Well, maybe if I start a minute early, we can get out a minute early. Alright! Oops! I can hear my voice saying that over here. Okay! Alright, it’s now 7:00. Let’s open our Bibles to the book of Zechariah chapter 11, and verse 14 (Zech 11:14). For those of you watching online, you can probably see a few little Band-Aids and things I have on my face. Don’t worry, I didn’t get in a street fight with anybody. I had a little trip to the skin doctor and they did some zipping and zapping. The doctor was only five foot one. I was thinking to myself, how can such a small lady cause so much pain in my face. But it’s nothing serious. I’m not dying or anything, well, I am dying. We’re all dying but I’m not dying tomorrow, Lord willing. Alright! Well, let’s go to Zechariah chapter 11, verse 14 (Zech 11:14), continuing tonight our verse by verse study through the book of Zechariah and as you know, there’s four major parts to the book.
Chapter one, verses 1 through 6 is an introductory call to repentance and then, what follows are eight-night visions, which basically revolve around trying to give the nation an incentive to rebuild temple number two and those night visions end with the crowning of a priest, which basically pictures the millennial reign of Jesus.
So that’s how all of those visions are ultimately going to be fulfilled in the millennial kingdom.
Then we moved into part three and a question came in to the leadership of Israel concerning the fasting that they had been doing for the destruction of the temple one and they want to know, should we keep fasting now that temple two is being rebuilt and the basic answer there is, instead of fasting about the temple, you should be upset about what caused the temple to be destroyed, which is the neglecting of God’s law and so, we finished that section and from there we moved into the two burdens.
Two Burdens (Zech, 9‒14)
Burden number one, we’re going to finish tonight and if time permits, we might even get into a burden two, chapters 9 through 11 is Israel’s postponed deliverance. Since it’s predicted there that she will reject her king when He comes the first time.
First Burden Outline (Zech, 9‒11)
So there was a divine warrior hymn and that’s the chapter that predicts Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey on Palm Sunday, proclaiming Himself to be the Messiah and the nation rejecting Him. Chapter 10 is the true shepherd, it’s everything that Jesus wanted to do for Israel at His first coming but couldn’t because the people wouldn’t have Him. So all those magnificent promises of chapter 10 are pushed now into the future related to the second coming and then chapter 11 is the false shepherd that Israel would embrace instead of the true shepherd. So that’s why I entitled this particular session as Israel’s antichrist, because the nation rejected Jesus in His first coming; she is now a sitting duck to embrace the false Christ, the man who comes in place of Christ and that prediction is made in chapter 11. 5:27
So there is a consequence to rejecting the truth, when you reject truth that’s given to you, your mind becomes opened up to all kinds of spiritual deception. So it’s amazing to me the things that people will believe in when they reject Christ. They reject Christ, they believe in crystals and they believe in ascended masters and they believe in evolution and they believe in all of these kinds of things, you know, ideas that are sort of silly and there’s a reason for that. If you reject the truth your mind becomes open to all these false concepts. So that’s basically what is predicted here in chapter 11 for Israel.
False Shepherd (Zech 11:1-17)
So, we saw last time verses 1 through 3 (Zech 11:1-3), the land itself was personified as wailing, because of the rejection of Israel of her king and then you get into verses 4 through 14 (Zech 11:4-14), we made it through most of that last time and it’s the reasons for the wailing.
Reasons for the Wailing (Gen 11:4-14)
Verses 4 through 7 (Zech 11:4-7) , Zechariah is pastoring a flock doomed to destruction, verses 4 through 7. Verses 8 through 11 (Zech 11:8-11), God no longer favors the flock and verses 12 through 13 (Zech 11:12-13), I’m so happy that we had a chance to study that Wednesday of last week just before Good Friday, where we commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus, because there’s your prediction, right there, in verses 12 and 13 five hundred years before it happened of the selling out of Jesus for thirty pieces of silver and we pick it up here with verse 14, where we have a cessation of the nation’s unity and take a look at verse 14 (Zech 11:14), if you could, it says: Then I cut in pieces my second staff Union, to break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel… Now, you might remember from last time that we talked about how a shepherd in the Middle East had two sticks or rods. One is that one you’re used to seeing, that kind of goes up and curls over and that’s for retrieving sheep from wayward places. But then there was another one that was almost like a club that was cut out of a tree and that second staff basically was used to beat back the wolves and so that’s a pretty good picture of what pastoral ministry is. You’re comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, so to speak. There’s pastoral care but at the same time there’s a part of pastoral ministry which involves warning against wolves. So a pastor, if he’s worth his salt, has those two clubs or staffs. So Zechariah who’s sort of personifying God in this arrangement has both of them. One of them represents God’s favor on the nation and the other staff represents God’s unity. So earlier in the chapter we saw him break apart one of the staffs, favoring or signifying favor and it’s showing that God no longer favors this flock because they will reject Jesus and consequently, they’re headed off into judgment and right there in verse 14, Zechariah breaks staff number two which represents Unity or Union. One staff is named “favor”, you see that back in verse 10 (Zech 11:10). Zechariah broke that staff and the second staff speaks of Unity and Zechariah breaks that second staff. 10:03
So why does Zechariah this staff entitled Unity? Because if the nation of Israel had embraced their king, in the first century, their shepherd would have come and he would’ve rolled back the division in the kingdom caused by Solomon’s sin.
So Solomon is the last king of the United Kingdom. The first king was Saul, he reigned for forty years, then David he reigned for forty years and Solomon reigned for forty years and when you read 1st Kings, 11 you see the sin that Solomon wandered off into. So as a consequence of that, when Solomon left the throne, the kingdom was divided between the northern and southern kingdoms between Rehoboam, do you remember? And Jeroboam.
The north is called Israel, the ten northern tribes headquartered in Samaria and the south is called Judah, headquartered in the city of Jerusalem and so that then becomes a division of the nation that started in 931 BC and you can read about that 1st Kings, 12, that division. You can read about Solomon’s sin in chapter 11 and the division of the kingdom there in chapter 12. So ever since that point in time, Israel has had this division and you might recall back in chapter 10, verses 6 through 8. I don’t know if I need to reread that, but it’s a prediction that the true shepherd, when he came, would have taken this division and fixed it. But now, that particular blessing is yet future; it didn’t happen in the time of Christ because the nation of Israel rejected her king. The prediction of the eventual restoration of the nation, the gap between the north and the south being erased, we know from the prophet Ezekiel that that’s not going to happen till the millennial kingdom, that’s Ezekiel’s vision of the two sticks coming together.
So it’s kind of interesting that all these prophets, they like to talk about two sticks. Ezekiel talks about two sticks north and south coming together and Zechariah talks about two sticks, one’s named “Favor”, one’s named “Union” and Zechariah back in verse 10 (Zech 11:10) already broke the Favor stick, because Israel is going to reject her king and is instead going to accept the antichrist and now he breaks the Unity stick in verse 14 (Zech 11:14), because the bridge between the two parts of the nation that would have been fixed is not fixed and we have to wait for the millennial kingdom for that to happen. So the land is wailing and you have several reasons why the land is wailing.
Reasons for the Wailing (Gen 11:4-14)
Backing up just a little bit, the flock is doomed, verses 4 through 7, God no longer favors the flock, verses 8 through 11, Israel’s going to sell out her messiah for thirty pieces of silver, verses 12 and 13 and the unity, that was going to be brought in, is now on hold and that’s in verse 14. So there’s very serious consequences for Israel for their unbelief and as I said before, when you reject the truth, your mind becomes open to deception. So who then is Israel going to accept as a substitute for the true messiah? Well, the one they’re going to accept is the antichrist and he is described in verses 15 through 17 (Zech 11:15-17), the coming of the false shepherd.
False Shepherd (Zech 11:1-17)
The land wailing, verses 1 through 3, the four reasons why the land is wailing, verses 4 through 14 and now the coming false shepherd who is ultimately the antichrist. 14:49
The Coming False Shepherd (Zech 11:15-17)
So as we look at him, we see him being raised up by God, as a judgment on the nation, verses 15 and 16 (Zech 11:15-16). But we see God destroying the antichrist, verse 17 (Zech 11:17). So take a look if you could at verse 15 (Zech 11:15): The LORD said to me, Take again for yourself the equipment of a foolish shepherd… So he’s almost doing like a pantomime, if you will, a drama, a skit. He’s functioning Zechariah as a shepherd sort of standing in the place of God and he’s been personified earlier in the chapter as being this shepherd being unappreciated, trying the pastor this flock doomed to destruction and now in the skit, he says, now I want you to become a foolish shepherd. So I want you to become a personification of the antichrist, in other words, is what Zechariah is told to do here. Dr, Constable in his online notes on verse 15 says,
Thomas L. Constable – Constable’s online notes on Zechariah, p. 112.
“The Lord next directed Zechariah to present himself as a ‘foolish’ (worthless, v. 17, i.e., morally deficient, cf. Prov. 1:7) ‘shepherd,’ since his flock had rejected the Good Shepherd (cf. Ezek. 34:3-4).”
So God will do this with flocks that reject the truth, He’ll put over them people that they deserve, quite frankly, because the flock has rejected the truth of God. So God says if you reject the true shepherd, then I’ll give you a false shepherd. Now, I find that concept kind of interesting because you have a lot of churches today with not very good pastors. Pastors that won’t teach the truth, pastors that are not dedicated to the full counsel of God’s word, etc… and you have to wonder at some point why there’re so many lousy pastors out there and it might have something to do with the sheep rejecting truth. If the sheep aren’t interested in truth, God will put over that flock a false shepherd. So we have a tendency to blame the pastors out there that aren’t very good for everything, but the truth of the matter is there wouldn’t be a supply unless there was a demand and the reason why there’s so many false teachers out there, is there is basically a demand for what they’re saying. People want their ears tickled and Paul actually predicted that as a sign for the end times, the last days of the church, 2nd Timothy 4:3-4. You know, set around them teachers to tell them what their itching ears want to hear. So people in the last days would gravitate toward shepherds or teachers that tell them what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. So the ministry is kind of a peculiar place. It’s the only profession I know of where you can gain a following by telling people what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. I mean, if you did that in medicine, you’d be sued. You could never get away with that in the area of medicine. I mean, if I went to my skin doctor and she, you know, just gave me all this rosy news without telling me there’s a few things we’ve got to deal with here, she wouldn’t be much of a doctor and yet that’s common in the ministry. I mean, people will gravitate towards shepherds that basically, you know, tantalize and tickle their ears. So when the sheep reject the truth, God puts over them many times a false shepherd and that’s what Zechariah now is personifying as he’s now standing in the place of the antichrist as a false shepherd in this kind of pantomime and skit that he’s doing. Jesus in the 1st century, five hundred years later, said this exact thing to the nation of Israel. He said in John, 5, verses 43 (John 5:43), this was to the Pharisees that hated him: I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive… So I came in my Father’s name and you all, Israel, weren’t interested in me and my authority and my leadership but the time is going to come where someone is going to come in his own name. That’s the antichrist. Him you will receive. So when you study Daniel’s prophecies of the antichrist, Daniel, 11, around verses 36 and following, he’s basically someone that comes to do his own will. Completely different than Jesus, who took his own will and submitted it to God the Father. That type of shepherd, they weren’t interested in but when you reject the truth, your mind becomes open to deception and when one comes in his own name, i.e., the antichrist, him you will receive. 20:42
So how do you recognize a false shepherd, ultimately, the antichrist? It’s right there in verse 16 (Zech 11:16): For behold, I am going to raise up a shepherd in the land who will not care for the perishing, seek the scattered, heal the broken, or sustain the one standing, but will devour the flesh of the fat sheep and tear off their hoofs… And that’s how you recognize a false shepherd. A false shepherd has no interest in feeding the flock; his interest is in fleecing the flock. He is interested in using God’s people for his own purposes and there’s a lot of evil purposes you can use God’s people to pursue when you think about it. God’s people are generous so you can abuse them financially, use them to make money. God’s people are numerous, so you can use them to build their own popularity. There’s a lot of ulterior motives that go into actual shepherding and that’s how you recognize a false shepherd. A false shepherd is not doing what Jesus did laying down his life for the sheep, he’s interested in fleecing the flock. One of the paragraphs of scripture in the Old Testament that’s as strong as you can get, that condemns the false shepherd for selfish motives is in Ezekiel, 34, 1 through 10 (Ezek 34:1-10) Let me read these verses to you, it says: Then the word of the LORD came to me… That’s Ezekiel… saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, This is what the Lord GOD says: Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should the shepherds not feed the flock? Now, every time you walk into this building past the name tag table and you look to the right and I see Geraldine is back there, she’s the one I asked to put that sign up there, you look to the right and you’ll find Ezekiel, 34, verse 2 quoted and it says, should not the shepherds feed the flock? And so it’s a reminder that when you come to Sugar Land Bible Church, you’re not here to be fleeced, you are not here to be abused, you’re here to be fed, that’s the job of a pastor. But a false shepherd has a different motive and so, Ezekiel continues: You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock. Those who are sickly… It’s language, interestingly, that Zechariah seems to be paraphrasing to some extent right there in verse 16… Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you searched for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them. So you’ve ruled over the people in sort of a harsh way, but you haven’t put their interests first. He goes on verse 5, Ezekiel 34: They scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every animal of the field and scattered. My flock… See? That’s very important to understand. God says the flock is his. Now, what did Jesus say to Peter? Peter, do you love me? Then what? Feed my sheep. The sheep don’t belong to the shepherd, the sheep belong, well, let me put it this way, the sheep don’t belong to the human pastor, the sheep belong ultimately to Jesus Christ. So when you come to a church like this, the leadership here looks at you as if God owns you and God sent you here and so our purpose here is to edify you because we have to give an account ultimately to the ultimate Shepherd, Jesus Christ… My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them. Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live, declares the Lord GOD, certainly, because My flock has become plunder… See, they weren’t using the two sticks, right? To rescue the sheep and then to beat back the false teachers, so they were preyed on. Not PRAY but PREY… As I live, declared the Lord, certainly, because My flock has become prey and My flock has become food for all the animals of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock… So when a guy on television is flying around in a multi-billion dollar airplane, you know, something’s a little off with that, don’t you think? I don’t know if airplanes go for a billion but I know they’re expensive. I mean, a brand new airplane completely paid for. Where did you get the money for that? Well, God’s people sent in the money so you can get that airplane and they’re living this posh lifestyle, lifestyles of the rich and famous and it’s God’s people that bring in the money to produce this lifestyle and so when the shepherd’s lifestyle is like way up here and the average person in the church is way down here, you’re not serving the people anymore. You’re basically ruling over them with harshness… But rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed the flock, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: This is what the Lord GOD says: Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them stop tending sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I will save My sheep from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them… So in other words, God keeps a record of this and is going to hold all of these false shepherds accountable. 28:24
So it is interesting that when you go through the gospels. Jesus is pretty copacetic and conciliatory to almost everybody I can think of, right down to the prostitutes and the tax gathers. But when it came to the leaders of the nation of Israel that were in their position of authority abusing the people, you read Matthew, 23, some of the sharpest, harshest, rhetoric that ever came out of Christ’s mouth, that we have record of, is aimed at these false shepherds. So God apparently doesn’t like that, when the shepherds abuse their position of authority. What these false shepherds are doing, how they’re not seeking the lost, how they’re not binding up the injured, it’s the opposite of Jesus. Jesus came into the world as the good shepherd, He gives seven “I am” statements about Himself in the gospel of John,
I am the bread of life, I’m the light of the world, I’m the gate for the sheep, I’m the resurrection and life, I am the way, the truth and the life, I am the true vine, seven “I am” statements and I think it’s statement number four, right in the middle, he says, I am the good shepherd. So what does the good shepherd do? He tells you right there in John 10:10: I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep… The good shepherd puts his own interests behind those of the sheep and of course, that’s what Jesus did, right? through His death, burial, resurrection and ascension on our behalf. He wasn’t thinking about Himself when He went through that ordeal, He was thinking about us and that’s what a true shepherd is. A false shepherd is the exact opposite. He puts his own interests above those of the sheep, thinking that they’re his sheep when the truth of the matter is no, they’re not your sheep, they’re God’s sheep. That’s why God keeps saying it’s my flock. Down in verse 14 of chapter 10 (John 10:14), where Jesus claims to be the good shepherd, He says: I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me… So I want to be intimate with the sheep and I want to serve the sheep because the Son of Man has come into the world to seek and save that which was lost and the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many. So that’s really what true shepherding is. It’s pastoring the way Jesus would pastor Himself but these false shepherds, what does it say here? They devour… I’m back in Zechariah, 11, verse 16 (Zech 11:16) now… They devour the flesh of the fat sheep and tear off their hoofs… What does that mean? Dr. Constable says:
Thomas L. Constable – Constable’s online notes on Zechariah, p. 112.
“Tearing off the hoofs of the sheep probably represents the avaricious shepherd, searching for the last edible morsel that he can extract from his charges whom he has consumed.”
So the fact that they’re fat sheep that’s not enough, I’ve got a tear off their hoofs as well and get every little, you know, value out of them that I can. So that’s a picture of what a false shepherd is like. 32:57
So what is God going to do with this false shepherd? He is going to destroy the false shepherd. He’s going to raise him up, allowing to have his day in the sun and then God’s going to, in the right time, bring judgment on the false shepherd and we have a description of that at the very end of the chapter in verse 17 (Zech 11:17): Woe to the worthless shepherd… In other words, this false shepherd thinks he’s getting away with something. But actually you should take pity on him because judgment is inevitable. Woe to the worthless shepherd Who leaves the flock!… So the false shepherd is one who will leave the flock in danger, because he’s interested in himself. Just to make this very, very real, there have been people at Sugar Land Bible Church that have wanted to be elders and when their time comes to roll off the board, you have to send out a search party to find them. They’re not attending, they’re not serving, they disappear and then when the terms end, they think, okay! I’m going to start coming back and I’ll roll back on the board, okay! I will never vote for anybody that does that and the reason is because a shepherd does not leave the flock. The shepherd never leaves the flock; the shepherd is with the flock. The shepherd feeds the flock, the shepherd guides the flock. You cannot be a shepherd through an absentee vote, okay? That violates the very definition of being a shepherd. I saw one particular pastor announce to his flock that he wasn’t going to be in the pulpit over 50% of the time from this time forward, because he was getting involved with the politics and state government and I’m thinking to myself, well, you’re not a shepherd. Maybe you’re a politician, maybe that’s where you belong, politics but you don’t belong as a shepherd because a true shepherd doesn’t act like that. A true shepherd doesn’t behave like that. If you’re not with the sheep, you can’t be a shepherd. It’s impossible you can’t do it through absentee vote, absentee ballot. You can’t say, well, I’m going to my vacation home six months out of the year. I’ll see you when the season is back to what it was before I left and want to be a shepherd of Sugar Land Bible Church. That is something that’s impossible. I mean, that wouldn’t even work in the natural world. It won’t even work in the zoo world. How in the world does something like that is supposed to work in the church world? It’s impossible. So… Woe to the worthless shepherd Who leaves the flock!… And then it begins to describe how this false shepherd is going to be destroyed… A sword will be on his arm And on his right eye! His arm will be totally withered And his right eye will be blind… So the arm, basically these are what you call synecdoche, it’s a part representing the whole. So when the news says today the White House did, you know, it’s not the White House who did it, it’s speaking of the executive branch of government. White House, part for the whole, the executive branch of government. That’s what a synecdoche is. So when it talks about arm, it’s a synecdoche for power and when it talks about an eye, it’s a synecdoche for intelligence and basically, what it’s saying is the power and the intelligence of the false shepherd is going to be destroyed. His arm will wither and his eye, his right eye will be blind. So God is going to take the power of the antichrist, the ultimate false shepherd, over Israel that Israel will embrace in lieu of the true Christ, He’s going to take that power away and He’s going to take away his intelligence, his ability to think. 38:09
Eugene Merrill, of this passage, in his commentary on Zechariah, he was my professor and he says of verse 17:
Eugene Merrill – Commentary on Zechariah, p. 303.
“However, the ultimate fulfillment must be the Antichrist, who will make a covenant with Israel—but then break it and proceed to persecute the Jews (Ezek. 34:2-4; Dan. 9:27; 11:36-39; John 5:43; 2 Thess. 2:3-10; Rev. 13:1-8). Perhaps the whole collective leadership of Israel, from Zechariah’s time forward— culminating in Antichrist—is in view.”
So because Israel rejected her true Messiah, she has been open to, throughout her history, one false shepherd after another and because her heart is still the same, she basically is going to accept the ultimate false shepherd, the Antichrist for a season and so Dr. Merrill says:
Merrill F. Unger – Unger, Merrill F. Zechariah. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1963. p. 205.
“With this climactic scene the first prophetic burden describing the first advent and rejection of Messiah, the Shepherd-King (chapters 9—11) comes to a close. The way is thus opened for the second burden and the second advent and acceptance of Messiah, the King (chapters 12—14).”
So look at this folks, we finished burden number one.
Two Burdens (Zech, 9‒14)
So we’re now in the fourth quarter, think of basketball and we’re in the second half of the fourth quarter. So we’re actually coming close to finishing the book. So chapters 9 through 11 is burden number one. It’s Israel’s postponed deliverance due to her rejection of her Messiah and that moves us into the second burden, chapters 12 through 14, where it’s now focused on the second coming. The first burden, what Israel could have had, had she accepted her Messiah. The second burden, what Israel will have when she accepts her Messiah at His second coming. So the thing to understand about Israel is she always gets it right the second time, always, she never gets it right the first time she always gets it right the second time and if you want some proof of that read Stephen’s long speech in Acts, 7, where Stephen, one of the first deacons of the church age, stands up and essentially condemns the leadership of first century Israel. We just got finished selecting deacons for Sugar Land Bible Church and we’ve been trying to move away from simply referring to deacons as, you know, it’s like a maintenance job. It’s like a glorified janitor, because the truth of the matter is deacons, when you study 2nd Timothy, 3, verses 11 and following, are supposed to hold to the mystery realm doctrine with a clear conscience and Stephen, when you look at the seven that are selected for deacons in Acts, 6, is the first name mentioned and he’s the man that stands up in Acts, 6 and gives a sermon that I don’t think your typical pastor or theologian could give today, where he weaves together all of this data and he basically says, the nation of Israel always gets it right the second time and part of that sermon is how they treated Joseph. You know, remember Joseph bragged about his vision and as a 17 year old he was rejected, he was thrown into a pit, remember? By his own brothers, but later on in the book with famine and Israel had to come to Egypt to find grain in the midst of famine, the nation accepted Joseph, they submitted to his authority, but they didn’t do it the first time, they did it the second time. That’s part of Stephen speech and the other part of Stephen’s speech is Moses. He uses Moses as an example and he basically says, look at how you all treated Moses. When Moses revealed himself as the lawgiver and redeemer, you said to him, gosh! Are you going to treat us like you treated the Egyptian yesterday? and so Moses fled out to Midian, remember? For forty years and then after the forty year time period was over, he came back and then the second time you submitted to his authority and Stephen then says, you guys, speaking to the religious leaders of the nation, you’re doing the exact same thing right now with Jesus Christ. Same pattern, you’re rejecting Him the first time but you’ll accept Him in the distant future at the second coming and as he was talking, the Bible says, they started to grind their teeth, they were so angry at what he was saying and they picked up stones to stone him to death and he becomes the first martyr of the church age. So that was a deacon that did that. So be careful about saying yes to deacon job, you might end up getting stoned to death, I don’t know. So we’ve sort of lowered the office of deacon to just sort of a janitor type mindset, but that’s not what the Bible says. I mean, deacons were performing miracles, deacons had such a firm grasp of truth that they could give orations like Stephen gave in Acts, 7 and by the way, the second deacon on the list is a guy named Philip. Philip is the guy that leads the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ. Acts, 8. The Ethiopian eunuch is riding on his chariot reading Isaiah, 53 and Philip says to the Ethiopian eunuch, do you know what you’re reading and the Ethiopian eunuch says, well, how can I, you know, how can I know unless someone teaches me and Philip gets up into the chariot and through that very passage of scripture, Isaiah, 53, leads the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ. The Ethiopian eunuch gets saved and takes the gospel to Africa. That’s how the gospel made it into Africa. So look at how God is using these deacons in Acts, 6 and 7 with Stephen and Philip in Acts, 8. So I’m sort of on a crusade to get deacons to understand that becoming a deacon in a church is not just something, you know, you do because we want to do much of the work no one else is willing to do, it’s a very high calling and it involves a doctrinal understanding of the Bible. 46:30
So all of that to say Israel gets it right the second time, not the first time. That’s Stephen’s point, that’s what got him killed. So chapters 9 through 11 is burden number one, how the nation got it wrong the first time. But then you move from there into burden number two, how Israel is going to get it right the second time. They got it wrong with the first coming, but they will get it right in the second advent because Israel is always the nation that gets things right the second time. So we go into the second burden here. Well, we can go a little bit into it tonight, if that’s okay with you. Here’s an outline of it.
Zechariah 12 (Israel’s Physical & Spiritual Salvation)
This is just chapter 12. This chapter deals with Israel’s physical and spiritual salvation. Chapter 12 verses 1 through 9 (Zech 12:1-9) is a description of Israel’s physical salvation in the tribulation period. Verses 10 through 14 (Zech 12:10-14) is Israel’s spiritual salvation in the tribulation period. God is not just interested in rescuing his people from the physical harm of the antichrist, the false shepherd that we just read about at the end of chapter 11. He’s not just interested in protecting them from being eradicated from the face of the earth. He is interested in that, but that’s not all he’s interested in. He’s interested in physically protecting them, verses 1 through 9, leading to their spiritual salvation, verses 10 through 14, because what good is it, when you think about it, to be rescued only to stay in unbelief and you die and your soul goes to hell forever. So verses 1 through 9, physical deliverance, verses 10 through 14, spiritual deliverance and this is the chapter that tells us that by the time you get to the end of the tribulation period, every single living Jew on planet earth will be, not just physically protected but but saved or regenerated as well. So you can take the first part of it, verses 1 through 9, the physical deliverance of the nation and you can divide it into two parts. There’s a description of the nations that will attack Israel, verses 1 through 3 and there’s a description of the God who will protect Israel, verses 4 through 9. 49:28
So with that being said, notice if you will verse 1, Zechariah, 12, verse 1 (Zech 12:1): The burden of the word of the LORD concerning Israel… So you see that word burden, didn’t we see that earlier? That’s back in chapter 9, verse 1 (Zech 9:1): The burden of the word of the Lord against the land… So that’s how we know there’s two burdens here. The first one begins in chapter 9, the second one begins in chapter 12. By the way, what is a burden? Well, I think a burden is something that God impresses upon a heart, that is so strong, the only thing you can do is to obey what it says, because it’s a nagging compulsion that will not go away. It’s one of the reasons why I ended up in the ministry instead of going a different career path that I was headed on, it’s I just had a nagging compulsion to study and teach the Bible and I would try to shake it and pretend it wasn’t there. But the truth to the matter is the more you try to ignore it, the more it is there. It’s a burden, it’s something God puts on a person’s heart that compels them in a certain direction. You know, money is no longer the issue, security is no longer the issue, the only issue is how can I fulfill this burden that God has put on me and so if you have a burden in your life for something, I think God burdens us to do different things. That’s a good thing, because God is showing you what He’s calling you to do. So Jeremiah had a burden. By the way, have you had a rough week this week? You know, they took Jeremiah and they flogged him and they threw him into a pit. Think about that and in the pit, he’s… And we’ve actually went to the pit where they supposedly threw Jeremiah, prior tour guides used to be able to go into the pit but they had shut that down but I at least saw the pit where it’s believed that they threw Jeremiah… So when Jeremiah was thrown into the pit after doing nothing but proclaiming truth and Pastore the high priest of all people, had him flogged and thrown into a pit and after he’s thrown into the pit, he just starts to sort of get on the pity party. You know, he starts to feel sorry for himself, which you can understand why and he starts to say, you know, every time I open my mouth I get into trouble. So I’m not going to talk anymore, I’m not going to preach anymore cause nobody likes what I have to say and every time I speak God’s word, this is how I’m treated. So he’s sort of feeling sorry for himself and takes it to verse 9 of chapter 20 (Jer 20:9), where Jeremiah says: But if I say I will not remember him or speak anymore in his name then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones and I am weary of holding it in and I can’t endure it… So it’s actually worse on me Jeremiah says, if I try to hold the word of God inside of me. I can’t do that. I mean, it’s tough to get flogged and thrown into a pit but it’s harder to just quit, which is what he wanted to do. That’s a burden. 53:44
Paul the apostle, I think, references Jeremiah, 20, verse 9 (Jer 20:9) to describe his burden. He’s explaining why a preacher has a right to take money for his services. There’s nothing wrong with that but then he explains why he didn’t take money for his services and supported himself as a tentmaker. He says, I didn’t want people to think I was in the ministry for money, Paul says. Okay, Paul you’re not in the ministry for money then why are you in the ministry? Because of a burden and I wanted the whole world or anybody that’s under my influence to understand that so I wouldn’t take a red cent. I had a right to take money but I didn’t take money because I want everybody to know what was pushing me. This inner compulsion and he mentions that in 1st Corinthians, 9, verse 16 (1 Cor 9:16): For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel… It’s harder for me to contain this compulsion than it is, you know, just to suffer for the cause of Christ and by the way, that’s how, you know, if you took pastors and you took away positions and titles and you took away salaries, the pastors that have the burden to do it would still be doing pastoral work regardless, because there’s a compulsion inside of them to do it. I was doing ministry work a long time ago, long before anybody paid me anything to do anything. I did it because God was calling me to do it and if that burden is real, I would still be doing it if they took everything away. Take away the church, take away the salary, take away this, take away that, I think I would still be teaching ministry somewhere. I mean, if you throw me out of Sugar Land Bible Church I would just go somewhere else. I don’t really care if it’s just a little group of people. I have to fulfill my calling. I have to do what God has called me to do. So that’s a burden and this burden comes over Zechariah. You’ll notice there, he says: The burden of the word of the Lord… So his burden wasn’t to give his own opinion on everything. His burden wasn’t to be an editorial section of the newspaper. His burden wasn’t to give personal commentary. His burden was God’s word. I want to teach God’s word. So the burden of the word of the Lord concerning who? Concerning the nation of Israel. You say, what does Israel mean? It means Israel. The word Israel is used in the Bible two thousand five hundred times and every single time, even in the famous Galatians 6:16 passage that everybody tries to rip out of its context and make it sound like that’s really the church. In every single usage, even in that one, exegetically, Israel always means Israel. Rarely do you have in the Bible a technical word, which means a word that always means the same thing every time it’s used. Well, the word Israel is a technical word every time you see the word Israel, it always has a technical meaning. It has to do with the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So when you’re reading chapters 12 through 14, this is God’s end time program for Israel, because Israel means Israel. 58:24
So let me just conclude here with this quote from Charles Feinberg. He says of what’s coming, chapters 12 to 14:
Charles L. Feinberg – God Remembers: A Study of Zechariah (Wheaton: Van Kampen, 1950, p. 218, 222.
“The last section of the latter part of Zechariah’s prophecy deals with events in the distant future…As a portion of the prophetic Scriptures it is second to none in importance in this book or any other Old Testament book. It is indispensable to an understanding of the events of the last days for Israel‒the time of the Great Tribulation and the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth…In the time of our passage all the nations of earth will be bitten by the virus of anti-Semitism.”
The last section of the latter part of Zechariah’s prophecy deals with events in the distant future. As a portion of the prophetic Scriptures it is second to none in importance in this book or any other Old Testament book… Do you realize who Charles Feinberg was? If you study as I did a little bit at Biola university and Talbot Seminary they’ve got all the buildings there named after Charles Feinberg. Charles Feinberg was a Hebrew individual, Jewish that converted to Christ and had a great, much like Arnold Fruchtenbaum, a passion for a
Jewish Hebraic understanding of the Bible. In fact, Charles Feinberg at a Bible conference was asked the question: Is the Holy Spirit mentioned in the Old Testament? And he started with Genesis one, I think it’s around verse 2, answering this question with the spirit brooding on the waters and he went from there to the tabernacle workers Bezalel, and the other guy’s name I can’t remember the other guy’s name where the Holy Spirit came upon them and they built the tabernacle and then from there he went through by memory of every single reference to the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament and as he talked, the hour grew late, because there’s such a volume of material and the longer he talked, the quieter and more stunned the crowd was at this conference, because they couldn’t believe there was so much data on the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, number one and they couldn’t believe this man had it all memorized. Now, I wasn’t there obviously to see that but I have talked to his sons, Charles Feinberg has two sons. I’ve met one of them and I said, well, here’s the oral tradition, you know, is that story true? He says that’s completely true. That did happen. In fact, that was the kind of thing that dad did regularly. So when you’re reading Charles Feinberg you’re not reading a lightweight commentator and Charles Feinberg himself says, this portion of scripture that we’re entering into here, chapter 12 through 14, is second to none in importance, either in this book or any other book of the Bible for that matter. He says in this quote: It is indispensable to an understanding of the events of the last days for Israel… In other words, if you can’t understand these chapters you have no real concept of what God is going to do in and through Israel in the last days. The time of the great tribulation. The establishment of God’s kingdom on the earth. In the time of our passage, now, look at this very carefully, 1950, he said this, two years after the state of Israel had been born…In the time of our passage all the nations of earth will be bitten by the virus of anti-Semitism…
Because this is the passage that predicts, verse 3, all the nations coming against Israel in the last days and how God is going to physically rescue Israel and then spiritually rescue Israel and I bring this up, because people all the time ask where is America in Bible prophecy. You know, what my answer is? I used to have different answers. Here’s my answer. It’s in verse 2. It’s one of all the nations that comes against Israel, because even our own current administration is becoming progressively anti-Israel. So if you want to know where America is in prophecy, it’s in verse 2. Cause all means all, right? It’s some of all the nations that will turn against Israel in the last days. Charles Feinberg studying Zechariah, 12 through 14 said that would happen in 1950, after the United States under the Truman administration had recognized the state of Israel. He said, that will change because all the nations will be bitten with this insanity of anti-semitism.
So we’re going to stop right there in the middle of verse one and we’ll get to the rest of this next week. So if you’ve got to take off, collect your kids…