Pulpit Today Sermon
Robert D. Pace
Zechariah prophesied at the end of Israel’s 70 years of captivity in Babylon. He is a wonderful Prophet whose message assured Israel that they would once again reclaim their glory and prosper if they would obey God’s commands. It’s not coincidental that their first project involved reconstructing the Temple, because few things matter more to God than the worship experience. We must “seek first the Kingdom of God” and participate in Christ’s plan to redeem sinners.
But when you study the book of Zechariah you’ll discover two things about this reconstruction project. You will notice that this project was (1) difficult, yet (2) certain. It was difficult because many Jews remained in Babylon when God opened the door for them to return to their homeland. That meant the man-power was greatly reduced to bear the burden of this reconstruction project. Besides that, the returning remnant was disorganized and mostly impoverished.
But despite the impediments that Israel faced, God used Zechariah to persuade this remnant that their efforts would be rewarded and His Temple would be rebuilt. And it was! But how was this task accomplished? How was God able to restore Israel’s glory and rebuild the Temple when the city was in shambles and the remnant was so small and ill-prepared? Let’s investigate that.
(Transition) First, God used the Prophet Zechariah to exhort his people to reexamine their past.
Zechariah Called God’s People to Examine their History
Zechariah reminded them of how God dealt with their forefathers when they sinned. He showed them that their forefathers were consigned to 70 years of captivity in Babylon. I want you to understand something about God. Despite how much we would disagree with it, Galatians 6:7 is an irrevocable law. “Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” God rewards men according to their actions. Perhaps you can bear personal witness to Galatians 6:7. You can’t outwit God!
With that lesson learned, Zechariah’s audience was more than willing to respond to his message. They confessed their sins, repented, and committed to rebuilding the Temple. They didn’t want more of God’s discipline! But there was more to Zechariah’s message than commanding the people to repent and build. He also brought a message of hope.
God’s Promise of Restoration
I want you to notice three names in the first verse of this book that when interpreted convey an important message. Zechariah says, “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.” There are no coincidences with God! These three names disclose a wonderful message that God had in store for Jerusalem. Notice what each name means:
Zechariah means “God remembers.”
Berechiah, his father’s name, means “God blesses.”
And his grandfather’s name Iddo, means “at the appointed time.” And that is the theme of the book of Zechariah.
After seven decades of Babylonian suppression and surrendering the fruit of their labors to a foreign nation, Zechariah told Israel that (1) God had remembered them, (2) wanted to bless them and (3) now is the appointed time for this to happen! . . . What a message of encouragement! I’m sure there are people here that want to know God has remembered you, wants to bless you, and that today is your appointed time!
I can’t guarantee that God is going to turn your captivity within 24 hours, but what I can guarantee you is this: Nothing in life lasts forever. We go through seasons, transitions, and temporary assignments. We don’t build brick houses in the “valley of the shadow of death.” The Psalmist says we “pass through the valley of the shadow of death.” That means, as surely as God determined to restore Israel’s fortunes after those 70 years, God will bless you! He did this for Joseph, Job, David, and He will be faithful to His Word to remember and bless you at the appointed time!
Angel Inquires of God
As I studied the book of Zechariah, I discovered how God’s restoration process for Israel unfolded. Before God revealed His intentions to Zechariah, He first disclosed His intentions with an angel. Imagine that! God precedes His work on earth by first divulging His counsel to the angels of Heaven. Turn to Zechariah 1:12 and let’s read: “Then the angel of the LORD said, “O LORD of hosts, how long will You have no compassion for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with which You have been indignant these seventy years? (13) And the Lord answered gracious and comforting words to the angel who talked with me.” (14) So the angel who talked with me said to me, ‘Cry out, Thus says the Lord of hosts . . . .’” The angel then proceeds to disclose God’s Word to Zechariah for the people.
Do you see what’s happening? The angels of heaven are not uninformed or unconcerned about the affairs of earth. As executors of God’s Will, they are part of God’s Grand Plan as it unfolds. And part of their angelic duty is to “minister to the heirs of salvation” and help them accomplish God’s purposes on earth. Thus, this angel wanted to know how long God would allow His people to suffer reproach.
Do you realize that the angels of Heaven care about your destiny and the destiny of this church? Heaven is intently peering onto this property to see what our future holds. The angels, the saints and the foregone members of this church aren’t apathetic to the prosperity of this assembly—they are concerned! And God is willing to unleash every angel that is necessary to fight for our welfare if we will commit to His purposes and obey His Word.
Here was Joshua, Israel’s High Priest, guilty of sin. And Satan was well aware of Joshua’s sin. That’s why Satan, whom the Bible calls “the Accuser of the brethren,” indicted Joshua. But the Lord turned a deaf ear to Satan’s accusations, even though he leveled accurate charges against Joshua. The Lord said, “This is no time for recrimination or accusation. Satan, you’ve stripped Joshua of his dignity but I’m stripping him of his sin.” And with that, that Lord turned and said, “Joshua, I have taken away your iniquity and I’m clothing you with “festal robes.”” Notice that! Joshua didn’t get an ordinary change of garments; the Lord re-dressed him with “festal robes.” They were vestments that only the High Priest could wear.
Do you see what happened? Joshua, the High Priest guilty of “iniquity,” got his position back! And God can do the same for you if you will humble yourself.
Notice the precise verbiage Zechariah scripts into this narrative. He said Joshua was “a brand plucked from the fire.” God didn’t say Joshua was a “stick plucked from the fire.” He called Joshua a “brand.” A brand is an object that places a mark on something else. Think about that: God snatched out Joshua as a “brand” that would once again make his mark in life! God determined that Joshua’s purpose would remain steadfast and unaltered.
Paul wrote in Romans 11:29, “The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” That means your mistakes haven’t stripped away your anointing and gifts. Your sins haven’t disqualified you from service. God has a place for you in the Kingdom!
God’s Method of Moving
It’s evident that Governor Zerubbabel was discouraged. He had few laborers; his people were being mocked for their efforts; and the laborers were disorganized. THus, he wondered how the Temple would be reconstructed. But just because a project is difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible! Difficult assignments are possible because God ordains them! It didn’t matter that most Jews remained in Babylon and the few that returned to Israel were shabby and scorned. God would accomplish His purpose! Folks, God doesn’t need the strongest, the brightest, and the best to fulfill His purposes. Having God on your side is enough. Remember, Gideon needed only 300 men to defeat multiplied thousands of the enemy.
Here is how God showed Zechariah the mission would be accomplished. God gave Zechariah a vision of a golden lampstand with seven lights and seven channels to the light. Remember in Revelation John saw seven golden lampstands and they represented the church. (The people of God must stand together and shine brightly.) But that still doesn’t explain how God will move.
The answer lies in the seven channels that flow into the lampstand, the church. The seven channels represent the expression of the Holy Spirit freely flowing into the church. And that’s the answer to any dilemma.
The Lord’s Word to Zerubbabel was: ‘It’s the Holy Spirit’s flow that will accomplish this Zerubbabel’. “It’s not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord.”
God’s promise to Zerubbabel was: ‘I’m going to accomplish these things once again with My Spirit moving among My people in glory and power.’
So what did God require Israel to do in response to His promise of blessing? He told them to make a declaration of His power to accomplish His Word! Let me show what I mean. Turn to Zechariah 4:7 and let’s read: “What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”
That’s strange! Zechariah told Zerubbabel the culmination of rebuilding the Temple would occur as the capstone was positioned and the people shouted, “grace, grace to you!”
(Definition) Let me quickly define grace because it’s more than God’s undeserved favor for salvation. It’s used as an introduction to 17 of the 21 epistles. When Paul and Peter addressed the churches they began by saying, “grace and mercy from the Lord Jesus Christ be unto the saints at. . . .” It invoked God’s empowerment, blessing, favor, and spiritual gifting.”
That is precisely what every church needs. We need God’s power, blessing, favor, and spiritual gifts. And because it’s what we need, it something we should be declaring over this church. We should be declaring:
“Grace, grace to you church! Our resources may be limited, but God’s resources are without measure”!
“Grace, grace to you church! Our numbers may be small, but the hosts of heaven are more than enough”!
“Grace, grace to you church! While others may ignore us, it is the Almighty God of the universe that remembers us and blesses us at this appointed time”!
“Grace to you and your church”!