Todd continues offering modern day applications from the book of Zechariah. He specifically discusses God's miraculous relighting of the lamp stand in the temple following Israel's return from Babylon, and His desire to light a fire within us and keep it burning.
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
Father, we're studying a book that sometimes can seem way out of touch with where we are in 1997 in Dallas, Texas, but I pray you would show us how you have always sought after your people. We thank you that through a course of events that are all happening underneath your sovereign will that for a time you have allowed us as a body you call the church to be a light to the world for you.
We have the greatest privilege any creature could have, and that is to be one who stands by you, an individual, Father, and a group of people who represent you to a world you love and that you died to redeem. God, we thank you that the means through which we will be faithful in our serving you is not going to be through us being hard workers or diligent apart from you, but that you will sustain us, empower us, and do a good work through us.
May we then have the wisdom tonight to do one thing, which is simply to yield to your will for our lives and simply yield to your work in us and through us! We thank you that when you have a deep penetrating gaze to your chosen people who are called from darkness and delivered from shame, Father, in us you see your Spirit. Now, may we fully yield to that Spirit, God, which is within us! May we not grieve you or quench the work which you have intended to do in us and through us for your good name! Amen.
We're studying through Zechariah. It's a book in the Old Testament. If you go to Matthew and take a left, you won't go very far before you come across this little book called Zechariah. As we take a look at it together, I want to just kind of clarify one thing I said last week. Not that very many of you heard it or were bothered by it, but I said something. I heard myself as I said it. I used the word in one sense, but I want to make sure you understand the way I said it. Then, we'll move on.
I said God doesn't exist for his own glory. When I said that, I followed it right up by saying in Mark 10:44 and 45, as an example of that, that God in the flesh (Jesus Christ) didn't come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. I was speaking when I said that of glory in kind of a practical, worldly, negative sense, that a lot of folks seek their own glory and seek their own fame, and our God is not that insecure, but you need to know it is impossible for God not to exist for his own glory. Everything he does is glorious.
Anybody who may have heard me say that last week and thought in what I would call a proper and theological way should have been going, "Wait a minute! What do you mean God doesn't exist for his own glory?" God is glorious just like God is holy. That isn't so much an attribute he possesses as what he is. It is impossible for him to do anything that we wouldn't go, "That is just glorious!" You should be moved to do what David was moved to do in Psalm 145. "I want to extol you because you're glorious!"
When I said that God doesn't exist for his own glory, I meant that in a negative sense that God isn't walking around shaking the hands of parents and kissing babies hoping you'll love him. He does far more, and it is glorious what he does. As he humbles himself taking on the form of man and becoming obedient to the will of his Father who is in heaven because that is his role as God incarnate, to be obedient even to the point of death, yea, even death on a cross, it says; therefore, God highly exalted him.
The Father took the Son and exalted him and gave him the name above all names that one day at his name every knee will bow and every tongue will confess. That is glorious! He is glorious and holy, and everything he does is holy and glorious. What his Son came to do and what God came to do on this earth is to accomplish what he has always longed to accomplish, and that is to have a group of people he could fellowship with and who he would share his glory with. How unbelievable is that!
He is so inexhaustible in his resources, so splendid in his being, that he could give eternally and abundantly and never himself be shorted. You think Gates has money! You think Turner has money to give the United Nations! You need to know this God. He seeks to let you participate. You long to feast at his table. All he asks you to do is cry out to him.
How blessed are those who are poor in spirit and who mourn because of their poorness in spirit and who are like a wild stallion that has been trained and are gentle and meek and who hunger and thirst to be in the presence of the glorious one, for they shall be satisfied! We don't have a faith that we come in here and wait for an experience, but I want to tell you something.
If you're not experiencing the truth of Jesus Christ, don't make this purely a cerebral faith. If all this were just a philosophy, maybe all we would do is read, but this is not a philosophy, gang. It is a relational lifestyle, and God wants you to know him, and he wants you to live with him. Sometimes it is difficult to get there, but he says, "Seek me! Don't back off. We will accomplish it together."
That is the great truth of Zechariah, chapter 4. We have been working our way through what are called these night visions. We've been taking them pretty slowly, because there have been some major truths that have been shared up until this time. Last week, for instance, we finished up the fourth night vision (the fourth thing this prophet of the Lord, Zechariah, saw).
There were eight visions God showed Zechariah. They weren't dreams, but he said, "I want to show you something (truths in the spiritual realm) which will have an impact in the way you live today in the earthly realm, and I want you to record them and tell them to your people." We've been through a number of those. The fourth one talked about how God can take a filthy priest or a filthy nation and make them an acceptable people. The answer is because he loves them, and he chooses them, and he says, "I wish you could see yourself in my eyes."
You go, "Why me, God? Why me?" He says, "Because I am God and I can do what I want to do when I want to do it. I love you. Do you have a problem with that?" Folks, the truth of the matter is a lot of folks do. A lot of people go, "I don't want to hear that you just chose me. I want you to tell me I am beautiful, that I am the most beautiful person on the face of the earth, and if you're lucky, I'll say, 'Yes,' to you when you ask me out for a date."
We spent last week talking about that. This branch or this shoot that will come forth is called a King. He's called a servant, because this King didn't just sit there and exist for his own comfort, but he came to serve. He was a man, and he related to you in every way, but he was also God, and this God who was King and who was a servant and who was a man is this one Messiah you should know.
He is also called a stone, and he is a stone of offense, a stumbling block to many. He's the one who will make you beautiful. He will be what many people will trip up over. Jesus is, if you will, the divine beautician who will make that which is disgusting beautiful, but you have to be in him. He says, "You get in me. You are ugly and vile and a 98-pound weakling, but come up under my robe and have all of my glory."
The fact of the matter is a lot of us go, "I don't want to get under your robe! I want to stand over here and let him see how I look, and I want to work out, and I want to work at it, and I want to show him I'm beautiful, and if he wants to choose someone like you, that's fine, but he's going to take me on my own terms." You trip up over the free gift of God where he says, "I will let you be beautiful. I will not do cosmetic surgery but something far greater. I will transform you from the inside out and make you glorious in my sight."
Again, let me encourage you. There is going to be a day when you will stand before the Lord, and his deep and penetrating eyes will go right through all we see, and he's going to see what's in your heart, gang. He's going to see your thoughts and your wicked deeds which no one knew but you, but here's the beauty for a Christian.
When he looks deep, deep, deep in there, he's not going to see that which I so desperately want to protect people from seeing in me; he's going to see his Spirit which dwells in me that he has baptized me in and that he has sealed me in and that he has indwelt me with, and that is beautiful in his sight because it is himself in me, his temple.
He is a stone of offense (some people trip up over it), or he is a foundation stone through which he will build a beautiful work. If you say, instead, "I don't want to trip up over Jesus, but I want to invite him into my life and use the good work which he has begun in me and add to it as I yield to his continued good work, I will become a temple of glory," or you can reject that, and if you trip up over him, he says he won't be a foundation stone.
We said last week that he would be a smiting stone that will crush you as you stand strong and firm before him in and of yourself. He will be to you a stone of offense or stumbling, or he will be to you a foundation stone not that you trip over but you begin to build on. He will be to you a stone which crushes you or he will be a stone of refuge, a Rock of ages, where you can hide from the coming torment of the judging and holiness of God.
We looked at that last week. We encouraged you with this. If he wants to be that love for you and will provide for you in the great horrors of life, do you not think he will provide for you in your marriage, in knowing how to live, in knowing how to relate at work, and in knowing how to find joy?
What we exhorted you last week was not to teach you how to love your wife or how to respond to rebuke or how to struggle with the difficulties and emptiness and depression that fills this life. What we told you was that you know this Jesus is the answer. If he has dealt with your greatest concern, you can be confident he will deal with your little ones as well. Will you seek him?
Now, this fifth vision is where we move where he is trying to encourage specifically at this time the nation of Israel that had been brought back from this time of exile and had been put in the land to rebuild this temple where they could worship God as he was revealing himself to the world. He had a group of people who worshiped him through blood sacrifice to atone for their sin to teach them and to teach the whole world that innocent blood must be shed to atone for sin. Innocent blood must die and must be shed because wickedness reigned on the earth.
God was teaching them. "One day there is going to be a final sacrifice that will come. Look for it. Anticipate it, but don't miss this great truth that your sin is awful. The wages of it are death, and you need one who will substitute his blood for yours or you will have to spill your own blood, and you don't have blood to spill."
What he's doing is working through this people. In 536 BC, to place a date on it, he sends them back to this little land. They start to build a temple. They get excited about it, but then they get distracted from within. They think, "Let's not build this temple. Let's get ourselves all cozy here in Jerusalem which we're now returning to after being away for 70-some odd years."
They take that inward apathy combined with outward oppressors who don't want them to build this temple and rebuild the wall, so they kind of lose sight of what they should do. For 16 years, the work of God lies dormant. Then, God raises up his people, his servants Haggai and the other Zechariah. You'll see them right there together in your Bible. They come to exhort God's people to be disciplined in doing the work of the Lord.
There are two key people you need to know about who existed in the nation at that time. One was the priest who represented the nation. His name was Joshua. Joshua was constantly exhorting the people to be serious about the word of the Lord or they would find themselves back in a position of bondage to sin.
That sin would be manifested because they would be a slave to those who would rule over them in the form of other countries that did not have their best interest at heart, a picture of what sin is, that we freely give ourselves over to these things which seem to be a joy to us but ultimately enslave our very souls.
God says, "Don't present yourselves as instruments of unrighteousness that sin will one day seek to rule over you." Its desire is for you so it can control you and destroy you ultimately. He says, "Instead, seek to put yourselves underneath my headship where I do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but I'm constantly looking out for your best interest. Trust me."
Sin dangles a sweet promise before you, and it is sweet to the lips, but it has a burn as it goes down the throat, and it is rottenness in your core. It is cancer to your being. Sometimes the fruit of God is just the opposite. It's hard to swallow. It's a very difficult thing, but once you swallow it, it is life to your body. He says, "Trust me."
In Zechariah, chapter 4, you have the fifth vision where you come to the second main character in the nation. It's not Joshua but a man whose name is Zerubbabel who, if you will, is the governor. There is no king in Israel. Why? Because we are in a period of time the Scriptures call the time of the Gentiles when God overall is disciplining this nation of Israel. He is saying, "As a whole, you will be under bondage to other nations as a picture of your unwillingness to serve me. You have no king of your own who is a servant of mine," but they do have a governor whose name is Zerubbabel.
Zerubbabel is trying to rebuild the rubble of the temple, and he's exhorting and encouraging the people, and he is discouraged. After almost 20 years of being for the people and encouraging the people to build a temple, he's exhausted. He doesn't know if God is ever going to accomplish with this group of folks he's running with the good work that they returned from Babylon to do.
This chapter is for him, and you will see it's also for us, because what you're going to find out is God always does certain things for his people. I've tried to explain to you that this nation of Israel ultimately never really responded the way God wanted them to during any season of their history, so he's going to let them now one more time be dispersed and be a persecuted folk that will culminate in one great last persecution to the Jews like they've never seen before, if you can imagine that, considering the horrors we've witnessed in this century.
There will be a time when, again, they will become the favorite hated sons of the world, but the reason I think they'll be hated is not just because they're Jews but because there will be Jews who say what we say today in much the same way you see Christians who are going to be antagonized against and hated because of their love for one individual, the Messiah, the Anointed One of God who has come to save men, to be a building stone on which they can become something glorious.
No. Mankind doesn't want a gift. Mankind wants to exalt itself and be great on its own. Christians say, "There is one way a man can be great and it is to be in Christ," and you will see, as our age progresses, Christians more than any other group of people will be singled out as bigots and intolerant because we say there is one.
In this move toward one-world government and one-world religion (this ecumenicalism or this idea we can all come together), there will be one people who will always say, "No. We can't come together and just say whatever you will is fine and whatever I will is fine. What we say is there is one way, and it's not up to us. It's the way that has been revealed through the one who came and lived and died and was resurrected. The only one in all of history whose name is Jesus who is the Rock, who is the stone of offense or smiting or the Rock of Ages or the foundation of a good work. He will either destroy you or save you. Choose for yourself whom you will serve."
They will say, "We can't have you here in our little club because you keep wanting to drive a wedge." We say, "We don't want to drive a wedge; we want to build a bridge of life, not between you and me but between humanity and God," and as such, we will be his priests or ministers of reconciliation.
The way I understand my Bible is there will be a time when he will take us, his church which is made up of both Jew and Greek, and he will remove us, and he will unfold the final events of all history specifically, again, working through some Jews who will have seen their Messiah to be the one they themselves played a part in removing, this Jesus the Christ, and they will be sought after and hunted and killed, but God will preserve a number of them and will do a good work through them even as he always said he would.
Watch what he's going to say to Zerubbabel who is a picture of a lot of things. Let's read together Zechariah, chapter 4, verse 1. "Then the angel who was speaking with me returned and roused me, as a man who is awakened from his sleep." I've had some folks tell me, "I feel really bad. I'm discouraged. Do you ever fall asleep when you're reading your Bible? Sometimes I'm lying in my bed late at night reading my Bible, and I fall asleep, and I just feel so bad when I wake up the next morning and so disrespectful."
I have to tell you don't feel bad when you fall asleep reading your Bible. Zechariah fell asleep when he was watching a movie. I will tell you if the only time you read the Bible is late at night when you're trying to tuck God in after you've caught the top-10 list on Letterman or whatever it is you're watching, that might be a problem.
You should give God the best hour of your day. You should give him the best day of your week. You should give him the best and the first portion of all you make and of all of your strength. You shouldn't just work him in where it's convenient. He ought to be a priority in your life, but I can't think of a better way to fall asleep than reading the Scriptures. I can't think of a better way to fall asleep than praying.
The point is, though, that we deal with a group of people who, though they're exposed to wonderful and tremendous spiritual truths, in this world who are asleep, so we need to be an angel. Angel literally means messenger. The context of the Scripture always defines whether the word angel in Scripture is interpreted as a spirit being or as humanity.
In this sense, let me encourage you to be an angel who arouses those who are asleep before wonderful and great spiritual truths. Zechariah… We're going to give him a break. He's up all night seeing these incredible things. He saw eight of these visions in one night. Who knows what time it is? It's 3:00 or 3:30 in the morning, and he's tired, so he starts to fall asleep, and the angel of the Lord wakes him up and says, "No, no! It gets better. We're not done yet." Let's see why God wanted to wake him up and keep him up to show him.
It says, "He said to me, 'What do you see?' And I said…" Here's what he saw in this vision as God took him and let him see with spiritual eyes. "I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on the top of it…"
Let me explain this to you. Today, the nation of Israel has a symbol. It is called a lampstand. The Hebrew for that is menorah. A menorah is basically what we would see as the symbol of the nation of Israel. It has a stem. Then, it comes out, and it has three different lamps or three different candlesticks on each side with one in the middle.
Of this specific one God shows his servant Zechariah he says, "Watch this. Here's a menorah. I want you to see it. This menorah has from each of the different candlesticks or each of the different stems and wicks seven spouts which feed it. Those seven spouts on each of the separate candlesticks feed all to one bowl, and that bowl," you're about to find out, "is surrounded by two olive trees." You'll find out later those two olive trees which are by that bowl have a branch which goes to a spigot which feeds that bowl.
You're going, "What in the world is he showing him this for?" Let me just give you a fun little description of an event that will come up along about the time we celebrate Christmas. The Jews will celebrate a holiday called Hanukkah. Hanukkah is Hebrew for the word dedication. It's the Feast of the Dedication for the Jews who celebrate the twenty-fifth day of a certain month on the Jewish calendar which always falls pretty near our Christmas.
What is Hanukkah, this Feast of the Dedication? In fact, let me just show you something. This is a non-biblical feast. In other words, it's not a feast or a Jewish celebration which is revealed in our Scriptures. It comes from an event that happened in what is called intertestamental times meaning between the closing of the Old Testament canon in 430 BC and before the writing of the Gospels and the Epistles in the New Testament which was, depending on who you ask, anywhere from AD 40 to the end of the first century.
There was an intertestamental time. There was some history that still happened as God continued to do a work through his people, the Jews. Turn with me to John, chapter 10. I'll show you an interesting thing. You're going to get a picture of an event that Jesus was at. At this specific event Jesus was at, he was celebrating Hanukkah.
Hanukkah is called the Festival of Lights or the Feast of the Dedication, so even though this isn't the Passover and this isn't the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Booths or others of the great seven national feasts the nation of Israel celebrated, there is one Jesus celebrated which happened during the intertestamental times. If you read a book in what is called your Apocrypha or additional scriptures, there is a reference to it. It's from the second book of Maccabees. I'm going to tell you why it's called Maccabees.
Look here in John, chapter 10, verse 22. It says at that time at the Feast of the Dedication which took place in Jerusalem it was winter even as it will be today, and Jesus was walking the temple portico of Solomon. Watch what happened. Jesus was walking around the temple. It was a covered area very near where God was trying to teach the people about the awfulness of sin and how grace alone can cover the problem.
The Feast of the Dedication comes from an event which happened roughly in 167 BC. If you're a person who loves dates, you remember we've talked a lot about this stuff and some history which is important to understanding the Scriptures in the Old Testament. There was a cycle of world powers that were taking on each other.
First, there was the great world power of Babylon that was defeated by Medo-Persia. That's what the power was when Zechariah was written. He released the Jews to go back to Jerusalem, but they were overcome somewhere between 334 BC and 330 BC. A guy named Alexander, a Greek, came to power and swiftly overtook the world and increased the empire of a world power beyond what it had ever been. In 330 BC, Alexander the Great had conquered most of the known world and had gone further east than anybody and conquered even Israel.
When Alexander died, his kingdom was broken up into four different parts. One of the parts was basically called the Seleucid Empire. There was a guy who reigned there starting in 168 BC whose name was Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus Epiphanes is a picture in history of what is called the antichrist.
He has done what one day Satan himself will do. He decided to Hellenize. I'm putting out some big words. Basically, he was going to get the folks in Jerusalem to not keep their own culture, but he was going to make them Greek. It was the Hellenization of his people. He said, "From now on, all Jewish ceremony and all Jewish custom are to be outlawed. There is to be no circumcision. There is to be no Sabbath. There is to be no celebration of any kind that is anything but Greek. You must worship Greek gods."
In fact, he did some things that were specifically to spite the Jews. He knew they didn't like pigs, so he said, "We're going to sacrifice pigs to our gods," so he moved into the temple and sacrificed an unholy animal (a swine or a pig) on the altar of the Lord. He said, "Get rid of this God called Jehovah you worship and let's worship Zeus." This was an awful day. It is what is called in a picture of history the abomination of desolation when you put that which is unholy where God is and say, "Worship him as God."
There will be a day when Satan himself will set himself up as the hope for Israel and say, "Worship me," and he will enthrone himself in the temple and say, "Make sacrifice to me. I am your deliverer." That will be in the final times the abomination of desolation. Jesus says, "When that happens, run for the hills," because literally you're not going to be Hellenized but all hell is going to break loose for three and a half years until the righteous one comes and smites him.
What happened during this time was that there was a group of guys and one in particular, a guy named Mattathias, who lived about 19 miles from Jerusalem. He said, "Nuh-uh. I'm a Jew, and I will worship the one true God, and I'm not going to worship Zeus and neither are the rest of you Jews. I don't care what this world ruler says, you will not bow and cave to this oppressing power. Why? Because God is mighty among us, and we will trust him."
Mattathias and his five boys, one of whom was Judas the Maccabean, decided to have a guerrilla warfare that would take on this oppressing world power. They started to go to the Jews and say, "I don't want to see you sacrificing unrighteous things. You sacrifice what God told you to sacrifice."
Meanwhile, Antiochus Epiphanes would send his police basically to towns to make sure you worshiped the right way. One day, Mattathias killed this individual Jew who offered an unrighteous sacrifice. When the police came to say, "What's the problem here?" they killed him. They said, "Brothers, here come the troops. We have to get to the hills," so guerrilla warfare was born.
For the next three years, there were a group of people known as the Maccabees led by one of this priest's sons (namely Judas) who were difficult. Maccabean is Hebrew for hammer. He was called Judas the hammer because they couldn't get this guy, and he kept hammering this great world power.
After three years of great struggle, these guerrilla Jews finally defeated the Greeks, and they got back to Jerusalem, and they got the temple again, and the first thing they wanted to do was to go back in and renew the right way to worship in the temple, so they were reestablishing worship, and one of the things they had to do was to relight at night this lampstand which God had in the Holy Place.
Again, where God had his temple set up there were a number of things that were in there which were symbolic for you and me and for the Jews as well. One of the things right near the Most Holy Place where the sacrifice for sin was offered was a curtain, and on the outside of that curtain was a lampstand.
It was a menorah. It was to be lit every evening and it was to burn until morning, and the priests were never to let it go out. If it went out, it was a problem because it was darkened in the place where the priest was to do the work in order to restore the relationship of God's people to him. He said, "I don't ever want this place dark. The light always needs to be on to show how you are righteous in relationship to me by the act of grace that happens on the mercy seat that atones for your sin over the law."
When Judas got in there, the problem was when you lit the lampstand there was only enough oil for one night of that lampstand to be burnt, so they had to go through crushing the oil from the olive leaf in order to get this oil for this lamp to be continually burnt. The Jews celebrate a miracle every year to commemorate this specific time.
They call it Hanukkah, the Feast of the Dedication or the Festival of Lights, because God miraculously took this one bowl of oil (this one night's worth of oil) and had that lamp burn for eight consecutive days. To them, it was a miracle to show God was for them, God was with them, and God would keep the way open until they could get their act together in order to build that bridge one more time.
Jesus was there in Jerusalem celebrating that. There's your little Hanukkah. "What's going on?" What you want to tell them is what Jesus told them. It's interesting. In another ceremony that happens about that same time of year, Jesus called himself the Light of the World. What he was saying was, "You won't know how to get right with God. You have to go through me. I'm the one who is going to show you the way."
In fact, he came right back a little bit later in the book of John and said that very thing. "I am the way, and I am the truth, and I am the life." It's important for you to know the Old Testament truths. You'll see how they all point to this Messiah, but watch what happens here. What he is describing in Zechariah is this seven-stemmed candelabra which has seven, if you will, pipes which feed to a bowl which is planted by two olive trees which have branches that come out of it with a spigot pouring into that bowl.
In other words, there is an abundant amount of oil which will perfectly fill each individual light so that light can radiate to the whole world, and you don't need to worry about filling that candle up with oil in and of yourself. God will do it perfectly himself. Seven is the biblical number of completion or fullness or perfection.
What he says is, "Listen, Zerubbabel. I know you're discouraged about what might happen with you as a nation, but it's not up to you. This light which is symbolized by seven candles (perfect fullness and perfect light) will be constantly fed. Each individual candle will have seven spigots pouring into it, so it's fully fed and abundantly provided for from a bowl that is connected right away to two huge olive trees that feed it.
You don't need to worry about doing it yourself. I have abundantly taken care of it myself. Do you want to know how precious you are in my eyes? I make you precious. Then, I sustain you in your good work." Look what it goes on to say. Let's finish verse 3. It says,
"…also two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on its left side. Then I said to the angel who was speaking with me saying, 'What are these, my lord?' So the angel who was speaking with me answered and said to me, 'Do you not know what these are?' And I said, 'No, my lord.'" He's not going to tell him. He's going to build some suspense. Look at verse 6, a key verse in this entire book. "Then he said to me, 'This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit," says the LORD of hosts.'"
"This is how your temple is going to be rebuilt. This is how your light is going to go forward and be great to the nations. Zerubbabel, I know you're weary from 20-plus years of trying to get these people to change, but it isn't up to you. It's up to me, and until I do a good work, it's not going to matter how mighty you are in fighting those great armies that come against you. It's not going to matter how powerful and motivated you are to deal with the oppression that is within. It's going to be up to me. Zerubbabel, stop all of your striving apart from me and begin to be still before me. I am the Lord Almighty, the Lord of Hosts. Trust me."
Gang, let me just spend some time here with you. This is so key, because you will find out, when God wants to do a good work through people, he doesn't give them marching orders and say, "Go." I have mentioned to you that it says in the New Testament that we (the church) are today often referred to as his lampstand or his light.
For a season, because this nation never yielded to him, he has brought them under discipline, and he is raising up another people, and he's saying to us, "Will you be a light for me? Will you shine for me? Will you let the world see your good works so they will glorify your Father who is in heaven?"
If we say, "Yes," to that, we must realize the means through which they will see our good works. It's not going to be through our might nor through our power but by his Spirit. How were the light and the lampstand of God, which was Israel, to be provided for and to burn perfectly from a bowl which God had placed over it so gravity would work for it? There are seven channels feeding each individual lamp on this seven-tiered lampstand. It is perfectly bright, perfectly fed, and abundantly provided for.
"Just don't choke my Spirit. Just don't let this channel get clogged, because when you clog that channel the light is going to go down." What makes a Coleman lantern at your campsite burn brighter? The answer? You turn up the gas or the propane. What will make us as a church more resilient and brilliant in our burning light for him?
I will tell you it is not by greater striving. It is by greater yielding to him. There is a verse in your New Testament. Ephesians 5:18 says, "…be filled with the Spirit…" It is a continual command that you are to yield to that which is already in you. Be continually being filled or be continually yielding to the Spirit of God which is in you. Let him work in and through you for his good work.
Our problem is not our inability but it's our unwillingness to let God live in us, and we choke him off. We have a hardening of the arteries, if you will. The only thing that would make this lampstand not work was if you clogged the flow from this eternal and abundant source to each of the wicks.
Gang, in the church we aren't a seven-tiered lampstand. We are an abundant lampstand. Each one of us is a light. Jesus exhorts us, "Let your light shine before men." How will your light shine? You will stay connected to the source and continually yield to his work in your life that you might bear the fruit of that oil in your life.
Oil in Scripture is always a picture of the Holy Spirit. There is an abundant supply to it. It will never empty out. The question is…Will you choke off the source? The Scripture tells you in the New Testament to not quench the Spirit or grieve the Spirit of God who longs to burn in you and produce a good work through which all men would see your good work and glorify your Father who is in heaven, but that involves saying, "I can't burn brightly on my own. I must let him do it."
That's the encouragement to Zerubbabel. Look at what he says in verse 7. "What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of 'Grace, grace to it!'" What he says there is, "Listen, Zerubbabel. I know there are mighty and oppressive obstacles before you, but they're going to be nothing to you. I can get rid of them. How? Not by your might and not by your power but by my Spirit."
Matthew 17… Jesus up on the Mount of Transfiguration reveals his glory and comes down off that mountain. The nine other disciples are down there. They're trying to deal with a man who is possessed with lunacy. He is a wild man, totally out of touch with God, and these disciples are trying on their own to get this man to be freed up from bondage to the world, and they can't do it, and Jesus rebukes them.
He says, "O you of little faith." He casts out the demons of this oppressed man and allows him to see clearly again. They come to him and say, "What was the problem? You gave us the authority way back there in chapter 10…here we are in chapter 17… to cast out demons. Why couldn't we do it?"
Jesus said, "The reason you couldn't do it was because back there in chapter 10 I didn't give you a formula to go out and just do something on your own. I told you that you must abide in me. As you abide in me and with me and by faith walk with me, you would burn brightly, but what you guys did was you went down and tried to do what you had always done (burn brightly for me without depending on me)."
He says to them, "…for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed…" That's not very much. "…you will say to this mountain, 'Get up, get out of way, and go into the sea.'" Do you understand what he's saying here in Zechariah 4 is, "You have far more flowing into you than just a little mustard seed, this small…like a poppy seed"?
He said, "If you just leave even so much of that of my Spirit coming through my oil burning into your life, you will burn brightly, but you've choked it off completely. You've said, 'I don't need that. We can burn brightly on our own. We know how to do your work, Lord. We know how to be impressive for you. We'll check in later if we need it.'" He says, "You're going to go out. You can't do it just because you've done it before." It is to be continually filled with the Spirit.
How do you deal with obstacles, Christian? Not by looking within and not by reading a self-help book but by turning to the one who himself can sustain you through all circumstance. Paul says, "I have learned the secret." He says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Therein is the rub. It is in abiding with Christ.
Look at what it goes on to say in verse 8. "Also the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 'The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands will finish it.'" Don't be discouraged when some doubt your ultimate destiny. There are going to be some who say, "I see the good work which has begun in you, but you're not going to go very far for very long."
God says, "If I am for you, my Spirit will get through to you. Sometimes, even though you have a hardening of the arteries and you choke me off, I'm going to force my way through. I'll get your attention if I have to. I'll show you that your wick will go out, but I will do the good work which I have set out to accomplish in you."
Philippians 1:6. He who began a good work will bring it about to completion. Why? I'm going to show you in a minute. Look at what it says. "Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. For who has despised the day of small things? But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel—these are the eyes of the LORD which range to and fro throughout the earth."
You're going, "What in the world is he talking about?" Let me explain it to you. There were a group of folks who saw the small beginnings of God working again in the nation of Israel. They saw the foundation of the temple being laid. They now saw Zerubbabel exhorting again to build this temple where God could again be worshiped, and they despised the beginning of the work of God. What he says right here…
By the way, don't you have that in your life? I can remember when I first trusted Christ as a young man in high school. I was zealous for the Lord and so desperate for my family especially to know him that I'd go home and it wouldn't be long before I'd be in an argument with my brother or my mother or my father, and they would always throw this card at me. "You call yourself a Christian! Some Christian you are!" Have you ever had a non-Christian lay that on you?
Even if they've never said it, have you ever felt that when you've been defeated by sin and your Enemy despises the work of God and any small bit of Christlikeness? "Yeah, you went to church. Yeah, you worship. Yeah, you disciplined yourself to participate in his work through your tithing and through your service, but come on! You know inside your heart you're still a wicked individual who lives for lust and pride and self."
Your Enemy will despise the small work of God which is beginning to bear fruit in your life. You need to be encouraged right here. Read this verse again. Look at what he says. "For who has despised the day of small things? But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel—these are the eyes of the LORD which range to and fro throughout the earth."
The seven… Again, a picture of perfect fullness and completion. These are God's eyes, and he sees what's going on in you, and he is working in you to will and to work his good pleasure, and he is pleased. He is pleased with you as you struggle against sin. He is pleased with the small fruit you are bearing. He wants you to have more of those channels opened up, but I want you to know he is encouraged that you seek to let him do his will and his work in you.
Don't let folks discourage you because you're not yet Billy Graham or you're not yet some saint the whole world lifts up. Are you seeing any evidence of God in your life? He is for you, and the eyes of the Lord go to and fro throughout the earth. He says, "I am pleased in that individual as he begins to seek me."
Listen to what he says. "There will be a day when I have Zerubbabel take the plumb line…" In other words, to measure it and to make sure it is so and to go back through. Some translations say to put the capstone, the finishing work on it. "There will be a day when it will be finished, and then they will know that I am God."
He will take Todd Wagner, and there will be a day when I will not struggle with pride, when I won't struggle with lust, when I won't struggle with selfishness, and when I won't struggle with empty conceit. It's coming, folks! Some of you are going, "Sure! When?" My wife and I join you in asking, but the fact is the Lord says it's coming but not by your might and not by your power but by his Spirit.
Quickly, verse 11 says, "Then I said to him, 'What are these two olive trees on the right of the lampstand and on its left?' And I answered the second time and said to him, 'What are the two olive branches which are beside the two golden pipes, which empty the golden oil from themselves?'""What are these branches which come forward from these olive trees into that bowl which feeds the seven spigots which go down to the seven candles?"
Again, let me say it this way. Each of the candles has seven spigots, so there are 49 spigots coming out of these bowls. Who are these two branches that are coming forward right now and filling up this bowl? "So he answered me, saying, 'Do you not know what these are?'" He said, "I've asked you three times now! No! What are they?" Verse 14: "Then he said, 'These are the two anointed ones…'" Literally sons of oil or sons of the Spirit. "…who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth."
Specifically, he reveals them as, "Joshua and Zerubbabel, the priest and the king who are servants of God to exhort you as a spiritual people to come and respond to me in your heart the way you should and a leader who was coming to deliver you from oppression and to allow you to be a great nation. My servant Zerubbabel who now is this branch which represents this kingly line is the one I am working through to exhort you to do the good work of the Lord," but he would go on to say he is a picture (both of them) of what their two lines were ultimately about.
There is going to be one day one priest and one king who will be united together (prophet, priest, and king) who ultimately is the giver of the Spirit, who is the one who will accomplish for all time the work in his people. Who is it? It gets back to the central theme of this book. It is this Jesus.
Joshua, the priest, is a picture of him, and Zerubbabel, the governor or the king, is a picture of him who is to come who will be the only man in the history of the nation who ever combined those offices of priest and king and prophet (this Jesus). Jesus said at the Feast of the Dedication, "I am the Light of the World," but they didn't like that because they wanted to be like Judas the Maccabean (Judas the hammer) who could come and deliver them from the oppressor Antiochus Epiphanes. They wanted him to be like Moses who would deliver them from Pharaoh.
Jesus said, "There is a far greater war you fight, one with a bondage to sin and to self, and you need a deliverer who will deal with the hardness of your heart first. The kings of this world are nothing to me. Let's deal with this problem first. When you're a holy people, then I'll manifest your holiness as you radiate a great light before the nations, but we have to deal with the heart first."
Read with me in Ezekiel 36. Turn back to your left and we'll close here. Look at what he says. Why is God going to do it and how is he going to do it? He's not going to do it because Israel is anything special. No. He has chosen them. Why? Because he's God and he can. Why are we going to be a great church? Why will we be a great people? Not because, folks, we have done anything in and of ourselves.
It said in Zechariah, chapter 4, that he will remove this mountain. "I will cause the work to be finished, and you will crown it and say, 'Grace, grace!'" Tonight, before you all got here, we did a baptism with a few folks. We sang, "Amazing Grace." We sang that third line of that great hymn where it says, "'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed!" It says, "'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home."
The Scripture says in Hebrews that Jesus is the author and the perfecter of your faith. Do you want to build a temple and become glorious to the Lord? The Cornerstone you need to put there is Jesus Christ. He is a work of grace in your life which you cling to. When one day you stand before him, you're going to say, "God, it's by grace that you've brought me home." You will crown this work that is done and initiated by his Spirit and is finished by his Spirit by saying, "Grace to grace… God, your grace continually be upon me."
We sang tonight, "Your grace flows down and covers me…" Gang, don't despise the small work God is doing in you, but cry out for more grace, the grace which began in you this good work. He will bring it about to completion, and you need more grace and more Holy Spirit you're yielding to, not an additional blessing but an additional dying in and of yourself to yield to the Spirit of God that is in you. Die to self so he might live in you and through you, and you'll be a light to the world bearing his fruit. Look at Ezekiel 36, verse 22.
"Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD," declares the Lord GOD, "when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight."'"
Gang, God wants to use us and make us a people that die to self. As we become more and more like Christ, the world is going to go, "What is it with you people? Why are you so kind? Why are you so loving? Why are you so selfless? Why are you so giving?" The answer is, "Because he is doing a work in us," which, gang, is a mystery to you and is a mystery to us. Look what goes on.
"For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone…"
"I will remove the hardening of arteries that is clogging up the flow of life through you, and I will put there a heart of flesh." It says, "…and give you a heart of flesh." It goes on in that chapter to talk about how he will do in Israel this great work. How will Israel one day be an obedient nation that will be a light to the world?
The answer is they will finally humble themselves before God, come into relationship with Jesus Christ, be baptized into his Spirit, and there the light and the fruit of his Spirit should bear in his people. Guess what we are supposed to do today. That very thing! My question is…Are we a glorious lampstand for Jesus Christ?
Does the world look at us and go, "Look at the way they radiate and shine"? If the answer is, "No," it is not because the oil is not there or the Spirit is not willing to flow. It is because we have a hardening of the heart, and we choke him off, and we will not do anything more until we open the flow and he replaces our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh.
Be encouraged tonight that God is for you. He is at will and at work in you to accomplish his good pleasure. What each of us needs to continually do is to cry out, "God, show me where I am quenching the Spirit and where I am choking you off and where I will not let you do a good work in my life."
It might be in your marriage. It might be in your view toward others either racially or relationally. It might be in the way you conduct your financial affairs. It might be in the way you handle a lust problem or an addiction to pornography and you're not willing to turn the flow of the Spirit on and say, "God, you need to have sovereignty in that area of my life."
I invite you tonight, as his eyes go to and fro and he is excited to see his good work being continued in you, to let his Spirit work. If you haven't a clue how to do that, that is why we are here to equip you, to teach you how to turn that faucet on and how to let him live in and through you. How will we be a great church? Not by might and not by power but by his Spirit.
In Revelation 2, he speaks to the church at Ephesus which was the New York City of the day, a great church, and a powerful church. He said, "You've done a lot of great things. You love the Word. You have a great doctrinal statement, but here's my concern. You are beginning to lose your first love, which is me, and you're starting to love yourselves (exactly what Israel did in 536 and 520 BC). You have sought after you and not after me. You have lost your first love."
He says to them, "If you don't fall back in love with me with a tender heart, I will remove my lampstand from you." Gang, do you know Ephesus is in modern-day Turkey? At one time, it was a thriving and great church. It was the picture of what a godly church ought to be like if you read the book of Ephesians. Today, in Turkey, there are less than one for every 100,000 people in that nation who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Here's my question? Is the church ineffective today? No. The church is still shining a bright light, but would you say the church is shining a bright light from Turkey? No, because God was very serious when he said, "I will take my lampstand from you, and I will put it somewhere else where it will shine."
We have to ask ourselves tonight, "Will God continue to let his light shine well from your church?" Let me take it a step further. Will he let it shine from your household? Will he let it shine from your apartment in The Village? Will he let it shine from your classroom where you teach? Will he let it shine forth from your marriage?
The answer is, "He will if you return to your first love, and say, 'God, I'm not going to quench what you want to do with my life. I'm not going to grieve you, but I'm going to let your Spirit flow through me. I want to be a vessel of honor prepared for every good work and useful to the Master.'" Let's pray.
Father, we come and we've looked at these key passages. We've seen that to the Jews it was a miracle that you took this one little bowl of oil that should only have sustained them for a night, and because you were so consumed with having them be this nation that would be a lamp and a light to the world you kept the access or the work of the priest in that place open for them.
By a miracle, you sustained them until they could get back in there and fill the bowl again, but what your real truth of the Scripture is here is that we're not to celebrate that man can work and strive and keep that candle burning from morning till evening. The miracle is that, God, all we have to do is let you continue to have your way and do your work in us.
We don't need to strive by might or by power to be impressive, but we need to yield to your Spirit. We need to continually be filled and die to self that you might live. We need to let the Word of Christ richly dwell within us. We need to be filled with the knowledge of his will. We need to meditate, Father, on your Word day and night so we will be careful to do according to all that is written in it. We need to abide in you, because apart from you we can do nothing.
Father, I pray we would return to you, our first love, so you would not have to take your lampstand and plant it somewhere else in this city where your light would shine, that we would not do what we always have done, but we would only do, Father, what your Spirit wants us to do tomorrow.
Lord, I pray that would be true for every individual household, apartment, professor, professional, and child in this room tonight, that individually we would begin to become people who you shine through because we have, again, re-covenanted with you and fallen back in love with you and put the channels open where we listen to you and seek your face and then yield to your work in our lives. May you not remove the lampstand!
Father, we thank you for the glorious work from grace to grace. Father, though we are wicked, you loved us, and though we struggle now against our flesh, you will one day replace this heart of stone with a heart of flesh, and you will glorify us and make us even as yourself so that we will say, "Father, from grace to grace you have done this, and not by our might and not by our power but by your Spirit you have removed every obstacle and every trouble we have."
We long for that day, and we seek to participate with you now by yielding ourselves and conforming ourselves more to your image in this time we have to serve you on earth until we see you on that day. 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.