Australian Bible Church
April 23, 2006
Zechariah 3 (2) with Romans 11
For the first part, follow this link.
For a broader setting of both parts, see
Pride of Life, Prince of Life and the Destiny of Man Ch. 6
THE DIVINE SYMPHONY IN WHICH ALL HAVE A PART ... BUT WHICH ?
Last Sunday we reached to the end of Zechariah 3, but did not in our service complete it altogether. Today we resume at its conclusion, and weave this with many other scriptures, to gain a picture of the coming events, fatal for many, welcome for some, and ponder the Gospel impact.
I THE NATIONAL RESULT AND THE INTERNATIONAL CASE
Zechariah 3, at its conclusion, speaks of a time of peace for Israel.
We learn later in Zechariah, as in Romans 11, that when godly faith is restored to many in ISRAEL, there is a vast spiritual awakening (foretold in Zechariah 12:10 - 13:1). This comes, as sometimes happens in Gospel revivals, with amazing scenes of repentance. It comes in the phase of this Age when Israel is back in place, by the word of the Lord restored geographically. Further, it has as foretold of this day, fought staggeringly successful wars - as in 1948, 1967, 1973, though faced with incredible horrific statistics, and expected by many, to be readily overpowered at that time.
Not yet is this last grand event of repentance leading to faith, though the preliminaries are in place, as in Zechariah 12:1-11, 14:1ff., Luke 21:24, and now at the end of the Age (Answers to Questions Ch. 5), Israel has by grace regained its national place (SMR Appendix A)..
Spiritually too, there been has for the nation, a long interim, about to end. The Christian Church started with a small minority of Israel and has spread to many Gentiles; while in contemporary Israel there is a small and DECREASING number of Christians, as the wars and horrors proceed, and the sides clash continually. When this vast outpouring of the Spirit of God foretold in Zechariah 12 DOES come, then there will arrive the ‘regrafting’ of Israel back into that still remaining ‘tree’ of faith from which it was cut off (Romans 11). That 'garden' remains to that day. The same tree in the same ground now has its branch restored, the unity becoming the subject of Paul's paean of praise to God for His masterful wisdom.
This is to come, but what now ? Gentiles are warned to take note of what happened to a fast and loose Israel in ancient times, its ruin in two stages, allowing just some to return from Babylon at the word of Cyrus, ruler of the next Empire. Speaking of this lesson, Paul declares (Romans 11:21):
"For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.
II THE NATIONAL RETURN SPIRITUALLY
(phase 2 of the Ezekiel 36 predictive commands)
Furthermore, Paul indicates that the fate of Israel is not permanent, that the faith which acted by its absence, like a guillotine for the wayward nation, if it return to the heart of a new generation, will have the opposite effect. They can be grafted BACK into the tree of faith from which, unique among all nations, they were cut off: just as the Gentiles, some of whom preen themselves on their superiority, can be cut off, no less than the Jews were. When it comes to nations, there is no certain future; unless, of course, as with Israel, the matter is charted in advance, as it is for all individual Christians (Ephesians 1:11-13).
As predicted by Isaiah 44-45, Israel came back from their exile via Cyrus' proclamation in the 6th century BC, and were restored to their land. God there emphasises that He reveals this name of their deliverer well in advance that they may know it is He who speaks and foretells what will be!
As shown in Isaiah 49:7 moreover, they much later abhorred Christ, and indeed sacrificed Him. This, however, was not conceived by His persecutors, as it was in fact, to be a sin offering; but instead, they were reviling and seeking to bring disrepute upon Him, much as many regimes today seek to do to His followers. This, being the basis of salvation available to the entire human race, was carefully traced in exquisite detail and date, in the prophets such as Isaiah, Daniel, Micah, and in the Psalms (Joyful Jottings 22-25, Highway of Holiness Ch. 4, With Heart ... Chs. 4, 5). That is past. Their restoration to their land is also now past, for it was in 1948. Their regaining of Jerusalem likewise is past, this being in 1967 (as in Luke 21:24, Zechariah 12).
What however of their spiritual return ?
In Romans 11:23-24, Paul speaks of their case before God (emphasis added):
"And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in,
for God is able to graft them in again.
"For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature,
and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree,
how much more will these, who are natural branches,
be grafted into their own olive tree?"
In fact, Paul makes it very clear that Israel in a large measure will at an important moment as the Age comes to an end, come back to faith in the same Lord whom they crucified, just as Zechariah had for so long foretold also (Zechariah 12:10 - 13:1).
"For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
"The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins."
God, he indicates, according to Isaiah 59, is committed to a return of the Messiah to Jerusalem, of Him who is the LORD Himself - you see that in Zechariah 14:5; and it will happen as surely as the sun which rises, and more so, since its course is long, but God's course is also sure! Therefore, he declares, we should glorify God, just as he does, for when HE says that something will occur, will be in place, when HE issues a sure call to some person or nation: it stands. His promises have no failure element, there is not any run off for runaway trucks or cars, as on the Southern expressway.
What He says, goes and continues till it gets there. Hence there REMAINS a spiritual place for the Jews, and it is back in their own tree of faith, in their own carefully handed down scriptures, in their own Messiah, whom they murdered instead of recognising, whom they slew instead of making Him the sacrifice for their sins; whom therefore they misused that they might be misused, as they have been misused. Lawlessness begets it, and the last two millenia of the history of Israel the nation, is a pageant of the same, giving and taking. The Word of God, however, brings order. This, then is the door to the END!
"Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.
"For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
For as you were once disobedient to God,
yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience,
even so these also have now been disobedient,
that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy.
"For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
"For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?
Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?"
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things,
to whom be glory forever. Amen."
As to the past, when Israel was cut out of the tree (cf. Zechariah 11:10-11), at the murder of Christ and soon after, the Temple itself being irrelevant and soon destroyed (by Rome), Gentile believers were grafted in. But as our Age comes near its end, as Paul foretells, this new contingent from a repentant Israel will surge into place, will be regrafted, all becoming one tree. Then Israel, restored to their spiritual place in the Lord, at last realises that the Prince they slew, is the Saviour they failed to know. How deep their grief! how long their lamentation for their error! we see in Zechariah 12:11-13:1.
How glorious is the wisdom of God who over the millenia has played this vast celestial symphony, on earth! How profound is His wit, His kindness, His patience, how superb His fashioning of events so that even when sin seems a certainty to make cacophony, HE makes a symphony beyond all! How faithful is His performance of what He says.
III THE INTERNATIONAL DRAMA
In this way, the drama comes near to its last stage.
In Romans 11:25ff., Paul marvels at the wisdom of the Lord in making this vast unity, drawing from Jew and Gentile alike, even in these historical proportions and with sudden awakening in the nation, the people who are His own. The two branches, Jew and Gentile Christians, thus become one people, one special nation, together, the Lord's! Then the "bride” of the Lord, ONE BRIDE, as in Revelation 19:8, is complete (as is seen to be coming in Revelation 6:11, where the saints in heaven are told they must wait through the last times on persecution on earth have ended, and until therefore the full number of God's chosen people is complete!).
Into heaven, following the resurrection therefore, the "rapture" or seizing of the saints in deliverance as He sends for us, a glorious summons which alone unites all the saints of all ages, thus all the people of God come. There, in a figure, the marriage is consummated BY the call to Him into heaven (Matthew 24:36ff., I Thessalonians 4, I Corinthians 15:57ff.). In form, it is like A WEDDING FEAST. Indeed, in a spiritual sense, it is that.
Then the bride, those in fine linen white and clean as earlier noted in Revelation 19, comes back with Christ from this glorious event. Heaven has been the reception; surely the best ever for any wedding! The matrimony is spiritually complete. Now comes the return to this sphere, so that the earth may be filled with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (as in the Messianic Ch. 11, of Isaiah). Such it was to be, and so it will be.
you not see that here is the Spiritual Pentagon,
presided over by One Christ,
unchanged and immutable (Hebrews 13:8, John 8:58, Romans 8:38, Psalm 102) ?
One Tree (Romans 11),
One Gospel (Galatians 1),
One Bride Called Up (I Thessalonians 4, Matthew 24),
One Wedding Feast (Revelation 19),
One Return with Christ (Revelation 19, Zechariah 14, I Thessalonians 3:13),
with One Lord: JESUS CHRIST! (Revelation 19).
Therefore remembering these things, complete your time on earth with joy, knowing that your labours of love, of integrity, of honesty, of warmth of heart, of mercy, of plain spiritual saltiness are not in vain in the Lord. All things have their fruit!
We find, then, that ALL the SAINTS come now, the wedding over, WITH the Lord (I Thessalonians 3:13, Zechariah 14:5, Revelation 19), as the vindicated Lord of glory assumes His rule on earth, before this orb is finally annihilated (II Peter 3), and heaven supervenes.
These stark events await us, and let us who believe in this same Messiah, the key to history and the foundation for faith, as did that ancient high priest, Joshua, follow Him in His ways , rejoicing in Him in the midst of various trials, knowing that the Lord God has appointed us not to wrath but to obtain salvation (I Thessalonians 5:8-10, I Peter 1:5ff., 4:12ff.), which is the appointment to end all appointments, guaranteed by the God of Creation through that great work of Redemption (Ephesians 1:11-13).
IV THE HEART OF THE LOVING GOD
THERE is the heart of the Redeemer, that just as He loves to dress us in clean clothes and a turban of truth, so He endured scorn, scoffing, spitting and repudiation in the midst of His divine love and miracles, knowing that by His knowledge, this penal experience on our behalf, we who receive the report, are justified (Isaiah 53:9-10, Romans 5:1). In this way, those clothes are made freely available to us (Isaiah 61:10, 55:1-4). Thus, to us comes the gift of eternal life with the same hand by which He gives His leading in the way He chooses for us, step by step, to the very resurrection from the dead (those still on earth being at that time instantaneously transformed into the same risen image). The dead in Christ and all remaining in Him, are then raised incorruptible.
Such a life and such a gift as that is a far cry from following the cultural norms of this world, for these are as garishly ungodly now as ever they were. Indeed, if possible, they are further from God, progressing with a vast satanic intoxication as mass media swing the unthinking, the rebellious and the unmoored into a rumbling, riotous snarl of nations and cultures. It is becoming like an interminable traffic jam. Having forsaken the highway of truth, they are finding the byways are not built to bear the traffic!
The remedy: it is as it has been for millenia, in the Master, the only Saviour, who performed as and when required by prophetic prediction, and sent forth His Gospel into a world which has performed as and how He predicted, and does so with its own peculiar mixture of venom and vigour. This it does till the day comes when, all being ready, the BRIDE is taken from it, to Himself.
That is one side. On the other, the BREACH remains for its assessment.
It is a continuous joy that the bride is still here; and there is none excluded by God but those who PREFER darkness to light, in the very face of the LIGHT, the Light of this world, who has come as John 1 declares, incarnate into flesh. Reject Him and you despise your own mercy. This, the stated condemnation is more than fair: it is liberality itself, a joy to minister and a delight to know, being the very word of the sovereign God, whose kingdom is not cruel, but kind, whose way is not witless, but wise, whose peace is not temporary, but permanent, whose life is a gift, and He paid for it; and it is eternal.