Friday, April 03, 2015

The Promised Messiah

My lesson from March 29 ...

Trust not in the things of this world, but eternal things. Zechariah told the Israelites of the coming Messiah, who wouldn't be there in their lifetimes but would be what matters most.

UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT

*** Zechariah was a priest, a member of the Great Synagogue, a council of 120 originated by Nehemiah and presided over by Ezra. Zechariah was born in Babylon and was part of the group of 50,000 exiles who first returned to Jerusalem in 538 B.C. when the Persians allowed it.

*** Zechariah chapters 1-8 were written about 520 B.C., while chapters 9-14 are thought to come from later, about 480-470 B.C.

*** Zechariah, along with the prophet Haggai, roused the people from indifference about their faith and helped to get the temple rebuilt with calls of repentance and assurance of future blessings.

*** Zechariah is second only to Isaiah in the number of prophesies about the coming Messiah.

*** Primarily, the book is a prophecy about Jesus Christ, focusing on His coming glory as a means to comfort Israel. Prophecy was soon to be silent for more than 400 years until John the Baptist, so God used Zechariah to bring a rich, abundant outburst of promise for the future to sustain the faithful remnant through those silent years.

A PORTRAIT OF CHRIST

From Love Worth Finding, how we can look to the Old Testament to find Jesus:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (Matthew 5:17-18)

In Luke 24:27, after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to two forlorn followers and began teaching them the secret to Scripture. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. The Old Testament points toward Jesus Christ. Every story and every event leads directly to the Savior.

In John 5:39, the Lord Jesus told His followers to “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me.” Of course, the New Testament had not yet been written, so Jesus is telling His disciples to explore the Old Testament writings, because they all point toward Him.

As you read through God’s Word, see how it points you to Jesus.

--- Christ is the Seed of woman and in Genesis 3:15 we are told He will one day crush Satan.

--- In Exodus we find the story of the Passover Lamb, and Christ is the sacrificial Lamb given for us.

--- In Leviticus we read of the high priests making sacrifices for the people, and Christ has become our High Priest, making the perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins.

--- In Deuteronomy Moses prophesied of a prophet who would come that would be greater than Himself. Jesus is that Great Prophet.

--- In the book of Joshua, Joshua met the Captain of the Lord's host. That man is Jesus Christ.

--- The judges were leaders who delivered God's people, each of them typify­ing the Lord Jesus.

--- Boaz, the kinsman who redeemed Ruth's inheritance, is a picture of Christ.

--- David, the anointed one, pictures Jesus and Jesus is described as being the Son of David.

--- In 2 Samuel when the king is being enthroned, the entire scene is descriptive of the Lord Jesus.

--- The books of Kings speak of the glory of God filling the temple and the Chronicles describe the glorious coming king, both referring to Jesus, the King of Kings.

--- Ezra depicts Jesus as the Lord of our fathers.

--- Job says clearly that the Redeemer is coming!

--- Esther offers a picture of Christ interceding for His people.

--- Christ appears time after time in the Psalms, including when David describes Him as “the Shepherd.”

--- Isaiah details His glorious birth.

--- Jeremiah reveals that He will be acquainted with sorrows.

--- Joel describes Him as the Hope of His people.

--- Amos tells us that Jesus is the judge of all nations.

--- Obadiah warns of the coming eternal kingdom.

--- Jonah offers a picture of Jesus being dead for three days, then coming back to life to preach repentance.

--- Zephaniah says that He will be the king over Israel.

--- Zachariah is the prophet who speaks of Jesus riding on a colt.

--- Malachi is the one who calls Him the Son of Righteousness.

Can you see it? The entire Old Testament points toward Jesus as Savior, and if you miss that, you've missed the entire point of the Scriptures. Jesus is the Messiah and the fulfillment of prophecy.

FAITHFUL (ZECH. 8:1-8)

1 The word of the Lord of Hosts came: 2 “The Lord of Hosts says this: I am extremely jealous for Zion; I am jealous for her with great wrath. 3 The Lord says this: “I will return to Zion and live in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, the mountain of the Lord of Hosts, and the Holy Mountain.” 4 The Lord of Hosts says this: “Old men and women will again sit along the streets of Jerusalem, each with a staff in hand because of advanced age. 5 The streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in them.” 6 The Lord of Hosts says this: “Though it may seem incredible to the remnant of this people in those days, should it also seem incredible to Me?”—this is the declaration of the Lord of Hosts. 7 The Lord of Hosts says this: “I will save My people from the land of the east and the land of the west. 8 I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem. They will be My people, and I will be their faithful and righteous God.”

*** "The Lord of Hosts."

--- "Hosts" is another word for "Armies," showing that God is all-powerful and has enough resources to make sure that all of His decrees are carried out.

When God calls you to do something, if you don't do it He can call anyone else from His stable. But wouldn't you rather be a part of His great plans?

*** He is jealous for us.

--- God has full committed Himself to those whom he has a covenant relationship, and expects us to be exclusively committed to Him as well.

--- Many verses in the Bible describe God as a jealous God with great wrath and passion:

Exodus 20:5 - Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

Exodus 34:14 - For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

Deuteronomy 4:24 - For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.

Deuteronomy 5:9 - Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me

*** The message here promises:

--- The return of intimate spiritual fellowship between the Lord and His people.

--- Jerusalem’s residents would experience peace and security. It’s a Norman Rockwell All-American image of elderly men and women lounging peacefully, meaning that they didn’t die in battle or of famine, and live blessed lives of comfort. Another image of children playing means there are families in the city, unafraid of war and disease.

*** v. 6 is simple: Nothing is impossible with God:

Matthew 17:20 - Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

*** How would this prophecy have served as a source of hope for the people of Zechariah’s day?

KING (ZECH. 9:9)

9 Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout in triumph, Daughter Jerusalem! Look, your King is coming to you; He is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

*** Jesus rides into Jerusalem as a King.

--- Matthew 21:1-11:

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

5 “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

*** As Zechariah prophesied, the Israelites cheered Jesus’ triumphal entry.

--- Why did the Jews rejoice? First, God’s people would once again have a King, the first since Babylon destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Second, this King would be One of impeccable character.

--- Zechariah foretold that Israel’s coming King would enter the city riding on a donkey. The Jews of Jesus’ day would have been familiar with Zechariah’s messianic prophecy. They understood the claim that Jesus was making for Himself.

*** Righteous, victorious and humble.

--- Zechariah provides three key traits of the coming King: Jesus was righteous because He was without sin (see 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15). Jesus was victorious in that He destroyed the works of the Devil (see 1 John 3:8). And although He was God the Son, Jesus humbled himself by dying on a cross (see Phil. 2:8).

CREATOR OF PEACE (ZECH. 9:10)

10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem. The bow of war will be removed, and He will proclaim peace to the nations. His dominion will extend from sea to sea, from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth.

*** From sea to shining sea!

--- Jesus would enter Jerusalem as King of the Jews, but he would reign around the world.

--- Jesus will rule a peaceful kingdom in His second coming, because once he has conquered His foes, peace will be proclaimed to the nations.

VICTOR (ZECH. 9:11-12)

11 As for you, because of the blood of your covenant, I will release your prisoners from the waterless cistern. 12 Return to a stronghold, you prisoners who have hope; today I declare that I will restore double to you.

*** You are free!

--- We have victory over captivity by sin because the “blood covenant” was fulfilled in the new covenant established by Jesus through His atoning death on the cross:

Matthew 26:28 - This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Heb. 9:15 - For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

--- We can only find peace, freedom from sin, and restoration through faith in Jesus.

TAKE AWAY POINTS

*** Have you ever seen a grand entrance? Have you ever witnessed the pomp and circumstance that surrounds the president of a country, a royal person, or the pope?

If you’re a husband, you should say yes right away, thinking of course of when your bride entered the room on your wedding day. Maybe you’ve also been fortunate enough to witness an opening ceremony at an Olympic Games. There you saw a grand spectacle as thousands of elite athletes and their coaches marched into the stadium.

Zechariah foresaw the Messiah’s grand entrance into Jerusalem more than five centuries before it occurred.

As we prepare for Easter, take time this week to think about your personal walk and figure out where Jesus is most important in your lives.

*** God intends peace for anyone held captive by sin. How can you work to promote God’s peace and hope to those in your community who need His rescue?

*** What does victory in Jesus mean to you? How does His promise to believers of victory over sin and death give you hope?

*** As God spoke through Zechariah, look to a time beyond your immediate circumstance to the time when there will no more war, God’s enemies will be vanquished, and the earth will be a peace with Jesus as the rightful king.

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