It’s already 2023! Can you believe it? It is hard for me to believe. I am excited about our Connect Group lesson this coming Sunday at Southern Calvert Baptist Church. This past Sunday, we looked at the book of Ezra and discovered how one person can change an entire society of a generation. Daniel was that one person. The pagan King Cyrus was another person who caused an entire society to be transformed. Daniel brought the scroll of Jeremiah to Babylon and he shared that book of the Bible with King Cyrus. That pagan king was moved by the Word of God. He surrendered to God and used his position in society to serve the Lord. King Cyrus set two major things in motion that changed an entire generation of Jews. He set an example of obedience to the Lord that the Jews followed. Cyrus read the Word and decided to submit to the Lord in obedience. The Jews also began to read the Word of God again and obey. They traveled back to Israel, a trip funded by King Cyrus, and rebuilt the Temple, also funded by King Cyrus.
Upon returning to Israel, the children of Israel walked with the Lord faithfully for a time but then slid back into their old, idol worshiping ways. The prophet Zechariah shares the Word of the Lord with the disobedient children of Israel. He is going to give them hope in the form of the Promises of God. As we have stated before, God has tied His eternal nature to His Word. God has to keep His promises or He ceases to exist. Since He cannot cease to exist, He, therefore, has to keep His Word for all eternity. These promises, delivered by Zechariah, will sustain the children of Israel through many, many difficult years to come.
I. Israel rejects the Word of God
The children of Israel return to the Word of God upon leaving the Persian empire for Israel. They are faithful to the Lord for a time but they end up backsliding, again. There is a pattern that we discover in the history of the children of Israel. Things go well for them as a people because of their obedience to the Word of God. During the good times, they forget about the Word of the Lord and they drift back into a sinful lifestyle. They suffer the consequences of their actions and things get bad. They cry out to the Lord and return to the Word and walk in obedience. Things get good again and the process repeats. Even though God knows that His people will reject His Word over and over again, He still makes important promises to them.
1 “On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.
2 “On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more,” declares the LORD Almighty. “I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land. (Zechariah 13)
One day, in the future, God is going to deal with the children of Israel’s sin nature so that they will no longer be tempted to turn to idols and idolatry. But, until that day comes, the people are going to fight a daily battle with that sin nature. The same is true with followers of Jesus Christ today. We still have our sin nature that we must do battle with every day. When we give in to our sin nature, we turn to idols. One day, the Lord will remove our sin nature and we will no longer even be tempted by idolatry. Until that day comes, we must go to battle with our sin nature moment by moment, day by day.
3 And if anyone still prophesies, their father and mother, to whom they were born, will say to them, ‘You must die, because you have told lies in the LORD’s name.’ Then their own parents will stab the one who prophesies.
4 “On that day every prophet will be ashamed of their prophetic vision. They will not put on a prophet’s garment of hair in order to deceive. (Zechariah 13)
The Lord will continue to send His Word to His people. Unfortunately, His people will continue to reject His Word and those who proclaim the Word of the Lord. In verse 4, some believe that this is a prophecy concerning John the Baptist. He will preach the Word of God in Israel and it will cost him his life.
“Awake, sword, against My Shepherd, against the man who is close to Me!” declares the LORD Almighty. “Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn My hand against the little ones. (Zechariah 13:7)
Jesus will come to His people and share the Word of the Lord with them and they will also reject Him. He is the Shepherd that Zechariah foretells in this passage. Jesus will quote this passage about Himself.
“And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’ ” (Zechariah 13:9)
Because of the actions of the children of Israel, because they reject the Word of the Lord over and over again, they will suffer the fires of refinement. The Lord will use this refining process to purge Israel and purify her. This refining process is the natural consequences of their choices. The Lord ultimately uses it for good, based on His mercy and grace. How do you respond to the Word of the Lord today? Do you reject the Word of the Lord by refusing to surrender? Do you realize that the consequences of that action will be catastrophic? Why don’t you learn from Israel’s mistake and surrender to the Word of the Lord before the refining process is needed?
II. Coming Destruction and Restoration
God is going to restore Israel but, things are going to get worse before they get better.
1 Behold, a day is coming for the LORD when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you.
2 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. (Zechariah 14)
Why are things going to get worse? Because the children of Israel will continue to reject the Word of God. The Lord does not pull any punches. He does not sugar coat His message. He tells the people what is coming, yet, He also gives hope.
3 Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle.
4 In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.
5 You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him! (Zechariah 14)
Things are going to get worse. In fact, over the past 2,000 years, things have been very difficult for the children of Israel. According to the Scriptures, things are going to get worse. But, the Lord will intervene at the right time and Christ will return to the earth in Israel and rescue and restore the children of Israel. The earth will be changed forever during this time.
6 In that day there will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle.
7 For it will be a unique day which is known to the LORD, neither day nor night, but it will come about that at evening time there will be light.
8 And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter. (Zechariah 14)
There will be changes to the habitat. Nature itself will be altered. Jesus will illuminate the children of Israel so that they will understand the full Truth of the Word of God and they will believe. They will accept Jesus as the Messiah and He will be the Living water that they have longed for.
III. Eternal Glory
The Lord will establish His earthly kingdom at this time.
9 And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one.
10 All the land will be changed into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem; but Jerusalem will rise and remain on its site from Benjamin’s Gate as far as the place of the First Gate to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s wine presses.
11 People will live in it, and there will no longer be a curse, for Jerusalem will dwell in security. (Zechariah 14)
The Lord Jesus will be King over all the earth. He will rule from Israel. The promises that the Lord made to Israel will be fully applied at this time. He will fulfill all of the promises at this time. The children of Israel will live in the land in peace, finally. Jesus’ beloved disciple, John, borrows from Zechariah when writing the 22nd chapter of the book of Revelation.
There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; (Revelation 22:3)
What a glorious day that will be for the children of Israel, and for all of those who have received the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior! Don’t you want to be there on that day? Choose now to surrender to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. He will assure you that you will be there on that day based on that decision.