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Zechariah 7 Commentary

We are about to enter what is called the four messages. These messages came in the fourth year of Darius. This means it is 2 years after Zechariah 1:1.

A lot of times when we read these books, we think that they were written all at once, or over a relatively short time span. But this book took years to write.

It is at this point that the temple is halfway complete. These are questions to God about fasting. Two of the messages are answered negatively and two are answered positively. But in reality, the message to the people is to live righteous lives.

The chapters, just like the rest of them, begin with a some history and end with a future-forward look at the second coming of Christ.

Zechariah 7:1 – In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, which is Chislev.

This message comes two years after Zechariah 1:1 and two years before the completion of the temple. The month puts it in November or December.

Zechariah 7:2 – Now the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-melech and their men to entreat the favor of the Lord,

Bethel was about 12 miles north of Jerusalem. According to Ezra 2:28 and Nehemiah 7:32, the town was repopulated after the return from exile.

The two names given, Sharezer and Regem-melech are Babylonian names. These are most likely men who are were born in captivity and returned to their homeland.

They were called to “entreat the favor of the Lord.” This means that they are to pray to God. The fact that Bethel had sent these men, that means that they saw Jerusalem as the spiritual center of the culture.

Zechariah 7:3 – saying to the priests of the house of the Lord of hosts and the prophets, “Should I weep and abstain in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?”

It seems that the fifth month was set aside for many year to weep, pray and fast. The reason for this question is to determine if they should continue the practice since they are no longer in captivity.

The fall of Jerusalem is remembered by four separate fasts. They are in the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months. You find more on that in 2 Kings 25, Jeremiah 39, and Jeremiah 41.

The fast in the fifth month was the most important one because that was the month that the temple was burned.

They were questioning the continuation of this serious fast during a time of great joy and success.

Zechariah 7:4 – Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me:

Basically, Zechariah is saying that God is answering through him.

Zechariah 7:5 – “Say to all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted?

We know the fast of the fifth month was for the burning of the temple. The fast in the seventh month was mourning the death of Gedaliah.

God is pretty straightforward here. The fasts that the Jews did were to mourn the burning of the temple and to honor one of their governors. These fasts were for them, not for God.

When they fasted and prayed, they sought God’s favor by asking Him to remove them from captivity. God, however, wanted them to repent during those fasts. But the Jews didn’t fast to repent, they fasted to get God’s power.

Zechariah 7:6 – And when you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves?

While in captivity, the Jews ate the foods that the Babylonians ate. They ate to be refreshed and to enjoy. They didn’t eat as unto the Lord.

In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul tells us that we should eat and drink to the glory of the Lord.

Zechariah 7:7 – Were not these the words that the Lord proclaimed by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and prosperous, with her cities around her, and the South and the lowland were inhabited?’”

This is a beginning of the second message. This message is about obeying God’s Word. God is asking the Jews to look back and see what their fathers did and to not repeat those sins.

The areas that are being discussed here are basically the coastal areas of the Mediterranean and the areas around Beersheba. The words that Zechariah is talking about here are the words of the prophets. These are words of obedience, not ceremony. All throughout the history of God’s people God has asked for obedience, not ritual.

Zechariah 7:8 – And the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying,

And again, God is going to speak through Zechariah.

Zechariah 7:9 – “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another,

God starts this off by telling us that it is important because God is saying it. God wants the judges to be truthful in their judgments and for the His people to love their neighbors. Jesus repeats this idea in Matthew 22:39.

Zechariah 7:10 – do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”

God Law is true and just when followed with a pure heart. It separates the rest of the world from God’s people. Again, we are called to love our neighbors.

God wants His people to have His heart for people. This is the same message Jesus shared during his time of earth.

Zechariah 7:11 – But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear.

Before the exile, the Jews refused to follow God’s Law. They “turned a stubborn shoulder.” This means they were rebellious to God. The people of God kept getting in trouble because they kept ignoring God’s Law. They didn’t want to let God lead them.

Zechariah 7:12 – They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the Lord of hosts.

God sent His Spirit through the prophets to share God’s desire and the Jews turned their shoulders and hardened their hearts.

If the Jews would have softened their hearts to the Lord they would have been saved. But they didn’t. They hardened their hearts. This made the Lord angry.

Zechariah 7:13 – “As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,” says the Lord of hosts,

God chose to ignore His people since they chose to ignore Him. How often as parents have we chosen to ignore our children because they choose to ignore us? We need our kids to learn from their mistakes and sometimes this comes from our silence, not our attention.

Zechariah 7:14 – “and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations that they had not known. Thus the land they left was desolate, so that no one went to and fro, and the pleasant land was made desolate.”

God sent them into exile. The land they left behind was destroyed. This was to teach them a lesson, that they needed God.

Jeremiah 9:16 – I will scatter them among the nations whom neither they nor their fathers have known, and I will send the sword after them, until I have consumed them.”

Zechariah 6 Commentary

Zechariah 6 starts with another vision. This is the eighth and final vision. This vision serves as a connector to the first. The horses that are in the first vision are shown in this vision. This vision shows us the quick judgment that comes upon Babylon.

Zechariah 6:1 – Again I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, four chariots came out from between two mountains. And the mountains were mountains of bronze.

Here comes the war. Chariots symbolize war. In the previous vision, the sins went out of Israel (physical and spiritual) and were taken to Babylon. Now that the sin is in the world, God is declaring war on the sin.

The mountains could have a dual meaning. It could be the physical placement of the mountains as many think they are Mount of Olives and Mount Zion. But the Lord calling these mountains of “bronze” or, in some translations, “brass,” means that they hold symbolic meaning as well. Typically we see the color bronze used with strength.

Putting the strength of the mountains together with the chariots and we see both strength and judgment.

The reasoning behind the physical mountains is because it is the actual Kidron Valley. That is the place that Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe will be the place of final judgment.

Zechariah 6:2 – The first chariot had red horses, the second black horses,

The horses, as we will see, match up to the horses seen in Zechariah 1 with one exception. There is the addition of a black horse.

In Zechariah 1 we see that the horses are on reconnaissance. In this, we see that the horses are hooked up to chariots. This means that we are seeing these horses coming in war, not reconnaissance.

These horses are pretty much the same as the horses as in the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 6:4 – And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Then again in Revelation 6:5 – When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand.

The black horse talks about troubled times and famine.

Zechariah 6:3 – the third white horses, and the fourth chariot dappled horses—all of them strong.

White horses are typically peaceful. The dappled horses are typically mixed times of peace and adversity.

At the end of the day, it is God whose plans are made a reality. Man can plan how this world will move forward, but God’s plan is true. It is timeless. And the strength of these horses show that man cannot have an impact on the mission of these horses.

Zechariah 6:4 – Then I answered and said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?”

Again, as we have seen throughout the book, Zechariah is confused and asking for wisdom. This is the wisdom that can only come from God alone.

Zechariah 6:5 – And the angel answered and said to me, “These are going out to the four winds of heaven, after presenting themselves before the Lord of all the earth.

The symbolism here is the four corners of the world. Similar to the four kingdoms in the book of Daniel, these horses go out to the entire world.

These angels are to present themselves before the “Lord of all the earth.” This is the millennial title of Christ.

Zechariah 6:6 – The chariot with the black horses goes toward the north country, the white ones go after them, and the dappled ones go toward the south country.”

Now this is going to get a little deep. If we look directly at the historical significance of these horses in the physical realm, we can match up the horses to different times in history. The red horse, which isn’t mentioned here, has already occurred. The red horse was the time of the Chaldeans. That empire was already gone, so there is no mention of that horse here.

The black horse was Cyrus. He destroyed the Chaldeans and his kingdom is called “the north” in much of Scripture.

The white horse comes after Cyrus, which is Alexander. He was a fairly peaceful ruler.  Which makes sense he would get the white horse.

The dappled horses could be the Egyptian rulers which were had some that were peaceful and others that were cruel.

Israel’s enemies came from the north and south. Babylon and Egypt. God is calling the judgment upon those areas.

Zechariah 6:7 – When the strong horses came out, they were impatient to go and patrol the earth. And he said, “Go, patrol the earth.” So they patrolled the earth.

Who are the strong horses? Rome? Could be. It could also be any of the other kingdoms that strived to go well beyond their boundaries such as the Huns or the Goths or the Vandals.

These horses are told to go an walk to and fro through the earth. This means they have subdued the earth so that they can comfortably go through the world.

Zechariah 6:8 – Then he cried to me, “Behold, those who go toward the north country have set my Spirit at rest in the north country.”

This is most likely a millennial statement. God’s spirit of wrath won’t rest until the Messiah is on the throne. This is looking forward to Revelation 17 – 20.

Zechariah 6:9 – And the word of the Lord came to me:

In Scripture, one of the ways that prophets typically close out their visions is by giving focus to God. Zechariah is no different. He said that the Word of the Lord came to him. This is the moment that the topic moves from the vision itself to the word that God is giving Zechariah about the visions.

Zechariah 6:10 – “Take from the exiles Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah, who have arrived from Babylon, and go the same day to the house of Josiah, the son of Zephaniah.

There are a ton of names here. Each of those names have meanings, as did most names from that day. Heldai is one of the exiles who returned from captivity and his name is based off the word cheled which means worldliness. Tobijah is another man from exile and his name means God is my good. Jedaiah is another formerly exiled man and his name means God has known.

Those three former exiles are to go immediately to Josiah. We don’t really know who this person is other than it is at his house they are crowning Joshua.

An interesting thing is that the name Josiah means God saves. While I am not sure it really works like this, these people were exiled in Babylon, in the world (Heldai). But God’s goodness knows what the exiles needed (Tobijah and Jedaiah)….saving from God (Josiah).

Zechariah 6:11 – Take from them silver and gold, and make a crown, and set it on the head of Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest.

It is interesting to note here that when Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 BC, he allowed the Jews to go back to their homeland. When they arrived, they had joint leadership under Zerubbabel and Joshua. Throughout the history of Israel, God has commanded that the civil and the ceremonial leadership should be separate. Zerubbabel maintained the civil law while Joshua maintained the ceremonial.

The question here is why would they be putting a crown on the head of the high priest? This is not a normal thing. The only time we saw the two offices intermingle was in 2 Chronicles with Uzziah and it brought his death to him.

An interesting note is that Joshua is basically the same name as Jesus. This is most definitely a call out to the Messiah Jesus Christ. When Christ comes He will rule completely. This is a foreshadowing of the one to come from the Davidic line, Jesus the Christ.

Zechariah 6:12 – And say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord.

In the next 4 verses, we learn a lot about Jesus Christ. First, we learn the Jesus will come from Israel and that He will build a temple.

While the crown was placed on the head of Joshua, they are calling out the Branch (capitalized), meaning Jesus the Christ.

Mark 14:58 – “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’”

John 2:21 – But he was speaking about the temple of his body.

John 15:5 – I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Zechariah 6:13 – It is he who shall build the temple of the Lord and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule on his throne. And there shall be a priest on his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”’

I am very confused by the various translations of this verse and, although I do most of my work from the ESV, I am not impressed with the translation of this verse in the ESV. Many other versions have the following:

Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”

When you read other translations, it is very easily seen as a singular person who is taking the role of both ruler and priest. When you read the ESV, it seems as though there are two separate people in this role.

As I believe this is a millennial verse that would go along with the others, I have to believe that this, too, is a millennial verse. If it is, then we learn several things about Christ here. First, we see the Lord’s glory. Next we see that He will be both king and priest. And finally in this verse we see that there will be peace.

Zechariah 6:14 – And the crown shall be in the temple of the Lord as a reminder to Helem, Tobijah, Jedaiah, and Hen the son of Zephaniah.

This crown that was given to Joshua is meant to be kept in the temple as a memorial to those who returned from exile.

This is a verse to speak to the faithful in Christ receiving the crown of glory.

The name “Hen” means gracious and is evidently another name for Josiah, who is being gracious himself.

Zechariah 6:15 – “And those who are far off shall come and help to build the temple of the Lord. And you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. And this shall come to pass, if you will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God.”

The next thing we learn about Christ is that God is opening His kingdom to the Gentiles, that we will know that this is from the Lord, and that it requires our obedience.

1 Peter 2:5 – you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:13-22 – But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Zechariah 5 Commentary

Zechariah 5 gives us two different visions. The first vision is about how volitional sin in our lives will not stop the work of God in this world. The next vision given is another one dealing with sin. The fact that sin is prevalent in the land should not prevent the work of rebuilding the temple.

In both visions, we see that removing the systemic sin from Israel is needed before the coming of the kingdom.

Zechariah 5:1 – Again I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, a flying scroll!

Almost immediately after seeing the vision of the lamp and the trees, Zechariah turns and immediately finds himself in another vision.

Zechariah 5:2 – And he said to me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a flying scroll. Its length is twenty cubits, and its width ten cubits.”

The scroll that he saw is fully opened so that he can measure the size. An interesting note is that the size of the scroll is exactly the same size as Solomon’s Porch of the original temple in 1 Kings 6:2-3. The original temple had two porches made by Solomon. The dimensions describe the size of the second porch.

Zechariah 5:3 – Then he said to me, “This is the curse that goes out over the face of the whole land. For everyone who steals shall be cleaned out according to what is on one side, and everyone who swears falsely shall be cleaned out according to what is on the other side.

So this scroll is the curse for anyone who steals or swears falsely. In Revelation 18:5 we see that her sins have reached heaven and God has remembered her sins. This scroll is symbolizing at least part of the Law.

James 2:10 says that whoever keeps the whole law but fails to keep one point of it has become guilty of the entire Law.

The fact that there are only two points of the Law specified (the third and the eighth), holds up what James says in that failing to keep one point will violate the entire Law.

This message is both immediate and future. The future message brings us to something Jesus said in Matthew 25:31-46.

It is interesting that these two Laws were chosen. The stealing violates your neighbor’s rights. Swearing a lie is like lying under oath in court. It violates God. The focus of the Law is to love God and love others. The two Laws chosen show that loving God and others is of prime importance.

It could also be that these two sins were the main sins that those returning from captivity were falling prey to.

Zechariah 5:4 – I will send it out, declares the Lord of hosts, and it shall enter the house of the thief, and the house of him who swears falsely by my name. And it shall remain in his house and consume it, both timber and stones.”

There is no hiding from the scroll. Isaiah 55:10-11 says that God’s Word will not return empty after it goes out from His mouth and that it will accomplish its purpose. The only way to remove the curse is to repent.

This is similar to Leviticus 14 and the house of leprosy. In Leviticus, leprosy symbolizes sin. In Leviticus there is an opportunity to repent of the sin.

Zechariah 5:5 – Then the angel who talked with me came forward and said to me, “Lift your eyes and see what this is that is going out.”

Basically this is the beginning of the next vision. It isn’t really clear where the angel is asking Zechariah to direct his eyes except to lift his eyes.

Zechariah 5:6 – And I said, “What is it?” He said, “This is the basket that is going out.” And he said, “This is their iniquity in all the land.”

Just like in previous visions, Zechariah is unsure of what he is seeing. Depending on the version you are reading, it is either a “basket” or an “ephah,” which is, in essence, a bushel. Inside this bushel is the sin of the people.

This is likened to Revelation 18:5 in which the sins of the people are heaped up high.

Again, depending on your interpretation, there is a little more depth to this verse. I don’t particularly like the ESV translation in that it simplifies it too much. In other versions, this is not just God saying that it is their sin. God is saying that this is the “resemblance” of their sin. This means it is what God sees.

God sees all their sin. He doesn’t approve, of course. He is seeing and observing it, preparing for vengeance.

Zechariah 5:7 – And behold, the leaden cover was lifted, and there was a woman sitting in the basket!

Inside this ephah is a woman. In the vision, the woman is Judea and they are being seen for their sins. The lead is the cover of sin for Judea.

This woman is a representation of the church in sin and a corrupt Judea. The woman in the basket could go on to mean that she is being carried away, perhaps forced to live elsewhere, such as in a diaspora.

The lead cover is heavy. And lead is poisonous. The sin that covers the woman is heavy and poisonous.

Zechariah 5:8 – And he said, “This is Wickedness.” And he thrust her back into the basket, and thrust down the leaden weight on its opening.

This woman is not a woman, but the personification of evil. Think of mystery Babylon in Revelation. It appears the woman tries to leave the ephah but is forced back down and the heavy lead cover is placed back over her.

Think of Genesis 29:2 where the great stone was on the mouth of the well so that there wouldn’t be access.

Zechariah 5:9 – Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, two women coming forward! The wind was in their wings. They had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and heaven.

Now we move from the single woman in the basket to two other women with wings of storks. In the book of Leviticus, storks are seen as unclean. This means that these women are the protectors of evil. They are the demonic forces that are setting up the system of evil. There are several ways we can look at these women. It could be Samaria and Jerusalem. Or it could be the apostate church and mystery Babylon.

God allows this so that it can be destroyed as seen in Revelation 19:11-16.

The wind beneath their wings and the wings like storks show unclean and powerful creatures.

Zechariah 5:10 – Then I said to the angel who talked with me, “Where are they taking the basket?”

Zechariah is wondering where the women are taking the basket.

Zechariah 5:11 – He said to me, “To the land of Shinar, to build a house for it. And when this is prepared, they will set the basket down there on its base.”

And the angel tells Zechariah to Shinar, which is an ancient term for Babylon (see Genesis 10:10). The fact that they will be setting this basket on a base means that this will become an idol most likely inside of a temple.

This is very easily a foreshadowing of the second coming of Christ. This is the final Babylon (Revelation 17-18) and the second coming of Christ in Malachi 4:1-3.

This could be the warning for God’s people to leave Babylon, whether the physical Babylon of their day or the spiritual Babylon of the millennial kingdom.

Zechariah 4 Commentary

Zechariah 4:1 – And the angel who talked with me came again and woke me, like a man who is awakened out of his sleep.

I can only imagine how shocking all these visions of the Lord are to a person. The impact on a person’s body must be intense. Just like Daniel in Daniel 10:9, he fell into a deep sleep with his face to the ground. This is the introduction to the fifth vision that Zechariah is about to have.

Zechariah 4:2 – And he said to me, “What do you see?” I said, “I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and seven lamps on it, with seven lips on each of the lamps that are on the top of it.

There is a lot of symbolism going on here. This is a pretty descriptive verse! This is a lampstand that would be used in tabernacle. The extra bowl on top of it is to add extra oil to the lamp. This is a very large lamp! The typical menorah has 7 lamps on it. The one in the vision has a lot built onto the traditional menorah. The seven lips on each of the lamps means that there are a total of 49 lips for this menorah. This shows the abundance of the oil supply to provide to the lamps.

The lampstand is all gold. The lampstand itself is the container for the light. The church of Jesus Christ shines the Light of the world, which is Jesus Christ.

Looking at a parallel verse in Revelation 1:20, we see that there are 7 golden lampstands, these are the lampstands in each of the churches listed in the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

The number 7 is the number of perfection. Not perfection that we think of, but more specifically it means “completion.”

As you can see from the verse, we are seeing in the vision everything about God in His church.

Zechariah 4:3 – And there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.”

The lampstands have olive trees flanking it. The oil that would be used in the lamp would be a pure olive oil. This makes me think of a limitless supply of oil that is only provided by God, without any affect of mankind.

The coolest thing about this is the impact of the two trees! One represents physical Israel and the other is the grafted branch, the church of Jesus Christ.

Romans 11:24 says “for if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.”

And this is also the same picture we see in the Revelation of Jesus Christ in verse 11:4 in that there are two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.

Zechariah 4:4 – And I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?”

Zechariah asks a little bit of a surprising question here, as we will see in the next verse. Basically, he wants to know the meaning behind the two olive trees.

Zechariah 4:5 – Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” I said, “No, my lord.”

Zechariah’s question surprises the angel. The angel reacts as if Zechariah should have known the significance of the olive trees.

Zechariah 4:6 – Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.

Zerubbabel was the one who led the first group of Jews home from Babylonian captivity. The preceding verses show that God will supply an endless amount of resources to Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple. This will be to bring glory to God alone.

God is showing that it isn’t by human might or ingenuity that this will happen. It will only happen by a moving of the Holy Spirit. Ezekiel 36:24 shows that God is the one who brings the Jews back into their own land.

Zerubbabel won’t be able to accomplish what his ordained task is through his own power. The angel is explaining this to Zechariah. Zerubbabel will have to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit alone to accomplish the task.

This is so much like ministry in the church. We can only put so much of our own power into it. We can only go so far on our own power in our ministries. But when we step outside of ourselves and allow the Spirit of the living God to take control of our actions and lives, we find that our ministries will show much fruit from it.

Zechariah 4:7 – Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’”

The angel is showing that even a mountain of opposition will be leveled and become like a plain. Nothing will be able to stop the rebuilding of the temple. Think of Matthew 21:21 here! Jesus tells his disciples that if they have faith they can move mountains!

We learn that this will happen in Zerubbabel’s life because we see that the “top stone,” or headstone in other versions, will be put in place.

And all Israel will shout! Grace! Grace to it! Ezra 3:11-13 tells us that the people sang to one another giving thanks to the Lord and that they people shouted with a “great shout.” Could this be that shout? Could the shout they were proclaiming be the shout that God has shown them grace?

Imagine if we led our ministries in such a way! Instead of spending all our time over-spiritualizing everything and instead spent more time doing through faith rather than seeking faith, we would realize that our search for God’s power wasn’t what we needed because His power was always there. What our search was for was God’s grace!

We accomplish because of God’s power. We accomplish for God’s grace!

Zechariah 4:8 – Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

This is a simple break in the action. Maybe this vision was becoming too big for Zechariah. That is simply my own thoughts that I am adding here. But now we are about to move into the confirmation of the angel’s interpretation.

Zechariah 4:9 – “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you.

This angel is the Angel of the Lord. This temple was to be met with all kinds of opposition. And it would take a very long time to complete. But it would happen in the life of Zerubbabel.

Can you imagine how encouraging this is for Christians? And especially for those who lead for the cause of Christ? We know that God will show us through to see the completion of those things we start for Him.

The church we know today began with only Jesus and 12 disciples. Our talents and our gifts seem so small in the immensity of the task that God has given us. But God makes great things from small beginnings. From a baby in a manger to victory over sin and the grave!

Zechariah 4:10 – For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. “These seven are the eyes of the Lord, which range through the whole earth.”

The temple that was built was smaller than Solomon’s temple. Ezra 3:12 tells us that many who saw the first temple wept. In Haggai 2:3 the prophet says that those who saw the temple it its former glory are looking on it now as if it is nothing.

This is only a glimpse of what it will look like when the Messiah comes.

The returning remnant of Israel never believed they could finish the temple in their lifetime. And while they didn’t finish something that was as glorious as the former temple, it wasn’t the opulence that God was seeking from them. It was the faithfulness to build the temple in the first place. It was the drive to put God at the head of it and allow Him to lead them.

God turns our little efforts into a lot when we allow Him to lead the dance.

Zechariah 4:11 – Then I said to him, “What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?”

Again, Zechariah is asking about the olive trees.

Zechariah 4:12 – And a second time I answered and said to him, “What are these two branches of the olive trees, which are beside the two golden pipes from which the golden oil is poured out?”

At this point, Zechariah isn’t asking about the trees themselves, but two branches of the trees. During Zechariah’s day, the two anointed ones were Zerubbabel and Joshua. They could have been a branch on each tree or they could have both been branches on a single tree. It isn’t really known by how it is said.

But the trees themselves symbolize the kingly and priestly offices in Israel, whether physical or spiritual. There are many times in history that God anoints two people to work together for a purpose. Think of Moses and Aaron, Joshua and Caleb, Elijah and Elisha, Paul and Barnabas, Peter and John. Even in more modern times we see God anointing two in people such as Whitefield and Wesley or Graham and Barrows.

In the Revelation of Jesus Christ in chapter 11, we see that God is raising up 2 witnesses. This is very similar to what Zechariah is seeing here.

In Zechariah’s day, Joshua and Zerubbabel were the anointed. That literally translates to “sons of oil.” We can see that this oil is coming directly out of the trees.

When we lead in ministry, it is all about giving of ourselves. It doesn’t matter how much that we have to give, but how much of what we have that we give.

Zechariah 4:13 – He said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” I said, “No, my lord.”

The angel asks if Zechariah knows what is going on. With Zechariah’s answer, we can see that even a person like Zechariah cannot stand on his own wisdom. The wisdom needed to understand the mind of God comes from God.

Zechariah 4:14 – Then he said, “These are the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”

And this is the culmination of the vision. Again we see the two anointed ones, the sons of oil, Joshua and Zerubbabel. Joshua is the High Priest and a descendant of Eleazar while Zerubbabel is the leader and a descendant of David. These are the two that God will choose to manifest the light of the lampstands.

This is a foreshadowing of the Messiah. Both offices of High Priest and leader are combined in the Messiah. Psalm 110 gives us even more detail into that.

The Messiah is the source of blessing that makes Israel the light to the nations. Isaiah 60:1-3 explains that to us.

And seeing that the final statement in this chapter is that they have offices in the court of the Lord of the whole earth, we see that this is a millennial term that leads us to the final kingdom of Christ (Micah 5:4).

Zechariah 1 Commentary – Part 2

1 In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, son of Iddo, saying,

The date of this verse puts it somewhere around November of 520 BC. This is just after Haggai started his ministry. The cool thing about Zechariah is that he basically adds to the information that Haggai has given us. Haggai focused on the building of the temple while Zechariah showed that God was interested in more than the temple. God is interested in the people. The date of this first chapter is very interesting in that it comes between the two visions that Haggai had, which were in the 7th and 9th months. Zechariah and Haggai both also used a Gentile king to show the date of their prophecies, which gives credence to what Luke said in Luke 21:24 that the age of the Gentiles had started.

There is very little that is known about Zechariah. As discussed last week, we know he was captive in Babylon and a priest as well as a prophet. There are over 27 different Zechariahs in the Bible. The only information we have about this Zechariah comes from Ezra 5-6.

Ezra 5:1-2 – Now the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God that is in Jerusalem, and the prophets of God were with them, supporting them.

Zechariah’s name means “God remembers.” This is something that is important to realize as he writes about how God continues to care for them. Zechariah worked alongside several such as Haggai, Ezra, and others. The important thing to remember about Zechariah is that while God wants to accomplish His work, He wants to do so with His people.

Jesus even mentioned Zechariah in Matthew 23:35.

Matthew 23:35 – so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.

“The Lord was very angry with your fathers.

The first 6 verses of this book are basically an overview of what he is about to say in the rest of the book, which is a very strong call for repentance. It starts with telling God’s people that He is very angry with their fathers. He wants them to turn back to the Lord, something their forefathers had forgotten. The same sin that angered the Lord is the same sin that led them into captivity.

One thing to remember is that these people are probably the same and you and I. Most likely very nice people. Only 50,000 thousand returned from the hundreds of thousands that were taken into captivity.

The Hebrew use of “very angry” is actually translated as “sore displeased.” It actually means that, while controlled, it was a long, brewing anger.

Therefore say to them, Thus declares the Lord of hosts: Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.

God wants His people to know that He really wants them back. God used the exile to teach the Israelites that they needed God and that they were to obey Him. God loves them, but He doesn’t want to force them to follow Him.

God uses the name “The Lord of hosts” many times and shows that He is the supreme commander of Israel, as is written in 2 Chronicles 26:11, that He is also the commander of the armies of other nations, as is written in Judges 4:2, and that He is the commander of the heavenly armies as was written in 1 Kings 22:19.

This verse, after explaining who is dictating this, is to call for repentance. It shows His people that they will not receive His blessing until they return to Him.

Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets cried out, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, Return from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.’ But they did not hear or pay attention to me, declares the Lord.

In Jewish culture, your lineage was very important. In Ezra 9:7 we are told that the people know the sins of their fathers. God is showing His people that their fathers did not even listen to God’s prophets. The false prophets of the day were proclaiming prosperity when their sin was leading them to desperate times.

Because their fathers listened to the false prophets, God needed to prove to the people that His warnings would come true. With captivity still in their mind, God is hoping that they will listen to His warning this time around.

Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever?

Their forefathers were all dead. The prophets who warned them were all dead. The false prophets who deceived them were all dead. In 1 Peter 1:25 we are told that the Word of the Lord remains forever. The unfaithful died in captivity. They died in a foreign land. They died with a lack of respect and in tough conditions.

But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? So they repented and said, ‘As the Lord of hosts purposed to deal with us for our ways and deeds, so has he dealt with us.’”

God is telling His people that the Abrahamic covenant is still in place. God’s Word is eternal. It accomplishes everything it sets out to do. What we learn here is that the fathers who were in captivity told their children who were born in captivity what it was that got them into the situation.

These prophecies that the real prophets of God proclaimed actually came to pass.

On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, son of Iddo, saying,

This is the beginning of the eight night visions. All these visions happened in a single night. The first vision lays the groundwork for the other seven. Like an Avengers movie, if you haven’t seen the others, you will be missing vital information.

These visions are to build the confidence of His people so that they build the temple. The first vision took place about 3 months after the original call to repent.

The day itself seems special to God because on that same day five months earlier the temple was started and that same day two months prior Haggai had been given his vision.

“I saw in the night, and behold, a man riding on a red horse! He was standing among the myrtle trees in the glen, and behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses.

This vision starts with a man riding a red horse standing in the myrtle trees with other horses behind him. This red horse that the man is riding is important as red is typically the color of judgment or blood (see Isaiah 63:1-3 or Revelation 6:3).

It is thought that the “myrtle trees in the glen” means the valley of Hinnom, which is outside the temple precinct.

These visions follow a chiasm. The first and last relate to each other, the second and third and the sixth and seventh are pairs, and the fourth and fifth are the climax of the chiasm.

The horses show judgment and victory in their colors.

Then I said, ‘What are these, my lord?’ The angel who talked with me said to me, ‘I will show you what they are.’

There are actually two different angels in this first chapter. The “angel who talked with me” and the “angel of the Lord.”

10 So the man who was standing among the myrtle trees answered, ‘These are they whom the Lord has sent to patrol the earth.’

This rider could be a recon mission to see how the temple is being rebuilt. It runs opposite to what we see in the book of Job (vv1:7, 2:2) where Satan is walking through the earth looking for evil, God has his own people patrolling the earth as well.

The myrtle is an interesting tree. It isn’t like the mighty cedars of Lebanon or the oak trees in other places in the Bible which have strength. Myrtles have blossoms that are fragrant when crushed. This shows the grace that is present in the affliction that Israel received.

11 And they answered the angel of the Lord who was standing among the myrtle trees, and said, ‘We have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth remains at rest.’

The world is at peace. But, as we will see in a few more verses, God is not happy with the nations during this peace. Israel is still struggling, but the rest of the nations are at peace and content. Darius defeated 9 rebellious leaders across 19 different battles, bringing the world to peace.

This angel of the Lord is a preincarnate appearance of Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:3 – For when they shall say , peace and safety; the sudden destruction comes upon them

12 Then the angel of the Lord said, ‘O Lord of hosts, how long will you have no mercy on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, against which you have been angry these seventy years?’

The angel of the Lord, or Jesus, is asking the Father how long Israel must suffer. Looking forward, we see this verse rewritten in the book of Revelation.

Revelation 6:10 – And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, o Lord, holy and true, will you not judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth.

All the way through to the book of Revelation we will still be crying this and Jesus will still be interceding for us.

13 And the Lord answered gracious and comforting words to the angel who talked with me.

The words that Zechariah talks about here are actually listed in the following verses of 14-17. This reinforces that God cares about His people and loves them. These verses run complimentary to Jeremiah 29:10-11.

14 So the angel who talked with me said to me, ‘Cry out, Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion.

The first word of comfort is that God is jealous for His people. If you remember, God described Himself as jealous when He made the covenant with Israel in Exodus 20:5 and 34:14. What is seen as a good jealousy can also be seen as a punitive one as is seen in Deuteronomy 29:18-28 and Ezekiel 5:13.

The bottom line is that God loves His people. At the time of Zechariah that was those under the Abrahamic covenant. Today, that same jealousy is given to the church. Many times in Scripture we see that jealousy as God as the husband wanting to maintain His wife.

It is interesting to see dual names for Jerusalem. While this could simply flow with the poetry of the day, it could also come to mean that it is a Jerusalem of the past and a Jerusalem of the future.

15 And I am exceedingly angry with the nations that are at ease; for while I was angry but a little, they furthered the disaster.

The nations of the world were God’s instruments of judgment on Israel. But those nations went beyond what God desired for the punishment of His people. This can be seen in Isaiah 54:7-8 because those nations did not understand that the punishment was for a limited time.

16 Therefore, thus says the Lord, I have returned to Jerusalem with mercy; my house shall be built in it, declares the Lord of hosts, and the measuring line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem.

The Lord is ready to bless His people. Not only would the temple be rebuilt, but they would grow in prosperity. The temple was completed about 515 BC and the wall around the city was completed around 444 BC (Nehemiah 7:4, 11:1).

Isaiah 40:9-10 discusses the prosperity that would follow.

The measuring line that Zechariah talks about describes the exactness that would be used in making sure this was done properly. It can also mean that Jerusalem would be the measure by which all others will be measured as well.

17 Cry out again, Thus says the Lord of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.’”

The walls of the city would be completed about 75 years after the temple and God would choose Jerusalem as his earthly throne (Psalm 132:13). This will happen in the book of Revelation, the millennial kingdom in Revelation 20.

This one verse holds the key to several prophecies about the millennial kingdom. The presence of God in Ezekiel 48:35, the temple in Ezekiel 40-48, Jerusalem being rebuilt in Jeremiah 31:38-40, the punishment of the nations in Matthew 25:31-46, prosperity in Isaiah 60:4-9, and the blessings of God’s people in Zechariah 9:17.

Jerusalem becomes the capital of the world.

18 And I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, four horns!

Now we begin the second vision. In Daniel 2 there were 4 Gentile governments that were to come to power. The horns represent those governments. Most likely, we are looking at the four main powers of Rome, Greece, Babylon, and Persia. But there are a couple different views on this as I will explain in the next verse.

19 And I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these?” And he said to me, “These are the horns that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.”

Daniel 2 goes into detail about these powers, or horns. Daniel 7 gives another vision of the powers.

When this vision occurred, Babylon had already passed. This means that both the Medes and the Persians were in power and both Rome and Greece were future powers.

Another way to look at it is an allusion to past powers given in the book of Daniel, which would be Babylon, Persia, Macedonia, and Rome.

Even another way to look at it is Assyria, Egypt, Babylon and Persia. Each of those powers had “scattered Israel.”

One more view is that the number 4 symbolizes “universal” and the horns symbolize “power.” This could mean that the world is universally against God’s people, seeking to scatter them. But that is very much spiritualizing something that could very well be simple.

I hold to the view that the horns are Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome.

20 Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen.

Now things  get a little more weird. We now have 4 craftsmen that show up. These craftsmen are the ones who will overthrow the horns. As with Genesis 12:3, God has promised to curse those who have cursed Israel.

21 And I said, “What are these coming to do?” He said, “These are the horns that scattered Judah, so that no one raised his head. And these have come to terrify them, to cast down the horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter it.”

Each of the kingdoms had come to defeat the one before it. So Persia destroyed Babylon. Greece destroyed Persia. Rome destroyed Greece and God’s kingdom will destroy Rome.

Another possible view looks less at the book of Daniel and more at the book of Ezekiel. The four craftsmen would be the four judgments: sword, famine, beasts, and plague.  While the Ezekiel prophecy is specifically about the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon, there are parallels in Revelation 6-19.

It is important to note that God knows who has hurt His people. He keeps a record of it and He will punish those who punish His people.

Commentary of the Book of Zechariah – part 1

Every morning I read a chapter of the Bible and then go to God in prayer. One of the benefits to this is that I get to read a lot of the Bible over the course of a year. That said, it also gives me a lot of things that I take notes on to come back and study more in depth.

The book of Zechariah is one of those books that required I take a lot of notes to study at a later date. Over the next few months I will be studying Zechariah and creating my own commentary on what I study and read.

Each post will be another chapter and I will go verse by verse. One of the hopes that I have for this commentary is that it will move beyond the word by word commentary and add into it the timeless truths that are filled throughout the Bible.

Overview of the book:

Zechariah was the grandson of the priest Iddo. He prophesied to the people of Judah at some point after they had returned from their exile in Babylon. In Ezra 5, we are told that both Haggai and Zechariah were the ones pushing for the people to rebuild the temple. In Jeremiah we are told that the dates of the exile would be 70 years and that God would usher in a time of His kingdom at the end of it. Unfortunately, the time is almost up and life is still very difficult.

It is Zechariah that explains why this is so.

Zechariah returned with his grandfather after the Babylonian exile around 538 BC with the first group of exiles to return. His family lineage meant that he was both a priest and a prophet. Even though he never served in an official temple, he would still have an idea of what it would be like.

While Zechariah was young, he came alongside Haggai, who was much older, to prophecy. While Haggai was focused on the sin and selfism of the Jews at the time, Zechariah’s message was one of encouragement and hope.

The book itself is not from a single time period in Zechariah’s life. His messages begin at around the time of Haggai’s with the first vision being documented in the fall of 520 BC. During this message he is calling on Judah to repent of their sin.

Early in 519 BC he received 8 visions and then late in 518 BC he received 4 more.

Beginning in chapter 9 of the book, there is no more dating of his visions, but his mention of Greece means that this part of his book happened much later in his life, most likely somewhere around 480 BC. He would have been a couple decades before both Ezra and Nehemiah.

Overall, Zechariah’s book spans a total of about 40 years!

But that isn’t the only thing interesting about this book.

Zechariah also contains the most messianic passages throughout all the minor prophets.  He is like a mini-Isaiah. We see both the first and second comings of Christ in this book.

Zechariah’s name means “The Lord remembers.” This is very fitting as he writes from the perspective of hope that God will remember the promises He has made to His people. While it is easy to read this book and think that things should happen one right after the other, the truth of the matter is that there are generations between many of his prophecies. All of his prophecies point to the rebuilding of the temple and eventual reign of a future Messiah.

So why would one from the 21st century want to read the book of Zechariah?

It is very easy to get discouraged when we listen to the daily news or read the Twitter feed of so-called Christian leaders. The book of Zechariah has its share of judgments on the people of Israel, but it focuses on a future hope. The people in Zechariah’s time had lost their perspective. They were hopeless.

Zechariah chose to speak the Word of God in hopes to correct that perspective.

God desires to give us a hope and a future. One that is focused on God’s kingdom and filled with a desire to see us serving Him joyfully and with a new perspective.

 

Depravity & Delight – A Study in Psalm 36

Did you ever do your morning devotions and wonder why you were crying?

That was me this morning. You see, each morning I take the dog for a walk around the neighborhood. We walk about 2 miles each morning. It is during that time that I try to do my morning devotions and prayer time. My devotion is simply a chapter of the Bible. Lately I have been working through the Psalms.

This morning was Psalm 36.

Have you ever known anyone who was genuinely delighting in God alone?

That is what Psalm 36 is about.

David talks about delighting in the Lord in other places. Psalm 37:4 says:

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of desires in my heart! Keeping the desires of my heart provided could be God’s full-time job!

But Psalm 36 was today’s devotion.

And David begins this chapter in a way that he doesn’t use too often. David identifies himself as “the servant of the Lord.”

Psalm 36 – For the director of music. Of David the servant of the Lord.

The only other time David uses this explanation is in Psalm 18.

Why did David use that explanation in only those two Psalms? I’m not sure. But delighting in the Lord goes along with being submissive to the Lord.

But this isn’t the only strange thing David does in this Psalm. He starts this chapter by giving an analysis of sin’s effect in our lives.

Psalm 36:1-4 – Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil.

I start to question what David really means here. Is David speaking about, as Calvin call them, the “abandoned despisers of God” or is it much more than that? I have a problem thinking that David is simply talking about a select group of people here. I think this is more a treatise on the condition of the human heart.

And this is where conviction came in this morning.

Have you ever had an argument with a friend or a loved one?

My wife and I had a pretty big argument the other night. When you think “big argument” your mind immediately goes to hard questions like addiction or worse.

But no.

We were arguing over something small and insignificant.

Yes, the argument was a little more than that, but at its core, we were arguing over something that means nothing in the grand eternity of life.

Now both of us have valid points in our arguments. And both of us have nothing but the good of the outcome in our minds.

But neither of us were unified with each other in the Spirit of God. We were both unifying around our own agendas and when we have divided passions we get a lot of spent energy rather than positive momentum.

But these four verses hit me hard. I had to text my wife from work this morning to own up to my shortcomings. I can’t speak for my wife, but my own transgression, whether that be pride or anger or even simply divided passion, spoke deep to my own heart as David says here. And, if you look at most Hebrew manuscripts, it actually says “Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in my heart.”

My transgression was speaking to me deep in my own wicked heart.

During this argument with my wife I was not fearing God. I had an agenda and I was, literally, hellbent on enforcing it. My own pride and the thoughts that I had was flattering in my own eyes. I was so blinded by pride and arrogance that I couldn’t see my own iniquity.

Because of that, my words to my wife were trouble and not wisdom.

Later that night, I laid in bed and my mind was racing. Satan had a secure grip on my mind by that time and, just as David says in verse 4, I laid in bed and trouble was plotted in my mind. By the end of the night, I fell asleep so angry and I didn’t even reject the evil that was in my mind.

Those first four verses show us what the human heart, divorced from God’s grace, becomes. It is an unfolding of sin. It starts in the heart and it then continues to go into our words and then into our actions.

While there are interpretive differences in some manuscripts, there are some amazingly profound insights into sin and how flattery works in our lives to lead us into sin. This flattery leads us to think that we are justified by God for all of our actions, even those He calls sin.

Man, sin sucks. It is painful to come face to face with our own sin. The Puritan Ralph Venning said, “Consider that no sin against a great God can be strictly a little sin.”

So, in verse 1 our sin deceives us so that we don’t even know we are in sin. By verse 3 we see that our wickedness and deceit is happening toward God and others. Then by the end of verse 3 we see the downward spiral that our sin has placed in us. We abandon the wisdom we once had and we think about the next sin rather than denouncing sin altogether.

This is where I was in my argument with my wife. I was in the depths of depravity in my own pride.

But then, without any transition, David jumps right into the delightfulness of God.

David takes us from depravity to blessings in verses 5 through 9.

Psalm 36:5-9 – Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.

The Hebrew word for “steadfast” is hesed. It is usually combined with the word for “faithfulness” to show a covenantal love. In the Septuagint, it is combined with “mercy.” The Hebrew work for “stork” comes from hesed as well because the Israelites noticed how tender and careful the stork was with her young. Combining this with Psalm 104:17, we see a better picture.

Psalm 104:17 – Where the birds build their nests, And the stork, whose home is the fir trees.

Baby birds are ugly. They spend all day crying for food and they aren’t able to support themselves. And yet, the stork shows this loyal love to her young. This is a picture of God’s loyal love to us.

How does David go from sheer depravity to overflowing joy?

Because he realizes that the permanence of the Lord is the beginning of delight.

We are permitted to take refuge in God’s house! How can you not be excited about that!

Not only are we given refuge but we are given our fill of meat and drink. In verse 8 David uses the word “abundance.” That is literally translated as “fatness.” This pictures the best meats that would have been offered to the temple for sacrifice. And then to drink from the river of God’s delights would literally mean to be drunk on God.

To truly appreciate the idea of the “river of your delights,” you need to look at who David is writing to. This is a desert people. A flowing river would mean life. It gives you something to bathe in or water your crops with. The word for “delight” is Eden, which could be a reference to the original Garden.

This is such a different view of the effects of sin before.

Is your concept of God this big? Do you see His faithfulness and love that large? Do you see his provision as abundant and delightful?

If you see God as this big then you can begin to move beyond the wickedness of sin and move into the life and light of Christ.

So David starts off by showing us how sin deceives the sinner by flattering him so that he plans and pursues it rather than hating it. Then David abruptly contrasts the immense delightfulness of God to make us want to seek Him as the source of every blessing.

Then, David ends his Psalm with verses 10-12.

Psalm 36:10-12 – Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart! Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away. There the evildoers lie fallen; they are thrust down, unable to rise.

This prayer is for those who know God. Even though we know God and we experience His love and grace and mercy and all the blessings that flow from Him, we need a continuing flow of it from His river of delights.

To go back to the argument with my wife, it is when I stop seeking God that I fall into wickedness. We will never be fully sanctified until we are with Jesus face to face. Until that point we need to constantly be seeking God’s righteousness. We don’t just want to see God for an outward behavior but for an inner heart change.

That is the struggle of the modern day Christian. We sin so we seek God’s righteousness. When we do well enough to act good enough we stop seeking God and therefore we fall back into sin as it flatters us again.

If we stay on that cycle, we find our lives, our relationships, and our thoughts become tainted by the world because we can rely on our own righteousness for only so long. We need to rely solely on Christ to change our hearts and minds.

When you find yourself struggling with something, look inwardly first to determine if you are stuck in sin before you allow sin to flatter you and deceive you.

A Study of the Kings

The past 9 months I have been re-reading the Bible verse by verse. Each day I would take 2 chapters in the morning and 2 in the evening and read through them on my walk with the dog. After reading them I would pray about them, asking for discernment and passion in desiring to read my Bible. Then I would go back and re-read those 2 chapters again before my walk would end. In essence, I read the Bible twice during that time period.

Throughout all of it I started becoming more and more uncomfortable with how the average Christian, including myself, views the Kingdom of God. We spend hours listening to sermons on getting our lives right or being a good Christian, but we don’t even know what the Kingdom of God is.

In my first devotion after re-reading the Bible, I studied Matthew 1:1-17.

The very first words of the New Testament lay out the genealogy of Christ. Most of us just gloss over those first 17 verses of the New Testament to get to Christ’s birth.

Why?

There is a lot of power in those first 17 verses!

They lay the groundwork for the kingship of Christ.

If Christ is going to teach about His Kingdom, then He better be a King.

In all of our hymns, worship songs, sermons, and even the old creeds the underlying theme is the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ.

And those are important!

But if those are the only things we are supposed to be concerned with, then why are Matthew 3-26 in there at all?

Christ is a King, make no mistake of that. To simply call Him friend, brother, and other adjectives dilutes who the true Christ is.

So, as I read through verses 1-17 of Matthew 1, I came to realize that I didn’t really know much about the history of Christ. My own King, Savior and friend I knew very little about.

There are so many kings listed in those 17 verses that I had no clue about. I had read about them, but I mostly glossed over when I read about another person names Jeroboam or Jehoia(fill in the blank). I wanted to know who these men (and one woman) were who are listed in the royalty and kingship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The past few months I have been consuming everything I could about these Old Testament Hebraic kings. I’ve been studying them through Scripture and commentary. I’ve traced each one through the verses and found the associated prophet to go along with them.

Then I went online and found others that did the same. I didn’t want to take any of their information because I wanted to mine for the information myself. What I did want to see is what format people used to document each of the kings.

That brings me to today. I finished tracing the kings and the prophets of the Old Testament from Saul to the captivity of both Israel and Judah. After doing this I find that Matthew 1:1-17 comes much to life.

Please, I want this to be a living document. If you see anything in here that is incorrect please comment or email me. I am always looking for ways to make my study of the Bible better and better. Just click the link below and it will hopefully take you to my study.

Kings of Israel and Judah

Here Comes the Judge

What would America do if we were sent a “judge?”

Judges 10:11-12 –  The Lord answered: In the past when you came crying to me for help, I rescued you. At one time or another I’ve rescued you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Sidonians, the Amalekites, and the Maonites.

In the Old Testament, when Joshua died, the Jewish people were independent and in their own land. It was also a time where there was not a single strong leader in the land at all. This led to a leadership vacuum.

Joshua did some amazing work right before he died. He took over almost all of the land, divided it among the tribes, and then disbanded the army that was assembled to conquer the land. For lack of a better term, it was the United States of Judaism. There were 12 tribes with only a loose connection to each other.

During this time, there was no central government. The only thing holding them together was the Tabernacle. But Jews were deciding not to go to Tabernacle anymore. They were performing their own sacrifices on their own private altars.

Over the next 300 years, there would be 15 Judges that would come along. Since there was no central government, enemies would sneak, and sometimes walk in brazenly, to infiltrate the tribes. Over the 3 centuries, all of the men over those ages would have to step up to protect their families and friends. At the end of the day, a man just feels beaten down when non-stop enemies are coming at you.

While they were able to destroy the armies to the east and the west, the armies to the north had allied with the strongest military leader of the day, Sisera, and created multiple new technologies (chariots and steel weapons) that the Jews simply could not defeat.

Judges 4:4 – Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time.

Deborah, the 4th Judge, would rally an army from one of the tribes and defeat Sisera and his amazing new technology. While he escaped, he was eventually cornered, seduced, and killed by the woman who seduced him when she drove a nail through his temple. After Deborah defeated the northern army completely, they found a short 40-year peace.

The next 8 Judges ruled over Israel for 120 years. Some were good and some were not-so-good. After 12 Judges, it was time for Samson to step up. By this time, the Philistine army to the west had started to get active.

Samson was interesting. He was not one who would rally the troops as other Judges had done. Samson was a Lone Ranger kind of guy. He was also very unorthodox in his approach to leading. He married Philistine women. One of them, Delilah, eventually led to the capture of Samson. On the day they were to make a public spectacle of him, he garnered enough strength to bring the entire area, filled with 10,000 Philistines, down around him and those who were there killing everyone.

1 Samuel 3:13 – For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them.

The second to last Judge, Eli, made the mistake of losing the Ark of the Covenant during a battle. The Philistines, who seem to have caused a lot of problems over the 300 years, stole the Ark and tried to incorporate it into their pagan worship. What they found is that the Ark caused a lot of problems to occur. The pagan idols would collapse. The towns they put it in would break out with plague. Finally, with all of the Philistine cities refusing to take the Ark, they sent it back to Israel.

The final Judge, Samuel, was raised by Eli and turned out to be one of history’s greatest prophets and equal to Moses in many ways.

Not many Christians speak about or preach on the Book of Judges. It is really a book on the military leaders of Israel. But it is more than a military journal. The book explains the 300 years between Joshua and 1 Samuel and it also sets up the book of Ruth. More importantly, it sets the stage for the Jews to be shown as simply human, as we have seen throughout the entirety of Scripture.

They did what was right in their own eyes. This means they disregarded what God had declared to be right according to the Law.

Judges 17:6 –In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Modern day America can easily be seen as a country that is dire need of a Judge, although war has changed since the days of the Old Testament Judges. Our country is not, nor has been for some time, under the control of a strong leader. The country is doing what is right in our own eyes. And the unified states are only loosely related.

But what would happen if a Judge appeared?

Typically, Judges led up to a time when the people would come closer to God. The 300 years the the Jewish people were under the leadership of the Judges led up to Samuel, easily one of the most amazing men since Moses.

But to get to that point, for Israel’s heart to be softened to the point that they accepted the rule of the final Judge, it took a lot of struggle, demoralizing times, and pain.

I think about my own life.

Many times I find myself calling for Jesus’ return. I find myself asking God to please make this the final breath for our current world.

But then I wonder what life would look like for me and if I would truly be grateful for that to happen.

I am imagining all of the bad things that will happen leading up to Christ’s return, things that are already occurring. But then I wonder how it could get any worse. There will be no peace left on the earth. There will be significant inflation. There will be significant death from famine and beasts. There will be large earthquakes and stars will fall from the sky. Grasses will be burned, fish will die, the water will be poisoned, the smoke will get so thick that the sky will vanish from sight, plagues, and plenty more will happen before the church get raptured.

So, wow.

My life looks pretty good right now.

Yea, I don’t make as much money as I used to, but I have a lot more time with family. Yea, life is still crazy, but I am still alive and have people around me who love me.

So, yes, I would love to have Christ return. I would love to see this world get the judgment it deserves and finally live a life of true peace.

But, in all honesty…

I don’t know if I am ready for all of that suffering for me and my family.

So today I am going to simply live a life that Christ has given me. A new life, born out of the destruction I caused in my old life and given to me because God loves me. I will continue to pray that I can stay faithful to God, to those I love, and to my church. And I will work in my secular job and minister to the people God has given to me to minister to.

And eventually I will make it to heaven.

Psalm 34:1-3 – I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.

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