Sermon #53 Zechariah Series
Title: When God Whistles
Text: Zechariah 10:1-12
Subject: The Sure Salvation of God’s Elect
Date: Sunday Morning — April 15, 2007
Tape # Zechariah #53
Reading: Zechariah 10:1-12
The title of my message is — When God Whistles. That may appear to be a strange title for a sermon, but if this day the Lord God is pleased to whistle for you, you will rejoice forever.
A question is raised in Romans 11:1 that perplexes many: — “Hath God cast away his people?” Really, the question should not be confusing to anyone. The Holy Spirit immediately answered it, saying, — “God forbid!...God hath not cast away his people whom he foreknew.” In the rest of that chapter he explains that though God has forever cast away the physical nation, setting it aside that the gospel might be preached among the Gentiles, the promise of God is sure. The Israel of God, all God’s elect, the true Israel shall be saved. He tells us, at the end of Romans 11, — “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they (Abraham’s physical seed) are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election (Abraham’s spiritual seed), they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (vv. 26-29).
Has God forgotten his people? Has he forgotten his covenant? Certainly not! Romans 11, like so many other passages of Holy Scripture, emphatically declares that God will save His chosen. The passage Paul quoted in Romans 11 is Isaiah 59:20-21.
(Isaiah 59:20-21) “And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD. (21) As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.”
For every chosen sinner, for every redeemed soul there is a set time appointed when Christ, the Redeemer, shall return to Zion. And when the Deliverer comes in omnipotent, saving grace, he “shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” That is one of the many was God describes the salvation of his elect. But what is involved in the accomplishment of that great work? What are the benefits of that salvation? The answer to those questions is the theme of Zechariah 10.
Zechariah 10 is a chapter full of gospel promises and assurances of grace to God’s elect. It is a continuation of Zechariah’s sermon that began in chapter 9. Here the prophet of God tells us how grace comes to sinners.
The first thing that happens in the experience of grace is this: — Somehow, by the secret operations of his Spirit in the soul, the Lord God causes the sinner to whom he will be gracious to pray for his grace (v. 1).
(Zechariah 10:1) “Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.”
In the previous chapter Zechariah proclaimed God’s great goodness, assuring us that he will bring great harvests from the earth. Here he tells us to pray for the rain, “the latter rain,” that brings the harvest.
It is clear that both the harvest in chapter 9 and the rain here refer to spiritual things. Zechariah is not talking about carnal things, but spiritual things. He is talking about grace and salvation in Christ, not corn in your field and hey in your barn! Let me show you.
Like wind, rain is used figuratively in the Word of God, particularly in the Old Testament, to represent the gracious influences of God the Holy Spirit upon chosen sinners; and the fruitfulness of the earth brought forth by the rain of heaven speaks of the grace of God brought forth in the heart, prepared as good ground to receive the gospel seed (Isaiah 35; Hosea 6:1-3; 10:12; Joel 2:23).
(Hosea 6:1-3) “Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. (2) After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. (3) Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.”
(Joel 2:23) “Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.”
The Scriptures speak of the “former rain” and of the “latter rain.” The “former rain” is the rain that comes in the Spring, when the seed is sown in the ground. That represents the gracious work of God the Holy Spirit working conviction in the heart. The “latter rain” comes in the Fall, at harvest time. That represents the same gracious operations of the Spirit, as he brings forth the precious fruit of grace in the heart of the heaven-born soul.
Though the “former rain” precedes the “latter rain,” in Hosea 6:3 the “former rain” is put first. Why? — Because we do not and cannot know what is taking place in our hearts in conviction until the fruit of faith springs up, any more than the farmer can know that the seed sown has germinated until he sees the plant breaking the ground.
Isaiah 35 gives us a picture of how the Lord showers his people with grace and causes them to “blossom as the rose.”
(Isaiah 35:1-2) “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. (2) It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.”
(Isaiah 35:3-5) “Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. (4) Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you. (5) Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.”
(Isaiah 35:6-7) “Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. (7) And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.”
(Isaiah 35:8-10) “And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. (9) No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: (10) And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
In our text sinners are commanded to seek “the latter rain” (v. 1). God promises to give it; and give it he will. Yet, he requires the needy soul to seek his grace (Ezekiel 36:37; Hosea 10:12; Luke 11:9-13).
(Ezekiel 36:37) “Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock.”
(Hosea 10:12) “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.”
(Luke 11:9-13) “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. (10) For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (11) If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? (12) Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? (13) If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”
We call upon sinners to seek the latter rain of God’s saving grace, asking the Lord God to rain the righteousness of Christ upon them; but none will ever seek his grace until they know their need of grace. So, in verses 2 and 3, the Lord God, by his prophet Zechariah, shows us our need of grace.
(Zechariah 10:2-3) “For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd. (3) Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle.”
First, he tells us that we have been deceived by false gods and false shepherds, who have given us a false peace. — “For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd” (v. 2).
This verse is a sad picture of Israel’s spiritual life before the Babylonian captivity. Israel’s Babylonian captivity was the result of their idolatry. They had been reduced to seeking divine light from “diviners” — palm readers, witches, horoscopes and ouija boards! That is God’s description of false prophets, not mine.
Because their “diviners” told them “false dreams,” The children of Israel bowed to and worshipped idols. The Hebrew word translated “idols” (teraphim) refers primarily to household idols. Idolatry was not unusual in Israel, but common. It was an ever-increasing evil throughout their history (Genesis 31:19; 1 Samuel 15:23; 2 Kings 23:24), even as it is with men and women today (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25).
(Proverbs 14:12) “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
All men have been deluded and gladly delude themselves with idolatry, heaping to themselves false shepherds, prophets of deceit, who constantly feed them with the poison of free-will, works religion.
· “God loves you and wants to save you, if you will just let him.”
· “Christ died for you; but his death will be in vain, unless you open your heart and let him save you.”
· “The Holy Spirit is calling you; but you must choose.”
· “Salvation is by grace; but that does not mean that you do nothing.”
Yes, the diviners have seen a lie and have told a false dream. They told you you would be saved if you would simply will it and say “the sinners’ prayer”. But you have found their comfort vain. Your religion is the religion of sheep straying in their own way, troubling to your soul! Why? Because the free-will preachers, the shepherds you have followed are all false shepherds. They have used you and abused you for themselves, and have left you straying still, as sheep without a shepherd. And God’s anger is kindled against them (v. 3; Ezekiel 34:6-10).
(Zechariah 10:3) “Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle.”
(Ezekiel 34:6-10) “My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. (7) Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; (8) As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; (9) Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; (10) Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.”
The Lord God condemns religious leaders who selfishly use his people to serve their own interests. He will destroy every false shepherd and the goats who follow them. But he will not leave his sheep without a shepherd. He has sent and will send his own dear Son to be our faithful and true Shepherd. Christ, the great and good Shepherd of the sheep, will visit his flock and gather his elect, as a shepherd gathers his sheep (v. 3; Ezekiel 34:22-24).
(Zechariah 10:3) “Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle.”
(Ezekiel 34:22-24) “Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. (23) And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. (24) And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it.”
Not only will God judge, overturn and destroy the false shepherds and the free-will, works religion of Babylon, he will make the his Israel, his flock of sheep, “his goodly horse in the battle,” his war horse upon which he rides over them (Zechariah 12:9).
(Zechariah 12:9) “And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”
Now, look at verse 4. Here the Lord God tells us that his saving grace is sure, describing our Lord Jesus Christ as that One who came forth out of Zion to save Zion.
(Zechariah 10:4) “Out of him came forth the corner, out of him the nail, out of him the battle bow, out of him every oppressor together.”
This is a rich, highly instructive prophecy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Zechariah sets before us three pictures of our Savior’s character that are commonly in the Old Testament to describe his person and work as our Redeemer and Savior: (1.) The Cornerstone, (2.) The Nail, and (3.) The Battle Bow
The phrase “out of him” refers back to the house of Judah in verse 3. The Deliverer who came from the house of Judah is the Lord Jesus Christ. The scriptures both identify him as the lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5; Genesis 49:10), and tell us that he was born in Bethlehem of Judah (Matthew 2:1; Micah 5:2).
Christ is the Cornerstone of his Temple, the Church, the Cornerstone of our souls. To the unbelieving he is a Stumbling Stone; but for his elect he is the Cornerstone and Foundation Stone upon which we are built (Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 28:16; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:12; Romans 9:32-10:4; 1 Corinthians 1:23 Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:5-8).
(Psalms 118:22) “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.”
(Isaiah 28:16) “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.”
(Acts 4:12) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
As the cornerstone is the principal foundation of a building and gives stability to its adjoining walls, Christ is the Cornerstone upon which we rest our souls, by whom we are cemented together as his holy temple.
Christ is the Nail upon which we hang our souls (Isaiah 22:23-24; Ecclesiastes 12:11).
(Isaiah 22:23-24) “And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house. (24) And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons.”
(Ecclesiastes 12:11) “The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.”
· The triune God fixed the Nail in a sure place in his eternal covenant (Ephesians 1:3-6).
· God hung on him all his purpose of grace, trusting him with the salvation of his people and the glory of his own great name (Ephesians 1:12).
· We hang our souls and all our hope upon this Nail, trusting Christ alone as our Savior (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).
· And, as the Builder of his Tempe, Christ the Nail, bears all the glory of it (Zechariah 6:13).
· In a word, everything hangs on the Nail, Christ Jesus, the Nail God has fixed.
The Hebrew word translated “nail” refers to two kinds of nails. One was a tent stake, like those used to hold the tabernacle in place. The other was a nail or peg driven into the center pole of a tent or the wall of a house. Utensils and valuables were hung on it. As we hang works of art on our walls, in ancient times men would hang jewels and other emblems of wealth on a nail in some conspicuous place in their dwellings, to be admired by all who came in. That is what the triune God has done. He has hung everything on Christ, to let us see and admire the exceeding riches of his grace and glory in him!
And the Lord Jesus Christ is the Battle Bow by which his Church shall triumph over her enemies in the end (Isaiah 63:1; 2 Corinthians 10:4).
(Isaiah 63:1) “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”
(2 Corinthians 10:4) “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.”
It is written, “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you” (2 Chronicles 20:17).
(Revelation 19:11-16) “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. (12) His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. (13) And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. (14) And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. (15) And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. (16) And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
In the last line of verse four we are assured of something else, something that makes the promise of deliverance even sweeter. Zechariah tells us that “every oppressor” comes out of him by whom he shall be conquered. In other words, even those who oppress and seek to destroy Christ and his Church do nothing but serve his will and pleasure. All are the vassals of our sovereign God and Savior, vassals he uses for his own purpose and glory to the saving of his elect (Acts 2:23).
With wisdom, pow’r, and skill unknown,
By His own fixed decrees,
From His majestic, sovereign throne,
God rules all things with ease.
God kills and God makes us to live,
According to His will,
And every man and creature shall
God’s purposes fulfill.
His purposes none can oppose,
His will none can resist;
God is the Master of His foes!
By Him all things subsist!
Astonished with Your greatness, God,
We bow before Your throne;
And we give thanks to know that our
Great God is on His throne!
Jehovah reigns! Rejoice, rejoice,
God sits upon His throne!
With fear and trembling hear His voice,
His purpose shall be done.
In heav'n above God has His way,
And in the earth below:
Both men and demons He will sway
To do His will, I know.
In glorious, sov'reign majesty,
Our God performs His will:
His purpose from etemity,
He must and will fulfill.
An everlasting glorious name,
God for Himself shall have:
Creation shall proclaim His fame
God shall all glory have!
In verses 5-7 Zechariah tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ will, by his saving grace, make a complete restoration of all things to his people.
(Zechariah 10:5-7) “And they shall be as mighty men, which tread down their enemies in the mire of the streets in the battle: and they shall fight, because the LORD is with them, and the riders on horses shall be confounded. (6) And I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the LORD their God, and will hear them. (7) And they of Ephraim shall be like a mighty man, and their heart shall rejoice as through wine: yea, their children shall see it, and be glad; their heart shall rejoice in the LORD.”
Our blessed Savior restores that which he took not away. He will save so thoroughly, so completely, that he will make his saved ones to be “as though he had not cast them off.” He makes his people strong with his grace, putting all our enemies under our feet (Malachi 4:3), making us more than conquers over them all (Romans 8:37). He makes the hearts of his redeemed to “rejoice as through wine…Their heart shall rejoice in the Lord.” Why? —
· Because, he declares, “I have mercy upon them.” — Notice, he does not say, “ I will have mercy upon them.” He says, long before they experience it, “I have mercy upon them!”
· “For I am the Lord their God…and will hear them.”
Now, look at verses 8-11. Here the prophet of God speaks of the Lord Jesus gathering his elect unto himself by his omnipotent grace because he has redeemed them. We will have to come back to this on another occasion. For now, let’s just read over these rich, rich promises of God our Savior. As we do, remember that the One speaking to us by his prophet is our all-glorious Christ. As our eternal Surety, he made covenant engagements with his Father to save all his people, to gather each one and every one that was given to him unto himself.
(Zechariah 10:8-11) “I will hiss for them, and gather them; for I have redeemed them: and they shall increase as they have increased. (9) And I will sow them among the people: and they shall remember me in far countries; and they shall live with their children, and turn again. (10) I will bring them again also out of the land of Egypt, and gather them out of Assyria; and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon; and place shall not be found for them. (11) And he shall pass through the sea with affliction, and shall smite the waves in the sea, and all the deeps of the river shall dry up: and the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the sceptre of Egypt shall depart away.”
I told you, at the beginning, “the title of my message is — When God Whistles.” In verse 8, God our Savior says, “I will hiss for them.” That is where I got the title for this message. The word translated “hiss” means “whistle.” He describes the sweet call of his grace as whistling, like a shepherd whistling for his flock. He who has all creatures at his beck and call, can easily bring back his banished ones and gather together his dispersed with the whistle of his grace!
(Isaiah 5:26) “And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly.”
He assures us that he will, most certainly, gather all his chosen, not only because he has chosen them, but also because, he says, “I have redeemed them.” — “He shall not fail.” Every sinner redeemed by his blood shall be saved by his grace. The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ shall never be discovered a miscarriage!
Christ promises to whistle for his people and gather them out of the nations in which they have been scattered. He promises to restore everything they lost by their sin and fall in Adam.
· All creation
But will his salvation last? Will his poor, fickle, weak, feeble, ignorant sheep continue in his grace? Will they walk with him unto the end? This much is certain: If it depends on them they will not last long. But, blessed be his name, the everlasting salvation of our souls does not depend upon us! In verse 12 our Savior declares that his saving grace is keeping grace. The grace that chose us and redeemed us, the grace that whistled for us and gathered us is the grace that keeps us forever.
(Zechariah 10:12) “And I will strengthen them in the LORD; and they shall walk up and down in his name, saith the LORD.”
He promises, “I will strengthen them.” But that is not all. He says, “I will strengthen them in the Lord.” He constantly makes us weak in ourselves that we might find our strength in him. He who is our Savior is our Strength. The words might be translated, “I will cause them to prevail in the Lord.”
Because he strengthens them, he says, “and they shall walk up and down in his name, saith the Lord.” — They shall walk in him, the way to the Father, to heaven and happiness. They shall walk by faith in him, relying upon him, worshipping him.
John Gill suggests that this is the promise of all three person in the eternal Godhead. — “I, Jehovah the Father, will strengthen them in Jehovah the Son; and they shall walk up and down in the name of the Son of God, saith Jehovah the Spirit.” — “In his name”…
· They shall walk in ease and peace.
· They shall walk up and down through the earth, up the hills of adversity and down into the valleys of darkness.
· They shall walk up to the house of God.
· They shall walk down to the grave.
Illustration: “In His Grip”
“‘Twas grace that taught my soul to pray,
And made my eyes to o'erflow;
'Twas grace that kept me to this day,
And will not let me go.”
Listen to sermons at FreeGraceRadio.com
 Every time God allows me to preach, let me be certain that I…
1. Deliver a message. — Don’t ramble.
2. Deliver His message.
3. Tell only what I know by experience.
4. Deliver the message in the power of the Holy Spirit.
5. Make Christ the object of my message.
6. My motive is the glory of God.
7. Deliver the message in the language of the people.
8. The message grips my own heart. — If it doesn’t grip my heart, it won’t grip anyone else’s heart!
9. Preach in love.
10. Expect people to believe.