Is Your Life Motto Consistent with the Life You Model?

Zechariah: Sawing Through the ZZZs, Volume 2

Todd describes some of the prophecies outlined in Zechariah, including the coming of Jesus and the peace He will bring to the nations. Because of the hope and trust we have in Jesus and His return, we should respond by leading a life that models holiness.

Todd WagnerNov 30, 1997Zechariah 9 - 10

You will be encouraged to tear into this book, your Bible, especially the more familiar parts, more often. It is my desire that you fall in love with this book. Not just because by falling in love with it you will be a better person, because we don't worship the Bible; we worship the God who this Bible is about. If you say you love Jesus Christ, you should want to know all you can about him.

You look at the modern world that we live in. We have folks who are fans of somebody. They can't read enough about Princess Diana. People magazine can't stop printing stuff about her, though she is dead. They want to know about her kids, about affairs she would've had if she would've stayed alive.

People have an insatiable appetite to find out more about those they have an affection for. Well if you say you have an affection for that child who was born in a manger, then you ought to have a love for this book. Because this book tells you who he is. More than just being some popular figure in history, you will find out that he is a God who lives today who will impact your every thought and every will in every way for your benefit and his glory. He is not a bad friend to have.

We looked last week at Zechariah 8. Let me remind you. This book, Zechariah, is the most difficult book. It appears at a time in the history of your Old Testament that the Canon or the record of God's relationships to his people Israel is about to close. We don't have any biblical record from about 430 BC on until the coming of Christ.

There is what is called the intertestamental period where about 500 years of silence when there is no revelation from God given to us about what is going on. There is prophecy that describes what will happen in this 500 years of biblical silence. In fact, you're going to look at some of it tonight in Zechariah, chapter 9.

But we don't have any historical narrative. We don't have the front page of the Jerusalem Times, if you will, describing what was going on in that day as we do during the time of the kings: Saul, David, Solomon, and all who followed them on their thrones and the time of disobedience of the nation where God finally disciplined them and sent them as a nation to their room for 70 years.

After roughly 70 years, in 536 BC, God raised up a man that he mentioned by name a hundred and some odd years earlier in the book of Isaiah in chapter 45. He didn't give you some allusion to the fact that there would be one who would come. He mentioned a pagan king who probably never knew God personally, but as the Scripture says, "The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes." If he wants a pagan king to do something for his good name and for the glory of his people, he can accomplish it.

He told you that guy's name long before he was born and long before the nation which he would grow to rule even was a world power: Cyrus. He calls him my servant because truly all men are his servants. God can do what he wills and what he wants to accomplish his purposes. If he cannot, no matter what you believe of the Scriptures, your definition of God is too small.

If God does exist, by definition, he must be freely able to do what he wants to do, when he wants to do it, the way that he wants to do it. The only thing that God cannot do… And you have a bunch of folks who stand around and love to talk about things like this. They love to say, "Can God create a rock so big that he could not move it?"

They'll sit at Starbucks over coffee. They'll cross their arms. One will strike a strategic pose and they'll think. They'll discuss this great theological question. Hogwash! Let me just tell you. The only things God can't do are the things that his own character limits him from doing. For instance, God cannot do anything that isn't by definition holy or glorious.

When you think of the attributes of God, don't think of God as being holy or glorious. Because those are all-encompassing terms that describe everything he does. Everything God does is glorious, even judging wicked people. Everything that God does is holy. He is holy in his wrath and in his love.

The only thing that limits God is that which would necessarily contradict his holiness or his glory. The question, "Can God create a rock that is so big that he can't move it?" is ludicrous. It's not even worth thinking about. Who knows? By the way, the answer to that question is yes. He could. Then he'd move it.

Because God is not limited in any way by his own power. I guess, in a sense, you could say the answer is no because God is always all-powerful so there's nothing he cannot do. That is why I said, "Yes, he could create a rock so big he couldn't move it, and then he'd move it." Because God can always do what we think he cannot do.

In fact, that's brought out in Zechariah, chapter 8. It is this book Zechariah which picks itself up after those Jews had been returned from exile. They had been brought back to the land. They were told to rebuild the temple through which God was going to make himself known to all the nations again, a place where he would dwell, where holiness would then exude into his people who would follow him through a system of identifying themselves as his children in the Old Testament way through sacrifices and certain practices and keeping the law.

They were a picture of ultimately the true fulfillment that would come in the form of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ himself. So a lot of these things were pictured through the way that people worshipped God in the temple services in your Old Testament. Zechariah is the exhortation to this returning group of people.

To be truly holy, don't just go through the form without having a true heart that has been deeply moved into relationship with him. Zechariah 8 is encouraging these folks after the eight night visions, chapters 1 through 6. You have four messages that make up chapters 7 and 8 of the book of Zechariah.

Those four messages are basically rebuking the people who think strictly religious activity is what God wanted. He makes it very clear he doesn't just want them to do religious things. People ask me all the time, "You're religious, aren't you?" I tell them, "No." Because religion to me necessarily is defined by what men do in order to gain God's acceptance.

I had a chance to share Christ with a guy this week over here who I've been building a relationship with at a place where I go and try and sweat every now and then. As we sat and talked together, we began to discuss a little bit about what it is that makes Christianity uniquely different from all other world faiths.

I shared with him very simply this. I said, "Christianity has nothing to do with what we do. It has everything to do with what has been done. Religion is what men must do. Every other world faith is made up of what men must do in order to somehow appease the holiness of God. God is so holy; there is nothing that men can do.

Christianity describes what God has done that bridges that eternal gap between sinful man and eternal perfect deity. I trust in Jesus Christ as the means to which I find forgiveness. It's not what I do. It's what has been done. Because it's been done for me, I seek to live in a way that would glorify him and say, 'What possibly could I do in return for him?'"

As I described last week, it's not to pay back the debt but to respond in love to my God who died for me. I sing a new song now. I am not on a chain. The reason I love to come and share the Scriptures with you is not because if I don't, God is going to whack me silly but because it's the joy of my life to tell other people about who he is. It's my privilege to go tell it on the mount. It's not my religious duty.

The old saying goes, I have never had to ask a single woman who has been engaged, who is in love with her groom-to-be, to show me her wedding ring. It's an amazing thing. You can put a carat of weight on a woman's left hand. They walk around, and somehow it levitates. It's heavier than it's ever been in her life, but she walks around like this because she can't wait to go tell the world about the one who she loves. So it is with my life.

Zechariah 7 and 8 are four messages that are trying to rebuild into the people a description of what true love relationship with God is about. We looked at chapter 8 last week. I want to grab a couple of more things out of there and then launch into chapter 9. Look at what I said there in Zechariah 8. There's a little place in verse 6 that said this.

"Thus says the LORD of hosts…" Then he talks about the great things he is going to do with these people. "If it is too difficult in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, will it also be too difficult in My sight?" He is saying, "I am describing great things that I'm going to do with this group of people upon which I'm going to pour out my favor."

They look at themselves, and they realize they're a bunch of slaves who have been brought out of bondage. They go, "What can God do with us? He wants us to rebuild his temple. It'll never be as glorious as it used to be." It's like having a defaced piece of art and a guy is told to go back and to do the best he can to get the spray paint off it and to make the Mona Lisa look glorious one more time.

You're sitting in that room and you're starting to try to work on it. You go, "It can never happen again. The Mona Lisa has been forever defaced. How could it ever become this great piece of art again? It's too difficult a thing." God says, "Let me just tell you something. While it might be too difficult for you, it's not too difficult for me."

I just want to remind you, not dwell here too long, that what is impossible for man is possible for God. If you don't believe it, ask Abraham. He was 100-plus years old and laughed. So did Sarah when she heard that they were going to have a child through which ultimately this blessing would come. Those very words came out of the mouth of God. "Hey Abraham. What is impossible for you is possible for me."

If you don't believe it, ask Mary, a teenage virgin who was going to get to be the mother of the Savior of the world. What is impossible with man is possible with God. If you don't believe it, you ask Jesus, who talked specifically about how religion never, ever possibly could save even a righteous man. It's impossible for sinful man to bridge that eternal gap.

He says, "What's impossible for man is possible with God." So he did a very queer thing. He had the God of all eternity born as a babe in a manger. Something that doesn't seem the way that you or I would do something, but God took that impossible thing: a virgin who would be with a child. There was a reason that she was a virgin.

It was so the sin of humanity would not be passed down to do him because he was not from sinful humanity, but he was born of heaven, carried by a woman to identify with humanity through which he was created to redeem. There is a relationship there. He was one of us, but he wasn't tainted by sin. He lived a righteous life. He did what we could not do. What is impossible with man is possible with God.

Let me remind you of another truth that Zechariah 8 brings out. When you come into a relationship with this child of the manger, it ought to make a difference in your life. Last week, we played a little team up there in Green Bay. Green Bay has been long known as Titletown, but it's been a joke for that city to carry that name. They won the first two Super Bowls and they hung this little shingle outside their city that said "Titletown."

It was the laughing stock. For 30 years, everybody laughed that you could call a city Titletown because it wins a world championship once every 30 years. Just because you call yourself something doesn't mean you are that. When you drive into Philadelphia, what's the shingle that hangs outside that city before you go in? "Eat a good sandwich and get mugged"? No? What? "The City of Brotherly Love."

Just because you call yourself something doesn't mean that you necessarily possess that something. Jerusalem. Do you know what Jerusalem means? Jerusalem means possession of peace, but just because you call yourself that doesn't mean that you necessarily are. You would be hard-pressed to read the paper for seven consecutive days and not find out that in that city, which says it possesses peace, that it lacks peace like very few places in the world. It's one of the most likely places in the world to suffer a terrorist attack.

You can call yourself something, and it doesn't necessarily mean that you are that something. Even as many people in this room tonight if you ask them would call themselves a Christian. But for you to call yourself a Christian is as much a blasphemy as it is for Philadelphia to call itself the City of Brotherly Love. Putting batteries in snowballs and firing them at the coach of the blessed Dallas Cowboys. That's not brotherly love.

It was as much a joke as it was for Green Bay to call itself Titletown. It was as much a joke as it is for Jerusalem today to call itself a city of peace. Jesus says, "When you come into a relationship with me; your name and your city's motto should change." But more importantly than just your motto changing, so should your life so that which you hang on your life's existence isn't a mockery. Do you call yourself Christian? Do you say you live by different standards, a different means, and a different worldview? It's easy to say it. It's hard to live it.

Look at Zechariah 8 with me. Look at verse 3. This is what God says will happen when he dwells in Jerusalem. The truth of the New Testament is that when you believe in Jesus Christ, he dwells in you. Verse 3: "Thus says the LORD, 'I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain.'"

I mentioned this last week very briefly. I said that Jerusalem today is a place we think of as a Holy Land because Jesus once dwelt there, but the fact is it's not a holy land today. It will only be holy when Jesus himself reigns there again. What is indeed a holy land today is this room, because believers are in it. I know that Christ dwells in this room today, because if nowhere else, he dwells in me as a believer.

I know there are hundreds of other believers he dwells in that sit out there, but there are others who have hung that shingle on them, that you are one who knows Christ and you have said that your worldview has changed and that your motto has changed. The world looks at you and, frankly, you need to be honest enough to admit that it hasn't. You still live selfishly, and though you call yourself a Christian, there is no evidence that truth is in your city. There is no evidence that holiness is there, even as Jerusalem today calls itself a city that possesses peace.

Yet I don't think a single one of us would say, "Yes, that city possesses peace." In fact, it is the pinnacle of world conflict. You think about certain mottos that men live by. I want to ask you as we make a transition now, moving away from chapter 8…What is the motto that you live by? If you call yourself a Christian, your worldview, your life's motto ought to have changed.

Your life's motto ought not be anymore, "He who dies with the most toys wins." Is that your motto? If your life motto says, "If it feels good, do it?" then you should not call yourself a Christian. That is a motto that the world lives by. Or, "Looking out for number one." This motto that some girls at Spring Break live by is humorous to the point of a tragedy.

You see it on tee shirts. Their motto down there in Padre Island during Spring Break season or down there in Panama City or wherever it is they go to Spring Break. Their motto is, "Drink until he's cute." I knew a guy in college who lived by the motto, "After a six-pack, all the ugly girls go home."

What's your motto? Some of them are tragic. If you're a believer, your motto ought to be something different. It ought to be something like John the Baptist's. "He must increase, but I must decrease." It ought to be like Paul's, who used to live for self, to say something along the lines of, "…it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…" One other place he said, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."

It ought to be like one of the world's greatest athletes in his day, a guy named C.T. Studd. His motto was simply, "If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him." I want to communicate to you one more time tonight. It's a whole lot easier to have a godly motto hung outside the shingle of your life than it is to live by it.

Is it a mockery that you call yourself Titletown? Is it a mockery that you call yourself a possessor of truth, a holy place where God dwells? If so, I encourage you to deal with it tonight and simply repent. Say, "God, this has not been a vessel of truth. I have been deceiving in the way I have operated with others this week. I haven't spoken the truth in love.

I haven't lived according to the truth, the Scriptures. I certainly haven't lived a holy life. Praise be to God that all I have to do is agree with you that is the error of my ways and repent, which literally means change the way that I perceive what I do and not try to rationalize that this is as much true as any place else I see."

You need to deal with your shortcoming and to cry out to him and say, "God, forgive me, for I am not a man or a woman of truth. I am certainly not a man or a woman of holiness. Will you, by your grace, deal with my sin?" That verse which is written to believers, 1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

It is what we all ought to do before we rush here. When we go to take Communion a little bit later tonight and you take that bread and that wine, you're hanging out a shingle that says, "I'm a Christian. I believe that baby in a manger is Jesus Christ, Son of God, born to die for me." You say, "I am a man of truth. I am a woman of holiness." It's a whole lot easier to take that than it is to live it.

I want to encourage you. If you know Jesus Christ, you need to think about, "Has my worldview, has my city slogan changed? Has my life's purpose been corrected?" Then more than that, are you living by it? A wise man once said, "Too few men take time to consider in their life what their priorities ought to be. Even fewer, having considered that, determine to live by them."

It is great that we might agree in here tonight that as he must increase, we must decrease. It is great that we might agree in here tonight that for us to live is Christ, to die is to gain. Far better than that is that we would then live by it. Amen? Let's pray and go to chapter 9.

Father, I ask that would be increasingly true of my life, that I wouldn't just be a man that would easily take the bread and the cup, that I wouldn't be a man who would easily call himself a worshipper and follower of the child of Christmas. But, having hung that shingle, having gladly in a great state of privilege tonight taking that cup and taking the bread, may I then live that way.

When I don't, I thank you, Lord, that again I must turn to you and agree with you that my life has not been what it should've been, confess it, call it wrong, expel the air, and ask for you to come and to lead me in the truth and for me to live according the knowledge of the Scriptures that you have given me and put before me, that I might then again be an individual who would become a place where your holiness not just dwells but exhibits itself for the world to see.

Father, I thank you that this is a church. I thank you that you've brought us here to worship tonight. Father, more than having come into a building which we call a church, may we be a people who you are proud to call your people, your church. In Christ's name, amen.

Eight night visions. Chapters 1 through 6. Four messages. Chapters 7 and 8. Two burdens. Chapters 9 through 14. There is your book of Zechariah in a nutshell. The two burdens are split up in this way. Chapters 9 through 11 have this first burden Zechariah has that he shares. It's a burden because he is talking about the coming judgment upon all the nations of the world that have not honored God for who he says he needs to be.

Chapters 12 through 14 are his final burden for the nation of Israel. He would share about the painful process through which God is going to take them through so that he can make them the people who he always longed for them to be. Let me show you some good stuff in chapters 9 and 10 tonight. Let me show how it relates to you.

This book, now some 2,500 years old, will scream at you about how you ought then to respond to this child who is born in a manger, who grew to die on a cross for you, who gave you a symbolic act that you as believers then will continually participate in as a reminder of his death, burial, and resurrection until he returns.

Zechariah 9. I told you it was written sometime around 510 to 500 BC. "The burden of the word of the LORD is against the land of Hadrach, with Damascus as its resting place (for the eyes of men, especially of all the tribes of Israel, are toward the LORD)…" He is saying right here that he has a burden.

He starts to list some nations and some places and some cities specifically. He lists these because he says the eyes of the world are upon this. They cannot believe what has happened. There are certain times in the world's history where the entire world's attention has been focused on one place. We just lived through one. The entire eyes of the world were focused on some little tunnel in Paris, France. We were amazed at what transpired there.

We just celebrated not a week before (celebrated is not the right word) the anniversary of another one of those world events when the eyes of the world were turned toward…where? Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas. Because they could not believe the events which transpired down there. They were shocked and amazed when they heard that President Kennedy had been killed.

I remember where I was when I heard the United States Olympic hockey team beat Russia to win the gold medal up in Canada. The eyes of the sports world were shocked to hear that these American boys had beaten a Soviet power in ice hockey. Well, chapter 9 is saying the eyes of the world are going to be turned toward these great cities. They're going to be shocked at what God is doing at wreaking great havoc in these cities that were institutions of their day.

It's like New York is going to be a pasture. The world would go, "Can you believe Manhattan is now a place for kids to play kickball? Can you believe that Las Vegas, there's not even a 7‑Eleven there anymore?" If that happened, people would go, "That's amazing!" He is going to describe here in Zechariah, chapter 9, that there will be a series of cities that are going to be wiped away.

What is amazing is that this was written about 500 BC. Between 334 and 330 BC, there was a little guy named Alexander who went by a nickname of "the Great." He was from Greece and took off after his daddy Philip died and started to conquer a bunch of cities down the eastern Mediterranean border. Those cities systematically are listed about 170 years earlier in the book of Zechariah.

God is describing how he indeed is going to take an individual and raise them. Look at this with me. The eyes of the world are upon this incredible thing. Damascus, which is the capital of Syria, is going down. "And Hamath also, which borders on it; Tyre and Sidon, though they are very wise. For Tyre built herself a fortress…"

Though this is the capital of all world industry and wealth like the world had never known. "For Tyre built herself a fortress and piled up silver like dust, and gold like the mire of the streets." Can you imagine? Verse 4 says, "Behold, the Lord will dispossess her and cast her wealth into the sea; and she will be consumed with fire."

Let me just encourage you with something. When God wants to do away with something, he can do it. If he wants to raise something up, he will do it. Tyre was the capital of world beauty of the day. It had a fortress like you couldn't imagine. People thought, "Tyre is going to go away?" Notice who takes credit for Tyre's blessing. It was not a religious or Christian city at that time or a city that worshipped Jehovah, the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob.

Yet God said, "I have blessed you. I have brought this greatness to your life." That is true of Christian and non-Christian alike today. God says, "There will be a day where I will dispossess you and deal with you as necessary." Let me give you a little insight into Tyre alone. Tyre was a city that was renowned for its ability to stand against all coming world powers.

If you know anything about world civilizations, if you stayed awake through a few classes in high school, you know that there were four great world powers that roughly cover the last 700 years before Christ came. There was Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and then the Greeks. In 63 BC, a guy named Pompey, one of the great caesars, would come and start to conquer the world.

Rome became the great world empire. God says that he is behind every one of these great civilizations, though none of them have anything to do with him in terms of a relationship. God describes here that two of those world powers… Assyria for five years set up a siege around the city of Tyre. That's the way they used to do battle. They would cut off… We call it an embargo today.

We won't let any certain foods or certain elements required for industry to go into Iraq. We put up a world trade embargo upon them. They would do similar things. They would put a siege around the city so no food would come in and no waste could go out. They would try and rot and starve the people out.

Tyre had such wealth that it put up with five years of being sieged by Assyria. Later when Babylon was the world power, for 13 years it withstood some of the great testing that Nebuchadnezzar and his forces put upon it. After that 13-year siege, there was some destruction that happened. Tyre was so wealthy they decided to move the city.

They moved it from on the coast to a half-mile off the coast. They built two 150-foot walls on this island a half-mile off the city. They said, "Now, we are certainly impenetrable, because not only do we have these two 150-foot walls surrounding us, we're a half-mile off the coast and there's nothing but sea. There's no way that anybody can come and lay siege to us."

They didn't know about Alexander the Great. This was the day that God had said he was going to dispossess Tyre. Alexander the Great wiped them out in seven months. Let me show you an interesting thing. This should give you confidence in God's Word. Turn to Ezekiel 26.

"Now in the eleventh year, on the first of the month, the word of the LORD came to me [Ezekiel] saying, 'Son of man…'" The term Ezekiel most often used for himself. "…because Tyre has said concerning Jerusalem, 'Aha, the gateway of the peoples is broken; it has opened to me. I shall be filled, now that she is laid waste…'"

Tyre came in. One of the reasons that Tyre was such a rich city was it exploited weak people. Specifically here, God's people. "…therefore thus says the Lord GOD, 'Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and I will bring up many nations against you, as the sea brings up its waves.'" Not a bad analogy to a coastal city to tell them that they're in trouble. The waves are never relenting, and neither was God. He brought Assyria for 5 years, Babylon for 13, then finally Alex the Great for 7 months. Look what he says.

"'They will destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers; and I will scrape her debris from her and make her a bare rock. She will be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea, for I have spoken,' declares the Lord GOD, 'and she will become spoil for the nations.

Also her daughters who are on the mainland will be slain by the sword, and they will know that I am the LORD.' For thus says the Lord GOD, 'Behold, I will bring upon Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses, chariots, cavalry and a great army. He will slay your daughters on the mainland with the sword; and he will make siege walls against you…'"

Notice how he makes reference to how there are two Tyres now. One on the mainland, and there's going to be another one that is out there. He will "…cast up a ramp against you…" That's what a siege was. "…and raise up a large shield against you. The blow of his battering rams he will direct against your walls, and with his axes he will break down your towers.

Because of the multitude of his horses, the dust raised by them will cover you; your walls will shake at the noise of cavalry and wagons and chariots when he enters your gates as men enter a city that is breached. With the hoofs of his horses he will trample all your streets. He will slay your people with the sword; and your strong pillars will come down to the ground.

Also they will make a spoil of your riches and a prey of your merchandise, break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses…" Catch this. "…and throw your stones and your timbers and your debris into the water.'" What's interesting in verse 12 is you have a change in the pronoun from he, meaning Nebuchadnezzar, to they.

What Alexander the Great did, he was so impassioned to conquer the world and Tyre was a main stumbling block to his desire, is that he had his armies tear down old Tyre and literally throw them into the sea. The wood, the stones, and all their possessions, he used to fill the channel from the coast out to that half-mile island that became Tyre. Then they walked out on this Tyre that had been thrown into the sea and overthrew this impregnable city called Tyre in seven months. Look what it says in verse 12.

"' [I will] …throw your stones and your timbers and your debris into the water. So I will silence the sound of your songs, and the sound of your harps will be heard no more. I will make you a bare rock; you will be a place for the spreading of nets. You will be built no more, for I the LORD have spoken,' declares the Lord GOD."

To this day, Tyre has not been rebuilt as God has prophesied that it would not be. That was written about 70 years before Zechariah was written. The world would've thought it could never happen. Yet some 200 years after that was written, God made it happen. Why? Because he dispossessed her. Let me show you an interesting thing.

Back in Zechariah, chapter 9, Alexander the Great continues his march from the north to the south. That's what you have listed there. He makes his way through the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon all the way down to the cities of the Philistines. He mentions those in chapter 9, verses 5 all the way down through verse 7. All Alexander the Great himself would do, remember that. Look at verse 8 though.

"But…" Contrast to how he is going to wipe out these other places. "…I will camp around My house…because of him who passes by and returns; and no oppressor will pass over them anymore, for now I have seen with My eyes." Verse 8 is God saying, "In contrast to what Alexander the Great is going to do to the Phoenicians and to the Philistines, he will not do to my city Jerusalem." Watch this.

This is Alexander the Great. While he was conquering Tyre, he sent a letter to the high priest of Jerusalem. He said, "I want you to come up and give my soldiers supplies. They're busy firing old Tyre into the sea so we can go out and kill new Tyre." The leader of Jerusalem at the time, the high priest, wrote back and said, "No, we're not going to come help you." Not a very smart thing to say to Alexander the Great.

"We're not going to come because I have made a vow to Darius, the king of Medo-Persia, that I will not rebel against him until he dies." Darius had been defeated, and the high priest of Jerusalem knew this, some years earlier by Alexander the Great himself in a pivotal battle that changed the course of world power.

To say that he wasn't going to go against this world power was ignorant. It would be like saying today you're not going to take on the United States because you've sworn your allegiance to Hirohito of Japan. He doesn't exist. There's a new world order. There's a new world power. This man wanted to be a righteous man and fulfill his vow. Alexander the Great said, "I am going to go get Jerusalem as soon as I'm done with Tyre."

He started, after he wiped out Tyre and then Sidon, down to Jerusalem, specifically. He got there and the people of Israel heard he was coming. If you know anything about ancient history, you've heard one guy's name. His name is Josephus. Josephus was the great historian around the turn of the century who recorded events that happened in that time.

Josephus wrote about the reason that Alexander the Great did not destroy Jerusalem. I want to read to you from the antiquities of Josephus. It's interesting stuff. It says that during that siege when the people of Jerusalem did not respond to him that Jaddua the high priest finally heard that Alexander was coming. He was terrified.

He ordered all the people of Israel to make sacrifices to God and to ask for deliverance from the advancing danger. That night after the sacrifices he sought the Lord. God spoke to him in his sleep, telling him to take courage. He was to adorn the city of Jerusalem with wreaths. He was to adorn the people in white robes, the priests in their priestly robes, and he himself was to be dressed in a special robe. He was to go off.

Here is a paraphrase of what Josephus writes. "When Alexander was still far off, he saw the multitudes in white garments coming at him out of the city, the priests at their head clothed in linen and the high priest in a robe of a certain blue and gold wearing on his head a certain mitre with a golden plate on it which was inscribed the name of God." Think of the pope's hat, and he had Yahweh written on it.

He is marching out with a bunch of priests and people in white robes to meet the greatest power in the world. "As he approached them, the high priest saw Alexander the Great alone break out of the pack and come by himself and fall facedown prostrate before the high priest of Jerusalem." Alexander's second in command was absolutely blown away by this, and he grabs him and he said, "Why did you bow down to that Jew?"

His answer, Josephus writes, "Alexander said, 'It was not before him that I prostrated myself, but the God of whom he has the honor to be high priest. For it was he whom I saw in my sleep dressed as he is now when I was at Dios in Macedonia. As I was considering with myself how I might become master of Asia, he urged me not to hesitate but to cross over confidently, for he himself would lead my army and give over to me the empire of the Persians.

Since, therefore, I have beheld no one else in such robes. On seeing him now, I am reminded of the vision and the exhortation. I believe that I have made this expedition under divine guidance and that I shall defeat Darius and destroy the power of the Persians. But if you will, the Jews I will not touch.'"

Interesting that this worldly scholar records the story of Alexander the Great who in effect says, "I know that God has given the world into my hands." He put a vision in his mind when he told him that he was going to do it. He put the high priest of Jerusalem in that robe and sent him forward. Alexander the Great knew that he was not the great. He knew he was a pawn of the God of Israel. All Alexander the Great said is, "I believe the Scriptures are true."

You might debate whether or not that event actually happened, but you cannot debate that history holds that for some reason… (You have to explain if you're a scoffer.) Why didn't Alexander the Great go ahead and take out his vengeance on Jerusalem? Josephus, having no bias of his own, gives you the reason.

Look what happens. Having described the greatest power of the world of the day, he moves then to verse 9. He says, Jerusalem, let me tell you something. Don't worry yourself about Alexander the Great king because you have a greater King coming. See if this sounds familiar to you. You have probably read this passage yourself sometime in Matthew during a time of the year we call Palm Sunday.

"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!" Which is the city of Jerusalem. "Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you…" He mentions four characteristics. "He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey." Here comes the fourth characteristic.

"I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; and the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; and His dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth." You have a telling of the coming world history in Zechariah 9.

Verses 1 through 8 talk about Alexander the Great's conquests that are going to come before he was even a world power, before he was even known. Then there's a stoppage in chronology. In verses 9 and 10, God says, "Let me just tell you something, Israel. You think Alexander the Great is awesome, wait until you see your King. There will be a day when he will come riding, and he will come, not full of pride and pompous presentation like Alexander the Great and Napoleon and other world leaders, but he is going to come humbly riding on the foal of a colt, the male son of a female donkey."

Was there a time in history where there was a man who claimed to be the King of the Jews who rode into their city on the foal of a colt? You bet there was. The people cried out to him, "Hosanna!" which means God save us now. They said with their lips what righteous people should say, but it wasn't the condition of their heart. You can say all day long, "We worship you who come riding on the foal of the colt of a donkey," but he wasn't impressed that they hung out that sign.

This is the amazing thing. We always go, "How could the Jews miss the Messiah when all this stuff was there? But here is what goes on. Look at what he says. "Here comes your king." In verse 9, "He is going to be just." Meaning that his reign will have no corruption in it. "He will have salvation." Meaning, it is his, and he can then bestow it on those he wants to give it to. "He is humble."

By the way, Jesus Christ made all three of those claims for himself. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45) He told people that he could offer them life. He said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." He said that he was righteous and true.

What Jesus didn't do is right there in verse 10. There is a gap, a large gap between verse 9 and verse 10. It is not unique to the Old Testament. When you see prophecy regarding the Messiah, the Chosen One of God, you will find verses like you do in Isaiah, chapter 9, that say something like this that you will see in a thousand Christmas cards this season.

"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us…" Then there is a huge gap in history. Then comes the fulfillment of the second part of that verse. What's the next part of that verse? You who know the Messiah by Handel well know it. "…and the government will rest on His shoulders…"

I have a question for you. When Jesus came, unto us a Son was given, unto us a child was born, did the government rest on his shoulders? The Jew expected it to happen. Look at Zechariah 9 one more time. Did he come, and was he just? Bingo. Did he come and offer salvation? Bingo. Did he come riding on the foal of the colt of a donkey? Bingo. Did world peace come? Did he cut off war? No.

They said to him, "Why don't you go up there and kick Caesar's tail? When you kick Caesar's tail and you enthrone yourself and become our king and lead us in a world insurrection, then we'll know you're Messiah." Because they wanted their Messiah to be this bully who came and delivered them from physical and political oppression.

But Jesus came to deliver them from an oppression which was far worse. It was spiritual oppression and bondage. He is always more concerned with the condition of your heart than the environment in which you live. He came to the Jew, but I can't blame the Jew for missing him. Because the Old Testament didn't make it clear.

It made these one or two verses that make an allusion to the fact that there is going to be this Messiah who will come. He will come and he will exist in contradicting forms. He will be a lion and a lamb. How will that be? The answer is that there is what is called two advents. We celebrate Christmas with the lighting of the advent wreath in the morning services.

Advent is from the Latin to come. It is the coming of the Messiah, the coming of the hope of the nations. Christmas that we celebrate, Christmas past is the first advent. You need to know there is another Christmas coming. If there wasn't, we above all men are to be pitied and we above all men are fools.

Because when he will come he "…will cut off the chariot from Ephraim…" which is a picture of the northern part of Israel. When he comes and brings peace, when he comes and the government will rest upon his shoulders is when he will gather his people and all who have followed him will experience physically the salvation which we now experience spiritually.

There is a day when he will reign and his kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven. Between verse 9 and verse 10, you can write down gap. You can write in that gap my entire New Testament. You can write church age. From Matthew 12 to Revelation 19. Your whole New Testament is stuck right there in that breath you take before you read verse 10.

It's stuck right there in Isaiah 9:6-7 in that breath you take between "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us…" and "…and the government will rest on His shoulders…" I can't blame the Jews… Oh, yes I can in sense because he made himself abundantly clear as to who he was. God made it so they could not miss.

Do you understand that it is so typical of humanity to look only for what we want to see and miss the truth of what God wants to give us? That is what's going on right there. There will be a day when he will speak peace to the nations and his dominion will reign from sea to sea, but we wait for that day.

In verse 11, it picks back up. "As for you also, because of the blood of My covenant with you…" He says there's one reason I'm going to do good things with this nation Israel. That is because he said he would. Verse 11: "…I have set your prisoners free from the waterless pit." Verse 12: "Return to the stronghold [Jerusalem, where God dwells] , O prisoners who have the hope…""You return. Believe that I will indeed be a victor over evil." Don't grow weary in this absence of him in coming.

Speaking peace to the nations (1 Corinthians 15:58), "You who have the hope, '…** be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord."** Don't let evil conquer you. Don't let the hopelessness of this world tell you that you're believing in a pipe dream that there's another Christmas.

You who have the hope continue in your war against the evil regime, which is, "He who dies with the most toys wins." Which is, "If it feels good, do it." Which is, "Drink until he's cute." Live against that, you who have the hope. For "This very day I am declaring that I will restore double to you."

That's exactly what he said to his disciples. Who said, "Brother, we've left everything to follow you." He said, "Then you'll never regret it. For I'll give you back more than you ever left. In fact, I'll give you back tenfold what you've left for me." I will assure you that you're not experiencing right now all the worldly indulgences that you could if you had hope that there's another Christmas, that Jesus is coming and you want to purify yourself in expectation of his return.

I will tell you that everything you forgo now because you live for the King, he will more than repay, you who have hope. Look at verse 13. "For I will bend Judah as My bow, I will fill the bow with Ephraim. And I will stir up your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece…" Interesting, isn't it? That until 330 BC, Greece wasn't the world power, but here in 500 BC, he says that that's who he is going to stir his sons up against. He makes reference to this little thing called the Maccabean Revolt.

I'll make a quick mention of it because your Jewish friends are going to celebrate Hanukkah here in the coming weeks. Hanukkah is a celebration of the event which is prophesied right there in Zechariah, chapter 9, verses 11 and following. It is this. There was a guy who became a successor to Alexander the Great, his name was Antiochus Epiphanes, who in 167 BC brought the worship of Zeus, a Roman god, into Jerusalem and sacrificed a pig on the altar to Zeus.

He sent a decree in all the land that all Jews must now worship this way. There is no more Sabbath. There is no more circumcision. There are no more holy days. There are no more Jewish practices at all. You must sacrifice to Zeus. Up in a little town just north of Jerusalem, there was a righteous priest named Mattathias who, when a Jew went to be obedient to this law, he rose up and killed him because he had hope.

Mattathias believed that evil should not reign so he killed the Jew and he killed the Greek official who was there to make sure he offered his sacrifice. Then he ran into the hills with his five boys. He and his five boys did guerrilla warfare against the greatest power of the world in that day, Antiochus and his generals.

Jewish history holds, and world history supports that when Mattathias died in a battle shortly after the rebellion started, his young son Judas Maccabee, which means Judas the Hammer, took over, and the Maccabean Revolt delivered the Jews from Antiochus Epiphanes. In 163 BC, they retook Jerusalem. They retook the temple. They purified the temple, and they relit the lamp, the menorah, which was in the Holy Place.

They found only enough oil to keep that lamp burning for one night. While they were going through the process of procuring more oil and purifying it for temple service, they were concerned that the lamp would go out. God miraculously sustained that oil for eight days. You have the celebration of Hanukkah, which is a celebration of the Festival of Lights or the Feast of the Dedication which Jesus himself participated in in John 10:22.

Your Jewish friends will shortly celebrate Hanukkah. You can say you know. In Zechariah, chapter 9, it talks about that great revolt where God would use Judas the Maccabean to come and defeat the evil of that day. Do you know this? Don't miss this. You read through the rest of Zechariah, chapter 9, because it goes back to the shepherd that he mentioned in Zechariah 9:9 and 10.

He says four things about that shepherd that I want to point out to you as we get ready for the Table. In verses 14 through 17, I want you to pay special attention to verse 16. "And the LORD their God will save them in that day as the flock of His people; for they are as the stones of a crown, sparkling in His land." There is going to be a day when he moves forward past this one little event in Jewish history.

He says that ultimately he will deliver this nation through his coming King who would one day ride into Jerusalem on the foal of a colt of a donkey. Revelation tells he will one day come riding back on a horse ready to claim his righteous throne. This Jew, this Jesus, will save his people. Chapter 10, in verses 1 and 2. Look what it says at the end of verse 1.

It says, "And He [this King] will give them showers of rain, vegetation in the field to each man." He will give provision of every kind. It's what the shepherd King is coming to do. When you read verses 3 through 5, you will see that the Lord of Hosts will kindle his anger against the unrighteous shepherds who lead his people. He will deliver them from oppression.

I continue in verses 6 down through 12. That shepherd King that he mentioned in Zechariah 9:9 and 10 who saves his people, who gives them possessions for their good, and all their needs are met, this shepherd King who delivers them from their oppressors will seek his lost sheep and will gather them from all around the world and bring them to himself.

You make sure you tell that Jewish friend of yours who is celebrating Hanukkah, just like that good Jesus did, that that shepherd King, that one who is just and offered salvation, that one who is humble and rode on the foal of a colt of a donkey, that one who will one day deliver peace to the land is your Jesus that you celebrate his birth at Christmas. Because your shepherd King has done the exact same thing.

He who is humble who "…did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Has come to save you. He has come to offer you all provision that you need for your life. It says in Philippians 4:19, and you know it well, that, "And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."

That doesn't mean that we are materially wealthy. It means that we are fulfilled. We alone have what the world gropes for: significance, meaning, purpose, and joy. It says he will deliver you from your oppression and he has come to defeat your bondage to sin. It says he will gather his sheep.

There's no better way to prepare for Communion than turning to John, chapter 10, which is a revelation and a picture of all of this. Look at your Good Shepherd, this shepherd King, who came riding into Jerusalem one Palm Sunday years ago. Look what he says in verse 11.

"I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I [in contrast, am different] am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd." Zechariah 10. "He will gather them and I will be their king." "For this reason…" Because he is a good shepherd, because he is just, because he has salvation and it is his to offer, and because he is humble.

"…the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father." What we're about to celebrate here at the Table is simply this, that this child who was born to us, the Son who was given, this Son who the government will rest upon his shoulders has come to lay down his life, to bridge that eternal gap which sinful humanity can never bridge to a holy God.

It has been done. Christianity is not what we do. It is singularly whom we trust. Because we trust him, we hang out a different shingle in front of our lives. More than cry out, "Hosanna!" we live it. More than take Communion, and in doing it as often as we do until he returns we profess his death, burial, and resurrection, we let that Spirit of God ingest our lives and change the way that we live. Let's pray.

Father, I pray that we would do more than simply hang out a shingle in our lives which says, "We attend church; we're Christian," that we wouldn't just cry out, "God save us," that we wouldn't just take Communion, but that we would indeed be people who your Spirit dwells in and live in the truth and become holy.

I pray, Father, that having seen clearly in history that you are a God who can accomplish what you want to accomplish, you can even take a baby born in a manger to some peasant girl and have that baby grow to be the provision for your sheep who you love. As a good shepherd you took that child and you grew him and he gave his life for the sheep.

Father, I thank you that even now he lives in those of us who know him. He continues to go out to the far recesses of the earth. He gathers his sheep to bring them here into a relationship with you. I thank you, Father, for the privilege of being an individual along with my brothers and sisters in Christ who will share this remembrance of you now. We are individuals who can go and proclaim his death, his burial, his resurrection, his bridging the gap of eternity until he returns.

Lord, we are most thankful that we can look at the course of history and see that it is a mere puppet in your hands, that you will determine who is great, you will determine when kingdoms rise and when kingdoms fall. You will determine who will be sustained and who will be devoured.

You have determined by your righteous decree that we will live because we have been identified with this Jesus who is a Son, who is a child, but who is a King upon whom the government will rest on his shoulders. We are citizens of that kingdom, Lord. We thank you that as citizens of that kingdom we can anticipate that second advent of our King, that humble King who gave his life for the sheep.

About 'Zechariah: Sawing Through the ZZZs, Volume 2'

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.