There are things that are technically legal and even culturally permissible, but not necessarily beneficial or helpful. The Apostle Paul wanted believers to know that God's way is the best way to live. We considered how to stay on guard from being cheated in our study of 1 Corinthians 7:1-9.
“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd,
Against the Man who is My Companion,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
When Adam and Eve were exiled from Eden, a flaming sword guarded the garden (see Genesis 3:24). Ablaze with the jealous wrath and judgment of God, it would consume anyone who would sinfully approach the tree of life to receive eternal life in their sinful state.
God would not have that, so He set a plan in motion a plan that included extinguishing that flaming sword of judgment in the soul of His one and only Son, The Shepherd. It was the Lord’s will to make The Shepherd’s life, body, and soul an offering for our sin.
This opened the fountain to us (see Zechariah 13:1). The Good Shepherd took the sword of the Lord for us and for our sin. A fountain was opened to cleanse the sin and uncleanness of those who return to Him in repentance.
We’ll sing of the Shepherd that died,
That died for the sake of the flock;
His love to the utmost was tried,
But firmly endured as a rock.
When blood from a victim must flow,
This shepherd by pity was led
To stand between us and the foe,
And willingly died in our stead.
Our song, then, forever shall be
Of the Shepherd who gave Himself thus;
No subject’s so glorious as He,
No theme so affecting to us.
–Thomas Kelly (“We'll sing of the Shepherd that died”)
“In that day…” This phrase is repeated 17 times in the last three chapters of Zechariah. The day it refers to is The Day of The Lord—otherwise known as the time of Jacob’s trouble, the seventieth week of Daniel, the day of wrath (just to name a few).
It’s a distinct, specific, and well-defined seven year period in the future where God will pour out His wrath on a Christ-rejecting world in a final, merciful effort to provide incentive and opportunity for repentance, dealing specifically with the nation of Israel.
“In that day,” a number of things are going to happen, many of which are outlined for us in the last three chapters of the book of Zechariah. Watch our study from Sunday as we begin to consider the events of that time as described in Zechariah 13.
“Thus says the Lord, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him…”
When you think it through and break it down, the Lord has quite an astounding résumé.
“…who stretches out the heavens…”
Current estimates say that the universe is expanding at a rate of 2.6 million miles per hour for every 3.26 million light-years of distance. It’s estimated that there are over 2 trillion galaxies in our expanding universe. It’s also estimated that each galaxy has over 200 billion stars. God knows each of those stars by name—and yet, if you were to obtain an accurate total amount of the stars in our universe, God’s word says that He has thought about you more than number.
“…lays the foundation of the earth…”
Planet Earth is spinning at 1,000 miles per hour while orbiting the sun at 66,000 miles per hour while traveling in our galaxy at 2.6 million miles per hour in our ever-expanding universe. And yet, all of the conditions necessary to sustain life exist on earth. Change our distance from the sun, and we would freeze or burn. Change the tilt or rotation of the earth even a smidgen, and we would not be able to exist. Alter the composition of the atmosphere, the oceans, the crust—and life could not exist as we know it. The Lord has carefully & thoroughly laid the foundation of the earth.
“…formed the spirit of man within him…”
You are fearfully and wonderfully made by God. His word is clear—He loves you and wants to be with you! All of this—the heavens, the earth, the spirit in a man that can bear witness with God’s Spirit is to tell you that He is real and that He loves you. Even when He tells you in advance of an evil and awful gathering in the shadow of Mount Megiddo, it’s all to tell you that He is real and that He is in charge, and that He loves you and wants to be with you forever.
As you read the word of the Lord, remember Who is speaking and Who is in control of everything.
We are not what we once were, so why should we live as we once lived? In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul encourages the believers in Corinth to stop behaving according to who they were and to start behaving to who they are in Christ—a great encouragement for us too. Listen to our study of 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 & be encouraged!
What do you think of when you hear the word Armageddon? Perhaps ideas about the end of the world come to mind? Or maybe thoughts of a great battle? Or possibly the Second Coming of Jesus Christ?
Armageddon has to do with all of those, but the word “Armageddon” is an English transliteration of the Hebrew “Har Megiddo” which literally means “Mount Megiddo.” At the base of this mountain in Israel is a famous valley where more battles have been fought than just about any other valley on earth.
It is in this vast plain—in the shadow of Mount Megiddo—where the battle of Armageddon will one day take place. At that battle, Satan, The Anti-Christ, and The False Prophet will somehow convince the armies of the whole earth to gather for the wholesale slaughter of the remaining Jewish people on the planet.
In the remaining chapters of Zechariah, we get glimpses of this future battle. Watch our study of Zechariah 12 as we begin to look ahead to what this final battle will look like.
There’s a difference between loving correction and just fighting with someone to win. There is a difference between having a heart that is broken for how someone is being ripped off by sin and just fighting for your right to be right.
Unfortunately, the Corinthians took the wrong way of handling these things to the extreme, as we saw in our study of 1 Corinthians 6:1-11.
How much destruction could be avoided if all of us would simply recognize that Jesus is with us and that He loves us and wants to spare us from sin and the destruction that comes from sin?
It’s a sobering thought experiment, but consider that all of us are two decisions away from destruction—one decision to entertain temptation and the other decision to act upon that temptation, leading to the eventually and inevitable destruction that happens as a result of sin.
And yet, that destruction doesn’t have to happen. We don’t have to sin! We could simply recognize Jesus as Lord and Messiah, receive Jesus as Lord and Messiah, and follow Jesus as Lord and Messiah. And then, by following Him, loving Him, and obeying Him, sin (and the inevitable destruction that comes from sin) doesn’t have to happen.
Avoid the unnecessary destruction that comes from sin! Choose to recognize & receive Jesus as your Lord and as your Savior. Simply confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead. The Bible says that if you do this, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). Ask God for forgiveness. Believe that Jesus died for your sin and that God raised Him to life. Trust Him as your Savior and follow Him as the Lord and Savior of your life.
Jesus had access to more power and military might than any leader ever—and yet, His choice of transportation when He triumphantly entered Jerusalem was…a baby donkey.
We knew He would, for we saw this prediction in prophecy when we studied Zechariah 9. But we read of the fulfillment of this prophecy in Zechariah 11.
All four gospels record the events of the day of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, but there is something recorded in Luke’s gospel that will help us as we work through Zechariah 11.
Watch our study of Zechariah 11 as we also turn to Luke 19 to understand what was going on the day Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a baby donkey.
What is the church’s responsibility for willful, continual, habitual, unrepentant sin in the life of someone who claims to be a Christian? As a pastor, church discipline was part and parcel of Paul’s calling. Since he was a faithful steward, he couldn’t shy away from his duty. The situation in the Corinthian church had come to a point where Paul needed to address the sin and not allow it to continue. Listen to our study of 1 Corinthians 5 as we considered the difficult, yet important purpose of church discipline.
If you ever wanted proof of the existence of God, consider the peculiar prophecies in Zechariah 10—and many more throughout scripture!
The Jewish people were scattered to the four corners of the earth for almost 1,900 years. They lived in almost every single country, and yet they retained their national identity, religion, language, culture, and cuisine.
Then on May 14th, 1948, the nation of Israel became a nation again in a single day. Since then, they have regathered in the Promised Land a second time in anticipation of the second coming of Messiah Jesus.
How exciting it is to see this come to pass before our very eyes! We are living in a time the Bible speaks of more than just about any other. And yet, just like many, many other times in Israel’s history, the days in which we live are dark—which is an excellent opportunity for us to be “prisoners of hope” (Zechariah 9:12).
We know that no matter how dark it gets on this earth, our King is still coming! Based on these peculiar prophecies of the miraculous regathering of Israel into the Promised Land a second time, we know that His second coming is right around the corner—closer than it has ever been!
Zechariah 10 contains some very unique promises concerning the Promised Land. Even after the Jewish remnant returned following the Babylonian captivity, God would scatter, then regather His people to the Promised Land a second time in anticipation of the second coming of the Messiah.
Scripture is full of peculiar promises of God’s people being regathered a second time. God’s word is sure—His promises are secure. And we’re seeing these prophecies fulfilled as recently as 1948, when the nation of Israel became a nation again in only one day.
Watch our study of Zechariah 10 as we consider the faithfulness of God to fulfill His promises.
The Corinthian church was puffed up with pride in their knowledge about God. Eventually that process led to internal spiritual rot. They were seeking to one-up each other in their knowledge about God instead of seeking to be known by God and seeing themselves as stewards of God. So in his letter to them, Pastor Paul addressed these issues, encouraging them to purge out the old leaven—that which was causing them to be puffed up.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Some 550 years in advance, the prophet Zechariah was given a vision of the triumphal entry of the Messiah—The King of kings— into Jerusalem. He is the most powerful ruler ever, with more military might at His disposal than we could ever imagine or attempt to describe.
And yet, we read that His coming to Jerusalem will be lowly and on a baby donkey. This was His choice—to humble Himself and to be meek and lowly. And in one week’s time, He would offer Himself in the same way to save humanity from sin.
So many leaders have come and gone, then have been forgotten because they led with ruthless brilliance or vile violence. And yet, Jesus of Nazareth chose to be meek and lowly. He chose to be the suffering servant. He has captivated the hearts of His followers, not by overwhelming them, but by sacrificially serving them and sacrificing Himself to save them.
This is why we follow King Jesus, who has captivated our hearts and lives by choosing to lay down His own.
In Zechariah 9, we read about three future kings who will enter the city of Jerusalem at different times. God provides Zechariah prophetic details about these three kings so we can see the differences in how they triumphantly entered Jerusalem.
The first king is Alexander the Great—brilliant and ruthless. The second king is Antiochus Epiphanies—vile and violent. The third king is unlike the first two. He is meek and lowly, yet He is the most important king of all—one whose reign will never end.
Watch our study of Zechariah 9 as we consider these three kings and how they each chose different ways to enter the city of Jerusalem.
“Do not fear,
Let your hands be strong.”
God is a person. He is not a formula, or a plan, or a robot. He is not a religion. In fact, rote religion is not only repulsive to Him—it breaks His heart.
Rote religion is the shallow, half-hearted plan to pacify God. We will do more out of a genuine heartfelt response to God’s grace, goodness, and love for us than what we are required to do by people’s plan to pacify God.
Has your heart been completely captivated by God’s grace? Receive the encouragement in Zechariah 8—do not fear, let your hands be strong. God will return and restore, just as He promised. God will give you strength to endure, just as He promised. He will turn your fasting into His feasting.
Are you relying on religion to earn your salvation? Respond to God’s grace with a thankful heart and turn to Him—He wants to have a relationship with you! Ask Him to remove all self-appointed, self-indulgent, and self-pity and replace it with the pure joy that comes from being in a real loving relationship with Him.
When Pastor Paul heard that the church in Corinth was being dismissive and disrespectful to leadership, he wrote to them to address the issues that needed correcting. He did this not because he took delight in finding faults, but because he was accountable to God as a steward for the health of this church.
Yes, Paul was a servant—an errand boy for Jesus. But he was also a steward—responsible for something that wasn’t his (the church in Corinth).
Like Paul, God has called us to be servants and has asked us to be His stewards of the things He has entrusted to our care. Here are some questions to think about as you meditate on your role as servant and steward in the areas God has called you to:
1. What has been entrusted to your care?
2. Who entrusted it to you?
3. Who are you accountable to?
4. What does it mean to be found faithful?
5. Why is it so important to be a servant-leader?
6. How are humility and honesty connected?
7. How can you serve Christ AND submit to others?
“I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”
The Lord’s desire is for us to show love, not offer sacrifices. God would rather have right hearts, full of truth and mercy than sacrifice.
It repulses God when religious experts—those who know a lot about God—go through the motions of serving God with impenitent hearts towards God. No amount of religious razzle-dazzle on the outside could ever make up for the lack of reality on the inside. God desires mercy, not the sacrifices to cover sin without ever feeling sorry for or repenting of sin.
You can know a lot about the Lord and entirely miss knowing Him. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day demonstrated that. They knew a lot about God—but they missed the heart of God and focused on the wrong and superficial things. Loving your neighbor and genuinely knowing the Lord is more important to Him than knowing a lot about Him and treating others poorly.
In light of this, can learn from the experience of those who are written about in Zechariah and heed the word of the Lord given to them:
“Execute true justice,
Show mercy and compassion
Everyone to his brother.
Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless,
The alien or the poor.
Let none of you plan evil in his heart
Against his brother.”
While in captivity in Babylon, the Jews continued to fast in the fifth month over the destruction of the temple. Now that a new temple was being built, a delegation returned to Jerusalem to ask the priests if they should continue a religious ritual they had instituted for the past 70 years.
But they were missing the bigger point. So the word of the Lord came to Zechariah. The Lord had a question for them—when you fasted, did you really fast for Me?
The focus they had on what they thought they should do revealed their impenitent hearts that no longer felt shame or regret about their actions or attitudes.
Watch our study of Zechariah 7 as we reviewed and reflected on God’s word.
No matter how bad this world gets, our King is coming. His kingdom will come and His will WILL be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Jesus is coming again! King Jesus—fully man and fully God—who saved us from our sin by becoming an offering for sin.
This is the message that God has woven all throughout the Bible. And it’s the message that the world needs to hear.
Jesus can save you from your sin right now if you will turn away from sin, look to Him, and trust Him today!
In Zechariah 6, we read of two more visions Zechariah experienced. In these visions, Zechariah was shown not only the spiritual reality behind what was happening in his day and age, but he was also shown the spiritual reality of events far in the future.
Events like the time of tribulation that falls upon the whole world immediately before the second coming of Jesus Christ to rule and reign as king.
Though things today seem bleak, we can still have hope. Watch our study of Zechariah 6 as we remember that no matter how bad things get, our King is still coming!
From Pastor Dom...
When I first gave my life to Jesus, there were friends in my life who helped me to grow in my understanding of God, through His word, and for those friends