Zechariah: The Coming King
A sermon given today at Springwood Church of Christ, outside Brisbane, Queensland
Shalom friends here at Springwood. Thank you for joining us today as we consider a biblical passage and its implications for us in the 21stcentury. Thank you to Pastor Geoff, my long-time friend and colleague in this keen interest in things Jewish.
You have a white involvement card from Jews for Jesus which I’ll ask you to tear on the perforation and fill in. Then later during the offertory will you be so kind as to drop that card into the plate? By that you are extending to me the privilege to speak to you again long after today, through the agency of the Jews for Jesus newsletter. Thank you for that.
I grew up an Orthodox Jew in Kansas City, in the middle of the US, and those days I had no interest in the things of Jesus and the Newer Testament. I did always enjoy Jewish things, and Jewish life, but I must say that the prophet Zechariah didn’t capture my interest. However, since coming to faith in Yeshua in 1971, my interests have radically changed. I hope, no matter where your interests are today, from a State of Origin game tonight, to a barbecue with relatives as soon as this service ends…whatever interests you, that today’s message about One who is vitally interested in you will find its way to your open ears.
For the next few minutes as I share from the Bible, would you please stay off your smart phone? Would you be ‘with me’ and see what you might learn? Thank you.
You have been listening to sermons the last couple weeks on what Christians and Jews title “The last days.” And our published title today is “The coming king,” so you know where I’m going with this talk. Let me give you a bit of background and some of the lead up to our chapter.
“Zechariah was a prophet of unrealized hopes, and although work on the second temple had already started when he began his ministry, he placed his work against the background of the exile and its causes. The exile had been due to the (previous generations) fathers’ rejection of God’s word to turn from their evil ways. Now Zechariah addresses another generation and asks them to learn from the past.” --Word Biblical Commentary
We today look to this ancient prophet with similar hopes. We want to learn from the past and see what God is saying to us against the background of the current exile and its causes. By exile, I mean that Jewish people in the galut, the expulsion, the diaspora since 70 AD, are still mostly living outside the land of Israel. To be fair, more than 6 million Jewish people now live in the Land again, but out of 13-17 million, that’s still a minority. So, we are still in exile.
(Pastor) Geoff also wants me to talk about Israel, modern Israel, and what just happened there in the last few weeks, and I will do so, to be sure. And he wants me to give you real hope about the soon return of Yeshua, given the realities we see in the Book of Zechariah and the news. May I add that in light of all this God-talk and this Last Days-talk, we really have to sort out how we should live in Southeast Queensland, or in Sydney, or wherever we call home.
The book begins with taunt and continues in the many visions that Zechariah has on one day, a particular date just before the Spring New Year and Passover in the year 520 BC. The prophet chides the people of Israel, and intersperses his prophecy with hopeful words, not many mind you, but some.
One of the greatest prophecies he gives is recorded in chapter 9. This one helped make me into a believer, or rather helped confirm my new faith in 1971. I had gone to the rabbi of my synagogue with my King James Bible, and we had quite a discussion about what he called Christianity.
He said something like this: “I know there are two pictures of Messiah given in one chapter. Zechariah chapter 9. There we see the humble one, mounted on a donkey and bringing salvation to the Jewish people. Later in that same chapter we see the majestic one, bringing salvation in a different way to the Jewish people.” The rabbi was using those two images to teach me again about the two messiahs, one, the ‘son of David’ and the other the ‘son of Joseph.’ David’s son would be the royal one who would dominate. The royal Son.
Joseph’s son, as in Joseph of Potiphar’s house, Joseph whose brothers sold him into slavery, Joseph who lived a suffering life, his son would be the ‘suffering son’ which some other prophets like Isaiah would describe.
The rabbi, Maurice Solomon, said, “We as Jewish people have a choice. If we live righteously, Messiah will come on the clouds of Zechariah 9. If we live sinfully, we will await the donkey bringing us the Messiah.”
What the rabbi tried to do was exactly the opposite of what happened. He wanted to convince me that we as Israel could determine the manner of the transportation of the Messiah. It depended on the righteous living of the Jewish people. What I had been reading and what I continue to see in all my readings of the Tenach is that Israel never lives so righteously, and if it depended on us, if we had to live sinlessly, well, the reality would be the Messiah would have to ride on his donkey. Thus, Rabbi Solomon convinced me that Messiah had to be Jesus.
Back to Zechariah. The taunt of the early portion is reiterated against the shepherds in chapter 11. This section seems a repeat of the call on God to judge in chapter 9. And it’s very similar to taunts in Jeremiah (Chapter 25), Isaiah (10) and Ezekiel (27). And of note is that God who judges the false shepherds will Himself shepherd His people into better places. I love that.
Oh, and the thrown 30 pieces of silver and the potter’s field are also found in chapter 11. You might enjoy seeing that initial reference there, especially as you compare the judgement scene in the Gospels.
Chapter 12, which we read this morning, is clear in light of our world today. It’s about Jerusalem particularly, and Israel as we know it today, in wider perspective. You might know that the USA withdrew last week from the United Nations Human Rights Council. (It was first a committee in 1947, then a Commission in 2006) This agency composed of 53 nations was charged with reviewing abuses in the world. A simple albeit grand task. And that would include reviewing the likes of Libya and Iraq, North Korea and any number of global hot spots. But their focus seemed to be on Israel. By 2013, Israel has been the target of their finger pointing in 45 resolutions. That’s more than the rest of the world combined! No wonder those who value human rights, and legitimate conversation found this number out-of-bounds and the US withdrew. Remember George Bush wouldn’t join the Commission in 2006 because he saw the deck stacked against Israel.
What does our text say?
“Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup 1that causes reeling to all the peoples around; and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah. It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely 1injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.” (Zech. 12.2-3)
When I first started in my walk with Yeshua, I read the book, The Late Great Planet Earthby Hal Lindsay. It was almost required reading among the Jesus people in the US. There the predictions were abundant, and one I remember the best was that the world would turn against Israel before Jesus returned. I found that ridiculous. After all, just 25 years earlier, in 1948, the world in remorse and embarrassment for dismissal of Nazi aggression and the murder of 6 million Jews, had established the State of Israel at the UN. In 1948, then in 1956, in 1967 and even after Lindsay’s book was published, in 1973, little Israel had beaten back the massive attacks of the Arab league around her. Global opinion was seriously in favor of the little Jewish state. So how would Lindsay’s prophecy and dare I say, Zechariah’s prophecy, be fulfilled?
The trial happened and is happening daily, in the media. The judges are the editors and reporters who see some of what’s happening and report their biased view. The BBC and our own ABC among many others are pushing the agenda of big-bad Israel vs poor little Arab nations, most notably Gaza, in their anti-Semitic raging. That’s how Lindsay and Zechariah are found to be right.
When I returned from Jerusalem after 5 weeks there, I read the report of former Foreign Minister, Senator Bob Carr. Carr has spoken out again and again against Israel. Most recently he said on Sky News that he accused Israel of “war crimes” and said the recent Gaza violence “makes it inevitable” that federal Labor will recognise Palestine.
( https://www.jewishnews.net.au/carrs-latest-rant-leaves-alp-leaders-patience-stretched/77571 )
I responded on my Facebook with this quote: “Dear Mr Carr. I’ve been here in Jerusalem for over a month and every reasonable reporter from all sources are saying something quite different than you. The worst thing for a politician about being ignorant is opening your mouth and letting everyone know you are.”
This was not even close to the first time for Mr. Carr.()
So what, you say, Israel is in the news. What does all this have to do with you in Springwood?
The prophet we are studying says it IS a big deal. That when the nations gather against little Israel, THEN the people of Israel and Judah will cry out to the Lord and He will save them.
How fitting then that during this latest outreach we conducted with our international staff, that we encountered and had meaningful conversations with over 3,000 Israelis. We met again with over 800 of those during our four weeks of work in May. 1,700 of the people gave us their details for further follow-up. And 58 Israeli Jews gave their lives to Yeshua as Lord and Saviour. Hallelujah!
When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Lord will raise up a standard, and draw His people to Himself. Amen?
Zechariah predicted that Judah will turn to Yahweh (verse 5) and we wonder if this might not be about that time.
Last time I was with you three years ago, I spoke about the final sign, the sure sign of the last days. It’s found in Romans 11. The guarantee that Yeshua was returning was sealed in a massive number of Jewish people coming to faith in Him. That, my friends, continues to this day. I don’t know when the threshold will be reached, or maybe it has already been reached. But God is drawing Jewish people to Himself, in New York, in Sydney, in Tel Aviv and Berlin, and as I just mentioned in Jerusalem. It’s a wonder to behold and should give you confidence to loudly and lovingly proclaim that message here in Springwood and wherever else you travel.
Look at Zechariah 12.10
“And I will pour out on the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. And they will look to me whom they pierced, and they shall mourn over him like the mourning for an only child, and weep bitterly over him as one weeps bitterly over an only son.”
The Jewish people will cry, will weep, will mourn, in regret, remorse, and eventually repentance, about what has happened to our Messiah. Marc Chagall, the great 20thcentury French Jewish painter, comfortably used the imagery of the crucifixion in many of his most famous paintings. He was buried in a Catholic cemetery at his dying. We can only interpret those two realities and wonder if he didn’t partially fulfill 12.10.
My former dentist, Dr. Philip now lives in Tasmania. He was raised an Orthodox Jew in Sydney and came to faith in Yeshua several years ago. His continual and somewhat haunting tag line is “How did we miss it? Why do the Jewish people miss it?” That’s a reflection to me of Zechariah 12.10. We will look upon Him. We will mourn. We will cry out. God will hear. And we shall be saved!
The supernatural response to such mourning, to such weeping is found in chapter 13.1-2. God will open a fountain to cleanse those of us Jewish people who cry to Him, and He will forgive our sin. Sin, after all, is the central problem of humanity, ever since the Garden of Eden. In fact, the cleansing in chapter 13 and then chapter 14 is not reserved only for us Jewish people.
That’s good news for you listening today online, or here in the sanctuary in Springwood. God will look on you, as you cry to Him for forgiveness, and grant it to you. Not on the basis of your sincerity or your good deeds done to others, but on the basis of His Son’s death and resurrection. How awesome is our God!
13.9: They shall call on my name, and I will answer, ‘I will say, they are my people, and he will say, Yahweh is our God.’”
But wait, there’s more.
Chapter 14 opens with another barrage of attack against the Jewish people and God Himself showing up in person on the Mt of Olives. Right there He lands, and splits the ground east to west. Wait a minute, seismologists tell us that most fault lines run north and south. So, the split should be north to south.
Zech. 14.4“In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.”
And yet, the record shows that the fault line under the Mount of Olives is exactly as Zechariah predicted. How did he know? No Richter in 520 BC. God knows.
And the prophecy continues with God’s sovereignty filling all the earth (v. 9), all the nations who attacked Israel will face the judgment and all the other nations will come up to worship at the Feast of Tabernacles. What a day of rejoicing that will be! (.16)
What does this have to do with you? Everything, dear friend.
The King is coming.
The King is coming to vanquish His foes.
The King is coming to love His people.
Friends, the King Jesus has come. He made His way to Jerusalem, He taught, He healed, He forgave, and He loved us enough to die for our sins and rise from the dead there.
Be sure He is King, and He is coming. And it won’t be long. Not as quickly as Hal Lindsay predicted. But He is coming. And He wants you to be His.
If you are born again, then rejoice and turn and share this with others in your sphere of influence.
If you are not yet born again, if you don’t yet believe Jesus is our Messiah and the Saviour of the world, then right now, right where you are… stop what you are doing. Turn to Him. Be saved. Give your life to the One who gave His life for you.
God is ever gracious to forgive.
God is the King who longs to be in relationship with you. In fact, what king is there who conquers another and offers himself to be the king of the conquered? Only the gracious God Himself.
Be sure He will come to vanquish His foes. Be His family instead of His enemy. I beg you, be born again. The time is short.
Pastor Geoff, my friend and partner in ministry, thank you for the chance to address your church where you’ve served for decades. Thanks to my new friends John and Margaret, my hosts overnight. Thanks to each of you who gave your ears to listen to me, and more importantly to listen to God.
The King is coming. Let us exalt His name together. Amen!