Palm Sunday

April 9, 2017Zechariah 9Palm Sunday 

 

    I have only preached 1 message from this book and that was on chapter 4 verse 6 not by might nor by power but by my spirit says the Lord.     Zechariah is not the most familiar book in the bible to me.  It is a powerful book and I want to spend some time about the author and on the material in this book.  John MacArthur writes this book is the most Messianic, apocalyptic, and eschatological in the Old Testament.  Primarily it is prophecy about Jesus Christ focusing on his coming glory as a means to comfort Israel.  He writes while the book is filled with visions, prophecies, signs, celestial visitors, and the voice of God it is also practical.   Zechariah speaks of divine care, repentance, salvation and holy living.  It is a very powerful book.  Zechariah opens with a call to repent, then some visions and messages in chapters 1 through chapter 7.  Chapter 8 is prophetic regarding Jerusalem.  Then chapters 9 through 14 are 2 oracles, or burdens or prophecies most of which are not yet fulfilled that really center on Jesus first and second advents. 

   Warren Wiersbe in his bible commentary wrote that the last 6 chapter of Zechariah represent the greatest concentrations of Messianic truth found anywhere in the scripture but the truth is always related to God’s purposes for his people Israel.  Zechariah reveals Jesus as the humble King, the loving shepherd, the mighty warrior, the gracious savior and the righteous ruler who will reign on earth as king and priest.   

   Here are some verses regarding Jesus that we see in Zechariah.  In chapter 3:9 and 13:1 Jesus atoning death for the removal of sin.  Jesus is the builder of house of God in 6:12.  We see Jesus universal reign as king and priest in 6:13 & 9:10.  We see Jesus triumphal entry in 9:9 also in Matthew 21 and John 12.  Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver.   In 11:12 & 13 he talks about his wages of 30 pieces of silver that gets thrown into the temple and we see Judas betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver which is also quoted in Matthew 27.  Judas throws the 30 pieces of silver in the temple.  We see Jesus deity in 12:8.   Jesus hands were pierced in 12:10 and 13:6 which is also quoted in John 19.  Jesus is the smitten shepherd in 13:7 which is also in Matthew 26 and Mark 14.

    Zechariah prophesied these verses about 500 years before Jesus comes on the scene.   Is there any reason to believe the rest of his prophecies that have not taken place yet will not be fulfilled?  You can be sure that God’s word is true.  Anyone here think they can prophesy several things that are going to happen over 500 years from now?   Ha.  Notice that their prophecies were very specific.  Thirty pieces of silver, pierced hands, riding on a donkey, and going into Jerusalem.    

   Zechariah was a priest born in Babylon and he returns to Jerusalem and is involved with rebuilding the temple.  His name means the Lord remembers.  God never forgot his people any of his people.   He was a priest and certainly a prophetHe lived when Haggai, and Ezra lived.   Nehemiah came in 445 BC.   This book was written in 520 BC.   Perhaps some of the later chapters were written after that.  The first 8 chapters of this book are a call to repent and to encourage God’s people in the rebuilding of the temple.

     It took a long time to rebuild the temple.  About 50,000 Jews return from Babylon when Darius in 538 BC released them.   The rebuilding of the temple was completed in 516 BC.  That is 22 years to rebuild the temple.   God gave this godless king the desire for the Jews to be released and to return to Jerusalem to their home land.  That is totally amazing in my mind and the King sent back I think 5.400 gold and silver utensils.  They were told to rebuild the temple and they started working on the temple.  Soon opposition came and they stopped building.  And because they stopped building the temple God cursed them and did not bless them read Haggai 1.  The temple is completed in 516 BC.  The king sent them and charged them with rebuilding the temple.   There was resistance and indifference with the people and so the work stopped for 16 years.   There was opposition but they just gave up.  They ignored what God told them to do.  That is not a good idea.  There is always resistance to God’s work. 

   Zechariah and Haggai worked together to get the temple rebuilt.  Ezra and Nehemiah came later after the temple was rebuilt and dedicated.  The books of the Old Testament are not put in order by dates.   Both Zechariah and Haggai prophesied to the people to get the temple rebuilt.  Haggai preaching was very pointed to the people.  We see that God was cursing his people because they quit building the temple.  We get a good flavor of that in Haggai 1. 

   Haggai 1 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’”  Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai:  “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”  Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.   You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”  This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.  Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. 

   “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.  Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops.   I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”   God was pretty clear how he felt about their commitment.  God wanted the temple to be rebuilt done and God got strong with his people.  The people got motivated again and the work was completed in 4 years.  So it took them 22 years to rebuild the temple. 

    Some of chapter 9 in Zechariah is about Alexander the Great.  He defeated the Persians in 333BC.  Daniel predicted his success and compared him to a winged leopard in Daniel 6 and a fighting he goat in Daniel 8.  Alexander the Great sweeps through north of Israel and then down the coast.  In verses3 & 4 of chapter 9we see Tyre mentioned.  It is also mentioned in Isaiah 28.  Tyre was thought be impossible to conquer.  It was a city on an island with walls up to 150 feet high.  The Assyrian Shalmaneser besieged it for 5 years and failed to conquer it.  Nebuchadnezzar tried for 13 years and failed.  In 334 to 332 God used Alexander the Great to destroy the city in 7 months.  Zechariah prophesied that in verse 3 and 4 Tyre has built herself a stronghold; she has heaped up silver like dust, But the Lord will take away her possessions and destroy her power on the sea, and she will be consumed by fire.  In verse 5 the Philistines are destroyed.  Alexander is the one who destroys them.    

   Josephus wrote that Alexander the Great came to Jerusalem and was unhappy because the Jews were paying tribute to the Persians that Alexander had defeated but the Jews were not giving him the tribute.  The night before his army arrived at Jerusalem the high priest had a dream which God told him to adorn the city and the people were to dress in white garments.  The priests put on their holy robes and the gates were opened and the priests led the people out to Alexander.  He was so impressed that he welcomed them in peace.  The high priest told Alexander of Daniels prophecies regrading him and Alexander offered sacrifices to God in the temple.  Verse 8 in the NKJ version says I will camp around my house because of the army, because of him who passes by and him who returns.  No more shall an oppressor pass through them for now I have seen with my eyes.  Alexander the Great went and came back.  God had Zechariah prophesy that God would protect his people 200 years before it happened.  Amazing 

    Some folks might say well what is the big deal.   What is the point.  Well one point is that God fulfilled the prophecy.  It is interesting that the prophecy of Tyre, Sidon and the Philistines are in the same chapter or same place as the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.   Alexander the Great won every battle he waged for 15 years.  He rides in a great horse or steed.  Generals and victors liked to ride in on a horse.   Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey.  But there is a lot more here.  Alexander named some 70 cities after himself.   Greek roads were built. He conquered from Greece to Egypt. 

   The Greek language became the common language of that day.  Later when the Romans took over the Romans found a lot of the empire already in place.  We know that the New Testament was written in Greek.  When the Christians were persecuted in Jerusalem they spread throughout that whole area.  They traveled those roads and traveled to those cities with the gospel.  When Paul goes to Rome later Christians are already there ahead of Paul.  We know that Jesus came in the fullness of time and Alexander the Great was part of the preparation for that 300 years before the birth of Jesus.  As has been said God is in charge of history. 

   When Alexander took a city there was fear.  The people were defeated.  The people of the land lost control.   They could no longer govern themselves.  What Alexander said was law. Alexander would ride in on a horse and with great power.   Thebes revolted against him and he killed or sold into slavery 30,000 of its inhabitants.  All of the conquered leaders would be involved when Alexander came into a city that he had taken.  When Jesus comes into Jerusalem lowly peasants are welcoming him.  As he comes in Jesus weeps for the city.  Jesus comes in lowly riding on a donkey.  Jesus is humble.  What an amazing contrast between Jesus and a victorious general.  But when Jesus comes again he will come with all authority and all power.   We see that in verses 14 The sovereign will sound the trumpet and verse 15 and the Lord Almighty will shield them.  Warren Wiersbe believes the whole time since Jesus is between verse 9 and verse 10 which is not yet fulfilled.  He believes the same thing between Isaiah 9:6 and 9:7 for unto us a child is born etc. and verse7 of the increase of is government and peace there will be no end. 

   Zechariah writes rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion.  Sometimes life is difficult and it is hard to rejoice.  Rejoice greatly what a wonderful admonition.  Rejoice because of Jesus.     Behold your king is coming to you.  Jesus your king is coming to you.  The people may not have recognized him as their king.  In John 19 the Jews wanted Pilate to change the sign on the cross from Jesus the king of the Jews to he claimed to be king of the Jews.  Well Pilate said what I have written is written.  Pilate would not change it.  It is interesting that we do not see that sign on any crosses.  Pilate, had it attached to the cross and written in 3 languages Hebrew, Greek and Latin. 

    The riding of Jesus into Jerusalem was recorded by all four gospel writers.  It is the only public demonstration that we see of Jesus and it was done to fulfill scripture.  Zechariah writes rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion.   Shout O daughter of Jerusalem!  Behold your king is coming to you.    Jesus is still king of his people today.  And I would say he is king of those who do not consider him king.  He is just and having salvation lowly and riding on a donkey.  How can this great King and God come in such a lowly fashion.  In Luke some of the Pharisees told him to rebuke his disciples as they were crying out Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord and Jesus told them the rocks will cry out.  Such a powerful scene.  Jesus the king of kings and the Lord of Lords came to his own people in Jerusalem on a donkey.  This lowly or humble conqueror is just and he comes with salvation. 

    Revelation depicts Jesus coming again on a great white horse.  It will be like the time he met with Joshua and Joshua ask him are you for us or for our adversaries?  Jesus said no but as the commander of the Lord’s army I have now come.  I did not come to take sides I came to take over.  When He comes on a great white horse it will be to take over.