Division of the Mount

“Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.

For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle.

And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.” Zechariah 14:1-4 (KJB)

STUDY HELPS: Isaiah 13:9, 16; 64:1; Joel 2:1; 3:2; Malachi 4:1; Matthew 24:28; Revelation 19:17;

The Selfish Shepherd

“Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! The sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.” Zechariah 11:17 (KJB)

Some thoughts from John Wesley…

“The idol shepherd – To them that are but the images of shepherds. That leaveth – Casts off the care of the flock. The sword – Of the enemy, shall break his strength and be – fool his counsels. Dried up – They that have gifts which qualify them to do good, if they do it not, they will be taken away. They that should have been workmen, but were slothful, and would do nothing, will justly have their arm dried up. And they that should have been watchmen, but were drowsy, will justly have their eye blinded.”  JOHN WESLEY’S NOTES ON THE BIBLE for Zechariah 11:17

John Gills notes on Zechariah 11:17…

Woe to the idol shepherd,…. Or, “the shepherd of nothing” (w); that is, no true shepherd, that is good for nothing, for an idol is nothing in the world, 1Co_8:4 and who is an idol himself, sits in the temple of God, and is worshipped as if he was God. 2Th_2:4 and is an encourager and defender of idolatry:

that leaveth the flock; has no regard to its spiritual concerns; does not feed it, but fleece it, and leaves it to the cruelty and avarice of his creatures under him:

the sword shall be upon his arm; with which he should feed the flock:

and upon his right eye; with which he should watch over it:

his arm shall be clean dried up; his power shall be taken away from him; the antichristian states, which supported him, shall withdraw from him; the ten kings shall hate the whore, strip her naked, eat her flesh, and burn her with fire, Rev_17:16,

and his right eye shall be utterly darkened; not only given up to judicial blindness, which has been always his case; but his kingdom shall be full of darkness, Rev_16:10 his hidden things of darkness shall be exposed; all his crafty schemes will be confounded; and all his wit, cunning, and subtlety, will cease; and everything desirable to him will be taken away from him. His “arm” may denote his secular power, which shall be taken away from him: and his “right eye” his knowledge of the Scriptures, judgment in controversies, and infallibility pretended to by him, which wilt cease, even in the opinion of men. Ben Melech interprets it the eye of his heart or mind; and so Aben Ezra.”  JOHN GILL’S EXPOSITION OF THE BIBLE

For, Lo, I Come

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD. And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be My people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee. And the LORD shall inherit Judah His portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again.

Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for He is raised up out of his holy habitation.” Zechariah 2:10-13 (KJB)

Some thoughts from The Biblical Illustrator:

I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee

The restorer of Israel and Judah

Note that the name of “the Lord,” or “Jehovah,” is applied to two distinct persons; to Him who sends, and to Him who is sent.
Note also that in this prophecy the future restoration of the Jews is spoken of, as well as their settlement at Jerusalem after the Babylonish captivity. The words of the text evidently relate to the future restoration. A period is yet to come, of glory to God, and of prosperity to the people of Israel and Judah; and that the Son of God, the Messiah, will dwell among them, acknowledged and honoured as the Lord of hosts. Note some of the circumstances which will mark that season of the fulfilment of God’s promises to His people.

  1. The conversion of the people of Israel and Judah.
  2. The restoration of all the tribes to their own land.
  3. The people of God will be restored to their native land in the midst of wars and tumults. Their return will be preceded by violent convulsions, and by a season of disaster and tribulation, such as the world has never yet witnessed.
  4. The first and most remarkable circumstance in the condition of God’s people after their settlement in their own land, is His immediate presence among them.
  5. God will make a new covenant with them. It will involve a much higher degree of religious knowledge.
  6. The pardon of sin is mentioned as one of the promises under the new covenant.
  7. The consequence of this abundant pardon and superior know ledge is the greater practice of virtue. This superior degree of purity and holiness in the people of God, is the gift of God Himself, the effect of that abundant effusion of the Spirit which will adorn the Church under His own immediate care.
  8. The advantages will not be confined to Israel, but will flow out to other peoples.
  9. Jews and Gentiles being united as one body of faithful worshippers, a pure and holy service will be paid to God in Jerusalem. The people will enjoy all worldly and spiritual blessedness. Let us seek to attain a share of these coming blessings. (T. Bowdler, A. M.)

The joy of the Divine presence

1 No difficulty or strait can take away from the Church the true cause of her joy, nor excuse her for not rejoicing in it, for when the Jews are now a contemptible handful, deserted by their brethren, vexed by their enemies, and some of themselves conspiring against them, yet she is called to this duty, “Sing and rejoice.”

  1. The Lord’s own presence in and with His people, is His choice and matchless gift, which He is willing to give before any other thing, and which, as He will not disdain to bestow in His people’s lowest condition, so it is a gift that should occasion much joy and refreshment to them.
  2. As the Lord’s presence with His own chosen people is perpetual, and will bring intimate familiarity and love; so Himself will be at all the pains to make up this union, He will not, by sin putting Him, as it were, away for a time, be provoked to stay away, and will have this communion still upon the growing hand till they come to full fruition, for He will dwell constantly and familiarly “in the midst of thee.”
  3. It is the great ground of the Church’s encouragement, and the fountain of all other manifestations of God, that the Son of God became man, that her Redeemer is God, that He came and dwelt in our nature, and was like us in all things without sin; and that we may tryst with God in the man Christ, and know our tender-hearted Surety to be also God over all blessed forever, and able to save to the uttermost. This incarnation of Christ is it which this promise ultimately points at as the ground of their joy. “Sing, for I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith Jehovah.” (George Hutcheson.)

The joy of the millennial Church

The words point to the bright periods when messiah’s kingdom shall so extend as to embrace “many nations.” Three remarks are suggested concerning this joy.

  1. It is righteous. It is not only Divinely authorised, but commanded. “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion.” Often we are informed by religious teachers that joy is a privilege, but seldom told that joy is a duty. It is as truly a sin against heaven to be spiritually gloomy and sad, as to be socially false and dishonest. “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion.” Similar commands are found elsewhere on the pages of Holy Writ. “Break forth into joy, sing together” (Isa_52:9). “Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion” (Isa_12:6). Gratitude is joy; and ought not gratitude to fill every soul? Admiration is joy; and ought not every soul to be filled with admiration of the Divine excellence? Love is joy; and ought we not to love all creatures with the love of benevolence, and the Creator with the love of adoration?
  2. It is reasonable. But here are reasons suggested for this joy. What are they?
  3. The presence of God. “Lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord.” The highest happiness of an intelligent creature, is the presence of the object it supremely loves. “In Thy presence is fulness of joy.”
  4. The increase of the good. “Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day.” Is not this a good reason for joy—to see the clouds of error in the human sky breaking, dissolving, vanishing, and the Sun of Truth rising, spreading, and penetrating the whole earth with its lifegiving beams? Is not this a sublime reason for lifegiving joy—“Many nations shall be joined to the Lord,” as the branches are joined to the roots of the tree, as the members of the body are joined to the head?
  5. The restoration of the Jews. “For the Lord shall inherit Judah His portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again.”

III. It is reverential. “Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord: for He is raised up out of His holy habitation.” “The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before Him.” The profoundest emotions of the Soul are always mute. Superficial feelings are noisy and chattering. The shallow stream rattles amongst the hills. The deep river rolls by unheard. Deep joy is silent as the stars. It is so with the godly soul. In the presence of the supremely beautiful, it is filled with a joy that cannot speak. If we are loyal subjects of the great spiritual empire, we might well be happy. (Homilist.)”  From THE BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR on Zechariah 2:10-13

Words of the Prophets – Zechariah (2)

When Messiah Comes Again

Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.  Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle.

And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.  And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee.  And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark:  But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.

Zechariah 14:1-7 (KJV)

Thus saith the LORD of hosts… 012514

“Thus saith the LORD of hosts; ‘In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, ‘We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.'” Zechariah 8:23

Once a Curse… Spurgeon

The following is from Bible Gateway daily,

Once a curse but now a blessing

‘And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.’ Zechariah 8:13

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 11:13–24

In the dark ages, to be a Jew was to be deserving of all scorn and cruelty, and of no pity or consideration. To what exactions, to what fines, to what imprisonments and tortures, have not the sons of Jacob been subjected by the professed followers of the Messiah? It is perhaps the greatest of all modern miracles, that there should be one Jew upon earth who is a Christian, for the treatment they have received from pretended Christians has been enough to make them hate the name of Jesus; it has not been simply villainous, but diabolical. Devils in hell could not be more cruel to their victims than professed Christians have been to the sons of Abraham. They have been a curse indeed. Among all nations they have been a hissing and a byword. But the day is coming, and is dawning already, when the whole world shall discern the true dignity of the chosen seed, and shall seek their company, because the Lord has blessed them. In that day when Israel shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and shall mourn for their sins, the Jew shall take his true rank among the nations as an elder brother and a prince. The covenant made with Abraham, to bless all nations by his seed, is not revoked; heaven and earth shall pass away, but the chosen nation shall not be blotted out from the book of remembrance. The Lord has not cast away his people; he has never given their mother a bill of divorcement; he has never put them away; in a little wrath he has hidden his face from them, but with great mercies will he gather them.

For meditation: We should thank God for the Jews; through them he gave us his Word (Romans 3:2; 9:4) and his Son (Romans 9:5); he still has blessings to give to the world through them (Romans 11:12). If you blame them for Christ’s death, remember that he died for sinners, and that you, as a sinner, were also responsible.

Sermon no. 543
6 December (1863)

O what a blessing the Jewish people have been to the Christian and the world.  They have been used by God to provide us the Word of God, and our Lord and Saviour has come through them.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The House Left Desolate

Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.  Verily I say unto you, ‘All these things shall come upon this generation.  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!  Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.’  For I say unto you, ‘Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, ‘Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”  Matthew 23:34-39 (KJV)

The nations of Israel and Judah, though brought back together as one by Jesus’s time; they were also still neglectful in hearing the word of the LORD, and tried to kill the message with the messenger.  God’s message cannot be killed.  He will fulfill His Word to the letter.

The house of the temple in Jerusalem was left desolate, because the One who filled it and blessed with His presence walked out the door, and has not yet returned to it.  He does live in the hearts of His children; and will one day return to earth to reign in the world in His physical form.

-T.A.

 

Day 67 – Words of Warning and Promise

Some people will never listen to a “negative” comment.  They always want the positive stuff.  Let me ask this question;  What good is a battery with only a positive pole?   There is no battery with only a positive pole.  They all; from automotive – cars and trucks – to batteries for electronic gadgets, fire alarms, etc.; they all have a negative and positive pole.

My reading for the 67th day of my 90 day journey was Zechariah 10 – Malachi 4.  Yes!  I only read nine chapters today.  There will still be time for catch up reading.  Besides, I did not want to read only the first five chapters of the New Testament and Matthew to begin the NT.

The reading was mostly positive, yet there are some words of warning, yeah!  Negative stuff.  How good can the positive be, if there is no negative.  How powerful can the electric be without the negative.  I have an electric fence around my yard/lawn to keep cattle out.  I can assure you that without the ground wire (the negative), there would be no jolt on that wire.  You get my point.

One of the first negatives I will point out is,

“Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! The sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.”  Zechariah 11:17 (KJV)

The shepherd or pastor of whom the prophet is speaking is one who leads his people or followers in idol worship rather than the worship of the true God.  To me this has a positive message for the follower of God and Christ.  It tells me that there is coming a day when all idol worship, and worshippers will cease to be and that all will worship the one true God.

There is also coming a day when all Israel will look upon Jesus who was judged guilty by the angry religious leaders of that day; and He was without guilt.  His only guilt was that He was guilty of being holy, righteous, without blemish or spot; He claimed to be and is the Son of God.

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”  12:10

All will turn out just as the LORD has said.  Just as He has promised.  His Word will be fulfilled word for word.  Not one word shall fail.

Malachi is a prophet who sees the people who are “bored” with worship; yes, the worship of the LORD.  He confronts them with it.  More negativity is coming.  Do we not need to hear the negative to get a positive outcome?  you can close your ears all you want to negativity, but that does not help you or any others who may be actually perishing in their sin, and decrepit attitudes.

“A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a Father, where is Mine honour? and if I be a Master, where is My fear?’ saith the LORD of hosts unto you, ‘O priests, that despise My name. And ye say, ‘Wherein have we despised Thy name?’  Ye offer polluted bread upon Mine altar; and ye say, ‘Wherein have we polluted Thee? In that ye say, ‘The table of the LORD is contemptible.’   And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person?’ saith the LORD of hosts.”  Malachi 1:6-8 (KJV)

The people of Judah were going through the motions of worshipping God, but were not living the worship.  They had in affect departed from the worship of YHWH, and “wearied the LORD with your words” (2:17).  The prophecy of Malachi ends with a word of hope and promise of one coming to prepare the way;

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” 4:5-6

The Lord GOD calls all people to worship Him.  He is holy, righteous, and just.  He will not hold the sinner guiltless.  However, when the sinner receives His offering for sin we put on the righteousness of His own dear Son who bled and died for our sins on the cross, was buried – carrying away the sin, guilt and condemnation; and He bodily arose from the grave justifying forever all those who will believe on Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 66 – Consider Your Ways

Do we really stop to consider the way we live our lives?  Are we a society that is consumed with doing our own thing; out for self fulfillment?  It seems that way at times.  Whether we like to admit it or not there is evil in the world.  The only thing is who determines what is evil?

In our look at people we often see people joining in to help others.  There have been many storms, tornadoes, tsunamis, as well as fires and earthquakes; and multitudes of neighbors come and help one another recover.  That is a good thing.  Right?  I certainly see it as good.  Yet there is something wrong.

The something wrong is how people react toward God and His Word.

My reading today was from Zephaniah 1 through Zechariah 9.  There is a two chapter prophet within this reading by the name of Haggai where I got the title for this post.  Four times Haggai uses the word “Consider”.  Twice is to the returned people from Babylon to “Consider your ways”, and that is in the first chapter.

Though the words are not used in Zephaniah or Zechariah the cry is still with both of these prophets as well.

Zephaniah sees there is a departure from the LORD and calls for the people to return or suffer judgment.  The prophecy takes place during the reign of Josiah, king of Judah; and Josiah was one who did right in the eyes of the LORD.  Yet, even taking away the idols themselves does not remove the idol from the heart.  They were still practicing the evil of their hearts.

“I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD.  I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD.   ‘I will also stretch out Mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests; and them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham; and them that are turned back from the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor enquired for Him.”  Zephaniah 1:2-6 (KJV)

The LORD defines “evil” much different than man does.  Evil in God’s view is when His people turn from Him to serve and trust other things, such as gold, silver, friends, family; comfort and pleasure.  Evil is also when the unbelieving refuse to believe in Him.  The LORD desires those who are His to seek Him, to inquire of Him.

The prophet Haggai writes during the time of the return of Israel to the land of Promise, and they need to rebuild the temple, but they are neglecting doing so.  They have their own houses built, but neglect the temple.  Meaning, that they are neglecting the worship of the Most High GOD.  Hear the word of the LORD through Haggai,

“Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,  ‘Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?  Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; ‘Consider your ways.  Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.” Haggai 1:3-6

The implication and clear message is that they are lacking due to their neglect of worshipping the LORD.  That was their reason for being returned to Jerusalem; that is to rebuild the temple; yet they were neglecting the very One who was fulfilling His Word to them and for them.  Notice the following word from the LORD;

“And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.” Haggai 2:7

Even before the temple is completed God gives the people promise and hope for days to come.  The “desire of nations” is the Messiah of Israel.  He is the Savior of the world.  The seed of David.  The Prince of peace.  Wonderful Counselor.  Mighty God.   Everlasting Father.  He is the Son of God.  His name is Jesus.  He is the desire of nations.

Zechariah speaks of this One as well;

“And speak unto him, saying, ‘Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, ‘Behold the Man whose name is The BRANCH; and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of the LORD: even He shall build the temple of the LORD; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”  Zechariah 6:12-13 (KJV)

So, you may think that you are a “righteous person”, but by God’s standard you nor myself measure up.  We fall short.  There is only one hope to be rid of the evil in our hearts and lives.  That is by believing and receiving the gift God gives in the person of His Son Jesus Christ.  That gift is the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins.  He was buried, and He rose again bodily from the grave.  He cares for you.  God cares enough to give the very best.  Consider your ways.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Smallness Approved

It has been quite some time since dealing with the prophecy of Zechariah, but I am back to it today.  The portion we look at in this study is while the Angel of the LORD is speaking with Zechariah concerning the temple which was built in the remnant’s return from Persia, and the Babylonian captivity.

There are people who seem to think that smallness is a bad thing, and some in Zechariah’s day were seeing the foundation of the rebuilt temple as smaller than the previous one, which was Solomon’s Temple, and it was significantly smaller.  Let us consider the significance of “Smallness” in life.  We all start out as wee little babies, that is no secret; but then grow into monsters sometimes to build majestic empires in our own names.  Smallness is not bad, especially when God is in.  In the case of churches; there are many more small churches, than there are large Mega-churches (if there is really such a thing).  When I speak of churches here I mean the people, the congregation which makes up the Church.  Let us not despise the blessing of “Smallness” as God leads us.

“Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.” Zechariah 4:8-10 (KJV)

The Word of the LORD came to Zechariah; and this is the angel of the LORD who has been speaking with him since the beginning (v. 5, 1:11, 12); saying that Zerubbabel would lay the foundation of the “house” and would “finish it”.  This is during the time of Ezra (Ezra 5:1-2).  The people complained of the temple being so small in comparison to Solomon’s, and not so glorious (Haggai  2:1-9).  Reading Zechariah and Haggai we see that God endorses, designs, and approves this smaller temple.

Zerubbabel’s finishing the temple; though “Smaller” and “less glorious”; was evidence that the LORD of hosts had sent the angel to Zechariah.  There will be rejoicing in the presence of the LORD, and no one should despise the “small things” which the LORD has designed, and approved.

“The plummet” is the measuring line which Zerubbabel used in measuring and laying out the foundation.  The “seven eyes” is the fulness of the LORD’s Spirit in the rebuilding of this temple.  He is delighted in it.  He is glorified in it, and will be glorified in the future temple of the returned Messiah, the King of kings.  In the writings of the Chronicles of the kings it is written;

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9 (KJV)

The “Eyes of the LORD” are eyes of peace and love to those who yield to His power and glory.  He knows every heart, and every thought, and sees every deed of mankind.  He does show Himself strong for those whose hearts are perfect toward Him.  The remnant returning to Jerusalem, and rebuilding the temple were blessed by God the LORD in their obedient faith to Him.  Those who return to the LORD in faith will be blessed for their obedient faith in that future day, and every day they will return to Him.

Let us not be down trodden with concerns about the size of our churches, businesses, or our “kingdoms”, but rather be blessed in knowing that God approves the work of “Small things” when they are done in obedience to Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Mountain Will Move

Speaking previously in verse six, still through the prophet, God says, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.” We know that through much effort on our part at times, and through circumstances and events that that is so true. When we labor for God, trusting only in our own abilities and gifts, we fail. When we are reliant upon the LORD and trusting Him then there is no such thing as failure.

We look now at the seventh verse of this chapter:

“Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.” Zechariah 4:7 (KJV)

Zerubbabel is the king who is able to restore the destroyed Temple. There are mountains of obstacles. If we are a bit familiar with Israel’s situation this day we see many obstacles for the rebuilding of the Temple. There are questions as to where the Temple was located exactly; it is known to be on the same area as the Jerusalem mosque of Islam [Dome of the Rock].

This has great hope for the future day prophecy (Ezekiel 40-44). Though they had many obstacles during the building of the Temple during the days of Ezra, there is a world wide problem in these days. This just magnifies the words of verse six, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit“. Obstacles seem to make great opportunities for God to move for His own glory and our good.

The mountain like obstacles faced by the future day Zerubbabel will fall like crumbling rock, and will flatten before him. This “Zerubbabel” will be a leader of Israel in a future day who has a passion for Israel, and restoring the Hebrew worship to his people. It could be in a day very near. Not one word of the LORD will fail to come to pass. He has spoken, thus it shall be.

We see mentioned in verse seven, “…he shall bring forth the headstone” [or capstone] meaning the end of the building project. Zerubbabel finished the temple and there was great rejoicing (Ezra 6:16-18). Truly it is the “grace” of God that causes great rejoicing and celebration after so many years of absence, and trials.

Thank our LORD and God that we too can rest in the thoughts and promises of God, and that it is not by might nor by any power we may have, but it is always by the power of God’s Spirit that we can overcome, any mountain, or obstacle. If God has promised, it will be done. He has promised; it will be done.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Not By Might…

It would seem that the prophet Zechariah was asleep at the approaching of the angel who is speaking with him through this prophecy. The prophet has written,

“And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep” Zechariah 4:1 (KJV)

It could be that the prophet has just been awed and overwhelmed by the things he has just heard and seen in chapter three. and now there is more to the prophecy.

In the verses of chapter four we find a message which is familiar with the Revelation of Jesus Christ. It is also familiar with the five books of the Law of Moses. The candlestick was a light for the tabernacle in the wilderness, and within the Temple after it was built. It was the daily task of the priest to keep olive oil in the bowls of the candlestick so it would never go dark. In the Revelation there is a candlestick [Lampstand] for each of the seven churches. Or is there?

The prophecy continues,

“And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.” (vv. 2-3 KJV).

The original menorah of the temple was one candlestick [lampstand] with seven branches, and each had a small bowl for the oil, and a wick for the burning to provide the light. It seems that what the prophet is viewing is heavenly. Does the Word of God not tell us that the design for the tabernacle came from heaven?

Where in the tabernacle and the temple the refueling of the branches was the duties of the priests; we have a picture here of a never ending supply of oil going to the branches from the two olive trees. There is evidently two pipes to supply the seven pipes which provide the oil (v. 12). From “two olive branches” come the two pipes; from these two – one from each side – come the provision of oil for the light of the candlestick.

Jesus said, “Out of your bellies shall flow rivers of living water”, an abundance, an overflow, never ending supply. The supply is God’s and is His to fulfill.

“So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” (vv. 4-6 KJV).

It was the daily duties of the priests of Israel to tend to the oil of the lampstand, the bread, and the incense of the altar. Theirs was a task without end. However, when Jesus Christ came, lived, died on the cross, was buried, and bodily rose from the dead; the task of the priesthood is done. Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory fulfilled in these acts the work that was only pictured, foreshadowed, typical of the priesthood of Israel.

By the Holy Spirit, which is given by the Lord Himself, there is a never ending supply from God of power to overcome sin, darkness, wickedness, and every vile deed. There is power to live righteously, justly, holy, and given entirely to the Lord and His work.

We have seen in chapter three the introduction of Joshua the high priest, and now we find a king. Now, isn’t that a wonderful picture. Jesus Christ the holy, just and undefiled High Priest who became our sin offering Himself; and risen to life as the King of kings; full of grace, and power, and glory.

The might, the power of men such as Joshua and Zerubbabel is not sufficient to endure the task of the salvation of men, and the salvation of Israel. Thus it has been given, “Not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit, saith, the LORD of hosts.”

In Jesus Christ the risen Lord of glory there is a never ending supply of the oil of the Spirit of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

God’s Servant, The Branch

The visions of Zechariah are directed toward the future restoration of Israel following their full chastisement from the LORD.

In chapter three we have seen the priest Joshua in dirty garments. These garments are of the Aaronic priesthood of the people of Israel. They have been dirtied by their gross departure from the living God, to include the worship of manmade images which imitate created beings. They have dirtied by their participation in the cultures surrounding them. Despite this God, the LORD of hosts in all His grace provides them and all people a way to Himself.

We find in the verses of this study that God in grace does offer the privilege of the priesthood back to Israel/Judah as a people of priests, and it is not because of their greatness or great lives, but because of the wonderful grace of God.

“And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by. And the angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by. Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH. For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree.” Zechariah 3:5-10 (KJV)

This “mitre” or “turban” was part of the High Priest dress, and was inscribed with the words, “Holiness to the LORD (Exodus 28:36-37; 39:30-31). This turban was a symbol of the return of the priesthood to the people. Remember this is something that is yet future. It has not happened yet because Israel is still in a state of rebellion against God. When they return to Him He will then return to them their correct status with Him. In His grace He has been moving, sovereignly moving, in other nations and people; through their trials, suffering and tribulations to bring them back to Himself.

How can this happen? We see in the verse above, “And the angel of the LORD stood by”. It has been stated before that this “angel of the LORD” is quite possibly the pre-incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ. We have Him protesting, or admonishing which means, “reprove with warning”. The Word from our Lord is that they need to walk in the ways of the LORD, keep His commands, and then they shall be “judge in My house”. That point makes me think of the apostle Peter’s inspired words, “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel”.

As Christians, we are a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), given a responsibility to others to show them the way to God. If our witness is not what will magnify the Lord Jesus, then we shame His name. Paul said, “If we would judge ourselves we would not be judged”, so let’s begin at our own house to deal with sin, our own sin. When we are given too much to our culture and society, then we have no testimony; we have no conviction; we have no fire for cleansing, and we have no power for the gospel to affect and change lives. Maybe this is what is meant too, by the words, “They are men wondered at…”. We may have people who preach against us, who seem to hate who we are and what we stand for; but they respect us when we do not behave as they behave, and show love toward them.

Upon the death of Jerry Falwell there were words spoken by men who had had battles with our brother, yet they showed respect for him in their final words for him. Because of a man who stood by his convictions and faith. Can that be said of you and I? I pray so.

“My servant the BRANCH.” This is a prophetic word for the coming of the Lord Jesus. Actually there are two prophetic words or phrases used here. The first one “My servant” comes from the prophet Isaiah. See Isaiah 42 – 53 and Ezekiel 34:23-24. This term speaks of the submissive, obedient heart of the Savior who became man. Jesus, as a man, yielded to the Father, and fulfilled the Father’s will. The BRANCH shows His rise from a poor and humble beginning to receive “All things placed under His feet” from the Father.

“The stone…” is also Messianic and speaks of the stone which was rejected becoming the headstone or cornerstone.

“The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.” Psalms 118:22-23 (KJV)

“Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.” Isaiah 8:13-15 (KJV)

“Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” Isaiah 28:16 (KJV)

“Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” Daniel 2:35 (KJV)

“Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.” Daniel 2:45 (KJV)

There are several New Testament references to this as well. The stone here is seen as revered and having “seven eyes” which speaks of His Omniscience (All-Knowing), and that not one thing, even the falling of a sparrow from the sky or one of the hairs falling from our head passes His attention. He knows every deed we have done, or left undone.

The people of the Nation have a promise from God that in one day all these things will be accomplished, ie., all these promises which He has spoken and given them through His grace. It is God who says, “I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day”; not the prophet, not me; but the LORD Himself.

Has anyone seen any of this take place of this day – August 13, 2008? I don’t think so. As a matter of fact there is nothing in history which has recorded such an event for the Nation of Israel or the world. It is coming; and we can in fact rest peacefully in the knowledge that God will not let one of His words be voided by the complications of our human lives.

The hope of Israel can be found only in their Messiah Jesus Christ. The only hope for you and I, can only be found in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The only hope for the world, is found only in the one the “earth dwellers” love to hate, and His name is Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Cleansed – Clothed in Rich Robes

In the previous verses (3:1-2), Joshua the high priest, and Satan stood beside him, before the angel of the LORD, who is most likely our Lord Jesus Christ.

Satan’s position beside Joshua is the position of accusation. Joshua represents the nation of God’s people. The devil, Satan, is not only the accuser of Israel, but the accuser of the brethren of Jesus Christ – the Church (Revelation 12;10). he was even the accuser of Jesus Christ. He is accusing Jesus in Matthew 4 when he says, “If you are the son of God…”, saying it twice within the event of Christ’s temptation, then, the third temptation questions His loyalty by bidding his worship for himself..

The accusations of the devil may be, and are true of Joshua and of Israel – the one he represents. The “filthy garment” definitely show us that to be true as a picture. The nation has defiled itself and made herself vile and filthy.

“Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him.’ And to him He said, ‘ See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.” Zechariah 3:3-4 (NKJV)

Joshua the high priest standing before the LORD must have felt the shame of the garments, and the accusations of the devil, but the LORD does not condemn him; He gives him a clean garment (v. 5). We first notice that word is given to those who were with the Angel, “Take away the filthy garments…”.

These filthy garments were probably the typical high priestly garments worn by them to conduct their priestly duties. These were filthy, and in this can be seen a likeness to Isaiah’s words, “…and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” (Isaiah 64:6). The nation was full of righteousness; the problem was it had nothing to do with the righteousness of God; only self-righteousness. They were filthy due to the pretense and hypocrisy of their attempts at worship and involving their worship to foreign gods; they were idolatrous, backslidden, and this included the prophets, the priests and the people (Isaiah 24:2; Jeremiah 5:30-31); and the prophet Hosea said, “And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings” (Hosea 4:9).

God was not pleased with the priesthood of Israel, nor of the nations as a whole. That is the reasons for their continued captivities, and their recent returning to their promised land. They are still under judgment for their rejection of their Messiah Jesus.

That judgment will be changed, as this filthy garment is taken away and discarded, their iniquities will pass from them, and a new garment is given them. “Take away the filthy garments…” sounds similar to the call of Paul the apostles “Put off…” in Colossians 3:8; “Put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth…” and “Lie not to one another seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds” (Colossians 3:9).

Though the “Take away…” is done by God and is seen as grace and mercy and a total work of God, and probably is a great picture of salvation, deliverance, and the “iniquity” passing from them is purely a work of God; the “change of raiment” (KJV), is a clear act of justification. When there has been the change of life through faith in Jesus Christ; an exchange of our filthy garments for His clean garments – rich robes; we are then given the power and presence of the Spirit within to put off those vile things that interfere with our Christian walk. The old is taken away before the new is applied.

The grace of God is clearly seen in the Old Testament as in the New. There is a picture, type, shadow, a “Scarlet thread of redemption” seen all the way through to the cross of Jesus Christ. From Genesis 1 through Revelation 22 we see Jesus the Christ. Our sins and the accuser is by our side condemning us, but the grace and blood of Christ takes it all away, and He clothes us in His righteousness. Blessed be the name of the LORD.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Joshua, The High Priest

In beginning this chapter there are five characters shown which we are to identify. The first is the LORD; then; the Angel of the LORD; then Satan; the angel who is speaking to the prophet; and Zechariah, the prophet. Zechariah is the one who is viewing the vision which is being written.

“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. The LORD said ot Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Zechariah 3:1-2 (NKJV)

The one who shows Zechariah that the high priest is Joshua is the angel who has been communicating with him so far. Just where Joshua fits in is only to be figured out from the study of these verses.

Joshua, the High Priest has come out of captivity with the first returning group. He is named by the prophet Haggai, as being the “son of Jehozadak, the high priest” (Haggai 1:1), and by Ezra the scribe (Ezra 3:2; 5:2). This is clearly an actual High Priest who is representing the nation of Israel, being restored to their land.

The Angel of the LORD must be a Theophany, or as I have stated previously, a pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus Christ. This seems to be quite the picture. The High Priest Joshua standing before the Theophany of Christ, and Satan – the devil – standing at the right hand of Joshua. Satan is standing there in opposition to him. The devil hates the people of Israel, and he hates any of the Church of Jesus Christ. He stands opposed to any and all who will stand with the LORD and His Word, and His Son.

Joshua, also stands before the LORD in “filthy garments” (v. 3). This is significant in that Joshua the priest represents the nation; they too are filthy with their worship of idols, and their empty attempt to maintain their worship of God. When you turn from the LORD to worship anything else it is clear hypocrisy to “maintain” the empty worship attempts. The nation had committed spiritual adultery against the LORD, despised the sacrifices, despised the Sabbaths, despised their feast days, and worst of all despised the LORD God who had delivered them out of Egyptian bondage, and kept them secure.

God, the LORD, would do a mighty work in them again. He would deliver them from their filth, and filthy garments, restore them to their lands, and remove the reproach of the devil.

One thing I want to point out is that it seems some what odd that the LORD would say, “the LORD rebuke you Satan!” Maybe it is the power of His name, or the use of His name that causes the devil to flee. The Psalmist did write, “For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” (Psalm 138:2). It only shows that His Person and His name are equal. His Word is as good as His name.

These are all reassuring words for a nation which has come out of captivity. For them to have the Word of the LORD revealed to them concerning their future surely would give them hope, increase their faith, and draw them nearer to the LORD. Things are happening with the nation just as the prophets before the captivity had said. Isaiah warned them of it happening. Jeremiah warned them it was coming, and both tell us they would return. Jeremiah revealed that they would be in captivity for seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10), and Daniel the prophet put great hope in this promise (Daniel 9:2, 24).

Satan has gone to great extremes to extinguish the people of Israel. There are examples in the Old Testament. Their wicked practices caused them to turn their backs on the LORD, thus, the LORD sent their enemies to conquer them, and humble them, to call on His holy name. My, how stubborn we human beings can be. Over and over and over again the LORD seeks them out, calls them to return to Him, and many times, for a short time they have; and there has always been a remnant of those who were faithful to continue with the LORD.

Into captiviity they were taken. Many times beaten, flogged, ravaged, and always pillaged for the gold and silver of the temple and other possessions. The LORD’s rebuke of Satan is powerful, and he is unable to combat the Word of the LORD. When we have an example of the LORD Himself speaking His Word to rebuke the devil, we can certainly do no better.

“A brand plucked from the fire…” is speaking of the nation and their being in the fire of the trials of captivity. Yes! We can even look through Scripture and find that many of them that went into captivity made good for themselves. They began to fit right into the society of Babylon, and Shushan, and there were many who had become so successful there they did not want to leave. They had turned their backs on the true God, honoring other gods, and were quite comfortable living in captivity. They were the “brand plucked from the fire”.

The previous paragraph shows us strongly the peril Christians face as we conform to society rather than being transformed by the renewing of our minds. Paul the apostle wrote many years following the return of the captives to Jerusalem, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2 (NKJV). Woe be to the Christians today who become so comfortable, lethargic, and complacent to what goes on around us. We are pressured every day to conform to the idea of many gods, many roads, or ways to heaven, and don’t be so narrow minded. Just conform. Just get along. Don’t rock the boat.

We have this assurance that the LORD has rebuked Satan. He can do nothing to one of God’s children without the permission of our Heavenly Father. Satan desired to sift Peter as wheat, but the Lord Jesus prayed for Peter (Luke 22:31-32). We too have an Advocate with the Father. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God. We too have been plucked from the fire. Our High Priest is Jesus. Joshua, as many of you know is the Hebrew name for Jesus. The names mean, “The Lord is salvation”.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Sing and Rejoice

Sing and Rejoice

The Jewish people of the captivity of Babylon have been called to vacate Babylon and their lands. God is about to rain down judgment upon them because of their harsh and cruel treatment of the people. It is so sad when we find the people of God in compliance with the world, and must be dragged out of their state of complacency, apathy or comfort. Remember Lot and his family (Genesis 19:15-17).

The promises to the people who would return to Jerusalem and the land of promise was that they would be singing and rejoicing. This promise was for the people of that day and for their return to the land, but remember it has future meaning as well, and we must be assured that though the nation of Israel may have their land now, it is still being tread under foot by Gentile lords. So, the promise has never been fulfilled to the letter; but be assured God’s Word will not return to Him without the accomplishment of His intended purposes.

Let us hear the words of the prophet Zechariah:

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,’ says the LORD. ‘Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. And the LORD will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD, for He is aroused from His holy habitation!” Zechariah 2:10-13 (NKJV)

I don’t know how many people realize it, but the Bible is full of songs. It mentions many things concerning singing and music. For an example, there is one whole book of songs. It has been called the “Hymn Book of the Bible”; at least by me. It is the book of Psalms. There is at least one Psalm that is given to the people of Israel in Babylon – Psalm 137. The singing and rejoicing the prophet is speaking of is songs of rejoicing. “We’re going home” could be the title of the song they might sing.

With the words of the prophet God says to the people, “I am coming and I will dwell in your midst…” Is this the words of the prophet or is the prophet speaking for God? It seems clear to be the words of God. A promise of God that He has not forsaken them. It would not mean much to these people to have the prophet assuring them that he was going to be in their midst. The prophet tells us that these are, in fact, God’s words; they can be trusted.

There is a promise here that has not been completed. “Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they will become My people.” Now, we know that with Israel being hidden [as concerning the work and promises of God for a time] He is working through another people, and many Jewish people have become a part of this work – I am speaking of the Church of Jesus Christ, the Bride of Christ which is made of people of all tribes and nations of people. There is coming a time, however, when all nations will go and seek the Lord in Jerusalem, because that will be His throne.

Again, He promises to “Dwell in your midst”. Who is the One who is with us? Immanuel means God with us. Jesus Christ is Immanuel. He is with His people in the Church today, through His Holy Spirit; and there will be a day when we stand before Him face to face, and will SING AND REJOICE in His bodily presence. By this bodily presence of Jesus the people of Israel will know the presence of the One who became man, and died for the sins of Israel and the whole world. They will see Him, and believe and be saved.

The LORD mentions taking possession of His inheritance in the twelfth verse. Now, those who don’t believe in a millennial reign of Jesus Christ have to take this verse and forget about the literal fulfillment of the first coming of Jesus, and then spiritualize this one to come to that conclusion. Maybe the first coming was only spiritual; maybe there was no physical Jesus; maybe there was no body of Jesus that died on the cross: maybe the resurrection was only spiritual, like the JW’s say; maybe it was all spiritual. In this verse (12) is the only place in the Bible where the term “Holy Land” is used. The land of Israel only become holy when our Lord is sitting on the throne of David and glorified.

The final verse of the chapter calls for the silence of “all flesh”. When we see God, there will be no time for speaking; we will all be in awe of Him. Silence is golden when we need to hear Him, and not be demanding of Him. This is a time for God’s people, Christians, to be hearing God, and not making demands of Him like so many believe they can do. “He is aroused from His holy habitation” He has come down from His abode in glory, put on human flesh and died for our sins, carried away our filth, condemnation and guilt in His burial, and has risen victoriously from the grave and came out bodily, ascending to His Father sitting at His right hand interceding for us. He is returning from that abode, will set up His kingdom on earth, and He will reign from His throne from Jerusalem.

Come quickly Lord Jesus.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Get Out of Babylon

Get Out of Babylon

 

There were several Jews who had chosen to remain in the places of their captivity. They had grown comfortable, even complacent, and apathetic. They had made homes for themselves, but were going to be coming under judgment if they did not get out of “Babylon”. God was about to pour out, to rain down His judgment on the nation(s) that had so badly treated His people.

The following verses speak of the then captive people of “Babylon”, but even looks further into the future of the nation of Israel. It is future even of today’s world and time.

Hear the word of the Lord:

“Up, up! Flee from the land of the north,’ says the LORD: ‘for I have spread you abroad like the four winds of heaven,’ says the LORD. ‘Up, Zion! Escape you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon.’ For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘He sent Me after glory, to the nations, which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me.’” Zechariah 2:6-9 (NKJV).

There is surely more here in these verses than just a warning to the people in Babylon of Zechariah’s day to flee their current captors. The phrase, “I have spread you abroad like the four winds of heaven…” seem to imply they are all over the world. Babylon would have been most of the known world of that time. They were, or had been the dominant world power, but that was about to quickly subside. It had already fallen to the Persians, and would soon fall to the Greeks, and then be conquered by the Romans. God’s people were to be back in their homeland before Babylon fell.

The glory of the LORD would be seen in the fall of Babylon. Israel is the “apple of God’s eye”, and to touch His people outside of God’s hand of approval was to bring judgment on themselves. The glory of the LORD was not, or had not been seen in their captivity, but He was about to free them all, send them home, and secure His glory before the eyes of the people of Babylon and the watching world.

In procuring the glory of the LORD, the Babylonians became a spoil to the ones who had formerly been their servants. Remember when Israel left Egypt. The people gave them gold, silver, jewels, and precious gems. They were given much bounty. The same is true as they came out of Babylon.

If we will look at the present state of Jewish people we would see that many are currently in the land of Israel, and almost under duress by the nations of the world. There are also many of the Jewish people who are still all over the world. Many live here in the United States of America, many in Russia, Canada, and other parts of the world. They are “spread abroad like the four winds of heaven…”, but there will come a day, and probably very soon, when God will call them all to return to their promised land. They will receive spoils from those they have served, and then the world will know that the “LORD is God”; or as the prophet Ezekiel says it, “Then they will know that I am the LORD”; written some sixty plus times in Ezekiel’s prophecy.

There is a word from the LORD in these verses for today’s Christian as well. At a time when there seems to be a spirit of mingling with the sins of the world, an evil of co-habitating with wickedness whether it be in couples living together before marriage, or just going along to get along this is an evil that has come into the Christian family, and we do not hear the Word of the LORD, which the apostle Paul has spoken, “Come out from among them, and be separate,,’ saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:17). The false teachers are telling us we have to be like the world to win the lost of the world; but that is a lie from hell. Here we are told clearly, specifically to “Come out from among them…”. Hear the Word of the Lord, and “Get Out of Babylon”.

My what a mighty and powerful God we serve. His Word is coming to pass. Will you join Him in it, ie., in His work; or will you bow out? As for me and my house we will join Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Inhabited Without Walls

Inhabited Without Walls

 

There is much conflict in and around the city of Jerusalem. There is political conflict between, Hebrews, Catholics, and Muslims over who the city belongs to. My answer to that is not diplomatic, or politically correct, but it is Biblically correct. It belongs to the Hebrews.

It was given to them by God Himself in the book of Genesis 15. God even set their boundaries. “To your descendents I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates–” (NKJV). That should leave absolutely no question. It belongs to the Jewish people, though the time of that fulfillment is yet sometime in the future. They will have peace in Jerusalem, and that peace and protection will be from Almighty God.

Hear the words of the prophet of God:

“And there was an angel who talked with me, going out; and another angel was coming out to meet him, who said to him, ‘Run, speak to this young man, saying: ‘Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls, because of the multitude of men and livestock in it. For I,’ says the LORD, ‘will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’” Zechariah 2:3-5 (NKJV).

The future for Israel is not so dismal. They will one day experience peace from the Almighty hand of God. This is the Word of the LORD.

Nothing like this has ever been seen in the history of Jerusalem, at least since Solomon, and remember this is going to come from a “greater…than Solomon…”. However, there is coming a false peace for the City by the lies, promises, and covenant with the man who is the chief agent of the serpent – the master of lies and deception.

A similar picture is given in the final verse as that of the children of Israel journeying through the wilderness. As they were travelling through the treacherous desert the Lord was protecting them, and guiding them. He says, “I will be a wall of fire all around her…”. In the Exodus He was a pillar of fire by night. It was this same pillar of fire which stood between the Israelites and the massive Egyptian army, protecting them from danger of death at the hands of the soldiers (See Exodus 14:19-24).

There may be some who will say, “This is a prophecy which has already happened”. Nothing of such a magnitude as this has ever transpired. The Jewish people will come to their land from every nation. The City of Jerusalem will be enlarged beyond the old walls. In fact there will be no human built walls. No walls of stone. No walls of concrete. No walls made of barbed wire or any kind of wire.

People have gotten angry with the Israeli government for erecting fences, or walls. In the day of God’s peace there will be no walls, except the “Wall of fire” which is God [YHWH] surrounding her, protecting her, and her people from harm. Anyone who would dare lift even a single finger against Jerusalem will face the fire of the Almighty.’

The most glorious thing about this City at this time yet to come will be the presence of the glory of the LORD in the midst of her [Jerusalem]. God Himself will be the glory of Jerusalem. That means that Jesus Christ will be their Lord, Savior, and King. For there is no glory for Jerusalem apart from Jesus Christ.

The prophet Isaiah wrote by the Spirit of God:

“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.” Isaiah 58:8 (NKJV).

The message of Isaiah was for them to repent, and get right with God. When they get right with God; and at God’s time, not man’s, then, and only then, will the glory of the LORD be their rear guard.

Those who are in Christ Jesus today have Him as the “rear guard”. We are safe and secure in His arms.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Taking a Measure

This week’s being the celebration of Israel’s 60th Anniversary, as a recognized nation among the United Nations, this is a fitting reminder of God’s hand on the nation that will one day rise up as the one, to whom all nations will go.  God’s richest blessings on Israel, and may they hear and receive their Messiah Jesus.

Taking a Measure

In the book of Daniel the false king Belshazzar saw “handwriting on the wall”. It was interpreted by Daniel as meaning, “You have been weighed in the balances and found lacking”. Belshazzar had blasphemed the LORD God by desecrating the articles of the LORD’s Jerusalem temple.

Some could look at this measuring line and possibly see a means of judgment, but when you look at the context of the message it is not of judgment, but a word of future glory for the city.

Hear the Word of the Lord through Zechariah the prophet:

“Then I raised my eyes and looked, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand. So I said, ‘Where are you going?’ And he said to me, ‘To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length.’” Zechariah 2:1-2 (NKJV).

According to some this man, the surveyor, could be the Angel of the LORD, which in most scholar’s understanding means, that this “Angel of the LORD” is a manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ (pre-incarnate). The measuring is evidence of the Lord’s heart for the city of Jerusalem and the people of the city.

Just ask any builder; any responsible, accurate, careful builder will take measurements before they begin the actual building process. It would be quite foolish to measure as this gives us the picture, without an intent and purpose for building. It is sure evidence that God’s plan; and it is plan A, for He has no plan B; is to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, its temple, and recall His people – the Hebrews to this glorious place. It will see a glory even greater than that of Solomon; because a greater than Solomon is here (Matthew 12:42).

The city and the temple which God has designed for the reign of His Son will be the most glorious of cities and temples. Nothing will compare to it.

Who is the man with the measuring line? It would appear to be the pre-incarnate Christ giving hope, guidance, and assurance to the prophet and his people. We are not given the dimensions, but we can know that it will be practically immeasurable.

Surely this must be a word telling us of the restoration and rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jealous for Jerusalem

JEALOUS FOR JERUSALEM

“And the LORD answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words. So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy. And I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease: for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction. Therefore thus saith the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem. Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.” Zechariah 1:13-17 (KJV)

While there are numerous people who are telling us that the days of Israel, the days of Jerusalem being blessed by God are over; the Word of God declares their greatest days are just ahead. How close that may be we do not know. We do believe they are approaching quickly.

With a little consideration I have come to the conclusion that verse 12 belongs with these five verses. “Then the angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt Thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which Thou hast had indignation these three score and ten years.” In every case where the phrase where “angel of the LORD” is used in Old Testament Scriptures it is a reference to a Christophany, or pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus Christ. We will look at this a little more in depth in the commentary following.

Providing that “angel of the LORD” is indeed a Christophany it would fit into the description of the ministry of Jesus Christ following His resurrection and ascension into Heaven. In verse 12 of our text He is pleading with the Father for mercy upon Jerusalem, and the other cities of Judah. Certainly this is fitting with the intercession which we are told of in Hebrews 7:25 – “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” The “three score and ten years” were the years of judgment that they had spent in captivity in Babylon and the land was left desolate. He is our advocate with the Father as I wrote of earlier.

The LORD of hosts who happens to be the Father spoke with “good words” unto the Son, and they were also “comfortable words”. The intercession of the Son always persuades the Father, and He promises good for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah. Just what did the LORD of hosts say? We are told that in verses 14 – 17. It should be noted that even in the Old Testament the people of God – Jerusalem and the cities – had an advocate with the Father; who plead for mercy for them. It also should be noted that we get our message through the Lord Jesus. Apart from the cross of Jesus we have no message.

The LORD of hosts has said, “I am jealous for Jerusalem and Zion…”. That explains the reason for the seventy years previously mentioned. When His people forsake Him He will set about to judge their departure, their hypocrisies, their sins. He always judges with the full intent of bringing them back into His grace and fellowship. We are also told that He is “displeased” with the ease of the pagan heathen who have conquered, devoured and taken into captivity His people. He was displeased with the behavior of Judah, Jerusalem, and the cities. Do you not suppose that though we have the names of the cities named He is referring to the occupants of those cities? Cities are made up of people. When Abraham was asking mercy for the “cities of the plain” (Genesis 13:12; 18:23-33), was he not pleading for mercy for the people; especially of Lot? I believe that to be so. The Lord does acknowledge that the heathen who are at the east were His aid for the affliction of His people.

God always desires His people to be at peace with Him, and as long as we are He protects us, keeps us, holds us, even will keep us healthy; but when we turn from Him and begin worshipping other things; those walls of protection, provision, and power come tumbling down. When those walls are down the enemy comes in, devours and captures us, and for God this is as an affliction to lure us into returning to Him. There are times, as well when God Himself will allow His people to be tested, as in the case of Job, in order to strengthen our faith, and in the end He will bless us. Am I saying what some of Job’s friends said concerning Job. They accused him of being unrighteous, therefore he was being judged by God, and all he had to do was repent. My summation of this kind of situation is the one who is going through these trials will know. They will know whether this is judgment for a sin or sins they have committed or if it is a trial from God. The latter one may not be realized until the trial is over, and maybe not until eternity with Jesus. None of us have the right, nor the authority to tell another individual Christian, “What you are experiencing is the judgment of God for sin in your life”, especially if we do not know of any sin in their life that may be the cause of the judgment. When we have known a fellow Christian’s life; when we have seen them live faithfully for the Lord, and they begin to experience hardships, sicknesses, financial ruin and collapse our summation of the matter should be that this is a test of God, and we should let them know that we will be there to help them in any way we possibly can; and that we will be praying for them. We do need to remember that as with the people of Judah so with Christians of today; God will do whatever it takes to make us holy.

God says, “I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: My house shall be built in it, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem”. Jerusalem is the city of God. It is the place where mercy and grace has been displayed to the world, by the death of God’s own Son, for our sins. The MacArthur Study Bible note for verses 16 and 17 state, “Not only would the temple be rebuilt which at that time had only foundations (cf. Hag. 2:18), but the city itself would again expand due to the prosperity (cf.Is.40:9,10). The wall was completed 75 years later. God would again comfort Jerusalem (cf.Is.40:1,2; 51:3, 12), and would again choose it as the place of His earthly throne (cf. Ps. 132:13). This will be fulfilled in the millennial kingdom of Messiah (cf. Rev. 20). Given the fact tht the returning Jews lost sight of their priorities (cf. Hag. 1:1-12), this message reaffirmed God’s plan. It should be noted that the millennial kingdom will provide the presence of God in Jerusalem (Ezek. 48:35), a glorious temple (Ezek.40-48), a rebuilt Jerusalem (Jer. 31:38-40), the nations punished (Matt. 25:31-46), the prosperity of Judah’s cities (Is. 60:4-9) the blessedness of the people (Zech. 9:17), and the comfort of Zion (Is.14:1).” MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, NKJV, p.1340.

According to Scripture it is apparent that God will not fail in His promises and dealings with His Old Testament people. He will bring them to Christ Jesus their Messiah. “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and he will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins'” Romans 11:25-27 (NKJV).

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Man and the Horses

THE MAN AND THE HORSES

“Upon the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Sebat, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white. Then said I, O my lord, what are these? And the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will shew thee what these be. And the man that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, These are they whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth. And they answered the angel of the LORD that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest. Then the angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years?” Zechariah 1:7-12 (KJV)

It seems that my view of these horses and the man among the myrtles is going to be a bit contrary to those who I would give the greater credit for their many more years of learning than myself. However, here is what I am seeing in Zechariah’s vision. An angel is speaking to the prophet, thus Zechariah calls him, “my lord”, as opposed to the “LORD” of verse seven and the following verses where Jehovah/YaHWeH is represented in the text. It does not seem clear to me that the Angel of the LORD is the one who has been riding on the “Red horse”.

It seems more clear that the rider on the “Red horse” is being held at bay by the man standing in the myrtles. Zechariah’s question as to ‘What are these?’, and the angel who was with him means to give him understanding. The man standing among the myrtles, does not seem to be on horseback, as do the others, and gives the answer, “These are they whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth”. The walking ‘to and fro through the earth’ seems to me to be a clue as to their identity. This same phrase is used in the book of Job 1:7 and Job 2:2 where this is used speaking of the devil and the “sons of God”. There are similar horses mentioned in Revelation 6:1-8, and it has been said by some that the white horse rider of the Revelation is Christ, if He is seen as having already come the second time, or that He is visible only in His Church and that the Church will be victorious on the earth.

The myrtle tree is a lowly tree, and grows in the lowlands; the valleys, and hollows of the country. They could represent the lowliness of the nation of Israel. Here is the study note for “among the myrtle trees in the hollow. Myrtle trees wer associated with booth-making at the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev.23:33-44; Neh. 8:15) and with messianic blessing (cf. Is. 41:19; 55:13), and thereby possibly speak of restoration and blessing. Their location in the hollow has been thought to refer to a low place where such shrubs would flourish. Because of the lowliness (these shrubs would never exceed 8:ft. in height)commonness, fragrance (from white blossoms), and abundance in flourishing places, it is best to see these as representing Israel, God’s people. They are the lowly and yet enriched people. Their lowliness in thehollow could also refer to Israel’s current humiliation.” MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, p.1340.

In the vision the prophet would be seeing that the devil had been a disciplining tool of God during the seventy years of judgment upon Judah. The red horse would be a symbol of blood shed; much blood has been shed during the battles and dispersion of the Hebrew people. The angel of the LORD is probably the Lord Jesus as a theophany – preincarnate manifestation. He is the One standing among the “myrtle trees”, but I do not notice Him on any of the horses.

These horseman could have been walking “to and fro throughout the earth” for the purpose of destruction of the Hebrews who had all been taken captive with the exception of a small remnant which Jeremiah followed into Egypt. With the rest of the earth at rest the angel of the LORD pleads with the LORD of hosts for mercy on all Judah, and mercy on Jerusalem since there has been seventy years of judgment.

It is not the horsemen who plead mercy. It is the angel of the LORD who pleads for mercy for all Judah and the city of Jerusalem. “…We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” 1 John 2:1; and “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25 (NKJV), and while He pleads with His Father He holds the demon legions at bay. The Lord Jesus is the reason for mercy upon the whole world, and for grace for all who will call upon His name. It is because of the mercy of God that His wrath has not fallen on us all.

Jesus Christ is returning one day on a white horse, and that is according to the Revelation of Jesus Christ chapter 19:11-16; and at that point and time will deal with those who “dwell upon the earth”, ie., those whose hearts are on material things, have refused the Lord, His Word and His messengers, and believe that humanity has the answer for all that ills the earth. He will rule with a rod of iron, and there will be no wars, and the earth will have plenty after His restoration.

It is by the cross of Jesus that He entered that spiritual darkness, experiences the wrath of the Father, pays our sin debt, and defeats the devil and his demons. In which He also pleads mercy for His brethren who have endured seventy years of judgment starting in Babylon then on to Ahasuerus, and to Cyrus who gave the first authorization for the rebuilding of the temple.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Called To Return

CALLED TO REPENTANCE

 

The purpose and reason for this study is to give Biblical evidence and support for the restoration and renewing of the Nation of Israel. There are many prophecies throughout Scripture which gives this support, however, this one may be the strongest. I find it sad to hear Christians who would tell us and who are teaching the masses that “the Nation of Israel is no more” or “God is finished with the Nation of Israel”. My decree as it has been for many years, and as I search all of the Bible, and see all the promises starting with Abraham, then David, and Solomon is this; “If God falls short of fulfilling the promises to Israel, then, we as Christians have no sure promise of eternity either”.

It is certain; God falls short of nothing. His promises will be fulfilled, both to Israel and to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is promise from God even in Zechariah’s name; it means “YaHWeH Remembers”. He did not forget Israel in their exile to Babylon, nor will He forget her in the Last Days.

Zechariah and Haggai were contemporaries. They both preached to the returning exiles to Jerusalem around the time of the rebuilding of the temple around 536 B.C., and had ceased due to the haters and critics, and then, around 520 BC they began to preach to encourage them to get with the rebuilding once again. Zechariah is most likely the younger of the two prophets. They were both sent by God to be encouragers of the builders, and to have them move their hearts and lives in repentance toward God. “Haggai’s primary purpose was to rebuild the temple; his preaching has a tone of rebuke for the people’s indifference, sin, and lack of trust in God. He was used to start the revival, while Zechariah was used to keep it going strong with a more positive emphasis, calling the people to repentance and reassuring them regarding future blessings. Zechariah sought to encourage the people to build the temple in view of the promise that someday Messiah would come to inhabit it.” THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE p.1337.

“In the eighth month, of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, The LORD has been very angry with your fathers. Therefore say to them, Thus says the LORD of hosts; Return to me’, says the LORD of hosts, ‘and I will return to you”, says the LORD of hosts. “Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts; Turn now from your evil ways, and your evil deeds”. But they did not hear, nor heed Me, says the LORD. Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever? Yet surely My words and My statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? So they returned and said, “Just as the LORD of hosts determined to do to us, according to our ways, and according to our deeds, so he has dealt with us.” Zechariah 1:1-6 (NKJV).

While the people have just returned from exile, as the prophet of God that he is, he calls immediately for repentance. This is usually the first message of the prophets of God. This is an observation which only the LORD could or even would give. No false prophet ever calls for repentance, or a return to God. Zechariah’s prophecy ministry begins around 520 BC.

God gives the message to this prophet, and the first word He gives is, “Return to Me, and I will return to you”. He had first reminded them of their “fathers” who had forsaken Him, and served idols. Even though the people of God often have forsaken the Lord, God still is merciful, and longs for His people to return to Him. That is true within the Church as well. There are Christians who are in the world and carnal [of the world], and not living or walking in the glory of the Lord of life. His call to them is, “Come out from among them and be separate”.

The evidence of God’s judgment upon those who will not hear and heed the message of God’s Word is the exile. The ‘fathers’ of the exiles had loved and enjoyed their comforts, their security, their economy had been good, or so they thought. There was an enemy lurking at their door, they turned a deaf ear to God’s prophets, and many died and many went into captivity, and many lingered behind in poverty. When things look good, peaceable, comfortable, and secure be careful it is about to change. “When they say “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman.” 1 Thessalonians 5:3 (NKJV).

What is applicable for Israel is applicable for the Christian as well. Repent. We must return to our God. The Psalmist has written, “It is time for Thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void Thy law.” Psalm 119:126. With our economy having been good for so many years, and the cows have all gotten fat, the eagles are no longer soaring through the air hunting their food but feasting on dead chickens; could it be that the judgment of the USA is not far around the corner? We are having our society saturated with false gods, false doctrines, and false security; and some are wondering, “Where is God in all of this?” The answer to that question is, He is near, and will soon be here. When a nation has gone from being the “bread basket” of the world, feeding the world, to a food to fuel consumer, making our own food prices skyrocket, then the judgment of God is already upon us.

The LORD would be Just in the destruction of Israel. And He would be just as Just if He were to destroy us all. However, He will not due to the promises of His Word, and the shed blood of His Son Jesus Christ. He has instead called for those who are His, “Return to Me; and I will return to you.”

-by Tim A. Blankenship