Those who are Far Off: Zechariah 6:9-15 March 14, 2009Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Zechariah's Night Visions.
Tags: Crown of Many Diadems, Messiah, rebuilding the temple of the Lord, serving God, Zechariah 6:9-15
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“And those who are far off shall come and help to build the temple of the Lord.”
-Zechariah 6: 15a, ESV
The prophet has given us a great and grandiose picture of the coronation of the coming Messiah in this passage. A crown with many diadems will adorn the royal head of our master, the Lord Jesus. But Zechariah does not end only looking toward the far future, he closes this passage with a reminder that Yahweh has not forsaken them to failure even in their age. Yes, this reconstruction of the temple is only a shadow and a pointer to the temple of Christ that will come, but it is a reminder that God is faithful to his covenant people. More help is on its way. Ezra will come and Nehemiah will be on his heels.
How often we tend to get discouraged and frustrated with God. We act as if God has abandoned us to our state and are completely oblivious to what God has in the works. How often we pitch in the towel before the event has run its course? And how often have we had to beg forgiveness for out own lack of faith when we see God’s providence delivering us from the very jaws of our enemy.
We need passages like this to remind us that we do not stand out on the battlefield alone. We are not only surrounded by a cloud of witnesses but reinforcements are on the way. We should never fear loosing our last arrow, throwing our last spear, or breaking our last sword in the battle against the enemy for new supplies will arrive as we need them. Yet we will never be able to stockpile them. Just as the Israelites received manna in the desert as a daily provision, so we too will receive provisions from God as they are necessary. What a wonderful God that we have that monitors our daily needs and is in the business of constant provision.
The next time we are tempted to cry out like the martyrs in heaven, “how long,” let us turn to this passage and remember that reinforcements are on their way. Instead of crying out “how long,” we ought to cry out “where can I serve you next.”
Strong Horses: Zechariah 6:1-8 March 14, 2009Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Zechariah's Night Visions.
Tags: angels, Grace, Justice, patrol the earth, strong horses, Swift Justice of God, Zechariah 6:1-8
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“When the strong horses came out, they were impatient to go and patrol the earth.”
-Zechariah 6: 7a, ESV
How impatient are the angels of God that have been ordained to extend Justice to the world and how great is God’s grace, even toward unbelievers, in staying their hand until His time is at hand. And the impatience of the angels is not a sign of their weakness. They are responding properly and correctly to the way we as a people have abused and misused the very name of God. Swift justice is deserved upon mankind, yet God’s long-suffering patience is such that he would endure the abuse of man so that the full number of elect will be brought into the kingdom. What amazing grace we have received!
In Zechariah’s day, the angels were permitted partial success, and God is yet restraining their destructive work. How the judgments pile on the head of unbelievers. Not only do they live in rebellion to the true and righteous law of God, but they interpret the staying of God’s hand as more time granted for them to revel in their wickedness. They squander their time rather than repent of their ways.
Yet, we in the church have also been guilty of being lax in proclaiming God’s message of grace and judgment to the culture around us. Think about it, Scripture remembers Noah the carpenter as a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2). He had no pulpit and no congregation of thousands that came to hear him preach. He simply had his faithful lifestyle and the testimony of the ark which he built. His evangelism was successful toward his family, and there is also much to be said for that. How often we are willing to compromise the truth of the gospel in order to be liked. The praise we should seek is not that of men, but the title of “good and faithful servant,” offered by Christ.
The Lady in the Basket: Zechariah 5:5-11 March 14, 2009Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Zechariah's Night Visions.
Tags: Babylon, holiness, lead weight, righteousness, the woman in the basket, wickedness, wickedness in the basket, women with wings like a stork, Zechariah 5:5-11
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“And he said, ‘This is Wickedness.’ And he thrust her back into the basket and thrust down the leaden weight on its opening.” -Zechariah 5: 8, ESV
The contrast that Zechariah paints here is stark. While wickedness in the land both then and now is not small, for it is a great stench that rises up from the idolatry of our land, it shows the comparative smallness of wickedness in comparison to God’s goodness, holiness, love, and righteousness. We are also reminded that no matter how bad things get, God is always in control for he wrote the book in the first place. The lead weight on the lid to the basket is also a reminder to us of the weight of the law when brought to bear on sin. While sin may seem great, it is nothing, and those consumed by sin are simply being kept for the final judgment and punishment in the lake of fire.
We must be faithful in our witness to the world that there is hope and redemption, but that it is not in the basket, rather it is in him who controls the outcome of that basket. There is hope in Jesus and in Jesus alone.
Fulfilling the Law, not Abrogating It: Zechariah 3 March 14, 2009Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Zechariah's Night Visions.
Tags: Clothed, Iniquity, iniquity removed, Jesus' clean clothes, Old Testament Themes fulfilled in the New Testament, Pure Vestments, redemptive history, Sin, Zechariah 3
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“Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” -Zechariah 3: 4b, ESV
If only our dispensational brothers would read the Old Testament. They would see God’s hand at work consistently throughout redemptive history. We get a foretaste here in this passage of Christ’s imputed righteousness in the life of the believer. In fact, the angel who is speaking here is the very pre-incarnate deity himself! Who would have been more qualified to take sin from Joshua? The one who would face trials and torment in ministry and then face the horrors of God’s wrath on the cross happily pronounces the benefits of his completed work (while not complete in a temporal sense, it was complete based on the surety of God’s ordaining work before creation).
We see this image magnified in Revelation where it is not just one priest who is given new clothes, but now we see the priesthood of all believers washing their clothes in the blood of Christ. There is nothing we have done or could do to merit this for our clean clothes are not an act of our own hands. It is Jesus Christ himself that drapes his clean clothes over us. We, who place our faith in Christ, stand judged on Christ’s righteousness, not our own.
It is of great encouragement, as we look through the Old Testament, to see these themes developing. It is a reminder that God is not fickle or capricious as the dispensationals would suggest, but he is deliberate in his ways. Christ came not to establish a new thing; he came to “fulfill the law” not abrogate it.
Villages without Walls: Zechariah 2 March 14, 2009Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Zechariah's Night Visions.
Tags: God's Glory in our Midst, Jerusalem, Promises of God, Villages without Walls, Wall of Fire, Zechariah 2
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“Jerusalem shall be inhabited as villages without walls, because of the multitude of people and livestock in it. And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord, and I will be glory in her midst.” -Zechariah 2: 4b-5, ESV
The promises of God for his church are a delight to find, are they not? The fulfillment of this prophesy is not in the post-exilic period as some would suggest, but no, it is in Christ, where God has drawn peoples of all nations to himself. Through the preaching of the gospel, the boarders of Jerusalem have been expanded to cover the corners of the globe. And while the people of God do face the fires of persecution, those fires sanctify, and God has promised to hold us fast, that not one of the elect would slip through the fingers of Christ. The new wall cannot be breached by powers or principalities; no force on earth of around it can breach these new walls; and God’s glory, as revealed in his Son and through his Holy Spirit, is in our midst! There is great hope and encouragement for the Christian within the words of this text.
The question that we need to ask is whether we are living like it. You see, while the full number of elect are coming into the kingdom, we still are looking toward the future, when God’s glory would be fully revealed to every tribe and nation and that this world will be remade without the curse of sin. While we are in the “already” but are still looking for the “not yet,” Satan takes aim on our lives. Do we live like we are heirs to the promise, with confidence in the wall that God has placed around his church? Or do we whimper with fear when trials and tribulations arise? Brethren, let us face them head on. The promises of God have been decreed before creation and while may not have been realized temporally, are as sure as if they have already happened. We can trust and rely on them.
As we go about our day, let us turn our thoughts to heavenly things, trusting in the promises as God has revealed them to us within the words of his great love letter to us, the Bible.
The Four Craftsmen: Zechariah 1:18-21 March 14, 2009Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Zechariah's Night Visions.
Tags: four craftsmen, fulfillment in Christ, horns, Nehemiah, rebuilding Jerusalem's walls, rebuilding the Temple, rest in Jesus, Zechariah 1:18-21
“Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen.” -Zechariah 1: 20, ESV
It is useful to remind ourselves how the Lord always has things well in control. Here were the people, back in Jerusalem with the edict to rebuild the temple and the city walls, the people have floundered in their responsibility, and God reminds the people through Zechariah that help is on the way. The rebuilding of a city is a monumental task and required skill not only in the building but skill in the management of the builders. Looking back at this from modern eyes, we can only cry out to the people, “Hold fast brothers! Nehemiah is on the way!”
Yet, if we satisfy ourselves with Nehemiah and his group as being the ultimate fulfillment of this prophesy, we significantly underestimate God. Nehemiah will come, that is true, but the wall that is ultimately rebuilt hardly provides a permanent defense against their enemies. Soon the Greeks will come. Then the Romans will come. Later, the Romans will sack the city and destroy the temple with it never to be rebuilt again. Today there is an abomination built upon the old temple mount.
Of course this is not the final fulfillment, but it is a partial one. Nehemiah and his group are a reminder to the people that God is still with them and they point to the greater work that God will do in the giving of an eternal temple. The very word of God took on flesh; God the son walked with his people. And oh the craftsmen that God would send out from his son. A dozen apostles would be sent out (11 who were called during his ministry and Paul who was called after his resurrection), four gospels would be written, and the church would blossom, being built up with living stones by these craftsmen and spreading throughout the world. No longer would the horns of oppression scatter the people of God away from their promised land and from their temple, for the Spirit of God would dwell within them.
It is that same Holy Spirit that dwells in us today as the people of God. The God that saved us from our sins on the cross is the same God that pursued us and brought us to faith, and is the same God that pursued Zechariah, showing him such a series of visions. Brethren, this is the master craftsman at work. It is God himself who has ordered all things according to the perfect wisdom of his will that has written the very pages of history. This is the very God that we have come to worship. Oh, what a blessed redeemer! He is the God of ages past, of here and now, and for all the future. Let us rest in him.
I Saw the Night: Zechariah 1:7-17 March 14, 2009Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Zechariah's Night Visions.
Tags: angelic horsemen, Carpe Noctum, darkness, night vision, red horse, Revelation 6, saw the night, the night, vision of the night, Zechariah 1:7-17
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“I saw the night and behold, a man riding on a red horse!” –Zechariah 1: 8a
It may seem to be an odd expression to “see the night.” But isn’t this so often the gift that God gives to his servants? We look out into this world and we begin to recognize how dark it really is out there. Even when the sun is shining brightly, if the people of God are suffering, then darkness abounds. It is impossible for the unbeliever to understand this, for their eyes have grown accustomed to the darkness of their sin, but when the eyes of a Christian are opened they will often become overwhelmed by the darkness around us.
This is the same idea, I believe, that Jude is getting at when he speaks of the fallen angels being bound in darkness until final judgment. They are bound, but bound on earth. How is this earth dark? For when you have been in the presence of the Lord of Glory, even the brightest day on earth is but pitch-blackness.
Yet, God does not leave his people to mourn over the darkness alone. Here he sends Zechariah a series of visions. The pre-incarnate Christ has come to him riding on a warhorse, surrounded by angels on warhorses. This is a vision that is a reminder to all of us that though this world might be dark with sin, God is still sovereign over it. God is in command of all things. It is also a reminder that if we look to Revelation 6, we will see the power of these horsemen and the things which they have been doing as they have been at work in the world. These images in Revelation, then, are no demonic horsemen, but angelic heralds of judgment at the beck and command of the Son of God!
Though we oftentimes feel the darkness of the world closing in on us, let us be reminded whose hands we are in. God is in command of the night as well as the day. It is interesting that “Carpe Diem!” is the cry of the secular world. “Seize the day,” indeed! Yet, a life consumed by sin does not know the light of day at all. Our cry as Christians, in a sense, should be “Carpe Noctum!” for it is our job, as Christians, to seize the night, shining the light of Jesus Christ into this sin-darkened world and proclaim the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Not only can we seize the night, but we can also walk confidently in it, knowing that the God we proclaim is the God who is in control of all things.
Works of Men and Works of God: Zechariah 1:1-6 March 14, 2009Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Zechariah's Night Visions.
Tags: death, God's preservation, good works, prophets, work, Zechariah 1:5-6
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“Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers?” -Zechariah 1:5-6a, ESV
What a contrast that is set before us by the prophet. All of the works of man will eventually fade, but God’s works and his word will last forever. As mighty as many of the prophets were, they died. Abraham died; Moses died; Elisha died; Isaiah died; our generation will die. Yet, God’s word will remain; it will remain unchanged; and it will still carry with it the power and authority that it had from the very day it was spoken through the various inspired writers. If Moses was nothing more than a faithful servant in God’s house, in what have we to boast? Nothing save the cross of Christ.
How often, when we read the Bible, do we focus on the various characters of the story? What did King David do next? Will Elijah survive the attacks on the prophets? How will Nehemiah get the people to work? These are important questions to ask, but when we ask these questions, let us never forget that these men were nothing more than servants of the All-Mighty God.
In turn, we need to ask ourselves just where we are placing the emphasis in our own lives and in our own ministries. Do we see the ministries as something that we are doing? Or is the ministry God’s and we simply have the blessing of being able to participate? Do we conceive of ourselves as being anything more than an unworthy servant? If we do, we are placing the emphasis on things that will not last (namely ourselves). Let us seek to place all of the emphasis in our lives on something that will last forever, and that is God and His word. And even though in the new heavens and the new earth, the written word and the law will pass away, he who fulfilled the law perfectly will be in our presence and we will be able to commune with the very Word of God face-to-face.