Zechariah encourages Israel to labor well today in view of the great hope - Jesus Christ - of tomorrow. God desires that Israel and believers today humble themselves, return to Him and walk with Him. In turn, He promises to make us great "not by might, not by power but by [His] Spirit." (Zechariah 4:6) God is faithful, so we must hold on to the prophetic promise of tomorrow.
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
Too often we don't find your name as honey to our lips, or at least we don't act that way. We avoid you. We don't pursue the sweet taste of fellowship that we have when we seek you. We thank you though, Father, that every time we do, you always refresh us. You're quick to return to your people, not to stay away. You say to us what you've always said, as we studied, "Return to me that I might return to you." When we do let go of our striving, our own effort, our own manipulative ways and we yield to your Spirit we find that your Spirit is like water to our soul.
Father, we come here tonight because we realize that left to the best plans of men when we run our own offense, and we stumble. We trip over our own feet. We get nowhere. We need your direction. We need your guidance. We need your Word to be a lamp unto our feet. We thank you, Father, that you have been all these things to us. You really are sweetness to our lips if we would only come and partake and taste and see as you have invited us, that you are good.
We thank you for the one place we can find nourishment, refreshment, and completeness for our soul. We thank you for the one place we can find a path unto our feet. We found it all in Jesus. We found it in his Word, which he has given to us that we might know his will, way, and Word. We worship you tonight and seek to yield ourselves to your purposes.
I pray, Father, that you would accomplish through this time whatever it is that each of us needs, whether we come in a wayward state from you or whether we've been laboring faithfully for you for years. We thank you, Father, that you have called us to go to gypsies, tramps, and thieves.
More than that, we thank you that although we are gypsies wandering without a home, that we are tramps, and there is nothing attractive about us, and although we are thieves, and we've stolen from you what is rightly yours (sovereignty), you and your grace have sought us out and given us refreshment and nourishment and given us a lamp that we might find a way back to you.
We are a humble people who do not come and present our resumes but shelter ourselves underneath the one alone whose name is sweet, whose life is a fragrant aroma to you, the sacrifice of your own Son, and we worship him and thank you for him. In Christ's name, amen.
We are studying a book called Zechariah. Go to Matthew, take a left back two books, and you'll come across this post-exilic prophet. You need to remember God decided to reveal who he was to the world through a nation. That nation was Israel. Israel became (we'll find this term in Scripture tonight) the apple of God's eye.
It is the word which is used for the pupil. The pupil is the element in an eye which admits light. That's why you see pupils dilate. Sometimes when there's a lot of light, your pupil will get really tiny. Sometimes, when there's not much light, the pupil will get really large. God decided to admit light to the rest of the world through the apple of his eye, Israel. He did it by grace. He did it for no special reason.
He took a pagan individual named Abraham and plucked him out of pagan worship, which is where all men were because the Scriptures teach there were none who seek after God, none who was righteous. He said, "Abram, let me come, and I'm going to nourish your soul like no false worship can ever nourish it. Trust in me. Follow me, and I will take you into a land you do not know of that flows with milk and honey, and I will make your descendants great. All the nations of the earth will be blessed through you if you follow me. I will be a lamp unto your feet."
God decided just to take this one nation and make them the pupil through which light would then be shown into the entire world. The Old Testament is a story of how his people, although God continually sought them out, were increasingly unfaithful to him. God would put them through cycles, and he was extremely patient.
He'd send them prophets in order to say, "Get your act together. Listen to me. Repent. Return to me, that I might return to you. Get busy about doing that which I called you to do which is to communicate to the world the hope I am to all who come to me." God did not love the Jew only. He loved the world and used the Jew to reach the world, but the Jew was not malleable to God's purposes.
So God eventually, though he sent not just his prophets and then other prophets, but finally his Son thinking, "Surely they will listen to my Son, their Messiah, the Anointed One, the Holy and Anointed One. The one who himself will be the great deliverer for this nation." He sent him to them. What did they do with the Son?
They said, "If we kill him, we kill the heir. Then there will be no one to inherit the rule except us." So they ran him out and tried to kill him. God used that very instrument of rebellion to become, ultimately, all of our salvation. God for a time then said, "I'm through with you. You are not doing what I wanted you, the apple of my eye, to do, so I'll put you in a time of discipline that will continue throughout what is called the time of the Gentiles when there will be great kings who will reign on this earth who will not reside in Jerusalem but will reside in other lands."
God decreed the center of the earth would be in a little tract of land that we called Israel today. Also called Palestine in the Scriptures, also called Cana, also called the Holy Land and the Promised Land. They're all euphemisms, all idioms, for the exact same thing. That little piece of land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River that really will extend, that piece of land, which God said is the land he promised to his people. It will be the world's capital.
We know when we started the book of Zechariah that God is not dating the events of the world by the king who is reigning in Jerusalem because there is no king reigning in Jerusalem. Why? Because God has taken his hand off of Israel for a moment, and he has placed his authority in other places on the earth. It is the time of the Gentiles when there is not a Jewish leader, but there are other world leaders who are non-Jewish.
God intended to use Israel. He will accomplish his purposes with Israel, but they as a nation must repent. They must return to him that he might return to them. For a time, God has created a parenthesis between the first coming of the Messiah and the second coming of the Messiah called the church age when he will raise up another nation, a nation on which there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, slave and freeman, barbarian and Scythian, circumcised and uncircumcised, male or female.
God doesn't care about anything in your life except you have humbled yourself before him and you, and you say, "I need you to be my Messiah." Each and every one of us who declares he is our Messiah, the Anointed One who has come to deliver us to our promised land, he then says, "You are now the apple of my eye, and I will use you for a period in history until I go back and accomplish what I intended to accomplish with the nation of Israel." That, again, is a setup for the book of Zechariah.
This is a time specifically in Israel's history when God is about to say, "I'm done with you for a period because you have been consistently rebellious." He sent them for 70 years over into exile. This is when the time of the Gentiles began as his prophets said it would. "If you don't straighten up and fly right, then I'm going to put you in the corner. I'm going to stick your nose here.
Hopefully, you'll be broken, and you'll see that you need me. You don't need yourself. You don't need to be industrious. You don't need to be hardworking. You don't need to be mighty. You need to be humble. Let the Lord of Hosts live through you and in your midst, for there is your hope. It always was and always will be.
When we started this book of Zechariah, which occurs about 520 BC… At about 586 BC, the last of the Jews were taken as slaves and were driven a bunch of miles to the east into Babylon. They were there as slaves again. This nation that had been delivered from bondage and made free had chosen again to leave their God and become slaves, even as you who trust in Christ sometimes leave Christ.
He says, "You are no longer a slave to the compulsion of your flesh," but at times you don't seek to let the Spirit of God to live in you, but you purpose to live holy for the Lord. You go out and try and do the best you can with your mind and your hands, and you find yourself, again, a slave to your flesh, and you're back in bondage where God never intended that you should be.
He says to you what he says to Israel. "Return to me that I might return to you. Humble yourself. I don't need you to go be strong for me. I need you to live in relationship for me. Don't you know, apart from me you can do nothing?" Don't live according to the flesh. Don't sow according to the flesh, but sow according to the Spirit.
That's the key to the Christian life, that you walk with Jesus Christ. That's what it means to be filled with the Spirit, to walk in the light, to let the Word of God richly dwell in you, to meditate on the law of the Lord day and night so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. That is the Christian life.
As you live your Labor Day tomorrow, God doesn't want you to go out and live for him in the sense that you say, "Okay, Jesus. I'm going to be holy this week," and out you go. No, he wants you to walk with him tomorrow. Where you go, he longs to go. The question is, will you take him as a humble individual who acknowledges your need tomorrow to walk with Christ?
When you're sitting there on the dock tomorrow, when you have your feet dangling in the pool, and you're wondering what to say, you say, "God, I don't know what to say, but you will. I'm going to meditate on your Word. I want to think about what is true and pure and holy and right and what is of good repute and what is full of excellence and let my mind dwell on these things." Will that be your attitude tomorrow? If you do that, you will walk with him well, and he will use you for great things.
Israel, though, had not done this. God sent them away for 70 years into exile. In 536 BC, he raised up his servant, Cyrus (Isaiah 45 said), and sent Cyrus to the earth to become a leader of a nation called Persia, which later became Medo-Persia. The Medes and the Persians had, for a while, favor. They were the great world power towards the Jews, and they let every person go back to their own homeland.
So the Jews went back. They got back to their own homeland, they had good intentions, and they build the altar so they could again have sacrifices to atone for their sins as God had given them the commandment to do in the Old Testament. They laid the foundation for the temple, but then they got lazy. There was outside persecution and inward apathy. For 16 years, the temple of God laid dormant.
Then, he stirred up two prophets. One was Haggai. He said, "Right now you're lining your purses, and you're paneling the walls in your own houses, but you're still empty, and your souls are impoverished. Why? You're disciplined in the things which glorify you, and you're not back here in Jerusalem for the right reason. You need to walk with me. Not just come live in the right place. Don't just attend church. Have a relationship with me."
So Haggai says, "Build the temple. Stop being consumed with self and be consumed with serving the Messiah." So Haggai prophesied to them. He is one of the post-exilic prophets. He wrote after the 70-year exile. His compatriot, his contemporary, was a guy named Zechariah who came along Haggai and said, "It's not just the building of the temple that's going to do it. You can build the temple but not bring your hearts and be caught up in what's called works and legalism. That won't cut it."
So the book of Zechariah now comes and gives a people encouragement. Not just with the practical things to do to serve the Lord, but with the prophetic promise of tomorrow that will encourage them to labor well today out of faith.
Israel at this time in their history, 520 BC, is a beaten-down little nation. In chapter 1, Zechariah has a vision. Not a dream, but God elevated him to a place where he sees into the future. One of the things he saw was Jesus Christ among the myrtles. We see that the nation of Israel was compared to a tiny little tree or a bush which grows no more than eight feet in height. It's evergreen to show that it will endure no matter what the circumstances are around it, which is God's intention for Israel. He will preserve that nation until he does great things with it.
But it is not the cedars of Lebanon, which is a euphemism in Scripture for a great and impressive and majestic area where there are tall cedar trees. They are not oaks. They are not strong in and of themselves. They are little measly myrtle trees, but they have great hope because the measly myrtle trees are the mighty Messiah. The mighty Messiah has care for them, and he's praying for them saying, "God, when will you take these people and do with them all you have said you will do with them?"
Here's the answer. Catch this. This is stuff that puts your entire Bible together. Let me tell you again why we study books like Zechariah. If you can go to this book and go, "Son, there is an application there for me," you will be more anxious to go to his Word which is a lamp unto your feet. It is difficult stuff to understand.
You have to know your Bible. We say this book is our life. Deuteronomy 32:47 says, "This is no idle word. This is your life." Do you believe that? As Christians, you ought to believe that. The truth is that most of us, though we respect the Bible, and we revere the Bible, we don't read the Bible. When we read the Bible, we don't read it intelligently.
In this country, we are fast becoming a biblically illiterate people. Let me say again. We don't worship the Bible. We worship the God of the Bible, but because we worship the God of the Bible, we want to know what it is he has revealed to us that we might know who he is and how we then should live. So we study the Scriptures.
Zechariah is a book that will put together some of the most difficult portions of Scripture. It will tell of God's intention for his people Israel. You must be careful when you read your Old Testament to not take truths that God promises to the nation of Israel and interpret them to apply to you. What you can do though, is you can take the principles which are taught about God's faithfulness towards his people, and you can apply them to you for today to your country and your faith.
Don't make God, don't twist his Word to help God out because it doesn't look like Israel's going to become great again. If you spiritualize God's faithful promises to Israel, I have a question for you. How can you then take God's promises for you as a church, this group of people he's trying to have now be the apple of his eye, the light to the world? How can you say that his promises for you will be accomplished? How do you know that you won't be so unfaithful that he'll give up on you? You need to know this.
Though you are a lowly people, a bunch of little myrtles, God is in your midst, and he desires great things for you. That is your great hope. God swore to the nation of Israel that he would do great things for it, but he said, "I'm not going to bless you just because I told you I would. You're going to have to walk with me." So how is Israel going to be made great? Not by might, not by power, but by his Spirit. Question for you, Christians. How are you made great? Not by your might, not by your power, but by his Spirit, says the Lord.
There is a covenant which God introduced in the New Testament that we're going to celebrate next week when we take Communion together. It is called the new covenant. Do you remember what Jesus said on the night in which he was forsaken? He took bread, and he broke it. He said, "This is my body which is broken for you. As often as you eat of it, do this in remembrance of me." In like manner, afterward, he took the cup, and he said, "This is my blood, which is the cup of the new covenant which is shed for you."
This new covenant is the key to which God will help his people be the kind of people they need to be so he can bless them the way he intends to bless them. He wants the church to be a light to the world, but the church cannot be a light to the world as long as it determines we're going to be a light to the world. It must be a humble church that determines to cry out to him and say, "We are poor people who are meek, who are mourning in our condition, but we rejoice in the fact that we have a Savior who abundantly meets all our needs."
That's the key to the success of the church. By the way, God will ultimately give that new covenant to the nation of Israel when he will indwell them as he indwells us. When the Spirit of God indwells believing Israel, they will be a people who have truly returned to him. I believe this is what's going to happen in the course of world history.
God, in this parenthesis right now between what is called the cross of Jesus Christ and his coming to receive his crown, is bringing people to him. Mostly Gentiles, but still some Jews come to Jesus Christ. When they do, they don't become a member of believing Israel. They become Jews who have trusted Jesus Christ. We call them messianic Jews.
God celebrates and rejoices because his goal is never to convert a Jew. His goal is to what? To convert a person made in his image. So he's excited when he converts a gypsy in Macedonia. He is excited when he converts an Arab. He is excited when he converts a Dallas, Texan. His desire is to gather the nations to him who is King, because he does not delight in the death of the wicked.
What is going to happen during this time that Jesus is working through a new nation, which it talks about, which is the church, is that he is going to eventually remove that church. That is what we call the rapture. It is not a word from Scripture. It's from the Latin translation. We have taken the word rapture, but there is a time that the church will be called up to meet Christ in the air. He will take us home, his bride, and will wed himself to us.
When that happens, there are going to be some Jews who put two and two together and go, "These Christians have been talking about this Jewish guy they believed in, who they always said was the Messiah, who we weren't really keen on. If you look at those Christians, they were beaten and persecuted a lot like we were throughout the ages. People hated them just because they loved this Jesus, but they were faithful to him.
There was always a remnant who walked with him. They didn't become mighty and great because they had a great army. In fact, they never were really a nation. They never had a wall around them. What they claim to have was the Spirit of God in them who was the Spirit of Jesus Christ." I think the light is going to go on in a bunch of Jews.
Specifically, first and foremost, about 144,000 of them who are spoken of in the book of Revelation. They are going to start to go… Even though a number of folks will have all kinds of explanations for where all these people went, there will be a few of them who'll go, "I'll tell you where some of these people went. They went home because the Messiah took them to a kingdom we'll never know. The great thing is, I can still believe in that same Messiah who was my Messiah all along."
When that happens, God will start a process which will last seven years, give or take a few months, that will culminate all of history where he will then return. This is the second advent of Jesus Christ. The rapture, when you're taken home, is not the second coming. Christ doesn't come here. We go there. The second coming is when he comes at the end of that seven-year period and returns to accomplish his promises for the nation of Israel. I told you we're going to labor together tonight.
Here's what's going on in the book of Zechariah. In the book of Zechariah, God is telling these people, he is promising them… Even at this point, he's not done with them. God doesn't finally and fully institute this new nation called the church until when? It isn't 520 BC, which is when this book is written. When does he finally and fully reject the nation of Israel for a time? It's when his Son comes.
Go home tonight and read Matthew 12. You'll see this thing called an unforgivable sin. What's the unforgivable sin? The unforgivable sin was a unique historic event that the leaders of the nation of Israel rejected the testimony of God as to who the Messiah would be. At his baptism, what happened? At his baptism, you heard the Father testify, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." Then he said later, in Matthew 17, "…listen to Him!"
But they rejected the testimony of the Father, and then what happened? The Son gave testimony to himself. In Luke 4, Jesus came. The first time he preached, he opened up the scrolls from Isaiah, went to chapter 61, he read a messianic verse, and he said, "Truly, truly I say to you today this verse has been fulfilled in your hearing.I am here."
They didn't believe him. Then, he went on to do many miraculous works, one of which was was to cast a demon out of a possessed individual. They said, "I'll tell you how he casts out demons. He's of Satan himself, and they're running a racket together putting on a sideshow, and one buddy kicks another buddy out to make you think he's from somewhere else.
Jesus says, "You have a problem. When you do that, you have a blasphemous spirit. There is no more hope for you. Why? There are three of us. God, who is one in essence is three in person to testify about who he is. You've rejected the testimony of the Father. You've rejected the testimony of the Son. Now you're rejecting the testimony of the Spirit who does mighty works through me. We have nothing left to show. So if you're committed to saying I'm not the Messiah, then so be it."
The book of Matthew teaches that God turns away from the Jews and creates a new nation, which is not a nation, in terms of a citizenship. Their citizenship is not here on earth, but they live for a heavenly city that has no walls.
God, in his grace, is still calling out to the nation of Israel in 520 BC. He's saying, "Return to me that I might return to you. Don't think that just doing a few things, building me a home, building me a building, so I can dwell in your presence, and instruct you how ultimately I'm really going to come dwell in your temple (which is the body) and not in some tent or some building. You do the things you need to do and walk in relationship with me."
This nation won't do it. What God's trying to do as the nation does start to slowly come around right here is encourage them. The way he encourages them is by telling them of the future glory that we know, now, they'll receive at the coming of Jesus Christ the second time when he will accomplish by his Spirit changing their hearts to know the truth, so they'll return to him in the Spirit through great things that he says they should do.
God expects them to remain faithful in a difficult today. Though people are exalted on the mountains, Zechariah 1, you stay faithful in the valley because those valleys are going to be raised low. These mountains shall be removed. That's what you sang, and that's the truth of Zechariah. "I will exalt the people in the valley." Why will he exalt the people in the valley? They are the ones who are with the Messiah. That's the first night vision.
Now, look at Zechariah 1:15. This is the end of the first night vision. What happens is five months into the rebuilding of the temple, Zechariah has apocalyptic visions where God elevates him, takes him to a realm, where he shows him things that are going to happen in the future, or events that are prophetic about things that will happen in the future.
The first one is the Messiah amidst the myrtle. I explained that last week. By the way, if after only five months, God felt like the people needed to be encouraged by meditating on the prophetic promise of tomorrow, how much more do you believers need to who have been walking faithfully not for five months, but for five years, for fifteen years. What is your hope? I will tell you, your hope is in trusting in the promises that are to come.
I mentioned last week that if you are not faithful today, it is evidence that you really don't believe in the glory that awaits for you tomorrow. Let's be honest, Christian, this isn't the best of all rackets. Tomorrow, there will be people who will experience more temporal pleasure than you on Labor Day because of the activities they will employ. The immediate payback of being a believer isn't that great, but as we have said before the retirement plan is out of this world.
So there is what you're going to invest in. You're going to continue to labor well with him. Why? Not because you think it's sweet today. No. Because his name is sweet to your lips, and it brings, ultimately, nourishment to your soul. You're not empty at the end of your Labor Day, as so many will be tomorrow, but you're full of the hope and the expectation of the glory which is to come. By the way, it isn't a bad Labor Day to boot.
Let's be honest. Sin is sweet for a season. That's why it's tempting. There's a different sweetness that comes with walking with the Lord. I'm not going to stand up here and tell you that premarital sex doesn't have its kickbacks because you know better. But everyone here who has invested and tasted of that sweetness knows that not only does it have its moment of sweetness, it leaves an aftertaste which gives evidence that is not of God.
So tomorrow when you're tempted to move in certain directions or to isolate yourself from your family, you married men and women, or to be selfish in relationships, realize there will be joy if you chose to employ what makes sense to you for a moment. Not the same joy that those of you who desire to live for Christ will feel tomorrow when you lay your head down after a faithful day's toil, and say, "I do not now have this sick feeling in my gut of having bought a lie which now, though it was sweet right here, sits heavy in my soul."
Instead you will say, "I got to live faithfully for you today, Lord. Though it wasn't, maybe, as sweet as it could have been had I chosen a different route, it would've felt really good to lose my temper when it was 97 degrees, and I was stuck in traffic on my day off. But I didn't do that because I believe in the glory that is to come. I wanted to honor you today. I wanted to be the pupil through which your light would shine into the retina of other men's lives."
Zechariah 1:15. God is explaining how he will judge those who are on the mountains. I mentioned last week this thing called mountain glory. It's when you climb a mountain, and you stand up on the very pinnacle of a mountain, and the sun hits you just right. I talked about how the shadow would be cast down on the earth.
Afterward, I was talking to my buddy who told me about that. He said, "There's a time of the day when your shadow would be cast on the earth, but true mountain glory, as you said, is in the morning and in the evening. Think about it, Einstein. When the sun is below you, and you're on the mountain, where is your shadow? It isn't on the earth, is it? It's on the clouds and the heavens. That will really mess with your mind."
That, indeed, is what is going on with these guys right here in chapter 1. These individuals whose shadows are on the heavens are on this mountain, and they're experiencing this mountain glory, and they are exalted above the earth. What they don't know is they are exalted for one reason. God placed them at a point of exaltation, so he might discipline his people Israel, so he could bring them to repentance, and so he could do great things with them.
All they are are instruments that he wants to use to humble Israel, but they weren't faithful in being instruments. They took advantage of the power that God had given them, and they used it to exploit and to impugn and to punish and to exalt self over anybody and everybody who was underneath them. God said, "That ticks me off." So chapter 1, verse 15 talks about God's frustration with those men who he has exalted and given power, but they haven't honored him in their position of power.
The second night vision is a commentary on how he will discipline them. The third night vision is a commentary on how he will go back and do great things with the nation of Israel. Those are the two visions we will study tonight. The first one comes in chapter 1, verse 18. Let's read it together. "Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, there were four horns." You say to yourself, "What in the world is he talking about? Four horns?"
Keep your finger right there, but turn with me back to the book of Daniel. This is, basically, a pastoral people. What do I mean by that? I don't mean we have a bunch of clergymen. What I do mean is it's a nation that typically is either agrarian…they are a bunch of farmers from down there in College Station, a bunch of Aggies; they know a lot of how to till the land…or they are shepherds. This became an idiom in Semitic language for power because the strongest animals of the herd were typically horned animals.
When you see a horn used in Scripture, it is typically a reference to somebody who is powerful. God is saying right there in Zechariah 1:18 that he's seeing that God has lifted up his eyes and shown him four horns. Now, look at Daniel 7. I turned you here to show you this reference to horns. Daniel is a guy who has a good time interpreting visions because God is going to use him to deliver truth.
One of the many ways God reveals his truth is through apocalyptic visions that men had sometimes when they were asleep in dreams and other times, when they were awake, but they were called up and seeing things that God showed them. Also, he just had men speak his word. Other men wrote his word. It was all by the power of his Spirit. This was part of the many ways that God spoke of using in Hebrews 1:1.
In Daniel 7, he gives you a dream that Daniel has, a vision that Daniel has in a dream. What you have is the progression of nations. In chapter 7, verse 4, Daniel tells you what he saw. He sees four great beasts in verse 3. "The first was like a lion…" You'll find out as you read that and listen to the interpretation which comes later in verses 15 and following that that first vision of a lion that had wings like an eagle is of a nation called Babylon.
Then you go down to verse 5. It says there was, "…another beast, a second one, resembling a bear." You will go and look at the interpretation. You'll find out that is the next great world power, which is Medo-Persia. You go down to verse 6. You'll see another one, "…like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird." You will find out that is a reference to another great world power which is coming, which is Greece.
You'll find out that when Alexander the Great went and conquered the world, that when he died, the nation was split into four separate parts. That's why you see in this vision this great one who will come in swiftly. Alexander the Great, in an incredible amount of time from 334 BC to 330 BC, took over the world. It's amazing what that man accomplished. When he died, that great Greek culture he had founded split into four parts. So you see this leopard, which is swift, split into four heads.
Then verse 7. Let's read this. Chapter 7, verse 7. "After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns." You read in verse 8:
"While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it; and behold, this horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth uttering great boasts." This is to show you what we worshiped in the beginning. What God is doing right there is he is giving Daniel a picture of what will happen in the future. He is going through the progression of the nations.
You go back, if you know your world history, and you will see there are four great world powers. The first one was Babylon. The second one was Medo-Persia. In 330 BC, Alexander the Great, the Greek culture, ruled the earth until 63 BC. And even as God said in Daniel 7:7, there would be another nation that was greater in power and more awful than all before that would come. That what's happened in 63 BC when Rome became the ruling world power.
Now, watch what happens because all the other of the four powers had a central head, but this Roman Empire will have basically 10 heads. Then he says, and he gives a reference which is later explained in Revelation 17, that you will know this one little horn which raises up and takes over three of these other horns (think of horns of being kings, centers of power) is the Antichrist. He will one day rule in what is known as the Roman Empire.
That's why there's so much speculation today about the European Commonwealth and the 10-nation confederacy that's happened over there in Europe. Is that the fulfillment of Scripture? These 10 horns that will come together, and there will be another one that will rise up from somewhere and will swallow up three of these countries or kings and will become the most influential and will become, ultimately, the world dictator. It's going to look like this world dictator who has proud eyes and makes incredible boasts. The question is, what will happen to that man?
We started our worship service tonight by singing of the Ancient of Days. Look at verse 9. He wasn't done with his vision. He kept looking. "…until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat." Who is this Ancient of Days? "His vesture was like white snow and the hair of His head like pure wool." This is Daniel's vision and doing the best he can at describing what God had shown him of who he was, which is only a picture of his glory, not actually God himself.
It says, "His throne was ablaze with flames, its wheels were a burning fire." Meaning God is not limited in space or place, but he can go where he needs. "A river of fire was flowing and coming out from before Him; thousands upon thousands were attending Him, and myriads upon myriads were standing before Him." See also the term used in Zechariah no less than 52 times: the Lord of Hosts, that he is Lord of the sovereign overall. "…And the books were opened." What books are these? It is the books of judgment.
Look at verse 11. "I kept looking at this one little horn, this one little guy popping off about how great and powerful he was." Look at what he was doing. "…the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast…" Now using a different term. "…was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire." See also, the lake of fire which was installed for the Devil and his angels spoken of in Matthew 25. "As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away…"
Look at verse 13. "I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven one like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to…" Who? "…the Ancient of Days…" Listen close, because this is some great stuff. What is going on right here is Daniel is having a vision about everything that's going to happen in the future. There are some things that aren't included in this, for sure. This great parenthesis called the church isn't anywhere in that vision. But you just read the scope of history, and it's gone nowhere but right there.
What is going to happen is there are going to be great world powers that will rise up, and ultimately there will be one that would be more powerful and more boastful and more damning to God's people than anybody who ever reigned before. He will be called the Antichrist. He will set himself in the world capital of Jerusalem. He will put himself on the temple throne, and he will say, "Worship me. If you don't worship me, you're a dead man."
Who are the people who will not bow to this false messiah? Those who know the true Messiah. Who will he hate more than any other people? It is those who know the way, the truth, and the life. Who will that be? The Jews that God has turned the light on for and shown there is a true Messiah. It was the Messiah of the church, the ones who believe in the Son of Man, a messianic term Jesus most often used for himself.
That Son of Man himself is the one who will go to the Ancient of Days, a term in Scripture for the almighty, sovereign Lord of Hosts, God the Father, who will say to the Son, "Go open up a six-pack of trouble [church amendment made right there] on that little Antichrist, that little pig, that little horn, and squash him."
This is the conclusion of what is called the time of the Gentiles, this time when God disciplines his people, Israel. How will he ultimately deliver Israel? Answer: Through the Son of Man. How will he ultimately deliver you? Answer: Through the Son of Man. Through Jesus Christ. He's the one who will ultimately eliminate all enemies to God's chosen people.
Now, back to Zechariah. Let me show you something. We've read one verse and talked through the whole Bible. That isn't bad, is it? Look at verse 19, because we're not done. "So I said to the angel who was speaking with me, 'What are these?' And he answered me, 'These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.'" Who are they? It is Babylon, it is Medo-Persia, it is Greece, and it is Rome. They are the ones who scatter God's people. Those are the four horns. That's part of Zechariah vision, but he's not done looking.
Look at verse 20. "Then the LORD showed me four craftsmen." The word craftsmen is used for skilled workers in either iron or steel, wood or stone. These aren't just any craftsmen. You have to get your picture. They're a lumberjack. They're a blacksmith. They're a mason. These are men's men, and these are God's chosen instruments. What will they do?
We're in verse 21. "I said, 'What are these coming to do?' And he said, 'These are the horns which have scattered Judah…but these craftsmen have come to terrify them, to throw down the horns of the nations who have lifted up their horns against the land of Judah in order to scatter it.'" Catch the picture. There are four great world threats, but what he's going to show Zechariah is not to be intimidated. Don't be intimidated by these great world powers.
By the way, some commentators take the option that they are the enemies of Israel in the present day. It's probably a little of both. Some say it's neither their common day enemies nor is it the four enemies who are spoken of in Daniel 7, but it is spoken of as from the four corners of the earth. They're all people from all sides of the earth who will ever be an enemy to God's people.
Either way, what you find here is that for every enemy of God's people, he has a Deliverer which will ultimately deal perfectly with him. He has the right man who can do the right job, and God's purposes will not be thwarted. He's telling Zechariah, "Yes. There are four mighty powers that are going be trouble for you from now until the kingdom come. But you need to know this. The kingdom is coming because I have my men who will do my work."
Here's my spin on this. I think what has gone on with the four craftsmen is that three of them are three of the four horns. Let me explain that to you. The four horns, again, are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. One of the craftsmen that God raised up to defeat Babylon was one of the horns. Medo-Persia wiped out Babylon. Then Medo-Persia became exalted in its self, experienced mountain glory, and didn't know it was an instrument to be used by God to do the things of the Lord.
So God said, "Now, I'm going to judge you," so he raised up Greece through Alexander the Great. They were a craftsman who God used to level Medo-Persia. Then after Greece was blown away, another nation was raised up to do it, which was called Rome. Rome, which is the fourth of the four horns, became the third of the four craftsmen that God used them to eliminate these powers which threatened Israel.
Turn to Daniel 2. You're about to be encouraged. Hang in there, because you need to see how your Bible fits together. I'm going to show you not by interpretation how this fits you, but how this works for you by principle application. Don't go anywhere. Labor with me this Labor Day weekend. Look at Daniel 2. For those of you who don't have kids, don't have VeggieTales yet, I have to tell you the story.
In Daniel 2, there is a king whose name is Nebuchadnezzar. He has a dream, and he wants somebody to interpret the dream, so he calls together all the wise men of the kingdom. The wise men come to him, and he says, "I want you to interpret my dream." They say, "Okay, O king. Tell us your dream." He said, "I'm not that stupid. If you can really interpret my dream, you ought to know my dream. So tell me my dream and then interpret it."
They said, "King, you ask a very hard thing. We can't do this. No man can do this." He said, "That's fine. You're not as wise as you think you are. You're off my payroll. You're dead men." So Nebuchadnezzar says, "Everybody is dead that I've been paying to be my consultant. This seer and this wise man, you're not so wise, because you can't help me.
Daniel was one of these wise men. Word gets to Daniel that he and his three buddies are about to be decapitated. Daniel says, "Give me a minute, would you? I'm not very bright, but I have a God who is exceedingly wise." Daniel goes and hits his knees. He says, "God, listen. We have a problem here. Ol' Nebuchadnezzar had a dream. I don't have a clue what the dream is, and if I knew it, I wouldn't know what it meant."
So God says to Daniel, "Thanks for coming and humbling yourself before me. I do good things with humble people. Go tell Nebuchadnezzar, 'This is what his dream was.'" Look in Daniel 2:31. Your Bible is coming together. Watch this.
"You, O king, were looking and behold, there was a single great statue; that statue, which was large and of extraordinary splendor, was standing in front of you, and its appearance was awesome. The head of that statue was made of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay."
It is a statue with four distinct and separate parts. I don't have time to prove it to you, but I'm going to ask you to take it by faith and study it on your own. Be as Bereans who go and study the Scripture to see if what I say is so. Men through the ages would tell you that those four creatures that are in those four statues are the same as the four living creatures that Daniel had a dream of himself in Daniel 7. The head is Babylon, the breast is Medo-Persia, the belly is Greece, and the legs of iron and clay are Rome.
Now, watch what happens. It says, "You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them." There is one stone that came that brought the entire statue down. Verse 35: "Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors."
It says in Psalm 1 the wicked will be like the chaff which the wind blows away. These are the four great Gentile powers, which it says God will come in judgment and be wicked and he will blow them away like chaff. It says, "But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth." What he's saying is there's going to be a great stone that comes and strikes and smites this forth horn that Zechariah calls.
Catch the vision. Nebuchadnezzar has a dream. It is a statue. It has four explicit parts to it, representing the four great world Gentile powers. Later, Daniel himself had a dream. Not with a statue with four distinct parts, but four living creatures. Zechariah later has a vision, and he sees four horns, but those four horns are defeated by what? Four craftsmen. Here's my contention. Of those four craftsmen, three of them were the succeeding world powers, but the forth craftsmen was a worker of wood, who was a carpenter of Nazareth.
See, who is the great hope for the nation of Israel? It's the Son of Man. It's the Messiah. He is the stone that will smite individuals. He is the cornerstone through which God will build a great kingdom that the nation of Israel rejected. We're not going to go to the third vision tonight. We're stopping right here.
Do you catch what's going on? Do you see who the center, the theme, the tie-in, the absolute, the what we call the scarlet thread that runs through your Bible is? It is the Messiah, the Holy and Anointed One, the one who gets the power from the Ancient of Days, who himself came to show you the way, the truth, and the life. It is he who you must trust in.
What is your hope as a church? What principles draw to you? I will tell you, in conclusion, simply this. This Son of Man, though you are discouraged and though you might be depressed and though you are beaten down, you need to know that this individual, this Son of Man is for you. Every power that rises up to crush you both corporately as a church...he said the gates of hell will not stand against it…and also individually as a believer. He has the grace which is sufficient to get you through.
God takes a little myrtle tree, and he takes himself, and he exalts himself next to it. The greatness of God's splendor is often best exposed against the humbleness of a human background. It doesn't have great and beautiful individuals in it, but individuals who have thorns in the flesh, individuals who are themselves humble and weak and not great in might and in strength, but who are poor in Spirit and cry out to the Messiah who alone can save them.
I took a lot of time tonight to take you back and show you some stuff from Daniel 7, Daniel 2, how this in Revelation will tie together, how Zechariah's vision tie into the entire Bible, how the hope of every individual in Scripture is this Son of Man, who is the one who has instituted this new covenant with the church.
What is this new covenant? His new covenant is this. Your sins will be remembered no more. His Spirit will dwell in you that he might do great things for you. For every attack that comes against you, God, not you, can raise up that which will deliver you. The question you must ask yourself is, will you hold onto that promise, and will you not weary in building his great temple for you?
Zechariah and the Holy Spirit working through Zechariah thought this would be enough to sustain Israel. Israel was building a physical temple. We're doing something far greater. We're building a spiritual kingdom, and God wants to place before you a promise and a hope for the future which will sustain you in your serving him for tomorrow.
You must, if you hope to be practically persevering in your faith today, hold on to the prophetic promise of tomorrow. Colossians 3:1-2 says this. "Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth."
Christian, you must ask yourself today. If you hope to labor well for him tomorrow, on what basis will you maintain your energy and motivation to do it? Here it comes. Your hope is on the one who will snipe the nations. Your hope is on the one who will one day have the wicked blow away like the chaff. "The wicked will not stand in the assembly of the righteous, but the righteous," it says, "will reign with him forever."
This King of Kings, this mountain of a man who is God, if he won't forget his chosen people, Israel, do you think he'll forget you, his children? As many as received him (the Son of Man), even to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. I ask you again today, where is your hope? Is it in the fourth craftsmen, that carpenter, that woodworker from Nazareth? If your hope lies anywhere else, you are indeed hopeless. If your hope is in Jesus, then you can persevere.
Though there is outward persecution and though there is inward apathy, you can overcome it with a mind that is set on him. The writer to Hebrews says, "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses, let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus who is the author, the beginning, and the perfecter of our faith." That's the story. He who began a good work in you will bring it about to completion in the day of Christ Jesus. Will you walk with him? Let's pray.
Father, we come to you, and we don't want our hope to be anywhere else. We saw how you disciplined Israel. You put them away. You couldn't use them to be a light to the world because they would not trust in you. They looked everywhere else but to you, and they would run out there and dance with you for a moment, Lord, but they did not walk faithfully with you.
We want to learn from them, even as you exhort us to do in the Scriptures to not forget these things. We want to be your faithful church that you can use to bring others into a right relationship with you, so you don't have to smite the wicked. You might save them the way you have saved us.
Father, may we labor for you. May we not grow weary in our laboring but remain steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing our toil is not in vain because we have believed in him who the world will be judged by, him who the world was created by, the Son of Man, the Stone which smites and crushes all world powers, the great craftsman from Nazareth.
Father, we thank you that this craftsman is the one who alone is able to keep us from stumbling to make us stand in the presence of his glory blameless and with great joy. So now, we close by singing to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Glory and majesty, dominion and authority, be yours forever and ever, 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.