AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
October 10, 2004
FOUNDATIONAL REALITIES AND FUNCTIONAL RESULTS
A SERIES FROM ZECHARIAH
Zechariah Chs. 1-3
Israel had fought in many ways, a battle for survival for centuries. It lost because it became more interested in itself than in God, and as Christ declared, he who saves his life will lose it. Modern philosophy is the precise opposite, when it is not shamefacedly having existential tantrums. Modern man is in the same danger as was ancient Israel, and will have the same end. From both, however, the Lord selects, then and now, a remnant. Judah did not fail to be protected, for more than a century after Israel to the North had fallen, and many were the prophets who warned her, not least Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, using magnificent high-impact procedures and words.
Then Judah fell, shortly after their blessed and saintly king, so from youth, Josiah was killed in battle, the Lord having predicted that he would not live to see the humiliation of his nation.
After the 70 years which the Lord had predicted would constitute Judah’s detention in Babylon for its sins, they were to return. Daniel noted the time was up in his great season of prayer (Daniel 9), and the Lord gave him a new time schedule of 70 times 7, or 490, which at the end of 69 and one half of these, would see the Messiah rejected, in grand disdain, by the nation; which precisely came to pass, the terminus being approximately AD 30.
Meanwhile, there was a rebuilding to be done by those who followed the Lord in returning home from Babylon. Zechariah is a prophet of this time, his words enthusing and directing thought from the Lord, sometimes in review, in revelation concerning the Messiah and the time after that up to the resurrection (as with Daniel), sometimes in more detailed revelation for contemporary times.
There is also rebuilding needed
now, as formerly sound churches fall, and needs increase.
Such Babylons now must be evacuated, as then the city which gives to mixed and erratic religion its name (Revelation 17): but where ? wherever the word of God does not rule, the Biblical faith is not honoured, even God's words which are like rock, not sand.
Today, we start at the beginning, and find for the first three chapters of Zechariah a message:
Disgrace, Destruction - Hope,
and Christ the Criterion and the Goal.
I REVIEW of DiSASTER 1:1-11
Despite the Lord’s anger with the fathers of this generation, now housed in exile in Babylon, there is hope and God now calls to act. Repentance and realism are needed, with realisation and action: Return to Me, says the Lord of Hosts, and I will return to you! (1:3). Do not copy your fathers, who failed to heed the prophets. Yet prophets or fathers both pass from this earth, while the Lord remains: so LISTEN! this time and act (1:4-6). The people then confessed that the duress was deserved (1:6). Then a vision comes to Zechariah with searching horses: the report - All is quiet! The vast imperial movements are now past, Babylon itself taken over by Medes and Persians, and the time is ripe for restoration of the captive people (1:9-11): All the earth is resting quietly.
A. Site specifications
B. Building Specifications 1:12- 2:5
The Angel of the Lord of hosts then puts in entreaty to the Father: the 70 years of discipline are now past. The LORD replies that He is ZEALOUS to rebuild destroyed Jerusalem. Judah deserved what it got, but the vying nations took advantage of the divine discipline of His people (1:15). Promising comfort, the Lord announced that the very cities would be rebuilt, yes and with them, Jerusalem!
Zechariah next saw four horns, signifying the political powers which had overcome Jerusalem. Then he saw four craftsmen who were shaving the horns, reducing their power, indeed coming to “terrify” them. Babylon was fallen (cf. Isaiah 14’s prediction and that in Jeremiah in 50—51), so that the former terrorists now terrified, and the mighty fallen, there is scope for deliverance (1:18-21).
Then a man was seen, like a site engineer or surveyor, measuring … and it was Jerusalem, still in ruins, but considered for reconstruction, that he was measuring. The Lord had plans to implement. The Lord would be a wall of fire to the renewed city as it sought Him for its life (2:1-5, as in Exodus).
III REALISATION OF SPIRITUAL SPECIFICATIONS 2:6 -3:10
“Up Zion!” He called, “Escape, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon!” (2:7). Then we have this amazing aspect of the Trinity, as we read:
“For thus says the LORD of hosts,
‘He sent Me after the glory to the nations which plunder you: for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.’ ”
The Lord is going to restore His people to the knowledge of Himself, and “take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land”, for He would “again choose Jerusalem” (2:12). Here then already we see the saving Lord coming to His people, as later He would come in flesh, as in Zech. 11:9-13, 12:10, 13:8, 14:5). God is like that, and the incarnation was the final fruit of many comings in compassion, the final sacrifice which must be received or there is NO MORE PITY!
Each one who hears must ask:
Have I repented, have I returned to the Lord
so that He might return to me ?
Have I now listened to His words, at last,
and do I constitute one of His possessions ?
Do I live entirely for Him,
or expect Him to be a wall of fire about me
while I get on fire in this or that other pursuit,
and regard Him as an extra ?
THIS consecration was needed then, as it is now,
for revival and restoration of people for the Lord as the curtain grows ready to fall.
Action is necessary.
Not only must Babylon, with its babble of formalistic unbelief, be forsaken now as then;
but all of life must be directed through faith, now as then.
Faith in whom ? It is in Christ,
the Lord sent (cf. Zech. 2:8).
The urgent need as with Ezra and Nehemiah, is to face the ruins and build in faith on Christ alive and unchangeable, both basis and dynamic, Lamb and life, and to keep His charge (Luke 6:46).
Accordingly, we see the message greatly emphasised in Zechariah 3:1-5, where Satan is envisaged at the Lord’s right hand, his insufferable eyes of malice and exposure, looking for things to condemn. The Lord rebuke you! is the divinely ordered challenge, the angel of the Lord, in full view. Here, in Joshua, high priest clad in filthy garments, was a picture of life without God, the essentials without mercy, without pardon, vitalisation and victory from a personally known God.
Put differently in imagery, Joshua is a "brand plucked from the fire" (3:2). Plucked from the burning, he gave to the adversary no more scope. It is so with every Christian (Heb. 2:9-14). God has delighted to provide atonement (Micah 7:19ff.), and when He covers, nothing can uncover – that is the very meaning of the atoning sacrifices: they cover as does the blood of Christ (Heb. 9:12-10:14), giving everlasting redemption, freely forever (Romans 3:23ff., 5:1-11, 15, 6:23, John 10:9,27-28, Psalm 17, 49)..
Thus, as if to emphasise the sin inherent in fallen mankind, even Joshua, the High Priest is seen in vision, clothed in filthy garments. Yet this is but part of it.
Next, these are commanded to be removed, clean ones, even rich robes, replacing them, while a turban of acceptance is put on his head. Grace has arrived and Joshua is changed symbolically. The change, is it actual as well ? Thus, Joshua is symbolically commanded to WALK in the ways of the Lord and to keep His charge: if so, his will be a place to fill in the service of the Lord’s people. Those who are Christ’s in the norm and spirit of their lives, DO SO (I John 3:9, 1:7-9); but all that grows is not wheat, weeds do too, and hence there is this admonition: DO IT! Walk that way.
This however is a preliminary sign. We read further in Zech. 3:8-10. At once we find the BRANCH, “the stone that I have laid before Joshua”, and on Him is engraved an inscription, and the meaning ? It is this, the Lord will take away the iniquity of that land in one day, as Zech. 3:9 prophetically describes what we now know as past these two millenia: the substitutionary atonement of Christ at Calvary!
In Zechariah’s day, it was yet to come, yet its power covered past faith in the Lord, as well as that following Calvary. The Lord is singular in His office, but His plans are comprehensive in Christ (cf. I John 2:1-2). Here is the fulfilment of earlier sacrificial commands, always effective only through faith (cf. Deuteronomy 29:14ff., Romans 8:32ff.), irrelevant to unbelief (Isaiah 53:1, 3-6, Hebrews 11:6). He has simply come and done it Himself, giving Himself as if the Lamb for countless sacrifices rendered by faith, for many. This! it is the Lamb of God (John 1:29).
To faith it comes, the sin inscribing itself on the Christ. How like this is to the language given to the apostle Paul in Colossians 2:14. Here we find that Christ has "wiped out the handwriting of ordinances that were against us", the term indicative it seems of that sort of debt notice which can be nailed to a door, as in Ephesians 2. It is wiped out, cancelled, concluded, remitted by the remittance of Christ who died, the just for the unjust to bring us to God (I Peter 3:18).
Thus, in Zechariah 3:9, the case is this: the inscription of sin, and the justification through sentence commuted IN and through this Messiah. It is HE who is "the stone which I have laid before Joshua". This is the building in its solidity, and the basis in its security. He is also seen in living beauty as the "branch", both here and in Isaiah 11:1. There it is the Rod from the stem of Jesse (father of King David) of Isaiah 11:1, which depicts the rule of the Messiah in His glory (as in Isaiah 4:2ff., with 32:1ff.).
Both show Him as proceeding in human background (Zech. 9:6); Isaiah specifying it as from Jesse, thus from David; and both show Him becoming majestic and glorious in His life; indeed it is the Lord Himself; and decisive is His rule to follow, on His return (as in Zech. 14:5). There does He manifest His kingdom until the heavens and earth depart, for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea! (Habakkuk 2:14).
As Christ Himself explained, there was to be a time of suffering before the glory, and in Isaiah 11 we see the incarnate God restored from vicarious death in flesh (Zech. 3:9, Isaiah 52-53), as the Christ who is Jesus, reigning in justice and glory, majesty and humility, inviolate and gracious (as later in Zechariah). Then earth’ s stage finally removed, His people are the inhabitants of eternity.
Thus His work as Prince of peace on earth (Isaiah 9:6-7), it comes, all part of the work and glory of the BRANCH, in the prophets. There then is the Branch of beauty.
Here depicted in Zechariah 3:8-9, closely associated with the Branch, is the stone! On it, is sin written to remove it in one day. It is no question of masses over millenia; it is one act on one day in one way, which by His own offering of Himself - no man took His life from Him or can do so - He obtained eternal redemption. Therefore, multiply depicted, is
Christ the Branch of beauty and glory, the King to rule
and Christ the stone, multiply inflicted, Saviour from sin.
As to sin, 'inscribed' on Him: He bore it in His own body on the tree, as Peter declares (I Peter 2:22-24).
Is your sin written onto Christ, the crucified ? and is it, by
wiped off the writing properly placed at your door, nailed to it:
now cancelled by assigning your debts to God ?
If so, then yours too is the spirit of the charge to Joshua:
WALK in his ways, each according to his placement in the family of God,
and the direction of the living God,
whom to know, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent, the Saviour,
is life eternal.