This take off brings us to the last segment in our flight over The Old Testament. Zechariah was from a line of priest; he was born in Babylon, and brought to Jerusalem after the exile. While Malachi was a prophet during the time of Nehemiah; Zechariah and Malachi are the books we will see.
The prophet Zechariah, if you turn there into your Bible, to the second to the last book of The Old Testament. This guy was born in Babylon, he's back in Jerusalem, sort of the opposite of the prophet Daniel, who was born in Jerusalem and was sent as a young man to Babylon. Zechariah was a priest, that is from a priestly home, and so he is both a priest and a prophet, an interesting mix.
He also was ministering in Jerusalem at exactly the same time as the prophet Haggai, whom we read last time or the time before I don't really remember, but a couple weeks ago, at least we studied Haggai.
So these two guys were contemporaries, and though they were ministering to the same group of people during the same time, they were very different in their approach. For instance, Haggai was sort of short and sweet into the point; 38 Verses, he got his message across. He was like in your face, like this is what the Lord wants you guys to do, stop doing that, do this. They were saying the Lord hasn't called us to build His house; it's time to build our own house. And so the prophet comes along and says, "Is it really time to build your house, while the temple of God lies in ruins?"
So this guy is in your face, and in 38 verses he challenges them, and motivates them. Zechariah, same group of people, same time period, exactly, however, a very different approach. He's not really in your face as much as beholding the face of the Lord. It takes him 14 Chapters; 14 Chapters, as he displays through visions and prophecy the Glory of God, and His plan for the future. So you have Haggai who's practical, and you have Zechariah who's mystical, and both of them together are used to motivate the people to build the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem.
And if you remember last time I gave you some new words to remember exilic, pre-exilic and post-exilic, and I don't know if you went home and impressed your family and friends with those words, but we're now dealing with the last two post-exilic prophets. After the exile they have returned from Babylon, they are in Jerusalem, and they're rebuilding their lives. They are post-exilic prophets. Okay, so Zechariah as a post-exilic prophet, now back in Jerusalem, in his 14 chapters takes a broad sweep as he covers the rebuilding of the temple, immediately, as well as the millennial reign of the Messiah ultimately.
So some of it is near, and some of it is quite far, all within the scope of his prophecy. He has an unusual style, his style is similar to that of the, the writer John in the New Testament, in The book Of Revelation, apocalyptic literature through visions, John sees visions that God gives him of the end times, and he writes what he sees, and writes what he hears. Zechariah sees eight visions in one night, or if you prefer, one vision in one night with eight different segments to it. Camera pans from one section to the next, all indicative of a plan of God and here's the purpose of the book, to bring encouragement to a group of very insecure and unstable Jewish people who are now back in Jerusalem, there's not many of them.
Less than 50,000 returned to Jerusalem from Babylon, and they're feeling very small, because Persia is such a big country, and they've been jostled around from one country to another. First Assyria, then later Babylonian, now the Medo Persian Empire, is well and control of their destiny, and they're feeling very small and insecure, and this prophet was meant to encourage them, that God is with them, and also that they should finish and rebuild the temple. That's a good lesson for us, because sometimes I bet, you feel small and insecure. Somebody once said, "Every tomorrow has two handles, the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith, and you grab one or the other."
And I don't know if your nature is, when something bad happens, or you think it's going to happen, you immediately grab the handle of anxiety, because if you do, that cancels out faith, but if you grab the handle of faith, that will cancel out the fear and the anxiety. And take it from somebody who had reason in the human level to be afraid and that was Corrie Ten Boom who was in the Nazi concentration camp, but she wrote from that camp, never be afraid to trust an unknown future into the hands of a known God. That's what these people needed to hear in Jerusalem.
And so verse 1 Zechariah chapter 1; "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." Okay, the year 520 B.C, they're back in the land, as I mentioned, 50,000 returned, that's not very many. Most of them stayed back in Babylon, you know why? It was comfortable back there. Hey, hey we've already raised our families and built our lives, why should we be missionaries in what is now a foreign land, even though it's the land of our forefathers, Jerusalem, we really like it here.
We, we don't want to have to get uncomfortable, why don't you guys go? And so less than 50,000 went, and when they went they started building the temple. They came back and they found that the temple was in ruins, it was desolate. This wasn't like what they left, or what their forefathers had left.
You know returning to the lands of one's childhood can be very disappointing. Because it's not what you imagined it to be, it's different now, it is changed. And, they they looked around, there's no temple, there's just stones and desolate ruins, and so they start building. And they get discouraged very, very quickly, because there's enemies on the outside threatening them. There's complaining around them, in the inside, around their own people.
So they finally said, "You know what? Let's just quit doing this, forget God's whole agenda in building this new building project of the temple. Let's just turn our attention to our own nice little homes, and getting comfortable again shall we?" And that's why these two prophets were raised up. Now before the people on the very ground of Jerusalem was a living legacy of the failure of their fathers, there was the temple lying in ruins, testimony to what their fathers had failed to do, failing to obey God. Taken captive for 70 years and now the remnant is back.
Now verse 8 of chapter 1 begins the first vision, I'll just read one verse, and there's a lot to cover, so we want to cover it quickly. We'll cover the eight visions just by wrapping them up; reading may be a verse or two. Verse 8 of chapter 1 is the first vision; a man among the myrtle tree.
"I saw by night, and behold, a man riding on a red horse, and it stood among the myrtle trees in the hollow, and behind him were horses red, sorrel [which is reddish brown] and white." Now a myrtle tree is a laurel tree, evergreen, hardy, very difficult to kill, really good, emblem of the nation of Israel.
Though many tried to surround them and attack them and kill them, they are still alive, they're like the myrtle tree, they're like the laurel tree they are evergreen. They grow in low places, and they are lowly trees, this type of myrtle is one that does not exceed eight feet high. Again, it's an emblem of the nation of Israel. It represents them, hardy, lowly, can't get rid of them, they survive.
The second vision down in verse 18 is the vision of four horns, this is a real trippy book, he sees four horns, which is symbolic of four world powers and four craftsmen who come and smash the horns.
Verse 18; "I raised my eyes and looked and there were four horns." And then after that four craftsmen; horns often in Scripture are a symbol of power, and more than that. Sometimes they're a symbol of pride, because of power, arrogant power. Now these four horns go in sync with the vision that God gave to Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon of that poly-metallic image, do you remember that, head of gold, chest of silver and arms of silver, thighs and belly of bronze, and then clay and it represented Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome? A world power that did not treat Israel very well would come on the scene.
A craftsman would follow another nation and smash them, and then that horn would assume power, and then another craftsman, or another nation would smash that power. So what God is saying is, look, I'm in control of history and though the arrogant horns will vaunt themselves up I have a means to displace them, get rid of them, because of the way they treated my people, the nation of Israel.
The third vision in chapter 2 is a man with a measuring line, and it's symbolic of how God will build Jerusalem in the future.
Verse 1, "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 its width and what is its height."
Now this is a vision that basically says, "Jerusalem will go and grow beyond its boundaries and its walls." And I'm going to speak more about that Sunday, because I want to talk about the New Jerusalem in the eternal state. However, isn't it weird that he sees a guy out there with a measuring rod, a tape measure we would say, and he goes, hey, what are you doing? I am going to go measure the city. Now you, you typically think, well, cities are pretty big; you can't measure them with a tape measure. But you know what, in ancient times cities weren't all that big. The City of Jerusalem, originally the City of David, used to be called Jebusi, and then David took it over, it became the City of David.
It was no more than about 10, maybe 12 acres. You could measure it, 12 acres altogether. The inhabitance had only about 2,000 people, that, that's how big the city was originally, 2,000 people, 11 to 12 acres, when David took it over the City of David. Today, it's about 47 square miles, way outside the original walls, even in the New Testament times, and has about 700,000 people. So, much of this prophecy sees its fruition, even as we are living, and even as we are speaking.
The fourth vision in chapter 3 is the cleansing of the high priest. We know who that is, it's a guy named Joshua.
Verse 1, "Then he showed me Joshua the high priest, [he's the spiritual leader now in Jerusalem], standing before the angel of the Lord and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him."
In ancient time whenever a court case was brought forward, the place of accusation was at the right hand, so it's a vision you see Satan at the right hand of Joshua, who's a living guy in Jerusalem at that time, the spiritual leader, Satan is accusing him. And the Lord said to Satan, now watch this.
The Lord said to Satan, "The Lord rebuke you, Satan!" Now it could be that this is the angel of the Lord who then we find out is the Lord, but he doesn't even say, "I rebuke you, Satan!" He says the Lord, using the covenant name of God, the Lord rebuke you, Satan! "The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand [or a coal] plucked from the fire," speaking of Joshua.
In other words, I God, God is saying, I have plucked him out of the fire, out of judgment, out of Babylon, I brought him back, I have retrieved him for My purpose, and we'll find out what that purpose is. God is raising up Israel as a nation, as a group of a priestly nation to bring forward the Messiah, called the branch down in verse 8 of that very chapter.
Now there's a pattern that I don't want you to miss, because I find it often in the scripture, and yet I find many Christians don't quite get the pattern. And that is, some Christians feel that it's necessary to deal directly with Satan, and they get very cocky with Satan, and they have long conversations with Him, because I've been in meetings, and I have heard, now Satan, we want you to know, and usually they do the ha, at the end of that, for some reason.
We want you to know, ha, that we take authority over you, ha, and it might make them feel really, really good, but it's not a healthy pattern. For this reason you never want to pray to the devil. Right? Why are you talking to him? No, no, why don't you talk to God about him, rather than dealing with him directly? Well, I have the authority.
Interesting, that you would say that, because even Michael the Archangel, who has a lot more power than anyone of us, the Chief dude angel. The Bible says this about him in Jude verse 9.
"Michael the Archangel in contending with the devil when he disputed about the body of Moses, he dared not bring a railing accusation against him, but rather said, the Lord rebuke you!"
You know what the Bible says? This is what James says, this is how you deal with a devil, ready? Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. So what you do? You resist him, not carry on long conversations with him, leave him be. Don't enter into a dialog with him. Look at it this way, when Satan knocks to your door, let Jesus answer it. Leave it to Him; I think He can handle lot better. Say, "Excuse me Jesus, would You get that for me?" Instead of you doing it yourself. There's an old poem by Martin Luther, it goes like this:
"And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us;
We will not fear, for God hath willed;
His truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim
we crumble not for him.
His wrath we can endure, for low his doom is sure,
one little word shall fell him."
And it won't be your word saying, "I rebuke you Satan." It will be His word who will ultimately destroy him in the lake of fire. So let Him do His job, the Lord do His job.
I like this, put Jesus, put the Lord between you and the enemy. Chapter 4, take you down to verse 2, it's the fifth vision; vision of the golden lamp stand and the two olive trees, perhaps the most famous of all the visions in this book.
And he said to me, "What do you see?" So I said, "I am looking, and there is a lamp stand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps."
"Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left."
This is a vessel holding oil. So I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, "What are these my Lord?" And the angel who talked with me, answered and said, "Do you not know what these are?" That's an interesting conversation to me, because he asked the question as if to imply, you know, I don't know what that is, what is that? And he goes; you don't know what that is? Why, to emphasize the fact that he doesn't know what that is.
So I said, "No, my lord." So he answered and said to me, "this is the word of the Lord, this is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel." Remember he is the Mayor of the town. 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord. We know what this is, he knew what this was, he saw a Menorah, a seven branch candlestick symbolic of the worship that was going on or should go in the temple. Remember in the Tabernacle was a Menorah, a seven branched candlestick. The priest, whether in the Tabernacle or The Temple, daily had to put oil in the little vessels to keep the lamps going.
Now to get oil, you couldn't go down to the store and just buy olive oil, you had to make it. You had to crush the pit of the olive, and the flesh of the olive, and there was a process on a stone olive press to extract the olive oil, it was hard work. What Zechariah sees, is an automated Menorah. It's spontaneously flowing. It's automatic, there's two olive trees, and then the oil is just coming straight from the olive trees, and its dumping into these, in this receptacle, this bowl, and then out of the bowl of oil that has been put there by the olive trees or these pipes, it goes directly to the lamps, it's an automatic Menorah, it's cool.
He says, you don't know what this is? This is the word of the Lord to your mayor, Zerubbabel, the civic leader. It's not by might, it's not by power, it's by My Spirit. Listen, He is saying, "I'm going to keep Israel alive, I'm going to keep them going, and I'm going to have this project of the temple rebuilt, and it's not by hard human ingenuity though you need to cooperate with me and get busy, but rather, I'm going to supply spontaneously, automatically, all that you need." Oil is the symbol of the Holy Spirit in the Bible. It's not by might, it's not by power, it's by My Spirit, says the Lord, that this is going to be done.
God is going to keep Israel alive and further His program and we love this verse, do we not? Because we come so often to an end of ourselves in our ingenuity, in our strategies, and you know what, well, we should. Because too much of the Lord's work is attempted in the energy of the flesh, rather than surrendering to the spirit. I have a unique advantage watching this church grow from two people, then three people, then five people, then eight people, then twelve people, to what it is today.
I have watched God work, and I can tell you, and those who were there can tell you, it's not by might, it's not by power, it's by the Holy Spirit. We didn't take a demographic study of the city of Albuquerque at that time, finding the mean income, and what the interest were of people, and what people wanted to hear, and then, well, let's craft a church in that part of the community given those demographics and that style.
We didn't even know what that was. We just said, "Lord what do You want us to do, and we figured that He said, 'teach the word, worship Me in Spirit and Truth, and then don't sweat it, watch, it's not by might, it's not by power, it's by My Spirit."
The sixth vision in chapter 5, again, this is a wild book, is a flying scroll written on both sides, a flying scroll, it's a large scroll, it's billboard size, it's 15 feet by 30 feet, which is an interesting measurement, because that happens to be the exact measurement of the Holy Place in the Tabernacle. The specifications that God gave for His place of worship, the place where the Menorah was, the place where the Altar of Incense was, the place where the Table of Showbread was, 15 feet by 30 feet, the exact measurements of the Holy Place.
Written on both sides were curses, judgments that would go throughout the earth. As if to say, the standard by which God will measure and judge; is His standard, a Holy standard. It's His word and the judgments to go forth are according to that standard.
Now in the same chapter is the seventh vision. It's a vision of a woman in a basket with a lead cover on top, weird huh? The woman's name is wickedness; she is carded off, and taken to Shinar in his vision Babylon. All that they had learned in Babylon, all of the wicked practices was to be left behind, and left in Babylon, because now that they are back, some of them were starting to emulate what they had seen and heard among the pagans in Babylon. It was to be taken away from their midst.
Chapter 6 is the eight vision of four chariots. These four chariots, you could read also Revelation chapter 6, the four horsemen of the apocalypse. But in this vision the four chariots predict the fall on Gentile power, Gentiles all four corners surrounding Israel. Again, think of the encouragement, here we are, a few people back in our land surrounded by people on all sides who want to destroy us. And by the way things haven't changed. But God said, "He would keep them."
Now the next two chapters, is about a delegation that comes from the up north to Jerusalem to ask Him a question about fasting, and here's the deal. Okay, for years, here's the question, we've been fasting every year to commemorate or to mourn the fall of Jerusalem, and the destruction of the temple.
Now we've been doing that, it has been a practice of ours, but here you are now in Jerusalem building the temple back, do we need to keep fasting? And so the delegation came asking that, and the next two chapters deal with that. Now the book finishes off with Zachariah giving two Oracles, and chapters 9 through 11 is the First Oracle that finishes off the book, and chapters 12, 13 and 14 is the Second Oracle, and there is a little unit of a difference in this section of the book, because the phrase 'in that day' is used 18 times. Now he's projecting beyond the temple.
The first 8 chapters really deal with temple worship. The last chapters deal with the ultimate, not the immediate. Deal with a second coming the millennial kingdom, the millennial temple, and the reign and rule of Jesus Christ.
So these last chapters really have a three-fold focus; the nations that is the Gentile nations, the nation that is the Jewish nation, and the Messiah; the nations, the nation, and the Messiah.
Now I'm going to take you to chapter 9, look at verse 9, and 10, we're going to see two comings of Jesus Christ, or two comings of the Messiah predicted, squeeze together in two verses.
Now before we read it, I just want you to think about that for a minute. Jesus Christ came 2000 years ago; we're waiting for Him to come the second time. It's a big gap. But the Bible sometimes will take two events like that, especially these two events, first and second coming, and squeeze them together as if they happen one right after another, and they don't.
Now the prophets didn't know that, they, they just get the vision from God, and they write what they see, not knowing that there is a gap. And let me tell you what, Old Testament prophecy is sometimes like, when you look at a mountain range from a distance, like if you were to look at the Sandia Mountains from this perspective, it looks like a single plain of mountain. It looks flat, but if you fly over it in a helicopter or hot air balloon, you go slowly, or even the tram, you'll notice that it's not one, but there are several peaks, and there are valleys in between those peaks. It's not a single structure, but it's several, but from a distance it all looks like it's smashed together.
When you look at the future prophecies from an Old Testament perspective, it sometimes look like the first coming and the second coming are the same. But once you go through them, and get up to them, you find out there's a gap. It's very important. This isn't the only prophet to do it.
Perhaps the most famous is Isaiah, chapter 61, of text that Jesus read in His own synagogue in Nazareth. "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to open the prison doors to those that are bound, to set at liberty to captives, to give the recovery of sight to the blind, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and [or comma] and the Day of Vengeance of our God."
Now it's interesting when Jesus quoted that text to scripture, when He started His ministry and He's in the synagogue in Nazareth, He stopped at, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and He close the scroll, and He sat down, and He said, today the Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing. He didn't finish the sentence. It's comma and the Day of Vengeance of our God. Well, that's the second coming, isn't it?
The second coming is the Day of the Lord, is the tribulation, period when He comes and judges the world, and brings the vengeance of God. So here's my point that comma in Isaiah 61, is a 2000 year comma that comma has lasted 2000 years. From a distance it's all the same, you get up to it, and you go, oh! No wonder He close the book, we are waiting for the second coming, and we are still waiting for the second coming. So, now with that chapter 9 verse 9, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just, and having salvation; [that's why He came the first time]; 'lowly', [that's the first time, He won't be lonely the second time, He'll be kingly regal royal], "and riding on a donkey." And the second time Revelation 19, He's riding a what? A horse. "A colt the foal of a donkey."
Now you remember in the gospels, when Jesus approaches Jerusalem from the east, and He gets up on the Mount of Olives. He's left Lazarus's house, left Martha and Mary behind. He gets up to the crest, and He stops there, and He tells His disciples to do something really weird.
He says, "Hey! Go to the village next to us and you're going to find a little donkey tied; go get him". Now that should have like ding tipped them off. It's like ping red flag, I get it and He sat on it.
See, this is the first time He ever asked for a donkey, we know that He walked everywhere and this is the first time He publicly accepted worship and I like to tie this verse 9:9 of Zechariah with Daniel 9:25, you don't have to turn there, you already know this, "70 weeks are determined for your people and for the holy city of Jerusalem, know and understand from the going forth of the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Messiah, there shall be 69 weeks." Or 69 periods of seven 483 years.
It was predicted, but the tip off should have been, "Go get me the donkey" because that was Messianic, the Rabbis knew it was and Jesus fulfilled that in His first coming, that's the First Coming.
Now look at verse 10; 2000 year gap, "I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim." Ephraim is another code name for the nation of Israel. "And the horse from Jerusalem, the battle bow shall be cut off, He shall speak peace to the nations, His dominion shall be from sea to sea [a worldwide dominion] and from the River, [that is the Euphrates River in Iraq] to the ends of the Earth." That's the Second Coming.
Messiah's reign will begin by a quelling of any of the riotist activity in wars on the earth and He'll bring in peace, both Isaiah and Micah predict, "They shall beat their swords into the plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn to make war anymore." That's the Second Coming. So we have the First Coming verse 9, the Second Coming verse 10, sandwiched together.
Now in chapter 10, Blessings of the Messianic Kingdom were given, and chapter 11, the Rejection of the Messiah is shown. Verse 10, chapter 11, "And I took my staff, beauty and cut it in two, that I might break the covenant which I made with all the peoples. So it was broken on that day, thus the poor of the flock, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the Lord and I said to them, 'If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages and if not refrain', so they weighed out for me my wages, 30 pieces of silver and the Lord said to me, 'Throw it to the potter, that princely price that they set on me'. So I took 30 pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord for the potter'".
Now Zechariah is picturing in vision form or God is giving him the vision form and Zechariah writes it this way, "In vision form, it's a picture of the Messiah asking the flock of Israel, 'What am I worth to you?' And the answer comes back, 'You're worth 30 pieces of silver'." Now understand what that would mean to a Jewish person back then. According to the law, I think, it's Numbers 21, "30 pieces of silver is the price for a slave who has been gored by an ox." 'What I am worth to you O flock of Israel?' 'You're worth, you're about as valuable as a slave' is the answer; 30 pieces of silver. What an insult?
Now, in Matthew, chapter 27, he refers this to Jesus Christ because Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver and then he was filled with remorse and he threw the money on the temple floor and the Jews took it and bought a field, a potter's field, Akeldama, you can still see it in Israel today; still an empty barren part of the city, not built up and when he hung himself, when Judas killed himself, they buried him in the potter's field; all predictive of the Messiah.
In chapter 12 through 14, the Second Coming is in view and I'm just going to move rapidly through this because of our time and we still want to take The Lord's supper. The Second Coming is in view and impart the last battle at which the Messiah will come and stop the battle against Jerusalem.
Chapter 14, verse 4, "And in that day, His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from the east to the west, making a very large valley; half of the mountains shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south."
And do you remember the disciples when Jesus in Acts, chapter 1 was ascending up into heaven and they were taken up to the Mount of Olives and they're talking to Him and all of a sudden [woooooooo] and they're looking up and Jesus just starts floating, just starts moving up and their, their mouth are going [wooooe, woe] and they're just looking up and finally, an angel comes and says, "Hey! You men of Galilee. Why are you looking up into heaven? Don't you know this same Jesus will come again in like manner as you've seen Him going to heaven?"
Well how do they see Him go? They saw Him go up, they saw Him go visibly and they saw Him go from the Mount of Olives. So He's going to come back from heaven to earth, the other way, He's going to come visibly, physically and He's going to come to the Mount of Olives and split it in two; the same place He left from, take off and touch down, it's the same real estate.
Now I hear and I've read it in a number of sources that there is a fault line directly underneath the Mount of Olives, awaiting the pressure of one particular footprint and when that footprint touches down, it will split.
Verse 8, "And in that day, living water shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea, half of them toward the western sea, [so the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean] in both summer and winter it shall occur".
Verse 16, "It shall come to pass that everyone who is left from all the nations which come against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts and keep the Feast of Tabernacles." So the delegation of those nations, Gentile nations that survived the Tribulation Period, those saved, the delegation of those will go up every year to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. There will be three feasts kept during the millennium according to Ezekiel; Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles will be kept and they'll go annually to do this.
Now, according to Jesus Christ and we get the information from Jesus only, this prophet Zechariah was murdered. He was murdered in the temple, interesting? The very temple that he was inspiring people to build, eventually and we don't know exactly who did it, there are some traditions, but he was murdered in that temple, according to our Lord.
Now we come to the last book of the Old Testament, the only book written by an Italian, 'Book of Malachi'. No, we know it's not written by an Italian, in fact, we know he's not Italian or we don't think he's Italian because well, we don't really know much about him, to be honest with you. We know his name is Malachi and you know what his name means? Messenger.
All we know is that a guy named Messenger is going to tell us about the coming Messenger who will point to the Ultimate Messenger, John the Baptist who will point to The Messiah, The Lord. His name is Messenger. We don't know a lot about him and I love this actually, because the Messenger is not as important as the message.
If somebody delivered mail to your house, your mailbox and you would saw the mailman there and he delivered a package to you, would you stop like the UPS or the man and say, "Wait a minute, before you give me that package, tell me about your background and what qualifications you have to deliver this package to me?" You, you really don't care as much as what's in the package you open it up. So the package is opened up and this package contains the final Words of God before the New Covenant, that's why it's significant. You know a person's last words are always significant, right?
I have a little book, "The Last Words of Saints and Sinners", it's called and it's amazing how different the last words of believers and unbelievers are. For instance, David Hume, the Scottish atheist, when he died, he said, "I am in the flames." How would you like that to be your last and final words? "I am in the flames." It's like I can feel hell already. Voltaire, the French infidel, the French skeptic and atheist said these words, "I am abandoned by God and man. I shall go to hell." And I think he did, unfortunately. Tragic, isn't it?
You go what about great men like Mahatma Gandhi? Interesting, when he died, he said, "For the first time in 50 years, I feel like I am in darkness, in the slough of despond; I'm longing for light." Compare that with the great Richard Baxter, the Puritan, who when he was dying said, "I have pain but I have peace. I've watched believers die. I've watched the joy and the hope in the midst of the pain." These are, these are the final words of God in the Old Testament and something about this book and that is, it's in dialectic form, let me explain.
It's like this intensely personal conversation between two parties and the two parties are "Malachi" accuse me, Malachi and the people of Israel; actually God, through the Prophet, in this intensely personal conversation. So an assertion is followed by an objection. Now wait a minute, what do you mean by that? And then followed by a reaction.
Verse 1, "The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi, I have loved you, says The Lord. Yet you say, in what way have you loved us? Here's the answer, was not Esau Jacob's brother? Says The Lord; Yet Jacob, I have loved." Now this is what I want you to pick up on, in the very last book of the Old Testament, you have God telling His people I love you, ever heard people say that God of the Old Testament is a God of hatred and vengeance and meanness and the God of the New Testament is a God of love. You know what, read the book. Very last book, God says, "Don't you know I love you?" Now they argue, 'Prove it'. Actually, this was the root of all of Israel's problems; the failure to believe in the love of God. Actually, I think that's perhaps the root of all of our problems.
When Eve in the garden fell and then Adam fell, she doubted God's love; Satan suggested that she doubted God's love. She said, "We can eat every tree but we can't eat that tree, that's what God said", "Really? Did God really say that?" Then Satan says look, "God knows that in the day that you eat thereof, your eyes are going to be open, you are going to be just like God." So now a seed is planted in her heart as if to question God and say, why would God hide that from me, He must not love me. In questioning the love of God, she fell from that.
Satan wants you to feel neglected by God and that is why, in your darkest hour he'll come and say, look at you in your tough situation; you've been praying and God hasn't answered you, He must not love you, as much as He loves those other people because He has answered their prayers, but not you. And you go, Yeah, Amen Devil! Right. That's why Jude said, "Keep yourselves in the love of God."
Now the next few chapters, God complains to His people about them. He complains in chapters 1, 2, and 3 about their cheating, about their apathy, about their mixed marriages, marrying worldly, ungodly people, about their divorce, about theft, about pride and arrogance.
Chapter 1verse 6, "As son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I then am the Father, where is my honor, if I am a Master, where is my reverence says the Lord of hosts, unto you, O priest, who despise My name, yet you say, 'In what way have we despised Your name?'" Do you see that dialectic form; look at chapter 2 verse 17, "You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, 'In what way have we wearied Him?' In that you say, 'Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord and He delights in them' or, "Where is the God of justice?'"
Chapter 3 verse 8, "Will a man rob God? Yet, you have robbed me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?'" Now The Lord says, "'In tithes and in offerings.'" Come on, how is it possible for a puny man to rob Holy Omnipotent God? How have we robbed You, You're God. Well, God says, "In tithes and in offerings". Now here's what was happening; because the people of Israel were turning inwardly and saying, I can't afford to give tithes to the Lord, you know its tough this week and its tough this month. The Priest, who should have been sponsored and taken care of by the tithes of the people, had to leave the priestly ministry and go out and be farmers.
So the work spiritually was being hindered. Now actually they were robbing not only the Lord, but they were robbing themselves, because God responds by shutting off the rain, spoiling the crops because of their selfishness. So God says, "You've robbed me."
Now, sometimes I get questions on this, "You mean, you mean to say that God owns like 10 percent of my pay check and then they will follow it up and go, is that, is that net or gross. Do I type net or gross?" If you have to ask that, you have got some problems. And I say, "No, God doesn't own 10 percent, he owns a 100 percent." He has given you stewardship over it. But somebody once said, money is like manure, stack it up and it stinks, spread it around and it makes things grow.
Their spiritual life wasn't growing, God says, "You've robbed me." Now look what He says in verse 9, "You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even, even this whole nation, bring all the tithes into the storehouse." That is everyone should be involved in this. "That there maybe food in My house and try Me now in this," says the Lord of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such a blessing that there will not be room enough to contain it or receive it."
Now God announces a dare to His people. This is interesting, "Test Me, try Me in this." What's interesting is that Jesus in the New Testament says "You shall not tempt the Lord, your God", and that's generally true, here's the one exception. The one exception where God says, okay, I want you to actually put me to the test here, is in tithes and offerings. One commentator writes this "Here the God of the Universe puts Himself in a box and gives you the solution to every financial problem."
Jesus said, "Give and it will be given to you: pressed down, running over, good measure." Paul the Apostle, Second Corinthians 9 "He who sows sparingly will reap sparingly; he who sows bountifully will reap bountifully." Because the scripture is so clear on this, early on in our marriage my wife and I decided the very first check we will cut will be 10 percent of our income, to our local Church, always we never hedged with that, always; then above and beyond that, there maybe a missionary, there maybe special work. And you know what, we've discovered something. You can't out-give God. He pours out a blessing like He promised and like He's saying, "Test Me, try Me."
Now the last two chapters of this book are the best known because they speak about the coming of the Messiah, the First and Second Coming. Begins with a sort of a alerting word, chapter 3 verse 1, "'Behold [or check it out or look], I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight. Behold he is coming', says the Lord of hosts."
Now two messengers are promised, one is somebody pointing the way and the other one is the Lord himself, and He's going to come to His what? What does it say? He's going to come to His temple. "The Lord is going to come to His temple." Now that means what has to be built, a temple.
Okay, so the Messiah has to come to the nation of Israel when there's a temple. There's no temple today. The temple was destroyed by the Babylonians but rebuild by Zerubbabel, then built by Herod the Great then destroyed in 70 AD. So sometime between Zerubbabel and the Roman period when there was a temple, the Lord would have to come to His temple, just as this forerunner would predict.
Now look at verse 5, "Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, and he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse."
Now we have a bridge from the Old Testament to the New Testament, because there it's going to be 400 silent years between Malachi and Matthew, 400 years God doesn't speak. Yet He says He's going to send Elijah the prophet. Okay, New Testament opens, there's a priest in the temple name Zechariah.
And an angel comes to him and says, "Hey! You're going to have a boy, you're going to have a son, you're going to call him John." And he says, "He's going to come in the spirit and the power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers." Okay, so John is born and so they ask him when he grows up, "Hey! Are you Elijah?" And he says what? "No, I'm not Elijah."
Okay so he's coming in the spirit and the power of Elijah, but he says he is not Elijah. Later on Jesus Christ will say this "If you can receive it, about John the Baptist, this is Elijah who is to come." Then later on, on the Mount of Transfiguration they asked Jesus the question, "Hey, why did the scribe say that Elijah must first come?"
And Jesus says, "Elijah will first come." So you've got a guy named John, who comes in the spirit and the power of Elijah, who's not Elijah, but Jesus said, "Well if you can receive it, he is Elijah because he comes in the Elijah like ministry as predicted by this prophet and yet the real Elijah will come in the future." When will he come? Probably, Revelation chapter 11, one of the two witnesses, I wish I time to impact that, I don't.
So notice verse 6, and we close and "He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse." Notice the last word in the Old Testament is curse. Genesis opens up and we find a garden in which the curse is introduced and according to Malachi curse is still in operation, because there's a warning here about the curse. That's how the Old Testament ends, how does the New Testament end? With a blessing. In Revelation 22:3 at the end it says "And there shall be no more curse."
So the last word of the Old Testament is curse, the promise of the New Testament, there shall be no more curse. In fact, you know what the last words of the New Testament is, it's "Grace." The last sentence of the New Testament says, "The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, Amen."
So what's the difference, Jesus Christ is the difference. For the law came by Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. How do you get rid of the curse? Grace, through Jesus Christ; so that's the bridge between the Old and the New Testament. Okay, now there's 400 silent years until an angel visits in the temple Zacharias, the Old Testament is over and now we wait or they waited 400 years, we wait a few days and get into the Gospel of Mathew.
The Old Testament closes unfulfilled, there's all sorts of predictions, all sorts of prophesies, all sorts of promises, but we don't see them. Where's the Messiah, reigning from David's throne in Jerusalem, we've never seen it. Where's the peace to the nation and the peace to the world, not seen it. All of those unfulfilled promises that will be fulfilled in Christ. Jesus said to the Jews, "You search the scriptures for in them you think, that you have eternal life, but they are they which testify of me." He invited them to search and check it out because he is the fulfillment.
And so we finished The Old Testament and we have about seven minutes to take Communion. So would we take the elements out; I'm going to ask those who are controlling them to bring the lights down to where they were doing worship and we'll just bring the worship band out and we'll take these elements. Now it's pretty easy because the bread is on top, if you, I'll give you the instruction then we'll do it together in a minute but if you pull the clear plastic back, it will reveal that little wafer which is bread or bread like substance; I trust it's bread and then you pull the second tab and that's where you get the, the juice. Now these are the elements that speak of the reality of the broken body and the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. There's a verse that I skipped over that I want to save from our study tonight, I wanted to save until the last. It's in Zechariah chapter 12 and its verse 10; I just want you to listen to it this may just blow your mind. "And I will pour out on the house of David and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; and they will look on Me whom they have pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn."
This is what I want to share with you; here's a prophecy that the ancient Jews believed would refer to the suffering of a coming deliverer a coming Messiah; whom they called the son of Joseph way before Jesus was ever born. In the Hebrew text it says, "And they will look upon Me whom they have pierced." But it says, "They will look upon Me." And after the word "Me" there are two Hebrew letters that are un-translated letters "Aleph" and "Tav." "Aleph" is the first of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. "Tav" is the last of the twenty-two letters. Now these two un-translated letters in the Hebrew text, if you look up Jewish commentators will say "We don't exactly know what this means, we believe it's some sort of a of a phonetic maker or some kind of a literary maker in the text but we don't know exactly why it's there but it's there and so they leave it there. So it's strange, but follow me here; "They will look upon Me, Aleph, Tav." The Aleph is the first letter; Tav is the last letter. If this was Greek it would say, "They would look upon Me, the Alpha, the Omega" or we would translate it "They should look upon Me, the Beginning and the End whom they have pierced." Fascinating isn't it. They look at it and go we don't know why it's there and we go I think we do. I think it's one of those thumb prints of the Holy Spirit saying, "I'm the Alpha, the Omega. I'm the Aleph and the Tav. I'm the Beginning and the End; I am the Lord. They will look upon Me whom they have pierced."
The very one who came to give them life; we take these elements because we are saying Lord, we believe who have given us life personally. Now here's the deal, if you've received Jesus Christ the giver of life? Now we want you to take these elements with us; that's what Communion is all about, we're taking this together we're signifying we're part of each other we're a part of Him. But if you're not a part of Him; then for you the take these elements the Bible says you are testifying condemnation to yourself, you're saying "Yep, I'm condemned because I'm taking these elements but I've never received Christ so all you're doing is accentuating your own condemnation. So Paul says, "Don't take these elements unless you know Christ." So 'A' don't take them; 'B' take Christ and then take them. Right now save in your heart if you, if you don't know if you're saved or if you know you're not, "Lord Jesus, I believe you died on the cross and rose from the dead for me and I turn from my sins and I turn to you as my Savior and as my Lord; I trust you I give You my life; in Jesus' name. Amen."
Father thank you for dying for us; thank you for Your body that was buffeted for us; thank you Lord for the beating that You took, the scourging that You took; for the marks of the whip on Your back, and the crown of thrones on Your head. The reason we thank you is because as the prophet says, "By Your stripes we are healed." We've been healed spiritually from the guilt of sin the disease that plagues all mankind but by Your stripes and we believe also Lord that if we have physical ailments we can trust You because by Your stripes we are healed and for those Lord who are suffering maladies in our body we reach out to You tonight Lord. By faith asking you to touch, to heal, to renew; in Jesus' name, Amen! Let's take the bread together.
And Father we thank you that You sent Your Son and Jesus we're thankful You obeyed the Father and that You shed Your blood. You said over again in Your Word that without the shedding of blood there is remission of sins and You told us under the word of the New Covent, the blood of Jesus Christ God's Son cleanses a person from all sin. We have failed You, Lord; we don't stand or sit here perfected, we are sanctified by Your spirit but we're still growing even in the midst of our failures Your grace in poured out to us and we take this fruit of the vine because we have applied the blood of Jesus Christ for the cleansing of our sins and we thank you as a body; in Jesus' name, Amen! Let's take it together.
Now pray for the person who's sitting next to you; just find a person and you can place your hand on their shoulder or just not touch them at all but just, just pray for them. Ask God to bless, to reveal Himself to them, to meet their needs to fulfill. [Singing] Let's all stand shall we [Singing] Thank you Lord; Thank you Lord; Thank you Lord. Thank you for Your sweet fellowship here Lord. Thank you for the body of Christ, our family of God; in Jesus' name, Amen!