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Zechariah’s Prophecy Concerning Palm Sunday April 5, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Palm Sunday, Religion, Sermons, Zechariah.
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JESUS, THE COMING KING (Zechariah 9:9-17)

The old prophecies of Isaiah concerning the Servant of the LORD, the Messiah, were two hundred years old and unfulfilled. During those two hundred years, God’s people had fallen deeper and deeper into sin. Finally, God sent the Babylonians and took his people into captivity capturing and pillaging Jerusalem, tearing down its walls, and destroying the temple of God and taking all of the valuable instruments that were found in it. For seventy years God’s people lived in exile. During that time the Medes and the Persians took the Babylonian empire and expanded their empire even further. At this point in history, the Persians dominant the world landscape but on the horizon is Alexander the Great who will do to the Persians exactly what they did to the Babylonians, take their empire and expand it even further.

The captivity came to an end after seventy years. God’s people returned to Jerusalem and through many starts and stops rebuilt on a modest scale the temple of God. Their city still has no walls. They are still exposed to their enemies and they have many in the region. They had hoped that the Messiah would come and restore them to their former glory, establishing the worldwide justice and peace that is promised through Isaiah. That has not happened. They are a weak people and there is no greatness for them on the horizon.

Two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, were raised up by God, both assuring His people that the promises made through Isaiah would be fulfilled. That is the point of the passage we are considering. Based on those promises, there are two commands God’s people are to obey.

I. God’s people are commanded to cheer their King victoriously (verses 9-11). Occasionally, someone will ask if it is okay with me if they raise their hand or hands in worship during the church service. We need to learn to praise the Lord. We need to learn to rejoice loudly, to shout. Why? Because our king, Jesus Christ is victorious. He rides in as the just one (verse 9b), the one who establishes justice, who corrects injustice. This identifies this king as the Servant prophesied two hundred years earlier, the one who establishes justice in the world.

Yet His victorious entrance is modest (verse 9). This is the what happened on Palm Sunday. Jesus rode in on a donkey, lowly. Normally, the victorious entrance of a king would be on a white stallion, a magnificent animal capable of great speed and endurance but this king rides in on a peacetime animal. Donkeys are not normally wartime animals. They are meant for modest, even lowly work. When Jesus rode in on Palm Sunday, He purposely chose to ride in modestly, bringing justice to His people and to this world.

It is also significant that He comes in “having salvation.” Literally, the word means that the King is saved. Again, we find echoes of Isaiah prophecies. Who is it that promises protection to the King in Isaiah 42? The LORD God Himself. Who is it, according Psalm 91:11, that promises that angels would be sent to save the Messiah from harm? The LORD God Himself.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem, not displaying His military might, but as the modest, Messiah, protected by God, bringing justice to His people and to the world.

His victorious entrance promises peace to all nations (verse 10). God’s people at this time were surrounded by enemies. They could not depend on the far off Persian government to protect them. They had no walls of their own to hide behind for protection. God promises, though, that they would have peace. Military implements would not be necessary. Is that not the way Jesus rode in on Palm Sunday? He came in as the Prince of Peace to all who would submit to Him. It is the only time in history that peace was promised and could have been delivered. In less than a week, the rulers of the Jews and the representatives of the Roman empire rejected that offer of peace.

Is it over? Was Jesus just another dreamy eyed visionary disconnected from the reality of this world. No! Zechariah says that His dominion is from sea to shining sea, from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth. His kingdom is greater than that of Persian Empire, of the Roman Empire, of the American Empire. Jesus will rule the world, He is King of kings and Lord of lords.

It is at this point, that we as God’s people can put ourselves in the place of these people. We look around us and see that there is no possibility of peace in this world. There is no power that can dictate peace to the world, much less justice. There will never be a power that can dictate peace and justice but when Jesus returns the second time, the world will submit itself to His peace, to His justice.

We look at our country and realize that whatever principles we may have been founded on, they were forsaken long ago. Our government: both conservative, moderate, and liberal is opposed to God’s rule. Our neighbors and our family members reject God but there is hope. He will come again and establish peace and justice in this world.

His victorious entrance is the fulfillment of the blood covenant (verse 11). These people know about the blood shed to establish God’s covenants with Abraham and under Moses. What they did not yet know but that we now know is this. Jesus shed His blood to establish a new covenant. He said so Himself. We celebrated today the act, His death on the cross, whereby He established that covenant. The result of that act is true peace. Romans 5:1 tells us that “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God…” When Jesus died on the cross, He made it possible to be justified, that is, proclaimed innocent, that is, to have our sins remitted, forgiven and because we are justified, proclaimed innocent, forgiven, we have peace with God.

When Jesus rode in on Palm Sunday, He rode in to establish the blood covenant by which we can have forgiveness, that is, peace with God.

This is something to shout about! Justice, peace, forgiveness. No wonder the people shouted, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!” When is the last time you obeyed this command. When is the last time you sung, not caring whether it was good or not but because you wanted to bless the Lord for His victorious entrance bringing justice and peace and forgiveness.

When is the last time you did something extraordinary, let yourself get carried away because of your King? We can and should rejoice aloud in our King.

When we sing songs of praise to our God and you refuse to open a songbook, when we read from the Scriptures and you just mumble the words, when we stand to sing praise songs and you choose not to participate, the question arises, “Will you not honor your King? Does the victory He has one mean nothing to you?”

II. There is in this passage a second command. God’s people are commanded to return to their King for protection (verses 12-17). Why?

A. Because their King will defend them (verses 12-15a). He is referred to as a stronghold. These people live in a city without walls, without protection. They have no stronghold. God says, the King will be your stronghold. He will protect you. Should even the up and coming Greeks come up against you, I will protect you. I will deliver you. I will be your stronghold.

He refers to His people as prisoners of a waterless pit, prisoners of hope. The situation around them does not look good, there is no way out but there is hope. Their King can deliver them.

He does this through His mighty power. His power is describe in verse 14. Like the lightning across the sky and the mighty storm from the south, so is His power against the enemies of His people. They can depend on Him, they can trust Him to deliver them.

B. Their LORD will be decisive (verse 15b). The enemies of God’s people will be destroyed and any who might be left over will be subdued. It is interesting that these verses paint God as the winner of the victory but that His people participate in that victory. This is the description we have also in Revelation 19. Jesus Christ will come and rescue His people and subdue the nations of the earth but those who believe in Him will participate in that victory. His victory is our victory also. Our joy in our victory will be with great shouts of joy, like the shouts of one who has no inhibitions because he is drunk with wine. We will not be drunk though but rather victorious in Jesus Christ and will sing that victory on that day when it is ultimately one.

C. Their Shepherd will exalt them to be seen by all (verse 16-17). What comes after our King’s ultimate victory over the evil forces of this world? His people will be exalted, lifted up before the universe for all to see. They will flourish for all eternity. Certainly, these verse describe the millennial reign of Christ but they also indicate what eternity is all about. We will be exalted, we will be glorified with Christ.

There are no peons in heaven. Every believer in Christ will be held up to the praise and the glory of Christ. Undeserving sinners made righteous will for all eternity be proof of the greatness of our God in His justice, in His peace, and in His forgiveness through His covenant with His people.

We have covered thousands of years of history, much of it in the past, must of it still in the future. God through the death of Jesus Christ has established a covenant. Will you turn to Him for release from your prison? Some of you need to depend on Christ for salvation from your sins, others of you need to depend on Him for protection in the midst of a wicked world? He commands, He implores you to return to Him as your stronghold, as your protector.

Two commands: rejoice and return. You really cannot obey the first if you are not willing to obey the second. Obey God and turn to, depend on Christ today.

NEXT WEEK: Psalm 16 – Where Was Jesus?

Revelation 6 (Questions concerning the first six seals) July 5, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Antichrist, Day of the Lord, Eschatology, Famine, Hades, Hell, Judgment, Persecution, Repentance, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Spiritual Warfare, Suffering, War, Zechariah.

Update:  answers are in italics 

Revelation 6 (compare the four horsemen with Zechariah 6:1-6)

The four horsemen are an allusion to Zechariah 6:1-6 and 1:7-17. What is the main purpose of using the symbol of four horses of varying colors?  It seems to correspond with the emphasis of Zechariah 6 that is also made in other ways in Revelation 6. This emphasis is that the things that coming by way of these horsemen will affect the whole world and not just certain regions.

There are generally two popular interpretations of the first rider on the white horse:  that it is the antichrist and that it is Jesus Christ. What are the arguments for one or the other interpretation? Which of these interpretations is easiest to support from the book of Revelation itself? Depending on your interpretation of the first rider, what purpose does this horse serve internationally?  There are a lot of different arguments put forth but I will mention the two that seem to me to carry the most weight because they arise more from the text and are less determined by the system of interpretation one may already have. 1) The white horse rider being Christ is best supported by the fact that Jesus is pictured in Revelation 19 as coming in victory on a white horse. If this horse is Christ, then it is consistent with the theme presented often in the Revelation, i.e., that Jesus will overcome the forces of Satan. In fact, the sixth seal seems to tell about that event. 2) The white horse rider being anti-Christ is best supported by the fact that the other three horses have a negative impact on the world. If this rider is the anti-Christ it gives credence to a one world government or the domination of the world by the beast. 

If the red horse is war, where will this war take place?  No place on the earth will be untouched.

What conditions in the world are described by the third horse and the voice from the midst of the four living creatures?  Inflation and famine for the poor but the rich may not be affected.

We are told directly who the fourth rider is. What will happen during the time of his working on the earth? Has there ever been a time when one fourth of the people on the earth were destroyed?  The day of the Lord, which seems to be what this chapter is beginning to describe will be a time of much death by all sorts of means.

What prophetic events are the fifth seal looking forward to (7:9-14; 13:14; 14:13; and 17:6 with contexts)?  Revenge on the persecutors of God’s people including but not limited to “the beast” and “Mystery Babylon”.

What prophetic events are the sixth seal looking forward to (Isaiah 13:9-10; Joel 2; Matthew 24:7; Hosea 10:8; Luke 23:30 with contexts)?  The day of the LORD.