Zechariah 003 – Repent!Zechariah 1:1-3 • Dr. Andy Woods • September 29, 2021 • Zechariah
By Andy Woods
If you could turn in your bibles to Zechariah chapter 1, verse 1, and we are continuing our Wednesday night series that we started a couple of weeks ago on the book of Zechariah. The first two lessons related really to the background of the book, so we haven’t actually started studying it verse by verse. We’ve just started the background, and there were 15 issues that we talked through.
- Place of writing
- Unique characteristics
- Christ in Zechariah
One of the things I just want to make a quick mention of this evening and then we’ll get into verses 1 through 6, Lord willing. One of the things that I had a chance to make a fast reference to was number 15 on the list here. Christ in Zechariah, and I felt kind of bad for having to rush over it because of time constraints, so let me just add a few things that I didn’t have the chance to add last time.
One of the things to understand about Jesus is He is the only person that has ever existed that walked into history and as He was walking into history, He was fulfilling a script that was written hundreds, and in some cases thousands of years in advance called Old Testament prophecy. So, I’ve done a sermon here on the seven things that make Jesus unique and here I’m speaking of number 2, Jesus is a man who fulfilled prophecy. (2:01)
The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ
- A man of verifiable history
- A man of fulfilled prophecy
- A man of predictive prophecy
- A man of unimpeachable morality
- A man of profound teaching
- A man of authentic miracles
- A man of bodily resurrection
Josephus, who was a secular first century historian, makes a reference to Jesus in his writings called “Antiquities”, and he mentions a lot of interesting things about Jesus here.
Josephus – Antiquities 18.3.3
“About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Christ. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.”
So, the historicity of Jesus is not just found in the Bible. Jesus is found in the writings of secular or non-biblical historians. Josephus was Jewish who basically went to work for Rome, and he actually, he lived just a little after the time of Christ and he has things in his writings that make reference to Jesus, even His resurrection from the dead which he mentions in this quote, but one of the things Josephus says, after he calls Jesus the Christ, he says: …for the prophets had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. So there is Josephus making reference to what I’m talking about here with number two, that Jesus is a man who fulfilled prophecy. (3:16)
So, here are some examples of Messianic prophecies that you’ll find in the Old Testament. His manner of birth was predicted 700 years in advance. Where He would be born, the exact city is predicted 700 years in advance. His nationality as a Hebrew is predicted 1400 years in advance. As you probably know, Israel had many tribes, 12 tribes. The book of Genesis, 1800 years in advance, tells you what tribe Jesus is going to be born into. Even the exact moment in time, if you understand Daniel 9, 25 and 26 correctly, the exact moment in time where Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and proclaimed His Messianic credentials to Israel. That specific point in time called “Palm Sunday” to the exact day, was predicted 600 years in advance. His crucifixion between two thieves was predicted 700 years in advance. The manner of His death in terms of no broken bones, a 1000 years in advance. His piercing 700 years in advance. The fact that they would gamble for His clothes predicted a 1000 years in advance, and buried in a rich man’s tomb, predicted 700 years in advance, and you could look up all these scriptures at your own leisure and you’ll see what I’m speaking of. (5:09)
So, when Jesus ministered on the earth and was seeking to convince people that He indeed was the son of God, this is something that He appealed to. This is what He said to the disciples on the Emmaus road in Luke 24, verse 27 (Luke 24:27), and this sermon or this teaching He gave as they were walking on the Emmaus road after His resurrection is not recorded, and of all of the things in the Bible that I wish I could be a fly on the wall and hear, this is my pick, because He is showing His disciples that everything that’s happened to Him was laid out in their own Hebrew Bible that we call the Old Testament. So, it says in Luke 24, verse 27 (Luke 24:27), it says: Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures… Now when it says Scriptures, it’s obviously referring to the Old Testament because there was no New Testament yet when He made that statement. Then in the same chapter verse 44 (Luke 24:44), He says: …and He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. When He says Law, that’s Torah, when He says prophets, that’s what’s called the Nevi’im prophets, and when He mentions the Psalms, He is talking about the most prominent book in what’s called the Ketuvim, which means writings. Torah, Law, Nevi’im, Prophets, Ketuvim, Writings. (7:1.ç3)
The Jews or the Hebrews, they had a completely different organization of their Bible than the way we have it organized in our Protestant versions. We have the historical books, 17, and then 5 wisdom books and then 17 prophets. The Hebrews did not organize their Bible that way. They organized it by T, Torah, N Nevi’im, K, Ketuvim. Law, Prophets, Writings, T N K and that’s where you get the word Tanakh. So, when Jesus makes the statement that He fulfilled what was in the Tanakh, what He is saying is, the whole Hebrew Bible points towards Him. He also said in John 5, verses 39 and 46 (John 5:39,46), He said to the Pharisees, He says: You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these… these what? the Scriptures… that testify about Me. And then He says in verse 46: …For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. So that’s why He accused them of things like, straining at a gnat but swallowing a camel. The religious leaders of Israel were so caught up in all these details that they missed the whole point of Hebrew Bible, which is to point towards Christ. (9:00)
Paul the Apostle when he went out on his missionary journeys, particularly when he ministered to the Jews, made reference over and over again to the fact of the Script that I’m speaking of called Hebrew Bible, how it pointed towards Christ. It says in Acts 17, 1 through 3 (Acts 17:1-3): Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And according to Paul’s custom…in other words, this is what Paul did regularly with the Jews in terms of evangelism. According to Paul’s custom, he went to them for three Sabbaths and reasoned with them from the Scriptures… What Scriptures is he referring to? Not the New Testament, it hadn’t been written yet. He is referring to Hebrew Bible, what we sometimes call the Old Testament …explaining and giving evidence that Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, “This is Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ”. So there again is the Apostle Paul appealing to the Script, particularly when he is evangelizing the Hebrews. Paul felt so strongly about this that he made it part of his proclamation of the Gospel. (10:35)
Where in the Bible do you find the clearest statement of the Gospel? I would guess it would be in 1st Corinthians 15 verses 1 through 4 (1 Cor 15:1-4). And verses 3 and 4 say (1 Cor 15:3-4): For I handed to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, and He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. The Scriptures is the Old Testament, because the New Testament was just being formulated at this point. So the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not just that Jesus died on a cross for us and that He rose from the dead. Part of the presentation of the Gospel is understanding that He did all of that according to a Script that was written hundreds and thousands of years in advance. The reason I’m bringing this up is the Book of Zechariah that we’re beginning to study is filled with Messianic prophecy. (11:47)
Christ in Zechariah – general
- the angel of the Lord (Zech 3:1-2)
- the righteous branch (Zech 3:8; Zech 6:12-13)
- the servant (Zech 3:8)
- the stone with seven eyes (Zech 3:9)
- the King-Priest (Zech 6:13)
- the cornerstone, tent peg, and the bow of battle (Zech 10:4)
Christ is going to be referred to generally in this Book as the angel of the Lord, the righteous branch, the servant, the stone with seven eyes, the King-Priest, and then just in one verse, He is going to be called, the cornerstone, tent peg, and the bow of battle. And last time I was with you, I showed you that there’s a ton of messianic prophecies about Christ’s first coming in Zechariah.
Christ in Zechariah – first advent
- the humble king riding on a donkey (Zech 9:9-10; Matt 21:1-8; John 12:14-16)
- the rejected good shepherd sold for thirty pieces of silver (Zech 11:4-13; Matt 26:14-16; 27:9-10)
- the one the Jews pierced (Zech 12:10; John 19:37; 20:24-27)
- the smitten good shepherd (Zech 13:7)
I don’t know if I need to re-read those. We kind of went through those very briefly last time. But, the fact that He would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, that’s predicted in Zechariah. The thirty pieces of silver he would be betrayed for, that’s predicted in Zechariah. His piercing is predicted in Zechariah and His smiting is predicted in Zechariah. And Zechariah is going to make a bunch of predictions about His second coming.
Why in the world would I believe that the prophecies that Zechariah is going to bring to our attention concerning the second coming of Christ are going to happen? Well, pretty simple, all of the first coming prophecies happened. And I don’t think the Holy Spirit switches horses in midstream. In other words, what you have in the Bible is a track record. (13:24)
It’s like, let’s say I’m here at the free throw line and I’m practicing my free throws and I make 9 free throws in a row from 15 feet out, which would have shocked my coaches because I’ve never had that high a free throw percentage. But let’s just imagine, 9 in a row. And then I say to you, can I make the tenth one? And you are going to say yes, because you see a track record. If you can make 9, you can make the last one. That’s sort of what the Bible is like. We are living in a unique time period in between the two comings of Christ. We’re waiting for the second advent prophecies to be fulfilled and the question is, well how do we know they’re actually going to happen? Well, because all of the first coming prophecies came to pass, in Jesus, two thousand years ago, to such accuracy that Paul made it part of his evangelism, as did the Lord himself as He ministered to the disciples on the Emmaus road. So what are some of those second coming passages?
Christ in Zechariah – second advent
- the one who will be accepted by Israel (Zech 12:10–13:1; Rom 11:26)
- the one who cleanses Israel (Zech 13:1)
- the coming judge (Zech 14)
- the destroyer of Israel’s enemies (Zech 14:3, 12-15; Rev 19:11-16)
- the one who will split the Mount of Olives (Zech 14:4)
- the one who will reign from Jerusalem (Zech 14:9, 16; Rev 20:4-6)
The fact that Israel, one day will accept their own Messiah, that’s predicted in Zechariah. Now Paul talks about it too, okay? In Romans 11, but Paul is just recycling information that’s already well known in the Old Testament, in prophets like Zechariah. (14:59)
Jesus is going to cleanse Israel, He is going to come back as judge, He is going to destroy Israel’s enemies, you’ll see that prediction in Zechariah 14, verse 3 (Zech 14:3), where He will go forth and fight. Think about that, think about God Himself going forth and fighting the nations that are going to invade Jerusalem in the end times. That prophecy is predicted in Zechariah. His feet are going to touch the Mount of Olives one day, which will split in half, east to west. And when all is said and done, and Satan is subdued, and the antichrist is subdued, He is going to set up his kingdom which will run for a thousand years, and where is going to be the headquarters of that kingdom? The city of Jerusalem. Not Washington DC, not Brussels, not any other, not Rome, you know, not any prominent gentile city, it’s going to be in Jerusalem and you see that in Zechariah 14, 16 through 18 (Zech 14, 16-18). Isaiah 2, 2 and 3 (Isa 2:2-3) speaks of it. And this is why when you study the book of Revelation, and you learn that Satan is going to be let loose out of the Abyss at the end of the thousand years, he immediately attacks the beloved city with his army. You see that in Revelation chapter 20 verse 9 (Rev 20:7-9), now why would Satan attack the beloved city? First of all, who is the beloved city? The beloved city is Jerusalem. Why is Satan attacking Jerusalem at the end of the millennial kingdom? Because Satan himself knows that Jerusalem is the headquarters for the thousand years, so he is attacking the nerve center. (17:12)
Robert Thomas – Four Views on the Book of Revelation, page 207
“At the end of the Millennium that city will be Satan’s prime objective with his rebel army, because Israel will be a leader among the nations.”
Robert Thomas says: At the end of the Millennium that city will be Satan’s prime objective with his rebel army, because Israel will be a leader among the nations. So these are all pieces of prophetic information that the book of Zechariah is going to surface for us, and as you go through it, you are going to be tempted to say, do I believe that or not? Do I take that literally or not? And our perspective is, you should believe it and you should take it literally because of the track record of the prophecies that have already been fulfilled in the person of Jesus two thousand years ago.
So with all of that being said, that takes me to the end of the introductory elements in the book of Zechariah, and so now we are ready to jump in and study it verse by verse. So, tonight we are going to try to look at, if time permits, the first of four parts in this outline.
- Introductory call to repentance (Zech 1:1-6)
- Eight-night visions (Zech 1:7–6:15)
- Question and answers about fasting (Zech 7–8)
- Two burdens (Zech 9–14)
So you’ll recall the very first part of this outline of four parts is an introductory call to repentance. That’s why when you look at our website and you look at the title I gave to this, you’ll see the word repent. I couldn’t think of a better title than just the word repent. (18:40)
So, let’s see. Are you guys getting warm? I’m getting warm. Does someone have control over the weather? Look at that, you have not because you ask not. There we go. And I get extra air up here than you guys get out there, so I feel better faster, Amen? Alright.
Alright! Let’s start here with Zechariah chapter 1 verses 1 through 6 (Zech 1:1-6), the introductory call to repentance. And the outline is pretty simple,
- Introductory call to repentance – (Zech 1:1-6)
- Date (Zech 1:1a)
- Author (Zech 1:1b)
- Call to repentance (Zech 1:2–6)
You’ve got a date verse 1, author verse 1, and then you’ve got the call to repentance. So, let’s start with the date.
Take a look at Zechariah chapter 1, verse 1 (Zech 1:1): In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah the prophet, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo saying. So you have your very first date in the book of Zechariah. It’s the 8th month, second year of Darius.
Who was Darius? Darius is one of the kings that was reigning in Persia. So, the nation of Israel came back out of the captivity under Persian reign and so by the time that Zechariah begins his ministry, we’re now in the 8th month and 2nd year of the Perian king Darius. And then you have the author given, it’s the second part of verse 1: The word of the LORD came to Zechariah the prophet, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo saying. So, who is Zechariah? Well, his name is Zechariah as you know. (20:43)
- Introductory call to repentance – (Zech 1:1-6)
- Date (Zech 1:1a)
- Author (Zech 1:1b)
- Call to repentance (Zech 1:2–6)
Anybody recall what his name means? What’s that? God remembers, Yes, which is a great name for the things he talks about in his book. Because he’s going to talk about how God has not forgotten the Jewish people. He is the son of Berechiah, verse 1 (Zech 1:1). Berechiah was his father. If you look at verse 1, his grandfather was a man named Iddo, I-D-D-O, and we’ve already made reference to the fact that you’ll find Iddo’s name, his grandfather, in Nehemiah 12 verse 1, verse 4 and verse 16 (Zech 1:1,4,16). Nehemiah 12 is a genealogical record of the Hebrews that came back from the captivity and Iddo there, is mentioned as a priest. So, the fact that his grandfather was Iddo, tells us two things about him. The first thing we understand about this man Zechariah is he was prophesying to that group that came back from the 70 year captivity. When the Hebrews returned to the land of Israel after 70 years, they did it in three waves.
Zechariah, is prophesying to that first group. That first wave coming back is found in Ezra 1 through 6 (Ezra 1-6) and you’ll see Zechariah’s name show up in that section of the Bible. We’ve looked at it before so we don’t have to turn there now, but you’ll see it in Ezra 5 verse 1 (Ezra 5:1) and Ezra 6 verse 14 (Ezra 6:14), where Zechariah’s mentioned prophesying to that first group, along with his contemporary.(22:54)
Anyone remember who his contemporary is? Guy named Haggai, and Zechariah’s whole ministry, as is Haggai’s, is to get that first group off their back sides, so to speak, and to get busy building the temple. The temple project had laid dormant about 15 years because they got persecution from the people of the land who did not want the temple rebuilt, and, you know, discouragement set in, as it happens to a lot of us and if you let discouragement set in long enough, eventually what will happen is you’ll forget your project. You just get sidetracked into other things, and to God the rebuilding of this temple is a big deal, because that’s the temple that Jesus is going to come to. Prophecy says that, and it’s hard for Jesus to come to a temple, 500 years later, when the temple doesn’t exist. So, you know God wants his temple rebuilt. Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed it 70 years roughly earlier, and God says I want it rebuilt, and so Zechariah and Haggai are convincing that first group that came back to rebuild the temple.
Beyond that, the fact that his grandfather is Iddo, shows us that Zechariah was a priest because in Nehemiah 12 verse 1, it’s speaking of the priests. In Nehemiah 12, verse 1 (Neh 12:1), you’ll see the reference to, Now these are the priests and the Levites, and then Nehemiah 12, verse 4 and verse 16 (Neh 12: 4,16) mentions Iddo. So, Iddo was a priest, his grandfather. And so, it’s highly likely that Zechariah born in that same tribe, the tribe of Levi and descending from Iddo, would be a priest also. (25:05)
Very similar to Ezekiel, who prophesied during the captivity. Ezekiel 1 verse 3 (Eze 1:3) says, Ezekiel was a priest, and the other prophet that was a priest is a guy named Jeremiah, and you’ll see a reference to Jeremiah as a priest in Jeremiah 1 verse 1 (Jer 1:1), and you say, well, what’s the big deal? I mean, why do I care if Zechariah was a priest or not? Well you need to know that because it makes sense as to the things Zechariah surfaces. Zechariah surfaces all kinds of things about the temple, in particular the Millennial Temple, and it’s completely and totally logical for him to go that direction under God’s inspiration, because Zechariah is a priest. Ezekiel does the same thing, talks about the temple in his book. It makes sense, he is a priest.
So, that takes us into verses 2 through 6 (Zech 1:2-6), where it’s not a lot of, you know, seeker friendly kind of preaching here, you know, come on in and make yourself comfortable and let’s kind of warm up the crowd kind of thing. He immediately gets into the subject of repentance.
- Introductory call to repentance – (Zech 1:1-6)
- Date (Zech 1:1a)
- Author (Zech 1:1b)
- Call to repentance (Zech 1:2–6)
So the call to repentance is found in verses 2 through 6 and notice if you will, verse 2 (Zech 1:2). It says: The Lord, look at how he starts this book… The LORD was… it doesn’t just say angry, it says very angry… The Lord was very angry with your fathers. So here’s an interesting thing about God, God gets angry. God gets, you know, upset. God gets, you know, ticked off. And there are some examples of this in the Bible. The generation that came out of Egypt and received the Law at Sinai at the bottom of the screen, the circle at the bottom of the screen, had an eleven-day journey, from Sinai into Canaan.
You’ll find the reference to eleven days in Deuteronomy chapter 1, I want to say around verse 5, it’s either verse 2 or verse 5 (Deut 1:2-5) but you’ll see the reference to an eleven day journey. (27:56)
All they had to do is trust God for eleven days and they were in the Promised Land, and they should have trusted God because they had received the Law, and they had received the manna, and they had seen the ten plagues in Egypt. So, you know, trusting God shouldn’t be that tough for eleven days. Just trust me for eleven days and you’re in the Promised Land, and they came to the southern border of Israel, a place called Kadesh-barnea, they saw giants in the land and they went into unbelief. They, it’s all recorded in Numbers 13 and 14 (Num 13,14). They became like grasshoppers in their own eyes. In other words, they were analyzing their circumstances, not from the perspective of God, but from the perspective of themselves, even though God had helped them all this way, and what could have been an eleven day journey, turned into a 40 year nightmare, where God just said, Ok, I’m done with you all. They all wandered around in the wilderness for forty years, and as they all started to die, God started to work with the kids, their children. (29:12)
Psalm 95, verse 10 (Psa 95:10), looks back at that event and it says: For forty years… this is God speaking… I loathed that generation. Now, before you dogpile on these people too much, it kind of sounds like us a little bit, doesn’t it? God delivers, God does this in our lives, and the next problem comes up and we go into fear. So, it shows you the attitude of God towards His people when we just don’t believe, and so the anger of the Lord was kindled against that generation.
Hebrews 3, verse 10 (Heb 3:10), quoting Psalm 95, which is commenting on the generation says of God: Therefore I was angry with this generation. And said, they always go astray in their heart, and they did not know my ways. So, if you want some examples of the anger of God, these would be biblical examples.
By the way, the book of Romans chapter 1 says this, God right now as I speak is mad at the whole world. Well Pastor, you are not supposed to say that, you are supposed to say for God has so loved the world, well He does love the world, but as I speak he is angry at the world. I’m getting that from Romans 1 verses 18 through 20 (Rom 1:18-20), which says: For the wrath, isn’t that anger? For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power, His divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what He has made, so that they are without excuse. (31:29)
It’s obvious God exists according to Romans 1 because God has revealed himself in creation. You don’t have design without a designer. So even the most sophisticated atheist, so called, is really not an atheist. What they’re doing is they’re denying the obvious, and as the world does this, and one of the reasons the world does this, is the world wants to live how it wants to live. It wants to be God. Now, if you want to be God, you have a big problem. You have to explain away the existence of the true God as revealed in creation, and so what man does is he takes what’s obvious and he suppresses it. You know, you can be an atheist if you want to be an atheist but you going to have to work real hard at it. I like the title of Norman Geisler’s book “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist”. And as God watches the unsaved world doing this, it’s right out of the Bible Romans 1 verse 18 (Rom 1:18), his anger is kindled. So God right now as I speak is angry at the whole planet that’s doing this, just like He was angry at that Kadesh-Barnea generation there.(32:57)
So we don’t get a lot of teaching today on the anger of God. There was one of the most famous sermons ever preached in the United States that launched the Great Awakening in Massachusetts, by a man named Jonathan Edwards who became eventually president of what today is known as Princeton. And Edwards is probably considered to be one of evangelicalism’s brightest minds in terms of intellectual ability and he launched a great awakening called the first Great Awakening in America through a sermon, and you can find it easily online and you can download it, and read it. The title of it is “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” and as the sermon was preached, and some of the historical accounts I’ve read of it, indicate that Edwards really was not a great orator. So, he didn’t have PowerPoint, he didn’t have illustrations, he didn’t use humor. It was kind of boring actually, because he just got up and read it like a manuscript. Sinners in the hands of an angry God. And as he read it, people came under immediate conviction of the Holy Spirit for their sins. People were actually grabbing the pews for fear that they would be sliding into hell. And it had a power inside his church in Massachusetts and it had power outside the church, it had power in the harbor and that’s what started the first Great Awakening in America. It wasn’t a sermon about how to discover your purpose in life or how to be fulfilled, or it wasn’t based on John 3:16, I mean the whole point of it was Sinners in the hands of an angry God. (35:15)
And I just find it very interesting that as we start this book on Zechariah, the first thing that’s mentioned here is God’s anger. And who is God angry with? well, He tells you, verse 2 (Zech 1:2): The Lord was very angry with your fathers. Why was He angry with their fathers? Because of how their fathers treated the prophets on the eve of the Babylonian captivity. If you go back to the historical book of 2nd Chronicles chapter 36 verse 16 (2 Chron 36:16), it says: They, that’s the fathers 70 years earlier, on the eve of the captivity, continually mocked the messengers of God. So in other words, if you mocked God’s messengers, you are basically mocking God. If you mock God’s spokespersons, spokesmen, you are basically mocking God. So, all of these late night comedians, you know that want to malign Christians, and malign pastors, and malign preachers. I mean, they are really maligning God.
So, it says: but they, their fathers, continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath, there it is, anger… the wrath of the LORD rose up against His people, until there was no remedy. I mean, it got so bad that the Babylonian captivity was inevitable. So they were transported for 70 years from Israel into Babylon, 350 miles roughly to the east and there’s where they went for 70 years. And, Zechariah is harkening back to that and basically reminding them that God was angry, God was angry at your fathers, and his point is, as you get about your task of rebuilding the temple, don’t commit the same mistake. (37:40)
These lessons from history, as negative as they are, are there for your advantage, and then you drop down to verse 3 (Zech 1:3) and it says: Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Return to Me,” declares the LORD of hosts, “that I may return to you,” says the LORD of hosts. Now, notice that! It’s like a good parent. A good parent when they are upset or angry or disciplining their child, doesn’t just discipline the child forever. You don’t leave them in a perpetual state of being disciplined. Eventually, that discipline needs to turn into love, where you then, after having shown them the wrong path, you exhort them to get back on the correct path. So, yes! God is a God of anger but don’t think that that’s all He is, because it’s not that. His anger quickly moves into compassion here, as he exhorts the people to return to Him.
You’ll notice the reference to Lord of hosts, in fact right there in that verse, you see the Lord of hosts three times, and all the way through verse 6 (Zech 1:1-6), I didn’t count them up but it says Lord of hosts, there it is in verse 4 (Zech 1:4). As you go through that paragraph you’ll see Lord of hosts over and over again. What does that mean “The Lord of hosts”? I am sort of the opinion that hosts are called angels. So, in 2nd Chronicles 18, verse 18 (2 Chron 18:18): Micaiah said, Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing on His right and on His left. I would understand that as a reference to the angelic realm surrounding the Lord in heaven. God is a commander of an army, and His army consists of His unfallen, good, holy angelic beings. I think that’s why he keeps calling him over and over again the Lord of hosts. (40:14)
So what does God say here, the Lord of hosts. What does He say to His people after expressing his anger? He says (Zech 1:3): Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Return to Me,” declares the LORD of hosts, “that I may return to you,” says the LORD of hosts. Now, the word return here in Hebrew is Shuv and that word when it’s used in Greek is the Greek word Metanoia, change of mind, which means to repent. So what He is calling his people to do right here before they build anything is they need to repent, and not act like their fathers acted on the eve of the Babylonian captivity.
Now this concept of the nation of Israel repenting is hard to understand unless you have background in the biblical covenants. The covenantal structure is not going to be re-explained in the book of Zechariah, because that covenantal structure has already been outlined in the book of Genesis and in the book of Exodus, but basically, the thing to understand is the nation of Israel has a covenant with God. We’re going to be getting to this in rapid fire, I think pretty quick in our study in Genesis, Sunday mornings. (41:46)
The nation of Israel is the only nation that’s ever existed in the history of the world that has a covenant with God. It’s not Israel making their own covenant to God. It’s God going the opposite direction and making a covenant to Israel, it’s called the Abrahamic covenant, it’s unconditional, meaning God is going to fulfill these things no matter what, regardless of human performance, and in that covenant, Genesis 15, God promised Israel three things: Land, seed and blessing.
Those three promises are amplified in subsequent covenants made later, but they are just amplifying what’s already there. So Israel has those three things. Israel is the perpetual owner of those three things. Land, seed and blessing. And this is why God says things like, you know, as long as there’s sun, moon and stars, Israel will always be a nation before me. And He made that statement as they were on the eve of the Babylonian captivity, Jeremiah 31, throwing their own children into a fire to satisfy a pagan deity of prosperity called Molech. So as they’re doing that, and as they are about to be deported from their own land for disciplinary reasons, God says in Jeremiah 31, verses 35 to 37 (Jer 31:35-37), as long as there’s sun, moon and stars, as long as the fixed order remains, Israel is always going to be a nation before me. (43:44)
How can God say something like that? When the people were behaving so poorly? Because of the Abrahamic covenant. Israel has an unconditional covenant, not their covenant to God, it’s God’s covenant to them, Genesis 15. So Israel will always own these blessings. Well, if Israel always owns these blessings, then why does she need to repent? The answer to that is at the very bottom of the screen, something that comes alongside the Abrahamic covenant, 600 years later at Mount Sinai, bottom circle, called the Mosaic covenant.
The Mosaic covenant is very different than the Abrahamic covenant. The Abrahamic covenant is unconditional, the Mosaic covenant is conditional. And what the Mosaic covenant lays out is the circumstances or conditions that the nation of Israel has to fulfill for them to, watch my language very carefully here, enjoy what they own, because there’s a big difference between ownership and enjoyment. Those are two different things. Ownership means I own a beach house in the Hamptons. Now you guys know obviously I’m speaking fictitiously there. But let’s just pretend, just like the 9 free throws, made 9 free throws, own a beach house in the Hamptons but I’m so busy working I can never get to the Hamptons to enjoy or possess what I own, see that? So in the legal system there’s a big difference between owning something and enjoying something, owning something and possessing something.
There is nothing Israel can ever, ever, ever do to divest her ownership of those three blessings. Land, seed and blessings. They are always hers because of the conditions of the unconditional Mosaic (Abrahamic) covenant, the promises I should say, of the unconditional Mosaic (Abrahamic) covenant. But whether a particular generation enjoys what they own, possesses what they own, they have to obey the conditional covenant, called the what? The Mosaic covenant.
Six Parts of a Suzerain-Vassal Treaty in Deuteronomy
- Preamble (1:1-5)
- Prologue (1:6–4:40)
- Covenant obligations (5–26)
- Storage and reading instructions (27:2-3; 31:9, 24, 26)
- Witnesses (32:1)
- Blessings and curses (28)
See that? So when God tells His people to repent. He is not saying to them, Oh! I divorced you, so you’re going to have to repent to be my nation again. That’s an impossibility because of the Abrahamic covenant. What He’s saying is, if you don’t want to imitate the practices of your fathers, who were deported, and if you want to actually enjoy what you own, you have got to go back to the Mosaic covenant. You have to repent. And you say, well, this is all interesting history Andy, but I mean, this isn’t very practical. I mean, this is all kind of erudite, pie in the sky stuff but it doesn’t really affect us.
Well, let me explain you how does affect you. You, from God have virtually the same structure. You own salvation because God unconditionally gave it to you. You are going to be at the point of faith, always God’s child. That’s irreversible, irrevocable; it can’t be changed. But if you’re going to enjoy what you own to the maximum, you got to obey God under his power. There’s only one condition you have to meet to become His child, that’s faith alone, in Christ alone. But as we all know, in the Christian life, sin enters the picture and when sin enters the picture, does that mean I’m no longer God’s child? No, it means I have to repent and go back to, in our case, not the Mosaic law, but go back to the law of Jesus Christ as primarily expressed in the epistles, and there are many, many commands for you to follow there, under God’s power. Pray without ceasing, study to show yourself approved as a workman that need not to be ashamed but accurately handles the word of truth, forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, as is the habit of some, put on the full armor of God, I mean, how many commands can we rattle off here? Command after command after command and you say, well, I don’t want to obey those commands today. What happens to you? It doesn’t change your salvation, any more than Israel’s disobedience removed them from the Abrahamic covenant, it’s an impossibility. But what it did damage is their experience with God, their moment by moment enjoyment with God is hindered, every single moment we spent in disobedience as Christians, rejecting and neglecting God’s commands to us in the epistolary literature, and we obey His commands of course under His power, but there has to be a step of volition on our part or else you are a person that is saved but you’re not really enjoying or experiencing what it is that you already own. So, if you can understand God’s dealings with Israel, you can understand the outworking of your whole salvation. (50:12)
So when God says to Israel: Repent, go back to the Mosaic covenant, they are not doing it to become His nation again. They are doing it to enjoy or possess or experience what it is they already own. They have to obey the Mosaic covenant to enjoy or experience what it is they already own, given 600 years before the Mosaic covenant in the Abrahamic covenant. So that’s the meaning of repent or turn around. It’s always go back to the Mosaic covenant. To experience Me in the fullest and believe me folks, you’re going to need to experience Me in the fullest God says, because you got a big job in front of you. You’ve got to rebuild temple number 2, and Zechariah is going to say in Zechariah 4, verse 6 (Zech 4:6): It’s not by might, it’s not by power, but it’s by My Spirit. How in the world can you experience the strength of God when you are out of fellowship with Him, because you’ve neglected the Mosaic covenant just like your fathers did, that I was so angry with, 70 years earlier. (51:28)
So, Charles Lee Fienberg, in a wonderful commentary on Zechariah that I’m leaning heavily on as we move into this study says, concerning verse 3 (Zech 1:3) as it relates to us as church age believers:
Charles L. Feinberg – God Remembers: A Study of Zechariah (Wheaton: Van Kampen, 1950, p. 18.
“Positionally, we have been made nigh (Eph. 2:13), but experimentally we need to be ever more near.”
Positionally, we have been made nigh… in other words, we’ve been brought here, that’s your position… but experimentally we need to be ever more near. In other words, we need to obey God, not to become His child again but to experience Him in the maximum sense, and this helps us make sense of New Testament commands given to us, like James 4 verses 8-9 (James 4:8,9) which says: Draw near… it’s almost verbatim of what Zechariah is saying here in verse 3… Draw near to God and He will… what? …draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Is James addressing unbelievers with that and teaching them how to become Christians? Absolutely not, he is dealing with believers who already have salvation, who need to repent so they can enjoy God as Fienberg calls it, experimentally or experientially. (53:24)
1st John chapter 1 verse 9 (1 John 1:9) says: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Well, I guess that’s something I need to do, I need to tell an unbeliever to do, confess your sins to get saved. No, 1st John, like James is not written to unbelievers, it’s written to believers. Not so they can get salvation, they already have that, it can’t be taken away, any more than Israel’s position, via the Abrahamic covenant can be taken away. They need to confess their sins unto God, in other words, agree with God, that’s what confess means, homologeo, homo as in same, logeo as in speaking or spoken word. You put that together, it means agreement. You agree with God that your sin is sin, and then you ask God to help you change, under His resources, and if a Christian won’t do that, they’re still God’s child, but don’t expect God to do great things through your life, don’t expect God to use you to do extraordinary things on the earth, because you need, not just the right position with God, but the right experience with God.(55:04)
Another Charles Fienberg quote:
Charles L. Feinberg – God Remembers: A Study of Zechariah (Wheaton: Van Kampen, 1950, p. 15.)
“Since the book is mainly one of consolation and hope, some may be inclined to ask: Why does it begin with a charge to repent? The purpose, no doubt, is to preclude any false security on the part of the ungodly in Israel who might think themselves to be the recipients of the blessings and promises of God regardless of their spiritual condition.”
Since the book, Zechariah, is mainly one of consolation and hope, some may be inclined to ask: Why does the book begin with a charge to repent? The purpose, no doubt, is to preclude any false security on the part of the ungodly in Israel who might think themselves to be the recipients of the blessings and promises of God regardless of their spiritual condition. What he is saying is, haha, Folks, you’re not going to have the strength or the power to do what God wants you to do unless you repent and go back to the Mosaic covenant. Yeah, but my repentance and returning back to the Mosaic covenant doesn’t mean that we are not God special nation anymore. That’s true because of the Abrahamic covenant. But to experience God to the fullness, you need to repent via the Mosaic covenant. So, by way of analogy to the church, God is calling us as Christians to repent of sins, change our mind of sins, go back to the commandments He has given us in the epistolary literature, primarily what Paul calls the law of Christ. I don’t do that, because… Oh my Gosh! If I don’t do that I’m not going to heaven. I do it because I want to live a life of significance and meaning while I’m here. I want my life to count for something beyond myself. I want to be fruitful for God. So I repent, I confess my sins unto God, not to get saved, I already have that, but to enter into a full experience with God. So, that’s why in the book of hope and consolation, the very first words out of Zechariah’s mouth is repent, because without repentance, they might be God’s special nation but they can’t do what He wants them to do. And He wants this generation to rebuild the temple.(57:37)
Every generation that has ever existed, I believe God wants them to do something. I don’t know exactly what it is for our generation, but He wants us to do something. He wants your life to amount to something. And that can’t happen as a Christian without repentance in our daily lives. This is why when John the Baptist showed up, what was the first words out of his mouth? Verse 2 (Matt 3:1-2): Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. You have the ability to receive the King and the Kingdom but it’s not going to happen unless you repent first. Jesus preached the same message a chapter later. It says, He said: Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Messengers of the Kingdom In Matthew
- John the Baptist – Matt 3:2
- Jesus Christ – Matt 4:17
- 12 Apostles – Matt 10:5-7
- Seventy – Luke 10:1,9
This was preached by John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, the 12 apostles and the Seventy. It’s exactly what Zechariah is saying, and not only were those, the first words of Christ in the New Testament, some of the first, repent for the kingdom is at hand. But it’s some of the last words of Christ in the book of Revelation, because in the book of Revelation chapters 2 and 3, you’re going to run into 7 churches and what does He tell 5 of the 7 to do?
Every single church, 5 of the 7, He says, Repent. The only 2 churches that didn’t get the message of repentance from Christ himself, that’s what the book of Revelation is, it’s Christ’s words to John, to the church. That’s why that section is in red letters in the English translation.
So this idea of repentance amongst God’s people, is not just in Christ’s first words 2000 years ago, but it’s in His last words to the church in the book of Revelation. The only 2 churches that were not told to repent were Smyrna, church number 2 and Philadelphia, church number 6. And then you ask yourself, Uhm, that’s interesting, what did Smyrna and Philadelphia have in common? Oh, they were both under persecution from a group of people claiming to be Jews but were not Jews but were a Synagogue of Satan, Revelation 2, verse 9 (Rev 2:9) and Revelation 3, verse 9 (Rev 3:9). So, Smyrna and Philadelphia didn’t have to repent because they were persecuted, because that’s what persecution does to us. It draws us closer to Christ. When you are under persecution, suddenly life is serious, you’re taking God very seriously. So there aren’t these gaping backslidden conditions in our lives as there are during times of prosperity. But you look at the rest of the churches that weren’t under persecution, they needed to repent. Oh no, pastor! Don’t you understand that they’re building isolation facilities? And they’re coercing people to take the jab and if they don’t take the jab, they’re going to lose their job. Aren’t these terrible conditions? Not necessarily, because what’s starting to happen in our own country is we’re experiencing something that the rest of the world has been experiencing probably for 2000 years. We are starting to experience persecution. Don’t hit the panic button, that’s actually the design of God, because that’s the very thing that causes us to repent, drives us closer to Christ and as that happens, God can do and wants to do, great and wonderful things in our lives. So, I was going to try to make it through verse 6 but that’s not going to happen, or else you guys would be under persecution right now. So let’s go ahead and stop if you want to collect your young ones…