Zeal in Zechariah

Zechariah 2:21-3:10

“And many nations will join themselves to the LORD in that day and will become My people. Then I will dwell in your midst, and you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. And the LORD will possess Judah as His portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD; for He is aroused from His holy habitation.” Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel. And he spoke and said to those who were standing before him saying, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.” Then I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments, while the angel of the LORD was standing by.  And the angel of the LORD admonished Joshua saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘If you will walk in My ways, and if you will perform My service, then you will also govern My house and also have charge of My courts, and I will grant you free access among these who are standing here. Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you—indeed they are men who are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the Branch. For behold, the stone that I have set before Joshua; on one stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave an inscription on it,’ declares the LORD of hosts, ‘and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. ‘In that day,’ declares the LORD of hosts, ‘every one of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and under his fig tree.’ ”

Understanding the Author’s Aspiration to his Audience is Apex. This the vitamin A in the CAGED method of Biblical hermeneutics. To understand the author’s aspirations to his audience we have to consider the context and examine examples but we also need to notice the genre and then divide rightly the word of truth. Zechariah is in a genre which is fairly foreign to us. While it certainly is prophecy it is also an apocalyptic address. We ascertain the author’s aspirations to his audience by jiving with the genre. We know that it is an apocalyptic address because of the weird ways of which their present day was discussed and presented. God not only speaks to Zechariah about the future but also his current cultural climate. Yet he unveils a behind the scenes look to Zechariah and we notice that Zechariah was allowed to participate. We will come back to this…eventually, Lord willing. 

First we have context to consider, understanding that we have to jive with the genre–something of which is foreign in our days. Not considering the context or the genre has become the backbone of our current cultural climate. If Joel Osteen and our so-called mega-church pastors can’t consider the context what chance do we have that our mainstream media will? But it is not only the mainstream media and memes on Facebook and Twitter but our prophecy pundits as well. We’ll get back to this as well. 

We also need to take our vitamin E and explore examples. Often times examples are given within the continuing context and this is certainly the case in Zechariah. We see the phrase or a semblance of the phrase, “then you will know that the Lord has sent me to you,” numerous times in Zechariah–it is almost a theme. We also see this phrase or a semblance of this phrase throughout the book of Numbers. In both cases, we should see the sublime string. The prophet proclaims a promise from words of God to the people, God fulfils said promise and the people should then believe. Problem; prophecy pundits as well as the people present in these prevalent passages, don’t believe that the promised prophecy was fulfilled. Apostate Israel and the prophecy pundits believe in future fulfillment and not the fulfillment viable and visible to the people present.

I will put it in the most simple terms as I can; God says that something will happen so that they will know that the Lord sent the prophets, that something happens but people don’t believe in the fulfillment but wait for a fulfillment that fulfills their appetite and understanding. Over and over and over again, God makes outlandish promises which come to pass but about Israel he says, “The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” While you may believe that I ripped this out of context, it’s from Isaiah, the biggest book of fulfilled prophecy. 

Perhaps it would be best to ponder it pragmatically. If God tells the people present that they will know he sent them prophets, including himself, why would he wait 2500 years to fulfill the prophecy? Since I try to keep it simple and in accordance with what I know but in a relatable way to my audience, let’s talk about houses. I am a builder by trade and most people dwell in some sort of dwelling unit, at least during some point in their lives (even homeless people have had homes). Imagine that you are looking to build a home and ask me to build it. We look at plans, go over options and necessities and come to an agreement that I will build you your dream home. I tell you,  “you won’t regret hiring me, I will build your home exactly as you expect and that way you will know that you hired the right man.” 2500 years later and I haven’t driven one nail. Would you know that you had hired the perfect person for the job? Similarly, God wants the people present to know that he sent Zechariah and is sending himself, therefore he makes a prediction–we will get back to this.

I want us to continue to ponder pragmatically. I want to use a little literary license as well. Harkening back to our hypothetical scenario, I tell you that you will know that you hired the right person for the job when your grandchildren sell the house and the home inspector is impressed. After you die, your grandchildren don’t want to sell but have decided to be fulltime missionaries in Moscow. They are your only offspring and simply don’t need the house anymore. They decide to sell it inexpensively to members of their church. Although the price tag is minimal, the buyer’s still need a mortgage, and with a mortgage, a home inspection. The inspector says that the house is in excellent condition and the asking price is way too low. Your grandchildren explain the situation to the inspector and he replies, “your grandparents and your builder certainly built a very nice home–I like the build.” Your Grandchildren then remember the numerous times that you told them about how well built the house was.

There is immediate fulfillment of prophecy and a-not-so immediate fulfillment of prophecy but both are so that people will know. There is also literary language and license in the apocalyptic address. It is also like building a house, it can be seen, felt, touched and is tangible. It isn’t out floating on the cloud somewhere but it is able to be seen, so that we would know. We don’t take everything we read in prophecy to wooden, literal extremes and we don’t overextend the allegory either. While we do take the idealistic approach, we won’t assume that Zechariah perfectly pertains to present perturbations or prosperity. We don’t look out our windows and think, Zechariah spoke of today, because, he didn’t. Rather, he spoke of their day and a coming day, which shouldn’t be taken to literal extremes. Another irony of ironies is that the prophecy pundits proclaim that a thousand years is like a day to the Lord but never mention that a day is like a thousand years. Peter wrote both. The prophecy pundits proclaim that we have been in the last days for 2000 years, and also the last hour but see the day of the Lord as a singular moment in time. Nevertheless, we will consider the CAGED method to see if a extremely literal interpretation of “day” is warranted. The context actually bears witness to the fact that it isn’t. Let us look at everything that happens in the “day of the Lord.”

I honestly don’t know why I put myself through this while the dogmatic-dispensationalist, prophecy pundits say things like, “this is the Antichrist in Revelation 13,” even though Revelation 13 is about the beast. They get away with simply stating stuff, why do I have to expound on examples and carefully consider the context? It’s utterly ironic how people believe what they say is gold but rarely does the context confirm their claims. I stand with them against the Joel Osteens of the world and the mainstream media but they are guilty of the same butchering of the Bible and twisting of Scripture. Therefore, to make my case against ripping verses out of context and trying to be brief, which is difficult, bear with me.

Isaiah 2 (which follows Isaiah 1); “For the LORD of hosts will have a day of reckoning Against everyone who is proud and lofty, And against everyone who is lifted up, That he may be abased. And it will be against all the cedars of Lebanon that are lofty and lifted up, Against all the oaks of Bashan, Against all the lofty mountains, Against all the hills that are lifted up, Against every high tower, Against every fortified wall, Against all the ships of Tarshish, And against all the beautiful craft. And the pride of man will be humbled, And the loftiness of men will be abased, And the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. But the idols will completely vanish. And men will go into caves of the rocks, And into holes of the ground Before the terror of the LORD, And before the splendor of His majesty, When He arises to make the earth tremble. In that day men will cast away to the moles and the bats Their idols of silver and their idols of gold, Which they made for themselves to worship, In order to go into the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, Before the terror of the LORD and the splendor of His majesty, When He arises to make the earth tremble. Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; For why should he be esteemed?”

The following is recorded in Daniel: “As for me, I heard but could not understand; so I said, ‘My lord, what will be the outcome of these events?” And he said, ‘Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time. Many will be purged, purified and refined; but the wicked will act wickedly, and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand. And from the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days! But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age.'”

The prophecy pundits place an ostensible age, a hidden hiatus, within Daniel’s weeks of years. They have to or else their argument falls apart. That is, if we were to take Daniel’s figurative weeks of years literally, dispensationalistm falls flat. Nevertheless, the day of the Lord is taken literally by the prophecy pundits. We have to continue considering the context of examples to determine what is figurative and what is literal. Let’s look at more examples of the “day of the Lord.”

In Amos we read; “Alas, you who are longing for the day of the LORD, For what purpose will the day of the LORD be to you? It will be darkness and not light; As when a man flees from a lion, And a bear meets him, Or goes home, leans his hand against the wall, And a snake bites him. Will not the day of the LORD be darkness instead of light, Even gloom with no brightness in it? ‘I hate, I reject your festivals, Nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies.'” 

The sun went dark during the crucifixion. Within a few sentences in Amos, much of Isaiah is summarized. Amos reflects much of what was recorded in Isaiah chapters one and two. God is very principled in that, “by two or three witnesses shall everything be confirmed” and by fulfillment of prophecy. Hananiah prophesied falsely and was found out because said prophecies didn’t come to pass. But Jeremiah was proven to be sent by God because his prophecies did come to pass. We can trust God because he sent multiple prophets and fulfilled multiple prophecies. Enough with my commentary let’s look at even more examples of the day of the Lord.

Strap on your seat belts and sandals and see what Joel recorded. “‘Blow a trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, For the day of the LORD is coming; Surely it is near, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn is spread over the mountains, So there is a great and mighty people; There has never been anything like it, Nor will there be again after it To the years of many generations…Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and the nursing infants. Let the bridegroom come out of his room And the bride out of her bridal chamber. Let the priests, the LORD’S ministers, Weep between the porch and the altar, And let them say, “Spare Your people, O LORD, And do not make Your inheritance a reproach, A byword among the nations. Why should they among the peoples say, ‘Where is their God?””‘ Then the LORD will be zealous for His land, And will have pity on His people…’And it will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. And even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire, and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.'” 

We’ll definitely be coming back to this. However we have more examples to explore before we examine explanations in the New Testament. Let’s look at an excellent example of the day of the Lord in a book of which you probably have not read lately–if ever. We see an acute example, in an apocalyptic address, of the day of the Lord in Zephaniah. 

“‘And those who have turned back from following the LORD, And those who have not sought the LORD or inquired of Him. ‘Be silent before the Lord GOD! For the day of the LORD is near, For the LORD has prepared a sacrifice, He has consecrated His guests.’ Then it will come about on the day of the LORD’s sacrifice, That I will punish the princes, the king’s sons, And all who clothe themselves with foreign garments. And I will punish on that day all who leap on the temple threshold, Who fill the house of their lord with violence and deceit. And on that day,’ declares the LORD, ‘There will be the sound of a cry from the Fish Gate, A wail from the Second Quarter, And a loud crash from the hills. Wail, O inhabitants of the Mortar, For all the people of Canaan will be silenced; All who weigh out silver will be cut off. And it will come about at that time That I will search Jerusalem with lamps, And I will punish the men Who are stagnant in spirit, Who say in their hearts, “The LORD will not do good or evil.” Moreover, their wealth will become plunder, And their houses desolate; Yes, they will build houses but not inhabit them, And plant vineyards but not drink their wine. Near is the great day of the LORD, Near and coming very quickly; Listen, the day of the LORD! In it the warrior cries out bitterly. A day of wrath is that day, A day of trouble and distress, A day of destruction and desolation, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of trumpet and battle cry, Against the fortified cities And the high corner towers. And I will bring distress on men, So that they will walk like the blind, Because they have sinned against the LORD; And their blood will be poured out like dust, And their flesh like dung. Neither their silver nor their gold Will be able to deliver them On the day of the LORD’S wrath; And all the earth will be devoured In the fire of His jealousy, For He will make a complete end, Indeed a terrifying one, Of all the inhabitants of the earth.” 

Even in an apocalyptic address with figurative language and imagery, it is absolutely clear that the Lord is speaking of the sacrifice of the Son on the cross. Therefore the periphery of imagery must be applied to the clear context. It appears that the day of the Lord surrounds the sacrifice. However, is the “day of the Lord” always the same event? Consider the compilation of context we have considered and we clearly come to the conclusion that the day of the Lord is not, at minimum, a single day but multiple events, concerning God’s judgment. The New Testament confirms this.

Let’s look at Joel again and understand that Peter and even Paul, confirmed the fulfillment–even though I have written extensively on this, I will sum it up again–rather, Peter has. “But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: ‘Men of Judea, and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel…” 

Fulfillment found on the day that the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples. In any other book, story, movie or show, we would call this a climax. It’s utterly ironic to me that all of the Old Testament progressively points to Jesus, his death, resurrection, ascension to the Father and the sending of the Spirit but we chop it up into out-of-context, bite-sized dogma. In Genesis we see the victory to come and piece by piece, God progressively revealed his plan through the Law and prophets, pointing to Jesus and the sacrifice and pointing to the pouring out of the Spirit. Yet the prophecy pundits proclaim that the Spirit will be taken away from the world and self-sacrifice will return because of a single passage, ripped out of context. Rather than see the sublime string they thread out-of-context verses together to create dubious dogma. Yes, Jesus will physically return to earth but until then, and after, the Spirit remains. But I digress and we have context to consider now that we have explored examples, lest we forget about what Paul wrote in his famous passage about all who believe in Jesus are the true Israel and Israel the nation is not necessarily true Israel. 

“For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; neither are they all children because they are Abraham’s adescendants…it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as adescendants…does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. As He says also in Hosea, ‘I WILL CALL THOSE WHO WERE NOT MY PEOPLE, “MY PEOPLE,” AND HER WHO WAS NOT BELOVED, “BELOVED.”‘ ‘AND IT SHALL BE THAT IN THE PLACE WHERE IT WAS SAID TO THEM, “YOU ARE NOT MY PEOPLE,” THERE THEY SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF THE LIVING GOD.’ And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, ‘THOUGH THE NUMBER OF THE SONS OF ISRAEL BE AS THE SAND OF THE SEA, IT IS THE REMNANT THAT WILL BE SAVED; FOR THE LORD WILL EXECUTE HIS WORD UPON THE EARTH, THOROUGHLY AND QUICKLY.’ And just as Isaiah foretold, ‘EXCEPT THE LORD OF SABAOTH HAD LEFT TO US A POSTERITY, WE WOULD HAVE BECOME AS SODOM, AND WOULD HAVE RESEMBLED GOMORRAH.’ What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written, ‘BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED’…Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes…that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED’…But as for Israel He says, ‘ALL THE DAY LONG I HAVE STRETCHED OUT MY HANDS TO A DISOBEDIENT AND OBSTINATE PEOPLE.'”

For time’s sake and for clarity I left out important facets of Paul’s proclamation. He pleads with the people and points out that antisemitism is abhorrent. The fact is that not all Israel is in apostasy. God is not racist. Jesus and his apostles and his early church were Jewish. Rather than racism and an antisemitic atmosphere, Paul points out that God is not racist or antisemitic. The goal of the gospel is to reach all nations, including modern-day Israel. Let’s look at Joel one more time and see the similarities in Paul’s language. 

“And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered…” Paul writes; “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” Seeing the sublime string and putting the pieces of the puzzle together in a proper fashion and not out of context, we see the fulfillment of Joel in the New Testament. Nevertheless the fulfillment is not fully fulfilled in one day, but as the prophecies were progressive, the fulfillment was also. The day of the Lord doesn’t happen in a literal day. Even Jesus was in the earth for three days. Jesus’ death on the cross wasn’t complete without the resurrection. The day of the Lord progressively unfolds over time but it has found fulfillment. 

Back to Zechariah. “And many nations will join themselves to the LORD in that day and will become My people. Then I will dwell in your midst, and you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. And the LORD will possess Judah as His portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD; for He is aroused from His holy habitation.”

In Romans you probably remember reading; “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”

Zechariah prophesied that God was aroused from his holy habitation, this is heaven. Paul writes that at the right time, Christ died for sinners. He did this by temporarily dwelling in Jerusalem. He chose Jerusalem to proclaim himself as the long-awaited Messiah. Jesus had zeal for Jerusalem but it wasn’t met with reciprocity. The wanted a warrior and not a man riding on a donkey. Even though Zechariah promised them that he would ride in on a beast of burden. Jesus came to Jerusalem as king, we will see this more, lord willing, further on in Zechariah. Nonetheless, we certainly see a similar proclamation here, early on in Zechariah. The Lord is coming to Jerusalem, having aroused from his holy habitation and dwelt and died in and around Jerusalem, bringing the nations to himself. Then they will believe  that the Lord has sent Jesus–the real remnant that is. Call it what you wish, the incarnation, the first coming, the advent, the dwelling, the first Christmas to 71 AD is ultimately the time period prophesied by Zechariah. But I am getting way ahead of myself. 

Look again at the context. It’s the rebuilding season for the returning remnant of the castaway Judah–Israel is long gone. The northern 9 1/2 tribes have been absorbed into other countries and nations, it is only Judah, Benjamin and some Levites who remain as a remnant. And of these, only a handful return to rebuild. It is to them that Zechariah prophesied, “many nations will join themselves to the LORD in that day and will become My people. Then I will dwell in your midst, and you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.” 

Jesus is coming and their grandchildren will know that the Lord sent him because the nations will flock to him. Paul writes about this as well in the same famous proclamation which we have constantly and consistently covered. Notice once again: I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?…in the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. What then? That which Israel is seeking for, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened…I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression be riches for the world and their failure be riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. For if their rejection be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? And if the first piece of dough be holy, the lump is also; and if the root be holy, the branches are too. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’ Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you.” 

Five thousand words and we haven’t even scratched the surface of the context of Zechariah. We also have not grasped the history fully but we have examined ample evidence from examples concerning the “day of the Lord.” If nothing else, one can say that I am the anti-Joel-Osteen. The Bible is a fabric of literature woven together with a sublime string. Our problem is we live in the Twitterverse of soundbites and misleading memes and media. We have mega-church pastors preaching that you are David and your debt is Goliath but this is not what the context conveys. Nevertheless, you are like David and the current cultural climate is like Goliath. It seems insurmountable especially because the loss of christianity is promised by the prophecy pundits. But this cannot be. 

A very wise man once said, in the most oft quoted speech in the history of mankind–but only a snippet because we don’t consider the context; “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” The day of the Lord was indeed judgment but not of the world. The day of the Lord is always judgement but never against the world. 

To be continued, Lord willing of course. 

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