Summary: In difficult times God has always given words of assurance to His people. We need to take heed of the eternal and take assurance from the word of God.
There is quite a bit of uncertainty in the world these days, especially concerning the economy. It seems every day there are reports in the paper and in the news telling us the economy might be getting better, or telling us that the things are getting worse, or that before things get better they will get worse. People are looking for a voice of assurance, a light in the tunnel, a lifeline in these stormy times. This is not new; the word of God gives us several occasions when times were uncertain for the people of God and tells us of the words that God sent by way of His prophets, words of assurance for His people.
Our lesson this evening looks at one such occasion and we will see how these words of assurance to the people of God thousands of years ago speak to you and me today.
I. The Occasion of the people
The people of God had been in exile for seventy years and had returned to a devastated city of Jerusalem. The people had returned to rebuild the city, restore the Temple, and reestablish the worship of God.
There was initial enthusiasm but it drained away (there were many complications particularly from Samaria) as the people’s attention and spirits lagged from the purpose God had put before them.
God sent His prophets with words of encouragement for spoke not only to His people at that time but also future generations.
II. The prophets of God
Zechariah and Haggai are prophets sent to the people of God in the second year of the reign of Darius, the king of Persia (520 BC.) The design of both prophets was to encourage the people and their religious and civil leaders, Joshua and Zerubbabel, in their work of rebuilding the temple.
A. The Vision of Zechariah
1. This is the fifth of nine visions given to the prophet.
2. Read Zechariah 4:1-11
a. In the holy place of the tabernacle, in front of the veil and to the left of the altar of incense, stood a golden candlestick with seven branches At the end of each branch was a golden lamp, and it was the high priest’s duty each morning and evening to trim the wicks and provide the oil needed to keep the lamp burning (Leviticus 24:3). This candlestick provided light in the holy place so the priests could see to burn the incense on the golden altar each morning and evening (Exodus 30:7-8).
But the candlestick that Zechariah saw was totally unlike the one Moses had put into the tabernacle. Along with the seven branches and lamps, this candlestick had a bowl at the top into which olive oil dripped from two olive trees (v 4:3), which symbolized Joshua and Zerubbabel (v 4:14). The candlestick also had seven pipes going from the bowl to each lamp, making a total of forty-nine pipes. No priest had to provide the oil because it was always coming from the trees. Seven pipes to each lamp assured an ample supply of fuel to keep the lights burning.
Key words of assurance are found in v 4:6 where God makes clear that it is by His power, by His Spirit, that the work to complete the Temple would come.
3. The lamp stand in the tabernacle was symbolic of the restoration of the Temple to the Jewish people but had a message for the ages as well.
a. The vision showed a time when the lamps in the Temple of God would not require human hands to light.
The Messiah, the light of the world (John 8:12), would one day come and give the “light of life” to all.
B. The vision of Haggai
1. Read Haggai 2:20-23
a. The signet ring was the symbol of authority for a ruler. These words would have given Zerubbabel the assurance of God’s approval and authority but also spoke to fulfillment of a promise made in the past and to the future.
In Jeremiah 22:24-30 God warned that He would removing this symbol of authority from the line of kings descending from King David, and soon after that things crumbled for the Jewish nation.
Jerusalem was laid to waste, the temple destroyed, and the people led into 70 years of exile.
With these words the Messianic promise made to David was transferred to Zerubbabel and his family among David’s descendants, and would be fulfil given to David, that God would make him the highest among the kings of the earth.
2. The fulfillment of that promise was seen in Jesus Christ, the son of David and descendant of Zerubbabel (Matthew 1:12)
a. Jesus Christ has raised up the kingdom of His father David again, and of His kingdom there will be no end