt themselves or to deal with their own anger or to fill their own need for pride, I have problem with that." Verse 16.
"Therefore thus says the LORD, 'I will return to Jerusalem with compassion; My house will be built in it,' declares the LORD of hosts, 'and a measuring line will be stretched over Jerusalem.' Again, proclaim, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, "My cities will again overflow with prosperity, and the LORD will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem."'"
He promises them six different things. He says, "I know you, right now, are at a position of discomfort, but the Lord is there in your midst, and he's intimately aware with your ways. While the tension of the world is on the high mountains, the mind of the Lord, the heart of the Messiah is there with his people. Look what he promises them and see if we can't draw an application for ourselves.
There are six things. First, "I will return to Jerusalem with compassion." He'll come to his people, and he won't come as one who wants to discipline them, but he'll come as one who seeks to have compassion. Secondly, "'My house will be built in it,' declares the LORD of hosts…" He's going to dwell in the midst of his people. Remember that.
Here's the third one also in verse 16. "… [my] measuring line will be stretched over Jerusalem." In other words, he says, "I'm going to start to measure." Why do you measure things? To build. It's going to be a time of building. A time of growth will come upon these people. Look at verse 17.
"Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'My cities will again overflow with prosperity…'" Not only will it be a time of growth, but it'll be a time of great abundance. Not only will you build great things, but you will overflow in blessing, and it'll be a time of comfort. Why? The answer lies right there at the very end. "Because I have chosen you."
How does this relate to us? There is a day, and I am confident. This is what is called the dispensational view or not covenant theology.It's what we teach here. We believe God's promises are literal. We think when Paul says the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable that he means it. So when he promises that Israel will one day be specifically comforted and when he promises that Israel will specifically have some land marked out for it and when he promises that Israel will be a great nation and a king will reign there forever, he means it.
If you spiritualize the promises for the nation of Israel, how can you not spiritualize the promises that he holds for us? He's not going to do it for Israel just because Israel is a favored nation in a sense. He does it according to the kindness of his will that he was going to raise up one nation and let all the other nations of the earth be drawn to him because this one nation is blessed. God isn't going to just bless a people because they run up a flag and put Israel on it.
He will bless a people who happen to be descendants of Abraham, but who specifically call out to him who is Lord of hosts and say, "We need you, Messiah. We are a despairing people. We are a lowly people and in the valley. In our strength, in our own negotiations, in our own might, we can never be all that you've intended us to be. Until you, Lord, come and lead us back, we will be stuck not just in political oppression, but in the oppression of sin."
Mark my words, although Israel is regathered as a nation, that is not God's Israel because they do not humble themselves before the one who alone is the way, the truth, and the life. There will be a day though, that I think you will see, Israel regather. Not just as a political people but as a spiritual people. Here's the question.
In Matthew 16, God has said for a moment he's going to leave Israel in a season of discipline. In Matthew 20 it says he's going to build a new kingdom, a new nation. It'll be a nation that is also a chosen nation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. He says, "You will be a people of God's own possession." He's speaking to those gentiles who have taken the Messiah that Israel has rejected. See if what happens to Israel hasn't happened to us. You're going to get a picture of what God wants to use us for to bring about the fulfillment of history.
He wants us to dance with no date so when they walk in, and the Jews see us experiencing the spiritual fruits of the promises God had applied to them, they go, "Wait a minute. That's our God who they're getting all the blessing from. That's our God who is mighty with them. That's our God who is causing them to prosper. That's our God," and they will return to him.
Look what happens to us. Look in verse 16. Has God moved towards not Jerusalem but towards the gentile people with compassion? You bet he has. If you don't read the Gospels and see that, you're not reading the same Gospels. He is moved towards all people, not just the Jews, but everybody with compassion. He has come to you, and he says, "Quit laboring to make yourself great. Come to me, and I will give you rest." That's compassionate.
He says, "My house will be built in it." How has God built his house in us his church? Is it right here? No. He's done something far greater than put a bunch of brick on top of brick and dwelt in some geographical region. What he has done, it says in 1 Corinthians 3:16. "Do you not know that your body is…what? The temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in you." Has God moved to you with compassion? Yes. Has the Spirit of the Lord dwelt in you? You bet. Look at the third thing.
He says, "I will put a measuring line over you, and it'll be stretched out." Are we right now in a time of building, a time of growing? The church should be. Absolutely. Should you be growing and being built up as a godly individual like never before? Absolutely. Look at the forth thing. It says, "My cities will again overflow with prosperity…"
He says, "I'm going to give you peace that even though you have all kinds of hell breaking out around you, you will be as the myrtle tree. Although there are all kinds of discomfort, you yourself will not fade. You can be strong in all things through Christ who strengthens you. You will prosper even in a season of drought."
When you're lonely, as a married or as a single person, when business hasn't gone like it should be, it says that my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches and glory in Christ Jesus. He says, "You will have peace that passes understanding." Has he given you that promise? I think he has.
Look at the fifth one. "He will comfort you." Why will he do it? The answer is right there. He has chosen you, you chosen race, you royal priesthood, you holy people, you people of God's own possession." Here are the facts. God has chosen us according to his grace. It says in Ephesians 1:3. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…" Is that abounding in prosperity when you have every blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus? I think it is.
It says that he has given you everything pertaining to godliness. Is that moving towards you with favor? He says, "The Spirit of God dwells in you." Here's the question. Having given you all that, church, will you be a people who God can raise up and do what he intended to do with his church in this nation, which is to have the gates of hell not stand against it. You know what? You have the gates of hell standing pretty thoroughly against not just this church but a bunch of other local communities in the city of Dallas.
Primarily, I think it's because we have not done what he called us to do in chapter 1, verses 1 through 6. He says, "I want to do great things with you. Specifically to the church, you who I've already done great things with and put you in a position of prominence and place of blessing, I want to do great things with you, but it's not going to happen because you gather for an hour on Sunday evening.
It's going to be because you truly return to me with your hearts. The reason you return to me with your hearts is because you are despairing people, and you realize there's nothing you could ever do in and of yourself. So you cry out to him in your humility. Those who are poor in spirit are the ones who will inherit the kingdom."
Very quickly, I can give you a couple of things. I want to ask you this. Who holds your hope for tomorrow? For Israel, God is saying, "Let me hold your hope." For us as a church, who holds your hope for tomorrow? Or for you as an individual, ultimately, where is your hope notched in? Is it in somebody who loves you?
You might say, "Yeah. I hold my own hope, Wagner. I love me more than anybody could possibly love me." That might be. You may really love yourself, but you have to be asking yourself this second question. Is the one who loves you capable of succeeding in his love towards you?" By that, I mean, it's great you love yourself, but in your love for yourself, can you give yourself the peace, security, the provision, and death that you need? I think not.
The Scripture says that Jesus does love you. "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the [sacrifice] for our sins." Does he love us? Absolutely. Can he helps us in death? You bet he can because he died for us to take away the wages of sin, which is death. The free gift of God has now been given to us, which is eternal life through Christ Jesus.
I have to ask you tonight, who is your hope in? Is it in the Lord of Hosts? That's where Zechariah hope was going to be, and that's where he was calling the people's hope to be so he could do great things with him. We have to have our hope in the same Messiah and nowhere else. Here's the second question I want to ask you: Are you practicing the practical obedience of building the temple? Are you doing the things that a spiritual people ought to do?
I'll say it this way. People who don't practice obedience don't do it because they don't really believe in the prophetic promise of tomorrow. The argument in Scriptures is this: If you knew what he was going to do with you, you would labor it well and stand against all the outward oppression you're getting and all the inward struggle you have. You would labor well because you believe God is with you in the midst of the valley.
No matter how hard it is, you know his kind intention is towards you. People who don't practice practical obedience today don't do it because they don't believe in the prophetic promise of tomorrow. Every December a little song comes on that says, "You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout. I'm telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town." How many of you are concerned about December 5 that if you have a bad attitude, don't make your bed, and don't get to school on time, Santa may not come at Christmas?
There is not a single one of you who does better December 5. Why? You don't really believe in the prophetic promise of December 25. Santa isn't coming down your chimney. But little kids do it. You see parents all the time holding out that prophetic promise. "You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout. I'm telling you why. Santa is coming to town."
Let me tell you something. God is not a petty moral policeman telling you to not pout and not cry, or he isn't coming to give you glory. What he is is a God who says simply, "Do you believe I have compassion towards those who ask me? Then will you ask me? Do you believe that I will be great in blessing those who have a relationship with me? Then will you have a relationship with me?" He knows where there is compassion received and relationship experienced, love will be had and be modeled.
I want to tell you something. I brush my teeth every night before I go to bed because I believe in the prophetic promise that my wife is coming to lay next to me. I am practically obedient in the normal things because I believe the prophetic promise that she will sleep next to me. So I do what I need to do then to experience glory later. You don't brush your teeth? It's because you don't believe your wife is coming next to you, and if she does, it wouldn't matter. Brush your teeth.
Look what it says in number three right here. I said this. God will not glorify himself in a disobedient or distant people. He won't even do it in a legalistic people. He doesn't say rebuild the temple. He says return with your hearts. It is possible that you do spiritual things but not bring your hearts to him, and it doesn't make any impression on him. He says, "I want a people who walk in relationship to me."
God will not use us as a church if we are distant from him or if we are disobedient towards him. God is not so desperate to win the Super Bowl today that he will do it with whoever sits in his pews. He wants a holy people, a royal priesthood, folks who don't just give him honor with their lips, but people whose whole hearts are committed to him. Is that going to be our experience as a church? Will you pray with me that that indeed happens, and we return to him with all our hearts?
I'll say this in closing. Though you may not be where you want to be today, you can be comforted for three reasons. Here they come. Firstly, the Lord is in your midst. God cares for you. Do you know what it says in the New Testament? We as his church during this period in history while he works with a new nation, which the church, says, "I will never leave you or forsake you."
Even as God was through this prophetic vision that Zechariah had symbolically with the nation of Israel in the valley of myrtle, he is with his church, and he grieves at the abuse his church takes. He is intimately acquainted with your sorrow. He knows what it's like to cry out, "How long before you come and deliver me from this body of death?" You can take comfort, no matter where you are today, because the Lord is in your midst.
Secondly, he's going to judge your enemies. He will do it. Don't look at those who are up on the mountain of glory experiencing some sexual freedom that you think if you could just do it, you'd really be happy, or some business ethic that's so low that would make you prosper in a way you think would make you happy. He says, "Know this. Those who I do not dwell with will experience a horror you don't want to be in the middle of. Though you may not like where you are today, I'm in your midst, and I will judge the wicked."
Lastly, your glory is guaranteed. Colossians 3:4: "When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory." He guarantees it. He guarantees that you will be reigning with him for eternity away from all sorrow, away from all sin, so you won't have to say anymore, "How long?"
Why will all those things happen? Because of grace, and because he's chosen us. This evening, you have to ask yourself simply this. Are you an individual who knows where your hope is? Is that individual who you put your hope in somebody who loves you and is able to do something about his love for you?
He who did not spare his own Son but delivered him up for us all, will he not also with him freely give you all things? The good news is this. You may not like where you are, but Jesus is with you in the valley of the myrtle. Don't abandon that presence to have a fleeting moment in the mountain of the moment. Let's pray.
Father, we learned from Zechariah that you indeed are going to do great things with your people. We saw that Israel is a nation you intended to do great things with, but because of their disobedience again and again for a time [audio cuts out] people, another chosen race, another holy priesthood, a people of your own possession. We see during this quarter of history, from the cross until the crown, it is a group of people called the church.
Father, we have experienced compassion from you and experienced your dwelling in our midst and experienced a building in our lives both in number and in maturity and have prospered with hope we could never have before and peace that surpasses understanding and goodness and kindness and gentleness and self-control that is, frankly, a wonder to the world.
We want to be a people who truly returns to you, not just in form, not just with simple works of our hands, but we want to be passionate, Father, about doing that which you would have us to do because we believe we have received your compassion and we live in right relationship with you. I pray, Father, in a sense, we would experience your kingdom's glory now. That your kingdom would come now on earth as it is in heaven. That you would have complete sovereign reign in our life here as you do in heaven over your angels who serve you there.
We want to be your angels here, the sent ones who you send out to tell people how you can make a perfect heart. We want to be your sent ones who, Father, go and build your kingdom, and we want to evidence your existence in our life by being a loving people and not a selfish people. We thank you, Father, for what Zechariah teaches us. Though it was written years ago, there is much for us to learn.
We thank you, Lord, that you are with us now in the valley, and we thank you that when the winter is harshest, that is when the evergreens usually give out most of their glory. So, Father, I pray for those in our body who right now struggle, who are in some low valley of despair. I pray, Father, that because they yield to the Lord of Hosts, the Lord Almighty, the mighty fortress we sang of earlier, they would bear much fruit, there would be joy in their hearts which is inexplicable except that their nature is that which should be evergreen.
I pray, Father, they would have a hope which cannot be explained by their circumstances or by even the next six hours, but only by their guaranteed future in eternity. Father, we agree that although the immediate payback of this labor for you may not be that great, we know the retirement plan is out of this world. So we trust in you, the Lord of Hosts. In Christ name, amen.
In this second volume of "Sawing through the ZZZs", Todd Wagner unravels one of the richest, most complex of the minor prophetical books, revealing a timeless message of hope to all who will hear. Using night visions, oracles and symbols, God gives the prophet Zechariah a warning to the struggling, disillusioned nation of Israel freshly returned from exile in Babylon. This glimpse into their immediate and distant future exhorts them - and us - to repent, obey and persevere. The Lord is near to His own and this prophetical work concludes with a glorious look at the Messiah and the hope of His triumphant return.