My Great Delight in God's Word
Crystallization Study of Zechariah, Message 1
Christ as Everything for the Building of the Temple of God
We have already finished the crystallization study of Daniel. I learned a lot from it and really enjoyed it. And now, we are moving to another book in the old testament. It is the book of Zechariah.
Where is it? …. Umm, somewhere in the Old Testament, probably in the group of minor prophets.
What is it about? …. Interesting! Probably about Israel? Oh, I know a part of one popular verse, saying "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit" (Zechariah 4:6 NKJV). I heard it from a song. But don't ask me what the context is. I absolutely have no idea. Even though I have ever read through it for a few times, all the text just went over my head.
Praise the Lord that I had an opportunity to join a training about this book last winter. I was so wondered how Christ-centered this book is. Yes, the direct recipients of the book are the Israel people who were then captives returning to Jerusalem. But the visions of consolation and promise, as well as prophecies in this book are clearly pointing our Lord Jesus Christ. And in next 6 messages, we are going to discover many mysteries concerning Christ hidden within this book together.
I would like to start first with the meanings of the names here, because I really like them. "Zechariah" means "Jehovah remembers." "Berechiah" means "Jehovah blesses." And "Iddo" means "at an appoint time."
Actually, in order to encourage the people, Zechariah did not have to do anything. He could just come out, introduce his name, and the people would get the message of hope, "God remembers!" Is there any other comforting word for the hopeless captives better than the assuring word that God remembered them? He did not forget or forsake is people at all. They were always remembered by Him.
And even better, if he just brought his dad and his granddad with him, the people would be even more encouraged. "At an appointed time, Jehovah will bless and Jehovah will remember." According to God's promise, the time of captivity as a chastisement was already over. Now was the time that their God would turn to them, and bless them!
Likewise, if you are having a hard time, remember this name, Zechariah. God remembers you. He never forgets nor forsakes you. Please believe me, not because I say that, but because it is God's promise for you.
At his time, Zechariah worked together with the prophet Haggai, encouraging people to build the temple of God under the priesthood of Joshua and the kingship of Zerubbabel. God used Zechariah and Haggai to encourage and strengthen both Joshua and Zerubbabel, whose priesthood and kingship were needed for the rebuilding of the temple.
Likewise, to build the glorious temple, the church, God needs a high priest and a king. He builds the church under the priesthood of Christ, and kingship of Christ. Jesus is both our high Priest and our King. Jesus alone can fulfil what are needed to build up this temple.
Even though, the ministries of Haggai and Zechariah are quite similar, there are some different points. The word of Haggai is mainly about warning, strengthening and encouraging people to serve the Lord by building the temple. It is straightforward and easy to understand. In contrast, Zechariah's word is much more mysterious. It is really difficult to comprehend. Yet it directly points to the most important One, Jesus Christ, who is the only real hope of all the nations.
Yes, we need the people like Haggai, who encourage people to serve the Lord. But we need the people like Zechariah much more. The church needs the people who intimately know Christ, truly understand the mysterious truths concerning Him, boldly speak about Him, and bring people to Him. Don't you want to be a man like Zechariah so that the whole church will be built up?
The vision of a Man riding on a red horses
Zechariah 1-6 says about eight night visions revealed to the prophet. The first vision is so touching for me. So may I explain the points of this vision that I really enjoyed here.
Who is the man on the red horse?
From verses 11-12, we can see that this man is mentioned as "the Angel [Messenger] of the LORD [Jehovah]." (Please note the use of capital A for Angel or capital M for Messenger in some translations, such as Recovery Version, NKJV, HCSB, and God's Word.) Moreover, this man is highly respected by the prophet Zechariah, who called Him "my lord" in verse 9. So this man is special. But who is he?
After having done a quick research about this, I have found various comments about this man. Some interpret it very literally and say that he is just an angel. While others believe that this is a theophany (a cool jargon for "God's appearance") or the appearance of the Pre-incarnate Christ (appearing of Jesus Christ prior to His incarnation). Regardless of the controversy, I'm convinced that this one is our Lord Jesus Christ who revealed Himself to the prophet. In the light of the Christophany (again, another cool jargon for the appearance of Christ in the Old Testament), we will be able to grasp precious spiritual implications from this vision of Zechariah's.
This is not the first time that the word "the Angel of Jehovah" represents God Himself. There are many places in the Old Testament where the Angel of Jehovah is definitely God Himself. One of the obvious examples is in Genesis 16. Hagar was visited by the Angel of Jehovah. After the meeting, she "called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, 'Have I also here seen Him who sees me?' " (Genesis 16:13 NKJV) She knew that the One who conversed with her was not only an angel, but God Himself. In New Testament, the word "angel" is rarely used to represent Christ. But in Revelation 18:3-5, it is obvious that the "angel" is Christ as the great High Priest.
As John 1 says "No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." (John 1:18 NKJV) No one has ever fully seen the spiritual essence of God the Father. Therefore I believe that God who demonstrated Himself in the Old Testament should be the second person of the Godhead, Jesus Christ.
What is the man on the horse doing?
What is the myrtle trees? I have not seen it. I have not even heard about it outside the bible. A myrtle tree is a bushy evergreen. It is beautiful, but it does not look as gland or majestic as the tall trees, like Cedar. Moreover, the myrtle trees in the vision were in a lowly place as the glen (or hollow or bottom of the valley)! Therefore the myrtle trees should have signified the Israel people who were in a very humiliating condition in the captivity, yet they were so precious in the eyes of the Lord.
The Angel was riding on a red horse, which signifies Christ's swift move in His redemption, which could be accomplished only through His precious blood. And this redemption of sin has already been accomplished on the cross.
To build up a physical temple, it was not so difficult for God. He only needed His people to respond to His calling. But to build up the glorious temple of His body, which is the church, it is not that easy. He needed to become a man Himself, so that He could die for our sins, and resurrect from the dead. Through His death and resurrection, Christ has become the foundation stone, upon whom the church is built (Matthew 16:19; Isaiah 28:16), and the chief Cornerstone, by whom the Jewish and the Gentile believers are joined together (Ephesians 2:20).
Additionally, in verse 12, we can see that the Angel was interceding for the people. What a wonderful picture. God the Son prayed to God the father for His humiliated yet precious people!
What does this story mean to me?
What was my reaction when I first heard the meaning of this vision? It was amazed. I was totally stunned by God's love for me.
As sinners, we were so humiliated. We were slaves of sin. We were even His enemies. We were absolutely unworthy for God even to look upon us. Yet, God showed His love for us. He became a man at His incarnation, faced all temptations on the earth even more than we can ever do, and eventually died for the redemption of our sin. Yes, we are totally unworthy, yet we are by no means worthless. We are so precious in God's eyes that Christ was willing to die for us. He did this so that we may have life in Him. This is called "Grace." It is not just an ordinary grace. It is the Amazing Grace. Once you truly experience this God of grace, your life will never be the same.
The vision also reminds me of a verse in the bible, saying:
Yes, we have got a Great High Priest who totally understands us. Let's come boldly to the throne of grace. And His promise is that whenever we do that, we will obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need!
Moreover, the picture of the Angel interceding for His people in the vision also reminds me that Christ is interceding for us.
Why should I fear anything or be anxious about anything, when I know that Jesus, our Great High Priest, is there at the right hand of God interceding for me all the time? He intercedes for us 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. He can do this because He never slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:2). Even when we are too weak to pray, He is still there to pray for you. Praise the Lord!
Thirayost Nimmanon (Tony)
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