Sermon #02 Zechariah Series
Title: God’s Call and God’s Promise
Text: Zechariah 1:1-6
Subject: Zechariah Calls Israel to Repentance
Date: Sunday Morning — May 8, 2005
Tape # Zechariah #2
Reading — Jeremiah 281-17:
1 And it came to pass the same year, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year, and in the fifth month, that Hananiah the son of Azur the prophet, which was of Gibeon, spake unto me in the house of the LORD, in the presence of the priests and of all the people, saying, 2 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. 3 Within two full years will I bring again into this place all the vessels of the LORD’S house, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place, and carried them to Babylon: 4 And I will bring again to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, with all the captives of Judah, that went into Babylon, saith the LORD: for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon. 5 Then the prophet Jeremiah said unto the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests, and in the presence of all the people that stood in the house of the LORD, 6 Even the prophet Jeremiah said, Amen: the LORD do so: the LORD perform thy words which thou hast prophesied, to bring again the vessels of the LORD’S house, and all that is carried away captive, from Babylon into this place. 7 Nevertheless hear thou now this word that I speak in thine ears, and in the ears of all the people; 8 The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence. 9 The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the LORD hath truly sent him.
10 Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke from off the prophet Jeremiah’s neck, and brake it. 11 And Hananiah spake in the presence of all the people, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years. And the prophet Jeremiah went his way. 12 Then the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah the prophet, after that Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying, 13 Go and tell Hananiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Thou hast broken the yokes of wood; but thou shalt make for them yokes of iron. 14 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; I have put a yoke of iron upon the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him: and I have given him the beasts of the field also. 15 Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah; The LORD hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie. 16 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the LORD. 17 So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.
God’s elect are described in the Old Testament as a people scattered by divine judgment among the nations, a people whom he will gather to himself in “the time of love” by omnipotent mercy. Though scattered in his fury and in his wrath, because of their sin, they are his people still; and he will gather them by his grace. Both the scattering of God’s elect among the heathen and the gathering of them by his grace are vividly portrayed in his dealings with the children of Israel (Eze. 11:16-17; 36:16-24).
(Ezekiel 11:16-17) “Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come. (17) Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.”
(Ezekiel 36:16-24) “Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, (17) Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings: their way was before me as the uncleanness of a removed woman. (18) Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it: (19) And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them. (20) And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These are the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of his land. (21) But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went. (22) Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. (23) And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. (24) For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.”
This scattering of God’s elect in his fury and the sure gathering of them in mercy is most distinctly displayed in God delivering Israel into Babylon and gathering them again into the land of promise (Neh. 1:9; Jer. 9:22; 31:8; 32:37).
(Nehemiah 1:9) “But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.”
(Jeremiah 31:8) “Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither.”
(Jeremiah 32:37) “Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely.”
And to those who are returned to him by his mighty, saving grace are assured of his continued grace forever (Jer. 32:38-42).
(Jeremiah 32:38-42) “And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: (39) And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: (40) And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. (41) Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul. (42) For thus saith the LORD; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them.”
How thankful we ought to be! It is written, “Ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (1 Pet. 2:25).
· We went astray in the sin and fall of our father, Adam.
· The Lord Jesus came into the world to put away our sins by the sacrifice of himself.
· And, now, in this blessed Gospel Day, God the Holy Spirit calls chosen, redeemed sinners back home to God by the preaching of the Gospel.
This great work of God in gathering his people unto himself by the sweet, effectual operations of his grace is the message of the Book of Zechariah (10:8).
(Zechariah 10:8) “I will hiss for them, and gather them; for I have redeemed them: and they shall increase as they have increased.”
The title of my message is God’s Call and God’s Promise. Look at Zechariah 1:3. Here is God’s call, — “Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts.” And God’s call is followed immediately by his promise. — “And I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.” — No man ever had a better message to preach than the message I have for you this day. — “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts; and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.”
Proposition: The Lord God calls sinners to turn to him and promises that he will turn to all who turn to him.
Our text will be Zechariah 1:1-6. Zechariah and Haggai were fellow-laborers among God’s people, working together in the rebuilding of the temple after 70 years of Babylonian captivity (Ezra 5:1).
I. This call to repentance is a message delivered by divine authority. We read in verse 1…
(Zechariah 1:1) “In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet.”
Like this Prophet, God’s servants are sent, by divine commission, as God’s mouth to those who hear them. And it is God’s message that we declare. The Lord God has “given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18-21).
(2 Corinthians 5:19-21) “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. (21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
We have received of the Lord that which also we deliver unto you. It was “the word of the Lord” that came to Zechariah. And it is the Word of the Lord that I have come to preach to you.
· Not a Word of Human Wisdom
· Not a Word of Speculative Theology
But “the Word of the Lord,” that which I have experienced by the demonstration and power of God the Holy Spirit.
Zechariah and Haggai
When God sent Zechariah to preach his first sermon, Haggai was already on the field. Zechariah’s first sermon was delivered just two months after Haggai’s sixth. These two men were laborers together in the same place. Under Haggai’s ministry, the Jews had begun to rebuild the temple; but their work began to wane. They quickly became discouraged in the work and their hearts, so enflamed with zeal yesterday, grew cold. So the Lord sent another prophet to revive and stir up the hearts of his people.
Haggai had been, primarily concerned with getting the people to do the work they were sent to do. But external duties quickly become a drudgery, when the heart grows cold. So the Lord raised up Zechariah, and sent him with a message of repentance aimed at the hearts of the people.
· Haggai brought the bodies of the people back to their place. Zechariah was sent to bring their hearts back to God.
· Haggai had been repairing the physical ruins of Jerusalem. Zechariah was sent to repair spiritual ruins of Zion.
I do not mean to suggest that Haggai was only concerned about the external matters. He was not. Haggai was a faithful man. But the primary aspect of the work the Lord appointed to him involved rebuilding the temple. Zechariah, on the other hand, was sent to call Israel to repentance.
Zechariah the Martyr
In Matthew 23, as our Lord Jesus upbraided the Scribes and Pharisees, he reminded them of the fact that this great prophet was slain by them in the temple of God. He was the last Old Testament martyrs.
(Matthew 23:35) “That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.”
Zechariah spoke in his prophesying concerning Christ of his being sold by the betrayer, of him being wounded in the house of his friends, and of him being smitten as the Shepherd by whose blood the Lord God would gather his sheep (Zech. 13:7).
(Zechariah 13:7) “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.”
We are nowhere told when this took place. But it is reasonable to assume that as he stood between the porch and the altar, after the temple was rebuilt, and prophesied of how Israel would betray and murder the Lord of Glory, they became enraged and murdered him for faithfully delivering to them the Word of the Lord.
II. Be that as it may, those who heard, but refused to obey, Zechariah’s message, would certainly have been enraged by the fact that he spoke of their fathers, whose example they followed, as being men with whom the Lord God was “sore displeased” (v. 2).
(Zechariah 1:2) “The LORD hath been sore displeased with your fathers.”
With those words, the prophet plainly told Israel that the reason why God sent them into Babylon was the fact that their fathers had rebelled against him. They had heard with their ears and their eyes had seen (in the ruins of Jerusalem) the result of their fathers’ sins. God’s quarrel with Israel had been a long one and a just one.
Will you hear this word from God to you? — “The LORD hath been sore displeased with your fathers.”
· Displeased with our father, Adam.
· Displeased with our family ancestors, our earthly fathers.
· Displeased with our religious fathers, past and present.
· God’s quarrel with man is a long standing quarrel.
· God’s quarrel with man is a righteous and just quarrel.
It is time for you to give up your rebellion against God, and repent. — “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…We pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” If you refuse to be reconciled to God by faith in Christ, you will meet with the same judgment of God in eternity as your fathers.
The judgments of God, which we have seen fall upon others, should be taken as warnings to us not to walk in their steps. They are providential calls to repentance. These things should alarm us and cause us to turn to our God. But it will take more than a knowledge of wrath and judgment to turn a sinner to God.
III. It is the goodness of God that brings repentance. Therefore, in verse 3, we see God’s call to sinners by the mouth of his servant, Zechariah.
(Zechariah 1:3) “Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.”
Zechariah’s Commission — Let’s look at this verse together. — “Therefore say thou unto them…” — This is God’s commission to Zechariah. The Lord God sent his prophet to his people. You can be sure of this: Whenever God has grace to bestow, he will sent a preacher to proclaim that grace. — “How shall they preach, except they be sent?” Blessed are those people to whom God sends a man with his message!
(Isaiah 52:7) “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”
He in whose name we come is “the Lord of hosts.” What a name this is for our God and Savior. He is the Lord of hosts, all the hosts of heaven, earth, and hell. They are under his absolute command, as armies under the command of a great general. Yet, there is a great difference: “The Lord of hosts” sees to it that all the hosts under his command do his bidding! He not only commands all, he controls all! That means…
· His prophets have no reason to fear any man’s face or court any man’s favor. — The knowledge of who God is puts sand in a man’s craw.
· He is able to make the most obstinate rebels willingly obedient to his command.
When the Lord Jesus gave his great commission to his Church, he said precisely the same thing as he said here to Zechariah (Matt. 28:18-20).
(Matthew 28:18-20) “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (19) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
God’s Command — “Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts.” This is God’s call to men by the Gospel. But do not look upon God’s call as something that may be accepted or rejected with impunity. The words are in the imperative mood. This is God’s command to you and me. He says, “Turn ye unto me;” and he means it.
· Turn to him in repentance.
· Turn to him acknowledging and confessing your sins.
· Turn to him in faith, trusting Christ as your Lord and Savior.
· Turn to him in worship. In fact, the words might be translated just that way — “Worship Me!”
This is exactly what the Holy Spirit tells us in Romans 10:9-10. To turn to God in repentance and faith is to “call upon (worship) the name of the Lord.”
(Romans 10:9-13) "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (10) For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (11) For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (12) For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. (13) For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Perhaps, you are thinking, “Bro. Don, I would like to turn to the Lord, but I do not know whether I feel my sins enough. I do not know whether it would be right for me to do so. I do not know whether I am worthy to do so.” Let me ask you this, “If you stepped outside after the service and a police officer met you at the door with his pistol drawn in one hand and a warrant for your arrest in the other, do you think it would be alright for you to go with him?” I suspect you would think, “I have no choice. I must either go with him or suffer the consequences of my continued lawlessness.”
That is exactly what I want you to see. The Lord God commands you to repent, to believe on his Son. You must either obey God’s command in the Gospel, or forever suffer the consequences of your obstinate rebellion (1 John 3:23).
(1 John 3:23) “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”
God’s Promise — “But, if I turn to him, will he receive me?” I am glad you asked. Here is God’s promise. — “And I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of hosts.” The Lord of hosts says, to all who turn to him, “I will turn to you!”
· Turn to him in repentance, and he will turn to you in reception.
· Turn to him in faith, and he will turn to you in forgiveness.
· Turn to him with your sin, and he will turn to you with his salvation.
· Turn to him for grace, and he will turn to you with grace.
Three times the phrase “the Lord of hosts” is used in this one verse. It is as if the Lord God means for us to understand that God the Father says, “Turn ye unto me, and I will turn unto you.” God the Son says, “Turn ye unto me, and I will turn unto you.” And God the Holy Spirit says, “Turn ye unto me, and I will turn unto you.”
· To dwell in you.
· To be with you.
· To take up my abode in you.
· To protect you.
· To provide for you.
· To save you.
(John 14:21) “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”
(John 3:14-18) “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: (15) That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. (16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (17) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (18) He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
(John 3:36) “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
(John 7:37-38) “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. (38) He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
(Isaiah 55:1-3) “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. (2) Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. (3) Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.”
(Isaiah 55:6-13) “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: (7) Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (8) For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. (9) For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (10) For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: (11) So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (12) For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. (13) Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
He who calls you to repentance is the thrice holy, thrice omnipotent, thrice gracious, triune God, “the Lord of hosts!” The consideration of his almighty power and sovereign dominion ought to encourage you to repent and turn to him. What could be more desirable than to have the Lord of hosts as your Friend? What could be more dreadful than to have him as your Enemy?
IV. In verses 4-5 the Lord God warns us, “Be ye not as your fathers.
(Zechariah 1:4-5) “Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD. (5) Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever?”
Their fathers, like ours, refused to hear the faithful words of Jeremiah. They chose, instead, to hearken to the wicked counsel of Hananiah, the false prophet. Hananiah taught the people rebellion, prophesying smooth things to them.
· Jeremiah told them that their hearts were evil, deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. — Hananiah said, It is true, none of us are perfect; but you are not that bad. You have some goodness in you that God recognizes.
· Jeremiah said, “Salvation is of the Lord!” — “Surely, after that I was turned, I repented.” — Hananiah said, Yes, salvation is God’s work, but you must do your part. How can Jeremiah call you to repent, and then tell you that you can’t repent unless God gives you repentance?
(Jeremiah 31:16-20) “Thus saith the LORD; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the LORD; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. (17) And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD, that thy children shall come again to their own border. (18) I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God. (19) Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth. (20) Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the LORD.”
· Jeremiah said, You must repent, or you must be damned. — Hananiah said, Yes, you must repent, that is a good thing to do; but God will not send people like you to hell.
Because Jeremiah delivered the word of the Lord faithfully, the children of Israel hated him and threw him into a pit. They chose rather to hear Hananiah’s lies. Therefore, God poured out his wrath upon them, and they perished in Babylon.
Be wise. Do not follow your father’s religion, if you father was not a follower of the Lamb (Jer. 44:11-30). Your fathers and the prophets they followed have perished forever.
(Zechariah 1:5) “Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever?”
“Your fathers, where are they?” —When we think of those who have gone through the world and gone out of it before us, we should ask ourselves, “Where are they?” They are somewhere. When they died they went somewhere. They are in the unchanging world of eternity.
· Either Eternal Hell.
· Or, Eternal Glory.
· And soon, we shall follow them!
“The prophets also, did they live for ever?” — No, they are gone too. The worst of them, and the best of them. All are gone. Matthew Henry wrote, “In another world both we and our prophets shall live for ever; and to prepare for that world ought to be our great care and business in this.”
“The word of the Lord endures for ever”(1 Pet. 1:24-25). The prophets that are now, do we live for ever? (so some read it); no, Haggai and Zechariah will not be long with you, and prophecy itself shall shortly cease.
V. All men are but dying mortals, “But the Word of the Lord endures forever.” That is what we see in verse 6.
(Zechariah 1:6) “But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? and they returned and said, Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.”
Whether you repent or refuse to repent, whether you believe or refuse to believe, whether you obey the Gospel and are saved or refuse to obey and are damned forever, God’s word stands forever. That which he thought to do, he shall surely do.
· His Word of Predestination
· His Word of Grace
· His Word of Judgment
And he will deal with us “according to our doings,” in strict, unbending justice.
· Either according to Your Personal Doings
· Or according to Your Doings in Christ.
Illustration: The Handkerchief
· This is God’s call. — “Turn ye unto me!”
· This is God’s promise. — “And I will turn unto you!”
(1 John 1:9) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Will you hear me? The Lord God almighty is willing to save. He “delighteth in mercy!”