Updated: Jun 15
Rev. Erik Veerman
Zechariah: Salvation Revealed
Our stated sermon text is Zechariah 9:1-8. We’re actually not going to spend much time in these verses. Originally, I planned to start with a review of the first 8 chapters and a preview of the last 6 chapters, but then focus in on these 8 verses. However, my overview got more involved and sort of took over. So that’s what this morning’s sermon will be. If you are visiting or you’ve missed some of our Zechariah sermons, well, you’ve come on the right Sunday.
We will still read these verses.
Reading of Zechariah 9:1-8
Why Zechariah? I mean, we have been travelling through this book together for several months. We’ve been transported into strange visions – other worldly things. We’ve been introduced to people from long ago like Joshua the High Priest and Zerubbabel the governor. We’ve considered their difficult situation and the temptations that they experienced.
So why? Why study this book together? Well, that was one of the first questions I posed back in January. It was before we experienced flying objects, multi-colored horses, walls of fire, and candelabras fed by golden oil.
We’re now about 2/3 the way through Zechariah, and we’ve come to a big transition point in the book.
I thought it would be helpful to revisit the question “why?” And I want to do that by taking a step back… by surveying where we’ve been, by revisiting the broader question of how it all relates to us, and also by looking ahead to these last 6 chapters.
Many of you have expressed how blessed you have been by our study. And it hasn’t just been the untangling of Zechariah’s mysteries. No, many of you have shared how you’ve been challenged in your faith, called to repentance, and given a renewed hope in God, AND his promises – present and future.
Those are some of the reasons that we’ve been studying Zechariah.
We’ve seen a lot of parallels between Zechariah’s generation and us today. God’s people back then had been exiled from Jerusalem and Judah almost 70 years prior. And as they slowly returned, it was a very disheartening situation. The city and temple were in ruins. The ground was not producing crops. They were foreigners in their own land. And they didn’t see a clear path forward. Even though they knew God’s promises in their minds, they struggled to believe.
So, they were living in an unsettled time and they were unsure of God’s promises – if, how, and when they would come true.
And we’re living in an unsettled time, and we’re also often unsure of God’s promises - if, how, and when they will come true.
The difference is that they lived before Christ’s first coming. We’re living before Christ’s second coming. But even considering that, there are some parallels. Zechariah paints both near-term promises and long-term promises. Many of the near-term promises have been fulfilled in Christ, but we’re still looking forward to the longer-term promises.
That’s why Zechariah has had so much applicability for us today. And let’s be honest, temptation to sin is often greater when we’re discouraged or feel overwhelmed or unsure about God’s promises. Well, God’s purpose in this book was to give them and is to give us hope and assurance of his promises so that we can trust God with hearts that love him and his commands.
Ok, turn back to chapter 1 verse 3. We’re going to be flipping through different chapters and verses today. So keep your Bibles open. Starting in the middle of Zechariah 1:3, there: “Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts”
God was calling them to come to him… to turn their hearts to him. The very core of what they were to believe and how they were to live was to be focused on God.
The previous generation (their forefathers) had lost their relationship with the Lord. And they went off and did their own thing. They forgot God and broke his commands. So God was calling Zechariah and his generation back to a relationship with him. The language here is repentance. Turning away from sin and unbelief and back to God. And by doing that, God’s promised that he would return to them.
This is the foundation to the book. In chapters 1-8, God revealed how he would receive them and return to them. God promised them several things. Remember the “p” words? presence, protection, people, and peace. We’ve seen those promises in multiple places in the first 8 chapters.
But, this morning, since we are surveying where we’ve been in Zechariah and where we’re headed in Zechariah, I’d like to go one step higher. We’ll consider three things: Sovereignty, Salvation, and Scripture. Sovereignty and Salvation are two overarching themes in the book. And the third point, Scripture – God’s Word. It’s not a theme in the book, however, the book of Zechariah quite amazingly testifies to the veracity of God’s Holy Word.
So, God’s sovereignty, salvation, and Scriptures
So first, sovereignty. All throughout Zechariah, God revealed his sovereignty over and over. And interestingly, it began with the recognition that God was the one who exiled the people. It was his will. The Lord used the Babylonians to overthrow Jerusalem and destroy its walls, and temple, and exile the people to Babylon. That’s right there in chapter 1 – verses 5 and 6. Their fathers didn’t pay attention to him, so he disciplined them. He overcame them, it says. We saw a similar recognition at the end of chapter 7. The hearts of Zechariah’s parent’s generation were “diamond hard.” Remember that phrase from three weeks ago? God’s answer, “I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations…”
God is in control of all things.
Even in Zechariah’s visions, the theme of sovereignty is pretty clear. Here are some quick highlights:
• The first vision showed a rider on a red horse. We come to find out that he is the Lord himself. And he sends out a groups of multi-color horses throughout all the land. They see everything that is happening and theyreport back to the Lord. It’s a picture of God’s omniscience and omnipresence - God’s all-knowing and all-present nature.
• The seventh vision, in chapter 6, parallels the first vision. This time it’s multiple chariot’s that we see going out. We learn that God is not only omniscient and omnipresent, but also omnipotent – all powerful. The enemy nations, who were at rest in the first vision, were being dealt with in the seventh vision, so that God’s people could be the ones at rest.
• And briefly in visions 2, 3, and 5, we learned that God was preparing for his return. He was orchestrating it all - protecting his people from the four horns, and setting things up for a restored temple and a rebuilt city. We won’t look at all those specifics, but it’s part of what those visions conveyed.
• Finally, vision 4, which is chapter 3. We learn that God is sovereign even over Satan. Satan, the devil, will not have his way.
This theme of God’s sovereignty is also related to the theme of kingship in the book. We’ve seen some of that so far, and we’re going to see a lot more of that in the last few chapters. In fact, we’ll find out more and more just who this king is and what he will be like. He will be a humble king, chapter 9. A shepherd king, chapter 11. A rejected king, chapter 13. And in several places in these last few chapters, he’s a warrior king. That includes the beginning of chapter 9, which we read.
And in the very last chapter, chapter 14. It all comes to a climax. Go ahead and turn there. This chapter is full of the future prophecy of the Lord’s first coming and second coming. Look at verse 9, “And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one.” The Lord, who is Jesus himself, will be king and will reign.
Let me point out one final note about God’s sovereignty in these final chapters. If you were to search on the phrase “on that day” you would find it 18 times in these last 6 chapters. And it accelerates in the last few chapters. The phrase “On that day” is used 7 times in chapter 14 alone. God was revealing to them what would happen in the future. Yet, another display of his sovereignty. God orchestrates everything that comes to pass.
Just to be sure, we’ll get into the particulars as we work through these chapters.
So that’s the theme of sovereignty.
A second overarching theme in Zechariah is salvation. God also showed them how he would save them. He answered the question how they should turn to him… and how he would return to them. And it all centers around his salvation.
And the thing is, the salvation that God promised them is the same salvation that he promises us!
We’ve seen the theme of salvation over and over. And we’re going to continue to see that theme in these next few chapter.
It’s very interesting how the book of Zechariah reveals salvation. In the first 8 chapters, we’ve seen higher level categories and pictures of salvation. In these last 6 chapters, we’re given particulars about the savior and how he will save.
• Let me start with some examples from the first half.
• Zechariah’s night visions revealed the nature of God’s salvation for his people. Turn to chapter 3. This is the fourth vision. Joshua, the high priest, was weighed down by his sin and shame. He was wearing dirty clothes – his priestly vestments. And he’s standing there before both the Lord and Satan. Satan was lying to him. And what happens? Look at the middle of verse 4. The angel of the Lord said this: “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” This very center vision revealed the Gospel. The hope of Christ and what he would do. God’s people would be forgiven from their sin. God would turn their shame into honor, by cleansing them. It’s a picture of the righteousness of Christ given to the people.
• Another theme of salvation has been who God will save. God will call people from many nations to be his people and to enter into his holy city. We saw that in vision 3, the wall of fire and God’s glory. In that vision, God called people even from Babylon to come and be saved in Zion. Chapter 2 verse 11 says this: “many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people.” As you know from last week, that theme is also in chapter 8.
• There are other categories of salvation like in vision 6, when evil and wickedness were carried away. Or the Angel of the Lord, in vision 1, who represents Christ, intercedes for the people.
The bottom line, in the first 8 chapters, God showed them what his salvation would be like. How he would save them. And, as I mentioned, these last 6 chapters get very specific about the savior and his salvation. In fact, the last 6 chapters of Zechariah are quoted many times by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Specifically in the Gospel narratives in the week leading up to Jesus’ death on the cross. In those accounts, here are more cross references back to Zechariah than any other Old Testament book.
To quickly highlight a couple of them.
• Chapter 9 verse 9 – the king is coming and mounted on a donkey. That’s a prophecy of Jesus entering Jerusalem. Our focus next week.
• Chapter 10 verse 13 – Thirty pieces of silver given to the potter. A prophecy of Jesus betrayal by Judas.
• Chapter 12 verse 10 – The Lord would be pierced. A prophecy of Christ on the cross as the soldiers pierced his side.
• And there are a couple more.
So, you see, the theme of salvation is all throughout the book. And it’s there to reveal just how God will save them and restore them.
Let me say all of this in a different way. God’s people in Jerusalem were in a very bad place spiritually and emotionally and physically with their surroundings. They wanted to either give up or go their own way – like build their own houses, do their own thing, and forget God. Well, God had the remedy. His answer? Reveal to them his sovereignty and his salvation. With those assurances, they would be emboldened to faithfully press on in their situation.
A couple of years ago we travelled to Moab, Utah. It’s a fun little town. It’s near Arches National Park and right on the Colorado River. While there, we were looking for an adventure (that’s what we like to do on our vacations). And we heard about this road that journeyed through the desert to Canyonlands National Part. Sounded fun, we thought, so we set out.
Well, the drive was both amazing and harrowing. In a way, it was a metaphor for life… It had threats and uncertainty along the way. At times we wondered if we were lost. But it also had amazing views and scenery.
The first section weaved its way along the mighty Colorado and then up through different layers of canyons. For parts of the road, you could only drive 3-4 miles per hour because of the rough gravel and rocks. So even though it’s only 20-30 miles, it takes hours – and we didn’t know that.
There was hardly any vegetation. And scattered around were these massive boulders right next to the road. They had fallen from the cliffs above. We drove for hours. We found ourselves asking whether we should turn around? What if we get 4-5 hours in and the road is blocked? What if we run out of gas? Or food or water? Yet, at the same time we saw amazing views overseeing the river, huge canyons, and cool rock formations. But then we’re driving on the edge of a cliff with 3 feet to the cliff wall on the right and 3 feet on the left to a 500 foot drop off into the valley below.
Isn’t that what life is like? The joys and excitement. But yet, the fears and doubts. Not knowing whether you made the right decision. At times, questioning God for the situations you have found yourself in. Think of the returned exiles. On one level, they were back in Jerusalem. The temple was sort of under construction again. But on another level, they were disheartened. Should they journey on? Should they head back to Babylon? They wondered how they could continue on and they questioned God’s purposes.
Well, we continued on the road, but then it turned and started heading to a dead end. On three sides, towering rock cliffs, 800-1200 feet high. I thought, what have I done? We’re stuck! We’re going to die out here!
But then, we saw that the road headed right up into the cliff. And sure enough, switchback after switchback. My knuckles were white. My hands were sweating. One hairpin turn after another, all on an unstable dirt road. Every switchback brought us higher and higher, but also the drop-off got higher and higher… and our fears increased.
But we finally made it to the top after hours of driving. And it was an amazing view. We could see parts of the road that we had driven in the valley. In the far distance, the Colorado river, and on the horizon, white capped mountains. Despite the uncertainty and fear, it was worth the journey. Thankfully there was a paved road back to Moab.
What keeps you going? What keeps you pressing on in life and in the things that God calls you to in his Word? Well, Zechariah has given us the answer.
• First, knowing God’s sovereignty. God is accomplishing his purposes throughout the world. And God’s people play a central part of his mission. Like Zechariah’s generation, when we are assured of God’s plan, we’re motivated in his strength to Journey on.
• And second, believing in God’s salvation. There’s nothing in this life, including death, that will prevent God from following through on his promise. If you know the savior, Jesus, and have turned your life to him, he’ll bring you to eternity with him. Remember that beautiful chapter 8 picture of the new Jerusalem in heaven. Your destination is assured and it will be amazing.
So, in the book of Zechariah, God has revealed his sovereignty and his salvation so that you may strive forward, not being deterred or discouraged, but rather compelled.
That bring us to the third and final point (a briefer one) the Scriptures.
I don’t know about you, but I’m always amazed at the depth of God’s Word. The book of Zechariah is not a treatise on the authority or sufficiency of Scripture. No, it’s not. But it sure testifies to it.
Here’s a book written over 500 years before Christ, yet so clearly points to him and reveals God’s plan. It’s so relevant to us today. And it’s full of truth revealed in multi-dimensional ways. Even though mysterious in some ways, the different visions have been persuasive and refreshing. God has pulled back the curtain and giving us a glimpse of heaven. Remember, these apocryphal like visions have given us heavenly perspective of earthly reality.
God’s word is so rich and deep. It shows us in different ways who God is, his call for us, our need for salvation, and how he has accomplished it.
And God’s Word is so consistent! There’s a unity across the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. And Zechariah highlights that consistency, especially in its revelation of salvation and our savior.
Through the Holy Spirit, God has spoken his full counsel for our blessing and benefit and his glory.
You may not remember this, but one of the goals I mentioned for this sermon series, is that you would fall in love with God’s Word. That you would be so compelled by it that you would search it out, be consumed by it, and meditate on it. Well, I hope and pray that Zechariah has done that for you so far, and that it will continue draw you to God’s word in your life.
God’s Word, the holy Scriptures, have been given to us. How amazing is that? The all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful God who created the universe has spoken to us – his creatures.
So why Zechariah? So that we may see that heavenly perspective of God’s sovereignty and salvation as he has revealed it to us in his Word.
Next week, we’ll be back to our normal pattern. We’ll consider chapter 9 in it’s entirety. Then for the next two months, we’ll move through these last chapters section by section… Focusing in on them and applying them in our lives.
As we do, may we see God’s sovereign plan, give praise to him for revealing to us his Savior, and be in awe of his inspired scriptures. Amen?