Let’s GO Back To Israel
By Bobby Blakey on July 9, 2023
Let’s GO Back To Israel
By Bobby Blakey on July 9, 2023
I invite you to open the Bible and turn with me to the book of Zechariah. We are going to begin studying through this book of prophecy together. So, if you can turn to Zechariah. What an exciting week we've already had here at the church. Did you hear that we won the Fourth of July parade here in Huntington Beach, everybody? Yes. Back to Back float sweepstakes, champions. Well, have you ever been to an award winning float church before? What is going on around here? Is Shane in this service? Where's Shane Rouland, everybody? There he is, let's give a shout out for Shane. Who saw Shane on ABC 7? I love the interview they did with Shane. As we were building this float, we took a break to go to Israel where Jesus lived. That's what I'm talking about. Way to represent there. So, I did get to go to Israel with some of you. Where are my Israel friends? There's a few of us here in this earth. A hundred of us went. And this is my first time being back on a Sunday morning after Israel. So, it's a good thing. We got new chairs, because I'm excited to preach to you guys, after being there. And really what we want to do as a church in the next few weeks, is we want to all go back to Israel along with Zechariah and Haggai. Even guys like Zerubbabel, and Joshua, the high priest. So what we're talking about here is post-exilic Israel. And we actually have… I think the ushers are going to bring it forward right now… we have this little chart. And maybe if you want, if you don't have one of these yet, raise your hand if you want one. It gives you like when the different prophets prophesied. It gives you the timeline of the exile on the back. So, if I say post-exilic Israel, what comes to your mind? That's what we're studying.
Now, in Zechariah God judged his people through King Nebuchadnezzar in the Babylonians, and many of them got exiled, they got deported, they got taken away to Babylon. And then after seventy years, a small group of them came back to Jerusalem, and they were going to rebuild the temple. And during that time, there were two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah. And so that's what we're diving into. We're diving into the people of Israel coming back to Jerusalem, rebuilding the temple. They've been beaten down by other nations. They've been exiled for seventy years. And now they're going to start rebuilding. And we had a special service on Wednesday night, where we started going through chapter one a little bit because the book of Zechariah, like a lot of great works of God, it begins with a clear teaching on repentance. Look at Zechariah 1:3, it says, “Therefore say to them, thus declares the LORD of hosts, return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says, the Lord of hosts.” So clearly God wants to be known as the Lord of hosts, which means the God who commands armies, he commands the army of angels, he commands the army of Israel, really, he's God over all the nations, over all the army. So, he wants to be known as the God who commands and what he commands is, hey, you need to turn to me, you need to return to me. It says there restore to me. And the beautiful thing is God says, If you repent and turn to me, then I will turn to you. So, God really is commanding repentance, which is an invitation to a relationship.
We talked about this Wednesday night, and after the service, this young man runs up to me, he says, I don't want to live in my sin anymore. And he had already prayed with the person who brought him to repent of his sin. So, it was very exciting here on Wednesday night. That's the message we want to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins in the name of Jesus to every single person in Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Westminster, all the cities around here, Lakewood, Long Beach, we want everybody to know that if they turn to God, God will turn to them. Can I get an Amen from the congregation? This is the message, okay? Now after he gives them that message of repentance, look at Zechariah 1:6. If you can look at verse 6, halfway through that verse, it says, “So they repented.” So, this is a unique season in the history of Israel, because in this season when God speaks through His prophets, the people of Israel actually listen, and they actually do what God says. And so there's actually this exciting work of revival as the people rebuild the temple, and God is working there in the midst of his people. Now after that first prophecy in six verses about repentance Zechariah in one night, he has a bunch of visions. And so that's what we're going to get into right now, the night visions of Zechariah. They start in chapter 1, verse 7, they go all the way to chapter 6, we're just going to do Zechariah 1:7 to the end of chapter one here today. And so, I want to read for Zechariah 1:7-21. And out of respect for God's Word, I'm going to ask if we would all stand up for the public reading of Scripture. I don't know if you've read Zechariah before, or if you've ever heard a sermon from Zechariah before, how deep you've gotten into the night visions of Zechariah. But here we go. This is Zechariah chapter 1, starting in verse 7, please follow along, as I read.
On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, son of Iddo, saying, “I saw in the night, and behold, a man riding on a red horse! He was standing among the myrtle trees in the glen, and behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses. Then I said, ‘What are these, my lord?’ The angel who talked with me said to me, ‘I will show you what they are.’ So the man who was standing among the myrtle trees answered, ‘These are they whom the Lord has sent to patrol the earth.’ And they answered the angel of the Lord who was standing among the myrtle trees, and said, ‘We have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth remains at rest.’ Then the angel of the Lord said, ‘O Lord of hosts, how long will you have no mercy on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, against which you have been angry these seventy years?’ And the Lord answered gracious and comforting words to the angel who talked with me. So the angel who talked with me said to me, ‘Cry out, Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion. And I am exceedingly angry with the nations that are at ease; for while I was angry but a little, they furthered the disaster. Therefore, thus says the Lord, I have returned to Jerusalem with mercy; my house shall be built in it, declares the Lord of hosts, and the measuring line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem. Cry out again, Thus says the Lord of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.’” And I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, four horns! And I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these?” And he said to me, “These are the horns that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.” Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen. And I said, “What are these coming to do?” He said, “These are the horns that scattered Judah, so that no one raised his head. And these have come to terrify them, to cast down the horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter it.”
That's the reading of God's Word. Go ahead and have your nice new seat there, everybody. And let's start going through the night visions, okay, so we know the exact night that these visions took place. And we're going to be studying these night visions for the next few weeks here at our church. And so you can see verse 7, if you want to dive in here with me, verse 7, it says, “On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius,” and so the calendar, this is the Persian calendar, they're under the reign of the Medes and the Persians. Darius is one of the rulers. And so, this was in his second year. So, this calendar is a little bit different than ours. But this is the second timestamp we get in the book of Zechariah. Go back up to verse 1, and you can see it said in the eighth month, in the second year of Darius. Well, now we're in the 11th month. So we've kind of had three months go by since the first six verses talked about repentance and the people repented. Well, now God has more to say, or more to show, we could say to the prophet Zechariah. But notice in verse 7, it gives us the specific day in verse 1, it just said the month, the eighth month of the second year, and we know that the eighth month of the second year of Darius is like end of October beginning of November 520 BCE. So what we're reading here is twenty-five hundred years old. So, this is now three months later the 24th day of the 11th month of the second year of Darius. If you are taking notes, if you’ve got the handout, you might want to write this down. This is February 15, 519 BCE. All of this happened in that one night of February 15 519 BCE.
Now, is it significant that it gives us the exact day specifically that it says it's the 24th day of that 11th month? Is that something we should pay attention to? Well, yes, it's actually very significant. Because just look right over in the book of Haggai, it should be right next door. Haggai and Zechariah are contemporaries. They're mentioned in Scripture, that they're prophesying at the same time. So, if you want to really understand Israel after the exile, post-exilic Israel is what it is referred to. Then there's four books of the Bible, you’ve got to read to get this story. You’ve got to read the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. And then you got to read the books, Ezra and Nehemiah and those four books, they'll describe what happens in this time period. In fact, in the Hebrew Scriptures, Ezra and Nehemiah were one book before they got split up, there was all one story of what happened to Israel after the 70 years of being in Babylon.
And so Haggai, look what happens in Haggai. It's short. Just two chapters of prophecy. He actually prophesizes first before Zechariah. And the main message of Haggai is how come you guys have all rebuilt your houses, but you guys aren't rebuilding God's house in the temple, like, look at your houses, you're making sure your house is really nice. Why aren't you guys rebuilding God's house and making sure the temple is nice. And so, Haggai he kind of brings this confrontative prophecy to God's people. And then you can see at the end of Haggai, chapter 1, look at verse 14 Here Haggai 1:14, “and the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel,” so he's an important character, we're going to get to know him. He's the governor of Judah. So, he's not the king because Darius, they're still under Persian rule. Darius is kind of the Emperor at that time. But Zerubbabel he's very important, because he's actually in the line of David, and he's now the governor of Judah. And then there's another guy, it says, And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, he's going to be very important, and especially in Zechariah 3, that he was the one representing the people before God as the high priest. And so, and the Lord stirred up, not just the leaders, the rabble and Joshua, but the Lord's stirred up the spirit of the remnant of all the people. So, God starts speaking through Haggai, he starts working in the souls of everybody. And they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts their God. And on the notice this Haggai 1:15, “on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.
So, what was the day that they started to rebuild the temple? It was the 24th day of the month, and that was the sixth month of the second year. So, what we're getting now is a five month construction update five months later, God's going to give a bunch of night visions. So, the 24th day of the month becomes a real theme. That's the day they start rebuilding the temple. And look, go into Haggai 2 with me and look at verse 10. You'll notice that God starts giving messages to Haggai on the 24th day of the ninth month, so Haggai 2:10 is like a three-month progress report. And, and he gives a prophecy there to Haggai. Look down at Haggai 2:20, “The word of the Lord came a second time to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month.” So, if you know Haggai, you know that the 24th day of the month is when they started to rebuild. God's been giving new prophecies on the 24th day of the month.
So, now five months into this one night Zechariah goes to sleep and he ends up having a whole series of visions. And he's supposed to share these visions with all the people so this is a way that God through these dreams that he gives to Zechariah God's going to let the people know what he thinks about them rebuilding the temple for the five months, and this first vision that he gives to Zechariah. This is epic. Go back with me to Chapter One of Zechariah and Zechariah, he's a prophet. He's the son of Berechiah, son of Iddo, who is mentioned in Nehemiah, as one of the priests, so Zechariah, his grandpa was a priest. So, he comes in the priestly line. Zechariah is an interesting guy. He's in the priestly line, but he's a prophet. And he saw in the night, verse 8, and we're going to be looking at these night visions for a while. Let's just start with the first one. Behold, here's the first thing that he sees a man riding on a red horse. And then this man, it's like, Look at this guy riding up on a red horse that gets your attention. And then this man is standing among the myrtle trees in the Glen. So, you'd like the guy gets off the horse. And now he's in this Glen, this ravine, it could refer to some kind of valley where there's a flow of water. Often this Hebrew word translated Glen here refers to some kind of source of water. So he's in this kind of place where there's water and the myrtle trees. They're evergreen trees, they're fertile trees, they are kind of symbolic of life and blessing. So, we’ve got this man, and he's surrounded by these good looking trees, there's maybe water flowing in this Glen where he is, and he's got all these trees around him. And then you can see, and behind him were red, sorrel, means like reddish brown, and white horses. So, this guy comes riding up on a red horse, he gets off his horse, and he's among all these trees. He's in this Glen area. Wow, that looks pretty cool. But it's not just him. There's all these other horses. And we would presume there's even riders on all these other horses, some very interesting looking horses. And you’ve got to remember, at this time, if you had a horse, a horse is kind of a symbol of power and authority, like if horses are riding around, that's kind of like a way that you're supervising what's going on, right? Like you're the boss, because you've got a horse and you're looking at what's taking place. And so, to get a lot of horses in this, Glen, that would be quite a sight to see. And you can see here's Zechariah says, in verse 9, “then I said, What are these, my lord?” And there's going to be this angel who talks with Zechariah through all these different visions, and the angel is like, hey, I'll show you what they are. It's almost like the angel saying, hey, just watch. Let's let this scene play out. Let's see what happens here in this Glen with these myrtle trees and all these horses, who is this man among the myrtle trees? And so you can see here in verse 10, so the man who was standing among the myrtle trees, he answered,” it's like he hears Zechariah. So the man who was standing among the myrtle trees answered, ‘These are they whom the Lord has sent to patrol the earth.’” So the idea is like, these are the angels that God has doing his patrol over all the earth. And in fact, they answered, notice it says in verse 11, “they answered the angel of the Lord, who was standing among the myrtle trees, and they said, We have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth remains at rest.” So who's on all these horses? Well, it's some kind of angelic patrol, who's gone out over the earth. And here's the report from the patrol is that the earth is at rest, the earth is quiet, the earth is still now something just happened. That was really important. Because in verse 10, Look back at verse 10, it said, There's a man standing among the myrtle trees. But then in verse 11, it gave a title to that man, and it said that it's the angel of the Lord standing among the myrtle trees. So all of a sudden, and when you start to realize who this is this angel of the Lord is that all the other angels are reporting to, and just the way he's described here, he looks like a man and he's among the trees, it reminds me of one like a Son of man, who will come riding on the clouds are one like a Son of man in Revelation, one who's standing among the lampstands, who is this man among the myrtle trees that the angels are reporting to that has the title, the angel of the Lord. This, I believe, is a pre-incarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ, in this vision.
And so that's who Zechariah could be seeing is the Messiah, the anointed one, the one who's going to come to save us. The book of Zechariah takes place 2500 years ago, and it's almost like the main character of this book is Jesus. Okay? So, this is going to be you're going to maybe see Jesus in some ways you've never seen him before. As we go through this book, maybe you've never had this vision of Jesus among the myrtle trees in the Glen, surrounded by horses like him and the angels are scouting the earth. And as soon as they say to the angel of the Lord, this man among the myrtle trees, who I'm saying, I believe is Jesus. As soon as they say that to him, look what he does in verse 12, and “Then the angel of the Lord said, ‘O Lord of hosts, how long will you have no mercy on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, against which you have been angry these seventy years?’” Like, what do you mean? So it's like they give the report the earth is at rest, the earth is quiet. And it's like, that's not what the angel of the Lord, that's not what Jesus wanted to hear. Why are all the other nations at rest? It's not time for them to be at rest. It's time for them to be judged. And as soon as he gets that report, he goes right into how long O Lord of hosts, when are you going to come and show favor to your people again, after all the seventy years that you that you promised they would be exiled for? The seventy years are over. So why don't you show up? How long Oh, Lord? What an amazing vision. Jesus is in some kind of Glen, and there's myrtle trees all around him, and there's horses all around him and the angels are coming saying, the earth is at rest. And immediately Jesus intercedes, Jesus prays on behalf of the people. And he says to the Father, to the LORD of hosts, hey, why aren't you coming and being with your people, again, the seventy years of exile are over.
So, if you're taking notes, let's get this down for point number one, Jesus intercedes. Jesus, immediately, as the angel of the Lord, hear the man among the myrtle trees, he immediately prays after he gets this report from the patrol over the year. So, Jesus, this is something that I hope you know is Jesus is interceding on behalf of God's people. Jesus represents us. He defends us. He claims us in front of the Father. Jesus, He is there representing you. This is something we learned in Romans 8 is that the Holy Spirit prays for us, he groans on our behalf. Does anybody remember when we learned that when you go to pray, the Holy Spirit's already been praying for you? Did you know that when you pray, Jesus intercedes, he claims you as one of his people, he knows he purchased you with his blood, he knows that you believed in him. He saved your soul. And now Jesus wants to represent God's people in prayer. It's this is a super encouraging thing. And this vision is supposed to let you know, hey, do you Israelites there in the time of Zechariah, do you guys feel beat down? Do you guys feel like the nations have owned you for seventy years, and now you're trying to rebuild the temple, and it's so hard to get it going. And you know that the temple you're going to be rebuilding, it's not even going to be as good as the one we used to have when Solomon built it. And so, you just feel humbled? What an amazing thing for them to have a vision that the angel of the Lord is asking God, how long Oh, Lord, on their behalf, the people must have loved to hear this. I mean, how many of these people had prayed how long, Oh, Lord?
Turn with me to the book of Jeremiah. Let's just go to Jeremiah because I want to take you back to the prophecies of the seventy-year exile. And it's just something we’ve got to understand. There were these prophecies that if God's people didn't listen to him and his prophets and they didn't repent, then they were going to be judged by other nations who would exile them for seventy years. And there's two times it says that here in Jeremiah. One is Jeremiah 25:11, “This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” But look at this, verse 12, Jeremiah 25:12, “Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the Lord, making the land an everlasting waste.” So, after seventy years, God is supposed to stop judging his people and start judging the other nations. So that's what Jesus is referring to, and his prayer, how long now the seventy years are over. You need to come and restore your people, and you need to go and judge the other people. Now go over to Jeremiah 29:11. This is a verse you may have heard of before. This is a beloved verse and often memorized, often Instagrammed verse here, Jeremiah 29:11, a beautiful promise, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” God has a plan for you his people, well, what's the context here. Go back one verse to verse Jeremiah 29:10. “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.”
So, Jesus is riding with the angels, they're going all over the earth, they're expecting to see the other nations getting judged, because the seventy years are over, but everything's at rest. Everything's quiet. And immediately Jesus is saying to the LORD of hosts, how long Lord, you said, seventy years, the seventy years are over. Why aren't you back here with your people restoring them? Just like you said, then when you have a cry in your heart, when you have a prayer, I'm sure that many of us have prayed how long Oh, Lord, before when you've been waiting for something? I'm sure many of us have prayed. When are you going to do this, Oh Lord? When are you going to answer me? Oh, Lord, what an amazing comment when you feel beat down by life, when you feel like you're going through a hard time. And you wonder how long is this going to go on? What an encouraging thing to realize that Jesus is praying how long on your behalf, too. That's powerful. It's not just me trying to get God's attention, Jesus, the angel of the Lord, he is speaking to God on behalf of the people here. And he said, God, you made this promise that after seventy years, you would come and be with your people. Now's the time. What are you waiting for? How long? Oh Lord, how long, Oh, Lord.
We've been reading through the Psalms this summer as a church. And after seeing so many “how longs” I began to pay attention. One of the things we're all going to be praying at some point is how long about something in our lives? How long till these air conditioning units show up? Oh, Lord, right? We're all going to be praying things like this. Go with me to Psalm chapter 90. Let's just look at a few of these “how longs.” And I just want you to know if you're praying some kind of how long prayer? Wow, what an encouraging thought that they were praying for seventy years for God to restore his people in Jerusalem. And then to know that Jesus was praying that with them. I want you to know that God hears our “how long” prayers and Jesus is interceding on your behalf. Psalm 90:13 was one place that it really jumped out at me. After Psalm 90:12, says, “We got to number our days, if we want to be wise.” We’ve got to realize that everybody dies and we’ve got to make the most of the time that we have, we can't put off repentance, we need to turn to the Lord. Now while there's still time. And so verse 13, of Psalm 90 “Return Oh, Lord,” like God, we need you to turn to us, God, we need you to be here with us. “Return Oh, Lord, how long” have pity on your servants? How long till you're going to show up, Lord, how long till you're going to give us that revival we've been asking for? How long till you're going to work in this person or, or provide for me in this way or restore that relationship? How long? Oh, Lord.
Go back to Psalm 80, and you'll see another example of this same kind of prayer. In fact, as Psalm 80 has a refrain that God needs to restore us, God needs to turn to us, God needs to grant us repentance, restore us. So, God, it says in Psalm 80:3, “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!” God, we need you to look upon us. We need you to turn us around. We need you to do a work on us. Psalm 80:4-7, “O Lord God of hosts,” same way they're referring to God and Zechariah the God who commands the god who's in charge. “O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people's prayers?” Why aren't you answering our prayers, you have fed them with the bread of tears and given them tears to drink in full measure, “You make us an object of contention for our neighbors and our enemies. The other nations laugh among themselves. Restore us, O God of hosts, let your face shine that we may be saved.” God, we're over here crying. We're over here beat down, our temple is destroyed. We don't have walls on our city of Jerusalem. Our other cities are all rubble. Everybody thinks we're nobodies. And they mock you. And they make fun of you. They're like they don't have a God. They're in Israel. Look what happened to them. How long are you going to let this go on? Oh, Lord?
Go over to Psalm 74. Psalm 74. Verse 10. And we'll see just another “how long” here. These kinds of prayers are always being offered by God's people. And wow, Jesus is praying the same way to God. Psalm 74:10, “How long O God?” Like they're saying, Hey, we're not seeing your signs. We don't have prophets. That's what they're saying here in Psalm 74:9. They didn't have Zechariah at that time that Asaph is right in this. Psalm 74:10-11, “How long, O God, is the foe to scoff? Is the enemy to revile your name forever? Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the fold of your garment and destroy them!” Hey, God, this is a messed-up situation, your people are being beat down. And the other nations are mocking you, taunting you and defying your glory. How long you're going to let this go on? You need to do something about this. So, this is what the people have been praying for seventy years. And now can you imagine when Zechariah says he had a dream, and there was the angel of the Lord, and all the other angels came around him. And they gave the report that the earth is at rest and all those other nations are doing fine. And the angel of the Lord, he said, how long Lord, are you going to let this go on? When are you going to come to your people? It's been seventy years,.
Go back to Zechariah 1, and look at how God immediately answers that prayer. When Jesus intercedes, God responds. What God says here is absolutely awesome. In response, this is an amazing answer to prayer, starting here Zechariah 1:13, “And the Lord answered, and he answered, gracious and comforting words, to the angel who talked with me.” God started saying something in response to the prayer of the angel of the Lord. And the words that he said were gracious, and comforting. Now, Zechariah, like most of the Scriptures that we call the Old Testament, they are written in Hebrew. And so I've been working on my Hebrew study in Zechariah. And there's one word that any of us who went to Israel, we know this one word, and it's this word we want to teach to everybody at our church is this word Tov, everybody say that word with me? Tov, okay. And in fact, you might say Boker Tov. Boker Tov means Good morning, so, let's all greet one another here. Boker Tov, okay, so Tov means good. Like, you can basically you can just say, anything, you can just be like, Tov, it's kind of like the What’s Up of Israel, right? Hey, you just nod to somebody. You're like, oh, and they're like, oh, everything's good, right? That's what that means. Right? So, it says, God has Tov words, here is what it says when it's translated gracious, like, oh, they were the angel of the Lord. He threw up the prayer. And God came back with something that was tough, something that was good. God wants to comfort his people. And look what God says in Zechariah 1:14. “So the angel who talked with me said to me, ‘Cry out.’” This wasn't just a dream for Zechariah. He was supposed to put this out in Scripture for everybody that says, the Lord of hosts, okay, I'll show you I'm in charge, let me tell you what I'm going to do. I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion. And I'm exceedingly angry with the nations that are at ease. For a while I was angry a little at my people, but they further the disaster they treated my people above and beyond. Therefore, thus says the Lord, I have returned to Jerusalem with mercy. So, this is a huge statement for God to say, I am returning, or I have returned, remember his promise in verse three, return to me, and what did he promise I will return to you, and then halfway through verse 6, what did the people do? They repented, they turned to God, they started rebuilding, they trusted the Lord. Well, now God says, okay, you have turned to me. Now I'm turning to you. I'm going to bring all of my comfort, all of My Mercy and God starts making some promises here: My house shall be built, and it's going to take them years to rebuild the temple. They are five months in, it will be built God promises, declares the LORD of hosts. And not only will the temple be rebuilt, and the measuring line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem. You're not just going to rebuild the temple, you're going to rebuild the whole city. This is a promise going all the way to Nehemiah, and the walls of Jerusalem being rebuilt. In fact, Zechariah 1:17, “Cry out again, Thus says the Lord of hosts, my cities,” Not just one city, Jerusalem, but the “cities of Judah shall again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion, and choose Jerusalem.”
So, whenever you hear that Zion is the mountain that the city of Jerusalem is built upon, so sometimes Zion and Jerusalem are used interchangeably. It's Mount Zion, and Jerusalem is the city on a hill and God's like I'm back in town, everybody. Jerusalem is my city again; Zion is where I'm going to place my temple again. Okay, I hear the prayer from the angel of the Lord among the myrtle trees with the rest of the angels. Okay, I hear the people crying out how long, O Lord? Let me tell you, I am back. That's what God says here. God. This is what the Book of Zechariah means. The name Zechariah means the Lord remembers, and God will always remember his people.
Let's get that down for number two: The Lord remembers his people. God always has a plan for his people. There is always a future and a hope for the believer. You might be going through a long season of “How long Oh, Lord,” there is always comfort at the end of every affliction. God will always comfort every single one of his people. Can I get an Amen from the congregation? This is a promise. Okay. Specifically, the promises made to us in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 that if you seek the Lord, there is comfort to be found in all the afflictions, every long season of hard time that you go through. God has comfort, he has his presence, he will restore you, he will turn himself to you. This is a part of the message that God wants his people to know. Hey, you guys, turn to me, I'm turning to you. You guys started rebuilding the temple, you're five months in, you are going to finish that temple. Jerusalem's going to be restored, the cities of Judah will be blessed again, and I will dwell on Zion once more. This would have been music to these people's ears. This is everything they were hoping to hear. This must have been like the best dream you could have ever had right here that Zechariah has, that he shares with the people.
Go to Isaiah chapter 40 with me. The book of Isaiah has a prophecy of this kind of comfort that God wants to give to his people. In Isaiah chapter 40. God gives this message. Isaiah was a prophet well before they got judged, well before the exile, and he said “Woe” to them, your sin is going to find you out you are going to end up losing the temple losing everything you guys got to turn. And unfortunately, their hearts were hard. They didn't Listen to Isaiah. But Isaiah also prophesied about what would happen after the judgement about a glorious future and a hope that God has for his people. And here in Isaiah 40, it begins that section of the prophecy and look how it begins. Isaiah 40:1, “Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God, so yes, God's people will suffer. We will go through hard times. But at the end of those hard times, there will be comfort. God wants his people to know and look at Isaiah 40:2, “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.” Say those Tov words. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins.” Yeah, there was sin, but that's been judged now. And look at these words of comfort. How about Isaiah 40:3, “A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’” Here's a prophecy about John the Baptist out there preparing the way of the Lord Jesus. How about Isaiah 40:6-7, “a voice says cry, and I said, What shall I cry? Well cry out that all flesh is grass and all its beauty. It's like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it. Surely the people are grass.” Hey, don't worry, God's going to judge all those nations. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand for ever. Hey, you feel like O, God's not answering my prayers. God's not keeping his promise. I'm going through a hard time. No, no, no, no, no, there will be comfort. God's word will be proven true. God will keep all of his promises. Let the people know that everything you're seeing is going to fade away but the Word of the Lord it will endure forever. And then so here's what you should do with this word of comfort. “You should go up on a high mountain O Zion, herald of good news. Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God!’ Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” Oh, here comes God. He's mighty, he’s powerful. Don't worry. He can defeat all your enemies. He can protect you from evil, but he also will care for you. He will hold you; he won't let anything happen to you. He'll hold you in his hand and no one can get you out of his hand. Wow, God is coming. Behold, look, everybody, God's coming to comfort his people. I bet everybody knew about Zechariah’s night vision. I bet everybody, did you hear what the Lord revealed to Zechariah? Yeah, it was on the 24th day, just like what he said to Haggai. Did you hear what the angel of the Lord prayed? Did you hear how God answered? The people must have been revived.
No wonder as Zerubbabel and Joshua and all the people had their souls stirred up when God was coming to comfort them when he was turning to them. The people heard the words of comfort, God will always remember his people. If you have put your faith in the Lord Jesus, you will never be forgotten by God. Jesus is right now interceding for you, claiming you, saying I bought them with my blood, I redeemed them, I purchased their soul. They're one of my people. And God, he will hear Jesus interceding on your behalf, and the Lord will come and comfort you. If you're going through a hard time, it will only last so long and God, that God of all comfort, he wants his people to know, I'm coming home, I'm coming back, and I will come for you, I will hold you, nothing will happen to you. You're one of my people. This must have just been inspiring these people. They didn't have a lot going on. Their city was broken down, their temple was broken down. But what they had was a promise of comfort from God. And that inspired them to keep going to keep building and finish that temple.
Go back to Zechariah 1, because it immediately flows into the second vision. And you're going to see here that these visions, I mean, that's awesome. What we just saw what an amazing statement for God to say on returning to Jerusalem, everybody. But that's just the beginning of the night visions. In fact, if you're with me in Zechariah, look at chapter 2, verse 1, you're going to keep noticing this phrase, “and I lifted my eyes.” Every time it says “I lifted my eyes,” that's like, and now another dream or now another vision, right? And you can see, even in chapter 5, it's going to say, again, I lifted my eyes, chapter 6, again, I lifted my eyes. So basically, there's whole chapters of visions here, that all happen on the 24th day of the 11th month of the second year of Darius, or as we might think of it, on February 15 519, BCE. All of these visions get presented, because the first one is good news. God is returning to Jerusalem. But we've got more to reveal. Look at verse 18. “And I lifted my eyes.” And so that means here we go, let's see something else. “And I saw and behold four horns.” And I love how Zechariah is just going to ask these questions that are going to guide us through all these visions. It's like we see what Zechariah sees. And then he asks a question, what are these? What are these four horns about, and this angel is going to talk it through with him the whole time, “He said to me, these are the horns that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.” So, just starting right there, the horns are oftentimes in prophecy, horns are symbols of nations, or even of the ruler of the nation. So going back to wild beasts going back to animals, a lot of the animals, they would have horns, and the horns are a symbol of their power of their strength. In fact, the idea is kind of like your head is lifted up, and you've got a horn on your head, you're not afraid of anybody, you're in charge, you're powerful. That's the idea. The horns would represent nations who have power and authority, or maybe even the specific ruler of a nation would be represented by a horn. So, when you want to, if you're taking notes, and you wanted study more about the horns, write down Daniel 7 and 8. Daniel, he was a prophet during the seventy years of exile. And he talked about beasts, and then he, the beast would often have horns, and this represented different kingdoms, different empires, different nations. So these four horns represent the nations that came against Jerusalem and Judah, God's people in Israel, the nations that came in and judge them. Well, now it's time for those nations to be judged. And so that's what these four horns are.
And then you can see in Zechariah 1:20, “and the Lord showed me four craftsmen,” so we get four horns. Now we get four craftsmen. And I said, what are these coming to do? And he said, “these are the horns that scattered Judah. So back to the horns, so that no one raised his head. And these now these four craftsmen, they have come to terrify the horns to cast down the horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to be scattered. So, there were seventy years where these other nations are going around with their horns up in the air with their heads raised up like we're awesome. No one can touch us. We're in charge. Well, now those horns of the other nations, they're not going to be raised up anymore because these craftsmen are going to come. And somehow these craftsmen are going to humble these other nations and they're going to lose their horns, they're going to be judged. That's the idea. So, Israel has been beat down for seventy years, they weren't raising their head. They weren't happy with what was going on. Well, now Israel's going to be lifted up and the other nations are going to be brought down. That's what's being prophesied here. Now, if you were thinking what's going to go destroy nations, craftsmen may not be the first thing that comes to your mind. So, this is a really interesting prophecy here. “Craftsmen,” I've heard it translated blacksmiths. I've heard it translated carpenters, it's skilled workmen who know how to work with materials, and they know how to build certain things. And so, they're kind of become some different takes here on who are these craftsmen. And how exactly are these craftsmen going to be used by God to judge the other nations? One thought that could be out there is these craftsmen know how to make weapons of mass destruction. Basically, these guys aren't like one awesome soldier or one chariot. These guys, they're like blowing cities up basically, is the idea, right? And then there's a reference to that in Ezekiel 21:31. So if you want to take some notes on the craftsman, and Ezekiel 21:31, God says, I will pour out my indignation upon you, I will blow upon you the fire of my wrath, and I will deliver you into the hands of brutish men, craftsmen to destroy or skillful to destroy.” Hey, don't make me mad, or I'll hand you over to those brutes, and they know how to do destruction is basically what it says there, right? So, it could be craftsmen of destruction, making weapons of warfare. But it's also this word craftsman is the same word used about the guys who originally built the tabernacle of God. If you go back to Exodus 35. And you look at this, there's two guys mentioned there by name, Bezalel and Oholiab. Bezalel and Oholiab are known as craftsmen, and their people all contributed, they all gave different materials. And then these two guys Bezalel and Oholiab, they made the altar, the altar, which actually had four horns on it, and they made the menorah. And they made all the things that would be there, the Ark of the Covenant, the things that would be in the Holy of Holies. In the holy place, they crafted all these things. So this could be this super cool reference that God's saying, hey, you guys are building the temple, like how craftsmen build things, like how the craftsmen built the tabernacle and the temple of old, you guys keep building the temple by exalting my name, by lifting high my glory, that's how you guys will be lifted up and the other nations will be brought down once again. So, it could be like by the building you're doing in the temple, that's how you're going to win the victory over the other nations. Keep going, craftsmen are going to have the power to defeat the horns, to defeat the nations. But the clear point of this second night vision is not only as God coming back to comfort his people, God is going to take care and judge those other nations.
So, let's get that down for point number three: The Lord will not forget to judge. Yes, the Lord will remember his people, but he also will not forget to judge those who deserve to be judged. And so that was the prayer. The prayer was you got to come back to your people. And why are the other nations at rest, they shouldn't be at rest. They should be judged. And so, God he answered that prayer, he's going to come and comfort his people. And he's going to go and he's going to judge the other nations. We’ll pick it up with more night visions. You can read Zechariah to get ready for next week. Now there's so many things I want to share with you from Israel, but we'll just go to one of them for right now. We'll just go back to the Garden of Gethsemane, right. And I think the picture of Jesus in that garden surrounded by olive trees, and it's kind of down in a valley down in a brook. Like, I see a lot of similarities between the angel of the Lord in the myrtle trees in the Glen with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. And so a hundred of us, we got to go spend an hour in the private garden. And we got to open up the Scripture and read how Jesus was down on his face. And he was praying for us. Well, really, he was praying. If it's possible, take this cup from me, but not as I will as you will. And the cup that Jesus is referring to is the wrath of God. That's something throughout the prophecies that God has a cup of wrath. You don't want to drink it, you won't be able to survive what this cup is going to do to you. And it's the cup that God's going to make all the nations who go against God, they're all going to end up drinking this cup of wrath. Well, here's Jesus, and he's now going to drink the cup of God's wrath. Because Jesus, he's there in the Garden of Gethsemane that olive tree garden, and it's like Jesus is being pressed, squeezed like an olive lying on his face, because Jesus understands he's about to get judged for your sin.
And so, we want to talk about a God who remembers his people, and forgives the sin of his people, and is gracious and comforting to his people. But a God who's also ready to judge people. By no means are the guilty getting away with it, don't you worry about it. I'm going to go after all the wicked and make sure they pay for what they have done. That's who our God is, our God is ready to forgive, and he is ready to judge those who deserve it. And all of that all of God's character is shown right there in that garden of Gethsemane. Because here's Jesus who loves you so much, that he's willing to take your judgment, and he's willing to die in your place as a sacrifice. But here's God who is so righteous, that he's just not going to overlook your sin. He is going to judge your sin, and on Jesus, so then he can forgive you for your sin, because Jesus already paid it in full. And we're back there in the Garden of Gethsemane. And man, I'll tell you what, people are crying, it's a very emotional place to be to think about all the sins that you have done, that you would deserve to be judged for. And to think about Jesus paying for every single one of those sins, and people are crying. And one of the brothers he comes up to me, and he says, you know, we're down here in the garden of Gethsemane. And up here on one side is the Temple Mount, and on Mount Moriah, and then we've got this, this other mount over here, the Mount of Olives. And so the Garden of Gethsemane is down here in this Kedron Valley, right in between these two mounts. So, when you're down in the Garden of Gethsemane, it's very low. And there are kind of high hills to either side of you. There's kind of three hills that make Jerusalem: Mount Zion, Mount of Olives, and Mount Moriah. And so, he's like, you know, Jesus down here, when you're down here in the garden, that temple would have been right up there, because it's not a temple there right now. In fact, I did some research on the temple while I was there with the Jews in Jerusalem and the temple at the time of Jesus. See the reason it's so important for Zechariah and Haggai observable, and Joshua, the high priest to rebuild the temple is eventually who's going to come into that temple. Eventually, the temple that they rebuilt, is going to be rebuilt even better by Herod the Great, and eventually a man is going to walk into the temple of God, and he's going to say, destroy this temple, and in three days, I will raise it up, and he's going to cause a ruckus like that temple has never seen. And so, I kind of had this thought in the Garden of Gethsemane that I had never thought before is how high the temple at the time of Jesus was. 20 stories high. And Jesus now is way down in this garden. And here he is, feeling the full weight of our sin, seeing that temple so high up above him. Like there's God in all of his glory in his Holy splendor. And here's Jesus brought so low, because Jesus is willing to bear the weight of our sin. And even when Jesus died on the cross, when Jesus cried out in agony, because God is judging him for your sin, there was a guy right next to Jesus. And he said, Lord, remember me when you come in your kingdom? And guess what our Lord does? He remembers all of his people. And what did Jesus say to that guy? Today, you will be with me where? Paradise.
So, the Lord, not only does God Remember his people, specifically, Jesus remembered you on the cross. So, the worship team is going to come up, and they're going to sing a song called Lord, remember me about Jesus remembering that thief on the cross. And that's what we're learning. Zechariah is all about that the Lord remembers his peoples. And we want to take a moment to remember how Jesus remembered us by paying for our sins. And so, we're going to do this song, you're going to have a moment to reflect. And you're going to have a moment to reflect that Jesus got judged for your sin, so that you could experience the comfort and the peace and the goodness of being forgiven and turning to God and having God turn to you. Jesus, he paid the judgment for your sin, so that you could receive his eternal life. Jesus remembered you. It's amazing to think when Jesus was out there on the cross. He even was paying specifically for your sins. And he was remembering you on that cross, what do you want to say to Jesus in response? We're going to give you a moment to reflect, then I'll come out, and we'll take the communion together. But if you haven't really turned to the Lord Jesus, if you haven't really trusted in Jesus dying in your place, and rising again, to give you new life, please don't communion. It is a reminder for us who believe to remember Jesus to proclaim Jesus, you don't need to drink this little cup and eat this little piece of bread unless you've really believed in Jesus. And if you haven't really turned to Jesus, what are you waiting for? You don't want to wait until it's too late. You don't want to wait till the judgment of God shows up. You want to know that God's going to be ready to comfort you as one of his people, that God will remember you on the Day of Judgment. You don't want to experience the judgment of God? And why would you go and experience the judgment of God, when Jesus already got judged for us? Can I get an Amen from anybody on it? Like God is going to judge all sin, and you will either be judged according to what you have done, or you will be judged according to what Jesus has done. And those of us who have put our trust in Jesus, this is a time to give Him thanks, and to worship him because he remembered us, let me pray.
Father in heaven, we thank you that we could start studying Zechariah and we thank you that them rebuilding the temple is all just making the way for Jesus to come and save us. And we thank you that Jesus, he did drink that cup of wrath, that he did bear the weight of our sin, that he drank it all the way down to the end, that he paid for our sin in full. And I pray for all my brothers and sisters, for all of us, that are your people, I pray that we would be comforted that we would know that you have turned to us. But Father, I pray that we would see the only reason you're not judging us is because you Judge Jesus in our place. And so let us now respond to Jesus let us now worship Jesus. Let us now see that Jesus, he remembered us in our sin, and he paid for it in full. So let this be a time to give thanks to Jesus Christ.
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