Sunday, November 28, 2010

November 28th - Enemies to Heirs

Prayer Requests
Thanksgiving and safe travels
Brianna flying home
Shell - Church Stuff
Tyler's Social Security
High School Applications - Jennifer
Tyler's Awesome Half-Time Lesson
Christmas Party - December 3rd

Text - Zechariah 9

Our passage this morning is one of the most prophecy rich passages in all of scripture. It has near and far prophecies, as well as mid. There is a ton of history here, and names abound. The history of this chapter is quite interesting, but I want to focus on how it all points to Christ's ultimate purposes in coming to seek and save the lost, to exalt the humble and cast down the proud.

Chapters 7 and 8 can be summed up basically as contrasts, what would you call the religion of chapter 7? Worthless. And the religion of chapter 8? True. What is the difference between true and worthless religion? Worthless religion is doing things for God in order to make him be on your side, true religion honors God in action because it's the right thing to do. I think this quote sums up true religion better than any other quote, it's by Paris Reidhead:

"Lord Jesus, I’m going to obey you, and love you, and serve you, and do what you want me to do as long as I live, even if I go to Hell at the end of the road, simply because you are worthy to be loved, obeyed, and served; and I’m not trying to make a deal with you."

How does the Word of God interact with these two? How is the Word to people in worthless religion? It is a curse and is against them. How is the Word to people in true religion? It is a blessing and is called amazing things. For example, in the New Testament it's called the Word of God, the Word of Christ, the Word of Promise, the Word of Faith, Living and Active, and it is Holy, Good, and Righteous.

Today we're going to start out looking at the Word being a curse on a lot of people. Let's look at some that God is really angry with.

Zechariah 9:1-6 The burden of the word of the LORD is against the land of Hadrach and Damascus is its resting place. For the LORD has an eye on mankind and on all the tribes of Israel, and on Hamath also, which borders on it, Tyre and Sidon, though they are very wise. Tyre has built herself a rampart and heaped up silver like dust, and fine gold like the mud of the streets. But behold, the Lord will strip her of her possessions and strike down her power on the sea, and she shall be devoured by fire. Ashkelon shall see it, and be afraid; Gaza too, and shall writhe in anguish; Ekron also, because its hopes are confounded. The king shall perish from Gaza; Ashkelon shall be uninhabited; a mixed people shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of Philistia.

So verse 1, God is against the land of Hadrach. We're not exactly sure where this is for several reasons, but based on the description of the cities we have a good idea of the size and scope of this country or alliance. It is basically Modern Day Lebanon. The capital is Damascus, and some of its major cities are Hamath, Tyre, and Sidon. These are amazingly wealthy cities on important trade routes. Tyre is super rich because they are the only natural port on this side of the Mediterranean. They have more money than they know what to do with, the richest part of the city is on an island just off the coast, and it has walls up to 150 feet tall in some places.

Because of the wealth and frequent travel through there it has attracted all sorts of people; rich people, smart people, greedy people, and all sorts of people great and small. Tyre at this point was an amazing city. Because of the amazing wealth and wisdom in this city the king elevated himself far beyond the position he rightly held, turn to Ezekiel 28 with me. In verses 1-10 we see the king as man:

Ezekiel 28:1-10 "Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, Thus says the Lord GOD: "Because your heart is proud, and you have said, 'I am a god, I sit in the seat of the gods, in the heart of the seas,' yet you are but a man, and no god, though you make your heart like the heart of a god— you are indeed wiser than Daniel; no secret is hidden from you; by your wisdom and your understanding you have made wealth for yourself, and have gathered gold and silver into your treasuries; by your great wisdom in your trade you have increased your wealth, and your heart has become proud in your wealth—therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because you make your heart like the heart of a god, therefore, behold, I will bring foreigners upon you, the most ruthless of the nations; and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom and defile your splendor. They shall thrust you down into the pit, and you shall die the death of the slain in the heart of the seas. Will you still say, 'I am a god,' in the presence of those who kill you, though you are but a man, and no god, in the hands of those who slay you? You shall die the death of the uncircumcised by the hand of foreigners; for I have spoken, declares the Lord GOD."

And we're going to see in verse 11-19 that the true king of Tyre is none other than Satan himself.

Ezekiel 28:11-19 Moreover, the word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD: "You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you. All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever."

How the angel Satan interacted with the king of Tyre is hard to say, but either way God's anger is kindled against both.

In 332 BC Alexander the Great razed Tyre and cast her into the sea. The swiftness of Alexander astounded all, Daniel said he moved so quickly his horses' feet didn't touch the ground. All who saw this great bastion of worldliness destroyed were terrified and rightly so, for they were the next to be conquered by Alexander. All of this happened almost 200 years AFTER Zechariah was prophesying this.

Our first application is that God has created examples of his wrath to remind the world that setting our affections on things that perish, and especially considering people as gods and idols, is foolishness and only ends in destruction. It is not at all wrong to see God 's vengeance come on a city and hence forth tell the people to repent or they likewise will perish.

Amos 3:6 Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?

This verse says that disaster does not come unless God has done it. But if people will turn, and look to God for salvation:

Zechariah 9:7-8 I will take away its blood from its mouth, and its abominations from between its teeth; it too shall be a remnant for our God; it shall be like a clan in Judah, and Ekron shall be like the Jebusites. Then I will encamp at my house as a guard, so that none shall march to and fro; no oppressor shall again march over them, for now I see with my own eyes.

Even though God is putting an end to many of his enemies, he is still saving some of them. They will be like the Jebusites, the people who were in Israel before the Israelites, who were assimilated into the covenant. When they are saved God will put away their idols. I love that God says he sees with his own eyes. This is a direct assault on the false gods whom don't see, don't hear, and don't speak.

Psalm 135:15-18 The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them!

One of their greatest idols is their love of bloodshed, and in this verse we see that God will remove this idol from them. It's powerful when we consider it in light of Psalm 11:5,

Psalm 11:5 The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.

Even those these enemies of God were totally hated by him, he chose to save some anyways. God has a salvation coming, let's read verse 9-13 as to how it is going to happen.

Zechariah 9:9-13 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double. For I have bent Judah as my bow; I have made Ephraim its arrow. I will stir up your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece, and wield you like a warrior’s sword.

When Christ came, this prophecy was grossly misunderstood, they expected him to come into Jerusalem with flaming sword swinging it and totally taking over. Reading this I can see why they thought that, but I think they totally missed the humility part, that Christ was going to defeat evil in the most amazing of ways, by substituting himself for it so that he could be both the just and the justifier of his saints. This was a well known prophecy for the Messiah in the first century, everyone knew what it meant when Christ arrived on a colt.

Matthew 21:1-11 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord needs them,' and he will send them at once." This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, "Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'" The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, "Who is this?" And the crowds said, "This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee." And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.

This prophecy was amazing for Zechariah's time, saying that the Messiah would cut off the war horse from Jerusalem. Certainly the people would understand this to mean that there would be no more need of war horses after the Messiah came, but in the first century it would have had an even more personal meaning that Roman soldiers were stationed all throughout Jerusalem, than an alien government was oppressing the Jews.

Verse 11 is utterly amazing, it's my favorite, "because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit." Jesus quotes it in Matthew 26:27-28.

Matthew 26:27-28 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

The original hearers of this prophecy would have expected this coming King to offer a sacrifice instituting his new covenant. From chapter 6 they would have known the Messiah would be both priest and king and could offer a sacrifice to God. I don't know how many of them possibly could have expected that it would be himself he was offering as the perfect sacrifice. Certainly none who called for his crucifixion expected as much, since they crucified him for claiming to be God. His purposes were to set the captives free, those who were slaves to sin, which was all of us, loving ourselves more than anything, utterly wrecking the lives of many, failing to turn people towards everlasting life, and in this, God saved us anyways. We were his enemies, just like those in the beginning of the chapter, yet he saved a remnant out of his enemies.

Colossians 1:21-23 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Instead of slaves to sin, prisoners of the Devil (2 Timothy 2:26), now we are prisoners of hope, slaves of Christ. Verse 13 is beautiful too, because it reminds us that God is ultimately in control, using people as he so intends. Hebrews 4:12 speaks of God's Word as a sword, when you have it committed to memory or you read it and proclaim it to people, you are a sword in the hand of God. These Greeks and Hebrews would have been used for war, but beloved, we are peacemakers, declaring peace between God and man, a sword meant for peace.

Now in verse 14 we transfer to Christ's second coming. It is just a picture of the coming Armageddon that will be described much more fully in chapter 14.

Zechariah 9:14-17 Then the LORD will appear over them, and his arrow will go forth like lightning; the Lord GOD will sound the trumpet and will march forth in the whirlwinds of the south. The LORD of hosts will protect them, and they shall devour, and tread down the sling stones, and they shall drink and roar as if drunk with wine, and be full like a bowl, drenched like the corners of the altar. On that day the LORD their God will save them, as the flock of his people; for like the jewels of a crown they shall shine on his land. For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty! Grain shall make the young men flourish, and new wine the young women.

This passage beautifully describes Christ's second coming, that he will appear in the sky like lightning, similarly to how he describes himself in Matthew 24, and that there will be a conquering army with him that are impervious to stones slung at them, who are able to step easily over missiles fired at them. The effect of this army is amazing, just like Christ is covered head to toe in the blood of his enemies in Isaiah 63, so will this army be drenched in their victory.

I love this verse 16, it is your major application, that your total purpose is to shine the light of Christ on the world and be a trophy of his grace.

In all of this we see that God has enemies, that he is more than capable of utterly destroying them, but that he also chooses to save some and sanctify them, that he did that by sending his Son the first time to have a humble entrance riding on a colt, that he poured out the blood of the covenant for the forgiveness of sins, that he rose on the third day, and he is coming back to judge the world and rescue his saints. He came on a colt the first time, as he comes back to conquer he will come on a white steed.

Revelation 19:11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.

Be a light shining in the darkness, proclaim the excellencies of Christ, explain to people that they are either prisoners of sin, or prisoners of hope, that there is no other option, that they will face this Christ as either an enemy or as a reconciled friend. They must repent or perish.