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God shows Zechariah a measuring line in this third night vision, revealing His plan to one day rebuild Jerusalem. Explaining the prophecy of Zechariah's vision, Todd shares applications and wisdom that we today can glean from the discipline and judgment Israel was experiencing.
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 might encourage you to pick up last week's tape if you haven't had a chance to hear it yet. It will tie some things together big-picture wise. I just want to look at three verses in Zechariah. We saw how that relates greatly to God's program and history. I'll just tell you, this is an encouraging book to study.
It is really a privilege for me to come up here week after week and for you to give me some time to be able to study God's Word with you and to encourage you toward this book. It really is a privilege. I don't take it lightly that y'all trust me with this aspect of your worship service. Again, the reason we study God's Word is not just to throw a bone to the staff. We do it because it is another way to worship, not just in corporate song. We agree with one purpose how we should then live based on what he has done.
We worship all through the week with our lives. It says in Romans to present your lives as a living (that's easy) and holy (that isn't so easy) sacrifice. We are to continually offer up our lives as an offering. We study the Word of God so that we might know how we should live in response to this: the Communion table which is before me.
We have an agreement together about what is true and right and acceptable and pure and what is of excellence and of good repute. We will go out and live corporately together, although we go individual places throughout the week. This is an exciting book to study. It was written by over 40 different authors over a course of 1,500 years.
These authors were kings. They were peasants. They were prophets. They were priests. They were fishermen. There are topics that are covered in this book, which as I said was written over 1,500 years by over 40 different authors over 40 generations and 10 major world civilizations. This book is unified. That's what we spent some time looking at last week.
First of all, how can God make a promise to a chosen people Israel not be a God who plays favorites? Secondly, what is he going to do with this nation of Israel? How does it relate from Genesis through Revelation together? We have seen that this is a book, though it was written across all that age of time and age of change is full of one prominent idea, communicates one purpose and one problem: the fall of mankind, sin.
It has one solution, which is the redemption of mankind through our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. This book has one theme. It is the redemption of man. You see the redemption of man is promised in Genesis. You see that the redemption of man is sovereignly protected through a large portion of Scripture.
You see the redemption of man is prophesied. You see the redemption of man is then present. You see the redemption of man is then preached. You will see that one day the redemption of mankind will cause Jesus Christ to forever be preeminent and forever to be praised. There is your Bible. Everywhere you go, you can see it tied together as one tight story. We looked at that last week. We are in the book of Zechariah. Go to Matthew and take a left. Let us pray together.
Father, we're studying this exciting book, which is one of 66 books you have given us that we might know the one thing in history which matters: your love for us. Though you exist as a holy God who must judge sin, you have solved that problem through the person of Jesus Christ who is that promised redemption, who is the one who is prophesied about, who was present during the time of the New Testament.
He has been preached now for 2,000 years and he will one day be praised for all eternity and shown to be preeminent. We thank you for how Zechariah fits into that piece of the puzzle. I pray for those who are here tonight who have know you and walked with you for years. I pray that their faith would be enlarged; they would be more encouraged to be fervent in their worship and service for you because of their time diligently in the Word tonight.
For those who are here tonight who don't know you, who don't know the Lord reigns, don't know your faithfulness is great, we pray Father that you would do a good work in their lives as you have done in mine, that you would cause the scales to fall off, that you would pierce their hearts, that you would allow them to see the one truth which will shake eternity, the one truth which shapes eternity.
That is, Father, that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. Would you reveal that to one of your sheep tonight? Father, break through those of us who have been in here in form week after week and who through attendance have been deluded into thinking that we are your children. Allow us tonight for the first time to realize you don't want somebody showing up.
You want somebody who will come naked before you and cry, "Mercy, for I am a sinner who deserves judgment. I thank you for the grace which is available through the promised, prophesied, and preached Messiah who is Jesus." Amidst all this, Father, show us how Zechariah relates to that and how we then should live. In Christ's name, amen.
Look at Zechariah with me. We have been studying about this young man who was a prophet. He was a post-exilic prophet. There are three major portions in the nation of Israel's history. There is the time that they existed as a nation, a great nation where God used them for a time being to show him amongst the nations.
They were continually disobedient and they never really accomplished all that he wanted his nation to accomplish. So he sent prophets to them, great in number and great in power in their message. These prophets were pre-exilic prophets. They were the prophets who came and spoke to God's people saying, "Straighten up and fly right, lest I have to spank your little tails and send you into the corner."
They didn't listen, so he sent them into exile. He judged them by raising up other nations. It is called the time of the Gentiles. You see it referenced in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7. We looked at Zechariah, chapter 1, last week. The time of the Gentiles, when God would raise up other world powers by his sovereign decree.
What was true then is true today. If there is a power on this earth that is great, if there is a power in this world which is small, you can always trace it back to him. Don't mistake that to mean God is orchestrating all that they do, because many men take that power and they are corrupted by it. Instead of being humbled by it and realizing they are a vessel through which they are to do the Lord's good work, they take that power to serve self.
That is why you have the exhortation from Philippians 2. To you as a church, you do what your master has done. Who though he was God did not come to be served, but to serve and ultimately to give his life as a ransom for many. He exhorts us to, "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves…"
Therein is the summation of the text. You do what Jesus did, which is to give your life for others. I will tell you, that is a daily battle, a moment-by-moment, a minute-by-minute battle for me in everything that I do, from my marriage to my friendships to the way that I drive to the way that I order to the way that I eat, that I would do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit.
Every time that I let my mind wander off the cross, I quickly put myself back on the throne. So it is my life's goal and purpose to take my life and to lay it on the altar of the cross, to tether myself near the cross. It has been well said that the weed of pride does not grow well in the shadow of the cross.
We need to plant ourselves here often, right there near the cross where we won't grow that sick flower called pride, which will one day wilt and be judged. The book of Zechariah is telling us that God took this people. He had prophesied to them before the exile. He had disciplined them during the exile. There were some guys called exilic prophets. Then when he sent the people back to the land, he has given them one more chance.
Have you learned from that discipline? The answer was no. He sent some guys to them. Zechariah, Haggai, Malachi. They are post-exilic prophets. The 70-year wedge in history where God tried to discipline Israel as kindly as he could as severe as it was. He shook them and he said, "Well, you know now that I am to be feared. I have been patient with you for many, many years. He who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy."
For many generations of Israelites, they have been broken beyond remedy. Why? Because they have died. When they die, their judgment is fixed. There's a point at Hebrews 9:27 that it says…what? "…it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes [a second chance through reincarnation] …" Right? I hope not! I hope you didn't nod your head yes. "…after this comes judgment…"
This book, this post-exilic prophet writes to the nation of Israel, speaks to God for the nation of Israel. While their local circumstance is dim and things around them look like, "God has abandoned us! He has left us as orphans! He didn't just discipline us for 70 years, but God has turned away from us forever. He hasn't remembered us. What kind of God is this who has promised us great things and yet has left us here being attacked by people?"
Some of the more righteous folks in Israel were saying, "I'm surrounded by apathy here in my country. Where is God?" God has raised up a righteous man who seeks him, who spends time with him. That righteous man… Says Zechariah, "Don't let them be consumed with local circumstance. You have them focus on the glory which is to come, because I'm coming. I will do what I said that I will do."
I told you. Don't make the mistake of interpreting every Scripture for you, for your church, for your country. Because every Scripture isn't for you, your church, and your country. This is a promise to…who? The nation of Israel. We can, through principled application, make application to us. I'll show you what I mean.
We too have believed in this Jesus, this Messiah who was originally to come and to deliver the nation of Israel, not just from their political oppression but from their spiritual oppression. They wanted nothing to do with their sin. They just wanted somebody to come with a club and to make them the exalted city, the great nation.
God said, "I'm not concerned with your bondage to Rome, to Greece, to Medo-Persia, or to Babylon. I am concerned with your bondage to the great enemy of your flesh, which is rebellion, sin, and bears the fruit of death." He has come to deal first with their greatest enemy. Not some puppet king, but death, separation from God. To restore them to him. Because once you're restored to him, you don't need to worry about puppet kings. You don't need to worry about death because God is the Author of life and will give you life.
Gang, let me remind you that eternal life is not just something that we pursue and look forward to quantitatively. It speaks also of a quality of life. If God is alone good, and we believe he is, then to be separated from him means that you are separated from all goodness. When you think that you have inherited eternal life, which is what it says in the Scriptures in John 17:3.
"This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." If you know Jesus, do you know that right now you are experiencing eternal life? You go, "Wait a minute. I sure don't feel like it." You know what the world would say? "You know what? You sure don't look like it."
That is why the church is having such a hard time doing what God said we should do. John 10 says, "…I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." Don't confuse that abundant life with quantity only. It is that. It is more than that. It is a quality of life. It's a quality of life which is far greater than anything any human has ever experienced.
A couple of things have just been riveting for us recently in the news to show that. It's recently been the anniversary of Elvis' death. Every August we go through this. People talk about "The King" and "I love to watch the King get up there and do his little shake. I love to watch him sing in Honolulu. I love to watch the stories about what he did in Vegas."
I love to watch the King in Viva Las Vegas. Have you ever watched it? You go, "That's life, man! The brother had life!" What would Elvis tell you if he was here tonight? He'd say, "I didn't know life. I was so empty. I had to sustain my reason for living with addiction to prescription drugs and who knows what else and booze and abuse my body, because I had every woman I ever wanted and I had every dream that any man could ever desire, but my life was empty."
You could be a princess. You could travel with the jet set. You might say, "I'm empty." You could look for love in all the wrong places. That isn't life. This is life. He says, "Will you know me? Will you trust me?" He is calling Israel back to him. He is going to tell them that you're going to ultimately know me through the Messiah, which means the Anointed One, which means the Chosen One of the ages through which you can be restored to me, the Author of life.
Christian, do you know Jesus? Does your neighbor have a clue? Or are you looking for life the same way that Princess Diana did? With hopefully getting a good deal, with hopefully being pursued by the world and being seen as great in their eyes, by being memorialized, by being famous, or by being loved, as distorted as that word has become.
Because if you're chasing life there, then they would say to you, "I don't know who Jesus is, but he must not be God because if you knew God, you wouldn't need to chase what I'm chasing." It doesn't bother me when I see people looking for life through relationships who don't know Jesus Christ. It doesn't bother me when I see people who look for life through pleasure or who look to escape pain through addiction to chemicals and drugs and other things.
That's where they should look because they don't have life. But if you have life, why are you pursuing life other places? I want to tell you right now many Christians are saying, "Man, it doesn't feel like I have life. It doesn't look like I have life." What he would say to you is, "Don't focus on the circumstances of your day, but focus on the assurance that I am with you."
There are eight visions that God gives this young man Zechariah. We looked at the first one two weeks ago. That first vision was simply this. Though you are lowly now, though you are in the valley and there are those in the exalted mountain who say, "Life is great," remember that though that mountain looks great for a moment, it will be razed. You are in the valley.
Who is in the valley with him? The Messiah. He is with you amongst the myrtles. You might look up and go, "Man, those mountains are living it!" Jesus says, "I have raised up those mountains. Those mountains are abusive in their power toward my people. I'm going to deal with them. You just stay with me and trust me."
What was the picture he gave you in the valley? You weren't just some dead tumbleweed, were you? No, the nation of Israel was an evergreen tree, a myrtle, which endures through all types of environs and still bears its fruit in season. It has hope and endures no matter what region it resides in.
It is a picture of you too, Christian. In every circumstance, whether you are hungry or fed, whether you are cold or well-clothed, you have learned the secret to joy. It is being in the presence of Jesus Christ. That is either reality in your life or you aren't abiding in him. That doesn't mean there aren't difficult, lonely, parched days in the desert, but it means that you know that your Messiah is with you. His mind is upon you. He is aware of the exultant city. He will deal with it.
That's the second vision. It says ultimately, "I will deal with these mountains. I will deal with these kingdoms that think they're great." He uses a different metaphor. It's not mountains, but it is horns. We said last week that horns were a symbol of that which is strong and great. Speaking to a pastoral people, a shepherding people, the strongest animals in the flock were…what? Horned animals. It became a symbol of power in the Scriptures when you see a horned individual, a symbol of power.
God said, "I'm going to take care of those horns." We saw that there were four craftsmen he was going to raise up to do it. We saw those four craftsmen (again, get the tape) that related back to the succession of kingdoms in Daniel 7 and Daniel 2. We saw that the fourth kingdom, which is Rome, did not have any other kingdom which would come and smite it.
Then you go to the book of Zechariah and you see that God said something would smite it, though: a fourth craftsman, a fourth worker for the Lord. The word craftsman in the Hebrew means a worker of skill in either wood, stone, or metal. I told you that what the Scriptures are saying to the nation of Israel is, "Don't you worry." Because that most awful of all beasts which is going to do the greatest harm to you… It will one day be the kingdom of the Antichrist.
The Scriptures teach the kingdom will be a reorganization of the former nation of Rome in a 10-nation confederacy through which Antichrist will rise up ultimately to power. Who will be the craftsman who will take him down? I told you it will be a worker of wood. I will tell you that his carpenter shop was in Nazareth. He is the smiting stone that will crush the statue which Nebuchadnezzar had a vision of, which is the succession of the nations. He will bring those who have persecuted you to their humble end.
What you saw in Zechariah, chapter 1, verses 18 through the end of the chapter is simply this. Yes, there is evil in the world, but for every evil, God always has an answer. He is there and he is aware. It's like the old story of a burglar who broke into a house. Do you remember it? He is walking in there with his flashlight. He hears a voice, "Jesus is watching." Looks around.
He thinks, "What did I just hear?" He keeps moving. Again, "Jesus is watching you." He keeps moving. He thinks, "This is really strange." He gets to where he is going, and he hears it again, "Jesus is watching." This time he hears where it came from. He shines his flashlight right on it. It is a stupid parrot. The parrot says, "Jesus is watching you." The guy says, "Aw, man." He sighs a big sigh of relief. He walks over and turns the lights on. There is a Doberman Pinscher sitting right there across the room. The parrot goes, "Sic him, Jesus!"
Gang, far worse than a Doberman, there will be a day. I'll tell you what, that's biblical in this illustration. There will be a day when ultimately God, who is one in essence, three in person, reveals himself in a way that the godhead works together will one day say, "You are my instrument of righteousness and judgment, Jesus. Sic him, Jesus!"
We looked at that in Isaiah 66. It won't be a pretty sight. You're going to look at it in Zechariah, chapter 1, verses 18 through 21. Now we move on. Because after he has dealt with the nations, he is going to deal with his people whom he loves. Chapter 2, verse 1 is the third vision. You need to know that all these work together.
The first vision is the one that gives you the picture of how God knows what's going on with Israel and he is aware of the heartache that is there because these exultant cities, which God himself has empowered, have become abusive in their power and have hurt his people. He will judge the wicked. He will one day deliver his people, not just to a life which is full of expectant hope but a life which is a present reality.
Chapter 2 is the third vision which expands on that third of the great ideas. Zechariah says, "Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a man with a measuring line in his hand." Not long ago, my wife and I did some work in our kitchen with the help of some friends. The very first thing we did is we got out my little Black & Decker 25-foot measuring tape, and we started measuring our kitchen so we can go to Home Depot and buy some Formica, have them cut it and point out that's where the sink will be, that's where the stove will be.
The first thing you do when you want to build or do some serious home improvement is get out the measuring line. If you're about to do some home improvements, even if it's going to be an extension of the house, you get out the measuring line. "How big do you want this thing to be, ma'am? Here would be 12 feet. Here would be 14. Here is 16. How far do you want to go?" What Zechariah is shown in this vision here is he sees a brother holding a measuring line. Look what it says next.
"…there was a man with a measuring line in his hand. So I said, 'Where are you going?' And he said to me, 'To measure Jerusalem, to see how wide it is and how long it is.'And behold, the angel who was speaking with me was going out, and another angel was coming out to meet him…"
Here is what's going on, basically. Zechariah was standing there with an angel. He looks out in this vision that God had given him. It is a part of his encouragement to his nation. He is going to do great things with his nation, though they may need to be disciplined to come to a point where they will be dependent upon him. In fact, look back up there in chapter 1, verse 21.
It's when he talks about the four craftsmen. He says, "I said, 'What are these coming to do?' And he said,'These are the horns which have scattered Judah so that no man lifts up his head; but these craftsmen have come to terrify them…'" There are four horns. For every evil work, God has an answer, and his answer will be sovereign and ultimately enduring over them.
But notice what God will do. What man has intended for evil, God can use for good. The evil of these men have sought to destroy individuals. Those individuals in the midst of being destroyed have been laid prostrate. They have been brought to their end. They realize that they cannot endure in and of themselves.
Then it says… What? Look at verse 21. It says "…so that no man lifts up his head; but these craftsmen have come to terrify them…" Psalm 3 says this: "But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head." See, gang, if anything else gives you hope, (you're going to see this tonight) you are hoping in the wrong thing. The Lord is the lifter of your head.
One of the things that should happen to you who are beaten down right now by loneliness, who are beaten down because you have lied to because you're being treated unfairly at work, because you have absolutely had your heart ripped out… It was wooed by a guy who said he was one thing and then he turned out to be another. He stomped your little heart.
You have found yourself prostrate so that nobody can lift his head. Some of you have been through great financial burden. Some of you have been through relational failure after relational failure. Or you've never even had a chance at a relationship because you have issues in your life that won't let you close to other people. You are beaten down.
I'll tell you if you look anywhere else for your head to be lifted and your world to be built upon you look at things which will vanquish before your eyes. He alone wants to be the lifter of your head. He alone wants to be that shield of protection around you. He is going to say here to the nation of Israel, "I will one day be that for you." You're going to find what it will take for him to do that.
Zechariah is standing there. He sees a guy going to measure. He has an angel with him. That angel goes out to do something. Another angel comes to him. This is what that angel said in verse 4. "Run, speak to that young man [Zechariah] , saying, 'Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls because of the multitude of men and cattle within it.'" That's a good thing.
I hope there will be a day, Jerusalem, though you are beaten down now, I hope, when your beaten down lowly state will learn from it. Gang, if you are heartbroken tonight and searching and the Lord has you here for some reason, will you learn from it? Will you do what God has always wanted his people to do, which is to turn to him?
If you are facedown because you have been leveled by some sort of pain, take advantage of your prostrate position. When you look up, keep looking to the God of the heavens who loves you, who came down and died for you to show you the extent of his concern and his care and his provision for your lowly estate.
You might be in the valley, gang, but I will tell you if the Messiah is there in your midst, it is a good place to be. How do you know if the Messiah is in your midst? You invite him. The only people who invite him are those who truly realize that they can't pick themselves back up. Not on my strength, Lord, but according to your mercy.
The second angel said, "You go tell that young man, you go tell Zechariah this. That though the local circumstance is pitiful, I'm going to do great things for them. They will enlarge their city such that they will not have walls because of the multitude of men and cattle within it. Verse 5. "'For I,' declares the LORD, 'will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.'"
Boy, that has so many references to things in Scripture. I'll take a moment here. You need to know this. The nation of Israel as it stands today is not here yet. The nation of Israel is not looking for God to be the glory in her midst. You can trace the nation of Israel all the way back to one guy. His name is Abraham.
There was a time when God has chosen Abraham to do great things with him. Abraham is a pagan guy worshipping false gods. God, in his grace, comes to him in his lowly estate and says, "Abe, listen to me." The scales fell off his eyes and Abraham saw all that he worshipped and all that his fathers worshipped was false.
He saw the truth in the God who has revealed himself in the Scriptures as the great I AM. He took him by faith. He followed him away from the place of comfort that he knew and said, "I will go to where you take me because wherever you are, there is blessing." God said, "I'll make you a great nation. I will put you in a place that will flow with milk and honey. All the nations will be blessed through you."
That was his original plan. Not just to bless Israel, but to bless all of us through Israel. In Genesis, chapter 15, there is an event which happens where Abraham shows himself faithful again to the Lord. God says, "…I am a shield to you; your reward shall be very great." God doesn't need to shower you with gifts. He showers you with himself, his presence, from which all good things come.
All he wants to offer you is him. Tonight if we offer you anything less than the person of Jesus Christ, go somewhere else. Jesus is the answer for the world today, a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Not religion, not moral behavior, not wisdom, the person of Jesus Christ who is the Messiah, the Anointed One. God with us.
Do you want eternal life? This is eternal life, to know Jesus Christ. That's an incredible claim. Do you hear what I'm telling you? I'm telling you to fall in love with a man who was dead 2,000 years ago. Don't stop there. Because that dead man was resurrected because he was not just mere man.
He was God in the flesh who in his sovereign plan had designed himself to die to be the sacrifice for your sins, which deserve the full outpouring of the wrath of God. He loved you so much that he stood in the gap for you that if you would just, in your humble, lowly, crushed, helpless state not stand up and brush yourself off and go, "I'll go back in and fight again," but with your head bowed down, poor in spirit, mourning and gentle turn to the one who alone can give you life.
Israel is not doing that today. They're a nation that has existed now since 1948. Again, they have been regathered. It's a miracle. People didn't think that Israel… They didn't even know if Israel would ever be regathered again. In fact, they were sure they weren't. Because that doesn't happen, that nations that aren't nations are given land again and that people return to it, but it did.
Why? Because God's Word will come to pass. In 1968, the nation of Israel did not say, "God, you are the lifter of our head." In 1968 as they celebrated their twentieth anniversary back in a portion of the land which they call the Holy Land which they know to be the place where Abraham was promised they made a banner that they then marched under. They said, "This will bring peace to our land." Do you know what Israel said would bring peace to their land?
Their motto after 20 years of being reinstated by the grace of God? Believe me, I don't think that's the final regathering of Israel. Israel as we know it today is not blessed Israel. Because they are not repentant Israel that have been beaten down through persecution and Holocaust and enemies who are continually upon them. They have never, ever cried out to God. Their motto was this, "Science will bring peace to this land." Amazing! Has science brought peace to the nation of Israel? Read your newspaper.
What he is saying right here in Zechariah, gang… This is their book. This is his story to his people who he loves. He is saying, "Would you trust me as you get beaten down, as you see your women terrorized in the streets, your children murdered by crazy men who hate you? Will you finally humble yourselves and say, 'We don't know what to do'?" The answer isn't science.
Go back and read your Bible. In Genesis, chapter 11, what did mankind try and do right then the very first time as they were separated from him? They tried to build themselves up and make themselves great. They tried to make themselves be so wise and awesome that they would then elevate themselves to the heavens and do whatever it is that they could do, whatever they wanted to do, whenever they wanted to do it.
God said, "There will be none of that." So he humbled man. Two guys are sitting there building this great tower in this city which is Babylon. They had worked so well and made great progress. Then one guy turns one day and says, "Will you give me a hammer?" The guy said, "Eh, what?" He said, "A hammer."
He looked at the guy next to him and goes, "I have no idea what he is talking about." That guy looked at him and said, "What are you talking about?" God brought confusion to them to humble them, to show them that they are not capable in and of themselves to bring peace anywhere. Science won't bring peace to the land of Israel.
I need to tell you this. Strength won't bring peace to your land. Relationship won't bring peace to your land. The Messiah wants to be a shield around you. He wants to be who protects you in your midst. He wants to be your exceedingly great reward. Look what happens now in verse 6. "Ho there!"
In fact, if you look in your margins, if your Bible has margins, you'll see that it doesn't say ho once. It says ho twice.I'm going to have some fun with this in a minute. "'Ho [ho] there! Flee from the land of the north,' declares the LORD, 'for I have dispersed you as the four winds of the heavens'…"
He is saying, "Listen, some of you folks are still back there in Babylon. I called you to come back and be where I desire for my people to be." The land of the north is the picture of the nation of Babylon where some Jews had gone. After 70 years, gang, they had become very prosperous. They had set up businesses. They had become industrious and hard-working.
Because they were in present prosperity or because they didn't believe the Word of the Lord, because of unbelief, apathy, prosperity, or comfort… Whatever the reason, they said, "Let's just hang here in Babylon. Let the religious fanatics go back to where God called them." He says, "Whoa with your little plan to be comfortable. Get your tail out of Babylon. In case you didn't hear me," he'll repeat himself in verse 7. "Ho, Zion! Escape, you who are living with the daughter of Babylon."
The reason that many Jews have stayed in Babylon is they didn't think the Babylon was such a bad place to be. They loved their present circumstance. God is saying, "Listen, don't you know that I have put you there in the first place? I'm the one who scattered you to the four winds? Having been there, don't get too comfortable there because I'm now… Just as I scattered you from Jerusalem over there, I'm about to scatter folks who stay in Babylon who love the world and don't love my Word."
Some of you tonight need to hear this. "Ho, ho, ho," he said three times in these two verses. "Listen, I'm coming and I will destroy Babylon." Babylon has become much more than one city historically in your Scripture. Babylon is the picture of the world. God will judge… You look in Revelation. He will judge the great Babylon, the whore, who has rebelled against him.
He says in Proverbs, "Get away from that whore. Quit sleeping with her! I know there's pleasure that can be had for a moment, but do you not know that those who go there are reduced to a loaf of bread?" They're reduced to less than nothing. They're eaten up and passed away. Don't miss that.
Don't mix your metaphors because in being passed away, he doesn't mean annihilated. He means that you are passed over and judgment will fall upon you and you will not experience the blessing that he intends. Some of you are in Babylon now. Maybe some of you Christians are right now. You have saved souls but Babylonian minds.
He is calling you out of your little Babylonian mindset. Though you love him, you say with your heart your world is far from him. He is calling you tonight, "Get back in relationship with me. Stop loving the world, Christian. You want to be effective for me? Then walk with me. Seek me. Love me. Don't love prosperity. Don't love pleasure. Don't love comfort. Love me."
Gang, prosperity isn't the evil. Comfort isn't evil. Pleasure isn't evil. Please hear me say that. It's the love of those things. Your affection, your setting your heart on them… The fact is when you pursue the Lord, sometimes… In fact, Scriptures would say it this way, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
I'm not preaching prosperity. If you happen to prosper in your faithfulness before the Lord, don't feel guilty. Rejoice that not only is God going to give you great comfort in the world to come, but he has given you a measure of comfort now. Don't use your comfort now to…do what? To experience a moment of glory.
But use your place of privilege today to…do what? To serve those who are lowly in the valley. That's his message. We are greatly blessed as a church. We don't need to beat ourselves up for that. Some of us are beautiful, talented, gifted people. I rejoice at that. Some of you are in positions of extreme influence.
Don't quit your job tomorrow and show your great faith by being a beggar. No! Use that position of influence to further the name of the Lord. It is not for you that you have been put in this place. It is for the Lord. First Corinthians 4:2 says, "…it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy." It does not say that it is required of stewards that they be impoverished, that they be playing some false game of humility. No, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.
Gang, blessed are you if you are found faithful and you still lie in the lap of luxury. I'll let you work out whether or not you're living in too much luxury to really continue to serve the Lord or whether you've really given lip service to the Lord. But as it says in Matthew 15:8, "THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME."
That is between you and the Lord. Who am I to judge the servant of another? I can make observations. I can have discussions with you. I can talk to those I'm closest to and see, but it's between you and the Lord. He calls you, "Ho, ho, ho!" Who says, "Ho, ho, ho?" Come on. Here's the stupid little illustration. When does he come?
Christmas is when we celebrate…what? The birth of the Messiah. I'm going to tell you what. When you read Zechariah 2, you may forget 90 percent of what I say, but just underline your, "Ho, ho, hos." He is saying this. He is coming, and he is coming when? Christmas! Don't look at December 25.
Christmas is a date that we celebrate on our calendar for the first advent of Jesus Christ. What is an advent? It is to come, from the Latin. There is going to be another advent. What will happen at that second advent? He is going to take care of Babylon. Ho, ho, ho, gang! The next time Christmas really happens, Babylon is going down. Get your tail out of Babylon!
Look what it says in verse 8. "For thus says the LORD of hosts, 'After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye.'" What a great illustration. God calls the nation of Israel here, and we can make an application to us, that you are the apple of his eye.
The apple of his eye is the gateway, the pupil. It is the part of the eye which admits light to the retina so that the rest of the eye, in fact, so the entire body can see. That is exactly what Israel is supposed to be. A nation of priests, a chosen people who were to be a light to the world. Christian, what are you? You are a light to the world. You are the apple of his eye now.
For a time being, Israel is in a time of great discipline because they did not respond to him. He will do what he said he will do, but for a time as we have seen in our study. Again look at last week. That will explain it all to you in context. He has raised up another nation that he has made his people who have become the apple of his eye and who he has great affection and concern for.
He says to you, "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they [the nations] may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Be a light to them. Let them see the truth. By the way, how much do you care for your little eye, especially your pupil? Do you not protect it? Are you not intimately concerned with it? Do you not weep when something happens to it?
You bet you do. That's what God says about you. You mess with my eyes, gang, I'll tell you. You hear people say that all the time. When you watch little kids fight, little kids are going to fight, but if you ever see one of them start trying to gouge out an eye, that isn't fighting fair. You don't mess with the eye. That's what God says with you.
"Hey, I know when they're messing with you. You're my eye. I don't like people messing with my eye." Verse 9: "For behold, I will wave My hand over them so that they will be plunder for their slaves." Gang, he'll just do this. It's not going to be a big long battle where God is going to get into a strategic war command room and try to figure out how he can defeat Babylon.
He is going to say, "It's done. Enough. Away with the peons who have rebelled against me, these nations that thought they were great." It's Moe slapping Curly upside the head. That's about the extent of Armageddon. He will wave his hand and instantaneously there will be reversal of world order. Look what happens.
"…I will wave My hand over them so that they will be plunder for their slaves." That doesn't normally happen, but there will be because God will exalt the humble. "Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me." Gang, here comes what I would call in your Scriptures in verse 10, Messiah's song. This is the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Blessed One, Jesus who sings.
"Sing for joy…" Why? "'…and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,' declares the LORD." If you rejoice today for any other reason other than that God is in your midst, you rejoice over that which is a vapor. It is a bubble. It is ridiculous that you come in here dancing because somebody has a crush on you. Because you just got a promotion. Because you're driving that new car.
You plug in what it is for you, and if that is your life, it is a vapor. It is a bubble. It will burst. Again, nothing wrong with having a love relationship. There is nothing wrong with driving a car that you get some sort of pleasure from. The point is if that is ultimately your source of joy, you are living in Babylon. Get out of there! Rejoice in me. Do you know why you should rejoice? One reason. Because the Lord dwells in your midst.
Do you know where I really have to check my heart on this? I sometimes think, "Golly, Lord. I'm so zealous for your message. Bring people to hear the message." Sometimes I might be caught being tempted with, "God, if there were just 5,000 people who would listen every week to what we're trying to say through your Word, that would be great!"
Do you know what the Lord said? "Todd, you shouldn't worry if there is 5,000 or three. But the three who are there, you pray that I am in their midst." Gang, I really am encouraged by the number of folks who come and study the Scriptures and worship week after week. Here is my question. Is the Lord in our midst?
We're building a great building over there. Who stinking cares? The question is, when we move into that building, will God move with us? You want to rejoice? You rejoice because you know the Lord and he is in your midst. Verse 11: "Many nations will join themselves to the LORD…"
In other words, God will accomplish what he said he would accomplish way back there in Genesis, chapter 12. He'll take this tiny nation, which is Abraham's flock, and he will raise them up. The world will see that indeed their God is the God of the world. All who love their God will be God's people. Not Jews, but God's people, which is what he always wanted.
Verse 12: "The LORD will possess Judah as His portion in the holy land…" Gang, do you ever wonder why it's called the Holy Land? Right there, Zechariah, chapter 2, verse 12 is the reason. It's called the Holy Land. It is the only place in your Scriptures that phrase shows up. You will find it nowhere else. It's called the Holy Land.
Let me ask you this. Why is it the Holy Land? You have to go back to verse 10. It is not the Holy Land today. Listen to me. Israel isn't the Holy Land. You aren't going to the Holy Land when you go to Israel today. You're going to what will be the Holy Land. The holy land is where God is. God's presence makes a land holy.
Do you remember what he said to Moses? "Take your shoes off, Jack. Because that bush that is burning is burning because I'm in it. The land which you stand on is holy land." It's holy ground. Why? Because God was there. Do you go today to the Holy Land and you go up on Mount Sinai? No. Why? Because God isn't there. Where is God? Where he said he'll be right here in Zechariah.
I don't have time, but maybe write down in your margin Ezekiel 43 because that is a parallel passage which talks about when God will come and again dwell in the midst of the nation of Israel. He is going to do two things, one that he used to do and one that he is doing today. He'll do them both then.
What is that? God used to dwell and have his physical presence be made known in what was called the Tent of Meeting, the tabernacle, or the temple. God's physical presence was made known then by a cloud or by a pillar of fire in this seat called the Holy of Holies. God said, "I am amidst the people of Israel."
God was never in a tent, people, but he gave some physical manifestation of him in that tent. He protected the people as long as he was there until the people became wicked. If you read the book of Ezekiel, you'll see that there is a time when God does what is called… He is Ichabod. It is the name for the Spirit of God has left.
Do you ever walk into a church and go, "Man, Ichabod!" Because there's all the form there. I see the choir, the band, the little pastor. But Ichabod. Do you know why I quit going to church? Ichabod. I have better things to do. The Cowboys kicked off 15 minutes ago. I don't want to go someplace where folks are just running through some system that they think is going to make them righteous. They're breaking some bread and drinking some juice. I can do that at home.
What you cannot do is come here and commune with other believers who are not Ichabod. Where is the Spirit of God today? Back then, he did not dwell in his people Israel. He dwelled in the temple in the midst of his people Israel. Wonder of wonders, he brought through the Messiah a new covenant, a better way where he then dwelled not in a tent, but in your very soul.
First Corinthians 3:16, "Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" God, very quickly, told the nation, "I'm going to bless you, but then he said you have to live right for me to bless you." The nation couldn't live right, so he judged you. Some people say, "Wait a minute, that's a condition put on an unconditional covenant. God says he is going to make them a great nation, but then he says they have to behave."
He does, because God is not going to exalt his name to the world with a bunch of idiot people. So he said, "I'll tell you what I'll do. I will then atone for your sin. I will institute a new covenant where I will put my Spirit in you. You will then love what I love so you will live like I would live so you would do what you need to do, all by my grace so I can give you what I always said I was going to give you." There's your Bible in a nutshell.
The new covenant is when God will come and he will dwell in his people. Today God is dwelling in his people who are his children, which is the church. There will be a time when he will remove the church, the Scripture says, and he will reinstitute his love for Israel. He will judge the nations that have been awful to them.
The great craftsman, the fourth one who will come and destroy the last and mighty horn who is the Antichrist, will then come. The people, in their repentant state, humble on their face will look nowhere else but to their Messiah. They will call out to him, "Jesus, lift our heads!" He will say, "I've been waiting to hear those words for years. Not just with your lips, because you sang them the first time I rode through on a donkey. You said, 'Hosanna,' which means blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. You didn't have the Lord save us now and you didn't mean it."
He is not looking for a bunch of folks to say certain words. That's why if you have prayed the sinner's prayer before, you may not know him. He is looking for people who have not loved him with their lips, but people who have come to him with their hearts. Have you walked forward at a Billy Graham conference before? I'm glad you did. I don't want to know that you walked forward. I want to know that you bowed down in your heart to Jesus.
Has somebody shared the gospel with you before and you prayed that prayer? I'm glad you did. I hope you did it with your heart, because if not you have been doing only forms and he is not impressed with your lip service. He had an entire nation, this nation, that said, "Hosanna. Lord save us now. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord," but they didn't mean it.
There will be a day when Israel, in their humbled state, that God will take what man has intended for evil and use it for good. They will cry out, "Messiah, save us now!" Then he will do for them what he has done for us. He will give them the benefit of his shed blood, his broken body, and his Spirit will dwell in them.
Also as an everlasting reminder that he is God, he will come (Ezekiel 43). He will make that land which he said will be the capital of the world, holy. He will reside in Jerusalem. Forever he will be there. It is the person of Jesus Christ who in Spirit will indwell all of his people even as he does today, but who in physical presence will sit on that throne in Jerusalem.
Redemption, gang, will be accomplished. Ho, ho, ho, you who live in Babylon. Come out today. Gang, don't buy the sleeping God lie. Do you know that saying? "Let sleeping dogs lie." I will tell you today don't buy the sleeping God lie. He is not asleep. It says in 2 Peter, chapter 3 , that God "…is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." Come to relationship with him.
Are you out there tonight? I hope that several of you are humbled. I hope God has brought catastrophe to your life. I hope that while you are prostrate, you don't think the hope is someday you'll be the next Elvis or you'll be the next princess. Because you can see how empty life there can be. I hope you look to the Prince of Peace, the one who says, "I will be your shield and your exceedingly great reward." "The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace..." Let's pray.
Father, we see what you're doing with Israel. We see that you will make them great. That should've encouraged this people who were building a temple in order to anticipate your coming. Father, we see how it relates to us. We're building not a physical temple, but our bodies which are now your temple. Father, we're building an everlasting kingdom.
So even as they were to be encouraged by the future culmination of your promises for them, so we too should be that much more encouraged. Father, Israel did not have your Spirit abiding in them, but we do because your new covenant has been instituted through the shed blood of their Messiah that we have trusted in by faith.
Father, we are so thankful. The reason we celebrate tonight, the reason we rejoice, the reason we clap, the reason we say, "The Lord reigns! Let the world rejoice," is because we in this small corner of the world have been blessed with the unbelievable privilege of being holy people. Father, we are saints.
It blows our minds that one day you'll take a rocky, craggy, wicked city like Jerusalem and make it the most holy place in the universe. Even more of a wonder to us is that you have taken sinful, vile people who have been stuck in adulterous relationships, who continue to steal and lie and deceive, individuals who have taken life from their womb and ripped it out because we've loved convenience, Father you have taken homosexuals, you have taken prideful, lustful people.
We sit in these pews. We stand and we pray right now. You have made me holy. You have made us holy. Why? Because you have taken us at our word when we cried out, "Lord, have mercy. Lift my head. By your incredible grace, come to my valley of despair." We thank you, Lord, that you give life to all who invite you in.
So tonight, with a great amount of humility and meekness, we say, "We are a holy people." Not because we're beautiful, but because you dwell in our midst. You sing over us. Father, there is nothing which makes us think we are holy except we are in the one whose sacrifice we celebrate together now. In Christ's name, amen.
As I pass this bread, I want you to understand. For all who believe, we ask that you partake in this. If you're here tonight visiting, I am so glad you're here. Just don't feel any need to participate in this. This is something that we do as believers together to celebrate the one thing that gives us hope. Messiah, who is going to come as a lion, who will come with great deliverance for his people, has come first as a Lamb.
He has sacrificed his life for the sins of his people so that God will pass over them in judgment and see them as saints, as individuals where his holiness dwells. All you who have been baptized into Jesus Christ, we invite you to join us in the celebration of Communion. We are on holy ground because we are holy people.
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.