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True and False Shepherds. Zech 10

True and False Shepherds

Text: Zechariah 10:1-6

But before Zechariah can continue on the theme of the coming king, he must firstly develop a number of important points.  He must call the people to prayer, and he must draw a distinction between true and false pastors!

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1. A Call to Approach God in Prayer! V1

Zech. 10:1  Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.  Israel was an agricultural society, and being in a hot land, with parched soil, they really depended upon rain!  It was a nightmare without it and a blessing when it came.  The blessing of rain, to the Israelites, was inclusive of every other blessing, and symbolical of all spiritual blessings.  So Zechariah uses that desire for blessing as an encouragement to pray. Ask the Lord for rain!  Seek His face and seek His blessing!   We must not only seek the former rain, but we must go on to seek the latter rain.  In Israel the ‘latter rain’ was the rain that fell at harvest time.  (Former rain in October fertilised the seeds, latter rain in March)  Let us pray for growth, for abundance and for maturity!

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Jesus Christ – The King of Kings! Zech 9

Jesus Christ – The King of Kings!

Text: Zechariah 9:9-17

A king is coming! Against the human horror of an anticipated invasion from Macedonia, Zechariah sets out a prophecy of the coming of another king.  One who will be the King over all Kings, the Lord over all Lords.  This king will reign over a peaceful kingdom.  His subjects will love him and praise him, he will rule over them with great mercy and justice.  This king is Jesus!  So, as KING:-

1. He is More Welcome than any earthly king!

 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee

The prophet urges the people, personified as the ‘daughters’ to welcome their king with singing and shouts of great happiness!  Thus the difference between Christ and any earthly king is demonstrated!  Earthly rulers impose heaviness upon the people, but Christ comes to set us free from our burdens!  Hearts rejoice at His coming! Zeph. 3:14-15  

Now be aware that Zechariah can be talking about two separate comings of the Lord, the Messiah:-

  • He Came to this world at Bethlehem!  At Bethlehem the King came into this world as a baby, to a humble birth.  
  • He is Coming again at the end of history!  A day will come when the Lord will come again, when He will come to judge the earth and to reign in righteousness.

Biblical prophecy provides some of the greatest encouragement and hope available to us today. Just as the Old Testament is saturated with prophecies concerning Christ’s first advent, so both testaments are filled with references to the second coming of Christ.    Matthew 21:4-5  

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The New Jerusalem. Zech. 8

The New Jerusalem

Text:  Zechariah 8

Zechariah wanted to lift the hearts of the downcast people of Jerusalem, struggling to rebuild the city after their return from exile.  They had become discouraged, so Zechariah has a vision of what the New Jerusalem would be like.  As we know, this wasn’t in any way perfectly fulfilled in Zechariah’s day, – but as we shall see in this study, Zechariah’s prophecy points us to the NEW JERUSALEM of the church, God’s people of every age, gathered home in the new heaven and earth, around the throne of God.  See:-

1. The Description of the New Jerusalem!

 Now let’s firstly see the description that the Bible gives us of this heavenly city with its heavenly people:-

  1. It is a DEEPLY TREASURED city!  In fact the prophet tells us here that God is ZEALOUS for His city and His people! Zech. 8:1-2  His love for them allows for nothing else to come between them and Him!
  2. It is A WELL ESTABLISHED city!  Look at its description in verse 3; It is established and immovable, because God is dwelling in the midst of it, and God cannot be moved!  It is like a mountain!  He is immutable, unchangeable, immortal, eternal, constant…  Because God is in the midst, it is a city of truth!
  3. It is a SAFE and SECURE CITY!  V4-5   Even the vulnerable people of this earth shall be safe there!  Old people can sit unmolested in the streets, and little children can play without fear and without threat.  Zech. 8:6  In Revelation, we are told that heaven’s gates are never closed! There is complete safety!
  4. It has an ETERNAL CONTINUITY! V7-8.  Now here we see something about the New Jerusalem which is not always apparent to the average reader, but which we, as Reformed Christians will be aware of…  It is an appearance of that very important phrase, which we now know to be the Covenant Formula (The Covenant of Grace)  Zech. 8:8  “ they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousnessn   Jeremiah 31:31-33  

Such are some of the things that we know about heaven – the New Jerusalem! It is true that Jesus taught far more about Hell than about Heaven, for people must be warned!  But for the believer, what a glorious prospect awaits!   

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Zephaniah Survey #1

Zephaniah Survey

Zephaniah chapter 1

Who was Zephaniah? 1v1  

Zephaniah was a member of the extended royal family of Judah, the great great grandson of King Hezekiah. (That made him a distant relative of King Josiah, the reigning king.   The book of Zephaniah is easily divided, – there’s just two sections over the three chapters, and they are easily distinguished: Law and Gospel.

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The Scales of Justice

 

 

Section A – THE LAW.

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Blasphemous Homecoming

Blasphemous Homecoming 

One never expects doctrinal accuracy or biblical faithfulness from the musical wing of the Evangelical Industrial Complex, the America-based caucus designed to extract money from gullible Christians. After all, what does sound theology matter when you’re churning out sappy songs and emotion laden lyrics that tug at the heart strings and open the wallets of the evangelical mass market. 

But to include a blatant blasphemy in a supposedly ‘Christian’ album must reach a new low, even by contemporary music standards.

Recently while searching for the words of a song to use as an illustration for a talk. I came across the Gaither’s ‘Israel Homecoming’ on iTunes.  One of the tracks on the album is ‘Rivers of Babylon’ a song made widely popular by Bony  M in the 1970’s.  Here’s the lyrics, as Boney M sang them:

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down
Yeah we wept, when we remembered zion
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down
Yeah we wept, when we remembered zion

When the wicked
Carried us away in captivity
Required from us a song
Now how shall we sing the lord’s song in a strange land
Let the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart
Be acceptable in thy sight here tonight.

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The Purpose of Worship. Zechariah 7

The Purpose of Worship is to please God, not to appeal to us!

 Text.  Zechariah 7 (Please also read 2 Kings 25)

Zecahariah has written about his eight visions – and now his book moves to a second section, a more directly didactic section, in which he teaches the people through a series of incident and sermons.  The first issue that Zechariah confronts is that of worship!  Although we think of ‘worship wars’ as being a modern church phenomenon, Zechariah was tackling issues about worship in his day too.  In chapter 7, Zechariah establishes some sound biblical principles about how we worship God.

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Zechariah’s Eighth Vision

Zechariah’s Eighth Vision

Text  Zechariah 6:1-15

This is the last of Zechariah’s visions.  Remember that these visions are given to Zechariah to encourage the people of God in their work of rebuilding the temple, and completing the task that He has given them.

1. The Power Beyond the Mountains!

The first part of this vision deals with the doctrine of the omnipotence of God.  If we fully appreciate the power of God, His divine ability, we will put our trust in Him, and not in our own abilities! 

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  1. God is POWERFUL!  Zech. 6:1  And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass. We as humans cannot begin to comprehend the power of God!  In the vision, Zechariah sees these chariots proceeding from between two mountains of brass, or bronze. To the ancients, brass was the hardest alloy that could be manufactured.  It was, to them, absolutely unbreakable.  It symbolised POWER and STRENGTH and MIGHT! Though there are things which a holy, rational God is incapable of intending, all that he intends to do he actually does. “Whatever the Lord pleases he does” (Ps. 135:6).
  2. God is PERSONALLY REVEALING his power to us!  Despite His great power and ability, God does not sit enthroned in the heavens unconcerned about his people.  God loves His people and He communicates with them and He acts on their behalf to bring them into conformity with his will and purpose, and to bring them eventually to be with himself.   He dit that:-
    1. When He planned redemption for us!  In His power, God did not leave us in our sins.  He ordained the plan of salvation!  He sent His own Son into the world to die on the cross, that we might have eternal life!   Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.    And only the power of God can keep us!  1 Peter 1:5   
    2. When He uses us to achieve His Will!  Sometimes we think that GOD NEEDS US TO ENACT HIS PURPOSES!  In fact the opposite is the case!  WE NEED GOD MORE THAN HE NEEDS US!  Psalm 95:5 God can do what he pleases, without us!  Yet in His mercy he has decided to use US to accomplish his will.

So, God is all-powerful, but He chooses to reveal that power to us, mere sinful mortal men and women! Read more…