Posts Tagged ‘Zechariah’

Zechariah 5

Zechariah 5 has the prophet seeing two visions form the Lord.  The first involved a flying scroll.  “I see a flying scroll. Its length is twenty cubits, and its width ten cubits….This is the curse that goes out over the face of the whole land”.  The scroll was approximately 15 by 30 feet.  It is apparently open to read because Zechariah can see how large the scroll is.  The text on the scroll contains the Ten Commandments.  “For everyone who steals shall be cleaned….and everyone who swears falsely…”.  The two sins, one from each side of the tablets of the Ten Commandments, represent all of Israel’s sin. God will curse the people who commit these sins and their house.

God will hold us accountable for how we live.  Sin carries a price.  We are all guilty – scripture is clear about that.  We will stand before God someday and have to give an account and explain to God about our choices.  We’ll stand there unholy and in judgment.  The penalty is eternal and will cause us to be separated from God unless we have received the shed blood of Christ through God’s free offer of grace that will cover all our sin and set us free.  God’s scroll is still flying through the lands.  We are under that reality, but we do have a way to overcome our sin today – Jesus Christ.

Zechariah then sees another vision.  “This is the basket….the leaden cover was lifted, and there was a woman sitting in the basket”!  The woman, the basket, and the weight are associated with wickedness. They represent greed, materialism, and dishonesty for profit. Zechariah prophesied to those who returned from the Babylonian exile. God’s people came back from Babylon with a materialism problem, and this vision speaks to this problem.  God is going to fix their issue and clear the focus on stuff rather than Him.

God is sending the sin back to where it originated.  God has two beings with wings and “they lifted up the basket between earth and heaven” and carried it back to Babylon.  God will cause this evil, materialistic spirit to be returned to its starting-place: Babylon. There it will eventually be destroyed.  The problems of the people in Zechariah’s time are the same that many of us face today.  Materialism can get between us and God and make us feel self sufficient and not needing God at all.  That’s a dangerous place to be, and God will remove that feeling by wiping out that which we hold so dear.

Zechariah 4

Zechariah 4 has an angel awakening the prophet to reveal a vision of a golden lampstand.  Zechariah asks the angel what the lampstand and its parts was all about.  The angel describes a very unique lampstand with lamps that were self filling as they were directly fed by connections to olive trees.  That would be a very unique lampstand – as one of the duties of the priests doing temple service was to keep the lamp stands filled with pure olive oil.  That was a tedious and constant part of their job, but this vision showed a very different way.

The angel also gave Zechariah a word to tell Zerubbabel, who was a leader in Jerusalem and was responsible to finish the work of rebuilding the temple.  God gave these powerful words: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts”.  In order to finish the work, it wasn’t going to depend on man and the effort of the people.  Might refers to the collective strength of the group, where power refers to the individual strength of a single person.  God says it won’t be either that will get the job done, but it will be His Spirit.

One of the challenges we face as humans is that we trust our own strength and ability first and sometimes only.  But when God has a task for us, it often requires more power than we can muster on our own.  We often then reach out to others to try and put the collective might toward the task, but that too will often fall short of what is needed for a God given task.  We need to learn to trust God and His Spirit.  When we trust in our own resources – whether they be small or great – then we don’t enjoy the power of the Spirit.  God doesn’t step in while we are trying to do it on our own.

God wanted Zerubbabel to know that the Holy Spirit would continually supply his need, just as the oil trees in the vision continually supplied oil to the lamps on the lampstand. God wants His supply and our reliance on the Holy Spirit to be how we live life with Him.  Our success is not about our own power or ability to put together others might, but to learn to rely on and live in the presence of the Holy Spirit who is always able and available as long as we stay out of the way.  God desires to do great things through us, just like Zerubbabel, but we can’t get in the way.

God makes it clear that the temple will be completed.  “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it”.  When the work is done by God’s Spirit there are not only resources to begin the work, but also to finish the work. God is a finisher.  He always does what He says.  The temple has laid in ruin for over 20 years, and now Zerubbabel is on task to finish.  God tells him not to ignore the small things.  “For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel”.  Often the key to getting the big things done is to focus on the small things.  It’s the continual focus on taking the next step that allows us to complete the bigger task.

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the small stuff had to be done.  Though the work was empowered by the Spirit of God, Zerubbabel still need his plumb line. He still needed to do the work. God could have given Zerubbabel a shortcut and instantly, miraculously finished the work. That’s isn’t God’s way of doing things, because His work in the life of Zerubbabel was as important to Him as His work through Zerubbabel.  God is about who we are and become, not what we do.  We need to never forget that building our godliness and holiness is job one!

Zechariah 3

Zechariah 3 has the prophet seeing a vision with God, Joshua and Satan in it.  “Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and  Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him”.  Zechariah sees the High Priest in the presence of the Lord (standing before the Angel of the Lord), and he is clothed with filthy garments.  Joshua isn’t in God’s presence just as a spectator but as a ministering priest.  Satan was accusing Joshua of not being fit to stand before the Lord in his filth.  This is exactly what we should expect from Satan.  He will be our accuser and will tell God we are not worthy to be in His Kingdom.

Unfortunately, he’ll be right.  Sin will prevent us from the opportunity to just enter into God’s presence.  It covers us in filth.  But as God dealt with Satan during this vision, He’ll also deal with Satan’s accusations when we stand before Him at judgment day.  Satan can’t condemn us to hell.  He can only attack and accuse.  The question will be how we answer God’s questions about our sin.  What have we done with Jesus and the grace offered to cover our sin?  If we answer that Jesus is our Savior and Lord and we’ve received the free gift of grace God provided, we’ll hear the same words as Joshua did.  “I have taken your iniquity away from you, and  I will clothe you with pure vestments”.  If not, the accuser will get his way and we’ll spend eternity apart from God.

God promises a fantastic future to Joshua if he walks with Him.  “If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here”.  God promised Joshua that he would continue to serve as High Priest if he was diligent to stay obedient to God.  How we live matters.  It’s the second part of the discussion we’ll have with God on judgment day.  One question determines where we spend eternity – the question of what we’ve done with Jesus and our sin.  The second is about how we spend that eternity which is based on how we live and walk with God and His commandments to us.

The vision goes further to show the breadth of God’s redemption and love.  God is creating a picture of what will be for those who walk in His ways.  “In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree”.  This is a powerful way for God to remind us that we can receive protection and prosperity and peace if we walk with God.  This vision and word from Zechariah shows how much God wanted to encourage and strengthen Joshua, and He does it in the best way: setting his eyes on our Messiah, Jesus Christ. That’s our best encouragement also.  Jesus is the answer, yesterday, today and forever.  Are your eyes on Him?

Zechariah 2

Zechariah 2 has the prophet sharing another vision God has given him.  “And I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand! 2 Then I said, “Where are you going?” And he said to me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length?”.  This was an angelic being who was doing God’s work of measuring Jerusalem to see if it was big enough to hold those that God would bring back to the city.  God’s restoration of the remnant was coming, and He wanted to be sure it was able to handle the people.

It’s going to be a large influx – so large that they won’t all fit within the walls, so God gives them a promise.  “I will be to her a wall of fire all around….I will be the glory in her midst”.  In that day, city walls were a big deal when it came to protection.  But God makes it clear that they don’t need a wall to protect them from their enemies – He was going to take care of that Himself.  God has been waiting for this time to restore His people to His chosen city and will bless it with or without walls.

God makes it clear that His people are special.  “He who touches you touches the apple of His eye”: Those words are used to describe something precious to the Father, something that can be injured and needs His protection.  And God makes it clear that is exactly what He is going to do – to keep His people safe and cause those around them to know that He is the source of their protection and strength.  “Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me”.  As they see God do His work in their lives, they will know that He alone is their protection and strength.

God gives His people the biggest promise of all at the end of this vision.  “I will dwell in your midst, and  you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you”.  They have been exiled for 70 years, scattered all across Babylon and other nations.  But now God is bringing them back and restoring them to Himself in His city.  That’s the business God has always been in, and is today as well.  He longs to have us come back to Him and rebuild our relationship with Him.  He’s there with open arms, just waiting for our return.  Will you come back to God?  And if you have, will you walk with Him day by day in sweet fellowship and obedience?  That is what God desires from us.

Zechariah 1

Zechariah 1 has the next prophet speaking truth to the people of Judah.  He comes after the remnant has returned from their 70 year exile in Babylon.  The timing of Zechariah’s prophecy sets it two months after Haggai’s first prophecy and within a month after another prophecy of Haggai. This was between October and November of 520 b.c.  Like Haggai, Zechariah’s message is one of encouragement. But he was aware that not all the returned remnant were fully sincere in their desires to serve God, and he instructs them to repent of their sin and return to God with all their hearts and minds.

Zechariah is preaching a message of restoration.  “Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and  I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts”.  God is always in the restoration business.  He wants us to come back.  But these people have lived in very adverse conditions and have experienced difficult times.  They wondered why God was so far from them:

  • Their land was desolate and unkempt
  • There was extremely hard work needed to rebuild things
  • They were short on money and people to do the work
  • Crops failed
  • Their enemies continued to resist their work
  • Like the captives Moses led out of Egypt, the people looked back at their time in Babylon and thought it was easier there

God is clear in reminding the people why their situation is the way it is.  “Do not be like your fathers….Return from your evil ways and from your evil deeds….they did not hear or pay attention to me”. 

 God makes clear what happens if people don’t walk in His ways.  “But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? So they repented”.  God’s commandments and promises last forever.  Prior generations chose to disobey God, and they faced the outcome of that.  But over time they realized that God’s judgment was consistent and never wavered, so they made a different choice – the choice to repent and be restored.  That is what Zechariah is encouraging here – to have God’s people rebuild the temple (the work Haggai was pushing them to do) and to rebuild their relationship with God and learn from the lessons of their fathers.

God will deal with us based on how we live.  “As the Lord of hosts purposed to deal with us for our ways and deeds, so has he dealt with us”.  The people were guilty of sin, and they refused to return to God and His commandments, so God was forced to address their sin and exiled them for 70 years.  Harsh punishment, but sin carries a significant price tag.  We need to realize that God isn’t just going to look the other way regarding sin.  It’s why He sent the most precious thing He had – His very Son – to the cross to provide a way for us to be redeemed and freed from sin.  But we have to receive that gift of grace.  Just as God says “I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion”. He is the same for you and me.  That’s why Easter happened – because God loves us that much and was willing to send His Son to the Cross to restore us to Himself.

Zechariah 14

Zechariah 14 is described by the scholars as difficult to interpret with lots of different options offered.  Coffman says “Jesus defines some truth in the 24th chapter of Matthew where the subject under discussion is exactly the same as the theme of Zechariah here, “the destruction of Jerusalem (and the temple),” and “the time of the end of the world” (Matthew 24:3). Jesus’ reply comprises the whole subsequent chapter, in which he clearly indicated that Jerusalem the literal city would be destroyed, making it at the same time a type of events of final world conflict and the Second Coming of Christ.”

What we do know is that “Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle….Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him”.  The battle will be the Lords.  When God determines what He will do, it will not depend on our might or power, it will be a battle that will be taken on by the Lord Himself.  We won’t be fighting alone.  And in fact, we may not be fighting at all.  God will be in control.

Scripture says “On that day there shall be no light, cold, or frost. And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light”.  God isn’t limited to the standard fighting schemes.  He has control of the entire universe.  He can manipulate the light and dark, the cold and heat, the weather and every other facet of the day.  God will win when He decides to enter the battle.  The fight will not be ours, but will belong to the Lord.

We need to “worship the King” as the victor.  God is not only worthy of our praise, He deserves and demands it.  We need to place Him where He belongs, on the throne of our lives and His creation.  We need to focus on pointing to His holiness and goodness, and give Him the honor and glory He is due.  We need to present ourselves as His servants and children, and walk with Him as our Lord.  God desires a relationship with us.  He wants us to hold Him high as Lord and Master of His universe!

Zechariah 13

Zechariah 13 tells us of God’s purification of His people.  “On that day there shall be a fountain opened….to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness”.  God not only opened the fountain, but it remains open to cleanse us from sin.  Spurgeon wrote “This provision is inexhaustible. There is a fountain opened; not a cistern nor a reservoir, but a fountain. A fountain continues still to bubble up, and is as full after fifty years as at the first; and even so the provision and the mercy of God for the forgiveness and the justification of our souls continually flows and overflows.”

God has a plan to set us free from sin.  He dealt with it then through His fountain, but has since created a fountain of forgiveness and cleansing for us through the shed blood of Jesus on the Cross.  That never ends either.  God sent His Son to the cross to provide a way to cleanse us from sin and uncleanness.  He did that once for all.  It doesn’t matter when we are born or when we die.  Jesus blood covers a multitude of sin and will set us free and cleanse us.  But we have to receive that gift of grace.  We have to take it as our own.

Zechariah tells us that idols will be removed, and false prophets stripped of their place.  God is in the business of making things clean and pure.  And that extends to our lives as well.  He is going to purify us.  “I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested”.  We will go through difficult times to be refined.  The dross must be burned out of our lives.  It is not just easy sailing – there is junk that has to be removed.

But God doesn’t send us through that testing alone.  He is there with us all the way.  “They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God”.  Our God stays with us.  He will walk with us through the fire.  That doesn’t make it easy, but we certainly will not be alone.  We will not have to face it on our own.  Are you clinging to the Rock that will sustain and uphold you through times of trial?  He is there.  He is willing.  He is able!

Zechariah 12

Zechariah 12 has the prophet getting “The burden of the word of the Lord concerning Israel”.  Sometimes God’s truth can be pretty overwhelming.  The city of Jerusalem will be destroyed and then rebuilt some 70 years later.  “All the nations of the earth will gather against it”.  Certainly sounds a lot like things in the Middle East today doesn’t it.  The Jewish people have had a target on their backs for centuries. And Zechariah has to deliver some tough news, but then some fantastic news.

What changed?  God says He will step in.  “But for the sake of the house of Judah I will keep my eyes open, when I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness”.  God is our protector and our strength.  He is an ever present help in time of trouble.  And the world was coming against His people, so He gives Zechariah the promise of His protection.  He gives them the answer to how He will step in and deliver them from their enemies.  God is able – more than able – to do as He says.

God is going to fulfill His promise of faithfulness to His people.  “The Lord will give salvation to the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not surpass that of Judah”.  God is going to restore the glory that was previously experienced by His people.  He will take action and “on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem”.  God is going to protect His people.

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn”.  But it is more than just saving their necks.  Part of this great outpouring of strength and might to defend Jerusalem will be an outpouring of the Spirit for grace and supplication. God will move among Israel and bring saving grace and repentant prayer.  He wants to save His people in multiple ways – physically but also eternally.

Zechariah 11

Zechariah 11 is quite a contrast from the previous chapters of blessing and hope by revealing the coming punishment side by side, alternating from one to the other.  The Savior himself recognized and used exactly that same means of communication. For example, the same chapter speaks of heaven and hell, blessing and cursing, light and darkness, etc.; and this pattern appears in practically all of the prophets. So Zechariah is absolutely consistent in moving from the glorious promises just related to this sad prophecy of the final overthrow and destruction of God’s People, the removal of their government, the destruction of vast numbers of their population, and the delivery of those that remained into the hands of the false shepherds they had preferred to the True Shepherd.

We see a very familiar story here as it relates to the story of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus that led to His crucifixion on the cross.  30 pieces of silver makes it pretty easy to connect the dots to Matthew’s depiction of what happens with Christ.  This chapter is about the rejection of Christ as Savior.  And while there are commentators that don’t seem to interpret it that way, the majority see clearly that Christ is the story line here and the punishment of those who reject Him as Savior the major theme.

This prophecy of the betrayal of Jesus Christ by Judas Iscariot for thirty pieces of silver is one of the most remarkable in the Bible. It is not a single prophecy, but a whole collection of prophecies.  As we look at many places in scripture, we see the prophets foretell what is to come.  And history reveals that it has. Yet we struggle to accept the scripture as truth.  Why is that?  Why do we struggle so much to believe?  We need to look closely at God’s truth and realize that everything He has recorded either has, or will happen.  Which puts us at a very important fork in the road.

If God’s Word is true, which it absolutely is and has been proven time and time again, then what will we do with Jesus who is prophesied over and over in the Old Testament and reveals so very clearly to us in the New Testament.  But it goes beyond that broad question to this very personal one.  What will you do with Jesus?  He came to earth and lived as a man before going to the Cross to die for your sin.  You are at a fork in the road regarding eternity.  Will you choose to receive the Shepherd that Zechariah shares with us here, and we see throughout scripture?  Or will you resist the saving grace that Jesus offered when He died on the cross and face eternity on your own merit?  That won’t end well, but it is a choice you must make!

Zechariah 10

Zechariah 10 has the prophet speaking of our relationship with God.  He begins with a promise that is music to the ears of a farmer.  “Ask rain from the Lord…..and he will give them showers of rain”.  God is the almighty provider.  He alone makes the storm clouds.  He alone can make it rain.  And God desires that we come to Him with our requests, even about things that may seem as simple as the need for rain.  He is God of the big and small.  He is in control of the big and little, the details and the big picture.  God is God and above all.

There is a lot of misinformation and untruth that is shared in the world.  And God says “Therefore the people wander like sheep; they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd”.  God holds those who are leaders accountable.  He says “I will punish the leaders for the Lord cares for His flock”.  God does not look the other way when people are misled and taken advantage of.  He holds people accountable to lead and teach in truth, not from man’s selfish ways.  God gets angry when people are taken advantage of.

God speaks of the restoration of His people.  “I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph. I will bring them back because I have compassion on them, and they shall be as though I had not rejected them”.  What a change from the pain and suffering His people have experienced for so long.  But God is going to restore them because of His love and compassion.  He is listening again and will not ignore their cries for help.

God says He will “gather them in, for I have redeemed them, and they shall be as many as they were before”.  What a change lies ahead.  God scattered, and now He will call them back with a whistle.  He struck them down and now He will restore and build them up.  He will “make them strong in the Lord and they shall walk in His name”.  God’s love is powerful.  His restoration is complete.  He can turn any situation from disaster to blessing and make a way for us.  We only need to seek Him.  We only need to obey and listen to His Words.  We can have the same if we follow Him!

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