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Who is Jesus and what does He mean to me? Do I have the attributes of a child of God? Can God accept someone like me? Todd Wagner explains how the prophetic names for Christ and the symbolism of the high priest in this passage fit with other references throughout the Bible, all pointing to what would be accomplished in a single day in order to bring peace into our lives today.
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
We're studying a book called Zechariah. The name Zechariah means the Lord blesses. His granddaddy's name was Iddo, which means at the appointed time. God took this man's genealogy and traced it down and reminded his people, Israel, that the Lord will remember them and will bless them at the appointed time. We're going to find out when that appointed time is. I will tell you it is the same appointed time that he will begin to bless you.
You have to understand God with that nation of Israel, which he chose by grace even as he chose the people he loves today by grace, and the way the people in the Old Testament were made righteous was not by the things they did but by the faith they had in the God they loved and longed to be in relationship with.
How are we made acceptable in his sight? Not by the things we do but by faith when we humble ourselves and cast our anxiety upon him. The key anxiety in my life is if God is as holy as he claims to be, how can he love one such as me? If you come in here tonight with any sense of, "I'm kind of attractive. If he's going to ask anybody to the prom, it's going to be me," then you don't know how holy he is or you have a distorted mirror which you hold up to your life.
The half-brother of Jesus Christ wrote a book called James. We call it James. He didn't call it James. I don't know what he called it. He called it a letter to a bunch of folks to get their act together. One of the things he said in there was that the Word of God is to be a mirror to you. When you look at it, don't forget what you look like. Part of what God's Word communicates is how beautiful he is and how disturbing our appearance is. It is not holy.
Wherever you are tonight, I think the easiest thing I could convince you of is if we truly got to know you, we would not be impressed ultimately with your character, with your kindness, with your sensitivity, with your compassion, or with your love. We would be overwhelmed with your selfishness, your insecurity, your lust, your deceit, and your deceptive ways.
That's what really lies at the root of all of us, so how can God love such a one as us? I'll tell you. There's only one way. That gracious holy Lord has determined to pass over our sin if we would just be wise enough to acknowledge our state. What we are right here is a group of folks who have acknowledged we are poor in spirit. We are grieved at our sin.
We see that he is indeed holy and we are indeed not, and we have determined the only way to fill that gap is not our striving toward him but for God to strive toward us. That's the message of Christianity. Christianity is not what we do and not what we don't do. It is singularly who we trust, and we trust a God who strives for us.
Now, how do you know if you are one who has been chosen by God? The answer is, "Do you have the attributes of his children?" That's what he says you will have if you indeed are his chosen. The first thing you'll recognize is that you have a problem, so you will be full of anxiety of your sin, so you will cast it upon him. "O God, save me in mercy!"
As we look in Zechariah, chapter 3, there is a little scene where this man, Joshua, who was the high priest… The high priest in the Old Testament always represented the nation of Israel. He represented all of the people, and he was involved in a process which God was using. God is a master teacher, and any master teacher doesn't just lecture. A master teacher uses illustrations and teaching aids. God would often use visuals to help communicate who he was and how he was going to restore the people to himself.
Part of how he did that in the Old Testament was through a picture or what we would call a type or some foreshadowing of how he would ultimately deal with that gap. Part of what he showed them was that there needed to be a sacrifice for sin, that sin is awful, and it causes death. Think of it this way.
Our own death… The fact that we are not eternal in our flesh, and the reason we're not is because in our flesh we have turned away from God, it says in Isaiah 53… It says, "All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him."
We have turned from him, and if God is life… By the way, that's what the Scripture says. To know Jesus Christ is eternal life both in quality and in quantity, and if you separate yourself from him… How do you separate yourself from somebody who is holy? By choosing to do that which is not holy. We call it sin.
As many of us know, sin is a term which we have taken from the sport of archery. Every time you aim an arrow at a target and it doesn't hit the dead bull's-eye, whether you're in the blue or the white or the red or way off of the thing and you miss it completely, it is called a sin. Some of you just barely missed the mark. You sinned by six inches, but you still sinned.
Every arrow you shoot, every thought you think, every deed you do, every word you speak, and every action you admit is an arrow that flies from your bow, and if you have ever missed the bull's-eye a bit, you are not a perfect archer. You cannot stand in the presence of perfection. There is a gap.
When you have turned from perfection in word, in thought, in deed, or in omission of action, then you have created a gap. You have turned from the Holy One. When you turn from the one who is holy who to know is eternal life, you have in a sense unplugged yourself from your life support. God says he is the Creator of the earth. In him is life. He has given and he is the animating force to every living creature, and when that living creature turns from him, albeit just a little bit…
How far do you have to unplug your television set from its power source for it not to work? Just a little bit. It says that he who sins in one point is guilty of the whole law. If you get one little wire from your television set to your little wall socket that is out of whack (just one little wire), you may as well cut it in half, because your set ain't working. It is separated from life (the animating force) to your television set.
Death in that sense is immediate. God is more gracious toward us in the physical realm. He gives us some time. As we turn from him, we have begun down this road of death, and it says each of us was born into sin. From the moment we are breathing we are in rebellion. We are selfish creatures who sometimes for the sake of basically completely cutting away from all folks we know, which is what sin will always do, we restrain our flesh enough just to be near enough to each other to basically use each other to have our needs met.
No matter how you guise it, ultimately that's what's going on if you are a self-centered person. When you live in such a way, you have separated yourself from what God intends for us. We have not done what he does. What does God do? God doesn't live or exist for his own self-glory. He exists for the love and the good of others. That is the thing that makes him all glorious, for when he came to this earth he did not come to be served, but in giving an example for all of us, he came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.
When you turn from him, you have unplugged yourself from God and you're on the slow road of death. You have pulled yourself from your life support system, so death in the physical realm is a picture of the spiritual truth. What God showed the nation of Israel in the sacrificial system which is foreign to us but was natural to them is God began to use visuals to teach them about who he was and who they were.
He showed them, "As a nation, when you sin, an innocent animal must die," and God had them invite both corporately as a nation and individually especially as a family… Every family unit would gather a baby lamb and take it and live with it and develop a relationship with it, especially dads with children.
Can you imagine bringing a baby lamb? Let's put it in our terminology. A cute little bunny with a little pink nose and a bushy tail and big old ears into your house, and not an old bunny that gets kind of ornery and bites at you and has claws. A little bunny! I love my little girls. They are being poisoned by cartoons like The Aristocats and other things out there that cats are wonderful things.
I'm trying to explain to them that cats aren't wonderful things. Kittens are wonderful things, but to quote Shere Kahn from The Jungle Book… He has a problem with Mowgli. Do you remember Mowgli? He said, "He's just a man cub." Shere Kahn would say, "Yes, but the problem with man cubs is they grow up to be men." The problem with kittens…I love kittens…is they just grow up to be cats.
Now, you have a little lamb, a cute little lamb. A sheep is a stupid, foolish, stinky, smelly animal, but little Fluffy for 12 weeks or 14 weeks or six-month old Fluffy in the house with your kids. After several days or maybe a couple of weeks, everybody has named him, hung out with him, fed him, and taken him for walks, and now God says, "We have to take Fluffy to the temple and slit his throat."
"Yeah, we have to do that."
"Because this is our atonement for sin. It is a picture of this great hope we have that one day God will finally and fully forgive us for our sin."
"Daddy! Not Fluffy!"
"Yes. Fluffy is going to the altar. His throat is slit. He is innocent. He has done nothing. I'm the one who yelled at your mom. Your mom is the one who yelled at me. You're the one who disobeyed me. You're the one who kicked your sister and pulled her hair, and Fluffy is going to pay. Sin is awful. The consequence is death, but grace is wonderful. There is one who will substituted for you so you will not get what you deserve."
Some would say, "The heck with Fluffy! Why would me taking some lamb and putting him up there on an altar and having his throat slit make me righteous?" It won't in doing it. It will if, in faith, you believe the words of God who loves you and seeks to reconcile himself to you through your trust and faith in him.
What we have done is we believe that Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world, and we believe this Jesus is the one who has died for us, that the iniquity of us all has fallen on him. Just saying that, gang, and having Jesus die 2,000 years ago doesn't make me a believer.
It is the genuineness in the depths of my heart that believes that requirement that God had for death to be the consequence of my sin and him having met that requirement with the death of his Son and me accepting that offer of grace and mercy and clinging to it that makes me a believer, and I cling to nothing but that Holy One dying for me.
God used this for the nation of Israel. The high priest was representative of them, and he had to go through all sorts of things to offer not just a sacrifice for his family but for the nation of Israel to show them sin is awful, and the consequences are tremendous, but grace is wonderful. There is substitutionary atonement (a big word). There is somebody who will die for you so that God can do with you what he has always longed for, which is to come back into a relationship with you who have turned from him. You've created a gap, but God is the one who bridges it.
Joshua, the high priest, is standing there in Zechariah 3. It says there is one who is by his right side. I mentioned last week the right side was the place where both the prosecutor and the defense attorney would stand when you would come before a court. It's interesting. It says Satan, whose name is the Accuser, was standing at the right hand of Joshua.
He's kind of in a position where he could either be his enemy or his defense, and I'll tell you that's a good picture of how the Enemy really works with us. He tells you he's for you, and he tells you it's not that big of a deal. "Go ahead and live your life. You're just a kid and you're young. You'll get serious about your faith when you're married or when you have kids. Just go on with yourself. It isn't that big of a deal. Eat the apple! Come on! Take a bite. You're human. It looks good, smells good, and looks like it will taste good. I bet it does."
Then, you take a bite of the apple and what happens? All of a sudden, your defense attorney turns and becomes the prosecutor, and that sin you kind of believed was going to be not that big of a deal, you hear this next voice coming to you. "You wicked and vile one. You think God can love you? How many times are you going to make the same foolish and stupid mistake? You think he'll let you stand before him and call you his child? Come on! You have to be kidding!"
You should be filled with anxiety that you have in a sense eaten the apple. You have chosen death. If you remember, when Joshua, the high priest, in Zechariah 3, a representative of the entire nation of Israel, stood before the Lord and was accused by Satan, Joshua did not defend himself. He knew he was guilty.
He was full of anxiety, but lucky for him by the grace of God he had one who was there in his presence who said, "The Lord rebuke you, Satan! There is one reason I'm going to let him survive and the nation he represents. It is grace. I have chosen him. He is a brand plucked from the fire not to be left in there to melt to nothingness but removed," because he has an intention for it, and the intention is to use it for future work. He is a brand plucked from the fire.
You see that same term used for us in the New Testament, that we are indeed a brand plucked from the fire. We hear the Accuser in our ear. "How can God love you?" We say, "He cannot except for grace given to us that which we do not deserve." The book of Zechariah deals with this nation that God longs to have be all that he intended it to be, but they are continually, continually, continually obstinate and not all that he says they should be.
Look at Zechariah, chapter 3. Let's read a couple of things. Then, we're going to show you some encouraging stuff about who this delivering one is, who this one is who will say, "I have chosen them, and I have atoned for them, and I have dealt with their sin." We'll find out some more about him and find out how we fit in and how we are today those God strives with and strives for.
We are his people for the day, but don't miss the fact that what God said he will do for Israel he will do. If you spiritualize, meaning if you just say, "Well, when God said he would do that for Israel, he really meant he'd do that for people who loved him," the problem with doing that is, if you start to spiritualize God's literal promises to that nation, how can you with good conscience not spiritualize what he says he'll do with you, his people called thechurch?
God will do with Israel what he said he will do, but he will also discipline Israel as he said he would if they don't walk with him. Guess what. He will do with you what he said he will do with you, but he will discipline you if you will not live as he would encourage you to live. He will not use you.
As I have said before, God is not desperate enough to win the national championship that he'll let a drunkard play running back for him. He won't do that just to make sure he wins this season. He'll say, "Nope. You're out of the game. We're going to get somebody, and if we lose the ballgame, we are fine. I'm not in any hurry to win the national championship with an unholy people. We're going to get a team that plays my way and represents me the way I would be represented, and we will accomplish my purposes."
There will be a day when there will be a group of people who will respond to him, who will yield to his will and his way, and who will do what he admonishes Joshua to do. Look what happens right here in verse 6. This is after he put a clean garment on Joshua who was clothed with filthy things. Again, remember Joshua is the high priest, a representative of the nation.
He says, "Thus says the LORD of hosts…" **He admonishes him in verse 6. Having been cleansed and delivered from this vile life and from this vile state you were in,"…walk in my ways…"(Verse 7)"…perform my service…"** Then, he lists three things they will be able to do. We're going to come back to them toward the end. Then, we get to verse 8. He says,
"'Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you—indeed they are men who are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in my servant the Branch. For behold, the stone that I have set before Joshua; on one stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave an inscription on it,' declares the LORD of hosts, 'and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. In that day,' declares the LORD of hosts, 'every one of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and under his fig tree.'"
Gang, you've come in here. You're struggling at work, you're struggling with your marriage, you're struggling with hope, and I'm reading that? You're going, "What does that have to do with me? I'm trying to love my wife. I'm trying to be a normal enough individual and be kind enough long enough so I can get a date much less have a wife to be angry with," and we're hearing Zechariah 3. You're going, "What in the world am I doing sitting here? I could be home watching The X-Files not reading this gibberish."
Let me tell you, you're about to be encouraged. I mentioned to you before this Bible is full of one truth. It deals with one problem (sin), and the one truth is the way you deal with that sin is through the person of Jesus Christ. What I want to show you tonight is how this book of Zechariah relates to your entire Bible and how it relates to you. I will encourage you tonight with this little text both how to respond to this Jesus, what he has intended to do for you, what he longs for you to do in response to him, and what will be the consequences if you avoid it.
It is far better than a fleeting fantasy in front of a tube that probably needs to be disconnected from its power source more often than it is. Let's look again at what we have. Look at verse 8. "Now listen…" It's important, so he says, "Bear down with me. You, Joshua, the high priest, and your buddies earlier had been cleansed as representative of what I'm going to do with the nation. I will take you out of the fire. I will say, 'Yes, you have filthy garments, but I'm going to love you anyway,' and I will clothe you in righteous garments."
We'll find out the way he could do that was that he himself would take the consequence of their filth. He was the one who would eventually be the Lamb without blemish who died for their sins. He said, "Now that I have paid a debt I do not owe, I will pay your debt, and I will ascribe you my righteousness since I didn't take it from myself."
He says, "You're a picture of the nation in that way, but you're also a picture of something else. You are a picture of how I forgave them. Now, you're going to be a picture of how I will forgive them. You're going to be a picture of my High Priest who is to come." You will find out that Jesus is not only called the Lamb of God, but in the New Testament he's also called the High Priest.
In fact, in Hebrews 10, it says when the one priest ultimately went into the Holy of Holies (not a temple made with hands but ultimately the temple on earth) it was, again, a picture of where God dwelt. They took a lamb which was a picture of the ultimate Lamb that was to come, and they offered him on that altar which man made to remind them there is a holy place in the center of God's realm where sin must be atoned for.
This little animal that stinks and smells with four legs who had done nothing year by year must be sacrificed, but there will be one day a true and unblemished Lamb who would be offered on an altar that is not a manmade altar but is offered in the heavens for the sins of his people. It says this Jesus is that High Priest who brought that sacrifice. Guess what the sacrifice was that he brought. It was his own life.
To blow your mind even further, he offered it in a sense unto himself who was the Holy One, and he said, "Here is the atonement for my people, Israel, who I love and for all that I intended to reach through my people, Israel," and he laid that sacrifice down. It says that after doing that he sat down.
You have to understand in the Old Testament in this temple God had been building there were no seats in there. That was because it was to be symbolic that the work of the priest was never done because these sacrifices he offered were a picture of the ultimate sacrifice, so you'd have to keep creating the picture, reminding the people of their sin, but when Jesus offered that one sacrifice, it says in Hebrews, he sat down.
Why? Because his work was finished, and he no longer needs to continually offer his sacrifices, but once and done because it is the perfect true pictured sacrifice in the person of Christ. Now, it gives you here in this little book of Zechariah quoted 41 times in the New Testament what is called the most messianic or the most propheticbook in the Old Testament dealing with the work of the one who would deal with the sins of the nation.
"Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you are a picture or a symbol, if you will, of what I'm going to bring through my servant who is called the Branch." "For behold, the stone that I have set before Joshua [the high priest] ; on one stone are seven eyes." Let me explain this very quickly. He says, "You are a picture of…" He mentions three things. He says, "You are a picture of my servant, you are a picture of my Branch (or to keep the S alive, my shoot or my stem), and you are a picture of my stone."
Jesus was in the New Testament the High Priest who offered sacrifices for the world. He is called the servant of the Lord. In the Old Testament he is referred to as the shoot of Jesse. We'll study that in a minute. He's also the stone. There are four different things this stone that Jesus would be are called.
Look what the stone has done. It says it was set before Joshua the high priest. This is going to be the key as to how Joshua ultimately will be fruitful for him. It says in verse 9, "'Behold, I will engrave an inscription on it,' declares the LORD of hosts, 'and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.'" What is that one day? That one day, I think, is a picture of two things.
It was a picture of the one day when sin was ultimately atoned for when Jesus Christ himself was sacrificed and when provision was made for sin some 2,000 years ago. On that day the possibility of sin being removed was done, because the real Lamb was sacrificed, but even more the nation of Israel is under a time when they are dealing with the consequences of their sins, and it's all right here, gang. If you ever read Deuteronomy 28 through 30, you will see this is a time when Israel doesn't respond to what the Lord says they should do, and he will bring about consequence into their lives.
He said, "On one day I will ultimately implement what I have made possible by the death of my Son. That is I will come, and I will deliver you from not just the physical oppression of the warring nations around you who hate you, but also ultimately from the fact that I have not been hovering around you protecting you from every source of harm. That one day when the Lamb of God comes (not this time as a lamb but as a lion) all of the iniquity or all of the horrors of your sin will be removed."
Why? "Because I will be in your presence, and I will be in your midst, and I will be unto you a shield." It was a picture of what will happen at the battle of Armageddon when Jesus comes and he himself delivers this physical nation of Israel and is their King. It says this King will have this stone that has seven eyes. Seven is the number in Scripture, as I'm sure you've heard this, not just of perfection but of completeness. It speaks of all knowledge and all knowing. He's omniscient or the all-knowing one.
It says in Colossians 2:3, in Jesus is all of the fullness of knowledge and wisdom. That's who he is. It says this stone will have an inscription on it. What do you think the inscription on Jesus will be? I love the one in Revelation 19. It says Jesus has a tattoo. Did you know that? It's on his thigh, which is kind of a bad place to have a tattoo.
When I see the thigh of Jesus, I don't see some little skinny legs like mine. I see Arnold's legs when he comes back as a Lion. I see him maybe wearing a bowed-up white skirt with that little belt that says, "Heavyweight champion of all time." He doesn't have some little heart on his arm or some little circle ascribed. He has a tattoo right there on his thigh, and this tattoo says, "King of Kings and Lord of Lords." That's not a bad inscription, but I don't think that's the inscription that's talked about right here.
The early church fathers…this is speculation…said the inscription they thought was there, in fact, is the answer to a trivia question. Do you know what the only manmade thing in heaven will be? What's the only manmade thing that will endure into eternity? The five wounds of Christ, a continual reminder of God's love for you. Boom! Boom! Spear in the side. Nails through the feet. A crown of thorns.
That inscription on him… Listen to the words of the early church fathers as they meditated on this verse. They said that the glorious wounds with which he allowed his whole body to be riven through so that throughout his whole frame his love would be exclaimed. That's the inscription on the rock. When you see Jesus, you're going to see that Rock of refuge, that Rock of ages. There is going to be something written on it. Do you know what it is?
The wounds he suffered for you and for me. This all-knowing one who in his wisdom died for those he created and loved who are filled with anxiety at the separation they have created because of their turning away and the trail of death they are on, when they turn back and see the gap they've created is further than they could ever go back and close again on their own, has cried out to him, and in all of his wisdom he himself has become the bridge or the sacrifice for them.
There are three terms used right there. The first is servant. This is one we won't develop very much, but it's all through the book of Isaiah. "My servant I will use to deliver people…" The second one is the branch. Look at Jeremiah, chapter 23, with me. Very quickly, just turn back. If you get to Psalms, you've gone too far left, but look at Jeremiah, chapter 23, and look at verse 5.
I want to read you something about this branch or this shoot. Isaiah 11:1 calls him the shoot from the stem of Jesse. What is significant about being from the line of Jesse? You will trace the line of Jesse through the line of David which is the messianic line where God said, "From you there will be one who will reign eternally, who will be Lord, and who will be God." Ultimately, that is why you see in the New Testament in the genealogies of Christ that you trace him back to David, because if he wasn't from David, he could not be king. He is indeed King.
Look at Jeremiah 23, verse 5. Look at what it says. It says, "'Behold, the days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land.'" There is going to be a day. One of the names for Messiah in prophecy is the branch.
The servant, by the way… Israel was to be God's servant that was in every way to be used to proclaim and reconcile the world to him, but they were unfaithful servants, so here comes Jesus, the faithful Son. Israel was the disobedient son. Israel was to be a nation that grew up to be great and strong through which all of the rest of the nations of the world would find rest underneath the shade of the covenant God had with them, but they weren't faithful to the covenant, so God had to grow a righteous stem, a shoot from Jesse.
It says right there in Jeremiah 23, verse 5, specifically, "…I will raise up for David a righteous Branch…" I could go to some other places and show you that same terminology. What you'll see is one thing that is true of the branch is that he is King. He is from the line of David. Going back to Zechariah, keep your finger there, and you'll see that not only was he a righteous branch, but he was the second thing I said already.
"…my servant the Branch…" He is King. He is a servant. Turn here with me back to Zechariah, chapter 6, verse 12. You're going to see another thing the branch is. So far, we've seen Jeremiah 23 (there are others) that he is a King. What else is he? He is a servant, Zechariah 3 says, but if you turn with me to Zechariah, chapter 6, you're going to find he is something else (this branch that is to come).
Chapter 6, verse 12: "Then say to him, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the LORD."'" He will become the foundation through which God raises up a people which is a source of worship and praise to him, where God dwells in his people.
Catch this. The branch is King. The branch is a servant. The branch is a man. Turn with me to one other place. Turn with me to Isaiah, chapter 4. Go back to your left to Isaiah 4. In all of this you will see application. Hang with me. Look at chapter 4. We'll read from verse 1. It's a good day to have a new Bible. You'll rustle up all of the pages and look like a scholar before you've had it for a week!
Verse 1: "For seven women will take hold of one man in that day, saying, 'We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach!'" There is going to be a scourge on God's people. It's not going to be a good deal. When seven women are competing for one man, it's hard to reproduce and become a good nation, but look at verse 2.
"In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel." The branch of the Lord. This is a branch who is King, who is a servant, and who is a man who was deity (God). Let me show you something really interesting about the four gospels in your New Testament.
The gospel of Matthew written primarily to the Jews. The Jews are concerned with their coming king who would deliver them from oppression. Guess what is cried out more in Matthew than any of the other four gospels in terms of who the person of Jesus Christ was: that he is the coming King.
If you go to the book of Mark, a gospel written to the Roman world or the Gentile world who was consumed with Caesar and they valued the great power of the world, but what God said was, "No. What is great is the servant of the true King." In the book of Mark, you have Jesus Christ revealed as a servant more than any other book in your New Testament. You see again and again he was a faithful servant to the Lord, and the servant motif runs all through the book of Mark.
Two books (two gospels) telling you about who Jesus is. He is King. He is a servant. Luke was fond of the term Son of Man in that he related to what is both a messianic term and also a term saying he relates to you. He was like us. Luke recorded in great detail the journeys and the relationships Christ had. He talks more about his childhood than any of the other authors, about how he developed in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man.
He is King (Matthew). He is a servant (Mark). He is a man (Luke). That leaves John, which is the great gospel of the fact that Jesus is divine. He is God. He says, "I am one with the Father. If you see me, you have seen the Father. If you've heard me, you've heard the Father." This branch that is going to come is this Jesus.
He is also a stone. There are four things this stone could be. He could be a stumbling rock of offense. He's a servant. He is the shoot. He is a stone. Four things that will happen with the person of Christ throughout all eternity. Here they are. He will be a stumbling rock of offense. He was to the nation of Israel.
Turn to Isaiah, chapter 8, with me. You'll see this little passage show up enough in your Bible that you need to know where it's first rooted (in the prophet Isaiah who talked about this coming hope for the people). He mentions you need to know this coming stone. Otherwise, there is going to be an awful thing that will happen to you.
It says in Corinthians that the cross of Christ is foolishness to the Greek. They think, "It's a myth! It's horse hockey." To the Jew, it's a stumbling block. They tripped up over it. Why? Because Jews who were born from Jacob are striving and working. They're industrious. We make jokes today about how much money the Jews make because they are a hard-working, miserly, protective, cover-your-own-bases kind of people.
That has been their history, and they're always, in a sense… You'll find them, in the Scriptures, striving on their own, apart from God, and every now and then God takes a Jew and breaks him and humbles him. He says, "Don't you see? It won't be your reaching and grabbing after the things you want. It will be me striving for you and you accepting my gift, but if you in your pride don't want what I have to offer you, you will trip up over that which is a bridge to get you back to me. This Rock which should gain you access over this great abyss will become for you a stumbling stone."
Look at Isaiah 8. Let's read right here. Let's start in verse 11. Isaiah said, " For thus the LORD spoke to me with mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, 'You are not to say, "It is a conspiracy!" In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it.'"
"Don't say this coming doom I'm prophesying is a tale you need to avoid, and don't say it's something you need to be fearful of because I am in it." Verse 13: "It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread. Then He shall become a sanctuary; But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Many will stumble over them, Then they will fall and be broken; They will even be snared and caught."
One of the things this Jesus can be to you is a stumbling block of offense. That appears again in Psalm 118, which is a psalm that talks about who Jesus was and how he was going to come to deliver his people, but some folks didn't want a Messiah who chose them by mercy and grace. They wanted to present their own resume and their own righteous works before him.
They were tripped up over this idea of grace, because the pride of man wants to go, "My garments aren't that filthy, and I'm not that bad, and if you don't want to take me to the prom, that's your loss." Instead of accepting this offer of forgiveness, this cross which is for you, you'll trip up over it. It becomes a stone of offense.
We won't turn there, but in Daniel, chapter 2, it's called a smiting stone. We looked at this earlier in the book of Zechariah where there were four great horns that were lifted up. We saw these four horns were the four great nations that were enemies of the nation of Israel. Ultimately, in Daniel, chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the new world order of the day, had a dream that the succession of world powers ending with Rome was one day destroyed by the smiting stone that God took from heaven and cast at the earth that destroyed the great powers of man.
If you looked, you would find that smiting stone in Daniel, chapter 2, is the same craftsman who was the fourth craftsman prophesied in Zechariah, chapter 1, we looked at one week. He is the one who will reduce the nations to nothing and will be the ultimate answer to God delivering the people of the earth.
Look at another one with me. We won't turn to this one, but Jesus is called the cornerstone in Ephesians, chapter 2, and in Matthew 16. He is the building block through which he will build his church. As it said in the one section, he is the stem, the tree of righteousness which will grow up which the world will take shelter in. He is the cornerstone, the base work through which God will then build the foundation of the apostles, and the church will grow who he will make a holy nation, a holy people, and build a new temple with Jesus at the center of it.
Finally, turn to Isaiah 28. You'll see there he is a Rock of refuge and a great deliverer. This is a good one. We'll spend time with it and then close it up with a quick look at the three things the Lord says we ought to be. Isaiah 28. Gang, do you see how your Bible all fits together? When you see these terms in Zechariah… "Joshua, the high priest, you are a picture of the fact that I am going to do what I said what I would do, that I will have a High Priest who will atone for the sins of the people. I have not gotten rid of the priesthood."
If you get rid of the priesthood and you're the nation of Israel, you have no means to offer the sacrifice through which you can be forgiven, so he says to the people, "First, I will forgive you of your sins. Joshua represents you. I'll make him clean. Joshua is also a picture of the fact that I will have a priest who is my servant who is the branch who is the King who is the man who is God who will atone for you.
This King with either be a cornerstone that you will build a righteous house upon because you trust in him or he will be a stumbling block which you will trip over because in your pride you will not accept grace, and if that is the case, he will be the smiting stone which crushes you if you won't let him be the cornerstone which builds you."
Here's the last one. This is the one you want him to be: the Rock of refuge. Look at Isaiah 28. Let's start reading in verse 15. "Because you have said, 'We have made a covenant with death, And with Sheol we have made a pact. The overwhelming scourge will not reach us when it passes by, For we have made falsehood our refuge and we have concealed ourselves with deception.'"
What he's saying right there is the nation of Israel turned from trust in God and made a covenant with, if you will, this god they invented, the god of the underworld. They made a deal with him. They were trusting in some false hope and promise. Verse 16: "Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, 'Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed. I will make justice the measuring line And righteousness the level; Then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies And the waters will overflow the secret place.'"
In other words, there is no place for you to hide. Every roof will cave in and the waters will come through like a torrent of judgment and wipe you out and drown you in the coming wrath of God unless you have found a Rock of ages, a cleft that is God's sovereign place of protection for his people. Verse 18:
"Your covenant with death will be canceled, And your pact with Sheol will not stand; When the overwhelming scourge passes through, Then you become its trampling place. As often as it passes through, it will seize you; For morning after morning it will pass through, anytime during the day or night, And it will be sheer terror to understand what it means. The bed is too short on which to stretch out, And the blanket is too small to wrap oneself in."
What a great picture of those who strive for peace apart from knowing they are in the provision which God has promised them. You will always look for comfort to salve your soul, your searching, and your yearning. You'll look for rest, but you will never find it in material comforts or in some religion you create for yourself.
There is always that tendency to ask, "Am I doing enough? Am I as righteous as I need to be?" Your bed is always too short, and you can't ever stretch out and get rest, and you're always a little uncomfortable and a little cold. Your blanket doesn't cover you all of the way up. There's unease in your soul, and that is God striving with you, gang.
If you are here tonight and you're not sure he is your Rock of refuge, then I want to encourage you to avoid the fact that he will be the coming torrent of judgment and the smiting stone which will crush you in your pride. If he is to you a stumbling block because you don't want to trust in his gift of grace and you think you are beautiful enough for him to accept you, I encourage you to humble yourself.
Take the anxiety of sin that is in your life and this discomfort you have found in striving after peace with what this world offers. You know you do not have the rest you want. You are lonely and no money is enough to give you comfort. If you know that death will take away any sense of the significance of money and death will take away any significance of the sense of worldly pleasures and joy, and if the prospect of coming judgment leaves you cold, then I encourage you to find comfort in this Rock and warmth in Jesus Christ.
This servant who did not come to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for you is a righteous stem, a shoot that has grown up to be a King who serves you, who even as a man identifies with you in every way, but because he is God can deliver you. This is your Jesus, and he encourages you to live and to serve and to walk with him.
He is the beginning and the end of this book. He is the King who serves you, who identifies with every pain and struggle and temptation you have dealt with, but because he is God, he has met that temptation head on, has been himself without sin, and as a servant has offered himself as a sacrifice for you.
If you're out there tonight and you hear someone whisper in your ear that you are vile, that you are not holy and, indeed, God is, don't try and defend yourself. Don't say, "I'm going to get better," because you can't ever close that gap. Stand there silent but look into the eyes today of Jesus and say, "Jesus, will you allow me to be your chosen one?"
Scripture says that all who come to him he will in no wise cast out. The fact that you come tonight in humility is evidence that you're his chosen one, and not with some prayer to pray or some act you'll do but with the lips you'll confess and with the heart that you believe, that is salvation. I won't see your heart, but he will.
Let's not make the mistake of thinking that just sending Fluffy to the altar or just thinking that Jesus went to the cross for you is enough. No. You must trust there and rest in him, and if you rest in him and abide with him, you will love what he loves, hate what he hates, trust what he tells you to trust in, and serve him with all of the fervor of a man who had a death sentence he was pardoned from. Let's pray.
Father, tonight we are looking in a place of Scripture which can sometimes seem really out of touch with where we are in Dallas. Like I said, I know there are folks who are here tonight who struggle. They don't know how they can have any sense of hope in their life or any sense of peace. How in the world will they deal with this depression? How can they deal with this war they have at home, this emptiness they have in their hearts?
Father, tonight we give no techniques for how to heal their marriage. We give no strategy for how to be more fulfilled in their career path. We just look at your Scriptures, and we see no matter what we make a covenant with and no matter what we want to trust in, if it is not you, we will always find our bed short and always find ourselves uncomfortable and always find ourselves sleepless and restless. We'll always find a little shiver in our spines. We will find moments of warmth and seasons of comfort, but in the depths of who we are, we know we are not home and resting.
Then, we look at you, and you say, "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden and filled with anxiety. Cast your burdens on me. Take shade underneath my branch. Let me serve you with my sacrifice. Don't stumble over me in your pride, but in the poorness of your spirit, cling to me. Make me your Rock of refuge to which you continually go."
Father, I pray you are drawing people to yourself tonight. We thank you, Father, that you don't turn away anybody who comes to you humbly. I pray as they turn to you and really say, "Jesus, I thank you that in meeting my one great need, which is my rebellion against you, that you can begin to deal with my marriage, my hopelessness in my career, my loneliness in my heart, my broken marriage, or my activity of last night."
Father, I pray tonight Christ would become more of a reality and that somebody would fall in love with what he has done. God died for them! In knowing that, that they would fall in love and look at his Word and see how then we should live, walk in his ways, and perform his services for his people.
Lord, I pray your grace would go forth tonight and we would in our anxiety turn to you. Father, I pray not just now in song but in the way we live we would go out and lift your name on high that you would be enthroned on the praises of your people who will live their lives this way in response to what you have done for us, having made us clean.
May we not go out and defile this garment of life which you have given us but walk in truth, in understanding, in wisdom, and in holiness this week! May you be enthroned with our lives! Lord, we lift your name on high now in song, but may we do it with our lives as we live this week! In Christ's name, amen.
In this second volume of "Sawing through the ZZZs", Todd Wagner unravels one of the richest, most complex of the minor prophetical books, revealing a timeless message of hope to all who will hear. Using night visions, oracles and symbols, God gives the prophet Zechariah a warning to the struggling, disillusioned nation of Israel freshly returned from exile in Babylon. This glimpse into their immediate and distant future exhorts them - and us - to repent, obey and persevere. The Lord is near to His own and this prophetical work concludes with a glorious look at the Messiah and the hope of His triumphant return.