Summary: It doesn’t matter what people throw at us in life, Jesus is there to lift us out of the pit and put us back on the road because God is in control, all the time.
Last month we started our exploration of the prophecies of Zechariah, looked at Chap 1:1-6 and the message that God will respond to his people when they come to Him and repent.
This was the opening part of the first eight chapters, which reveal how God prepares His people, Israel, for the coming of the Messiah.
In these first 8 chapters, God gives His Jewish people 7 messages about His power, love, wisdom and holiness, so that they can be prepared for this most momentous event in the whole of creation. Sadly, many missed the event and many Jews are still preparing themselves for the coming of the Messiah, because they did miss it.
God wanted His people to be spiritually ready for the coming of the Messiah when He finally appeared, so that they did not miss Him, and so that they could respond to Him in the right way.
In chaps 1:7 – 6:8 we are presented with 8 visions, all of which were seen on the night of 24th Shebat. These were visions, not dreams; Zechariah was fully awake when God gave him these visions.
The 8 visions are in a chiastic format, that is, the last four are a mirror reflection of the first four. The 1st is reflected in the 8th, the 2nd in 7th, 3rd in 6th 4th in 5th.
Today we are going to look at the first 3 visions together. There is enough in each of these visions to take them individually, but it would mean that we would take a few years to go through the book of Zechariah.
The first of the seven messages: God Overrules the Affairs of the Nations
We have three visions:
1. The man among the myrtle trees (1:7-17);
2. The four horns and the four craftsmen (1:18-21);
3. The surveyor (2:1-13).
1. The man among the myrtle trees
God’s people were in fear from the nations surrounding them and oppressing them. They had very powerful enemies – but God is assuring them that He is in charge of the affairs of the nations.
God is not a distant creator. He did not make this world and the universe as we see it, and then populate it with vegetation, fish, animals, insects and people and then walk away and leave it to get on by itself.
He is directly involved. He is a creator God who cares for His creation.
This is something that the children of God need to remember today. Israel is surrounded by many powerful enemies: Egyptians, Syrians, Iranians and Palestinians (Hamas) being some of the most significant at the moment. Their enemies stretch out far wider though, throughout the world. God is saying to them ‘Yes, be on your guard, but do not fear. I am in charge of all the affairs of the nations. They cannot do anything to destroy My people.’ (2:13) “Be still before the LORD, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.”
We are surrounded by powerful enemies, in the physical world as well as the spiritual world. We are constantly warned about terrorists. The politicians are raising our awareness of the problems with Iran and the development of nuclear weapons.
We have seen on the news and read in our newspapers of the turmoil around the Mohammed cartoons. I agree that these cartoons are wrong; they should not have even entered the mind of man to draw them in the first place. They demonstrate the corruptness of mankind and the way in which Satan has perverted and debased the mind of man. But do I remember reading about any similar acceptance that the Jerry Springer Show – the Opera is also blasphemous, of Christ and God? In fact, don’t I remember that the BBC televised and broadcast that blasphemous programme? Where was the outcry? There is only a muted demonstration in Plymouth. The newscasters appear to support the Islamic faith in its outcry against blasphemy, but decry any protest against blasphemy of Jesus Christ.
We need to heed the words of Paul to the Ephesians (6:11-13) “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
Are we prepared for the daily battle with Satan and all that he wants to throw at us?
We may say that we have peace in our land. What happened in the first vision? (1:7-17) Zechariah saw a group of riders in some myrtle trees. The myrtle tree is a symbol of Jerusalem. Myrtle trees grow in the valleys around Jerusalem, and are characterized by their dark, green, glossy leaves. They are adorned with flowers and during Zechariah’s time were often used as wedding decorations and at the Feast of the Tabernacles (Nehemiah 8:15). Perfume also was made from myrtle trees. The green leaves point to Israel’s hope and future. Jerusalem will not fade. It will bloom before the Lord forever.