Preacher of Christ

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 LORD was very angry with your fathers. 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. 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. Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? 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.’”

Zechariah 1:1-6, ESV

Before we go to the Lord, and hear his Word and hear that Word preached, let’s ask his blessing once more upon that reading and preaching and hearing of His Word. Let’s pray once more together.

Our dear Lord, Almighty God, we come before you again now. And we ask, dear Father, help us to hear the voice of our King speaking to us in this word. Lord, we want to humble ourselves before you and we pray that you would indeed arrest our attention. Give us focus, give us clarity, that we would hear what you have to tell us. We will be attentive to that Word. And so we ask, Lord, let the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in your sight. We do confess that we do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from your mouth. And so we ask dear father, give us a great appetite for this, your Word, may indeed nourish our souls this morning in the ways of eternal life, all for Your glory. We pray this all through the bread of heaven, Jesus Christ. And all God’s people said, Amen. Amen.

Zechariah. Please turn to chapter one, the Old Testament prophet, Zechariah.

In this morning, we’re starting a new series through this book, the prophet Zechariah. As part of what we refer to as the 12, or the Minor Prophets that are at the end of our Bibles. Most of us have a hard time scrambling to find some of these individual, Old Testament minor prophets. And so perhaps the easiest way to find Zechariah if you’re struggling, is to go to the Gospel of Matthew, and then go back to books, right, go to Matthew and then back to Malachi, then Zachariah, the prophet Zechariah, I’ll be reading the first six verses of chapter one. Please give your attention this is the Word of our Lord.

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 Lord was very angry with your fathers. Therefore say to them, Thus declares the LORD of hosts: Return to me, says Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. 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. Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? 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.

So far the reading God’s holy, infallible, inspired Word. Well, years ago when I was very new to the Bible, a new believer, I remember going to– being at the Friday night Academy in the city of Anaheim at the Christ Reformed Church there. And after class one night, there was a man, another student, very excited and vigorous, passionate and he was going on and on. And his discussion about not needing the Old Testament. He was trying to make the point that we just don’t need the Old Testament because we have the New Testament. But there was another gentleman there an older man in the group who comment that he said, Well, the Old Testament is two thirds of our Bibles. It’s two thirds of the Bible that God gave us. Shouldn’t that mean something to us? And I remember thinking even in my very new and young state that that’s a really good point. Right? If what we believe about the Bible, what we believe about inspiration and preservation is true, and it is, well, that makes sense, right? Why would God give us something that we don’t need? Why would you give us an append appendix of sorts, right? Useless organ.

But of course, there are many reasons why we need the Old Testament, and why the Old Testament is important to us even today, even today in 2020, even in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

And as we approach this Old Testament prophet, the book of Zechariah it’s fair and it’s appropriate to ask that question, why Zechariah? Why study the book of Zechariah? Well, first of all, it’s part of God’s Word. And so we shouldn’t neglect it. Right? That seems like the most obvious reason. The Holy Spirit saw fit to inspire and to preserve it as part of as part of the holy canon. Also, it’s the whole counsel of God for us. It’s our book, the people of God, it’s part of God’s word for God’s people. It’s our book. And also, it’s widely quoted in the New Testament, right in the gospels, in the Epistles, in the book of the Revelation, they all quote the book of Zechariah. And so it should be important to us. It should have meaning for us. And also we learn from history, right? We learn from history, history is important that we study and understand and learn from it. And then all of a Sacred Scripture, including the book of Zechariah, including all of these smaller minor prophets, Zechariah is one of the longer of the Minor Prophets, but it’s important that we understand all of Sacred Scripture was written for us for our benefit. Right? You’ll remember that wonderful declaration from the Apostle Paul. The Book of Romans, Romans 15:4, where he says, For whatever it was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope. Right? Apostle Paul says, inspired by the Holy Spirit, Romans 15:4.

And so if we suffer and we struggle in this life, and we do, Zechariah is for us. It’s for us, for our encouragement, for our hope, for our instruction, that as Paul says, we might have hope. And also, we don’t want to be chronological snobs, right, you may be familiar with that term, the CS Lewis talked about some who looked down upon former past generations and think that current modern times and thinking are superior. He said that they suffer from chronological snobbery, right? Looking down on those in the past. We don’t want to do that. We aren’t better or beyond the Old Testament prophets in that way. Zechariah in his message, that message that was inspired by the Holy Spirit and delivered to God’s people, that message is not beneath us. Right. But finally, and perhaps most importantly, the reason we study Zechariah is because Zechariah preaches Christ. The book, The Prophet preaches Jesus. And I asked that as we work through this book as we– and I pray that you will be reading through Zechariah and praying through Zechariah as we work through it as we’re working through this book in the weeks to come. Read through it, pray that the Lord would show you and then he would bless you, as you work through and as you read, and as you hear it preached to you.

I’ll be giving you more background and setting as we move through this book. But understand as we set forth and venture into this part of God’s Word, understand that it is perhaps the most neglected part of God’s Word, the Old Testament minor prophets. But understand as we go, the message of Zechariah is that the sole hope for sinful man is found in the coming of the Messiah who would suffer, die, be buried and raised for our salvation. That’s the message of this Old Testament book, that the sole hope of human– of sinful man is found in the coming of the Messiah in the work that he would accomplish for our salvation. That’s the message of Zechariah in broad terms. Zechariah is about Christ establishing his kingdom through the cross. And let us never forget, this is a book for the Church of Christ. Old and New Testaments, all of it, is the book, is the is the word of God for God’s people. And we are on this side of redemptive history with completed Revelation, completed special revelation, right? As revelation unfolds, it’s concurrent with a redemptive history. And the culmination of redemptive history happened with the work of Christ. And therefore, we have the completed canon, the completed revelation that God would have us to have. We have the glorious benefit of full revelation from the Lord.

And so the main point as we look at Zechariah is that as a prophet, he bears witness to Christ as Messiah, as the suffering priest who is crowned the conquering King. And he warns all those who rebel against God, that judgment is coming. Judgment is coming. And as with the rest of Holy Scripture, there is bad news, really bad news. But there is also good, gloriously wonderful news. The good news of the gospel.

And so let’s begin by reminding ourselves, as we begin to dip our toe into this prophet, what a prophet is, right? What is a prophet? Right? It’s good to reorient yourself, what’s a prophet?

Well remember that there were three offices in the Old Testament, right? Three offices. I’m sure you’re all aware of these three offices. There’s Prophet, Priest, and King. Prophet, Priest, and King. And the Prophet did what? The Prophet told forth God’s word, he told forth the Word of God. And he foretold future things as well. He told forth the Word of God, he foretold future things, but the main purpose of the Prophet is seen, perhaps most clearly in strikingly in our Old Testament– our New Testament lesson for this morning, Matthew chapter 21. Right? The in the parable of the tenants that we read. Right? The vineyard that’s spoken of there is Israel. The servants are sent to call the people back to obedience. They’re sent to call the people back to God. Right? These are the prophets calling them. The prophets were covenant lawyers, reminding the people of the covenant, right? They were covenant lawyers, they prosecuted the lawsuit against the rebellious Israelites. That’s what the prophets did.

And as they did, so they were hated. They were hated as we see what happened to the prophets again and again and what it’s told in Matthew 21, this parable of the tenants, they were hated. They were hated, perhaps even more than lawyers of our day are hated. One after another, God would send the prophets one after the other. And why would he do this, prophet after prophet after prophet. It wasn’t because he was mean or harsh, because he wanted to hurt them, and had no love for them. It was an act of mercy by God that he sends prophet after prophet was an act of mercy. He sent the prophets again and again to warn the people.

And the final message of the prophets was about the coming of Messiah, the coming Messiah. The prophets pointed the people back to look away from themselves, away from themselves, and to the provision that God would make. Not sending His prophets but ultimately, like the vineyard owner in the parable, sending his own Son. This is what the heart of the prophets is all about. This is what it’s all about.

The Apostle Peter tells us about the prophets. Do you remember in First Peter 1, turn there if you would, First Peter, chapter one. Peter tells us about the prophets. It’s pretty extraordinary. First Peter 1:10–12. The Apostles says this,

concerning the salvation the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours, searched and inquired carefully. inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories of Christ. Verse 12, it was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preach the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look

What an incredible three verses, what an incredible statement this is from Peter. Speaking of the prophets, he says they spoke of the salvation to come in Messiah, in Christ. They spoke of Jesus, this was their ultimate goal. They spoke with the salvation that he would bring because they can’t save themselves. People can’t save themselves, and they still can’t save themselves. And that, dear friends, is what we need to be doing as well. It’s why we need to be about the business of spreading and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Telling people about the Messiah, right that one who came as foretold. That one who entered into creation and took on flesh, took on human form, became one of us. That one who did all that was required of man to do. In perfection, that one who also took the judgment and punishment for all those who throw themselves upon His mercy and His grace. And he took that punishment to the fullest.

You know this right? You know this. The one who, in the upper room, gives his disciples the cup of blessing and he presses it into their hands. And he says, drink it, drink the sweet fellowship that I have with the father, my peace I give to you, my joy, I give to you my glory, I pray for you. And he presses that cup into their hands, the hands of his friends, and he says, Take drink, all of you.

And that same one, you remember, in the garden of cemani he tremblingly takes the cup that cup from his father’s hand, the cup that the Prophet spoke of, the cup of the father’s wrath against sin, the cup of judgment And he drinks it all down, down to the dregs.

And that same one, Jesus, that one who knew no sin, became sin, so that those who come and cast themselves upon him are found in him, that they would be the very righteousness of God and be reconciled to God by the power of the gospel. What a glorious thing.

Brothers and sisters, this too, is the message Zechariah. All of the Old Testament bears witness to Christ is about him and the redemption that he brings. What are the prophets? What do they see what they saw in spoke was less clear and less full to them at that time, that epoch in history to be sure. They didn’t have full understanding regarding what they were talking about. They didn’t know about the Messiah when exactly or who exactly, are exactly how they strain to look into their own writings to know to find out exactly how God would accomplish salvation. This is why we today live in a privileged time. We know more about these things than the prophets did. Because again, we’re on this side of full revelation, full special revelation to God’s people. In many ways, you know far more than the prophets did during their earthly lives. I don’t know if you’ve considered this. We speak quite casually of the virgin birth, of the flight to Egypt, of the betrayal of Jesus, of the cross of Calvary, of the three days in the tomb, of the glorious resurrection. We take for granted things that the prophets had only glimpses of and only– and longed to know more about. You know the one of whom they spoke. You know very declaratively, very specifically, this one who was named Jesus, who was born in Bethlehem, who was very God of very God, who lived and died and rose again on the third day.

Notice though the things that the prophets did know about the Messiah. Notice what they did know. There are two things that Peter mentions that they clearly did know and they clearly spoke about. And those were what, look at first Peter 11. Once more, it says, inquiring what persons are time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. Right, the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

This is important here, right? It’s important for us. We want to easily skip to the end, to the glory. We are impatient people. I don’t think it’s just me, my nature. More and more, we are impatient people. We want the riches without the work, right? We want the health and wellness without exercise and healthy eating and paying attention to such things. We want wisdom without the trials and hardships that bring wisdom. Right? We want the rainbows without the rain clouds.

Our world, more and more and more, demands the instant, right? The instant. And this is not foreign to any of us, I would imagine. Right? Even our food needs to be instant. Right? I remember when I was younger, and I wanted something heated up, or probably more accurately, I wanted my mother was going to heat something up. She needed to turn on the oven and wait for it to come up to temperature and then put the food back in and then heat it up. And there was further waiting through all this time. It might take 15 or 20 minutes just to get the oven up to temperature, and then more time to get the food hot.

Today, I get frustrated that the microwave takes so long. I think how long can three minutes really be? My wife says, well, it’s the same three minutes it’s always been. But if I knew something, if I would have to wait 15 minutes or more for something to eat today, I probably would just as well eat it cold. And notice even fast food, right, has become too slow. The ordering process is even sped up by simply yelling out numbers, right? Grouping things together in numbers, right? The speaking out of actual items takes too long. And so you don’t have to go through that laborious process of speaking anymore. We just yell out a number. Or our lawns, think of our lawns right? We don’t– we can just blow the lawn on through hydroseeding. Or if that takes too long, just by the roll of grass and lay it out.

Everything is instant. These are all indicative of how we’ve become all-together impatient, and averse to waiting. By and large, we just want the end glory without the toil and struggle of getting there. We just want to be there.

And our theology is impacted by this. Our theology. I heard someone recently criticizing the use of the word theology the other day, as if theology were a bad word. But it’s not a bad word. It’s a good word! It simply means the study of God or the things of God. And I think you’re all aware of the late Dr. Sproul. He taught most of us this very thing, right? He even used– had a great book to make this point with the title, Everyone’s a Theologian. Because everyone is a theologian! Whether it’s a Bible study or a discussion about Jesus or simply working out a biblical truth on paper or in our minds. These are all instances of doing theology. But that theology is impacted by the world that we’re in by the the things we’ve habituated, we have a culture of impatience. And we want the glory of heaven without the trials of this life. We want the resurrection of Sunday without the cross of Friday. We want the crown without the cross.

And this, of course, is not new. Even in the New Testament, in the days of Jesus, the Jews there, they wanted a Messiah who was a lion but not a lamb. They wanted a Messiah who was a king, but not a priest. They too wanted the crown without the cross. But this is not what the prophets foretold. And Zechariah is no different. This book, Zechariah, the Old Testament prophet, he clearly foretells of the coming of the Messiah, both as lion and lamb. Both as a king and a priest. Both as a conquer and conquered. Both as victor and the victim.

And if this is to be your savior’s story, dear Christian, it will be yours as well. It will be yours. The pattern of his life will be the pattern of your life. And Zechariah, this prophet, he will not tell you how to avoid suffering in this world. But he will tell you how to understand it.

He won’t tell you that life in this fallen world will ever be easy. But he will tell you that you belong to Him who has overcome this fallen world. And that is all together glorious. It’s all together glorious, if you belong to Him, if you cast yourselves upon him if you’ve entrusted your life on Jesus.

Zechariah ministered at a pivotal time in history, in the history of God’s people. And because of this, he makes it clear for us how we are to learn from that history from the history of Old Testament Israel, which you remember, was recorded. What did Paul say, for our benefit. For our benefit.

Zechariah calls us away from the historical arrogance that says, Well, we would never fall into the problems of foolish Israel, we would never do that. Zechariah reveals the foolishness of that statement and that sentiment. And he speaks so clearly to you today as he did to the original audience to whom he spoke. And he warns us from swaying from the narrow path. He will not let your eyes go anywhere, but on the suffering and glory of the Messiah, Christ.

Because brothers and sisters, you have hope, nowhere else except in this Messiah, Christ Jesus. so long we’re hoping hope is found. This book will call you to find your story in his story. And so as we prepare and look forward, the weeks to come, may we praise God for the Messiah proclaimed by the prophets. That he took the verdict of the lawsuit that they brought, even though he alone fulfilled the stipulations of that covenant that we broke. And let us reflect and pray and rejoice in these things, dear Christian. May we indeed praise God for the mercy to call us to return to Him. Return to me, he says. And may we praise him for the faith to respond to that call, as we do that very thing. And may God bless our time and Zechariah as we spend time with this prophet who bears the testimony of our glorious Lord, Jesus Christ.

What a wonderful blessing, what a wonderful blessing to belong to the family of God, right? Sons and daughters of the king. Everyone can trust themselves upon him. And so may he continue to bestow His mercy and grace and provision upon us all, even as we descend back into the pilgrim lives that we live in this foreign land. All the while living for the king, and spreading his message to all whom the Father brings into our lives. Amen. Let’s pray.

Our Heavenly Father we are awed at your, at your love, at your sovereign provision for life. Lord, we are awed at your care for us, at the grace that you’ve extended to us in Christ our Savior. We do pray, Father, that as we continue to work through this portion of your Word, that we would see what you have for us there, that we would see Jesus. Lord we pray, bless us. By this Word, seal this truth to our hearts and help us as we do to believe what you tell us there and to rest ourselves upon Christ in all things. And we ask this all in Jesus name, Amen.