Zechariah 1 – preached on 5 Jun 2011
God willing, I plan cover the book of Zechariah whenever I am scheduled to preach.
I am told that there are 28 people with the name Zachariah in the old testament alone.
The Zachariah we are studying is the prophet who wrote the 2nd last book of the old testament.
Zachariah means ‘The Lord remembers’.
Who does LORD remember?
The LORD remembers His people.
And you will see this theme coming up very often in the entire book.
Zachariah’s father Berechiah died when he was a toddler.
And he was brought up by his grandfather, who was a prophet called Iddo.
You will see these names in Zachariah 1:1.
All these happened during the time when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem.
Many Jews were killed while others were taken away as slaves in foreign lands.
Zachariah returned to Jerusalem in around 536BC and witnessed the rebuilding of the temple.
He saw how the Samaritans brought the re-construction of the temple to a halt.
He saw how the returning Jews became discouraged with these events.
He saw how the people of God became selfish in the midst of these external forces.
He saw how they turned their attention to the construction of their own homes, instead of the temple.
He saw how some of them became greedy and kept their possessions to themselves instead of giving to the work of God.
He saw how a people – though full of promise, gave in to the issues encountered in their age.
Isn’t this very relevant to us in this day and age?
Christians face all kinds of pressures and issues in their life here on earth.
And many, unfortunately, give in to these pressures.
And it was when pressures were mounting, that the word of the Lord came upon Zachariah.
God’s message through him was not just a word about the construction of the temple.
It was about the correct way to construct the temple.
And it was about the real temple of God and not just the physical building.
This morning, our meditation will have 2 key headings as follows:
1) A Quick Introduction to Old Testament Prophesy
2) A Quick survey of chapter 1 which I will cover in 3 points.
1) A Quick Introduction to Old Testament Prophesy
Now, please pay careful attention here as it may not be easy for all to understand.
I want you to know that Prophets in the old testament understood what they were saying.
It is unlike what some charismatics say today that they don’t understand the language they are prophesying in.
This shows that they are probably not prophesying in the true sense of what it means in the bible.
The thing we need to note is that Prophets in the old testament may not understand the full power & dimension of what they were saying.
Now, what were old testament prophets prophesying about?
I need you to turn to 3 passages to explain this.
First, 1 Pet 1:10-12 – “Of this salvation the Prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven – things which angels desire to look into.”
The Apostle Peter tells us that the Prophets were writing about salvation.
They were writing about God’s grace in Christ that would come to Christians.
The prophets were writing about the sufferings of Christ and His glory that would follow.
These prophets knew they were talking about salvation and the Christ who would come.
They knew they were preaching to us.
That’s what the Apostle Peter is telling us.
Secondly, Gal 4:24-25 “..which things are symbolic. For these are the 2 covenants: the one from Mt Sinai which gives birth to Hagar – for this Hagar is Mt Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children – but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.”
So we see here that there are 2 Jerusalems:
One is a literal city, which still exists today.
And the other is a spiritual reality.
That is the true Jerusalem-the Christian Church, a city without borders.
Finally, please turn with me to Heb 12:22 “But you have come to Mt Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels….”
The Hebrews writer is writing to Christians.
He is telling Christians that “you have come to Mt Zion”.
Mt Zion is in the heart of Jerusalem.
The city of living God.
Our heavenly Jerusalem.
A city without borders.
The Universal Church of God where Christians all over submit to His rule as King.
You Christians are citizens of the true Jerusalem – people who have come to Mt Zion.
Now, once you have grasped these, you will understand how passages Amos 9, Joel 2 should be interpreted and why the Apostles have interpreted them like these in the new testament.
You will also better appreciate the great hymn by Isaac Watts – Glorious Things of thee are spoken, Zion City of our God…..that is referring to the Christian Church.
So, the Prophets in the old testament were writing about us and our salvation.
They were writing about Jerusalem and about the Christian Church.
So when you read about physical descriptions pertaining to Jerusalem, you must think about the spiritual reality.
That’s what the Apostles have told us in 1 Pet 2, Gal 4 and Heb 12.
Now, I know that this is a substantial dosage of spiritual meat this morning.
But sometimes we need such food as Christians so that we can grow spiritual muscles.
But if there is anything that you need to clarify, please talk to me after worship today.
With that introduction to old testament prophesy, let us now survey Zachariah 1.
I shall cover Zachariah chapter 1 in 3 sections as follows:
1. (verses 1-6) – The LORD has done what He said He would do
2. (verses 7-17) – The LORD is with His people
3. (verses 18-21) – The LORD will limit what unbelievers can do to His people
1) So here goes: section 1:v1-6 – The LORD has done what He said He would do.
The key message from verses 1-6 is a stern reminder to God’s people.
Verse 2: “The LORD has been very angry with your fathers”.
Look around this Jerusalem that you are trying to reconstruct.
Once it was bustling with activities and joy in the streets.
Now it is a barren land.
Where are your fathers?
Some have been taken away as slaves.
Some have died in this very land when the enemies came.
Why has all these happened?
Verse 4 – …because they did not hear nor heed Me, says the LORD.
Verse 6 – because…according to our ways and according to our deeds, So He has dealt with us.
God has warned that there will be a consequence when sin persists.
And everything He said He will do, He has done.
And now Jerusalem lies in ruins.
So do not disobey anymore.
Return, return to God and He will return to you – verse 3.
Now, is there anyone in our midst who is consciously disobeying God?
I urge you to stop that right now because whatever God said He will do, will come to pass.
There will be consequences just like Zachariah sees it before his eyes in the devastated land.
All you need to do is to “return to the LORD” – verse 3.
And the LORD will “return to you.”
That is a simple call of repentance from a merciful God.
So, turn; turn back to Him before disaster strikes upon you.
2) The second section of chapter 1 is from v7-17
The key message we get here is the encouragement that “The LORD is with His people”.
Now, Zachariah saw several things in this vision.
First, he saw myrtle trees.
Myrtle trees have thick glossy leaves and white flowers.
I am not sure if we have these trees in Singapore.
Myrtle trees look very ordinary when you look at them.
No one is drawn to them or will admire them unless their leaves are crushed.
It is when their leaves are crushed that you get the real fragrance from the tree.
Well isn’t this a great representation of God’s people?
Ordinary, nothing attractive, often despised, no one is drawn to them.
And there is no fragrance till we are tested by fire.
Secondly, Zachariah saw (standing amongst the myrtle trees) the Angel of the LORD.
It is the “Angel” with a capital “A”.
When you see this, you know it refers to the Lord Jesus Christ before His incarnation.
And we are told in verse 11 that Jesus walks amongst the myrtle trees – verse 11.
Isn’t this a wonderful encouragement?
The ordinary, despised and unattractive people of God has Jesus in their midst.
So when you are in the most miserable trial and temptation, remember this, dear believers:
Jesus Christ, the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity walks amongst His people.
So be comforted.
Thirdly, we are told in verse 8 & 10 that horses of 3 colours walk through & fro the earth.
And they reported to Jesus in verse 11 that the earth is resting quietly.
Here is a picture of how Jesus rules the world.
His angelic beings move through and fro the entire earth.
And they report to him all that is happening in His creation.
And this is an activity that is taking place constantly.
Some angels will report good things – white, others bad things red, good and bad things sorrel.
So God knows exactly what is happening all over His creation all the time.
Now, what sort of report did these angels bring to Jesus?
Verse 11 – they report the earth is resting quietly.
Now at that time, the people of God were trying to reconstruct Jerusalem and the temple.
They were working very hard.
They were facing great sorrow and discouragement.
And in the midst of all these, the rest of the earth is resting quietly.
The countries Ammon, Egypt, Samaria, Aoab and Babylon who crushed Israel are enjoying peace and serenity.
Isn’t this true for many believers who seek to honour God with their lives?
They are under the most pressure in their work place because they want to glorify God.
They use their time outside of work to serve God and His people.
They try to lead their families into a different lifestyle in line with their calling.
There always seems to be so much to do and so few people to do the work of God.
And in the mean while, the rest of the world is enjoying peace and serenity.
But in seeing this situation, the Angel of God cries out to God the Father in verse 12:
“O LORD of hosts, how long will You not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which You were angry these seventy years?”
O what a wonderful intercessor and advocate we have in our Lord Jesus.
God has chastened Israel for their sin.
Israel has been crushed by their enemies because God withdrew His mercy from them.
But while they are suffering in distress, Jesus intercedes, crying out to God the Father.
What a great high priest we have in Jesus Christ.
I hope you see the great comfort we have in the scriptures here.
But more than that, I hope you see the further comfort in the response of God in verse 14:
“I am zealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with great zeal.
I am exceedingly angry with the nations at ease.”
The nations enjoying peace and quiet were used as instruments to chastise Israel.
But these nations did it with cruel intent. (verse 15)
Now God is responding to this intercession of Jesus Christ.
God says in verse 16 that “…He is returning to Jerusalem with mercy”.
God will deal with the nations that are currently at ease.
The temple shall be built.
Jerusalem will be revived again.
The Church will be preserved.
Sometimes, we may feel that the world is out of control.
Perhaps you may be the only Christian in your school, family or work place.
You may be experiencing extreme stress as a result of all that.
But remember that Christ rules on the throne in heaven.
The Church will be preserved.
God will deal with the nations who are enjoying peace and serenity.
He is angry with these nations.
God says in verse 17 “My cities shall again spread out through prosperity; The LORD will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.
What a wonderful promise for revival if you are currently downcasted.
3) We come now to the 3rd and final section of chapter 1 – v18-21
The Lord has limited what the unbelievers can do to His people.
In many of our bibles, this section is often labelled as “The Vision of the Horns”.
Well, we all know that the strongest animals are always those who have horns.
So “horns” are Symbols of power.
And we learn in verse 19 that these horns are the nations that have harassed Israel.
We see 4 horns here because Israel has been harassed by 4 points of power.
From south there is Egypt, from the East, there was Amon & Moab.
From the West, there was the Philistines and from the north – Assyrians and Babylonians.
Horns such as these have often threatened to crush the people of God.
Horns can be military threats, powerful influences or deceitful doctrines.
But for every horn, God has prepared a craftsman to smash it.
So here’s the picture we have:
The LORD has limited what the unbelieving nations can do to His people.
Whatever they are trying to do is limited by design under each craftsman.
Nothing can stop the reconstruction of the temple
The city will be rebuilt and prosper again.
Nothing will stop the coming of Christ.
Nothing can stop the progress of Christian church.
So, what do we learn from all these?
You need to know Israel and Jerusalem is a symbol and forerunner of the Christian church.
If you miss that, you will misunderstand Bible prophesies.
And we see in Zachariah 1, that the one in absolute is the LORD of hosts.
He has a special care for the Church and is orchestrating everything for its sake.
And because of this, the Church is perfectly secure.
The Church has always been surrounded by its enemies.
There was never a time when there was absolute peace for the Church.
But whether it is a philosophy or just backsliding that is threatening the Church, God in his wisdom will crush it at the right time.
If there is military might that threatens to wipe out the Christian church, God has already prepared a craftsman who will take it into pieces.
All our enemies will be crushed to pieces.
And we have assurance of our security because Zachariah means “The Lord remembers”.
And the Lord remembers His people.
Let us sing a hymn in closing.