Alright everybody! Well, let’s open our Bibles if we could to the book of Zechariah chapter 7 and verse 11 (Zech 7:11). We finished verse 10 last time and as you know, as we continue Wednesday evenings through the book of Zechariah, the book begins, as you know, chapter 1 with an introductory call to repentance and then beginning in verse 7 all the way through the end of chapter 6 are eight-night visions.
So these are basically eight visions that Zechariah received in a single night and when you put them all together it’s really about God’s future for Israel with a special emphasis on the temple.
So, that’s a big deal because the situation happening in Zechariah is Zechariah along with his contemporary Haggai are exhorting that post exilic community that just came back from the seventy year captivity to rebuild the second temple and you go to the very bottom of the screen there and that whole section ends with the coronation of the high priest Joshua, which is a picture really, it typifies Jesus and His millennial reign.
So that is the end game for Israel and that’s what all of those visions are pushing towards and so that’s why that section ends there with the coronation of the high priest Joshua and that moves us into part three which we started last time, which is chapter 7 and 8, which is basically a question, giving God through Zechariah an opportunity to provide four answers.
III. Questions & Answers Concerning Fasting (Zech, 7‒8)
So the question is chapter 7, verses 1 through 3 (Zech 7:1-3), should we… It came from the men, some of the ambassadors from a city called Bethel, seeking out the priests and the prophets: Should we continue to mourn the destruction of the temple which took place seventy years earlier under Nebuchadnezzar? And once that question is asked, now God gives four answers, the first of which we’ve already gone through chapter 7, verses 4 through 7 (Zech 7:4-7). The second of which, we stopped in the middle of last time, chapter 7, verses 8 through 14 (Zech 7:8-14) but God basically says through these four oracles starting with the first one, you know, you’re upset about the effect but not the cause. So you’re upset that the temple was destroyed but you’re not upset about the reason why the temple was destroyed. The reason the temple was destroyed and the reason the seventy year captivity started is because you disobeyed my covenant and with all of your fasting and mourning over these past seventy years, not a single one of you is upset about the right thing. So, it’s kind of like dealing with somebody who gets caught doing something wrong and, you know, they show all this emotion and really what they are upset about is the fact that they got caught. They’re upset about the consequences that they have to bear, when they ought to be focusing on the misbehavior that led to the crime, leading to the consequences and so that’s what he’s getting at there in the first oracle by way of a divine answer. He condemns them just for empty ritual. So commemorating the destruction of the temple but not understanding why it was destroyed; and that moves into the second response from God beginning in chapter 7, verse 8 through 14 (Zech 7:8-14) where God says, Okay, let me point out now the specific ways that you violated my Mosaic Covenant. 5:02
So in that second one there, He’s getting into the business of pointing out their specific covenantal violations. So, verses 8 through 10 (Zech 7:8-10) which we covered are the covenant requirements. God gave the nation of Israel a covenant and in this case it was the Mosaic Covenant and God expected Israel to obey the covenant.
Now, the Mosaic Covenant and obedience to the covenant doesn’t make Israel God’s special nation, they already had that relationship with God nationally through a covenant given six hundred years earlier called the Abrahamic Covenant. The Mosaic Covenant comes alongside the Abrahamic Covenant at Mount Sinai six centuries later and outlines the conditions for blessing and cursing. So, you notice that brother Jim… pastor Jim when he led us in prayer earlier, he quoted 1st John, 1, verse 9 (1 John 1:9) and said let’s take a few moments of silence to get right with the Lord via God’s promise of 1st John chapter 1, verse 9 (1 John 1:9) you know: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to cleanse us from our sins and to forgive us of all unrighteousness… and He was very clear that the reason we do that is not to become Christians again, right? No one gets saved through 1st John 1:9, rather what 1st John 1:9 does, is it allows broken fellowship between us and God to be restored.
So, I hate to do this with my wife present but it’s like a marriage, okay? If you’re married to someone that’s your position legally, okay. Now, spouse A can do something to offend spouse B and it’s never her offending me, it’s the other way around, of course, as we all know right? So when I do that, when I offend her and I’m actually pretty good at doing that, to be honest with you (laughs) It’s one of those things that just comes out naturally, you know. So when I offend her, that doesn’t make us unmarried. Now, she might want to get unmarried but (laughs) at that point we’re still married, that’s our position, but my moment by moment fellowship with her, enjoyment of her is injured at the point of the offense. So… I need to apologize and all that kind of stuff and that doesn’t… when I apologize it’s not like we’re married all over again. We don’t walk down the aisle again, I mean, that’s a done deal. What it does is it restores intimacy within the marriage, it restores the broken fellowship within the marriage. That’s what 1st John 1:9 is to the believer. By way of analogy, that’s what the Mosaic Code or Law was to Israel. I mean, it had built in its sacrificial system and what they were supposed to do and when they broke God’s Law how they were supposed to get right with God and they were supposed to honor the Mosaic Law, not to become God’s nation again. They already were God’s nation because of the Abrahamic Covenant, but to restore broken fellowship. 9:02
So, in the prophets that you study in Zechariah of course is the case in point, is Zechariah keeps pointing out the infractions of the Covenant that led to the destruction of the temple. So you disobeyed the Covenant of Moses and consequently God brought discipline, but when God brought discipline, God didn’t suddenly sever His relationship to you as a nation. He can’t do that because of the Abrahamic Covenant. So, that’s what’s going on in this second oracle. It’s outlining the Mosaic Law that was broken, which led to the destruction of the temple; and the nation of Israel was upset about the destruction of the temple, they were not upset about the covenant violations that led to the destruction of the temple.
So verses 8 through 10 are the Covenant requirements and then verses 11 and 12 are… is the Covenant rebellion, okay?
Covenant Rebellion – (Zech 7:8-14)
And we left off last time with verse 11. So with that background in mind, look at verse 11 (Zech 7:11). I mean, what was Israel doing that was so wrong that led to the destruction of the temple seventy years earlier? It says: But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears from hearing… So they just refused to pay attention to the Covenant and they refuse to pay attention to the prophets that were pointing to the Covenant and when you refuse to pay attention, God takes that as a rejection of His word. So there’s all kinds of ways to reject God’s word. I mean, you could stand up and oppose the preacher, you could take your Bible and burn it or you can just ignore the Bible. You know, you can organize your life for it is so busy that you really don’t have time for God or His word. God takes all of the above as a rejection of Him, and that’s basically what they were doing. They weren’t in the case cited here, actively opposing the prophets, they just were not, you know, paying attention to them, just ignoring them and so that’s what led to the destruction of the temple. They just had lifestyles that were enmeshed in all kinds of other things and the word of God was going out and they just sort of pretended like the word of God wasn’t going out at all. It’s like dealing with your kids when they are really young or maybe when they are older for that matter and you tell them to do something and they pretend that they didn’t hear you. So the philosophy in our home is delayed obedience is disobedience, you guys have heard that, right? And of course my parents never had to apply that to me cause I was a perfect child, right? No. I mean, we’re all like that. We just pretend like, Oh, what did you say? I mean, I didn’t really hear it and the reality of the situation is we pretend we didn’t hear because we don’t want to hear because we want to be disobedient and that’s what’s essentially happening here to the children of Israel prior to the captivity. This is why their temple was destroyed. 12:52
So when this whole feast, fasting that they’re involved in, none of them are upset about that point and so it’s going to take Zechariah to get this point across. They’re upset they got caught, they’re not upset at what led to the crime or the consequence I should say. Let me rephrase that, they are upset about doing the time but they’re not upset about the crime leading to doing the time. If you don’t want to do the time, then don’t do the crime. Zechariah is pointing out the crime. So they refuse to pay attention. He says, they… as they refused to pay attention they were actually turning a stubborn shoulder against God and it reached the point where they’ve just drowned out the prophets by literally taking their fingers and sticking them into their ears. It’s kind of the thing you read about in Nazi Germany and when Olivier Melnick is here, he’ll tell you all kinds of stories about it in our prophecy conference coming up May 14th and 15th, which by the way we need to see your name in our registration page, if you can do that for us. Even if you are a Sugar Land Bible Church regular. We can only accommodate so many people and we’re asking anybody that wants to come in the building May 14th and 15th, even a Sugar Land Bible Church charter member, we need to see your name inside the registration, which you can find on our home page. Now, why did I start talking about that? I have no idea. Oh, yeah! Olivier Melnick, one of the speakers, he talks about how in Hitler’s Germany, as the Jews were being shuttled away in boxcars to concentration camps, the train would literally pass by churches with screaming Jews in audible distance where they could.. the church goers could hear the Jews in the box cars and so rather than dealing with the situation, cause they were living in denial and pretending that this wasn’t happening, they just sang their worship songs louder. So if you sing your worship songs louder, I guess you can ignore screaming Jews in boxcars and so that was sort of the state of things in the church world in Hitler’s Nazi Germany; and that’s kind of the thing that’s happening here. They’re just sort of putting their fingers in their ears and kind of, you know, silencing the voice of the prophets. 15:55
Now, this is not the only time in Jewish history this happened. Stephen, in Acts, 7, verse 57 (Acts 7:57) gave a very politically incorrect sermon, that spans basically the whole chapter, fifty plus verses and he basically condemns the nation of Israel for their guilt. He says, you guys always get it wrong, that’s how it was in ancient times, look at how you treated the prophets and you’re doing the same thing right now by rejecting Jesus and he goes on like this for fifty plus verses; and you read what he says and it’s no wonder they picked up stones to kill him. I mean, it’s just a stunning indictment that he gives of 1st Century Israel for their failure to accept Jesus as their Messiah, when He was right there in their midst and it says, this is just a common pattern of the Hebrew people. You’re just replicating, you know, what your forbearers did and it literally says in Acts, 7, verse 57 (Acts 7:57): But they shouted with loud voices, and covered their ears… That’s what it says… and rushed at him with one mind… So do you want to talk about the cancel culture? I mean, they start shouting over him and then they started to, you know, put their hands over their ears where they couldn’t hear him and then that didn’t work and so they finally rose up to kill him and that’s what Zechariah is talking about there in verse 11 when they stopped their ears and they just pushed out of their minds all of the warnings that God had given, leading to the destruction of the temple. 17:58
So he goes on here talking about Covenant rebellion and if you look at verse 12 (Zech 7:12), it says: They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear… Now, there is a doctrine, unfortunately, that’s enjoying resurgence in what’s called the neo Calvinist Movement. It’s taught by people like John McArthur, John Piper, a number of them.
Running TULIP Through the Grid of Scripture
Perseverance of the Saints
It’s the acronym tulip in the Calvinistic system and the T stands for total depravity and what they mean by it is man is like a rock, he’s so far dead in his trespasses and sins, he’s like a rock and he has absolutely no ability to believe on his own and even when the Holy Spirit convicts people of sin, it really has not much effect because of this over emphasis that they have on total depravity. I believe in total depravity obviously, but not the way it’s being defined by the neo Calvinist Movement. So, you’re like a rock, you’re sort of in an insensate state. John McArthur uses the word “cadaver,” you’re totally dead and the only reason anybody gets saved is God on the front end imparts the gift of faith to some and if God didn’t do that, no one could get saved, neo Calvinism. God, actually in their way of thinking, regenerates people so that they can believe. Now, who gets the gift of faith? Who gets regenerated so they can believe? It’s the fraction of the human race that happens to be the elect. They are the fortunate ones. If they are chosen by God, then they get the gift of faith, they get regenerated so that they can believe and the rest of the human race is basically predestined to go into hell. So there will be people showing up in hell, in their system, that had absolutely no choice in the matter, okay? neo Calvinism. 20:34
It’s very different than the model of Soteriology that we teach here that God convicts the world, John, 16, verses 7 through 11 (John 16:7-11) of sin, righteousness and judgment. Sin because they do not believe. God has this whole world under conviction for the one sin that will send you into the lake of fire forever, unbelief. Going through one’s life never having trusted in Christ. That’s what the Holy Spirit is convicting all of planet earth for as I talk, as I’m speaking and then, when you respond to that convicting ministry, cause God is not going to believe for you. God is not going to impart you some magical gift of faith the way neo Calvinists teach this. When you respond by way of faith, by trusting in Christ, then you are regenerated. So here is the fancy word “Ordo Salutis” . Can you say that with me? Ordo Salutis. It’s a Latin word which means order of salvation. The neo Calvinist movement says, here’s the Ordo Salutis: Gift of faith, regeneration. Gift of faith to some, regeneration to those who receive the gift of faith. We don’t teach that, the proper Ordo Salutis, which just means order of salvation, that’s all that word means or that phrase means, is conviction, faith, regeneration. So that’s how we teach the doctrine of Soteriology. First, you are convicted of your need to trust in Christ, the Holy Spirit is not working in the world to morally reform the world, He’s not bothering unbelievers about profanity or gambling or pornography. He’s bothering them about the only sin that will send them to hell, which is unbelief. So, once a person comes under that conviction, God is not going to give you the gift of faith and regenerate you, you have to believe. It’s up to your volition to believe, and once you place your faith in Christ, then you’re regenerated. The neo Calvinist system rejects that because they don’t think people have an ability to believe at all, because they’re dead like a rock. So what they’ve done is they’ve taken total depravity and they’ve blown it way out of proportion into something that is unbiblical. Do I believe in total depravity? Absolutely. Do I believe that the Holy Spirit has to do a work to bring you to the point of faith? I absolutely believe that. It’s called conviction. If the Holy Spirit wasn’t doing that, none of us could get saved; but the only thing the Holy Spirit is going to do is bring the person to the point of decision. God is not going to override the volition of a human being because if God overrode volition, He would not be respecting how He has manufactured us as image bearers of God. 24:17
So in the neo Calvinistic system, total depravity means inability and why am I bringing up all of this? Well they love to quote verses like this in verse 12. They could not hear, that’s what it says, right? The problem is they left out the first part of the verse. Why could they not hear? Because of their own volition. Finish the verse, it says: They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear… So what you’ll hear from neo Calvinists is repetition of Bible verses like they could not hear but they won’t give you the first part of the verse that indicates that they put themselves in that position. So in neo Calvinism with McArthur, Piper, R C Sproul, all of these types of people is they go on and on about Pharaoh and how God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. You know those Scriptures in the book of Exodus. What they won’t talk about is probably six times before God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, you can just track it down as you go through the book of Exodus, chronologically in order, is that it says Pharaoh hardened his own heart. It says that six times and then finally on the sixth or seventh time it says, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. God gave Pharaoh over to what he wanted, but you see when Pharaoh finds himself in hell, he’s not going to be able to point his finger at God and say, you never give me the opportunity. In the neo Calvinistic system, by equating depravity with inability, you will have people showing up in hell that had absolutely no choice in the matter at all and in this… I’m going to call it sick, what they are teaching, it’s so beyond what the totality of the scripture teaches, to me it’s a sickness… As people are screaming in hell, as the flame is rising up, God is somehow glorified in that. Now, I’m sorry but my Bible says, God desires all to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth and if people find themselves in hell, you can’t blame God for it, cause God provided His son and then God provided the convicting ministry of the Spirit to bring people to their senses in spite of their depravity. So, before you buy into a system of inability by looking at a single portion of Scripture… They could not hear… Look at everything that the Scripture says on the subject and if you back up in the verse it says, they couldn’t hear because they made their hearts like flint. God didn’t make their hearts like flint, they made their hearts like flint and that’s what prevented them from hearing the words of the prophets and this is what brought about the divine discipline that God imposed with the seventy year captivity. 27:48
You continue on in verse 12 (Zech 7:12) and it goes on and it says: They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets… Now when it talks about former prophets, what prophets is he speaking of? He’s speaking of the pre-exilic prophets that warned over and over again this is what’s going to happen to the nation and this is what’s going to happen to the temple as long as you keep disobeying God’s Covenant. So former prophets would be pre-exilic prophets. Pre-exile. Zechariah and Haggai are post-exilic prophets but Zechariah is saying, what got you in the mess you’ve got into is you didn’t listen to people like me that were telling you this stuff on the front end of the captivity. You’ll notice the words “law” and “words”, verse 12. They wouldn’t listen to the law and the words of the prophets. What does that mean? The law and the words. The prophets showed up during times of national disobedience and filed a lawsuit. The Hebrew there for lawsuit is Rib, in English it looks like our R- I -B like rib but I think it’s pronounced RIV and basically what the prophets are doing is they’re literally filing a lawsuit and they’re pointing out the specific violations of the Mosaic Covenant and the consequences that would come and basically their point is, Hey! Do you like the consequences you’re experiencing as a nation right now? Well, guess what? If you don’t turn around and go back to the Covenant, things are going to get worse. In fact, it’s going to get so bad that you’re going to be dispersed from your own land; and so if you can understand that, you understand what all of these prophets are doing in your Bible. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, Haggai, they are all saying the same thing. They keep talking about the covenant because it’s the ignoring of the covenant that was creating the consequences. So in all of this fasting that they were doing, none of them were fasting for that reason. They were fasting that the temple was destroyed but they were not fasting related to the covenant violations that led to the destruction of the temple. So, here is Hosea chapter 4 and verse 1 (Hos 4:1) and this is so typical of the prophets. It says: Listen to the word of the Lord, you sons of Israel, Because the Lord has a case… See? The lawsuit that’s being filed there? I mean, that’s beautiful legal terminology… Listen to the word of the Lord, you sons of Israel, Because the Lord has a case (Rib) against the inhabitants of the land… And then Hosea goes on and he starts describing the violations of the Mosaic Covenant… there is no faithfulness, there’s no loyalty, there’s no knowledge of God in the land… His near contemporary Micah says the exact same thing, Micah, 6, 1 and 2 (Micah 6:1-2): Hear now what the Lord is saying, Arise and plead your… What’s the next word? Case, you see the legal terminology here? The Rib… plead your case before the mountains, And let the hills hear your voice. Listen, you mountains, to the indictment…. Isn’t that legal terminology? Listen to the indictment by the Lord, And your enduring foundations of the earth, Because the Lord has a case… There it is again… against His people; And He will dispute with Israel… So, God is always calling them back to the Mosaic Covenant and He had the right to do it because He entered the Covenant with him at Sinai. So He’s just holding them to the terms of the Covenant and if you understand that point you can understand what all of these prophets with these weird sounding names that a lot of us have trouble even pronouncing, you know, Zephaniah, Obadiah, Joel, Habakkuk, Zechariah, Haggai, Isaiah, Jeremiah, they are all just doing the same thing over and over again. They are showing up during times of national disobedience and they are filing the Rib, the lawsuit and they are saying, the reason you’re having trouble as a nation is because of this issue, violation of the Covenant and if you repent things will change for you nationally, but if you don’t repent it’s going to get a lot worse because you’re going to be kicked out of your land; and how did the children of Israel treat all of those prophets? Just stick your fingers in your ears, that’s what it says, right? Pretend like they are not talking, change the channel, cancel them from YouTube (laughs). The cancel culture, anybody speaking the truth, you just ignore him or get rid of them. Don’t let them teach anything in public schools, don’t let them teach anything on media, you know, because we don’t want to hear all this stuff and this is what led to the destruction of the temple and in seventy years of tears none of them were dealing with this issue, that’s why Zechariah is bringing this stuff up. 34:08
Look at verse 12 (Zech 7:12) again, it says: …the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets… Notice “by His Spirit”. When Zechariah is preaching, he is preaching not his own message. His words are being guided by the Spirit of God. When Isaiah is preaching, he is not preaching his own message. His words are being guided by the Spirit of God; and it’s the same with all of the other prophets. The former prophets He had sent by His Spirit. So you reject Isaiah, you reject Zechariah, you reject Haggai, you’re not really rejecting Isaiah, Haggai, Zechariah, you’re rejecting the Holy Spirit that’s guiding these prophets. It’s kind of like, I think it’s in 1st Samuel, where the people are in rebellion and God tells Samuel, who was taking the whole thing very personally, I guess, Samuel God’s anointed at the time, they are not rejecting you, Samuel. They are rejecting Me, because I’m the one who’s guiding your message via the Holy Spirit. So the world needs to understand this, you’re not rejecting a church, you’re not rejecting a teacher. People play these little games, you know, I like this teacher, I don’t like that teacher, this guy parts his hair on the correct site, this guy doesn’t, this guy is too thin, this guy is too fat, this guy talks too long, this guy is not loud enough. I mean, you hear all these critiques of Bible teachers and, you know, really at the end of the day, to be completely honest with you, if it’s a faithful teacher, they are not rejecting the teacher. I mean, what they are saying about the teacher is just a masquerade for what’s really happening in their hearts, they are rejecting the Lord; and that’s very important to understand in ministry because as you have success or lack thereof, it’s very easy to sort to take the whole thing personally. Gosh, if I had just said it this way or used this slide or used this verse maybe it would be different and the Lord says, no, it would be different at all, it’s the condition of the heart of the people. If you honor the servant of the Lord, you honor the Lord. You reject the servant of the Lord for whatever reason, you’re basically rejecting the message of the Lord; and so that’s why there’s this emphasis on His Spirit. 37:05
You have to understand that this is a very high view of the Scripture we’re talking about here, that we believe the former prophets, in fact, the whole Bible was brought into existence by the Spirit of God. Jesus in Matthew 22:43-44 quotes Psalms 110:1, where it says: The LORD said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool?… But right before Jesus quotes that, He says this: He said to them, Then how does David in the Spirit call Him “Lord,” saying… When He quotes Psalms 110, He says David wrote that, but it wasn’t just David writing that. It was David in the Spirit wrote that. So if you reject Psalms 110:1, you’re not rejecting David, you’re rejecting the Spirit that prompted David to write those words; and you see the whole thing bound up right here in verse 12 (Zech 7:12): …the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets…
I found this quote from Joyce Baldwin in her commentary on Zechariah and she says concerning this verse:
Joyce Baldwin – Baldwin, Joyce G. Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi: An Introduction and Commentary. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries series. Leicester, Eng., and Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 1972. p. 147.
“This remarkable doctrine of the Holy Spirit as mediator of God’s word to the prophets, who were themselves its mediators, has no parallels in the prophetic books…Zechariah is the first to record this aspect of the doctrine of the Spirit.”
This remarkable doctrine of the Holy Spirit as mediator of God’s word to the prophets, who were themselves its mediators, has no parallels in the prophetic books. Zechariah is the first to record this aspect of the doctrine of the Spirit… So it’s the spirit behind Isaiah that’s important and if you reject Isaiah, you reject the Holy Spirit that prompted Isaiah to give his… bring forth his ministry and to give us the book of Isaiah. When you reject a Bible teacher today that’s faithful, you’re not rejecting that Bible teacher, you’re rejecting the spirit lead message that that Bible teacher is communicating. So that’s why God says to Samuel, don’t take it personally that they are rejecting you, cause they’re really not rejecting you, you know, they are ultimately rejecting me; and you continue on in verse 12 (Zech 7:12) towards the very end of the verse it says: …therefore great wrath came from the LORD of hosts… Why would it say that? Because that’s how the Mosaic Covenant was set up. It’s what’s called, I’ve used this expression before, a Suzerain Vassal Treaty where the suzerain or the superior comes alongside the vassal, the inferior, and says, if you obey the covenant text, I’ll bless you if you disobey the covenant text, I’ll curse you.
Six Parts of a Suzerain-Vassal Treaty in Deuteronomy
This is a common bilateral treaty in the Ancient Near East and God condescended to the level of the Hebrews who knew these treaties and God says, I’ll give you My own Suzerain Vassal Treaty. So the whole book of Deuteronomy is laid out like a Suzerain Vassal Treaty. This is something called Form Criticism, where you are studying the form of treaties of the Ancient Near East and then you read the book of Deuteronomy and you say, Oh my word! Look at that, the book of Deuteronomy is… the whole book is laid out the exact same way. So, there’s always a preamble, then there’s a prologue, which sort of traces the historical interaction between the parties before they entered into this treaty and then, there’s the covenant obligations, what the vassal is supposed to obey to be blessed by the suzerain and then there’s storage and reading instructions where the covenant is to be reviewed regularly by the vassal and then when this covenant is entered into, witnesses are called and then there’s this pivotal section in Suzerain Vassal Treaty language of blessings and curses. If you obey the suzerain, here’s all the blessings you can expect. If you, as the vassal, disobey the suzerain, here’s all the curses that you can expect; and the book of Deuteronomy is laid out the same way. We have a preamble, we have a prologue tracing the relationship between God and Israel before the Mosaic Law was entered into. Then Deuteronomy, 5 through 26 is what Israel had to do to be blessed and this has nothing to do with whether they were God’s nation, they already had that six centuries earlier through the Abrahamic Covenant. This is the condition for blessing in that relationship. 42:51
You know, you can go out tonight, folks, as a Christian and if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you can go out tonight and you could completely cater to the sin nature and it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to explain all the different ways out there where you can do that and that will not alter your position before God a millimeter, because of once saved, always saved. Oh, cool, why not just… why not… let’s all go do it, because whom the Lord loves, the Lord what? Chastens. You’re going to bring into your life all kinds of consequences that you don’t want, that really have nothing to do, these consequences with whether you are a Christian or not. If we can understand that with us in terms of personal salvation, then you have a perfect understanding of God’s dealings with Israel who were God’s nation, because of the Abrahamic Covenant, but the Mosaic Covenant at Sinai, six centuries later gave the cycles of discipline and blessing for obedience and those are all laid out in Deuteronomy chapter 28. 44:14
So this is why the destruction of the temple happened, because Deuteronomy, 28, verses 49 through 50 (Deut 28:49-50), I’m cycling through this fast cause I think I have that verse later, says: …at the height of disobedience… Okay, this is one thousand five hundred years before Christ showed up, this was announced. When was the book of Zechariah written anybody remember? Probably about 520 to 518, which means what I’m reading here is on the books for a thousand years. Zechariah is not saying, Hey! Here are some new truths. He’s just reiterating what God said He would do a thousand years earlier at Mount Sinai. I mean, a thousand years is a long time when you think about it. I mean, they had all this covenantal language on the books that they were supposed to regularly review, they knew full well the consequences of their rebellion, yet they ignored all of this… The prophets would show up and remind them, they would stop up their ears and here they’ve been, you know, fasting for seventy years over the destruction of the temple and not a single one of them understands this, because if you understand this, you’ll understand why the temple was destroyed. So a thousand years earlier, God said at Sinai, the Lord, this is the height of their disobedience, God says this is what I would do if you keep violating My Covenant: The LORD will bring a nation against you from far away, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you will not understand, a nation with a defiant attitude, who will show no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young… I’m going to raise up a nation to bring you into discipline. Now God did that with the northern kingdom through the Assyrians who were not nice people, in 722 BC. God did it a second time with the remaining southern kingdom, that God discipline through the hands of the Babylonians, who also were not nice people, in 586 BC and when the nation of Israel said to Jesus in the first century, thanks but no thanks, as the great theologian Yogi Bear says: It’s déjà vu all over again… God did the exact same thing with the Romans to Israel in AD 70. So, do you see a pattern here? The principle is given in the Mosaic Law and all God is doing in the rest of the Bible is bringing the cycles of discipline which He has a right to do cause they at Sinai entered into this treaty with God. This is why the temple was destroyed. 47:44
So seventy years of mourning, no one is thinking about this. They are thinking about the effect but not the cause. Zechariah is pretty good at bringing up the cause and condemning them for empty ritual. And that’s why God, verse 12 (Zech 7:12) brought His wrath against these people. You’ll see the word wrath there at the end of verse 12. What does wrath mean? It means the cycles of discipline were so severe, it was actually the wrath of God; but that’s not the end, right? Because now God begins to talk about covenant judgment, verses 13 and 14 (Zech 7:13-14). Look at what he says in verse 13 (Zech 7:13): And just as He called and they would not listen, so they called and I would not listen, says the LORD… So, I’m shouting at you guys and nobody wants to listen so I’m going to put you into a circumstance through divine discipline where you’re shouting at me and now God says, it’s my turn not to listen. You know, God is very… can be very sarcastic. You know, we’ve used this example, every one of the Egyptians plagues was designed to mock an Egyptian deity. Oh, you like the Nile so much, you want to worship the Nile, God turns the whole thing to blood red, how do you like it now? Oh, you like frogs, you want to worship frogs, I’ll multiply them all over Egypt, how do you like frogs now? They started to worship their own first born, so what did God do in the tenth plague? He killed all of the first born all over Egypt, where’s your deity now? And as you become sensitive to this, you’ll see God using sarcasm. You wouldn’t listen to me, I am not going to listen to you during the discipline. In fact, you go back to the Law of Moses and God said He would do that a thousand years earlier. He says in Deuteronomy, 28 (Deut 28:23), which is that chapter that gives the cycles of discipline: The heaven which is over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you, iron… You’re going to pray to me and it’s like praying to a piece of bronze in the sky that’s blocking the path. I don’t know if you ever felt that way with God? I’ve felt that way with God when I’ve stepped out of line until I’ve gotten right with the Lord. In terms of restoration of fellowship, I’ve prayed, I’ve cried out and it’s like you are talking to a piece of metal that it’s blocking the path. 51:00
By the way, 1st Peter, 3, you know what it says in verse 7 (1 Peter 3:7) to the husband? If a husband mistreats his wife, then his very prayers are hindered. So well, there’s a lot that we could say about that. So what did God do? God scattered them, but I… verse 14 (Zech 7:14): but I scattered them with a storm… I scattered them with a storm wind among all the nations whom they have not known… Now, I don’t think this here is just speaking of the Babylonian captivity because when they went into the Babylonian captivity, they only went into one nation. I think this is a foreshadowing of AD 70 where they would be pushed into all the nations. Charles Feinberg correctly says:
Charles L. Feinberg – The Prophecy of Ezekiel: The Glory of the Lord, Paperback ed. (Chicago: Moody, 1969; reprint, Chicago: Moody, 1984), 207.
“These prophecies, especially those in verses 12-15, could not have been fulfilled in the return from Babylon…Thus many take the primary reference to the return from Babylon. But the predictions will not be completely fulfilled until the future restoration, of which the return from Babylon was a foreshadowing.”
Babylon was a foreshadowing of the worldwide diaspora of the Jews… I don’t know if you catch… caught the sarcasm here, where God tells the Jews, Oh! Do you like being like the rest of the nations? Well, you can join them. You can join them until I’m ready to recycle you back into your land. That’s sarcasm. By the way, that’s why the nation of Israel wanted a king and they weren’t going to wait on God for a king, they wanted Saul, because he was tall. So watch out for these tall guys (laughs) and they should have known better cause Saul was from the wrong tribe. The kings were supposed to come from which tribe? Judah. Saul was a Benjamite, but they were in such a hurry to get their first king that they just laid hands on this guy Saul. That, by the way, is why the New Testament concerning church leadership says, don’t lay hands too quickly on somebody. Make sure that they are God’s man, because a lot of churches have gone down the tank because they want to find a pastor so bad or they want to find a leader of ministry so bad that they just rush the wrong person, you know, into the roll. That’s what they did with Saul; and the reason they did it is 1st Samuel, 8, verse 5 (1 Sam 8:5) they wanted to be like all the nations. Now, appoint us a king to judge us like all the nations. Oh! You want to be like all the nations, then I’ll kick you out of your land and then you’ll just have a great time in the diaspora joining the rest of the nations and while you’re out of the land, the land of Israel will lie in desolation, also verse 14 (Zech 7:14) second part of the verse: …Thus the land is desolated behind them so that no one went back and forth, for they made the pleasant land desolate… And of course if you’re tracking with us on Sunday morning, Sunday school, I’ve used this quote here from Mark Twain talking about what the land of Israel was like in 1867.
Mark Twain – The Innocents Abroad, Complete, 1st ed. (A Public Domain Book, 1869), 267, 285, 302. These quotes can be found in chapters 47, 49, 52.
“… A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds… a silent mournful expanse…. a desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action…. we never saw a human being on the whole route…. there was hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.” (cf. Zech. 7:14)
I mean, Mark Twain, I don’t know what he knew about the Bible. Not much for what I can tell. It’s interesting that he uses the exact same language describing the land of Israel, he says: …a desolate country, a silent mournful expanse, a desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action… It’s interesting how he keeps using the word desolate, that’s exactly what Zechariah said would happen. In other words, you’re mourning about the destruction of the temple but you’re not mourning about the cause that led to the destruction of the temple and Zechariah says and this prophet showed up and you close your ears so you wouldn’t listen and Zechariah says, you know what? The whole thing is going to happen again. This time though, you’re not going to be pushed into Babylon, you’re going to go into worldwide dispersion, which is where Israel has been two thousand years and in modern times recycled back into their land. By the way, before the land became desolate, at one time it was pleasant… Thus the land is desolated behind them so that no one went back and forth, for they made the pleasant land… It was a beautiful place to live prior to the disciplinary hand of God …for they made the pleasant land desolate… So God says, when you’re in the land, it’s going to be pleasant, when you’re out of the land it’s going to be desolate, and that’s exactly what has happened. What is God doing? He’s making good on what He said He would do a thousand years earlier in the Mosaic Covenant. 56:22
This is the most depressing study, Pastor, I’ve ever heard at this church! Well, there’s some good news coming next week, because we’re going to start the third oracle there which is a prediction of restoration.
III. Questions & Answers Concerning Fasting (Zech, 7‒8)
So God is faithful to fulfill the curses for disobedience but He is also faithful to fulfill the blessings for obedience and we start looking at that with oracle number three, chapter 8, verses 1 through 17 (Zech 8:1-17). So if you’re one of those that likes to read ahead, which I would encourage you to do, cause you’ll get the most out of these studies by reading ahead of time before you come to Bible Study, I would encourage you to read chapter 8, verse 1 through 17 (Zech 8:1-17). So, it’s 8:01, good time to release folks, if you need to take off or collect their young ones and would anybody like to ask… do Q & A?