…your Bibles this evening, if we could, to the book of Zechariah chapter 8. Hitting chapter 8 is a big deal cause that means we’re… We’re finished half of the book. You guys don’t seem very excited about that. I’m excited, these are things I pay attention to. So here is what we’ve covered so far in the book:
There was an introductory call to repentance chapter 1 and then once you get to chapter 1 verse 7 (Zech 1:7) through the end of chapter 6 (Zech 6), there is eight-night visions, all incentive to get the nation to rebuild the second temple after the Babylonian captivity had ended; and of course, that section ends with the coronation of the priest Joshua, who typifies the king priest Jesus ruling in the millennial kingdom.
Then, we’ve been in, recently, part three of the book which is a section called questions and answers about fasting;
and the question comes in from the men of Bethel in chapter 7, verses 1 through 3 (Zech 7:1-3) and basically they’re asking, you know, we’ve been mourning the temple for seventy years that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed.
III. Questions & Answers Concerning Fasting (Zech, 7‒8)
Now that the temple is being rebuilt, do we keep mourning?
Question (Zech 7:1-3)
And that gives God through Zechariah the opportunity to give four answers, which He does beginning in chapter 7, verse 4 (Zech 7:4) through the end of chapter 8 (Zech 8); and the first answer there, chapter 7, verses 4 through 7 (Zech 7:4-7) is a rebuke for empty ritualism.
Empty Ritualism – (Zech 7:4-7)
Meaning that they were mourning the destruction of the temple seventy years earlier but they weren’t giving any thought to why the temple was destroyed. It was their own covenant rebellion and sin that led to the temple’s destruction. So, They’re mourning the effect rather than the cause, which is just an empty ritual; and then beginning in chapter 7, verse 8 (Zech 7:8) through the end of chapter 7, he says, here’s the specific areas of the Covenant… Mosaic Covenant that you were violating, that led to the temple’s destruction;
Covenant Rebellion – (Zech 7:8-14)
and now we come to, what I think is a much happier oracle, beginning in chapter 8, verses 1 through 17 (Zech 8:1-17) where we have a prediction of Jerusalem’s restoration.
III. Questions & Answers Concerning Fasting (Zech, 7‒8)
So, you can divide this as follows:
Prediction of Jerusalem’s Restoration – (Zech 8:1-17)
There’s a prediction about the future of Jerusalem verses 1 through 8 (Zech 8:1-8); and then verses 9 through 17 (Zech 8:9-17) there’s a strong application or applications that they are to follow. 3:51
So let’s begin with the prediction.
Prediction – (Zech 8:1-8)
You have God, who has purpose to return to Zion, verses 1 through 3 (Zech 8:1-3). There will be peace in Jerusalem when this happens, verses 4 and 5 (Zech 8:4-5); and the people will be totally restored from worldwide exile, verses 6 through 8 (Zech 8:6-8). So the reason Zechariah is going into all of this, as the Holy Spirit is giving him insight, is he’s trying to get them to see God’s future for the temple and Jerusalem. So, since God has such a glorious future for the temple and Jerusalem, then it’s a good thing to get involved in, in the present, in terms of helping rebuild. So he’s using the future to motivate them in the present. So the first part of this prediction is, God is going to return one day to Zion and take a look if you could at verse 1 of chapter 8 (Zech 8:1) it says: Then the word of the LORD of hosts came, saying… Now, that’s your structural marker, which tells you that a new oracle is starting. We saw the same thing back in chapter 7, verse 4 (Zech 7:4), the same thing in chapter 7, verse 8 (Zech 7:8) and the same thing in chapter 8, verse 18 (Zech 8:18). We haven’t gotten there yet, but that’s why the present oracle only goes for 17 verses. There’s a brand new one, beginning in verse 18 that, Lord willing we can get to… not tonight but next Wednesday; and you’ll notice verse 2 (Zech 8:2) there, it says: Thus says the LORD of hosts, I am exceedingly jealous for Zion, yes, with great wrath I am jealous for her… Now, Zion is a synonym for Jerusalem. You see that in verse 3 (Zech 8:3), we’ll read that in just a minute, but you also see that in the book of Isaiah chapter 40 and verse 9 (Isa 40:9). It says: Go up on a high mountain, Zion, messenger of good news, Raise your voice forcefully, Jerusalem, messenger of good news; Raise it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, Here is your God! So over there in Isaiah, 40 and verse 9 (Isa 40:9), you see Zion and Jerusalem as synonyms; and you’ll notice that God is jealous for Jerusalem. He’s not just jealous for Jerusalem, it says, He’s exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and a great section of the Bible to think about when we talk about God’s zeal for the city of Jerusalem is the book of Ezekiel chapter 16, where God basically describes a helpless infant lying, you know, in a pool of blood right after birth and, you know, that infant is in a totally helpless state and God took that infant in and reared that infant, and that infant female developed into a beautiful woman and that beautiful woman became eligible for romantic love and then, that beautiful woman turned into a prostitute; and you’ll see that in Ezekiel, 16, and God basically says, that woman, you know, that I brought up and allowed to mature into beauty, who became basically a harlot or prostitute, that’s the city of Jerusalem; and God in Ezekiel, 16, says, that’s how I feel when my own city turns away from me to false gods. So when it comes to the city of Jerusalem, God is not just jealous for Jerusalem but He’s exceedingly jealous; and you’ll notice there the words “great wrath”… I am exceedingly jealous for Zion, yes, with great wrath I am jealous for her… Now, “wrath” where does that come from? It comes from the Mosaic Covenant, which Israel entered into with God at Mount Sinai and in the Mosaic Covenant, there are blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. 9:22
Six Parts of a Suzerain-Vassal Treaty in Deuteronomy
The Mosaic Covenant has nothing to do with whether Israel is God’s nation, that was already settled six hundred years earlier with the Abrahamic Covenant, which we’re studying on Sunday mornings. The Mosaic Covenant gives the conditions for blessing and when the nation of Israel would wander away from God into false gods, God would bring upon the nation very severe covenant curses; and you see those spelled out in the book of Deuteronomy chapter 28, verses 15 through 68 (Deut 28:15-68) and that’s what it means by “His wrath”. When she became a prostitute, spiritually speaking, God was obligated according to the Mosaic Covenant to bring His curses for disobedience upon her and of course, all of that is going to reach its zenith in the tribulation period because God has not finished disciplining the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. It says in Jeremiah, 30, verse 7 (Jer 30:7): Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved from it… So we know from the book of Genesis, we haven’t gotten there yet in our study on Sunday morning but, Genesis, 32, Genesis, 35, Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, so Jacob is a synonym for the nation of Israel; and so God, at the height of Israel’s disobedience, will send Israel into the tribulation period, with the end product of Israel being saved out of that time of great distress. So this is dealing here, with not the church’s program but with Israel’s program. The church’s program, our program, is very different where we have been promised an exemption from divine wrath…
Promised Exemption from Divine Wrath
At the top of the screen there, you’ll see the various promises where we are exempted from divine wrath and the tribulation period is a time of divine wrath; and so the church, cannot and will not be in that time period, but Israel will because she is still in unbelief and needs to be brought to faith. Not so the church. You can’t be a part of the church without being a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. So when you see all these statements here about wrath and all of these kinds of things, you need to understand that God here is dealing specifically with the nation of Israel. But it’s still a tremendous statement concerning the fact that whom the Lord loves, the Lord… What? The Lord chastens and if you don’t think that chastening can be very severe, all you got to do is look at His dealings with Israel and you see it played out all through the Bible; and then we come to verse 3 of chapter 8 (Zech 8:3) and it says: Thus says the LORD, I will return to Zion and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem… So you see there? How Zion and Jerusalem are synonyms. Jerusalem being the city and Zion being the mountain… Thus says the LORD, I will return to Zion and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain… That’s Mount Zion… the mountain of the LORD of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain… So currently the city of Jerusalem is not at all the way it’s described here. It’s certainly not a City of Truth and Mount Zion is not a Holy Mountain. 13:45
Revelation chapter 11 and verse 8 (Rev 11:8) describes Jerusalem in the tribulation period and it says: And their dead bodies… That’s the two witnesses… will lie in the street of the great city… It says at the end there… where also their Lord was crucified… So clearly that’s a reference to the city of Jerusalem but then it says: which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt… Sodom, depravity. Egypt, bondage. That’s how God looks at the city of Jerusalem in the tribulation period and quite frankly, that’s how He looks at the city of Jerusalem right now. She’s that prostitute of Ezekiel, 16. I love traveling to Israel, I love the city of Jerusalem, I love Mount Zion but the truth to the matter is the nation of Israel, currently is under divine discipline; and I think we should do whatever we can do to benefit the Jews and help the Jews and be kind to the Jews but that doesn’t change the fact that her current posture, spiritually speaking, is under the rod of discipline and it continues right on to the present day and will go into the tribulation period and will not change until Israel changes… by repenting, which means changing their mind and trusting in their savior Yeshua, who nationally they have rejected. Of course, there’s always individual Jews in the church, they get saved and that’s a wonderful thing but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the nation as a whole. But God says the day’s going to come where this situation here is going to change. Jerusalem is going to be called the City of Truth again. Mount Zion is going to be called the Holy Mountain and then it says there in verse 3 (Zech 8:3) that the Lord: …will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the only city that God considers the place of His ultimate habitation. It’s the only city that He says, I’m going to live in and I’m going to indwell, because there’s a mindset out there today which says, Oh! You know, Israel is just another nation, just like any other nation. Oh! The city of Jerusalem it’s no different than, you know, Berlin or Tokyo or Los Angeles or wherever; and that’s where people are very, very wrong. Jerusalem is very different than any other city because Jerusalem is the place of God’s holy habitation during the millennial kingdom; and so since that’s true, you can see how this would have a huge effect on the returnees. I mean, if God’s going to live here, maybe we should get busy rebuilding His temple now;
Prediction – (Zech 8:1-8)
and when God restores Jerusalem, not only will he return to Zion, verses 1 through 3 (Zech 8:1-3) but there’s actually going to be peace in the city of Jerusalem and that is an outstanding prediction given the amount of bombings and attacks that regularly go on against the Jews in Jerusalem. But God says the day’s going to come where it’s going to be known as the City of Peace and in fact, that’s what the name Jerusalem means, it comes from Salem. Peace… where we get the name Shalom, peace and that peace starts to get described in verse 4 (Zech 8:4). It says: Thus says the LORD of hosts, Old men and women will again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each man with his staff in his hand because of age… So he’s dealing here with the most vulnerable element of society, the elderly; and there they’re prophetically pictured, with staff in hand sitting in the city streets of Jerusalem; and then it goes on in verse 5 (Zech 8:5) and it describes the other element of vulnerability in any society not just the old but the very, very young. 18:32
Look at what he says there, verse 5 (Zech 8:5): And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets… So, when God inhabits Jerusalem, there’s going to be so much peace or Shalom there, that the old will be safe there, sitting with their staff. The children, you know, not afraid of the kinds of things, you know, that happened in one of our trips there, where a child was, you know, coming home from school, a Jewish child, and these terrorists coming under Gaza, the tunnels of terror as I like to call them, you know, kidnapped this child and it was like all over the Israeli news when that happened and so when God makes Jerusalem His dwelling place, those kinds of things will be a thing of the past. It talks about children playing in the city streets. The book of Lamentations chapter 2, verse 21 (Lam 2:21) says: On the ground in the streets Lie the young and the old… Now, this is a description of what the city was like when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple… On the ground in the streets Lie young and old; My virgins and my young men Have fallen by the sword. You have slain them in the day of Your anger, You have slaughtered, not sparing… So, that’s… that’s what the Israelis were used to, beginning with Nebuchadnezzar’s incursion in the beginning of the seventy year captivity. They weren’t used to the young and the old being safe in the streets, they were used to the young and the old lying dead because of what Nebuchadnezzar had done and so God says, essentially what I’m going to do is I’m going to reverse that. It’s very interesting to parallel God’s value system with Paganism. Deuteronomy, 28, verses 49 and 50 (Deut 28:49-50) describes prophetically a pagan empire coming against the nation of Israel in the city of Jerusalem, it says: 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 who will have a defiant attitude… Now, how do you recognize Paganism? There it is in the last clause… who will have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young… So the most vulnerable in any society are the youth and the elderly and you can basically tell where a society is, based on how it treats those two individuals. God says in the book of Leviticus, when a gray haired person enters your presence, you should stand up and show respect. You know, today it’s interesting how the elderly are treated, how they are sort of, you know, marginalized, pushed to the kind of the sides of society and it’s interesting how the young are treated and you don’t have to look much further than abortion on demand and things of that nature. So Paganism is always characterized by victimizing or attacking the most vulnerable. God is the exact opposite in verses 4 and 5 (Zech 8:4-5) for He says, when I reign in Jerusalem when I indwell Jerusalem the elderly will be safe and the children will be safe as well. 22:43
I found this interesting quote from Ralph Smith in his commentary on Zechariah, he says concerning these verses:
Ralph L. Smith – Smith, Ralph L. Micah-Malachi. Word Biblical Commentary series.
Waco, Tex.: Word Books, Publisher, 1984. p. 233.
“In one of the most amazing and challenging statements about measurement of the health of society, Zechariah suggests that we look at the place the old and the young have in that society.”
In one of the most amazing and challenging statements about measurement of the health of society, Zechariah suggests that we look at the place the old and the young have in that society… Interesting.
Prediction – (Zech 8:1-8)
So this prediction involves God returning to Zion, peace reigning in Jerusalem and then verses 6 through 8 (Zech 8:6-8), there’s a restoration ultimately from the exile; and look at verse 6 (Zech 8:6): Thus says the LORD of hosts, Is it too difficult in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, will it also be too difficult in My sight? declares the LORD of hosts… So it’s kind of interesting that the Israelis or the Hebrews, before the Babylonian captivity happened, they just had a hard time believing it could ever take place. I mean, the prophets were saying it’s coming, the prophets were predicting the destruction of the Solomonic temple and they just, you know, basically didn’t believe such a thing could happen. But it did happen and they went into captivity for seventy years; and now after coming out of captivity, God is giving them all of these prophecies of restoration, and they’re just in doubt whether they can really be restored. I mean, things are so bad. You know, how are we going to be restored? And this is where God says is anything too difficult for the Lord? This is exactly what God said to Abraham and Sarah, you know, as we’re studying on Sunday mornings where it just seems ridiculous that given their advanced age, they’re going to have a child. It says in Genesis, 18, verse 14 (Gen 18:14): Is anything too difficult for the Lord? And it’s obviously a rhetorical question. The answer is no, nothing is too difficult for the Lord. So when God announces captivity, it may seem unlikely but God is going to make sure that happens. When God announces restoration, it may seem improbable but God says that’s going to happen; and you go down to verse 7 (Zech 8:7) and He describes what that restoration looks like: Thus says the LORD of hosts, Behold, I am going to save My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west… East and west. So obviously, this is dealing with something more than just the return from Babylon.
When they came back from Babylon, they came back from one direction. They came back from the east and God is looking into the future and He is seeing the worldwide dispersion of the Jews, which happened not at the hands of the Babylonians, it happened at the hands of the Romans in AD 70.
Once Rome invaded Israel and destroyed Jerusalem and destroyed the city and the sanctuary in AD 70 and took apart the second temple brick by brick, at that point, what’s called the diaspora started, where the Jews went into not just captivity in one area like Babylon, but they went into worldwide dispersion; and they’ve been in worldwide dispersion for the last two thousand years and only in modern times have they been gradually recycled back into their homeland. So God says, when I get ready to do this, it’s not going to be a restoration just from the east, it’s going to be a restoration from the west. So this is obviously talking about the return from the diaspora or worldwide dispersion; and you look at verse 8 (Zech 8:8) and it says: I will bring them back and they will live in the middle of Jerusalem… So there’s your physical restoration, but then it says: …and they shall be My people, and I will be their God in truth and righteousness. So this is not just a prophecy about re-gathering Jews to their homeland in unbelief. It’s about bringing them to saving faith to the point where by the time you get to the end of the seven year tribulation period, every single believer alive at that point on planet earth will be regenerated. 28:09
So we like to distinguish between the two re-gatherings.
You have the first present re-gathering and that’s different than the second permanent regathering. In the first re-gathering Israel returns to part of her land, in the second regathering she returns to all of her land. In the first regathering she’s restored in unbelief, second re-gathering she’s restored in faith. First re-gathering she’s restored to the land only, second re-gathering at the end of the tribulation she’s restored to the land and the Lord. The current regathering sets the stage for discipline of the tribulation period. The permanent regathering sets the stage for blessing the millennial kingdom; and there we are living right in between those two columns. This of course, we’ve been teaching on in Sunday school related to the book of Ezekiel. We’ve studied Ezekiel, 36, verses 24 and 25 (Ezek 36:24-25) where God says: I will take you from the nations and gather you from the lands and bring you into your land. Then… This would be part two… I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean…This also is the Valley of the Dry Bones, where the bones come together, muscles and skin form over the body and then Ezekiel observes there was no breath in the body. So God says, prophecy again; and the breath, which is the Hebrew word “Ruach”, which is used of the Holy Spirit enters the body and Israel becomes not just a physical nation but a spiritual nation; And this is where a lot of the prophecies of Isaiah will be fulfilled, you know, when Isaiah says things like: Can a nation be born in a day? I think there it’s not just talking about physical birth, it’s talking about being born again, and this whole thing happens in a day. I think it’s going to happen on the day of atonement. That’s where you factor in Zechariah, 12, verse 10 (Zech 12:10) where it says of Israel: …They will look upon Him whom they have pierced… That’s Yeshua, that they rejected two thousand years ago and they’ll begin to mourn as one mourns for an only son. It’s like they realize we had it wrong. Our Messiah came already and now we’re trusting in Him and this happens on a national scale. These are the kinds of things that the prophets are all predicting, including the one we’re studying here, Zechariah. 31:11
Prediction of Jerusalem’s Restoration – (Zech 8:1-17)
So then they answer the question, well, who cares? I mean, what does that mean to us, right? Zechariah’s audience could be asking that, this is all the future. What does this have to do with us? Well, the interesting thing about prophecy, is it impacts your behavior in the present.
2nd Peter chapter 3, verse 10 (2 Pet 3:10) says: But the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Now, Do you believe that? Do you believe that’s going to happen? If you believe that’s going to happen, then why would you spend so much of your life invested in this world? Which is all going to burn anyway… It’s like the guy at the mall that opens their door and puts a ding in my car, a dent; and I’m just… my whole mood changes, I can’t believe… you know this happened and then you stop and think about it for a second, you know what? My whole car’s going to burn anyway (laughs). So it’s kind of nice, I just have a little dent in the door. The truth to the matter is there’s only two things that are going to make it from this life into the next and you already know what they are. The word of God… Cause the grass withers and the flower fades but the word of our God abides forever… And then the souls of people, because God has set eternity into the hearts of men. So the more time you spend in the word and investing in people, the more you’re making an eternal investment. The more time we spend on other things, it’s an exercise in trivial pursuit cause it’s all going to burn anyway. That’s why 2nd Peter chapter 3, verse 10 (2 Pet 3:10) is followed by verse 11 (2 Pet 3:11), which says: Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness… If your eschatology is just trying to win the debate of the day with somebody and making sure that your chart is a perfect eschatological chart and if that’s the end of your pursuit into eschatology, then you’ve missed the point of eschatology. It’s wonderful to be accurate about eschatology but let’s not forget the fact that there’s a lot more to this than winning some kind of academic prize. It has to do with a changed life. If it’s not changing our lives then it really doesn’t have a lot of value. All it does is generate pride and there’s an awful lot of pride out there. Just look at social media. Look at the so-called Christians fighting with each other over eschatological interpretation, showing in some cases very little humility, very little grace; and you wonder… and you get pulled into this sometimes… I’ve been pulled into these things, sadly. You wonder have we completely missed the boat. Because that’s not why God gave eschatology. 35:00
1st John chapter 3, verses 2 and 3 (1 John 3:2-3) says: Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is… So that’s a wonderful statement there about the return of Christ. But then verse 3 of 1st John, 3 (1 John 3:3) says: Everyone who has this hope set on Him… What hope is set on Him? The hope of the return of Christ mentioned in verse 2… Everyone who has this hope set on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure… I mean, if we really believe Jesus is coming back, we would live differently, won’t we? So, this is how Zechariah is using eschatology verses 1 through 8 (Zech 8:1-8) to motivate the returnees in the present verses 9 through 17 (Zech 8:9-13) that’s why God gave eschatology to us. So what does He want them to do with this eschatological prophetic truth? Eschatology, as you know, is the study of the end. What does the Bible teach about the end? It’s one of the great branches of Systematic Theology. God has just unfolded here verses 1 through 8 (Zech 8:1-8) tremendous eschatology to the returnees. Okay, what are you supposed to do with this information?
Application – (Zech 8:9-17)
Three things: (1) Get busy rebuilding temple two, verses 9 through 13 (Zech 8:9-13), (2) Trust in God’s promises, verses 14 and 15 (Zech 8:14-15); and (3) Go back to the Mosaic Covenant, verses 16 and 17 (Zech 8:16-17).
So notice the first of these, the first thing you’re supposed to do is to start rebuilding the temple. Look at verse 9 (Zech 8:9): Thus says the LORD of hosts, Let your hands be strong, you who are listening in these days to these words from the mouth of the prophets… Plural… those who spoke on the day that the foundation of the house of the LORD of hosts was laid, to the end that the temple might be built… Pay attention to the prophets who told you to rebuild the temple. Now, who are those prophets? One of them is Zechariah. Zechariah chapter 4, verse 9 told them (Zech 4:9): The hands of Zerubbabel… That’s the political leader in the post exilic time period of Israel… The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands will finish it. Then you will know that the LORD of armies has sent me to you… So what Zerubbabel started, he’s going to complete, and who made that prediction? Zechariah did and notice it doesn’t just say prophet, it says prophets because who was Zechariah’s contemporary? Yeah, a guy named Haggai. You’ll see the two of them ministering together to that post exilic community in the historical book of Ezra chapter 5, verse 1 (Ezra 5:1), when the prophets Haggai, the prophet Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel who was with them. You’ll see those two prophets Haggai and Zechariah, contemporaries prophesying again to that same group in the historical book of Ezra chapter 6, verse 14 (Ezra 6:14): And the elders of the Jews were successful in building through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they finished building following the command of the God of Israel and the decree of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes, king of Persia… So listen to the prophets, this is your application, listen to the prophets who told you to get to work on temple number two and he says here: Be strong. Thus says the LORD of hosts, Let your hands be strong… So when God reveals His purpose for a person or for a group of people, they should not succumb to discouragement, they should be strong in that purpose that God has given them. This is what Paul told to Timothy, who was sort of a very weakly, sickly, very young person trying to be a pastor over Ephesus. Paul writes to him and says: For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but power, love and discipline… If God has given you a job to do and you’re vacillating and you’re worried about it and afraid, those feelings aren’t coming from God. God wants you to be strong in whatever He’s called you to do because at the end of the day it’s His task and not yours. So if those feelings of nervousness and anxiety aren’t coming from God, where are they coming from? Well, the only other sources are: The flesh, the fallen nature or Satan himself is trying to discourage. 41:20
Verse 10 (Zech 8:10): For before those days there was no wage for man or any wage for an animal; and for him who went out or came in there was no peace because of his enemies, and I set all men one against another… Before the returnees started to rebuild and do what God said that they had terrible problems. They had political problems. They had economic problems. In fact, the prophet Haggai talks about their economic problems. He says this, Haggai, 1:3 through 6 (Hag 1:3-6), contemporary of Zechariah: Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in paneled houses while this house lies desolate?… So they were basically spending their time and resources on their own house. You know, getting the new addition, getting the sauna put in, getting the jacuzzi put in, getting the swimming pool put in, adding this, adding that, expanding the garage; and the temple was just a wreck. No one was giving any thought to it. So God raises up Haggai and he says, you should consider your ways. Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled house while the house of the Lord lies desolate? Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, consider your ways. You have sown much but harvested little. You eat but there is not enough to be satisfied. You drink but there is not enough to become drunk. You put on clothing but no one is warm enough (laughs); and he who earns… earns wages to put into a purse with holes. So you’re spending all this time trying to accumulate and Haggai says, it’s interesting how you’re not getting ahead in life, isn’t it? No matter how much you make, it just seems to disappear; and that’s what’s being spoken of there in verse 10 (Zech 8:10), economic problems, no wage, any wage even for an animal; and then God says here, I caused the whole thing at the very end of verse 10 (Zech 8:10) I set all men against one another. I’m the one that caused the political problems, I’m the one that caused the economic problems because your priorities were wrong and of course, God in the Mosaic Covenant has an obligation to do that because the Mosaic Covenant given a thousand years earlier at Mount Sinai has curses for disobedience that are very material. In verses 15 through 68 things dealing with their crops, crop failure, things dealing with the wars they’re going to lose, things dealing with the fact that they’re going to borrow and not lend, the fact that they’re going to be the tail and not the head; and so Zechariah is just reminding them, before you started getting to work with the temple, you know, look at all these problems that you had, political and economic and God says, I caused them all. 45:21
Verse 11 (Zech 8:11): But now I will not treat the remnant of this people as in the former days, declares the LORD of hosts… I’m going to treat the current group differently, if they get involved with my priorities. Then they’re not going to experience the covenant curses, they’re going to experience the covenant blessings. Well, where do we find those described? They’re right there in verse 12 (Zech 8:12): For there will be peace for the seed: the vine will yield its fruit, the land will yield its produce, the heavens will give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to inherit all these things… Now, all you got to do is take that verse, verse 12 and read Deuteronomy, 28, verses 1 through 14 (Deut 28:1-14) and it’s almost a word for word quote. It’s just quoting what God said He would do by way of blessing, if the people went back to the Mosaic Covenant and pursued God’s priorities. Jesus in Matthew, 6, verse 33 (Matt 6:33) says: But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you… What are these things in context? What are we going to eat? What are we going to drink? What are we going to put on? And the Lord says, the pagans are running after those things. The Lord knows you need those things. I mean, if the Lord takes care of the flowers, which are here today and tomorrow are thrown into the fire, how much more will He not take care of you, O you of little faith! God takes care of the sparrows, is not your life more worth… more than a sparrow? Or a bird? Since you’re made in His image? So it’s interesting how when we get side tracked into our projects, it’s interesting how life doesn’t really work out well. You don’t feel good about yourself. You start having a bunch of problems that you probably wouldn’t have otherwise; and it’s interesting that when you put the Lord first, all of these things that everybody is so worried about in these inflationary times, job loss and all of these kinds of things, it’s very interesting how those things kind of start to work out. I’m not promising your best life now or anything like that, but I am promising this: For my God shall supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus… So you know, worrying about your needs as a Christian, is something you really don’t need to worry about anymore cause you’re following the Lord and the Lord said He would take care of that. I remember when I was thinking about going to seminary and I went to talk with the pastor I was under at the time, a single’s pastor, and he was always encouraging me to go to Seminary, you know, he said you really ought to go to Seminary; and I said well, Jim… His name was Jim… I don’t have any money and I don’t think I’ll ever forget his answer. He said, well, that’s not an excuse for Christian. I mean, not having any money is not an excuse for a Christian, cause God promises to supply all your needs. I mean, if God wants you to go to Seminary, can’t God, you know, pay for what He orders? And that was sort of… that was sort of convicting when I heard that, cause the finances was always my excuse. And he kind of, you know, kicked that prop out from under me. Can’t use that one anymore. What other excuse do you have? 49:55
So this is the kind of thing that Zechariah is getting at here. Go back and do what I told you to do and all of these economic problems and political problems that you have, that you are so worried about, those are going to sort of take care of themselves; and what’s it going to look like? Verse 13 (Zech 8:13) ultimately: It will come about that just as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you that you may become a blessing… So, God says in the Mosaic Covenant, if you put me first, Deuteronomy, 28, verse 13 (Deut 28:13): You’re going to be the head and not the tail… And that’s sort of a description that’s being described here. You’re going to be an instrument of blessing really to the world; And then look at how verse 13 ends: …Do not fear; let your hands be strong… Didn’t He tell us to be strong earlier? He says the same thing again. Be strong. You know, this… do not fear, this is, you all probably know this, to me it’s like… it blows my mind every time I think of this. You know how many times in the Bible it says do not fear? It says it 365 times, as far as I know, I haven’t looked up everyone but I trust the people on the internet cause the internet can’t mislead us, right? (laughs) But 365 times it says, do not fear. Now, that’s interesting cause that’s one time per day for the whole year. God every single day of the year is telling us not to fear, not to be afraid. I mean, it’s in the Old Testament, It’s in the New Testament. So how do you stop being afraid?
Application – (Zech 8:9-17)
Well, you trust in God’s promises, verses 14 and 15 (Zech 8:14-15). So build the temple verses 9 through 13 (Zech 8:9-13), trust in my promises verses 14 and 15 (Zech 8:14-15). For thus says the LORD of hosts… Now, when you see that, there’s your clue, that He’s in the same oracle but He’s changing directions, so that’s kind of a literary clue there that He’s moving into a different subject… For just as I purposed to do harm to you when your fathers provoked Me to wrath, says the LORD of hosts, and I have not relented… So, harm, wrath, God’s purpose. God purposed to bring harm or wrath against His people. Why would God have the right to do that? Because of the covenant that they entered into with God at Sinai. The Mosaic Covenant with blessings and curses. Those curses at their most severe form cannot cast off Israel as God’s people, but it does not mean that God does not chasten whom He loves. Whom the Lord loves, the Lord chastens. Why was the Lord chastening? Because their fathers provoked me. The generation before you that scoffed at my prophets and thought the Babylonian captivity would never come. I brought curses on that generation; and God says, I have not relented, I have not taken the foot off the pedal in terms of these curses. 54:10
You might want to jot down Hebrews, 12, verses 5 through 13 (Heb 12:5-13) because that’s the New Testament parallel for the Christian. Whom the Lord loves, the Lord chastens. Anyone that’s a son is chastened unto the Lord. God does not chasten the Pagans cause they don’t belong to him; but He will discipline His own. Verse 15 (Zech 8:15): So I have again purposed in these days to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah… So just as God brought the curses on the fathers for disobedience, God wants to bring blessings on the remnant for obedience; and of course, God has a right to do that as well because built into the Mosaic Covenant are the curses for disobedience and the blessings for obedience; and when you read Deuteronomy, 28, it’s a lot happier to read about the blessings for obedience than it is the curses for disobedience. That’s… that’s rough reading and yet if you were ever to study Deuteronomy, 28, which is the blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience for national Israel, and remember Deuteronomy is the second Law, that’s what Deuteronomy means second law. “Deutero” second, “Nomos” law, given to the second generation cause the first generation, coming out of Egypt, didn’t believe God; and God set them aside. So the whole principle is stated again in the book of Deuteronomy but He stated it to the first generation in Leviticus, 26. If you were to become a student of the Leviticus, 26, and Deuteronomy, 28, which both teach the same principle, the principles for obedience, blessings for obedience, curses for disobedience… If you were to study those two chapters you would understand the whole Old Testament because these prophets like Zechariah, all they’re doing is reiterating what God said a thousand years earlier. 56:42
Six Parts of a Suzerain-Vassal Treaty in Deuteronomy
My professors Charles Dyer, J. Dwight Pentecost, particularly J. Dwight Pentecost just jammed this into our heads. They would tell us over and over again, this is the spine of the Old Testament, these chapters. You understand those chapters, you’ll understand the whole Old Testament. You’ll understand the book of Lamentations, you’ll understand everything in the book Lamentations simply by filtering it through Leviticus, 26, and Deuteronomy, 28. So God says, just as I purposed to do bad against the fathers, now I’m purposing to do good, notice who this is for, Jerusalem and the house of Judah… So it’s a specific promise. I purposed to bring curses, now I’m purposing to bring blessings. That’s where you put the book of Malachi chapter 3, verses 8 through 11 (Mal 3:8-11), where God says, bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, test me and see if I will not pour out upon you so great a blessing that you don’t have room to contain it. Why would God say that? Because of what Israel had with God in terms of the Mosaic Covenant. The blessings for obedience the curses for disobedience. This, by the way, is for you put passages like Jeremiah, 29, verse 11 (Jer 29:11): For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for calamity and to give you a future and a hope… And let’s end there with the end of verse 15 (Zech 8:15), what does it say at the end of 15? Should look familiar: Do not fear!. Didn’t He just say that in verse… What was that? Verse 13? Do not fear! and He says it again verse 15: Do not fear!… Do what you’re supposed to do. You really don’t have anything to be afraid of. You know fear… Is something that should be uncharacteristic of the child of God. Proverbs, 28 and verse 1 (Prov 28:1) say: The wicked flee when no one is even pursuing them, but the righteous are as bold as a lion… The wicked are running away from their own shadow; they’re so scared, but the righteous are as bold as a lion; and one other fast verse and we’ll stop with this. Revelation, 21 verse 8 (Rev 21:8) It gets me every time I read it, it describes unbelievers in the lake of fire and it describes what unbelievers are like. They list their sins. It says: But for the cowardly and the unbelieving and the abominable and the murderers and the sexually immoral persons and the sorcerers and the idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death… Sort of a laundry list of what unbelievers are like. They’re abominable, they’re murderers, they’re sexually immoral, they’re sorcerers, they’re idolaters, they’re liars; but the very first thing he mentions of unbelievers, did you catch it? Is they are afraid. They’re cowardly and the reason they’re cowardly is cause they are unbelieving. I mean, if you don’t have God on your side and you’re not trusting in God, you’re just left to your own devices. I’d be afraid too; and so every time I read that, it always gets me that of all of the sins that he mentions first… He doesn’t even mention murder first or a sexual immorality, doesn’t mention that first or sorcery. He says you’re cowardly; and then he says, you are cowardly cause you’re unbelieving. So when we’re afraid, of man I’m talking about, that’s not of God. That can’t be of God, because Paul wrote to Timothy and he says: For God has not given us a spirit of timidity but of power, love and self-discipline… So when you’re afraid, obviously, you’re tapping into Satan or the flesh; and so we’ll pick this up next time with verses 16 and 17 (Zech 8:16-17) and finish this oracle where the third application is to obey the Covenant.
So we’ll stop at this time to let people take off if they need to do that. Pick up…