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Zechariah 9-11

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1/29/2006
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Zechariah 9-11
Zechariah 9-11
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38 Zechariah - 2006

The book of Zechariah was written after the Israelites' exile in Babylon and contains some of the most compelling prophecies about the coming Messiah and His kingdom. In this study, Skip Heitzig expounds on the different themes the book contains: visions, history, prophecy, exhortation, and apocalyptic material.

Please note: this series is missing chapters 12-14. No recording of these chapters are available.


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Next week, of course, we will finish the book of Zechariah and we'll be just one week away from the beginning of the study in the New Testament. Next week, the end of Zachariah. Following week, the book of Malachi, or as someone said, the Italian malachi. And then the following week on into the New Testament. So it's exciting as we come to the end of the Old and the beginning of the New Testament. And it's exciting anticipation of going through the New Testament again and studying the word of God from Genesis to Revelation. So tonight, Zechariah beginning with chapter 9. And let's open our Bibles and let's join together as we study the word.

All right. In 1958, Thomas Watson Jr. was the president of IBM Corporation. He did not see much of a future, he said, for computers. In fact, he said, quote, "there is a world market for about 5 computers." Imagine that. By the way, you know where I found that? On the internet. Sometimes people just can't get what's ahead. The future seems so shrouded in mystery. It's so unlikely to come to pass.

Zechariah had keen insights into the future that no one else had. All the way from the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem during his time, all the way through into the future and the coming of Israel's messiah, Jesus Christ, the second coming, the millennial reign on earth into eternity. He saw it all. He saw what no one else of his generation had seen.

The book of Zechariah finishes out with two oracles, two final messages. And they are divided equally in groups of three chapters for us. The first one is in chapters 9 through 11, which we cover tonight. And the second one is chapters 12, 13, and 14. There is a phrase that will be repeated often toward the end of chapter 9 and especially more in next week's study. But you just get the flavor of where it's going. It's the phrase, in that day. It will be mentioned 18 times now by the prophet. In that day. In that day, the Lord will predict something that is coming to pass.

Now the focus of the prophet from here on out is on three main subjects. The nations of the world as they relate to Israel, Israel as it relates to the messiah, and then the messiah himself. Those will be the three main focuses as we finish out this book. Now Zechariah has already made incredible predictions of the restoration of the nation that was a fledgling nation at that time. Only about 50,000 had returned from exile. But he predicts the full restoration. Physically as a nation, spiritually in salvation, all the way through to the reign of Jesus Christ.

But not so fast. There are some other things that are happening before the final reign of Christ. He will ultimately rule the world, but there's going to come in the near future from his perspective, Zechariah will see a fellow by the name of Alexander the Great, which will be predicted here in chapter 9. Alexander the Great. Then beyond that, Jesus the greatest. And then even beyond that, the anti-Christ, who is the worst. And all of those will be seen in our study tonight. Now the first oracle or the first message of judgment centers around the nations that are around Israel, but the miraculous deliverance of Israel in the near future.

The burden-- verse one-- the burden of the word of the Lord against the land of Hadrach and Damascus, its resting place. For the eyes of men and all the tribes of Israel are on the Lord.

A burden-- and you read it here in chapter 9, you read it again in chapter 12-- could be translated an oracle. It means a heavy message. A denunciatory message. A threatening, heavy prediction is given. So this burden against Hadrach. And then Damascus, which is really at the center of the prophecy, the capital of Syria. And Hadrach was another city at that time that was known that was not too far from Damascus. But it's really centered at the area of Syria, and Damascus as the capital of Syria.

Why? Because they will be punished by the Lord. They will be pummeled by a guy who is coming named Alexander the Great. He will be the rod that God will use, the rod of judgment, to destroy that country, to level it. And it says, the eyes of all men and all the tribes of Israel are on the Lord. That's a very telling phrase. And it's important, I think, to keep it in mind, because the prophecy will go on to say that God will punish, through Alexander the Great, these other nations like Syria and like Phoenicia and Philistia. But he will spare Israel, miraculously. He will spare the Jews. Which is exactly what happened historically.

The ruler of the great Macedonian Empire was named Philip. Philip of Macedon. And Philip, as he was gaining power, mounted an attack against the Medes and the Persians. He had a young boy by the name of Alexander, which frankly, Philip didn't think anything would really come out of this kid. He didn't really account for much, he thought. He won't grow up to be anything great, he said. And so he thought that he should get him a good teacher, a good tutor. And he got a guy by the name of Aristotle to personally train his son, Alexander. And Alexander was an ardent student. He was a bookworm. But at age 19, when Alexander was 19, his father, Phillip, was killed and Alexander took up the cause and he fought against the Medes and the Persians. And with a leopard-like swiftness, as Daniel predicted, he went from west to east and he basically took over the world.

He came through the area of Damascus, Syria, conquered it. And after he conquered that, he turned toward the coast and covered the coast lands of Tyre and Sidon and then down through the area of Philistia on his way toward Egypt, which he conquered. And some of that is predicted here. And by the way, all of this is predicted 200 years before Alexander the Great even marched through that land. Also against Hamoth, which borders on it, about 125 miles north of Damascus, and against Tyre and Sidon, though they are very wise.

Why were they wise? They were wise because they built their fortifications to last. They were considered at the time impregnable. And you look at verse three, for Tyre built herself a tower, heaped up silver like dust and gold like the mire of the streets. For five years, Shalmaneser the Assyrian besieged the city of Tyre unsuccessfully. He could not take the city. He was unable to take it. The Babylonians later on spent 13 years besieging the city until it finally fell.

Now it mentions here in verse 3 that Tyre built herself a tower. These were the obelisks that were well-known at the time. The Greek historian Herodotus tells us were in a temple in Tyre, the Temple of Hercules. And one obelisk was of gold and the other was of emeralds, and they figured out a way to light these things so that you could see them at night. They shone at night brilliantly, and they were dedicated to the patron god of Tyre. Gold and jewels and silver that were heaped up.

Tyre and Sidon was under the control of the great Phoenician empire. And the Phoenicians were sea warriors. They were really the kind of people that were pioneers. They paved the way and conquered so much of that part of the world. They made it all the way from where they were on the coasts of Tyre and Sidon and explored all the way to Great Britain and Gibraltar, modern day Spain. And they even established the city of Tarshish, to which Jonah would flee later on.

As time went on, good relations flowed between Tyre and Israel. King David and Hiram, the King of Tyre, were friends and they developed a deal where they would trade supplies. Hiram would give wood and some of the supplies of Lebanon for some of the grain and the olive oil that was grown down in Israel. When Solomon built the temple, it was Hiram who furnished the great cedar timbers that furnished the temple there in Jerusalem. But because both Jerusalem and Tyre were on the major trade routes, they competed in business. So that much later on, when Jerusalem finally fell to the Babylonians in 586 BC, the people of Tyre rejoiced, even selling Jews as slaves to the Greeks. Because now they would get the business that they had wanted for so long, they being in competition with Jerusalem. So those good relations turned to bad relations, and now God says, I never forgot that. You are going to be judged, and my rod will be called Alexander.

Behold, the Lord will cast her out. He will destroy her power in the sea and she will be devoured by fire. Now all of these are simply tremendous passages of scripture and they have been literally fulfilled, and it is amazing the history and how it shows how they have been fulfilled. After Nebuchadnezzar-- and I said that Shalmaneser tried to take the city of Tyre unsuccessfully for five years. For 13 years, Nebuchadnezzar besieged it and eventually it fell.

Once it fell, the people of Tyre occupied an island out from the sea coast about a half mile off shore. And there they rebuilt their city and they thought, we're safe now. They built high walls. Some of them they say were up to 150 feet tall. Impregnable. Nobody could topple that city, they thought. But there were many predictions by the prophets, including Ezekiel, that the city would be decimated in the future.

Here's one that we discovered in Ezekiel 26. The prophet said, the Lord said to the prophet, I will also scrape her dust from her and make her like the top of the rock. Well when Alexander the Great came to town and he saw that little city off on that island off the shore, he decided to take the rubble that had fallen from Nebuchadnezzar's taking of the city years before, and he took those stones and he built a land bridge, a causeway, from the coast out to that island. So now they had access to it. And in 332 BC, for seven straight months, he besieged it. And he took it. And he utterly annihilated the city and scraped it down to the bare rock that it was built on, burned it with fire, and cast all of its jewels, all of its treasures, all of its supplies into the sea. An amazing fulfillment of prophecy. Isaiah predicted it, Ezekiel predicted it, and now it's predicted again after the captivity here by Zechariah.

A great little book was put out a few years ago by Peter Stoner called, Science Speaks, where Doctor Stoner took, using the science of probabilities, statistical probabilities, what would the odds be of all of these predictions coming true. It's a fascinating book. It tells so many of the predictions of Jesus Christ and how they were fulfilled. He said the odds of the predictions made about the fall of Tyre, for them to come to pass the chances would be one in 400 million. Now you're reading it. And it happened exactly as the prophets predicted. These were the nations that had come against, tried to subjugate, and rejoiced in the fall of the Jews in Jerusalem.

Verse 5. We read on. It gets better. Ashkelon shall see it and fear, Gaza shall be very sorrowful, and Ekron, for he dried up her expectation. The King shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited. History tells us that exactly what Zechariah predicted happened. That Alexander the Great, after taking the city of Tyre, which he had taken after Damascus, now turned south on his way to Egypt and stopped in the area of the Philistines. And these are the cities of the Philistines that are mentioned. And he overtook the Philistine cities.

History also tells us that the King of Gaza-- notice the reference to the king shall perish from Gaza, the people in Gaza will be very sorrowful. Here's why. They brought the King of Gaza before the Emperor, Alexander the Great. They had the King of Gaza chained to a chariot, and they drug the king around the city of Gaza until he died. And the people saw that and it just deflated all of their hopes when they saw their ruler treated so shamefully. Again, an amazing prophecy being fulfilled.

And then again, verse 6. A mixed race shall settle in Ashdod, one of the Philistine cities, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines. It was the policy of Alexander to mingle conquered peoples together. To not let them go back to their land, but to bring in people from different lands and and mix it up so that there wouldn't be an independent group that would develop out of it. It would hinder their independence because there would be a mingling of languages and cultures and customs. And so a mixed race shall settle in Ashdod. And that also came to pass.

I will take away the blood from his mouth and the abominations from between his teeth. But he who remains, even he shall be for our God and shall be like a leader in Judah, and Ekron like a Jebusite. The verse, the imagery that is used, depicts the Philistines as a man who has just come back from a pagan sacrifice. He still has the bloody meat of something that has been offered to an idol in his mouth. And the verse tells of them being shaken from that, but gloriously in the future, being turned toward the Lord. Where it even says at the end of the verse that Ekron shall be like a Jebusite. Now you remember the city of Jebus was the ancient name for Jerusalem. The Jebusites occupied that city. And then David took that city, and eventually all of the Jebusites were just assimilated into Israel. And the prediction is that would happen to this city of the Philistines and the city of Ekron.

Now after conquering Syria, after conquering Phoenicia, after going now toward the Philistines, he's on his way south to Egypt, history does record that he had a run-in-- I should say an encounter-- with the people of Jerusalem. Because remember, Jerusalem is on that land bridge between north and south, between Egypt and Syria. So going back and forth on a couple of occasions Alexander the Great passed through there.

What history tells us is that when Alexander came to Jerusalem, he was very different. He treated those in Judea with great kindness, great respect. Having subjugated Egypt and taking over that area, when he returned through Israel again, he had a whole different mindset. I'm going to read a quote to you out of the history of Josephus, the Jewish historian, who tells us of this event. He tells us that there was a high priest by the name of Jeduah who met Alexander the Great with a company of priests. And as they met, this is what happened. Alexander, when he saw the multitude at a distance in white garments, while the priests stood clothed in fine linen and the high priest and purple and scarlet clothing, with his miter on his head, having the golden plate wear upon the name of God was engraved, he approached by himself and adored that name. And the first saluted the high priest. The Jews also did all together with one voice salute Alexander, and encompass him about, where upon the kings of Syria and the rest were surprised at what Alexander had done and supposed him disordered in his mind.

In other words, they thought, he's nuts. He snapped. However, [INAUDIBLE] alone went up to him and asked him how it came to pass that when all others adored him that he should adore the high priest of the Jews? To whom he replied, I did not adore him, but that God who hath honored him with his high priesthood. For I saw this very person in a dream.

There is another tradition along side of Josephus that says when Alexander came to Jerusalem, That Jeduah the high priest, when he met Alexander and his company, brought the scroll of the Book of Daniel and showed him the prophecies of Alexander from Daniel. How God had predicted him and how he would take over the world. It so impressed Alexander that not only did he spare Jerusalem, but that he offered a sacrifice in the temple of Jerusalem and worshipped the God of Israel. Amazing predictions right here in the Bible.

Now Alexander, and this prediction so far is transitional to what we're going to read now. It's as if God is saying, if I can use a pagan monarch to protect my people, wait til you see what I'm going to do with the Messiah. So now the focus is off of the King of the Greeks onto the King of the Jews in the next couple of verses. And we see both in verse 9 and 10, the first and second comings of Jesus Christ squeezed together in these two verses. And keep something in mind. You're used to it by now. But when the prophets looked ahead, they did not always-- in fact rarely if ever-- did they distinguish between the first coming of the Messiah and the second coming of the Messiah. They saw him coming, taking over the world, ruling, and reigning. They didn't see the gap of history, the 2000 years that exists between verse 9 and 10, what we call the mystery of the church. They didn't see that. It's like looking at a mountain range from a distance and it looks like all one solid peak. But then when you come closer and examine it, you see there's a series of peaks with valleys in between. They saw the peak of the first coming sandwiched up against the peak of the second coming, but they failed to see the valley called the church. That's why Paul says it was hidden. It was a mystery in the Old Testament and it was revealed in the New.

So verse 9. Rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion, shout O daughter of Jerusalem, behold your King is coming to you, he is just in having salvation lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey. What a difference this one would be from Alexander the Great. People trembled at Alexander's coming, even those in Jerusalem. Where the prophet says, with the Messiah coming, you are to rejoice because of what his reign will be like.

Now it mentions that he will come lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey. Unlike Alexander, who rode in on the best war horse that Greece could provide. On the tenth of [INAUDIBLE] Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. In fact, he had been in Bethany at the house of Lazarus. He came on a Friday afternoon, he spent the Sabbath there, and now he was going to Jerusalem for the Passover.

He arrived on the eastern side of Jerusalem and as he is leaving Bethany going toward Jerusalem, he gives his disciples an unusual request. Because we read of Jesus up to that point walking everywhere. But he says, boys-- know I'm paraphrasing here-- go into this village opposite you-- which was [INAUDIBLE]-- go into that village and you're going to find a colt that is tied up. No man has ever ridden on him. When you see it, bring it to me. And if the owner asks you what are you doing, just say, the master has need of it. That's all you've got to do. So they did it. And they found exactly as Jesus had predicted, that somebody asked, hey, what are you doing? And they said, well, we better try it. The Lord has need of it. They said, great, take it. And so they took the donkey, and they brought it to Jesus, and they set Jesus on it. And He crested the Mount of Olives and was on His way into the city of Jerusalem.

Jesus had never done that before. William Barclay says, "Jesus was deliberately claiming to be King for the first time." Remember, up to that point, when Jesus would heal people, He would say things like, don't tell anybody. Keep it secret. Now was the time that He was going to reveal Himself, and He rode in-- deliberately drawing attention to Himself-- on a donkey, as predicted by Zechariah in this chapter.

As Jesus came further down from the crest of the hill toward the city, He stopped. And there-- the city of Jerusalem sprawled out in front of Him-- rather than rejoicing, like the city is called to do, Jesus wept audibly, the Bible tells us. And He said, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, if you had only known in this, your day, the things that make for your peace. But they're hidden from your eyes. Now, your enemies will put an embankment around you and surround you within-- cast your children-- you will be killed. And He predicted the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD because, He said, you did not know the time of your visitation.

Jesus saw something that was coming because they-- the nation-- was rejecting their Messiah. Jesus sitting on a donkey should have been the first red flag-- Zechariah 9:9, just as the prophet predicted. Then when He said, the day of your visitation, should have been another flag to them.

Daniel's prophecy-- Daniel chapter 9-- the exact timetable of Messiah's arrival was predicted by Daniel-- you remember when we covered that. 70 sevens are given for your people, said the Lord to the prophet-- 70 sevens are determined for your people and for the holy city. And he says, from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, unto the Messiah the Prince, shall be 69 weeks-- or literally, 69 sevens-- periods of seven.

We know it's not a period of 70 weeks of days but 70 weeks of years. The reason we know that is because the prophet gave several things that would have to take place in that period if it were weeks of days. That's only one and a third years. That's not enough time for all of those things-- anoint the most Holy, finish the transgressions, put an end to prophecy, seal up the most Holy, et cetera. All of those things couldn't have been fulfilled in that year and a third period.

So almost every well-known conservative Jewish and Christian scholar will attest to that as a prediction of 70 weeks of years. So 490 years are determined for your people. And from the going forth of the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince, shall be 483 years.

The commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem with its street and its walls in troublous times, as the prophet said in Daniel 9, was given by Artaxerxes Longimanus. It's recorded in Nehemiah-- it's alluded to, at least-- on March 14, 445 BC. Which means you should be able to count from that day, 483 years, and come to the exact day when the Messiah the Prince will come to Israel. That's exactly right. That's exactly what Jesus held them accountable for not being aware of when He said, if you would have only known the day of your visitation.

And we mentioned before, that Sir Robert Anderson and his fine scholarly book, called The Coming Prince, computes this. He counted up 173,880 days from March 14, 445 BC, and he came to April 6, 32 AD-- in the Jewish calendar, the tenth of Nisan, the exact day Jesus said, hey boys, go get that donkey, and bring it over here. And He was set on it. And He announced-- He presented Himself to the Jewish nation as their Messiah. And held them accountable for knowing this prophecy.

Now, just a warning. If you go home, and you compute this on your calendar, you're not going to come up with a 173,880 days. You'll probably come back and say, Skip, you were wrong. I came up with 176,295 days. It's because you miscalculated. You probably were going off the solar years-- 365 and 1/3 days, rather than lunar years-- that's the ancient calendar that they went off of.

And Sir Robert Anderson did that. And it was attested to by the British Royal Observatory-- checked all his statistics-- he was even knighted for the project. And then the Jews would even add an extra month every few years to keep the calendar current. And he did all of those calculations and brilliantly came up with those dates, as predicted by Zechariah and Daniel.

Now that's verse 9. Verse 10 takes us to the second coming of Jesus Christ. There's a 2000-year gap between these two verses. "I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim," another name for Israel, "and the horse from Jerusalem; The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be 'from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.'"

When Messiah, Jesus, ultimately reigns, His reign will be inaugurated by an ending of all of the feuds, all of the wars, all of the battles on earth. There will be a would-be battle at that time, called Armageddon, when the nations of the earth will come against Israel in those days. And you'll read some interesting details about that next week.

But Jesus will-- as the prophet said-- bring an end to that. Quell all of those riotous, tumultuous wars. And they will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation will not lift up sword against nation. Neither shall they learn to make war any more. That verse of scripture-- out of Isaiah 2-- is engraved on the top of the United Nations building in New York. But, you who believe in Jesus Christ will see it as Jesus comes back the second time and takes over.

"As for you also, because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit." In ancient times, prisoners were kept in dried cisterns. They would empty them out of water and put prisoners in there. They did with Joseph and with Jeremiah.

"Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you. For I have bent Judah, my bow, fitted the bow with Ephraim, and raised up your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece, and made you like the sword of a mighty man." God will protect them. God will strengthen them to overpower them. "Then the Lord will be seen over them, and His arrow will go forth like lightning. The Lord God will blow the trumpet, and go with whirlwinds from the south."

Now part of this has a historic fulfillment, and part of this-- as so many of the prophecies of the Old Testament-- has a far, distant fulfillment. We're used to that. The prophets would often go between what's coming up soon and what will come up later. And what's coming up soon was often a preview of coming attractions of what would come later. It says that "I have bent Judah"-- verse 13-- "fitted the bow with Ephraim, and raised up your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece."

There was a group of Jews that was able-- by God's grace-- in 167 BC, to mount an attack against the Syrians who, under Antiochus Epiphanes, had subjugated and devastated that whole area and turned the temple into a false system of worship. And it was under the Maccabean revolt-- under Judas Maccabeus-- that they were able to withstand these sons of Greece, and the Seleucid kings, and the hosts that had come in to destroy their land. But the real ultimate fulfillment will be when Jesus Christ comes again and strengthens Israel in the last days against the Antichrist. So the Maccabean revolt-- what God did gloriously in past history-- is just a preview of coming attractions.

"The Lord of Hosts will defend them"-- verse 15. "They shall devour and subdue with slingstones. They shall drink and roar as if with wine; They shall be filled with blood like basins, like the corners of the altar." Now this could mean that simply they will be able to easily conquer their enemies, like David did against Goliath because he came not in the strength of the bow or the spear but in the name of the Lord God whom the armies of the Philistines had defied. It could simply mean that. That against all odds, God will strengthen His people.

There is another way to translate this verse. It could be translated-- you will trample, or you will sling stones. That is, you're going to be able to meet the enemy without a real battle at all. It's just going to be so easy like lobbing stones. You're not going to even really have to fight.

And it could be that this is the prediction of what's coming in Armageddon. When all of the nations gather together and assemble in Israel and attack Jerusalem. And they think they're going to put a final solution to the Jewish problem-- they're going to put it to rest. But it really won't be a battle. Jesus will interrupt it. And with a single word He will destroy those enemies that come against Jerusalem with incredible force. And again, the details will be filled in next time.

Look at verse 15 again. "They shall be filled with blood like basins, like the corners of the altar." The bloodshed in that part of the world will be visible from one end of Israel to the other-- from north to south. As visible as the blood that would drip off the corners of the altar when the animals were cut by the priest for sacrifice.

And we know what Revelation tells us. It fills in a little more detail. Revelation 14-- "And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and the blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses' bridles," for 1,600 furlongs. That's about 200 miles. Bloodshed was seen from north to south in the valley of Armageddon.

The valley of Armageddon, if you-- where the mountains of Nazareth crest and then come down toward the Jordan Valley, and you go from that top as your measurement, down to the city of Eliat, that's a 200 mile stretch-- 1,600 furlongs. Again, that's going to be interrupted-- the massing of the troops against Israel-- really against the Lord and against His Christ-- Psalm 2-- will be interrupted by Jesus returning in glory, setting His foot on the Mount of Olives, and with just a word, reclaiming the title deed to the earth. Destroying the enemies of the Jews.

"The Lord their God"-- verse 16-- "will save them in that day, as the flock of His people. For they shall be like the jewels of a crown, lifted like a banner over His land-- for how great is its goodness. And how great its beauty! Grain shall make the young men thrive, and new wine the young women." So after all of that bloodshed, comes the joy of the renovation of the earth. The mop up-- the cleanup-- and the reign of Jesus Christ. Abundant prosperity and salvation will result in praise-- joy that will be the result.

Verse 1 of chapter 10. "Ask the Lord for rain in the time of the latter rain. The Lord will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, grass in the field for everyone." The latter rain-- which comes around March into April, sometimes into the first part of May before the hot summer months-- was that second outpouring that the Jews looked forward to every year. There was the early rain-- melqosh-- and the yoreh-- they called it-- the early rain and the latter rain. And the latter rain is what ripened the grain for the harvest. All of this is predictive of after the tribulation, the kingdom age will be abundant. It will be prosperous.

There are so many different predictions of how the earth-- its biosphere-- the physical changes that will occur on the earth will be so dramatic. Here's a snippet of what you can look forward to. The animal kingdom will be tamed. Isaiah 11-- The wolf and the lamb will lie down together and live. Isaiah 35-- The wilderness will blossom like a rose. There will be streams in the desert and grass abundantly everywhere. Health and longevity is promised in Isaiah 65. He who dies at 100 will be considered a mere youth. Imagine that. Where's so and so? Oh, he died. How old was he? Oh, he was 130. Oh, so young.

[LAUGHTER]

"For the idols speak delusion; The diviners envision lies, and tell false dreams; They comfort in vain. Therefore the people wend their way like sheep; They are in trouble because there is no shepherd." Before Israel went into captivity-- before they went into exile-- you remember, they played with the various worship systems-- the gods and goddesses of these other nations. And they looked to these gods and goddesses to give them the prosperity that God says He will give them in the kingdom age. To no avail, they were bankrupt. It never worked. So this is recalling their previous activity before the captivity.

"My anger is kindled against the shepherds, and I will punish the goatherds. For the Lord of Hosts will visit His flock, the house of Judah, and will make them as His royal horse in the battle. So God's flock of sheep-- timid-- will become like the war horse-- the chariot horse-- those pampered steeds in great strength in the future.

"From him comes the cornerstone, from him the tent peg, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler together." Notice that the phrase "from him" occurs four times. It's there for emphasis. Now the question is, from whom? We could say "from him" refers to the Messiah. That would be one interpretation.

It probably is a reference to Judah, however, because that's the antecedent-- that's what comes before it when it says, in verse 3, "I will punish the goatherds. For the Lord of hosts will visit His flock, the house of Judah, and make them as His royal horse in battle." From him-- that is from Judah-- the Messiah will come.

And all of these are names that perfectly fit Jesus Christ. He is called the cornerstone. He's called that a lot in the Bible. The stone that the builders rejected has become the head of the corner. "From him the tent peg." Now the tent peg was the-- in a ancient, Mid-eastern tent, there was the central pole. It held the tent together. And on that central pole was a peg. And all of one's valuables were kept on that peg-- on that pole-- in the center of the tent. It was the center of life and all of the valuables together.

And then "from him the battle bow. From him every ruler together." So everything will rest upon Him. He is the cornerstone. Everything centers around Him. He is the tent peg. Everything will be and everyone will be subject to Him-- the battle bow. And all leaders will be loyal to Him. "From him every ruler together." That's a cameo snapshot of the reign of Jesus Christ during that 1,000 years on earth.

"They shall be like mighty men, who tread down their enemies in the mire of the streets in the battle. They shall fight because the Lord is with them, and the riders on horses shall be put to shame. 'I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph. I will bring them back, because I have mercy on them. They shall be as though I had not cast them aside; for I am the Lord their God, and I will hear them'"

What a glorious God we serve. Think of all of the failures of Israel throughout all of the years. They complained in the wilderness. They followed other gods. They got delivered to foreign subjugators. They cried out again to God and they went through that horrible sin cycle in the time of the judges. They were taken into captivity. They were brought back. All of the years of failure, and the Lord says, I am willing, because I am so great, to utterly forgive and wipe it away. Beautiful promise.

"'As though I had not cast them aside; for I am the Lord their God, and I will hear them. Those of Ephraim shall be like a mighty man, and their heart shall rejoice as if with wine. Yes, their children shall see it and be glad; their heart shall rejoice in the Lord.'"

So both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Israel-- once divided-- once exiled. The north taken by the Assyrians, you remember, in 722 BC. The south taken by the Babylonians in 586 BC. Taken-- dispersed-- some think lost. God says, not only will I bring them back, but I will unite them as one nation in the future.

God has lost none of the tribes. He knows where every one is. He knows who belongs to which tribe. There is a great promise in the book of Ezekiel. We covered it. In 37 the Lord says, "and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one King shall be King over them: they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again." So the joy of restored Israel, and the peace on earth that He brings at His second coming will kick off the millennial reign of Christ-- the 1,000 years on earth.

By the way, we sing it every Christmas time, don't we? O come, O come, Emmanuel. And ransom captive Israel. Who mourns in lonely exile here. Rejoice, rejoice. Here's the verse telling you all about that. There will be a great rejoicing as Messiah ransoms and unites captive Israel.

I like verse 8. "I will whistle for them and gather them, for I will redeem them; and they shall increase as they once increased." They once increased greatly when they were in Egypt. You remember, they were there for 400 years-- slaves. And the Lord blessed them. The sons of Jacob multiplied greatly. So greatly that it bothered the Egyptian monarchs. They thought, we have to make slaves out of them. They've grown so rapidly.

Just like during that time as they once multiplied, the Lord promises to protect-- for three and a half years-- times, time, and a half a time-- John's language in Revelation-- the Jews during the tribulation period in the wilderness from all of the assaults of the Antichrist, and then bring them into the kingdom age-- those believing Jews that are sealed by God. And there will be a great multiplication-- a great increase of their population during that time.

Isaiah 5:26 speaks to this verse. "He will lift up a banner to the nations from afar, and will whistle to them from the ends of the earth; Surely they will come with speed, swiftly." So Zechariah says basically the same thing that Isaiah says in his chapter.

Verse 9-- "I will sow them among the peoples." Now don't take the word "sow" negatively. The word here is used in a positive sense of spreading to bless. Spreading to influence. "I will sow them among the peoples, and they shall remember Me in far countries; They shall live, together with their children, and they shall return. I will also bring them back from the land of Egypt, and gather them from Assyria."

These were traditional enemies of Israel. "I will bring them back into the land of Gilead and Lebanon, until no more room is found for them. He shall pass through the sea with affliction, and strike the waves of the sea: All the depths of the river shall dry up. Then the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the scepter of Egypt shall depart."

The language that Zechariah uses here-- the imagery-- is very reminiscent of the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt-- the opening up of the Red Sea. Just as God opened up the Red Sea and later on-- you remember, the Jordan River, and they passed through on dry ground into their new land-- God promises to remove every obstacle-- every physical obstacle, every political obstacle-- and once again, bring back Israel-- the Jews-- to their homeland.

"'So I will strengthen them in the Lord, and they shall walk up and down in His name, ' says the Lord." In the name of Yahweh. Now these are those Jews who come to faith in Christ after the tribulation period. They are sealed. They enter into the kingdom age. Every one of them will be a Jew for Jesus. "Walk up and down in His name"-- the name that Jesus came to glorify. So all of their conduct, all of their language will be permeated with the glory and honor of God.

Now Zechariah chapter 11 is quite a contrast to what we've read in the previous chapter. We've read a lot about the messianic blessings that will accompany the second coming of Christ. Chapter 11 seems to speak about the consequences of rejecting Jesus Christ at His first coming. Rather than the glories of accepting Him at the second coming-- it's the consequences of rejecting Him at the first coming.

Now the imagery is of a forest fire. We'll read it. It goes from north-- from Lebanon-- sweeps down through the fords of the Jordan and overtakes the land from north to south. It does not fit the Babylonian captivity. That is long gone. And it is thought that chapter 11 was written by Zechariah even long after the temple there that was in ruins-- you remember-- was now rebuilt, years later. The captivity is a dream of the past. But this seems to be a prediction that more fits what happened with the Romans in 70 AD.

"Open your doors, O Lebanon, that fire may devour your cedars. Wail, O cypress, for the cedar has fallen, because the mighty trees are ruined. Wail, O oaks of Bashan, for the thick forest has come down." That could mean, A, that if all of those settlements up north-- in Lebanon-- all of those peoples were destroyed-- taken over by the Romans-- that if all those big trees up north fell down, then the little brush down south will be easy pickings.

It could mean something else. The term, "O cedars," could refer to the temple in Jerusalem. That's what all the ancient rabbis thought, by the way. That's how they interpreted this verse. And that's because what Hiram did in supplying Solomon with those huge timbers to build the temple in Jerusalem. So this could be-- as the rabbis thought-- a reference to the fall of the temple in Jerusalem. That's the rabbinical position.

"There is a sound of wailing shepherds! For their glory is in ruins. There is the sound of roaring lions! For the pride of Jordan is in ruins. Thus says the Lord my God, 'Feed the flock for slaughter.'" Now we don't know who's speaking and who's listening. Some commentators feel this is the Father speaking to the Son-- that the Messiah, Jesus Christ, was receiving these instructions. "Thus says the Lord my God, 'Feed the flock for slaughter, whose owners slaughter them and feel no guilt; those who sell them 'Blessed be the Lord, for I am rich;' and their shepherds do not pity them."

Now, we do know, when the Romans came and slaughtered the Jews in 1780-- when the emperor, the general Titus surrounded the city of Jerusalem-- 1.1 million Jews were slaughtered, from Jerusalem, in 70 AD. 1.1 million people using hand weapons is quite a feat to kill that many people with hand weapons-- with that kind of warfare-- a slaughter.

"'For I will no longer pity the inhabitants of the land,' says the Lord, 'but indeed I will give everyone into his neighbor's hand and into the hand of his king. They shall attack the land, and I will not deliver them from their hand.'" As the chapter goes on, it most likely represents-- depicts the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. It seems to fit the description. The cause being the rejection-- nationally, of Israel-- of their Messiah. The leaders of the Jews were hard-hearted. And you know the story-- how they stood against Jesus, and they obstructed His teachings, and eventually He was crucified.

And even Jesus pronounced woes, both on the cities of north Capernaum, Chorazin, and others around the Sea of Galilee and Jerusalem, saying, you will not see Me here again until you learn to cry, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, for rejecting Jesus. And so the result of that rejection-- in verse 6-- is that they would be given to their Roman neighbors, they're called, and into the hand of his king-- probably a reference to Caesar in Rome.

"So I fed the flock for slaughter, in particular the poor of the flock. I took for myself two staffs-- the one I called Beauty, the other I called Bonds; and I fed the flock." We know that the poor were the ones that responded so readily to the ministry of Jesus. The scripture even declares "and the common people heard Him gladly."

Now shepherds often had two sticks-- here called two staffs-- one was a rod and the other was the staff for guiding the sheep. The rod was beating off wolves to protect the sheep. David said both the rod and the staff were a comfort to him-- that the Lord directs and guides him and the Lord beats away the enemies. So these are named-- one is Beauty and one is Bonds.

But in effect, what Jesus is saying is that though He is feeding the flock, though people did follow Him, the nation rejected Him-- He is feeding them, in effect, for slaughter. He predicted what was coming in 70 AD, that is why He wept over Jerusalem. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, if only you would have known "the things that make for your peace!" But they are hidden from your eyes. And Jesus predicted the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans. And he wept.

"I dismissed the three shepherds in one month. My soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred me." What does this mean? I don't know. I can guess. We can say that it could refer to the office of-- or the party of the Pharisee, the Sadducee, and the scribe. It could refer to the prophet, the priest, and the king. All of those in 70 AD were effectively obliterated from any kind of usage among the Jews after that time because of the rejection.

And today, rather than a priesthood in Israel, all of us are priests. We're a royal priesthood unto the Lord. "Then I said, 'I will not feed you. Let what is dying die, what is perishing perish. Let those that are left eat each other's flesh.'" So the shepherd is exposing them to the Roman enemies. "And I took my staff, Beauty, and I cut it in two, that I might break the covenant which I had made with all the peoples."

So God's care-- God's providential protection of His people ended, He is saying, in 70 AD. "So it was broken on that day. Thus the poor of the flock, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the Lord." Those who were believers at that time-- those who trusted Christ and knew the prophecies and saw all of this happening, knew this was prophetic. This is the word of the Lord. It's coming to pass as He had said.

Thus "I said to them, 'if it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.' So they weighted out for my wages 30 pieces of silver. And the Lord said to me, 'throw it to the potter'-- that princely price they set on me. So I took the 30 pieces of silver and I threw them into the house of the Lord for the potter."

The prophet Zechariah is picturing Israel's Messiah-- Jesus Christ-- in effect asking the nation, hey, what am I worth to you? What am I-- your Messiah-- worth to you? Now He should have expected their love, their admiration, their loyalty, but we know the Bible says, "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not."

So what is their answer? "If it is agreeable to you-- they weighed out for my wages 30 pieces of silver." 30 pieces of silver was the payment, according to Exodus chapter 21, for a slave gored by an ox. What an insult. What is Israel's Messiah worth to you? And they would say, about the price of a gored slave. "He came unto His own-- His own received Him not."

Now in Matthew chapter 27, this verse of scripture is applied to Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus for this amount-- 30 pieces of silver. Ridden with guilt, he threw it on the floor of the temple. They gathered it up. They bought a potter's field as fulfilled by this prophecy.

Of course, in Matthew's gospel it says, according to the word of Jeremiah, which throws a lot of people. And they think, Oh, there's a discrepancy in the Bible. There is a mistake. No, it's not. There's plenty of evidence that shows that the book-- the scroll that Zechariah was found in, the first book in that scroll was the book of Jeremiah. It headed the scroll. So it was called the scroll of Jeremiah, which included the book of Zechariah. That's why it says, according to the prophet Jeremiah. So this scripture refers to Judas Iscariot, as pulled out in Matthew chapter 27.

"Then I cut in my two other staff, Bonds, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel." Just an aside, Josephus tells us that when Jerusalem fell to the Romans, not only did the Romans kill the Jews, but there developed such a bitterness between the different factions and the parties among the Jews that fellow Jews treated their other fellow Jews with the same kind of contempt as the Romans. So that the bonds of brotherhood were broken.

So now, the Good shepherd has been removed temporarily. Makes way for the rest of the prophecy of the foolish shepherd that is coming in the future. "And the Lord said to me, 'next, take for yourself the implements of a foolish shepherd.'" Now Zechariah jumps from the first century AD way into the future. In contrast to the Good shepherd, the Antichrist-- the counterfeit-- the false shepherd.

"For indeed I will raise up a shepherd in the land who will not care for those who are cut off, nor seek the young, nor heal those that are broken, nor feed those that stand still. But he will eat the flesh of the fat and tear their hooves in pieces." In other words, the Antichrist-- not like the Messiah who came lowly on a donkey, in humility, bringing salvation-- he-- the Antichrist-- will deal with intrigue-- in force.

Remember in John chapter 5, Jesus said, I come to you in my Father's name and you did not receive me. If another comes in his own name, him you will receive. And they will receive the Antichrist. So many of the Jews will be duped into believing this is the one. He's our messiah. We knew he was coming. And he will rebuild their temple. And the sacrifices will start up again. And there will be great joy until right in the middle of that last seven-year period he will break that covenant-- the abomination of desolation. Then the persecution will begin. Then Jesus said, if you're in Judea, flee. And God will give a place for them to flee.

"Woe to the worthless shepherd,"-- verse 17-- "who leaves the flock!" He's a worthless shepherd because he doesn't care about the flock. Rather he's out to kill and destroy the flock. He's always tried to do that to Israel. It's always been his game plan, and he's about feeding and serving himself. In fact, Paul said to the Thessalonians that he will exalt himself above all that is called God and demand that he be worshiped as God in the holy place of Jerusalem"

Furthermore, Paul said that the Lord will send them-- in the tribulation period, at that time-- a "strong delusion, that they should believe the lie." What is the lie? It's the lie that Satan has tried to perpetrate since the beginning, and that is to get people to believe that he ought to be worshiped-- he is God. That's what all this is about. That's why he'll persecute the Jews. That's why he will demand a number be taken. That's why he will demand worship of all of the world.

And that's why Jesus will return, utterly destroying him and all of the armies with him and banish that foolish shepherd and once again rule and reign over His flock-- the Good shepherd. "Woe to the worthless shepherd, who leaves the flock! A sword shall be against his arm and against his right eye; his arm shall completely wither, his right eye shall be totally blinded."

Perhaps a reference to a wound that he will receive from which Revelation indicates that he will be healed and then the world will wonder after the beast and follow after the beast. Or this could be a reference to his eye-- the organ of his perception-- his sight-- the arm, the organ of his power, being obliterated by the Lord.

It really boils down to light and darkness-- good and evil-- the right choice-- the wrong choice. God has His Christ. Satan will have his Antichrist. Opposer-- a fake-- a pretender-- a destroyer. Jesus comes that you might have life and have it abundantly. Satan comes to destroy life. So to follow Satan's plan-- to go against God's plan for your life-- is as foolish as this foolish shepherd.

A group of airline baggage handlers retrieved an animal carrier that came in the luggage bay at the airport. Inside the animal carrier was a dead dog. They panicked. They thought of lawsuits. They saw the lady's name-- the address-- and they quickly phoned her and said that we've lost the luggage carrier. The animal carrier went to another city, but don't worry, we'll get the dog back-- we'll take it to your home.

In the meantime, they found a dog that looked very similar to the dead dog. And they replaced the dead dog with the living dog. They took the animal carrier and delivered it to the lady's house-- knocked on her door. She opened the door and they said, we have your dog. They were all smiles, thinking, they're going to get away with it. She looked inside and she says, that's not my dog. You see, my dog's dead. I was bringing it home for burial.

[LAUGHTER]

They didn't pull one over on her. You know, that is the position of this world at the end of the tribulation period. When Jesus Christ comes back, so many people will be forced to say, that's not my Lord. Mine's dead. And the Antichrist will have been destroyed by the brightness of His coming. Thus, to follow the foolish shepherd-- to follow the one-- and so many will-- is utter foolishness. The Lord sets before us the wise way. And we'll see next week, as this book ends, how the Lord will gloriously defend His people all the way through to the end.

Let's pray. Lord, it is glorious to know that You are the living and true God. That our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of David came to this earth once to pay for sin-- to buy us back to God-- to redeem us. That our name could be written in the book of life forever. And then Lord, for so many years that age of grace has been passing. And so many have come to know You, and we pray for so many more to come until Jesus comes again.

But one day soon You're going to return. And all that we studied, all that we read is going to come to pass as so much historically has already come to pass. What a firm foundation we have, Lord. And how grateful we are that You chose us and that we're Your own. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Let's stand. It's interesting that the Bible does speak of the two shepherds-- the True shepherd and the false shepherd. The interesting thing is that if you don't worship and follow the True shepherd, that you will be deceived, and you'll follow the false shepherd.

In II Thessalonians, as Paul is talking about the Antichrist, he speaks about his coming with a strong deception so that people will believe a lie rather than believe the truth. So important that we follow the True shepherd. And if you're not following Jesus Christ then you're being set up to receive the Antichrist. As Jesus said, and Skip told us tonight, Jesus said, I came in my Father's name-- you did not receive Me. Another will come in his own name, and him you will receive.

How important it is for us to follow Jesus-- the True shepherd. The pastors are down here this evening to pray for you. If you are not following Jesus Christ, I would strongly recommend that you do. They're here to pray for you and to help you to discover and to know the True shepherd this evening. They are also here to pray for whatever needs that you might have.

And so if you just feel the need of prayer-- a touch of God upon your life-- that we would encourage you-- when we're dismissed-- come on down and let them minister to you. God wants to touch your life tonight. Give Him that opportunity. Now there, in the 10th chapter, verse 7, it says, "their hearts shall rejoice in the Lord."

We used to sing a chorus-- "rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say rejoice." Very simple chorus-- easy to catch on. And so we'll sing it to close the service. And we'll sing it two or three times, and then we'll go to the round because it is a chorus in the round. And so it's just a chorus of rejoicing.

[SINGING] Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say rejoice. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say rejoice. Rejoice, rejoice, and again, I say, rejoice. Rejoice, rejoice, and again, I say, rejoice.

Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say, rejoice. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say, rejoice. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say rejoice. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say, rejoice.

Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say, rejoice. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say, rejoice. Rejoice, rejoice, and again, I say, rejoice. Rejoice, rejoice, and again, I say, rejoice.

Like heaven, there's no end to that one. Let's go.

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1/22/2006
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Zechariah 5-8
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1/15/2006
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Zechariah 1-4
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