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Communion Presbyterian Church ARP

Choosing Jerusalem - Zechariah 2, 3

1:17 … Thus says the LORD of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity, and the LORD will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.'"

 

 

 

Pilgrim Pastor John Robinson wrote, "Now as the people of God in old time were called out of Babylon civil and were called to come to Jerusalem, and there build the Lord's temple -- so are the people of God now to go out of Babylon spiritual and to build themselves as lively stones into a spiritual house, or temple, for the Lord to dwell in." The Pilgrims crossed the vast ocean and entered an untamed wilderness to build a new community grounded in the principles of Christ. At no time since the Jews returned from their Babylonian captivity did a group of people have the opportunity to create an entire nation founded upon the true religion.

à The Pilgrims new persecution but they knew destiny.  In a new land reserved for them, the Pilgrims would adopt the convictions of the remnant of Israel and establish a holy society.  The pilgrims had the conviction that with their obedience to Jesus, they could build something great in America – and we’ve just celebrated another Independence Day far removed from the Pilgrims; much can be said of the high ideals they brought to these shores and how their devotion set a standard for an entire nation.

à This is what the returning remnant from Babylon wanted to do; but they needed encouragement and direction.  The prophets of Haggai and Zechariah arrived on the scene to bolster their hopes. 

à Zechariah’s prophetic work is a bit more unique because through the use of Apocalyptic visions, he will inform the Israelites from a heavenly perspective that God was still in control and was still at work in bringing about a glorious end for His people.

 

1:18 And I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, four horns! 19 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."

à in Apocalyptic literature, numbers represent something, 2 = witnesses; 3 = Trinity; 3.5 = period of testing while awaiting the fullness of God’s activity, represented by the number 7; 4 represents God’s activity on the earth, 6 = the number of man, 7 = completeness; 10 = human governments; 12 and any multiple thereof = the chosen people of God; 1040 == the curse of government upon taxpayers

 

So when we see the number 4 in apocalyptic literature, we know it has to do with God’s control over the boundaries, and activities upon the earth.  And we read of “Horns” which represent powerful people or empires.  (Vikings didn’t wear horns in their helmet for nothing!)  We could illustrate the list of earthly powers who subjugated Israel by comparing Daniel’s repeated visions of four empires which are usually assigned to the Babylonians, Persian, Greeks, and Romans… It could be other oppressive people, but they are earthly in nature! 

à There is a response to the powers of these earthly empires…

 

1:20 Then the LORD showed me four craftsmen. 21 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."

à the horns (powers on the earth) had so oppressed Judah that they did not lift their eyes to the Lord; but God is going to raise up carpenters – not a military, not heavenly creatures; but ordinary men, gifted with the vocation of construction (Jesus was a carpenter…).  These craftsmen are going to build something that will intimidate the earthly powers. 

à We have a couple candidates for interpretation here:  First, Zechariah, tell the people to keep building the Temple and the city of Jerusalem.  Let the craftsmen build the temple.  When the foreign powers see this construction, they will take notice that God is raising up the head of His people again, and a people whose focus is upon God is pretty much unstoppable, especially when they are faithful to their calling. 

à Application in our day:  when the church remains faithful to her calling, the powers of this world will take notice of our mission; now depending on a variety of thing, they may either bless us or fear us for our effectiveness – but the vision is clear, ordinary people with ordinary callings are who God uses to build and advance his kingdom.

 

2:1 And I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand! 2 Then I said, "Where are you going?" And he said to me, "To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length." 3 And behold, the angel who talked with me came forward, and another angel came forward to meet him 4 and said to him, "Run, say to that young man, 'Jerusalem shall be inhabited as villages without walls, because of the multitude of people and livestock in it. 5 And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the LORD, and I will be the glory in her midst.'"

 

à Zechariah sees a few characters here: the man with a measuring line.  That measuring line means that God is measuring His territory and will be drawing boundaries for who will be included in his plans and for those who will be excluded. 

à Two angels, the vision interpreting angel, and an angel with a message for the young Zechariah.  The message is from the Lord who will make Jerusalem so populace and prosperous that defensive walls would hinder how many people could live within the space properly designated as Jerusalem.  It is a promise of a day that God would so bless Jerusalem that He, himself, would be required to act as the defense for the people.

à The old city of Jerusalem of today is larger than the city that David ruled over.  (WF) The walled city of Jerusalem today could fit easily within the Yale Loop, NO problem!  Easily between Irvine Center Dr. and Barranca.  It’s not that big!  Walk the length of it in minutes.  This vision reveals that God will expand the boundaries so far that building a wall around it would be pointless.

 

And here in these two visions, what do we have?  Say it with me… The Jewish Eschatological Hope!

-         There will be days of trouble – the Horns of the earth will persecute God’s people

-         The Lord will gather the people of the earth – a measuring line will establish whom God gathers for saving & judgment

-         A messiah will establish an earthly kingdom of blessing

-         God will dwell in the midst of his people – He will be their wall, their shade, their protection, their true Glory!

 

à Listen Jewish repetition coming!  It’s not nagging, but it is the same theme with matching results…

2:6 Up! Up! Flee from the land of the north, declares the LORD. For I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heavens, declares the LORD. 7 Up! Escape to Zion, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon. 8 For thus said the LORD of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye: 9 "Behold, I will shake my hand over them, and they shall become plunder for those who served them. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me. 10 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the LORD. 11 And many nations shall join themselves to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. 12 And the LORD will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem." 13 Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD, for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.

 

à So here we see more imagery of what Israel was to anticipate in a future “end times” reality.  Those who have been scattered across the earth by persecution will return to the place that God has put His eternal favor – ZION – the OT codeword for the New Jerusalem restored by God. 

à And how would this future remnant be regarded?  As a singing and rejoicing daughter, not as a wandering harlot which is a repeated description of Israel in other prophetic works, and not as a daughter of Babylon!

à The city of Babylon is forever preserved in Apocalyptic literature as the Anti-Jerusalem.  The place that holds the power of attraction over faithless Israel.  The place of earthly enticements devoid of the true beauty and purity of God.  Sometimes even Jerusalem in her rebellious state is called Babylon.  It is the place associated with rebellion and pride and demonic powers in the face of God.  It is the place that God will silence and condemn. (NT Jesus casting out demons…)

à God’s people must avoid being a whore of Babylon and become a daughter of Zion.  It is only in Zion that we will truly sing of true love and will be protected as the apple of God’s eye.

à Zechariah includes in his vision, as do other OT prophets, a PROFOUND conclusion of God’s final saving work in Zion; vs. 11 – Many Nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that Day and shall be my people!  A massive reminder that Israel exists to be a light to the nations.  It was Israel’s charter from the day God called Abraham – to be a blessing to all the nations – and an indication that God would not only transform the hearts of the descendants of Abraham; but also of a portion of Gentile humanity who would also long to dwell in the presence of Jehovah!

 

That leads us to conclude this section asking the question: Why would anyone, in their naturally sinful state, desire to be in the presence of Jehovah?  Zechariah will now describe the vision of how all the saints of God are transformed into people who long to worship and serve God -- a wonderful OT illustration of the Good News of Jesus Christ portrayed for every age!

 

3:1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.

à We have a vision of a courtroom drama.  The high priest stands before the Judge.  On one side an advocate, on the other, the accuser.  Defense attorney and the prosecution.

 

 2 And the LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?"

à The defense attorney states that Jeshua has been elected and preserved just as God has elected and preserved Jerusalem – He has been called to represent the Lord, just as Jerusalem was chosen to represent the dwelling of God – the place of contact where the world could come to meet with the Lord. 

à But Jerusalem is a mess right now.  It is a war-torn shambles.  It can’t represent the Lord in the state it’s in!  And in a similar way, we read that Jeshua is also in a shambles.  He is in an embarrassing mess.  How can he represent the Lord when there is nothing respectable about him?

 

 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments.

à the Accuser, faithful to his title, is slandering not only the qualifications of the priest – BUT ALSO, the choice of God!!  God’s reputation is being maligned in this trail!  Satan loves to do that!  Seriously, a priest is supposed to have standards!  He must be Holy to live in the Holy Land – but here, this one is a filthy mess, completely disqualified to serve as a priest, and to pretend that the filth is not there is to pretend that God doesn’t care about standards.  (But He does!)

à Who among us here could stand in court before our accusers who could point out every fault and failure in our lives?

 

 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, "Remove the filthy garments from him." And to him he said, "Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments."

à This is a fantastic picture of how we define Christian salvation.  We are soiled and sinful, disqualified from pleasing or serving God in anyway that is acceptable to Him – but then Christ declares that we will have our sins removed and we will be arraigned in new robes of righteousness:

 

1 Corinthians 6:11 … But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

 

Colossians 3:10 (having) put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 

 

Colossians 1:12 (we are to give thanks) to the Father, who has qualified (us) to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

 

1 Peter 2:5 (we are) … a holy priesthood, (and we offer) offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

 

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image …

 

1 Peter 1:22 (we have) purified … souls …

 

Ephesians 4:24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 

 

Romans 8:33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.

 

à Zechariah is so taken by the vision that he even speaks up – he knows that Jeshua’s attire is incomplete…

 5 And I said, "Let them put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by. 6 And the angel of the LORD solemnly assured Joshua, 7 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. 8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch.

à Jeshua the High Priest is told that his faithfulness will preserve for him charge over the temple and its courts. He will given the right of access to such a holy place – But Jeshua and those serving with him will only serve as a sign – because God is promising to send His Servant, The Branch!

à A branch will sprout from the Root of Jesse to become the long awaited Messiah to usher in the end of the age.  Later Zechariah will say of him in Zechariah 6:12 …"Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: … he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD.

à So Haggai had isolated Zerubbabel as God’s Signet Ring, and now Zechariah isolates Jeshua as the Messianic foreshadow of God’s final servant, the Branch, who will establish the intended fulfillment for Zion!

 

9 For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day. 10 In that day, declares the LORD of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree."

à Not only would the Lord remove iniquity from a filth covered high priest in one moment, he would also remove this same offense from the entire land in one day!

à There was a day when the Israelites were to consider the graciousness of God, the Day of Atonement!  ON this day, God would permit entrance into the  Holy of Holies with the blood of a sacrifice, and on that day, God would call for a scapegoat to carry away the national sins of Israel. But here, Zechariah is learning of a future day when all iniquity would be removed from the land, and not only accomplished ceremonially – it would be evident by the communion that neighbors would have with one another – “Come over and enjoy the fruit and protection that I know from the Lord.”

à Is it any wonder that the NT Apocalypse would be faithful to carry out the future hope and glory of a new and righteous Israel?

 

Revelation 3:12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.

 

Revelation 21:2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (That is a singing, rejoicing daughter of Zion!)

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