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I, The Lord of Hosts, Will Be with You and Jerusalem - Zechariah Review

Word List = I, the Lord of Hosts, Will Be with You and Jerusalem – top 28

 

‘Who they of that, to them it for on in a’

 

But in this title is a wonderful reminder of the purposes and themes of Zechariah.

 

What is the purpose for the book of Zechariah? 

We need to remember some history.

Around 580 BC, the Babylonians over run the province of Judah and destroy Jerusalem and the temple.  The Jews are exiled into captivity for several decades – Until King Cyrus the Persian conquers the Babylonians and decides that all the displaced peoples should return to their homelands and to their temples so they can pray for the king of Persia!

 

In the 530’s BC, some 42,360 Jews return to Judah with the governor, Zerubbabel, and they all see it as a fulfilled prophecy of Jeremiah, and recognize themselves as the ‘new remnant of Israel’ who would finally receive all the blessings promised to a faithful covenant people. 

 

With great enthusiasm, and donations, they build and altar for the Lord and they lay the foundations for a new temple.  However, the neighbors aren’t very excited about the new vitality coming back to Judah, so they enact plans to prohibit the rebuilding of the temple – and the project seems to sit for some 16 years.

 

Under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, the prophets Haggai and Zechariah are raised up to encourage the returning remnant to fulfill their destiny, reminding them of what they are promised to inherit if they do not falter in their devotion and worship of God. 

 

What does Zechariah promise the remnant of his day about the fruits of faithfulness?  A FUTURE DAY ushered in by the Messiah.  The Messiah would physically restore every aspect of the land and especially the city of Jerusalem.  It will be a large city – too expansive for walls!  It will become a holy and faithful city!  Shouts of ‘grace’ and ’mercy’ will come from the temple of God.  In a single day, sin will be removed, and every citizen and all their activities will be “Holy to the Lord,” everyone will be considered a priest.  EVEN Gentiles will take the robe of a Jew and say, ‘we want to worship God with you!’  Gentiles will pilgrimage to Jerusalem and be considered equal to the clans of Judah!  The former fastings of mourning will be turned into days of joyous feasts upon ample bread and wine.  Living fountains will gush eternally from the temple to bring life to all the nations!  Children and the aged will know complete safety as they enjoy life in a revived city (no fear of little kids running over old people!), and on that day, there will be no sunset and no dawning!

All of this would be evidence of God being in their midst!

 

All Judah need do is reject the ways of her forefathers!  Reject the hypocrisy of claiming to build something for God while really attempting to build your own kingdom.  -- Put away the idolatry and the influence of the false prophets.  Embrace a proper theology.  Obey the faithful shepherd who comes to promise unity and grace to all under his care!

 

As Zechariah communicates these future promises with his unique writing style of apocalyptic, allegorical, and vision laden literature, we learn to identify a key hope of the faithful remnant – it will be God in their midst in the person and work of the Messiah.  And what do we learn about the Messiah in Zechariah?

 

In the opening chapters we hear the phrase, “I will return to you, says the Lord of Hosts.”  These words are echoed in a vision where God speaks gracious and comforting words to the very Apple of His eye – the children of Abraham.  The daughters of Judah are told to sing and rejoice because God will dwell with them, But the promise extends beyond Abraham’s seed:  Zech 2:11 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.

 

There is a field day of people fighting over who is speaking of whom here in 2:11.  Zechariah is known for mixing pronouns.  The Christian church has used this debate to show Christ in the passage, made sense to Calvin! – What is certain is that the nations beyond Israel will enjoy the presence of God in their midst.

 

We then have presented to us the important figures of Joshua the High Priest and Zerubabbel the governor.  They are the epitome of the faithful remnant: but we find Joshua covered in filth – Zerubabbel has no might, nor power to remove the obstacles in his way – And yet, the spirit of God will arraign his servants with new vestments and anoint them with eternal oil to keep their lamps glowing as witnesses of God’s promise to persevere with them.

 

Joshua the High Priest will specifically represents the oft prophesied righteous ‘Branch” who would build the Temple of God.

And together, Joshua and Zerubabbel represent the future son of David who would reign in peace as a priest and king upon the throne!

 

This brings us to Zechariah 7, where Zechariah teaches the exiles that they had better learn from their past mistakes of covenant Unfaithfulness or they will be scattered again. 

 

But in Chapter 8 we learn of God’s devotion to ZionZion is the epic location representing the fullness of God’s promises for a faithful covenant people = Zech 8:8 and I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness." 

And again, Zech 8:15 so again have I purposed in these days to bring good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah; fear not.

 

All of these promises will be fulfilled in the one who lives a completely righteous life: Zech 8:16 These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace; do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, …

There is only one faithful remnant who has met the terms to rightly dwell in the beautiful city of Zion, and that is Jesus Christ, the faithful and rightful descendant of King David – who not only earns the blessings of Zion; but as the humble shepherd of God’s people, will also be pierced and stricken with the curses of a rebellious people.  And yet this humble rule, which demolishes the military might of country whose name means “wrestles with God,” this Messiah will actually inaugurate a new rule over many Gentile nations who will come under the redeeming work of a shepherd king.

 

Zech 8:21 The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, 'Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the LORD and to seek the LORD of hosts; I myself am going.'

8:22 Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD.

 

And who will these people see when they see the Lord of Hosts?  But Jesus upon David’s throne!

Zech 10:4 From him shall come the cornerstone, from him the tent peg, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler- all of them together.

 

Jesus will be the redeeming shepherd who will purchase men from all nations to be included in the love that God has for Zion, and the love that He has for a faithful remnant, and the love He has for a loving son!  And though former shepherds of Israel had failed to protect the flock --- and former flocks had rejected God’s prophetic voice through His prophets, in Zech 14:9 And the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day the LORD will be one and his name one. – Speaks of the finality of God fulfilling his future promises, which are indeed the Hope of all who believe!

 

?? WHEN WILL ALL THIS HAPPEN???

 

Parishioner asked, ‘when is it all going to end?’  (Desserts) Because the book of Zechariah is often cited for end times prophecy.  I have taken a few cheap shots at the modern day eschatological hermeneutic which forces prophetic books way out of context.  There is a context for Zechariah!  What is it?  (Historical background)

 

Zechariah has his eyes on a returning remnant rejecting the ways of their forfathers and embracing the holiness that would reveal covenant faithfulness; the culmination of all of this would be God dwelling in their midst in a completely new environment which could best be described as heaven on earth – long life, abundant provisions, peace and security, pure flowing fountains, a day of no sunset and no dawning.

 

This happens to be the day that I long for as well.  I believe in a savior who has come to restore a fallen creation and who will once again make his unquestioned rule manifest upon the earth.

 

BUT  the question is still asked, When?  When will that day be?  I don’t know!  I do know that in days of trouble, I am to long for the salvation of God for His church, and for the judgment of the enemies of God who seek to challenge His ultimate rule. 

 

I am to lift my head up and pray for the return of Jesus.  I am taught to long for a new day and a new reality that will far surpass even the beauties of this life and world, and I am to long for the day when I will dwell in the presence of the Lord (Table is appropriate way of marking that dwelling in the presence - -a place of fellowship, the Lord serving us, nourishing us, comforting us with his presence and promises!)

 

Now, when I was in high school, and based upon the popular preaching of the day, back then, I was sure that we would never reach the 2000’s.  It was just fever pitch preaching about the end times then.

 

But like back then, and even today, we can certainly look over the horizon to many social and international challenges that make us question whether or not the end is near.  There is always a kafuffle in the Middle East.  There is always an alignment of some axis of evil.  There always some political figure who thinks of himself as messianic.  There always seems to be some social movement or some statistic indicating the failure of the church to positively influence the culture.  At these times, it is natural to think, “Is this it Lord?  Can it get any worse for your saints?”

 

When the Old Testament prophets envisioned the actual arrival of that Day of the Lord, they saw the Messiah coming to His people to save and restore.  But when they saw the prophesied Messiah from the distant past, their vision was a bit compressed – sometimes seeing the first advent of the Lord with the final advent of the Lord.  In other words, the prophets saw scenes of Jesus’ first coming; but the scenes of his second coming, namely all the physical restoration of the cosmos, they assumed would take place at Jesus first coming. 

 

It takes Jesus and the Apostles to make a new distinction for us.  The Messiah has come to inaugurate his kingdom; But it is not the fulfillment of the new heavens and the new earth, it is only the down payment of the Holy Spirit who is reviving people and preparing them for eternity!  So today, we pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven – but until heaven comes down, we will remain supported by the spiritual promises Christ has made, and confirmed by his resurrection, and embraced by his word and spirit in our hearts!  And by His word and Spirit, we long for the final restoration of all things – this is how the Christian church has lived for the past 2000 years.

 

But we only have two options friends, either things are going to get incredibly bad and evil or things are going to get wonderful and utopic!  I’d prefer the latter to be the case  – simply because the victory of Christ proclaimed in the Gospel will have a positive effect on society!  With enough faithful preaching and sincere Spirit filled living, we would take dominion of the earth until the millennial reign of Christ! 

 

OR, things can get a lot worse, and the many passages of tribulation will manifest themselves in some way so that the refining fires of persecution will prepare the eternal remnant for the final return of Christ.

 

But as a rule, in trying to determine what the Bible says to us about the FINAL RETURN of Jesus Christ, we must remember 3 things:

Matthew 24:36 "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. (So keep faithful in the things we are called to do!)

John 5:39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, (so start with the scriptures (not the newspapers) and find Christ in the passage – Take our worship folder cover for example… My house shall be built… What does the NT say is the HOUSE of the Lord?

1 Tim 3:15I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God…

Heb 3:6 but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house…

1 Pet 2:5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

 

FINALLY Rev 19:10 …the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.  (In other words, the most important prophecies of the Bible are those which reveal Jesus Christ to us, NOT a field of battle, or a computer monitoring system, or new armaments for tanks, or even the ANTI Christ for that matter – we should consult the scriptures to find the work and salvation of Jesus Christ while at the same time pray, “Come, Lord Jesus.”

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