Sunday, September 5, 2010

September 5th - The Apple of God's Eye

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Text – Zechariah 2

Last week I skipped a major point in chapter 1, I meant to tell you why I was skipping it, but I forgot. If I ever skip something or you don’t understand, please don’t hesitate to ask; sometimes I think something is more clear than it is and so won’t explain or won’t go too deep and leave you confused. Don’t let me do that.

What I skipped, on purpose, was

Zechariah 1:14 Thus says the LORD of hosts: I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion.

The Bible says 35 times that God is jealous, so we see that it’s not a typo or rare or mistranslated, but that God is frequently jealous.

Exodus 34:14 You shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God…

What does it mean that God is jealous for his people? It means that God loves his people and has their best interest in mind so when they do something bad or someone does something bad against them he is moved to action. Imagine you see someone getting beat up on TV, you might say, “Well that’s bad.” Now imagine you see someone getting beat up in person, you should intervene or at the very least call for help. Now imagine someone is beating up your best friend or brother or sister, you’re going to be moved to act a lot faster. There is no lack of people being indifferent or even mean-spirited when someone needs help, like a man in New York beaten to death while people walked right on by, or an amazing quote by a pastor in Nazi Germany:

When the Nazis came for the communists, I said nothing; I was, of course, no communist.
When they locked up the Socialists, I said nothing; I was, of course, no Socialist.
When they came for the trade unionists, I said nothing; I was, of course, no trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews, I said nothing; I was, of course, no Jew.
When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
– Martin Niemoller

God’s name is Jealous, he is a jealous God, he is moved to action for his beloved, he is active in the lives of his people and in their protection. The reason I didn’t explain this last week is because this is the major theme of chapter 2. Remember that Zechariah is having a full night of visions of God’s plan, this is the third of eight, so let’s read it:

Zechariah 2:1-13 And I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand! Then 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." And behold, the angel who talked with me came forward, and another angel came forward to meet him and said to him, "Run, say to that young man, 'Jerusalem shall be inhabited as villages without walls, because of the multitude of people and livestock in it. And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the LORD, and I will be the glory in her midst.'"

Up! Up! Flee from the land of the north, declares the LORD. For I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heavens, declares the LORD. Up! Escape to Zion, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon. For thus said the LORD of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye: "Behold, I will shake my hand over them, and they shall become plunder for those who served them. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me. Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the LORD. And many nations shall join themselves to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. And the LORD will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem."

Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD, for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.

So let’s do just a bit of review. What are some major events that are happening or have just happened in Jerusalem? They’ve just come home from the exile, Zechariah has called them to repentance, and they are rebuilding the temple as per Haggai’s prophecy.

v.1 And I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand!

This is a man with a long tape-measure like device. Zechariah knows what he is, but he doesn’t know what his job is. What is Zechariah quickly becoming famous for? His great questions. That’s verse 2.

v.2 Then 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."

We see that the purpose of a craftsman who measures cities is to record the size of a city at a certain time. Jerusalem at this point is HUGE as compared to what it used to be. It is literally taking up the whole of Mount Zion and is walled all around, though the walls were still quite wrecked from the war eight decades earlier. This person would also likely record the population of a city as well.

v.3 And behold, the angel who talked with me came forward,

Who is this angel? It’s the angel of the Lord from chapter 1, none other than the King Jesus Christ himself.

v.3 and another angel came forward to meet him and said to him, "Run, say to that young man,

This is reminiscent of chapter 1 where God has ministering angels, Christ sends another angel to go talk to the kid with the measuring line. What do we do with minor details in visions? We have to figure out why they are there, because God has put them there for a reason. We don’t do that with all of life, like why are there two red markers on the white-board…but we do always do that with visions in the Bible.

Any ideas why Jesus calls this person a young man, or probably better translated as, “kid”? I think it’s because he is na├»ve as to the purposes of God and he thinks that God’s people can fit inside of one city. Here is what Christ sends as a message,

v.4 'Jerusalem shall be inhabited as villages without walls, because of the multitude of people and livestock in it.

This is my favorite verse. It is utterly amazing, Christ is saying that his people will be too numerous to fit in one city. Jerusalem was already overflowing her walls, and Christ is saying Jerusalem will be a city without walls. This was absolutely unheard of in ancient times. Without a wall every Visigoth and Minigoth and Maxigoth and Mediumgoth barbarian could just come in and rape and pillage and in all ways wreck your day.

Nehemiah 4:7-9 But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.

To have a city without a wall in these days was stupid, when the greatest weapons were catapults and arrows a wall was a fantastic defense; we don’t have them anymore because F-22’s don’t really care if your city has a wall around it. Not having a wall was insane, which leads us to another fact of history: Jerusalem was in ruins when Zechariah was prophesying this. Her walls were in shambles, many Jews didn’t return from Babylon for two reasons, first because of the condition of Jerusalem, and second because they fell in love with Babylonian life.

v.5 And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the LORD, and I will be the glory in her midst.'

The protection of the Christian is not a pile of stones, but our King protecting us and keeping us from every danger he doesn’t intend.

Job 1:9-10 Then Satan answered the LORD and said, "Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.”

I think I want to read the whole of Psalm 91;

1He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."
3For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
4He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
7A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.
9Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
14"Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation."


So back to Zechariah, God says he will be the glory in our midst. Which building was being rebuilt at this exact second? The temple; this was fulfilled immediately here when God returned to his people, but it was fulfilled perfectly when Christ did what is written in

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

After God makes this absolutely amazing prophecy for the universality of his church, that he would have believers not just outside of Jerusalem, not just outside of Judah, not just outside of Asia, but on every continent, each indwelt with the Holy Spirit, he calls for his people who refuse to leave Babylon to come home.

v.6-7 Up! Up! Flee from the land of the north, declares the LORD. For I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heavens, declares the LORD. Up! Escape to Zion, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon.

The daughter of Babylon becomes a way in the New Testament of referring to the world. So we can apply this to ourselves fleeing from this present world seeking the city to come, that is New Jerusalem or Heaven. We don’t get enamored with this land and not want to leave when given the opportunity, but that we’ll stay in this exile as long as God has us stay, but we happily go home when the time comes.

In Revelation 17, starting in verse 5, John looks at the world and marvels at it, thinking she is beautiful, but the angel responds and tells John not to marvel, because Babylon is an old worn out prostitute and a murderer.

If the people in Babylon would not flee, then they would perish when God sent his destroyers to Babylon. Likewise if we will not flee spiritually then we will perish in God’s wrath. And wrath is coming, for verse 8 says,

v.8 For thus said the LORD of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye:

Here we return to the idea of God being a jealous God. What does it mean that God’s people are the apple of his eye? This literally means the pupil of your eye, the middle of your eye. Figuratively though it means what his eyes are fixed on, whom he loves.

Psalm 17:8 Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings,

And a command for us,

Proverbs 7:2 keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye;

I heard a whole sermon trying to say that this verse doesn’t mean that God really loves his people, but rather that it’s about him getting poked in the eye. It wasn’t a very good sermon, but check this out, when we compare chapter 1 to chapter 2 we see that God is very jealous for his people, and when someone hurts his people, it’s just the same as if they poked him in the eye, because they are the full focus of his affection.

What color horse is Christ riding on in chapter 1? Red. What does a red horse symbolize? War. Christ is saying that he is sent to deal with those whom mistreated God’s people. This all comes together in verse 9-12 which we can see is mostly set in the future, so we’ll read it as a package,

v.9-12 "Behold, I will shake my hand over them, and they shall become plunder for those who served them. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me. Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the LORD. And many nations shall join themselves to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. And the LORD will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem."

We see that ultimately God will destroy all of his enemies and save his people, not just from amongst the Jews, but from all nations, and that we will be temples of the Holy Spirit, and that Christ will dwell in our midst. Then we will know even more than now that Christ is the true Messiah because of how many amazing things he has accomplished. His reward then is this people, an inheritance of nations.

Psalm 82:8 Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!

And finally verse 13 is one of my favorite in the whole Bible. Some people think that because it has taken so long between Abraham and Moses, and Moses and David, and David and Zechariah, and Zechariah and Christ, and Christ until his second advent, that God is sleeping or unable or unwilling to act. But verse 13 clears that up,

v.13 Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD, for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.

We have promises that God is slow to anger and great in power, he will not leave the guilty unpunished, he will protect his people and they will have eternal life. On the final day he will rouse himself, his patience will run out and it will be a terrifying day for his enemies. One of the weirdest descriptions of God, but amazingly descriptive, in the whole Bible is:

Psalm 78:65-66 Then the Lord awoke as from sleep, like a strong man shouting because of wine. And he put his adversaries to rout; he put them to everlasting shame.

God will arise with such strength, power, quickness, and lack of restraint that his enemies will be completely crushed. The New Testament says we will respond in one of two ways on that day. One, we will be scared out of our wits seeking to hide anywhere, or we will be glad seeing the appearing of our King. There is no middle ground, we must either repent towards God and put our faith in the Resurrected Christ, or we must prepare to make war on an impossibly strong and jealous warrior God.

If we repent then we become part of this Jerusalem which spans the globe, which is protected by the presence of God, spiritually inviolable because of wall of fire. If not, then we will perish with Babylon. Whatever happens, Christ will receive the reward of his suffering.