And now, continuing through the Bible, the book of Zechariah. Opening up tonight with the first four chapters. Let's study the word as Pastor Skip comes to teach us.
Well, not only are we having a full house here, but there's people all across Southern California and America who are tuning in to this service. We're a part of them. So would you just welcome them who are tuning in?
ABC used to have this program-- I don't know if they still do-- but it was called Extreme Makeover Home Edition, where they basically found some family who was poor and down and out and they gave them, built for them, the house of their dreams. Or they took their old shack and they'd just work it over and gave them something amazing. It was a total makeover of their house. Jerusalem needed an extreme makeover, Jerusalem edition. A couple of prophets knew that Jerusalem required this. Haggai, the prophet who encouraged the people to get on with the task, and tonight, Zechariah the prophet.
To come back to Jerusalem in the condition that it was in with mere 50,000 people and take on this daunting task. Well, it was the kind of task that it was easy to start but hard to maintain because they just ran out of energy. And they became discouraged after a period of time. And eventually they turn to their own affairs and forgot all about God's work and God's will and God's plan in that city. And so the prophets encouraged them.
I remember a few years ago, for three weeks I had the privilege really of working down at ground zero in New York City after the Trade Towers fell. And I'll never forget the Port Authority and the fire fighters and the police officers and all of those on site looking at that pile of rubble and looking at it as if it were an impossible task to remove that from downtown New York City. And what are we going to do? How are we going to take it apart? Where are we going to put it all? A daunting task.
The prophet Zechariah was born in Babylonian captivity and came back with the captives, with the exiles, to Jerusalem. He was a priest, the son of a priest. And he has the unique office of being both a priest and a prophet. He was a contemporary with the prophet we discussed last week, the prophet Haggai. In fact, they started their ministry at the same time, only removed by about two and a half months. So Haggai started his prophecy and encouraged the people to get on with it.
Zechariah started his prophecy, but Zechariah's focus is so much different than that of Haggai. Zechariah had this sweeping, prophetic picture of not only the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem under Zarubbabel, but on into the future, into the coming of the messiah, into the rebuilding of the millennial temple and God's restoration of the entire Jewish nation. Now Jewish tradition credits Zechariah with being a member of what they call the great synagogue, that it was a body of people that was in charge of preserving the holy documents, the Scriptures, the writings, and the traditions of the Jews after the exile.
Chapters one through six, and we'll cover-- by God's grace, unless the Lord comes before the end of the study, which would be wonderful-- the first four chapters tonight. The first six chapters are a series of visions. Some see eight visions. Others count 10 visions. Some see eight and that the other two are a part of the other-- there's a lot of them. We know that. The purpose of these visions is to bring hope, hope to the discouraged people, hope by lifting up their eyes past their circumstances and on into the future. And I pray that it will fill us with hope.
Every tomorrow has two handles, the handle of hope, the handle of anxiety. Too many people grab on to the second handle. I don't know what's going to happen. The future looks daunting. It looks impossible. Or you can grab on to the handle of hope and faith. We know that God knows all about your tomorrows, and we trust Him. So Zechariah chapter one.
"In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the priest, saying." The name Zechariah means the Lord remembers. His dad was named Berechiah. That name means the Lord blesses. His grandpa, Iddo, the name means at the appointed time. So just the names would bring hope and encouragement to these exiles with this daunting task. At the appointed time, the Lord remembers and the Lord will bless. That sort of sets up, just by the very names of these people, the whole book.
Now you remember just by way of survey that most of the people, when they had a chance to return from Babylon to Jerusalem, didn't want to go. They just weren't interested. We mentioned that only about 50,000 returned. The rest of them had gotten used to Babylon. Life is good here, they said. The economy is good here. We've adjusted to this place now. We've raised our family, as Jeremiah told us to. We've been involved. We like it here. We don't want to make the sacrifice. We don't want to pull up our roots and move on.
Those that came back to Jerusalem, a lot of them had never seen it before. Most of them, I would venture to say, had only heard stories of Jerusalem, heard stories of the temple and what it was once like. And probably coming back, it was a downer to them. It can be disillusioning to return to the place that you were raised, to find it so different than when you left. The people of Jerusalem came back to a very different Jerusalem. Piles of bricks and rubble, and they worked hard at getting the temple foundations restored. Verse two, the message begins.
"The Lord has been very angry with your fathers. Therefore say to them, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts: "Return to me," says the Lord of hosts, "and I will return to you," says the Lord of hosts.'"
The Lord of hosts is mentioned in that verse three times, and it is one of the distinguishing names for these post-exilic prophets. Haggai Zechariah, and Malachi will-- in totality-- use that name, the Lord of hosts, over 80 times in their writings. It's a name that denotes great strength. The Hebrew word, saba-- or here it's in the plural-- Yahweh Sabaoth. The Lord who commands the hosts, the armies.
Now sometimes the word host refers to the host of the stars in the celestial heavens. And other times it refers to the host of angelic beings in the third heaven, where God dwells. And at other times it refers to the large hosts of armies, the armies of Israel that the military commanders commanded. All of those are true of the Lord. God is in charge of the universe, the heavens, all of His angels, and the hosts of Israel. Basically, verse three has been God's message through the ages. "Return to me," says the Lord, "and I will return to you.
In Second Chronicles, when King Asa of Israel returned from the victory with the Nubians, the Ethiopians, a prophet came out and said to them, "The Lord is with you while you are with Him, and if you seek the Lord, you will find Him. But if you forsake the Lord, the Lord will forsake you."
God's message is, here I am. I'm waiting for you to come back to me. And when you return to me, you will find salvation. You will find restoration. The Lord never forces himself on us. And you've heard it before. The Holy Spirit is a true gentleman, drawing you by tender mercies and tender chords to trust the Lord, to come to Christ, to lay your life before him. But he'll never push the door in. He'll knock on the door gently. He'll woo you to the Lord, but he'll never force himself.
So the Lord continues. "Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts: "Turn now from your evil ways and your evil deeds." But they did not hear nor heed me, ' says the Lord." So God sent them Hosea and Amos and Joel and Isaiah and Jeremiah, prophet after prophet, message after message, by messenger after messenger. That was the legacy of their fathers. They knew the legacy well.
They were standing in the results of that legacy of failure and disobedience. There they are, in the city that had been destroyed in 586 BC by the Babylonian legions. There they were, among the piles of bricks and rubble. So this was a poignant message. Remember, don't be like them. "Your fathers, where are they?" The answer is dead, captive. "And the prophets, do they live forever?"
You know, it is an interesting phenomenon that so often people will point backwards to a period of their history where their forefathers did some great feat. Sometimes in church history we look back to the days of our forefathers. Our fathers did this, our fathers did that. The Jews were fond of that. They would boast in their glory years, the period when their fathers acted and spoke in a certain manner.
In the book of Acts, as Stephen is preaching to the council-- this group of Jewish leaders who had been trusting in their fathers for so long-- Stephen said to them, "Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom now you have become betrayers and murderers."
Here you are sitting on your seats in Jerusalem boasting of your fathers. All of your fathers persecuted the prophets that God sent to them, and they predicted the coming of Christ. And he came, and you killed Him. In other words, you're just like your fathers. And so God is giving a very poignant, powerful, sobering message before He speaks of the restoration that is coming.
"'Yet surely My words and My statutes, which I commanded My servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers?' So they returned and said: 'Just as the Lord of hosts determined to do to us, according to our ways and according to our deeds, so he has dealt with us.'" In other words, here we are. We're standing in the pile of rubble. This is exactly as the prophets predicted would happen to our fathers, and it did.
And now we have a series of visions beginning in the next few verses. As I said, a series of eight or 10 visions, depending on how you count them. And these visions would encourage those exiles that returned. And it's a series of visions with different details, prophetic visions. The first vision is sort of a general vision that speaks of all of the rest of the visions. And those following ones will add details to the first one.
When it comes to prophecy, the Lord often uses visions. The Book of Revelation is based upon visions that John saw of the future. In fact, it says that the Lord sent and signified it by his angel unto John. That is, God spoke by symbols, signs. Why did God use visions and symbols and signs? Why didn't God just plainly say exactly what is going to happen? Why are there so many visions when it comes to prophecy? For a couple of reasons.
First of all, symbolism, as such, evokes strong emotion. It puts a picture into the mind that is very, very powerful and helps you learn a lesson and me learn a lesson that ordinary literature could not do. Second, symbolism transcends time and culture. It's put in a certain way so that no matter where you live, at what period in history, it is always going to make a powerful impact.
When my son, Nathan-- who's now 19-- but when he was quite young I knew that he loved to pretend. And so I came up with this little game called say, play, and pray. And I remember every evening coming home, Daddy, let's do say, play, and pray! And what it was is we would read a Bible story, say it. We would then dress up like the characters in the story we just read. We'd play it. And then we would-- learning the lessons of the story and the play-- we would pray it into our lives. So it enabled him through outward symbols to remember Bible stories through his life, some of which we still talk and laugh about. You never forget that.
So the Bible does that. With these symbols, it zeros in and beautifully portrays the future. Vision one is the man among the myrtle trees. God promises to prosper Israel. "On the 24th day of the 11th month, which is in the month Shebat, in the second year of Darius." " This is February 24th, 520 BC.
"The word of the Lord came to Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet." This is three months after that first message calling them to repent. "I saw by night, and behold, a man." By the way, all of these visions occur on a single night. They're not spread out by any time. It all happens at once. "Behold, a man riding on a red horse, and it stood among the myrtle trees in the hollow; and behind him were horses: red, sorrel--" it's a reddish brown, speckled-- "and white. Then I said, 'My Lord, what are these?' And so the angel who talked with me said to me, 'I will show you what they are.'"
The prophet asked a good question. He saw something-- he had no idea what he was looking at. So he asked a smart question. Lord, what does this mean? And so the Lord will reveal exactly what he is seeing. "And the man who stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, 'These are the ones whom the Lord has sent to walk to and fro throughout the earth.'"
The myrtle tree-- also known as the laurel tree-- is a hardy evergreen. It's hard to kill it. It's very resilient. It grows in the lowlands. It doesn't grow to a impressive height. It never gets higher than 18 feet. And for trees in that part of the world, that's not all that tall. But it is hardy. It is resilient. It can withstand a lot. And so this speaks-- I believe-- of the lowliness of the nation of Israel. And though people have come against her and attacked her and spoiled her and destroyed her cities and taken them into captivity, God's promise-- as we'll see through this book-- is, he'll restore them. They're not going away. God will keep them alive.
What about the man on the red horse? Who's that? Well, the Scofield Study Bible-- the New Scofield Bible-- says that the man on the red horse symbolizes all of Gentile world powers. Maybe. Perhaps. Others see this as a reference to Jesus Christ. Maybe. Perhaps. Because later on, this man is called-- referred to-- as the angel of the Lord. And we've seen him before in other places. And we've seen that as a pre-incarnate guest appearance, you might say, of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament.
But notice, there's other riders, other horses. They seem to report to him, indicating that this has authority over them. In verse 10, he says, "'These are the ones whom the Lord has sent to walk to and fro throughout the earth.'" God is actively interested in what goes on on the earth, especially when it deals with and includes His own earthly people, the Jews, the people of Israel.
"So they answered the angel of the Lord who stood among the myrtle trees, and said, 'We have walked to and fro throughout the earth, and behold, all the earth is resting quietly.'" God's people had been scattered after being oppressed, dispersed, taken in by the nations of the world. And they rather liked that. They were at rest with subjugating the Jewish people and causing a rest that was enforced by taking the Jews captive. Well, that was arrest that God did not approve of.
"The angel of the Lord answered and said, 'O Lord of hosts, how long will you not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which you were angry these 70 years?' And the Lord answered the angel who talked with me, with good and comforting words. So the angel who spoke with me said to me, 'Proclaim, saying, "Thus says the Lord of hosts, 'I am zealous or jealous for Jerusalem for Zion with great zeal.'"'"
Isn't that a great thing for God to say regarding his people? Speaking with good, comforting words, words of love. I'm zealous for my people. I just can't stand by idly. I am displeased with the kind of treatment that my people have received from these other nations. "I am exceedingly angry with the nations at ease; for I was a little angry and they helped-- but with evil intent."
The Lord was angry at the way these nations had mistreated his own people, the Jews. Now what God alludes to here is that these other nations-- Assyria and Babylon, respectively-- had become rods of punishment, rods of judgment, an instrument to chasten the people of God to get their attention. However, having been used by God as an instrument to chasten his people, they went beyond that. They gloated in their authority, and they went beyond the chastening of God's people into the absolute subjugation and oppression. So God says, you went way too far, more than was my intention. I intended to punish them, but to bring them back.
"Therefore thus says the Lord: 'I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy; my house shall be built in it,' says the Lord of hosts, 'and a surveyor's line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem.'" Now so many of the people in Jerusalem had already become convinced this isn't going to happen. We've come back. We've tried hard. We've given it our best. We put our noses to the grindstone. We put in all the elbow grease to rebuild this thing. But the enemies, the contention, the letter writing to the capital in Persia, the discouragement and the people turning to their own affairs-- so many of them thought, it's not going to happen. Absolutely discouraged.
"Again proclaim, saying, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts: "My cities shall again spread out through prosperity; the Lord will again comfort Zion and will again choose Jerusalem."'" So not only will the temple be rebuilt, the city is going to be rebuilt and the city will expand. 75 years after this prophecy, the walls of Jerusalem were finished, were built. Remember there was a couple of waves of people coming back, some under Ezra, and later, others under Nehemiah. Now something we've already noticed, it won't take you off guard, and that is the prophets-- and this one included-- approach a topic, an issue, a truth. And God gives them a near fulfillment as well as a far fulfillment, doesn't he?
So one becomes the template, the grid, for something that is greater and grander coming in the future. The temple will be rebuilt. The city will be rebuilt in the immediate. But then let's look into the future. There will also be the building in Jerusalem much later on. We know that there is going to be a temple in the tribulation period. In the Book of Revelation, one of the messengers from heaven gives John a reed to measure the temple and the courtyards.
Now John wrote that in about 95 AD. The temple had already now been destroyed. For 25 years, there was no temple. There's John in the vision measuring the future temple that will stand during the tribulation period. Daniel speaks of the Antichrist that will go into the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. And After the sacrifices have been inaugurated-- animal sacrifices commenced-- he will put an end to them in the middle of the tribulation period, in the temple.
Well, he can't do that unless there is a temple in Jerusalem. And there will be during that time period. But then go into the future even further, when, for 1,000 years upon the earth, Jesus Christ-- who returned in Revelation 19-- will establish the city of Jerusalem as his headquarters, and there will be that temple. And Ezekiel chapters 40 through 48 give the details and the measurements and the activities that will take place in that temple.
Now, it's interesting. There has been and is today a great movement of Jews all around the world to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. This doesn't make a lot of their Muslim neighbors all that excited when they speak about that Temple Mount and desiring to have the temple up there rather than the Dome of the Rock. They don't like that, for obvious reasons. But there already are priests-- the kohanim-- who have been found to be priests genetically. Their [? holotypes, ?] their DNA, has been examined. And they they're already in training to officiate with the animal sacrifices that will-- they say-- take place shortly once the temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem. And there is the Temple Institute in Jerusalem.
Time magazine put out an article. A poll showed that a surprising 18.3% of Israelis thought it was time to rebuild the temple. Several small organizations in Jerusalem believe the question is already settled. They are zealously making preparations for the new temple in spite of the doctrinal obstacles and the certainty of provoking Muslim fury. Two Talmudic schools located near the Western or Wailing Wall are teaching nearly 200 students the elaborate details of temple service. Other groups are researching the family lines of the Jewish priests, who alone may conduct animal sacrifices. All of this-- the near and into the future, through the tribulation into the Millennium-- this prophet can see so much.
Now we come to the next vision, and that is the vision of the four horns and the craftsman. "Then I raised my eyes and looked, and there were four horns." And most often in Scripture a horn is a symbol of power or authority. An animal's horn is its strength, its measure of defense. And it often symbolizes nations, as we find that it does here. These four horns correspond to the four metals in the vision in Daniel chapter 2 and the four beasts that Daniel himself saw. Four nations that came against the Jews, from Babylon to Medo-Persia to later on Greece and then finally to Rome.
"And I said to the angel who talked with me, 'What are these?' And he answered me, 'These are the horns that have scattered Judah and Jerusalem.' And the Lord showed me four craftsmen." Literally, hewers, or one who wields a hammer. You could even translate it blacksmiths, those who work with stone or metal. "And I said, 'What are these coming to do?' So he said, 'These are the horns that scattered Judah, so that no one could lift up his head; but the craftsmen are coming to terrify them, to cast out the horns of the nations that lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter it.'"
So this represents-- you can picture the craftsmen with the hammer raised to smash the horn, and the horn is the nation that scattered Judah. So as with the four beasts of Daniel chapter 7, each beast was overtaken by another beast. So each nation would be overtaken by another nation. Babylon subjugated the Jews in 586 BC.
But Medo-Persia was the nation that was the hammer that broke the horn in 539 BC, in a single night, as they came in through those levee gates underneath the city, through the river. And then after that, Medo-Persia was hammered in a victory-- the city of Issus-- by Alexander the Great in 333. And later on, Greece was subjugated by Rome in the second century BC. Later on, Rome would revive. That's how the prediction goes in the latter days. And Jesus Christ will set up His kingdom in that revived Roman Empire state and set up His kingdom, which will never end.
So now in chapter 2 we have the next vision. Then I raised my eyes and looked, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand. And I said, 'Where are you going?'" You know, I am so glad that Zechariah asked all these questions. They would be questions I would ask if I saw these visions. Instead of just writing down the vision, the Holy Spirit prompts him to ask the questions so that they can be answered and we can understand exactly what they are. No guess work.
"And he said to me, 'To measure Jerusalem, to see its width and what is its length.' And there was the angel who talked with me, going out; and another angel was coming out to meet him, who said to him, 'Run, speak to this young man.'" We don't know how old Zechariah was, but he's called graciously a young man. And though he is a young man, he has more insight into the coming of Jesus Christ than any of the other minor prophets.
"Speak to this young man, saying: 'Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls, because of the multitude of men and livestock in it.'" In other words, there is coming a day when Jerusalem will expand so far beyond its borders-- beyond its current boundaries-- that it will even exceed the walls that once protected that city. Now that prediction has only recently been fulfilled. 3,000 years ago, when it was the City of David-- when David took it over from the Jebusites-- it was a very small portion of land-- about 10 to 12 acres, that little area of that hill of the City of David-- and only about 2,000 inhabitants. He took it over. He expanded it.
By the time of Solomon, it grew to about 25 acres, as it grew up on that Ophel, the hill toward the modern Temple Mount. And about 25,000 people inhabited it. Now by the time the people got back to Jerusalem-- after it fell in 586-- there were 50,000 people. Most of them stayed, as we said, in Babylon. And by the time that the Romans conquered Jerusalem in 70 AD, Jerusalem was 425 acres and about 60,000 inhabitants within the city walls. There were others outside, but 60,000 within the city walls proper.
But things have changed. Jerusalem's most explosive growth have been in the last couple centuries. Example. In 1800, the population of Jerusalem was only 9,000. In 1905, the population was 60,000. In 1946, the population of Jerusalem was 164,000. In 1967, it was 267,000. In June of 1967, when the Jews got back control of the city, the city of Jerusalem was only about 4.3 acres. Today it's 47 acres. No, excuse me. 4.3 square miles. Today the city of Jerusalem is 47 square miles and about 650,000 inhabitants. The city has grown and expanded so far, in so many directions. South, it touches Bethlehem. East, it goes all the way toward the Dead Sea, that new development. Ma'ale Adumim, it's called. It goes to the north. It goes in all directions just expansively. So what a prediction. Speak to this young man. Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls because of the multitude.
OK. Scoot forward way far in advance to the future. Go past the tribulation temple. Go past even the 1,000 year reign of Christ on the earth. Go into the eternal state, when John sees the new Jerusalem coming out of heaven toward the earth. And he measures it. And he finds that this new city is an odd shape. It's a cube. It's 12,000 furlongs in all directions. It's either a cube or a pyramid, however you look at it. But it's 1,500 miles squared. It's huge. In fact, the new Jerusalem will be so large that it will be 25,000 times larger than the present day city of London. So what a prediction, if you take all of those phases in one fell swoop.
"'For I,' says the Lord, 'will be a wall of fire around her. I will be the glory in her midst.'" Oh, it's so beautiful. What a promise of protection. And it's reminiscent, this wall of fire-- is it not-- of that pillar of fire in the wilderness. It says it caused the armies of Egypt to tremble when they saw it. God's protection for his people.
"'Up, up! Flee from the land of the north,' says the Lord, 'for I have spread you abroad like the four winds of heaven,' says the Lord. 'Up, Zion! Escape, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon.'" Very similar to Revelation 18. Babylon the great and the people of God are told to come out from her.
"For thus says the Lord of hosts: 'He sent me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.'" And the idea of touching is to hurt, to touch with evil intent. The eye is one of the most complex and advanced organs that God has given you in your body. It's very sensitive. I wear contact lenses. I wear hard contact lenses. And when I lived in the deserts of New Mexico, it wasn't easy when the wind blew. And I would get specks of dust in my eye. And oh, the apple of my high was touched! That pupil, when light goes through, is taken by the lens and refracted and sent to the retina. And the nerves on the back of that retina register it and turn the image around-- because it's upside down until then-- and your brain is able to assimilate it and make sense out of it and navigate by it. But because it is so sensitive, there is a reaction.
If somebody does that to you, you flinch with your eyes or you protect yourself. It's a very sensitive organ. Whoever touches you-- the Jews, Israel-- God says touches the apple of my eye. In other words, hey, you mess with my people, and I'm going to mess with you. And look at the nations that did. What happened to Babylon? Gone. What happened to Medo-Persia? Gone. What happened to the glory days of Greece? Gone. Rome, gone. So, I'm not worried. I know there are millions of people that would love to see Israel thrown into the Mediterranean Sea. I'm not worried, because I know the kind of promises that God has given to them.
In the Quran it reads, God has cursed the Jews for their unbelief. I'm not worried. A lot of people adhere to that book. A lot of people follow that book. And in consequence, a lot of people hate God's covenant people. Now I'll be the first to admit, Israel is by no means a perfect bunch of folks. And I don't support all of their initiatives, strategies, policies. But I stand with them as God's covenant people. Interesting. After one of our services today, a marine came up to me and said, Skip, I've been a marine for 20 years. Do you know that on the sword of the Marine Corps-- the official insignia on the sword, and it was put there during the time of Abraham Lincoln-- is a star of David?
I said, I didn't know that. He said, well, most people in the Marines don't even know that. But it was a Jewish artisan during the time of Abraham Lincoln that crafted it, and Lincoln didn't have a problem with it, and the people in the government then didn't have a problem with it. He said, I suspect if we tried to pull it off now, they would. But he goes, there's something comforting-- as a marine-- knowing that my government, on its sword, has the symbol-- one of the symbols-- for the state of Israel. Sobering. Whoever touches you, touches the apple of God's eye.
"For surely I will shake my hand against them." Picture somebody with a fist. When God makes a fist, look out. He can punch. "'And they shall become spoiled for their servants. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me. Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,' says the Lord." This is the glorious promise of the second coming of Christ. "'Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in their midst. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you.'"
Notice in verse 10, the Lord is coming to dwell. He says that. In verse 11, the Lord sent the one who would come to dwell. Now what this is saying-- this is the Messiah speaking. God will come to His people in the person of the Messiah of the Jews-- Jesus Christ-- to dwell. To dwell. "In the beginning was the word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God." Verse 14 of the same chapter. "And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we be held His glory."
But the word here, to dwell, speaks more of the second coming than the first coming. Because the word in Hebrew, to dwell, is the word shakan, where we get the word Shekinah. It means to dwell in glory among his people. This, then, is going all the way into the future anticipating the return of the Messiah Jesus to the earth to dwell among His people during the millennial reign of Christ upon the earth.
Did you know that the second coming is mentioned about 1,845 times in the Scripture? That for every one time the first coming is mentioned or alluded to, the second coming is mentioned or alluded to eight times? Did you know that for every time the atonement of Christ is mentioned, the second coming is mentioned or alluded to twice? It is a frequent theme. It brings hope to every generation. This world won't stay the way it is. Jesus Christ will take over, and the Lord will take possession of Judah as his inheritance in the Holy Land.
This is the only time the word Holy Land is used for Israel in the Bible. We say we're going to the Holy Land. It's really going to be holy then. It's highly unholy now, but when Jesus rules in it, it will be the Holy Land tour to beat all tours. And don't worry, if you haven't gone yet, you'll go then. Although, there's something about being there once before and having something to compare to it. "Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for He is aroused from His holy habitation!"
Now the next vision in Zechariah 3 is the cleansing of the high priest member, Joshua. We read about him last week. "Then he showed me Joshua the high priest--" that's the spiritual leader of the nation-- "standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan at his right hand to oppose him." In the law courts, judicially speaking, the right hand was always the position of the prosecutor. He's an accuser. He's making accusations. Talk about irony. Here's Satan, the chump of all chumps, the rebeller of all rebellers, accusing Joshua as if he has dirt on him.
Truth of the matter is, however, he does that to us-- or about us-- to the Lord. Accuser of the brethren, who stands accusing us day and night before the Lord. As high priest, Joshua is representative of the whole nation of Israel. Satan has always attacked Israel. The devil is called-- his name means slanderer. The term Satan means adversary. He always opposes the work of God and always slanders the workers of God.
"And the Lord said to Satan, 'The Lord rebuke you, Satan!'" Interesting. The Lord says, "The Lord rebuke you." I think this angel of the Lord is the Messiah. It's Jesus Christ. And as the Lord, he is invoking the name of His Father. "The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you!" Is this not a brand that is plucked from the fire? A brand is a piece of burning wood that is rescued from the fire. That's Israel. Just when Satan wants to stamp it out and destroy it, God plucks it out. And that has happened time and time again.
Now I see a pattern here in dealing with our enemy, our adversary, the devil. The Bible says to resist the devil. It doesn't say carry on long conversations with the devil. It doesn't say speak to the devil and rebuke him to his face and bind him. I'll bind you, Satan. He didn't even say address him.
And yet, on occasion I've heard people almost as if they're praying to the devil. Now devil, we want you to know a few things. And they start talking to him. Why bother? And why place yourself in that kind of vulnerable position? You are no match for him in your own person, in your own power, in your own strength. Here's Messiah invoking the name of his Father, "The Lord rebuke you." Even Michael, the archangel, Jude tells us-- and here is a super angel, a mega angel-- when disputing with Satan over the body of Moses, dared not bring a railing accusation. But rather said, "The Lord rebuke you."
You always want a buffer between you and Satan. Or look at it this way. When Satan knocks at the door, let Jesus answer it. Don't you answer it. Have that buffer. As Martin Luther once wrote, and he so often wrote and spoke about how many times he contended and wrestled against Satan and the attacks that he had. And though this world with devils filled should threaten to undo us, we shall not fear, for God has promised his truth to triumph through us. The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him. His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure. One little word will fell him. And that little word doesn't come from you. It comes from Him.
So that's a good reminder, a good pattern. Let the Lord be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. "Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and was standing before the Angel. And he answered and spoke to those who stood before him, saying, 'Take away the filthy garments from him.' And to him He said, 'See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.'" Or festival garments, garments of celebration. Whatever accusations whatever sin, whatever was incomplete in this high priest that Satan was bringing this accusation or opposition, whatever it is God says, I'll cleanse him. I'll cleanse him. I'll restore.
Garments often represent righteousness. And filthy garments are your life-- my life-- in self-righteousness. Stained by sin but self righteousness. Remember what the prophet Jeremiah said, that all of our righteousness is as filthy rags to the Lord. So you never want to stand before the Lord in your own goodness. You never want to give a bragimony. You want to give a testimony. A bragimony is, look what I've done. Look how great I am. A testimony is, I'm a sinner. God saved me. He put on an-- and here's the whole point here, that there's a change of clothes-- a change of garments-- for Joshua the high priest, which he didn't do. No human agency did. It was God who cleansed him.
"And I said, 'Let them put a clean turban on his head.' So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the Lord stood by." So God is saying, I'm going to forgive My people. I'm going to restore My people, and I'm going to reiterate My promise of salvation to them. "And the Angel of the Lord admonished Joshua, saying, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts: "If you will walk in My ways, and if you will keep My command, then you shall also judge My house, and likewise have charge of My courts; and I will give you places to walk among those who stand here."'"
Joshua, don't worry. I'll take care of you. I'll cleanse you. You obey Me and you will fulfill all of the promises as spiritual leader in this place. "Hear, O Joshua, the high priest, you and your companions who sit before you, for they are a wondrous sign." Notice that. Or a symbol, a sign pointing to something else. "For behold, I am bringing forth My servant, the branch."
Now here is a prime example of how the spirit of God prophetically takes near fulfillment and pushes it out into the future. Joshua, I'm going to do a work with you, but you, Joshua, are a sign. You and the other priests are a symbol. You are pointing to a future priest. By the way, with the same name as you. There'll be another Joshua-- Yeshua, Yehoshua, Jesus, same name-- who will be the ultimate priest after the order of Melchizedek. And He is called the branch seven times in the Old Testament. Also called, he says My servant, the branch, that is also used seven times for the Messiah.
"For behold," verse nine-- and here's a third name for Him that's often used. "For behold, the stone that I have laid before Joshua: upon the stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave its inscription,' says the Lord of hosts, 'And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. In that day,' says the Lord of hosts, 'Everyone will invite his neighbor under his vine and under his fig tree.'" Whenever you read that description, you are usually dealing with the prosperity that will come during the millennium. Underneath one's vine and fig tree speaks of prosperity joy, peace, and the ultimate will be in the millennium.
So here's the name in verse nine of the stone. This cannot refer to a material stone because this one has eyes in it-- seven eyes-- which speak of the ability to see, the ability to know. It speaks of the fullness of knowledge or omniscience. In Proverbs 15, the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.
So it speaks of that full knowledge of the Messiah and the promise that at His coming-- his second coming-- in one day, as He comes back against the armies that come against Jerusalem and will destroy them, He will set up His kingdom and bring in holiness and peace. And it won't be a long, drawn out process. All of that iniquity will be cleansed in a day. There will be a mop up period of about 30 days, we're told. So there's 1,260 days and 1,290 days we saw in Daniel, and that's probably the mop up that will take place after that. But this, judicially, will happen in one day, when Messiah returns.
Now this vision of the golden lampstand that pastor Chuck spoke about this morning. "Now the angel who talked with me came back and wakened me, as a man who is wakened out of his sleep." Now these are visions. They're not dreams. He's not seeing this in his sleep. These are visions. He's awake when he sees them. That's the difference between dreams and visions. A dream is, you see them while you're sleeping. A vision is, you see these pictures but you're awake. Now it could be that this is in a night, and so he hasn't gotten much sleep and it's taxing on him physically and spiritually. And he saw it and he just started nodding off and he got woken up again, out of his sleep.
"And he said to me, 'What do you see?' And I said, 'I'm looking and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand, seven lamps with seven pipes to seven lamps.'" He would be familiar with this. As a priest, he knew all about that seven branched candelabrum-- the menorah-- that the priests were to light daily in the temple. By the way, that is a symbol of the state of Israel. To this day, there's a huge menorah outside of the Knesset in the courtyard.
"'Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at the left of the bowl.' So I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, 'What are these, my Lord?' And the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, 'Do you not know what these are?' And I said, 'No, my Lord.'"
Now he sees a wild contraption. And really, if you're a priest, this is cool, because this is like an automated menorah. You know, there's olive trees that are producing the oil and piping it up into these receptacles, these bowls, and then the spouts that go into the pipes that feed each of the lamps individually. And there's just a constant supply of fuel-- a constant supply of oil-- spontaneously automated oil supply, without the agency or the help of men. And God is getting a message across. God is going to keep this whole thing going-- this temple rebuilding, the nation of Israel, the leadership-- on through the centuries until final glory, all by Himself, apart from the ingenuity of man.
"So I answered--" we read that. Verse six. "So he answered and said to me, 'This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: "Not by might nor by power, but by My spirit,' says the Lord of hosts." Not by human strength. Not by man's ingenuity or force, but by My spirit, says the Lord. In other words, I want Zerubbabel, that civil leader, to understand that, without human strength, God is going to keep Israel alive. Oil, a symbol of the Holy Spirit so often in the Bible. And the work of God can never be accomplished in the energy of the flesh. But anything with lasting, permanent, eternal results must be done in and through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Here's the secret. Find out where and how God is working and get on board. Rather than thinking, I've got an idea and I hope God agrees with me, and I'm going to go out and push this agenda through. It's a whole lot easier and restful to watch what God is doing and to get on board with Him. If you think-- as pastor Chuck mentioned this morning-- of the work of God through the many years that has been accomplished here at Calvary Chapel, with the number of churches around the world and leaders that have been trained and missionaries sent out, and the fact that we're on the radio around the country and internet around the world and the people's lives who have been touched, nobody could have dreamed this up. And even if they did, it wouldn't have worked. But it has happened, because it's not by might. It's not by power. It's by His spirit.
"Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain, and he will bring forth the capstone with shouts, 'Grace, grace to it!'" Can you picture those people in the courts of the temple, with stones and rubble and maybe a little mortar off to one side? Oh yes, the foundations of the altar had been built, and then the foundations of the temple. But they had given up. It's just a mountain. It's a heap. What are we? We're so small in comparison to the great Persian Empire and the other nations around us. God says, well, as long as you see yourself as the ones doing it, you're right. But if you place Me into the equation, you might make a mountain out of a molehill, but I'll make a molehill out of the mountain. In fact, I'll flatten the mountain so that by the time you get there, it's taken care of.
I love the story of the women after the resurrection who are going to the tomb. And suddenly it dawned on them, that they were about to attempt an impossible task. They are women, and there's a stone over the tomb that weighs a couple of tons. And as they're going it dawns on them and they said, who's going to roll away the stone? We didn't think about that. Maybe they thought, you know, if we'd only gotten Peter and John. But nah, they couldn't even lift it. Besides, there's a Roman guard. Who's going to roll it away? When they got there, it was gone. God went like this.
Because it's not by might. It's not by power. When God does it, it's by His spirit. "Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying: 'The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundations of this temple; His hands shall also finish it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you. For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. These are the eyes of the Lord, which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.'"
You remember when we studied Haggai, we made mention that Ezra records-- when they were building that temple-- that some of the older fellows who had seen Solomon's temple with its gold and silver in it in all of its glory, were there at this inauguration of Zerubbabel's temple. And there were the young folks who saw it and rejoiced. And at the same time, the old folks looked and said, it's not what it used to be. It's so small. It's so insignificant.
And what the Lord is saying, you might have a little beginning, but wait till you see the end of this thing. Because the prophet and God is looking at this through the ages, into the future, and ultimately into the millennial reign of Christ. Oh, you might have a little beginning. But you have no idea what I have in store. Don't despise the day of small things. You may be at a place tonight in your life currently where you've worked at something. You felt the Lord called you to it, but it's not what you've anticipated. You thought you'd see more success, more growth, more excitement.
And so you're thinking, oh, but I remember what my life used to be like. I want to say, get over it. But I'd rather say, look up just a little further into the future. Because if God's doing it, whatever mountain that you see is flattened, learn to see that. Your outlook is always determined by your up look. And if you walk through life doing this all the time, looking down at all the rubbish on the ground versus the horizon, what God is doing and going to do, you want to see that way.
"Then I answered and said to him, 'What are these two olive trees-- at the right of the lampstand and at its left?' And I further answered and said to him, 'What are these two olive branches that drip into the receptacles of the two gold pipes from which the gold and oil drains?' And he answered and said, 'Do you not know what these are?' And I said, 'No, my Lord.' So he said, 'These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth.'"
The two olive trees represent two men. The two men they represent are Zerubbabel, the political leader, Joshua, the spiritual leader. Zerubbabel will be God's instrument to bring in a physical rebuilding of the temple. Joshua will be the spiritual leader that will help bring in a revival among the people at the prophecy of Zechariah and Haggai. Those are God's two instruments.
Now when we get to Revelation chapter 11, there are two witnesses who prophesy for 1,260 days in sackcloth. And as John sees that vision of the future-- those two witnesses-- we read there, these are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. And when we read that after having read this, we know what those are, don't we? When we read that in Revelation 11, we know that God is getting ready for the salvation and the restoration of what people? Israel. Israel. What He did then, He's going to do in even greater capacity. Only then it won't be the temple of Zerubbabel or the temple of Herod or the temple of the tribulation. It's going to be, eventually, the temple in the millennium. And it will all center around the worship of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
So an extreme makeover was needed, and Zechariah saw it coming. Extreme Makeover Jerusalem style and God style is-- it might look impossible, but you know God doesn't even use that word in His vocabulary. It might be impossible with men, but with God all things are possible.
Let's pray. Heavenly Father, every time we read Your word and we're confronted with Your truth, and we meet Your promises on the pages of this holy book, faith is the result. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. And as Zechariah spoke truth into the ears of Zerubbabel and into the ears of Joshua and the people and saw not only that that temple-- that project that seemed so utterly impossible-- would be rebuilt, would be accomplished. Because You would be the one superintending and energizing that work.
We also understand that nothing is impossible to You, even the keeping of a group of people-- the Jews-- throughout history, though on countless occasions they have been tried to be exterminated. And we take great confidence tonight in our own lives as we look up toward You and realize that we must always use the right measuring tool. Difficulty must always be measured by the capacity of the one doing the work. Some of us are tired tonight, Lord. You have unlimited power. Some of us are discouraged and want to give up. You have unlimited resources. So we want to tap in to that ever-flowing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In Jesus' name, amen.
Shall we stand? There in chapter four, as is explaining this vision of that Zerubbabel, I mean, that Zachariah had seen. He said, "These are the eyes of the Lord which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth." Back in Chronicles-- as the prophet was talking to King Asa-- he said, "Don't you realize that the eyes of the Lord go to and fro throughout the entire earth?" And he tells us there in Chronicles that he is looking for those whose hearts are perfect toward Him. The eyes of the Lord go to and fro throughout the entire earth that He might show Himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are completely with His heart.
As Skip said earlier, the secret is finding the flow of the Spirit and then join with it, flow with it. God is looking for people. He's looking for people in this generation. The eyes are still scanning the earth. God is looking for those whose hearts are in tune with His desires and with His purposes, that He might then use them as channels by which He can bless others. Oh, how I desire that my heart be in harmony with God's heart-- that we be coordinated in our desires and purposes-- so that my life can be a channel through which God can accomplish His desires and His purposes here on the earth today.
We notice that God did desire that the temple be rebuilt. He was scanning for men who were willing to be the instruments through which that work might be accomplished. What is it that God is wanting to do today? He's looking for people who are in harmony with what He is wanting to do. Would you like to be God's instrument? Would you like God to work through your life and accomplish His will through you?
It takes a submission of myself to Him. It takes of desire of my heart being in harmony with His heart. When God finds such an individual, He then shows Himself strong through them. Maybe God is speaking to your heart. Maybe God is calling you. You need to be open to the call of God. God might use you in the accomplishing of His purposes.
These men are down here at the front tonight. They're here to minister to you and to pray for you. That you might experience that work that God is wanting to do in you in order that God might then accomplish His work through you. So we would encourage you to present your bodies as living sacrifices, that God might use you in the accomplishing of His work here on earth. And so as soon as we're dismissed, make your way down. Let these men pray with you. Offer yourself to God. Present your body that God might use you in the accomplishing of His will.
[SINGING] Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
[SINGING] Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
God bless you.