Pastor Aaron - Matt 28
Covington Witnessing, esp Charles and New Age Lady
Preaching at KSU
Students still traveling - Back to School
North Cobb Homecoming Ministry
Text – Zechariah 5:1-4
Last week we looked at a really complicated lighting system, what was it made up of? It was a seven pronged lampstand with tubes running from a big golden bowl and the bowl was connected to two olive trees. What was the main point of this lighting system? That it was automated, and apart from God we can do nothing. The verse the sums it all up is,
Zechariah 4:6 Then he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts."
Who are the two olive trees representative of? First the King and the High Priest, and more permanently Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. One thing that I forgot to mention completely was the oil and what it represents. What sort of oil was this? Olive oil. What was its purpose? Fuel to the lamps so they would stay lit.
Looking at the New Testament, what does the lampstand represent? The church, and individual churches. How are churches fueled by God? Through the Word of Christ:
John 17:17-19 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
So the oil here represents God's Word to his people, under the Old Covenant this was delivered in sundry and amazing ways, but today it is delivered through God's Son, as revealed through the Bible. You remember that I said that the Hebrew is vague on exactly how the oil gets from the bowl to the lampstand, it's either 7 tubes or 49 tubes or maybe and probably 7 tubes from the bowl and 7 tubes connecting the lamps together. This way the lights are all connected and this reminds us to constantly be edifying the saints, and fellowship of individual churches, and sharing Bible verses and encouraging one another to shine forth in the world.
Ephesians 5:14 "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."
Last week it could be said that the Word is a blessing, an anointing that fuels us and allows us to do great works. Our lesson today is going to look at the Word of God not as a blessing but as a curse. Before we read Zechariah I want to show you that just because we now walk in the light does not guarantee we will always be in the light, a church can lose its way and become mired in either doctrine or love, failing to love righteousness, and be both hearers and doers of God's Word.
Revelation 2:4-5 I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
So let's read Zechariah 5:1-4 and see the Word turned towards those who are neither hearers nor doers and see that it is a curse to many.
Zechariah 5:1-4 Again I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, a flying scroll! And he said to me, "What do you see?" I answered, "I see a flying scroll. Its length is twenty cubits, and its width ten cubits." Then he said to me, "This is the curse that goes out over the face of the whole land. For everyone who steals shall be cleaned out according to what is on one side, and everyone who swears falsely shall be cleaned out according to what is on the other side. I will send it out, declares the LORD of hosts, and it shall enter the house of the thief, and the house of him who swears falsely by my name. And it shall remain in his house and consume it, both timber and stones."
Picture this scroll for our intents and purposes as a flying Bible, that is how Zechariah would have understood it, the very Word of God in action.
v.1-2 Again I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, a flying scroll! And he said to me, "What do you see?" I answered, "I see a flying scroll. Its length is twenty cubits, and its width ten cubits."
The first time we see this scroll it is airborne, but not moving, the Hebrew means it is hovering. This scroll is MASSIVE, it's the size of a room, specifically the Holy Place of the Temple. A cubit is the length of your arm from elbow to finger-tip. It's not particularly strange that it's so big, there are several large scrolls of ancient antiquity. This would have been a parchment scroll, animal skin, and we see that it is going without the help of men, just as we saw earlier that the lamps stay lit without the help of men.
First we just see it hovering, but soon we'll see it moving:
v.3 Then he said to me, "This is the curse that goes out over the face of the whole land."
It goes out, not just over Israel, but over the whole world. This curse is the law of God, which is not a sin itself, but reveals sin in our lives and shows what sin is, and so such it becomes a curse to all sinners:
Romans 7:7-10 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, "You shall not covet." But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.
Read verse 10 again, The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.
That started long ago in the Garden of Eden, but it continues today in our own sin:
Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.
How can we say that the law of God is a curse to the whole world if the whole world hasn't read God's law? It's not for lack of effort that they don't have the law, missionaries have been sending the Bible out for thousands of years, but many reject it and outlaw it and burn it and think that they have found another way to be justified, but this law doesn't need to be in written form to stand against sinners, indeed, just hearing the law doesn't set those who have the Bible above those who don't.
Romans 2:12-16 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
There are no lack of verses that back this up, do you get the point though, that the Bible can be both a blessing and a curse? It reveals the words of eternal life, but if we don't heed them we will be cursed by the Bible. Alternately we don't trust in just reading the Bible and sort of keeping it, though many people in the past did, and many people today still do. Christ was very harsh towards them:
John 5:45-47 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?
Let's look at a short sample of the sort of curses Moses gave, this is Deuteronomy 27:
"'Cursed be the man who makes a carved or cast metal image, an abomination to the LORD, a thing made by the hands of a craftsman, and sets it up in secret.' And all the people shall answer and say, 'Amen.'
"'Cursed be anyone who dishonors his father or his mother.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen.'
"'Cursed be anyone who moves his neighbor’s landmark.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen.'
"'Cursed be anyone who misleads a blind man on the road.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen.'
"'Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner (traveler), the fatherless, and the widow.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen.'
I'm going to summarize verse 20-23 for the sake of you getting the point, go back and read this later with your parents, but there is a greater point here than the individual sins that are being committed. Somebody read 1 Thessalonians 4:3 for us before we go any farther:
1 Thessalonians 4:3 This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality...
"'Cursed be anyone who performs sexual immorality, for they sin against God, themselves, and other people.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen.'
"'Cursed be anyone who strikes down his neighbor in secret.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen.'
"'Cursed be anyone who takes a bribe to shed innocent blood.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen.'
"'Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen.'
This is just a taste of how the law of Moses can curse, there are many other ways. Let's go back to Zechariah and see how it will curse according to his vision:
v.3 For everyone who steals shall be cleaned out according to what is on one side, and everyone who swears falsely shall be cleaned out according to what is on the other side.
These are commandments, right? Stealing is the eighth, lying is the ninth. These are the two that I find people have the least problem with, but here God is saying that these are fit to be cursed and eradicated by his law. His perfection requires perfection, he cannot tolerate even the smallest of sins.
Revelation 21:8 ...all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.
Yesterday we witnessed to a young man named Charles who said he would get into Heaven because he knew God and loved his world and the people in the world. I asked him he ever lied to anyone, he said he had, I said he had failed to love that person. I asked if he had ever stolen from someone, he said he had, I told him that he wasn't loving that person. I asked about hating someone and looking with lust, and Charles realized quite quickly that he wasn't loving people, but that the curse of the law would be his downfall. This is why people curse: cursed words are an indication of the condition of our heart, for out of our heart our mouth professes:
Matthew 12:34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
Is this law just incidentally a curse, and God is sad and surprised that it brings death? No, not at all, in verse 4 we see that God is the one using his law a curse:
v.4 I will send it out, declares the LORD of hosts, and it shall enter the house of the thief, and the house of him who swears falsely by my name. And it shall remain in his house and consume it, both timber and stones.
This curse will find the sinner where they live, there is no hiding or amnesty or statute of limitations.
Numbers 32:23 But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out.
God is making an allusion in verse 4 to the law causing those who break it to be similar to lepers. (Leviticus 14:43-45) Leprosy defiles a person and prevents them from standing in God's presence, and they are required to tear down their house and take it out of the city. The law will put a person out of God's presence and city forever. It is very tempting to say that this is another reason why Jesus Christ went out of the city, that they destroyed the temple of his body and took it outside of the city and this was God symbolically taking all sin outside of the city in Christ's body. However, the New Testament doesn't affirm this so we'll have to wait 'till we get to Heaven to be sure this was a direct fulfillment. I'm fairly sure it's right though.
But there is a direct fulfillment about this curse in the New Testament and so let me show you that while we were all condemned under the law, cursed by our failure to affirm and do everything there-in written. Let's look at one that we haven't personally been cursed by:
Deuteronomy 21:22-23 If a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.
None of us has been cursed by being hanged on a tree, but do you know anyone who has?
Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree."
So there is hope for the cursed, there is an anointing from the Anointed One whom was cursed for us, he stood in our place, consumed by his Father's wrath for our transgressions. We must repent towards God, we must trust wholly in his saving work, we must apologize for our sins and seek forgiveness from the God who justifies.
If we won't, this curse will lead to our damnation, not because the law is sin, but because that very commandment which meant life has become death to us when we transgressed it.
Those who will not repent are storing up wrath to be revealed on the day of wrath, as Isaiah says so well,
Isaiah 24:4-6 The earth mourns and withers; the world languishes and withers; the highest people of the earth languish. The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched, and few men are left.
Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt...Beloved, I implore you, in the name of Christ, do not put your trust in this law which we cannot keep, rather put your trust in the Law Giver and Keeper, Christ himself, who though he was perfect in every way, gave himself up to deliver us from this present evil age according to the will of our great God and Father:
Deuteronomy 30:15-20 "See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them."