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THE CITY OF LIGHT
SYMBOL AND REALITY
Zeroing in on Zechariah
FOUNDATIONAL REALITIES AND FUNCTIONAL RESULTS
A SERIES FROM ZECHARIAH
AN INTRODUCTION FROM THE END OF THE MATTER
In Zechariah 14:5, we find that at the time of the massive judgment of God against those whose tender emotions are stirred in reverse, as if not to nurture but to abolish the city where Christ was crucified and David ruled, a number of fascinating events occur. How does the Lord respond to this final assault mode 'solution' to the 'Jewish question' ?
One is this: the glorious ones, as Keil translates it, the lights of the heavens will as it were, be demobilised, or become dysfunctional relative to their norms. You see this too of the final crescendo before the return of Christ, in Matthew 24:29, Revelation 6:12 and Joel 3:15, where the multitudes in the valley of decision are of course not people trying to convert themselves by decision, which is contrary to John 1:12, Romans 9:16 and John 15, but a striving of armed and milling multitudes, awaiting the outcome of their martial lusts, as in Deuteronomy 32:36ff., Micah 7:15ff., Habakkuk 3, and Zechariah 14:3ff..
"I will gather," says the Lord,
"all the nations to battle against Jerusalem ...
Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations
as He fights in the day of battle,
and in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the East..."
You find the same absolute confrontation from the Lord, in Ezekiel 38ff., and in Micah it reads like a storm in full motion, while one is seated in an aircraft! After reviewing in Micah 7:8ff., the humiliations sin has brought to the nation, and the waiting, as in a soliloquy of the afflicted, yes and with this, the readiness to bear the indignation of the Lord, before light arises (cf. Zechariah 12:10), the Lord provides us with this declaration.
"As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt,
I will show them wonders.
"The nations shall see and be ashamed of all their might;
They shall put their hand over their mouth;
Their ears shall be deaf.
They shall lick the dust like a serpent;
They shall crawl from their holes like snakes of the earth.
They shall be afraid of the Lord our God,
And shall fear because of You.
"Who is a God like You,
And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in mercy.
He will again have compassion on us,
And will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea.
You will give truth to Jacob
And mercy to Abraham,
Which You have sworn to our fathers
From days of old."
As to the "mercy to Abraham", one needs only to read Genesis 17:7-8, or with it, Ezekiel 36-37, especially 36:22. Some may imagine that their own reliability is greater than that of the Lord, and that He does not bother to keep His word. Yet such a species of humility is unholy, unwholesome and ludicrous, as if the being whose power needs nothing and whose nature is immutable, being always what He would have it be, could be found at war within Himself, His words and deeds in opposition, in an unresolved civil war! If there were such an internal opposition, then it would be a matter of tension between opposites, and this would imply a construction which He had to face, mere and sheer anthropomorphism, with this additional feature, that it involves a sinful one in addition to its metaphysical folly.
God says and does. He acts for those who wait for Him (Isaiah 64:5); and just as faith the size of a grain of mustard seed can be used, in Christ, to move mountains and cast them into the depths of the sea, so does the Lord do what He pleases in the heaven and the earth (Psalm 115), and so is His word the friend of His deed, His faithfulness the comrade of His immutable power and knowledge, where getting is irrelevant and giving is the nature of His grace and the grace of His nature.
He said to Abraham, To your seed in their generations, is the land given, and there were ZERO conditions for the fulfilment; and it is to be so. Discipline is not default!
It is not that there is some sort of lottery and people get anything; nor is it that there is some kind of statistical analysis and millions are put here or there on some arrangement of mathematics. God decides the plan of salvation, for the nations, for the scenarios of history, for the provision of grace, the exhibition of love, the redemption of a people by grace and gift in goodwill; and as He plans, so He does.
When therefore He tells someone, as in the case of Abraham, in the whole nexus of history, with word and deed in their unique and divine correlation, that He is going to do something, then that is already a part of the plan of eternity (cf. Ephesians 1:4, Romans 8:29ff.); and it will not 'naturally' but supernaturally be done.
Hence God will perform His mercy to Abraham (Micah 7:20), in this awesome intervention (7:15).
Indeed, when He deals in this way with those who, lusting for Jerusalem because
1) it is the city
of David, of a great past;
2) it is the city
of the nation of Israel, of great fame;
3) it is the site
of divine dealings of enormous lustre;
4) it is specific
to Christian testimony in prophecy and in promise, as well as in the
commencement of the New Covenant Christian Church;
5) others want it
for other purposes, such as an Islamic Middle East;
6) some desire its
religious lustre soiled, lest God seem too important for their megalomania;
7) its pregnant
importance for the biblical future seems to them to require that it be visibly
overthrown so that a secular, humanist concoction can swell in uncompetitive
lustre and threatening glory:
¨ then He will do it thoroughly!
¨ Pharaoh’s fate parallels it, snakes crawling back to their holes illustrates the nature of His action against those who seek to dominate the land, the nations of preternatural preying desire! (Micah 7:17).
¨ In Zechariah 14:3-12, again, you see just how thoroughly is the demolition of pride and pertinacity in the preying multitude that seeks to take Jerusalem, to be wrought! Even the flesh shall rot, in a way resembling the results of radioactivity.
It will like the enormous exhibition of the almightiness of God, shown at the Exodus, says Micah 7:15. The nations will crawl to their holes, we read.
Thus there is coming a reality which in some of the earlier chapters is magnificently symbolised, in many-sided intimations, which come to their fruition, some now long past since the day of the prophet Zechariah, some even fulfilled in our own generation, and some to come when that great day arrives, This, as we have seen, is very close to the actual return of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah in His glory to earth, and in particular, to Jerusalem which did not last time seem to think too highly of Him, at the national level!
That too, of course, was predicted centuries before it happened (Isaiah 49:7, 50-53). God does not deal in halves!
Amongst the criteria of the return of the Lord is this one: "It will happen in that day, that there will be no light, the glorious ones will melt away. And it will be an only day, which will be known to the Lord, not day nor night: and it will happen that at evening time, it will be light."
This is the rendering of Keil, except that one puts "happen" for "come to pass", which is scarcely modern idiom. It is to be acknowledged that even this is not perfect, since come to pass in such contexts undoubtedly carried a contextual feeling of being MADE to happen, so that one might prefer another approach. However, the idiom has no formal addition, and 'happen' serves, and it does so the better with this explanation. In these verses, Zechariah 14:6-7, Keil sees light springing up at evening; but in any case, there is a clear suspension or commuting of the normal astral situation for the earth, and light is not removed at the night on this brilliant day, but rather is to be found. This is denoting divine action at the uttermost level.
THIS is the day of the Lord! This is a physical occasion in it, to specify it and denote to all that the Age is past, the millenium is in view, the occasions of the Gospel Age are coming to their termination and that the earth is to be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14, cf. Isaiah 11). Light is irrepressible, continual and newly irradiating, it appears, a luminous index to the presence of the Lord. This is fitting for the City of Light, which Jerusalem has symbolised, but alas, not in the slaughter of its own Prince! Now He is there, and so is the light!
How many detest the thought! They prefer symbols to substance, suggestions to realities and myths to majesty! So be it: it will merely make for them the judgment which darkness has as its corollary. It will not alter the salvation, or the situation or the illumination of the Lord!
We have begun at the end of Zechariah! Let us then to the beginning to trace through some of the preliminaries, and to see how, in the restoration of Judah to Jerusalem in the 6th century BC, there is a prototype for the coming out of the Church of today. The people returning to Jerusalem then, were coming back from the Babylonian captivity, where for 70 years, as Jeremiah predicted (Jeremiah 25), they had been held, and now free, they were coming home to rebuild.
In our day, there is a parallel in this, that so many large denominations have suffered, many have left the biblical faith altogether, and some have a new zeal to rebuild. It is not as if the money or substance or reputation of the past centuries is the ground of Christianity: it is Christ. It is not as if the huge and national powers of some churches that were, constitute the indispensable minimum for the practice of the power of God in the light of the Gospel. Quite to the contrary, Christ was seated on a colt, the foal of an ass (Zechariah 9:9 predicting the same as found in Matthew 21), and His throne was a Cross.
This is the suffering phase of His ministry (Luke 24:25), and it is such for His Church till He comes. This world does not like the next, though God's own people find it merely the outcome of their present acquaintance with the Lord, as natural as dawn after night. What then did Christ declare to those slow to realise the transition ? It was this.
"O foolish ones an slow of heart to believe
in all that the prophets have spoken!
”Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things
and to enter into His glory ?"
We read that He then expounded from Moses on, through the prophets,
"in all the Scriptures, the things concerning Himself" (as Messiah).
The glory to follow is most inglorious for those infatuated
|with the mystic symbolisms of anti-scientific
theories such as those of organic evolution
(cf. The gods of naturalism have no go!, SMR pp. 140ff., TMR Ch. 1),
|the loutish lordships of
international humanism seeking to find clout in Europe as predicted*1
|and the unifying aggrandisements of the ultimate ecclesiastical
flouting the One and making a synthetic show of one in many mutually contradictory coats of arms, showing its unhappy face on many sides (cf. News 121, 122). It is a face with a future that will quite soon be a past not to be desired (cf. Revelation 19, II Thessalonians 1-2).
God has given grace, as we shall see emphasised in Zechariah's predictions, shown mercy, promoted pardon, sent the Messiah, removed the iniquity in one day (Zechariah 3:9), for the realm and kindgom of His loved ones, the kingdom of heaven. He has surmounted the Cross, the rigors of death in the rigour of the resurrection, sent His Spirit, and has not universalised the Gospel, but rather sent it universally on mission of kindness to man (Titus 2-3).
Now that Christians, taking their crosses and following Him, teaching whatever He has commanded (Matthew 28:19-20) must realise the necessity of being true to Him, not to culture or to kings or conventions, and of rebuilding in His presence what disfaith has destroyed. This destruction is always the wont of Babylon, whether historical or symbolical; and indeed it is its want also! It is accordingly time to study the past in its power of prophecy as we proceed to the future in its pathway to a glory which does not alter.
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*2, 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 (Matthew 7:21ff.)
In this phase, 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). If you do not come, it is not for you, no, nor ever has been for those who reject Him, since He knows the end from the beginning. Those for whose sins He has been delivered up, are heaven’s own (cf. Romans 8:32), while those for whom the scope of the love of God is as broad as the universe, they are all (cf. Colossians 1:19ff.).
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.
FLIGHT TO REALITY -
Spiritual Movement is Needed, to Soar to Godly Living
We have so far, in Zechariah 1-3, seen basic elements of the eternal Gospel being displayed, with focus on the coming Messiah, while the local and contemporary events played out, so that a new temple was only a first instalment, in face of the living Temple of Christ’s building and dominion to follow. If this is an honour for the Messiah, it is also a horror, since the sin of His people is to be INSCRIBED on Him, as writing as a stone. Yet the glory is shown in this, that the sin is REMOVED in this way, in one day. The Messiah as Saviour indeed, is God indeed, and through Him man finds God (see Isaiah 43:10-11, Luke 2:11).
Now we move to Ch. 4, showing the gold bowl with two inlets bringing in olive oil from the two trees, and seven outlets going to lamps, indicative of
“the eyes of the Lord which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth” (4:10).
TWO WITNESSES TO INCLUDE ALL CHRISTIANS
The two olive trees are “the two anointed ones”, and since we have seen just two persons appointed formally with divine blessing, and in an extraordinary manner, in this and the preceding chapter, Joshua the High Priest, and Zerubabbel, the prince or governor, it seems more than apparent that these two are symbolically fulfilling this place. You see much more about this in Revelation 11, and this is necessary preliminary to understanding that! Thus the high priestly function and the princely one, both Christ’s (as staggeringly stressed in Zech 6:13-14, in a later vision), are seen in these two, in Zechariah’s day provided by Him for His people. The Lord thus supplies in a symbolic structure, what is needed; but it is Himself who shall “bear the glory” and not another, as in Zech. 6:13, and it is He who will build the temple as in Ephesians 2:20ff., which relates to Ephesians 4:15ff..
Accordingly, in Revelation 11 the two witnesses are nothing less or other than the Church of Christ, seen in its ‘anointed’ function of attesting the Lordship and the Priestly power of the Lord, as found in Christ. (See Acme, Alpha and Omega: Jesus Christ, Ch. 5). These are His kindness and kingship. It is this, ourselves who believe, the entire living body of the Christian Church, who are to COME UP HERE! (as in Revelation 11:12), just when the forces of evil and the devil think they are near to exterminating the church of Jesus Christ, altogether! At this stage in Revelation, the bodies of the witnesses seem to lie dead in the streets; but far is this from the actuality, for they are summoned above, where they go as in Matthew 24:29ff., when the trumpet sounds and the elect or chosen ones of Christ are summoned to heaven, leaving massive turbulence on earth (Revelation 11:13).
THE MANY VISIONS ENDING BY SHOWING
CHRIST AS GOD IN GLORY AS MAN
In the preliminary stage of Zech. 4, however, it is the earthly temple which is to be rebuild, and God uses this opportunity to use symbols to show WHAT IT MEANS, and how it will all end, not in stones of granite, but of godliness (as in I Peter 2:7-9). It is Zerubabbel the prince who will COMPLETE this, just as the application of the symbol, the Christ will finish building His church of LIVING STONES, as Peter puts it. This is indicated as we find Zerubabbel (Zech. 4:7 cf. Psalm 118:22, Psalm 2)
“bring forth the headstone, with shouts of
‘Grace! Grace to it!’ ”
The headstone, as in Psalm 118, cited by Christ (118:22, Matthew 21:42), is indeed rejected by the builders, as foretold, yes the chief is not chosen! Despite this, 'grace, grace' is the cry, for here in this rejected Redeemer is the cleansing required, the power provided and the king needed. Small wonder many cried, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord (Psalm 118:26), and the very children called, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" , Lord save us! on that Palm Sunday, a week before the murder!
As the Headstone, with the dual role of being rejected and then comprising the basis for the building for those who repenting, receive Him, His is the very acme of grace, giving not TILL it hurts, but WHILE it does so! Let us then return to the symbolism of Zechariah, where this great coming of the Messiah was foreseen, and the building represented not only architecture, but a type of the very kingdom of living stones.
But HOW will this great rebuilding by the prince be done ? Now come the famous words (Zech. 4:6):
“Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts!”
Even the mighty mountain will become as a plain before the anointed Governor (4:7). This is doubtless a basis for Christ’s statement about faith being able to cast the mountain into the sea! (Mark 11). Faith in the power of God and His grace, by promise can change the geological structure of things, that is, the configuration that confronts you in your life!
In Zechariah 5, we see a bevy of visions. First there is a flying scroll, perhaps 30 feet long and 20 wide, which flies over the earth, bringing the curse of God on its wickedness (5:3). Just as this came to a crescendo in the crucifixion of Christ, so it is coming to a greater finale now, with His return, as in increasing vagueness and rebellion, ALL nations tend to turn their hearts to a flummery of thought that has no faith in God at all, moving either towards the hilarious folly of regarding all men as gods, or to the allied quirk of worshipping any that it makes up, by theological innovation, based on air, to serve its own interests, or in delusion, to serve spiritual powers only too gratified to gain entry!
(cf. Ephesians 6:12, and see Deuteronomy 32: 17-18
for the parallel performance in ancient Israel!).
Of special mention (5:4) are ‘perjurors’ or those who swear by God falsely. The scope of flat rebellion against His words is greatly in danger of this, in religious places not least, in society now, as with Israel then. This in varied ways is becoming all the rage, as they
jointly in tongues, as forbidden (I Cor. 1:2, 14:23,27,
even without an interpreter as also forbidden for public worship (I Cor. 14:27-28),
some even degrading Christ in terms of personal experience; or
evolving gods like revolving doors, ignoring the creation
(see The gods of naturalism have no go); or
¨ partake of New Age mysticism (see The Shadow of a Mighty Rock pp. 867ff.), or
whatever other thing is convenient for their culture,
appetites and naturalistic flirtations.
‘Flirtations’ ? It is just such language that God uses of Israel when it did much the same, in its day (Ezekiel 23:5ff.), and His words do not spare them! Set in terms of adultery, yet it is clear that the actual butt of the divine wrath is idolatry, Israel like an unfaithful wife to God (23:7), flirting with what appeals. Therefore cut from your heart what displaces God, like cancer. Wise is he or she who reverences God and keeps to His words! (Psalm 111:10).
Next, a basket is seen with some woman representing utter wickedness, and she is pushed back in for travel purposes presumably, with a lead cover over her (5:5-8). Two women then stoop to catch up the basket and wing their way with it to Babylon, and the explanation is that when it is there, it will be set on its base.
Since Babylon, as in Jeremiah 50-51, and Isaiah 14, is the very spring of false religion and oppression in terms of it, as also seen in Revelation 17:1-5, this indicates that idolatrous wickedness has a spiritual future, that is, that its heavy, leaden oppression will culminate in the end, in the oppression of the earth. Gone the empire, indeed, as Jeremiah predicted in 50-51, but coming the spiritual version. This is the meaning of the basket, the woman in it, called Wickedness, the lead of poisonous heaviness a symbol of the final impact of her aerial journey back to Babylon. In our world, Back to Babylon has become such a line, such a lust and such a prodigy, that it is like a building boom. So it was to be, the imperial becoming the religious, mixed, corruptive and fallen.
Thus, just as Babylon once had a vast imperial rule, so does this spiritual version of its corrupt religious and social trafficking have a spiritual future, which will however soon be its broken past! for in the domain of the spiritual, it is as near to infinite negativity as the finite can reach! Revelation echoes this, and indeed adds a vast blast of its own to the spiritual harlotry.
This feverish 'Babylonian' process into the ultimate regress at the spiritual level, of course, has happened and is being completed before our eyes, as first
Romanism, identified in Revelation 13, 17, with its Inquisition, then the
World Council of Churches, together with the
World Unification of Religions movement,
with their confusion in profusion of unbiblical dynamics,
to make one final synthesis,
one religious cocktail,
the fumes of which will be as oppressive as ever those of Rome,
and more inescapable! (Revelation 13 and see News 122).
Not an empire but a world domain is their field! Indeed, in Rev. 13:11, there is seen a second beast, and it is this which is the religious one, and it is shown serving the political predecessor which continues … till judgment comes! Into the virulent throb of false religion come unclean spirits (as in Revelation 16) out of the mouth of beast, false prophet and dragon (devil), and their wonders are ready for those ready to be engulfed with guile.
The beast and the ‘false prophet’ accordingly are dashed on the return of Christ as in Revelation 18-19 (19:20). Rome for its part is to be burned (Revelation 17-18), but first discredited ( Rev. 17:1-5,15-16 – and see, The Shadow of a Mighty Rock pp. 946ff., 729ff., 743-744, News 49).
This political discrediting has already begun in Europe which, despite Romanism’s pleas recently, refused to acknowledge that religion, for things past or present alike! Thus the religion often misnamed Roman Catholicism, has no place in the European Union’s new Constitution (see Revelation 17:3,15ff.). In fact, in any case, there is nothing ‘catholic’ or universal in a religion based in Rome’s desires (cf. Matthew 23:8-10)!
The catholic and apostolic, indeed Biblical faith is not to be dominated by any man, movement or party. CHRIST ONLY IS ITS MASTER, and ALL the rest are ‘brethren’ as Christ declares so solemnly. God ONLY is Father, and the rest ? brethren.
Babylon always loved rule; but the power is the Lord’s, not man’s (Revelation 17:1-9,17-18).
We move from Babylon (Shinar – 5:11), in Zechariah Ch. 6.
The images now change. Thus, in Zech. 6:1ff., you see horses surveying the scene, and the report is again one of quiet, allowing action for defeated, exiled Israel. Its time for restoration after its 70 year stint in Babylon, has come.
At once, this time, the word of God here turns to symbolise the Messiah directly, using gifts from the captives in Babylon, silver and gold, to make a crown to be placed symbolically on the head of Joshua, High Priest, at whose investiture, we hear this:
“Behold the Man
whose name is the Branch!
From His place He shall branch out,
And He shall build in temple of the LORD.
”Yes, He shall build the temple of the LORD. He shall bear the glory,
and shall sit and rule in His throne.
”So He shall be a priest on His throne,
and the counsel foe pace shall be between them both.”
It was precisely for presumption in playing priest that the King Uzziah was in the temple, given leprosy! (II Chronicles 26:16ff.). It was forbidden to join both offices, that of king and of priest, in one person – except of course, when God Himself is concerned!
Here then is something like saying positive-negative, man-woman, child-adult. It is a combination that shocks, for in the MESSIAH and in Him alone, is priesthood and princely power joined! This is quite a direct statement therefore that HE is to come, when all symbolism is swept aside; and that He is God. Thus, as God, He shall ‘bear the glory’.
REALISM ABOUT OBEDIENCE AND RELIGIOUS FASHIONS:
WHAT IS NEEDED IS FOUND ONLY IN THE LORD HIMSELF
As we move to our terminus for today (Zechariah 7 with 8), we come to a dialogue drama. SHOULD WE continue to fast ? This is the question the people are asking. Was fasting ever effectual in itself … this is the answer! Was not the REAL point to OBEY! the Lord made clear. What is the good of religious actions if you are not EVEN able to OBEY, and do what God has directed! What sort of a God is not obeyed!), Luke 6:46, Malachi 1:6).
What sort of a faith does not
obey! In fact, the Lord shows, they made their hearts like flint
(Zechariah 7:12) in order NOT to obey the prophets, hence inheriting divine wrath. The Lord called, but they would not listen; then they called, He would not hear (cf. Hosea 7:13-14). Faith is heard, but not mere opportunism, using God as if He were an axe or lawn-mower!
In Ch. 8:2-3, by contrast, God seeing the penitent people declares He has great ZEAL for ZION, and will rebuild! Bringing them back, HE will be their GOD, and THEY will be His people, and great will be the natural joy in it all. It IS natural to rejoice in the supernatural God! for those who are His…
So do we also share; for as Jerusalem had been destroyed after the repeated sins and hypocrisies of centuries, so have many great churches in this 70 years or so, fallen into follies unspeakable, departing not only from the faith, but from the Bible as directive, instead equivocating and being specious, they have moved as if they were political rather than holy.
We too must rebuild! Zeal is there, and we must follow Him in this. It is not enough to say, Yes, and consent to the concept of building your house. You need bricks, and labour, thought and zeal; and we need to bring others to the work and labour of it all, by prayer, by supplication, by helping of the needy, by sincerity, by passion, by compassion (as in Zechariah 7:8ff.).
How ? “Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts!”
When you are tempted in this or that, to be double minded, self-indulgent, then ask yourself, Is THIS to build in the temple of the Lord ? When you see opportunities to seek the lost, and you recoil, ask yourself, Is THAT to build! Does not the Lord impel, saying:
“Let your hands be strong!” (Zech. 8:9).
It is that the temple might be build. While it is His sovereign task to build, as the participation of the people shows, we are helpers by His grace.
There is more than enough of Babylon; more than enough of Rome; of Mecca before the clear commandment of the Lord and of His Christ (cf. Psalm 2!). What is needed is Calvary, where the Cross is held high, not only in word, but in deed; for without this, none, no, neither Romanist, nor Moslem, neither ‘good living person’ based on that very thing in self-idolatrous arrogance, nor agnostic, meddler in magic nor in the poisonous fruits of philosophy, has any hope. Where God meets man is in one place only as a foundation. Without this, NOTHING CAN BE BUILT (I Corinthians 3:11, Acts 4:11-12, Galatians 6:14).
Like the paragliders, we need to soar in spiritual strength, to the testimony of truth, widely distributed, in one body of dynamic living and godly faith. There is no other name, but Christ’s, by which men MUST be saved. God needs no education from man, and His passion cannot be duplicated by human desire. Love does not relish their loss, and so seeks for them, in the name of Him who first came for them, and earlier showed the way He would act, right to the date (Highway of Holiness Ch. 4).
THIS, it is the teaching of the Bible, and as long as breath lasts, let us affirm it, and acting on it, find strength in the Lord who by this holy means brings men, and by none other, to Himself. It is then, and then only, that a man or woman or child can be … a friend of God!
Zechariah 9 -10
MERCY, MEEKNESS, MAJESTY and MIGHT
I THE ADEQUATE ACCURACY RE-ASSURES PRECISE FAITH
The zeal of the Lord of Hosts to rebuild Jerusalem was clear, so that just as He had sought in judgment to demolish, now having punished, He seeks in mercy to restore (8:13-14): indeed, just as they became like a curse to the nations, now they are to be a blessing.
As to those nations that had been proud, even arrogant, however, these were not to escape their own judgment. Let us follow them as noted in Zechariah 9. As to Damascus: when the time came, this city, a centre of Persian rule at the time, was treacherously surrendered to Alexander the Great, its Governor bringing the treasure of the Persian king, Darius, to the attacking Greek general, Parmenion. This came after the Greek victory over Persia in 333 B.C.. This was a large item, since Darius’ treasure had been lodged in Damascus, with many nobles and members of Darius’ household.
Humbled now was Damascus’ menacing power over Israel. Indeed, Isaiah foretold its earlier fall, as imminent (Isaiah 7), and it had fallen then to Assyria, though Israel’s foolish king Ahab had failed to believe. So was the menace manacled! first by one Empire, then by another! Similarly Sidon surrendered to Alexander in 332 B.C.. As to Tyre, its dismantling is history: they fled to the island and then Alexander used the mainland city’s ruins to make a causeway to destroy them on their island! The Philistines for their part, we read, on the onset of Alexander lost their distinctive features as a race! Gaza did resist Alexander, only to be stormed after a two month siege (Zech. 9:5), and so was indeed 'very sorrowful'.
All these items were precisely fulfilled. We must always realise that if there had been one hair's breadth of error, the claim to be God's word would go, just as would Christ's claim to be the Saviour, had any one of HIS words fallen to the ground, whether in healing or predicting. On the contrary, people have risen and fallen, and the very ground of history has changed according to His word to this day. Now we find Europe is gaining power, as the EU, much larger in population now than the USA, as was prescribed in Daniel 7, for the end of the Age.
II The FIRST COMING of the MESSIAH is SAVOUR of the SECOND!
It is now as it was then. Indeed, in the later days of the Jewish Maccabees (Zech. 9:11-17 dwells on this), a whole mini-empire became Jewish, gobbling up many of the surrounding places like locusts. But who is this - "He who remains shall be for our God!" (Zech. 9:7).
In view of Zech. 9:9, where you see as if on a vast TV screen, the Messiah,
"your King ... having salvation", indeed "coming to you" and "riding on a donkey, a colt,
the foal of a donkey",
it is clear who is the One who does in fact remain in all these passings of empires and civilisations, peoples and powers. Alexander died in his early thirties, his empire carved up and conquered by Rome in due course: it is the LORD Himself who remains past all these pulsations of earthly powers. The 9:9 reference could be put in such a context because He actually comes into their midst, the new, the different, the wholly diverse and divergent power, the King to accept without equivocation, and yet ... Humble ? on an ass's ... colt! Yes, but add this too, "having salvation".
Meekness having salvation! To this we return in Chs. 11-13, where these attributes become most clear, as already they are in the whole biblical context of course, because of Psalm 22, Isaiah 50-55 and allied parts of the word of God, the Bible. Let us examine these for a little now, considering the excruciating suffering which the Lord in human flesh bore, even He who remains and is for our God! and ponder the fact that in the pardon of sin there is COST!
What follows ? If your hard work buys a house, do you use a strong crow-bar to smash the premises ? If then Christ's hard work buys your place before God, "In My Father's house are many mansions", do you treat it carelessly ? do you join it with the worship of those who depart from the word of God and make their own god ? or with sensual seductions ? or mental aberrations ? or do you rather devote what He has saved, to the service and worship of God!
Look at Isaiah 50:
"The Lord GOD opened My ear, and I was not rebellious, Nor did I turn away. I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard. I did not hide my face from shame and spitting."
If you are His, could you turn your face from shame in witnessing of the truth of Jesus Christ, when He faced it, though the sin was not even His own, in seeking for you, and indeed paying for you ?
"He," we learn, "shall speak peace to the nations" (Z. 9:10). How different from Alexander who spoke war! What peace Christ spoke - COME TO ME...and I WILL GIVE YOUR REST. Focussed on His own people, He yet became a light to the Gentiles, as foretold in Isaiah 49:6. When a light is very bright, you cannot hide it, for that is the nature of light. Further, of Him is forecast not only this meek riding on an ass’s colt, but majesty:
"His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth" (Z. 9:10).
This is in obvious comparison and contrast to Israel’s territory, for here there is NO LIMIT! ALL is to be His.
III THE PRELUDE IS FAMOUS,
as BEFITS the CONSUMMATION TO COME
Even the prelude is striking, to which the prophet next turns – “As for you also …” (Zech. 9:11), proceeding to declare this: “because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit." Thus, having looked ahead to the Messiah, the prophecy dwells on a nearer time to come, the 2nd century B.C., when the Maccabees would sweep in amazing power and with great speed to take over a sizeable section of the Middle East, defeating in particular much in the Syrian sector of the former Greek empire.
Thus we read (Zech. 9:12):
"Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope.
Even today I declare that I will restore double to you."
Thus Judah successfully overthrew the Syrian dominion which had become so arrogant that its mad ruler had put an abominable idol in the temple, leading to revolt and then a military power pushing in many directions as Israel sought to keep its freedoms. This, foretold in Zech. 9:13-16, is seen in the books of the Maccabees.
If Israel sought something better than servility, there it was; and it was almost a prelude or trailer to the far greater mission of the Master to come, for the whole earth. Symbolic of Christ’s rule, yet at the same time, it showed the need of His truth and purity by contrast with the later corruption which was to come to Israel before Rome invaded it.
IV THE CORNERSTONE IS WELL HEWN, GRAND SUPPORT
Having shown the Messiah and the striking prelude, Zechariah is now moved to speak of the "latter rain" (10:1), or blessing. In exposing this wonderful time to come, more freely exposed in Zechariah 12, esp. 12:10ff., in that vast drama that draws ever closer, he deals with the delusive and destructive option, idols.
These "speak delusion" and those who offer them "envision lies", "tell false dreams", with a comfort which is mere pretence. Sheep, illicitly wandering without a Shepherd by their rebellion and pride (10:2), are fit prey for such deluders. This is just as today, when the sects roam, as do the New Age, the Organic Evolutionist Magicians, the Communist atheists in their delusions and the Humanist Rulers in their presumption.
As Israel was prone for so long to fall to idols, so now are the Gentiles, and are they better ? Indeed, have the Gentiles not had opportunity to view the errors of the Jews as a REFERENCE POINT and EXAMPLE from the past ? Are they not doubly blind themselves!
Small wonder meanwhile, that God says this, "My anger is kindled against the Shepherds..." (Z. 10:3) - pretenders who merely trouble the flock. How well does Ezekiel expose this in Ezek. 34:4. There you see that the LORD HIMSELF is going to come as the Good Shepherd (34:11ff.), as which Jesus duly identified Himself when He came (John 10). Similarly in Zechariah - for all the prophets tend to dwell on the Messiah - we read this (Z. 10:3):
"For the LORD of hosts will visit His flock, the house of Judah, and will make them as His royal horse in the battle" (cf. Isaiah 11:1ff., 40:10).
“They will be as though I had not cast them aside” (Z. 10:6) – and here is the parallel to Z. 3:9!
A new creation is made of those rescued (cf. John 3, II Corinthians 5:17ff., Hebrews 6:18-19).
His royal horse ? This He did when Christ came to Israel, by His Spirit then using the many thousands of converts, many with the apostles, speedily visiting other nations to proclaim the Gospel of Christ. It is as if a horse were sent, not on military mission, but on Royal Charge! (cf. Isaiah 66:18-20). In this last you see the use of Christians among the Jewish people, who bring the knowledge not yet gained, of the Lord of glory to the nations, who themselves yield pastors and preachers, in the lead up to the direct manifestation of the Lord in His deliverance of the nation (66:9ff.) with that vigour, decisiveness and indeed personal action which is seen also in Micah 7, Joel 3, Isaiah 63 and Deuteronomy 32. Made glad in restoration (10:7), they will be sown for a crop abroad.
Yes, He confirms, it is out of Judah that the leadership will come (Zech. 10:4), and this applies of course to the Messiah of as in Zech. 9:6, as foretold to David (II Samuel 23, Psalm 72). God will strengthen Judah, whistling for His scattered children and redeeming them (10:8), and sow them among the peoples, as He did (cf. Acts 12:1ff., Chs.13-17), using such as Paul to bring forth crops from this sowing! Eventually, far scattered Jews will return in masses to their homeland, until it can scarcely contain them (as now – Zech. 10:10ff. Isaiah 49:20).
"So I will strengthen them in the LORD, and they shall walk up and down in His name,' says the LORD" (Zech. 10:12). This reminds us of two things. Firstly, the JEWS were the great CHRISTIANS in the first vast wave of evangelisation in Europe and further afield. Just because the NATION failed, let us never forget our gratitude to those who being converted, constituted with such zeal and sincerity, the early Church. Secondly, if they walked up and down in Christ's name, let us do no less. If it is business, in Christ's name, or marriage, or friendship or profession or finance, things little or great, do ALL in the name of Christ.
"Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him," says Paul in Colossians 3:17.
Do not let Christ be conceived as your religious toy for idle comfort, for He will never consent; it is He who is your LORD. If you are His at all, He is Lord of all (Luke 6:46ff., 14:27ff.). It is as such that He reveals Himself, to the saved sinner, and in this true relationship there are unsearchable riches of power, wisdom and might. Here too is the love of God, without which you cannot even know Him... for God is love, its seat and very definition (I John 4).
If then the old Jerusalem, which was rebuilt by the restored Jews who were willing to come back, and with discipline in heart, peace in view and hope undimmed, so that it might be a city of light, though alas, in due time there came the darknesses of unbelief, expediency, selfishness and treachery, mixture with false philosophies and traditionalistic decline into mere mouthings, not from God: then how much more, now that the Messiah has come, is the Church of Jesus Christ to proceed past these tearings and termites of destruction, to be faithful to the end. One WAY in which this is to be done is as Paul descries it in I Timothy 1:6:
“Now the purpose of the commandment is love, from a
from a good conscience and from sincere faith.”
From this, says Paul, many have turned aside. Let then the city of light, the kingdom of heaven, the place of the children of light (I Thessalonians 5:5), be such, as the time for the touch-down of the Lord comes so near that it is like a new Cyrus, with a new decree giving new impetus to the restoration of the city that fell. If Cyrus let free the Jews to go home, those to whom Zechariah could speak, how much more then does Christ liberate His people to LIVE AT HOME, and not abroad in Babylon, that bubbling burlesque that despises His word, now.
What stays in Babylon, like settled Jews of that day, stays where it does not belong … unless of course, it is to be counted amongst His rebels.
In the next chapters of this volume, we shall plan to proceed to Zechariah 11-14.
*1 See on Europe, its current developments, its ancient coverage in prediction and its significance for the coming of the Lord, the following.
SMR pp. 730-731, 886-888, 899-973A,
esp. 904 ff., 923-930, 955-956, 973A, 955-958.
The Pitter-Patter of Prophetic Feet Ch. 1 with Highway of Holiness Ch. 10 (comprehensive outline Babylon, Rome and Daniel-Europe );
Joyful Jottings 14, Divine Agenda Ch. 3,
Heart and Soul ... Chs. 9, 10, 11,
Trust God ... Ch. 7, His Time is Near Ch. 8;
Pall of Smoke and Diamond of Joy Ch. 10,
... Immovable Faith Ch. 4 (and Empire disposition)
with 10 (some survey of developments),
His Wounds Opened Eternity Ch. 3 (Europe is on its mark, getting ready ...),
Ch. 4, *5 (survey of relevant past),
What is the Wheat to the Chaff! Ch. 10,
Christ, the Cumulative and the Culmination Ch. 4,
Three Anzas, One Answer Ch. 5,
Outrageous Outages, Awesome Inputs and the Courage of Christ Chs. 3, 5,
His Wounds Opened Eternity Ch. 3
(and meaning, and EU constitution);
Cascade of Truth ... Chs. 10 , 12 , Calibrating Myths... Ch. 9, Heart and Soul Ch. 10.
*2 See Separation 1997.