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Mosaic Spokane

Can God Really Be Trusted

Can God Really Be Trusted?

Zechariah 1-12

John Moody

December 16, 2018 – Mosaic Fellowship, Spokane

Introduction

  • Let’s Make a Deal!
    • Monty Hall
    • The contestant would get a small gift (a blender)
    • Then, they could keep it or swap it for what’s behind Door #1
      • Might be a car, might be a nice vacation, might be a rubber chicken
    • Do you trust Monty Hall not to swindle you?
  • Trust is sometimes hard to come by!
    • I think of Jesus calling Matthew – “follow me” – and he does!
  • And of course, trust is harder to earn back when it’s been violated.
    • Case: George HW Bush (who passed away 2 weeks ago)
    • When he accepted the nomination of the GOP in 1988 for the Presidency, he said, “Read my lips: no new taxes”
    • But during his presidency, in negotiations with the Democrats (who were pushing for higher taxes), he made a compromise that includes some minor tax increases.
    • He never recovered politically from this, and lost the presidency in 1992.
    • Why? He had broken a promise. He had lost the trust of many of his supporters.
  • How many of you (show of hands) have had someone break a promise to you? Were you as quick to trust them the next time they made a promise?

Zechariah and the Exile

  • The book of Zechariah deals with this theme of trust, and in particular, trusting God.
  • The historical background is important here
    • In 587 BC, the unimaginable happened
      • The Babylonians sacked Jerusalem, destroyed the temple of Solomon, and exiled the people from the land that God had given them
      • God told the people their exile would last for 70 years
    • In 539 BC, Cyrus the Great of the Medo-Persian Empire defeated Babylon
      • Began allowing Jews to return to their homeland the next year
      • They began the building of the temple, but stopped early in the process
    • Historically, Zechariah is set around 518 BC, give or take a few years.
      • The seventy years is almost up!
    • God sends a word through Zechariah: return to me! (Read 1:1-3)
    • God is calling them to return to Him. What does this mean?
      • In the short term: Finish rebuilding the temple
        • We talked about this last week with Haggai
        • The temple was the nexus of proper worship of the Lord
        • The temple was where God dwelt among his people
      • In the longer term: Return to obeying me (unlike your fathers)
    • But God seems to recognize that most of these people would have “trust issues”
      • God had promised them the land and to protect them, yet he allowed the exile
      • Most of them had never known pre-exile life
    • The entire book is basically God saying “I am calling you to follow me, and I can be trusted.”
    • But before we dive in, a few bits of housekeeping
      • Zechariah is weird
        • Lots of odd visions with strange symbols
        • Horns and horsemen and flying scrolls
        • This is called apocalyptic literature – Revelation, Ezekiel, Daniel
      • Zechariah has a lot of prophecies in it
        • Not always clear whether a prophecy is meant for the immediate future, for hundreds of years in the future, or for even the end of time!
        • And they can be all mixed up together
      • Zechariah is the longest of the minor prophets
        • As such, we don’t have time to cover everything in a single sermon
        • My goal today is twofold:
          • to give you a feel for the flavor of the book with a “view from 50,000 ft”
          • to zero in on a few passages that get to the heart of our theme: “When God calls us to follow him, can he be trusted?”

An Overview of the Book

  • 8 night visions, 2 sermons, 2 oracles (extended “words” of prophecy)
  • The 8 visions (all in one night – worst night ever!)
    1. Four horses (1:7-18)
      • Patrol the earth
      • The earth is “at peace” (which means the bad guys are still in charge)
      • Angel: “How long will you have no mercy on Jerusalem?”
      • God: “Just you wait…”
    2. Four horns, four craftsmen (1:18-21)
      • Horns – nations that have scattered God’s people
      • Craftsmen – other nations that will punish the scatterers
    3. A man with a measuring line (2:1-13)
      • God is “making Jerusalem great again”
    4. Joshua the high priest with soiled garments (3:1-10)
      • The original “wardrobe malfunction”
      • Joshua, the high priest, is standing before the Lord in soiled garments
      • Satan is there to accuse him
      • But instead of rebuking Joshua, God rebukes Satan
      • Then he clothes Joshua in clean priestly garments
      • A sign that God has accepted Joshua as high priest and will accept the worship of the people from the new temple
    5. A golden lampstand fed by oil from two olive trees (4:1-14)
      • God has chosen Zerubbabel to oversee the completion of the temple
      • Zerubbabel
        • Grandson of Jechoiakin (or Jechoniah), king who surrendered to the Babylonians at the beginning of the exile
        • Governor appointed by the Persians
        • Ancestor of Jesus
  1. A flying scroll (5:1-4)
    • Declaration of judgment against thieves and oathbreakers
  2. Woman in a basket (5:5-11)
    • The woman is Wickedness, and she is imprisoned in the basket
    • The basket is sent to Shinar (Mesopotamia/Babylon)
    • Sin is taken away, not the people
  3. Four chariots (6:1-8)
    • Like in the first vision, they patrol the earth
    • But now, the report is that there is peace in the North
  4. Epilogue (6:9-15)
    • Instructs Zechariah to make a crown and crown Joshua
    • Then the crown is to be taken to the temple as a reminder
    • This points forward to the one who is both priest and king – Jesus
  • The two sermons
    • Why did God send their forefathers into exile? (chapter 7)
      • Not because of God’s unfaithfulness, but Judah’s
    • A promise of coming peace and prosperity for Zion (chapter 8)
  • The two oracles
    • First oracle (chapters 9-11)
      • Promise of judgment upon their enemies
      • Promise of a coming king who will bring salvation to this people, but who will be rejected
        • Part of this appears to be a prophecy about the Maccabean revolt in the second century BC (9:13, reference to “Greece”)
        • Part of this is definitely pointing to Jesus (Zechariah 9:9)
      • Play-acting shepherd: Prophecy of broken staff’s Favor and Union
    • Second oracle (chapters 12-14)
      • Promise of judgment upon their enemies
      • Promise of a coming purification and refining of God’s people
      • Promise of final, eternal deliverance for God’s people on the Day of the Lord
    • Lots of disagreements on how to interpret these prophecies!

 

When God calls us to follow him, can he be trusted?

  • Zechariah’s burden
    • really the Lord’s burden, since he does most of the talking in this book
    • Burden: show that God can be trusted, and thus we should not be afraid to return to him in repentance and faith
    • Two ways in which we can trust God, according to Zechariah:
      • We can trust in God’s power
        • Look at 1:3
          • “Lord of Hosts” is used 53 times in this book!
          • YHWH Sabaoth – “of armies”
          • Indication of overwhelming, absolute power and sovereignty
        • God is saying to them – and to us:
          • I know your situation
          • I got this
          • I have it all worked out (in advance)
        • One example:
          • Audiobook: “The Decisive Battles of World History”
            • 333 – Issus and 331 – Gaugamela
            • Alexander the Great vs. Darius III (Persia)
            • After defeating Darius at Issus, rather than chasing, Alexander decided to go south and take out Persia’s port cities, so the Persians couldn’t do an end run on their supply lines
            • The Greeks took out the cities in the regions of Philistia and Gaza
            • They even took out the great island city of Tyre, (Phoenician, not Persian) which the Babylonians laid siege to for 12 years and couldn’t conquer
              • Built a causeway to the city and destroyed it
            • But Alexander left Jerusalem alone
            • Now, read chapter 9:1-8
            • And remember that this was written almost 200 years prior to the events being described.
          • Friends, God does not just know the future, he writes the future.
          • And if he writes the future, that means he writes YOUR future.
          • And if he writes your future, he can be trusted, right?
          • (need supporting verses here)
        • We can trust in God’s mercy
          • Like Joshua, we stand before God stained with our sinfulness
            • And we have heard the condemnation of Satan, haven’t we? “God will never accept you? Look how guilty, how dirty, you are.”
            • But God gives us new clothing.
            • (Need verse here) – imputed righteousness
          • In the vision of the basket, the woman Wickedness is carried off to Babylon.
            • In the original exile, the people were carried off to Babylon because of their sin.
            • But now, God promises, I will remove your wickedness from you. Instead of exiling you, I will exile your sins.
            • What would you give to have all of your wickedness, all of your past sins, put into a basket and shipped away?
          • But how does this happen? How does God make us filthy sinners clean? How does he FedEx our sins to the other side of the planet so that we bear them no more?
          • The answer is Zechariah 12:10. “When they look on ME, the one whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him.”  Who is this one who was pierced?
            • Revelation 1:7: “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.”
          • Jesus was pierced for you. Isaiah 53 says he was pierced for your transgressions.  His death on the cross was the payment not for his sin (he didn’t have any sin), but for your sin and my sin and the sin of every person who comes to him by faith.
          • This is what we celebrate as Christmas – That God himself, the LORD of Hosts, took on human flesh and was born as a baby so that he could be pierced for you and for me. As the old Christmas carol puts it:

Nails, spear shall pierce him through

The cross be borne for me, for you

Hail, hail the Word make flesh

The babe, the son of Mary.

  • You can trust him. You can trust him with your life.  And he’s calling to you right now.  “Return to me. Give me your heart, your life, your allegiance. Lay down your filthy garments of sin and self and rebellion.  Put on new garments I’ll give you – clean white robes of righteousness.  Return to me.”
  • If that’s your desire today, please speak to one of us after the service.
  • (Close in prayer)
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