Zechariah 3:9: Gone, Gone, Gone, Gone….

‘And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day,’ Zechariah 3:9.

The title for this post is from an old chorus we used to sing in Sunday School:

“Gone, gone, gone, gone.
Yes, my sins are gone.
Now my soul is free,
And in my heart’s a song;
Buried in the deepest sea,
Yes, that’s good enough for me-
I shall live eternally.
Praise God, my sins are
G – O – N – E –
– Helen Griggs

I did have to look it up to be certain of all the words.  It’s been more than a few years….

We’ve been studying a little in the book of Zechariah.  Remember, the Jews had just spent 70 years in captivity, foreigners had been brought in to replace them in the land of Israel, and even though Israel had been allowed to return to the land, they were having a difficult time rebuilding.  This was especially true when it came to rebuilding the Temple.   There was a whole life to rebuild and the people were more concerned with their own houses than with the Lord’s house.  Beside all this, there was a lot of opposition from the current residents of the land, residents who were not in favor of the rebuilding, to put it mildly.

Zechariah’s Israel had gone into captivity because of her sins – and will yet again, if I read Scripture correctly, go into captivity for her sins, not the least of which was the rejection of her Messiah when He came.  To this day, they still do not recognize Him.

One day, they will, and it is then that the promise will come to pass, “And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.

Zechariah has much more to say about this, as we’ll see, Lord willing, in later studies.

However, verse 9 above is not the only promise of Israel’s redemption from her sins and reconciliation to her God.  Scripture is filled with such promises.

Deuteronomy 32:43,

“Rejoice, O Gentiles. with His people:
For He will avenge the blood of His servants,
And render vengeance to His adversaries”
He will provide atonement for His land and His people.”

1 Chronicles 17:9,

Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore….

Jeremiah 31:1,

“At the same time,” says the LORD, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.”

Jeremiah 31:8, 9,

Behold, I will bring them from the north country,
And gather them from the ends of the earth,
Among them the blind and the lame,
The woman with child
And the one who labors with child, together;
A great throng shall return there.
They shall come with weeping,”
And with supplications I will lead them.
I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters,
In a straight way in which they shall not stumble;
For I am a Father to Israel,
And Ephraim is My firstborn.

Jeremiah 31:31-34,

“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah – not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD.  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD:  I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD.  For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more,”

Jeremiah 33:8,

I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned and by which they have transgressed against Me.

Ezekiel 22:16,

I will scatter you among the nations, disperse you throughout the countries, and remove your filth completely from you.

Zechariah 8:3,

“Thus says the LORD:

“I will return to Zion,
And dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth,
The Mountain of the LORD of hosts,
The Holy Mountain.’

Zechariah 8:22, 23,

Yes, many peoples and strong nations
Shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem,
And to pray before the LORD.’

“Thus says the LORD of hosts:  ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you,” ‘ “

Romans 11:25-27,

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”

This is just a sampling of verses.  Jeremiah and Ezekiel are filled with such promises, to say nothing of Isaiah and the Minor Prophets.

Even though the Psalmist may not have known most of these exact verses, we believe he knew something of their promise.  This is why he wrote in Psalm 122:6, Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Even if he was just thinking of the city of his day, it’s still a valid request.  To pray for her peace is ultimately to pray for the return of the One who will bring peace to her, and to this sin-cursed and troubled world.

Here is another of his heart-longings:

Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion, Psalm 14:7.

Even the New Testament closes with the request for His return:

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!  Revelation 22:20.


Zechariah 3:8-10: Laying the Foundation.

8] “Hear, O Joshua, the high priest,
You and your companions who sit before you,”
For they are a wondrous sign;
For behold, I am bringing My Servant the BRANCH.
9] For behold, the stone
That I have laid before Joshua:
Upon the stone are seven eyes.
Behold, I will engrave its inscription.’
Says the Lord of hosts,
‘And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
10] In that day,’ says the LORD of hosts,
‘Everyone will invite his neighbor
Under his vine and under his fig tree.’ ” 

In the last two posts, we’ve looked at this chapter in two areas:

1. A Picture of Redemption, vs. 1-5.
2. Responsibility, vs. 6, 7.

In this post, we want to consider the beginning of the realization of the promise given in the first verses and especially in v. 4, where the Angel of the LORD tells Joshua the high priest that He has removed his iniquity and clothed him with clean garments.

In v. 8, the Angel says to Joshua that, in spite of the distressing conditions that Joshua and his fellow Jews were experiencing in the land, “I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH.”  Note that He doesn’t say, “I will bring Him forth,” but “I am bringing Him forth.”  Everything in Israel’s past and in her present, in spite of her wilfulness and waywardness, was and is leading to the coming of the Messiah.

V. 9 refers to a stone that is laid before Joshua.  I admit that I’m not exactly sure what this was supposed to mean to Zechariah.  In Scripture, there are several references to “a cornerstone” but they don’t always just refer to parts of a building.  For example:

Psalm 118:22, The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.

Isaiah 28:16, Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:  “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation….”

Matthew 21:42, 44 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:  ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.  This was the LORD’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’? … And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”See also Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17, 18.

Acts 4:11, “This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’

Romans 9:32, 33, Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law.  For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.  As it is written: 

“Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

Ephesians 2:20, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,

1 Peter 2:4, 5, 7, 8, Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. …Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.”  They stumble, being disobedient to the word,….

There are probably several posts in just these verses, which point out several things.

The Lord Jesus is likened to a “chief cornerstone”.  This stone is the crucial one in a stone building.  It’s laid first and it’s purpose is to guarantee that the building is square and stable.  The weight of the entire structure rests on that stone. 

“The stone,” then, speaks of foundation.

Though not referring specifically to a building, in 1 Corinthians 3:11, Paul wrote, For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  The church at Corinth was Paul’s problem child, if I can put it like that.  Among other things, there was a sectarian spirit in the church, which made itself known by the various parties in the church who looked to specific individuals, for whatever reason, instead of to the Lord Jesus, cf. vs. 1-7.

Paul said that this is wrong; no mere man has the strength or the wisdom in and of himself, to be the founder of a church, or the leader or head of a group or denomination.  This is the way of the world and the Lord intended that His church should not pattern itself after the world.  Churches are indeed “started” by men, they don’t just appear one morning, but, still….  The churches at Corinth and Ephesus and Jerusalem, for that matter, didn’t just “appear”. 

The Lord Jesus had something to say about “foundations.”  After warning His audience that not every “work for Him” would be blessed, He said, 

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:  and the rains descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell.  And great was its fall.”  Matthew 7:24-27 NKJV.

Now, from one viewpoint, there might be something to be said in favor of the second man.  He didn’t have to work nearly as hard at building on the sand as the first man did.  His house itself could have been everything his neighbor’s house was.  He was able to enjoy the fruit of his labor long before the first man did.  We can imagine him sitting on his patio with a glass of iced tea, watching the first man and laughing at him for going to all that extra work, seemingly for nothing. 


…one day…

…the rains descended….

And so it is in this world, this life.

Many folks spend years of their life going to school to get an advanced degree of one kind or another.  Others work hard seven days a week to meet some goal, produce some achievement, that will mean they have “arrived”.  They put in long hours to make it to the top of their particular food chain.  

And there’s nothing particularly wrong with education or hard work or setting goals.  As long as one doesn’t forget the rain.

 It will come. 

Earlier, we quoted the Lord Jesus’ remark in Matthew 21:42, 44: “Whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”

This rather enigmatic statement simply means that there are only two responses to the Word of God, in this case, the Lord Jesus, the Living Stone.  Whoever falls on it as one might cling to a life raft in a stormy sea will be saved; whoever turns away from it and rejects it, will discover one day when it is too late that that same Word, as it were, will fall on him.  It will be the basis of his eternal judgment and condemnation.

Oh, listen.  Life is short.  Death is real.  Only in the Lord Jesus is there hope for the future.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31. 

Zechariah 3:8: My Servant the BRANCH

For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the Branch, Zechariah 3:8.

In Scripture, there are several references to the BRANCH:

Isaiah 11:1,

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.

Isaiah 53:2,

For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.

Jeremiah 23:5,

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD,
“That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;
A King shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth,

Jeremiah 33:15,

‘In those days and at that time
I will cause to grow up to David
A Branch of righteousness:
He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth,

Zechariah 3:8,

‘Hear, O Joshua, the high priest,
You and your companions who sit before you,
For they are a wondrous sign;
For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH.

Zechariah 6:12,

Then speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, saying:

“Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH!
From His place He shall branch out,
And He shall build the temple of the LORD:

In addition, there are some other references to My Servant:

Isaiah 42:1,

“Behold! My Servant whom I uphold,
My Elect One in whom My soul delight!
I have put My Spirit upon Him’
He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.

Jeremiah 33:20-22,

20] “Thus says the LORD:  ‘If you can break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night, so that there will not be day and night in their season, 21] then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levites, My ministers.  22] As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.’ “

Jeremiah 33:25-26,

25] “Thus says the LORD: ‘If My covenant is not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth, 26] then I will cast away the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, so that I will not take any of his descendants to be rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  For I will cause their captives to return, and will have mercy on them.’ “

Ezekiel 34:23-25,

23] I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them – My servant David.  He shall feed them and be their shepherd.  24] “David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them.

Ezekiel 37:25,

Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever.

Zechariah 3:8,

8] ‘Hear, O Joshua, the high priests, You and your companions who sit before you.  For they are a wondrous sign; For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH.

Matthew 12:18,

“Behold!  My servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased!  I will put My Spirit upon Him, And He will declare justice to the Gentiles. 

In these verses, there are several thoughts, though we’ll look at just a couple of them:

1. The entrance of the BRANCH, Isaiah 11:1; 53:11.

These references show us, no pun intended, the family tree of the BRANCH, namely, the lineage and family of David, King of Israel.  Indeed, it is what the Word of God calls Him:  the BRANCH.  It also tells us that, except for a couple of instances, there seemed to be nothing special about Him growing up.  He was just another Jewish boy.  The record does show that He was able at the age of twelve to engage the scholars in the Temple in conversation, Luke 2:41-47, And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers, v. 46.  And there were the visits of the shepherds at His birth, Luke 2:8-17, His presentation in the Temple a couple of months after His birth, Luke 1:22-38, and the visit of the magi when He was a toddler, Matthew 2:1-16.  Those are His only records until He appears on the scene when He was about thirty, Luke 3:23.

I’ve often wondered if Jesus “spoiled” His parents for their other children.  It is true that His conception was miraculous; no other way could He have been born without a fallen, Adamic nature, but He grew and developed in Mary’s womb like any other child.  She felt Him kick the first time.  She felt Him as He grew inside her.  Did she put Joseph’s hand on her tummy so that he, too, could feel Him move?  When He was born, He was a brand new baby boy, just like others they had no doubt seen in the village.  Mom had to nurse Him, change His diaper – or whatever they had in that day.  They watched Him as He learned how to turn over, how He began to be able to get up, first on hands and knees and then to stand up.  They watched as He took His first baby steps, those steps that would eventually lead Him up to Calvary.  They were thrilled as He said His first word, then learned how to talk.

In short, they watched Him grow up, Luke 2:40.

And, yes, there were brothers and sisters.  It is a religious falsehood that she remained a virgin her entire life.  When Jesus began His public ministry and the strong reaction He created, we read this:

Is not this the carpenter’s son?  Is not His mother called Mary?  And His brothers James, Joses, Simon and Judas.  And His sisters, are they not all with us.  Where then does this Man get all these things?  So they were offended at Him, Matthew 13:55-57 NKJV emphasis added.

And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue.  And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things?  And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands!  Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon?  And are not His sisters with us?”  So they were offended at Him, Mark 6:2-4 NKJV.

So, according to Scriptural authority, we know that Jesus had four brothers and at least three sisters.  When Matthew quotes those offended at Jesus’ teaching, he quotes them as saying, all His sisters, not just His sister, or both His sisters, or even just His sisters, as Luke put it, but all His sisters.  It appears from this that there at least three girls in this family.

And there is no Scriptural authority for the idea that these brothers and sisters were Joseph’s from an earlier marriage.  Scripture tells us that Joseph and Mary had a normal marital relationship after the birth of the Lord Jesus, Matthew 1:18, 25.  These other children were theirs, not just “his”.

Isaiah 53:2 tells us that there was nothing special about His appearance; He looked just like any other Jewish male.  There was nothing about Him, so far as we know, that would merit a second glance.

So, why is He different?

2. The exaltation of the BRANCH.

Jeremiah 23:5,

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD,
“That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;
A King shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.

Jeremiah 33:15,
‘In those days and at that time
I will cause to grow up to David
A Branch of righteousness;
He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth,

David had many sons and one of them did indeed follow him on the throne:  Solomon, who was next in the Davidic lineage.  This line continued until the time of Jehoiachin, who was the last independent king over Judah.  There’s a lot of history between the time of David and Jehoiachin which we’ve passed over.  Some were “good” kings, others, not so much, but none of them could be said to have “executed judgment and righteousness” in the sense Scripture describes in the verses above.  None of David’s descendants were ” branches of righteousness”.  They were just “branches.”

There is a lot of discussion about this idea of the Messianic reign of our Lord.  Without getting into it, Scripture tells us that there is coming a time when the Lord Jesus will indeed sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem, and will reign as King over this entire world.  It will be a time of true justice and righteousness.  There will not be any of the embarrassing carryings-on that we’ve seen recently in this country.  Scripture indicates that there will not be universal rejoicing over the re-appearance of the Lord Jesus; there will, nevertheless, be a time of peace like this world has never seen.

He will “reign and prosper And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth,” not just “in the church”, as some would have us believe.

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”

Zechariah 3:6-8: Responsibility

6] Then the Angel of the LORD admonished Joshua, saying, 7] “Thus says the LORD of hosts:

‘If you will walk in My ways,
And if you will keep My command,
Then you shall also judge My house,
And likewise have charge of My courts;
I will give you places to walk
Among those who stand here.

8] ‘Hear, O Joshua, the high priest,
You and your companions who sit before you,
For they are a wondrous sign;
For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH.’ ” NKJV

Joshua the high priest has been prepared for his office, but now the Angel of the Lord reminds him that he has a great responsibility – to walk in the Lord’s ways and to keep His commands.  It wasn’t up to him or his fellow priests to decide what they wanted to do or to say; there were clear instructions.

In our reading the other morning, my wife and I were in Jeremiah 23, where the LORD is scolding Israel for listening to false prophets.  In v. 1, He says, “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the LORD.  After saying that He is going to feed these false prophets with wormwood and water of gall, v. 15, He says,

“Do not listen to the prophets who prophesy to you.
They make you worthless.
They speak a vision of their own heart,
Not from the mouth of the LORD, ”
v. 16.

It is a most solemn responsibility one can have to minister the Word of God, whether in person or on some print or electronic media and regardless of whether it is from a pulpit, a class room, or typing on a laptop from the comfort of a recliner.  We are dealing with men and women, boys and girls who will never cease to exist as living souls.  We are affecting that eternal existence.  We must be careful lest we make our audience “worthless”.

As Paul wrote in 2nd Corinthians 2:15, 16,

For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.  To the one we are the aroma of death leading unto death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.  And who is sufficient for these things? NKJV.

It is only a false prophet who answers, “I am.”

As part of His instruction, the LORD told Zechariah that He was preparing to introduce His Servant the BRANCH, v. 8 above.

Jeremiah 23 continues,

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD,
“That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;
A King shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell safely; 
vs. 5, 6a.

Two different OT prophets, both referring to “the Branch”.

Both telling us of days of peace and prosperity that will be the result of His presence.

We’ll have more to say about this, Lord willing.

In the meantime,

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

Zechariah 3:1-5: A Picture of Redemption.

3 1] Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him.  2] And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan!  The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you!  Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?”

3] Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel.

4] Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.”  And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.”

5] And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.”

So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clean clothes on him.  And the Angel of the LORD stood by.  NKJV

In these five verses, there is a picture of redemption.  There is so much here.  There is the opposition of the adversary, v. 1.  Joshua is the target of Satan’s opposition because he stands as the mediator for God’s people before God.  He is the one who intercedes for them on the Day of Atonement and sprinkles the sacrificial blood on the mercy seat.  But Joshua has a problem.  He is clothed with filthy garments.  

He also stands as representative of the nation of Israel.  Though they are God’s chosen people and will yet stand in His favor, right now, they are outside of His grace.  They have been set aside for a time because, in the person of the High Priest of the Lord’s time, Israel rejected their Messiah when He came.  In Mark 14:53-64, Mark’s account of one of the so-called trials of our Lord, we read:

53] And they led Jesus away to the high priest; and with him were assembled all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes.

55] Now the chief priests and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none.

60] And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying,”Do You answer nothing?  What is it these men testify against You?”   61] But He kept silent and answered nothing.
Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”
62] Jesus said, “I am.  And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
63] Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses?  64] You have heard the blasphemy!  What do you think?”
And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. 

When the high priest tore his clothes, he disobeyed a direct order from God.  In Leviticus 21:10, we read that God told the Levites, “He who is high priest among his brethren, on whose head the anointing oil was poured and who is consecrated to wear the garment, shall not uncover his head nor tear his clothes, NKJV emphasis added.  The very ones responsible for Israel’s spiritual health were the ones who ultimately led to her destruction.

So perhaps it is fitting that Zechariah sees another high priest, this one clothed in filthy garments instead of garments befitting his office and responsibilities.  The priesthood had been defiled.

But we can’t simply point at Joshua; apart from the Lord Jesus, we are all clothed in filthy rags.  Even though that verse, Isaiah 64:6, refers specifically to Israel, it’s true of all of us because, as Romans 3:23 says that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  And Isaiah 64:6 is about our righteousnesses, those little acts of piety and religion that we think so much of.  In truth, though, we really have very few of those.  Most of the time do we really think about the things of God?  We’re too busy with the things of life.  What must those lives be like in the sight of God?

However, in Isaiah 61:10, Isaiah wrote,

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,

And Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:21, He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him, KJV.

In v. 4 above, Joshua’s filthy garments are removed and the LORD tells him that his iniquity has been removed.  He doesn’t say how that was done, just that it was.

That’s not all.

In place of his filthy garments, Joshua was to be clothed with rich robes.  In addition, Zechariah tells us in verse 5 that he told them to put a clean turban on his head.  Nothing is said as to why he made this request.  Perhaps it was to complete Joshua’s official outfit.

We, too, have been clothed and made fit to stand and to serve in the presence of God.

There’s an interesting phrase at the end of v. 5:  And the angel of the LORD stood by.

This angel is quite possibly the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus: the Word described in John 1:1.  He will have much to say in the rest of the chapter.

For now, we live in terrible times.  Indeed, I could almost say they are unprecedented times.  But there is One standing by, and when the time is right, He will step in and clean up the mess that’s been made of His creation, His church and His nation.

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

Zechariah 2:10-13: A Time of Singing

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion!  For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” says the LORD.  “Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people.  And I will dwell in your midst.  Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.  And the LORD will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem.  Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD, for He is aroused from His holy habitation!” NKJV.

It’s been a while since we’ve been in Zechariah.  As we pick up the thread of our thoughts about that book, perhaps a brief overview of what it says will help us find our place.

I. The Disclosure of God‘s Purpose, chs. 1-8.

A. First Message, 1:1-6: A Call to Heed God’s Word.
In vs. 4, 6, we are given His purpose and promise.

B. Second Message, 1:7-6:15:  A Call to Hold onto God’s Word.
In these verses,there is a series of eight visions which emphasize His power and performance.  A promise is no good if it isn’t or can’t be kept.  These visions emphasize God’s relationship to events involving Israel, in particular the events surrounding the final restoration of Jerusalem.

C. Third Message, 7:1-8:23:  A Call to Hope because of God’s Word.
This message deals with God’s prospective relationship not only to Israel, but to the nations of the world in general.

II. The Development of God’s Purpose, vs. 9-14.

This part of Zechariah roughly corresponds with the development of Revelation, ch. 4 onward.  With Daniel and Revelation, Zechariah is an important witness to the future.  Zechariah 14 in particular gives a “nutshell view” of “the day of the Lord”.

As we begin to consider our text, we note that the Lord told Israel to sing and rejoice.  So far in her history, she’s had very little to sing about.  Even in the days of David and Solomon, perhaps the height of her time so far on this earth, there were still things that brought trouble.  That’s pretty much a one-word description of her history:  “trouble”.

She never understood her blessings.  She never understood the judgments she suffered because of her idolatry.

She still doesn’t.

One day, she will.

Even though, since 1948, she’s once again been a nation, there remains constant friction between her and her neighbors.  Isaac and Ishmael are still at it.  Under our former president, there might have been some lessening of Middle East tensions, but there is coming a time when they will again flare up.

Indeed, trouble may flare up more than once.  But one of these times, it will be the last time.

The reason Israel is told to “sing and rejoice” is that, one day the Lord promises, He will dwell in her midst and she will know Him, vs. 10, 11.  Again, there is the indication of two “LORDS,” as we mentioned earlier.  And, though He doesn’t put it like this, Jerusalem will once again be the center of His attention, v. 12.  She will finally understand His dealings with her.

The rest of the book has much to say about this.  Lord willing, it’s our intent to look at them in our next studies.

For now, though, there is a lot of trouble all over this world.  The coronavirus has wreaked havoc and death on economies and lives everywhere.  Though it’s said to be lessening, there’s still trouble all around.

At least in this country, but, I suspect, all over, one of the reasons for our difficulties is that we’ve turned our back on God.  True, our Founding Fathers put the anti-establishment clause in our Constitution for good reason.  Most of them had come from countries with an “official” religion, and wanted no part of a government telling them what they had to believe.  We’ve just taken it to the opposite extreme in this country.

One day, though, we’ll all stand before God and give an account of the time we’ve had  on this earth.  Hebrews 9:27 says, …as it is appointed unto men once to die…, so far, little argument with that, …and after this, the judgment….  That’s the difficulty.  We want to believe that we’re all headed for “a better place,” if we believe at all in life after death.  Many don’t.

Scripture say that there is life after death.

If it’s wrong, well, then no one has anything to worry about.

If it’s right….

This is why Hebrews 9:27 says, in full, And as it is appointed unto men to die once, but after this the judgment – and 9:28 concludes, so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.

The Lord Jesus didn’t come to this earth to start another religion, or to give us reasons to celebrate Christmas and Easter.  He came to die for sin, – for sinners.

You see, sin is the ultimate cause for all our troubles.  There are truly many secondary causes, but that’s the primary one.  God created this earth a paradise, Genesis 1 – 3, but “sin entered,” Romans 5:12.

Oh, listen, this life will soon be over.  Eternity is just around the corner, so to speak.  Even though we may yet live many years, it is always just – one breath away.  Whether we will enjoy it or endure it, though there will be no “enduring” eternal fire, depends on our standing with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Is He our Savior?

If not, He will be our Judge.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31.

Has The Time Come?

2 Timothy 4:3 says, “…the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, and Paul goes on from there to say that this time will be characterized by people who will follow their own desires.

In some of my last posts, I’ve said that I never thought that I would live to see this day, whatever “day” that was.  I’m sorry to say that I have to say it again.  I never thought that I would live to see this day.  One of the other blogs that I follow has the following cartoon: a picture of a piece of paper with a frowny face, and a message saying, “Sorry, the page you have been looking for has been removed or is temporarily unavailable.”  One of the other blogs I follow, a conservative one, has had a couple of posts partially blocked out on a particular social media with the disclaimer that said post is being “fact-checked”; the post is unavailable.

Very seldom on this blog have I entered into politics, except maybe as it impinges on Scriptural teaching; I’ll admit, the particular blog mentioned above is definitely conservative – and supportive of our current, and soon to be ex-, President.  This seems to have become politically incorrect. 

As I meander around the internet, I’ve just in the last few days come across some very disturbing posts and pictures.  There has been always been discontent with our current President.  He has dared to love this country and to advance her interests.  Further, he has undone a lot of things a former, much-admired President has done.  And, I admit, he seems to delight in “poking the bear,” as it were, deliberately tweeting things which upset his opponents.  This apparently has only served to enrage them, and now, with his defeat, they seem determined to obliterate his own achievements.  Some of his supporters still seem to hold out the hope that his defeat will be overturned.  I don’t think so.  Some of them hope that things can be turned around in 2024.  Probably not.

Here is what concerns me.  Because our current President is identified as a Christian conservative, some of those who are enraged at him not only want to get rid of him, but also to vent their rage on Christian conservatives in general, and to get rid of them.

As I said, “I never thought I’d live to see this day.”

With the things that have happened recently, things that never should have happened, and the uproar that’s accompanied them, some Christians talk about the Rapture and that it must be time for the Lord to come back for His people.  That may or may not be.  What they seem to fail to realize with this hope, and it is a blessed hope, is that there is nothing in Scripture which says that believers will be spared from all the suffering and misery that will happen just before He comes back.

Though it may very well be preparing for the end times with all the troubles around COVID-19, there is still nothing approaching “the mark of the beast,” which is perhaps the main “mark” of the end.  And believers throughout church history have seen in their current events that which has led them to hope it would soon be over. 

Some in our day claim that the vaccines being worked on to cure the coronavirus will contain a micro-chip to enable tracking of the inoculated.  Even if that turns out to be the case, it still seems to me to fall short of the final “mark”.  According to Revelation 7, the “mark of the beast” will be public and visible, to counteract the public and very visible protective mark of the 144,000 Jews, vs. 4-8, not hidden away in a micro-chip under the skin.  So far as I can see, nothing has happened in Israel anywhere at all approaching Revelation 7.  In addition, the rest of that chapter tells us, there will be a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, peoples, tribes and tongues standing before the throne, and before the Lamb.  As bad as it might seem, the enemy will not win.

In the meantime, even though the apostle Paul didn’t know anything about “democracy,” he still wrote that it is our responsibility as believers that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, 1 Timothy 2:1, 2, emphasis added.  He didn’t say anything about having to agree with their politics or governance.  In fact, he lived during the rule of one of the worst, if not the worst, of the Roman emperors, a man who delighted in the agonizing deaths of Christians in the Coliseum and who took part in their tortures.

The Founders of this once-great nation had themselves, many of them, come from places where there was governmental control over spiritual things, that is, “religion”.  The Constitution they formulated was designed to prevent that.

However, as with all things merely human since the Garden of Eden, the road only leads downhill.  We may yet, and not that far off, see the end of religious liberty in this country.  It’s already begun in some of our states with the prohibition of religious, that is, church, meetings, though nightclubs and casinos are still free to operate as usual.  We’ll see if this restriction ends when the pandemic is over.  Censorship is beginning, as with the blog mentioned above.  It likely won’t get any better.

As our Lord was coming to the close of His earthly ministry, He told His disciples some of the things that would happen just before His return, and He said to them, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near,” Luke 21:28 NKJV.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next few days or weeks or months.  I don’t even know for sure what will happen in the next five minutes.  But, one way or another, all things will come to an end.  I don’t know if the things that we see happening around us are “the beginning” of that end or not.  But maybe it’s time to “lift up” our heads.

In the meantime, January 20, 2021, is 10 days away as I write this.  At that time, it will become our responsibility as Christians to pray earnestly, faithfully, and truthfully for Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., the 46th President of these United States – as well as for all of our governing officials, down to the most local level.

Weight Problems

No, this will not be a plug for the latest diet.

My reading the other morning was in Amos, which describes God’s controversy with Israel. In 2:13 NKJV, He says, “Behold, I am weighed down by you, As a cart full of sheaves is weighed down.”

Scripture has a lot of things to say about weight, some interesting, some convicting.  For example, in the story of David and Goliath, Goliath is described as wearing armor that weighed 5000 shekels of bronze.  That means little to us, but his armor would have weighed about 125 pounds.  The tip of his spear weighed about 16 pounds, or about the weight of a bowling ball.  He himself was over nine feet tall, so his equipment would be unusual.   Still.

Job gives us the account of a man who suffered extraordinarily and said some things he regretted later.  He said in 6:1, “Oh, that my grief were fully weighed, and my calamity laid with it on the scales,” then in 6:2, he makes this comparison, “For then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea”.

As we might put it, Job asked for a sit-down with God to ask Him why he, Job, was suffering so badly.  He hadn’t done anything to deserve it.  Why was God treating him like this? 

He got his wish.  In effect, God asked him, “Do you really want to go there?”  In Job 38-41, He asked Job a series of questions beginning with, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” 

He had this same conversation centuries later with Israel.  Among other things, He said to them that He weighed the mountains in scales And the hills in a balance, Isaiah 40:12.

He could tell us how much Mt. Everest weighs.  Or Pikes Peak, the mountain pictured in the header for this blog. 

Those aren’t really the problem.

These are the problem:

“Talk no more so proudly;
Let no arrogance come from your mouth,
For the LORD is the God of knowledge;
And by Him actions are weighed,
1 Samuel 2:3.

Surely men of low degree are a vapor,
Men of high degree are a lie;
If they are weighed on the scales,
They are altogether lighter than vapor,
Psalm 62:9.

All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
But the LORD weighs the spirits,
Proverbs 16:2.

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
But the LORD weighs the hearts,
Proverbs 21:12.

If you say, “Surely we did not know this,”
Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it:
He who keeps your soul, does He not know it?
And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?
Proverbs 24:12.  All references NKJV, emphases added

And probably the most well-known one of all these.  Daniel 5:27, where Daniel, interpreting the handwriting on the wall, tells the party king Belshazzar, “TEKEL:  You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting [lacking], emphasis added.

Some folks have the idea that, when we stand before God, He’s going to weigh everything we did.  If the good outweighs the bad, then we get to go to heaven.  If it  doesn’t, well, then there’s the other place. 

Since folks recognize that they aren’t what they should be, they try to add some weights to the scale:  church or ritual or good works or any number of things.  What they don’t realize is that, apart from the Lord Jesus, there is no good, that all these things go on the wrong side and only add to our spiritual problems.  They have and are no answer.  

Scripture tells us that, apart from the Lord Jesus, we all stand condemned in the sight of God.  We have already been pronounced “guilty”. 

But don’t even our own consciences tell us that, that we fall short even of what we think is right or wrong.  The new year is a week old.  How many of you have already broken “New Year’s Resolutions”?  I quit making such things a long time ago.  It may be a new year, but it’s still the same ol’ me.

Like Belshazzar of old, we have been found lacking. 

There has only ever been One who could say, “I always do those things which please Him,” John 8:29.  There’s only ever been One who could ask His enemies, “Which one of you convicts Me of sin?” John 8:46.  There’s only ever been One of or to whom God said, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well pleased,” Luke 3:22.

No one, when they finally stand before God to give an account of their life, will be able to go up to the throne and say, “Move over, Jesus.  Now there are two of us.”

In this world, there is no antidote, no counter-weight, no counter-balance, to sin.

Jesus didn’t come into this world in order for us to have a reason to give each other presents or to put cookies out for Santa or to go out and buy a new outfit or have Easter egg hunts.

I used to work in retail and the busiest day of the year was the day after Christmas, when people came in to get refunds or to exchange something for something else.

Jesus came into this world to make a much more important exchange.

In the words of 2 Corinthians 5:21, God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  As I’ve said before, I’m old. and often prefer the KJV, with which I grew up.  In that version, this verse, slightly updated, reads, in part, He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin.  I like this version because it puts first the amazing, the unbelievable, the incredible truth about Calvary:  He made Him to be sin for us… 

He made Him to be sin for us.

He made Him to be sin for us.

He took all our corruption, all our depravity, all our wickedness, and put it on the head of His only-begotten Son, that One who was holy, harmless and undefiled, Hebrews 7:26.

But that’s not all!

…that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.


…the righteousness of God….

Two things as far apart as east and west.

In the Lord Jesus Christ, they meet…

…and are made real to and for us.

But they are only to be found in Him.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31.


On the opening screen of my laptop every day, there are several “recommended sites,” covering a wide variety of topics and interests. There’s one there today entitled “Troubled Times for Alternatives to Einstein’s Theory of……” Or, this one, “Was I wrong to fall for a cheating cat?”  But they purr.  That’s why I like them.  This article goes with one down the page: “A Brief History of House Cats.” Or there’s this one, “You’re Never Going To Have a Legacy, So Give up Trying”.

I may or may not read this last one – if I do decide to read it later, it may already be gone.

However, judging by the picture and comment accompanying the teaser, I would disagree with it. I have no wish to rub salt into wounds, or anything like that, but the picture is of several gravestones, and the comment says, “Acknowledging the death of our lives and legacy can help us live better.” Both the picture and comment are from something called “qz.com”.

We’ve been occupied the last few days with ideas surrounding the picture and comment.  My thoughts and prayers are still with all those involved in those days.  I think about the idea conveyed by the picture quite often as well, having recently entered the ninth decade of my own life. If “qz.com” means by “legacy” that I’m never going to be rich or famous or powerful, as the world understands those things, they’re right. But I am rich, beyond their understanding, and I do have a legacy:  children.  Some of them have their own legacies like that, as well.  But if the article means that I’m going to die and leave them, my much-better-half wife, and everything else, it’s right. (And no, she’s not a “half-wife”. She’s given me a half a century of patience, love and home-cooking. [Sorry, too many “halfs”?] ) As for the riches, James 2:1-6 has something to say about the riches of this world, in contrast to those who are rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which God has promised to those who love Him.  qz.com knows nothing of those riches.  And then, there are the riches of the friendships that have come my way through means of this blog.  Maybe not like friends who can gossip over the backyard fence or borrow a cup of sugar, but friends, nevertheless. 

The Final Tap of the Hammer

This post begins with a partial repeat of a post I wrote on 9/8/14 titled, “Why All This Hammering and Cutting?”  I’ll have more to say afterward.  The post that’s repeated is about a visit Sharon and I had more than 6 years ago with a friend of ours who, after suffering a lifetime with Lupus, had been diagnosed with ALS.

Here is the partial repeat:

“Christians sometimes wonder why they have to suffer so much.  And there are a whole flock of people making a good living convincing them that they don’t have to, that they should have everything they want, if only they had ‘faith.’

“Dear friends, some of you are suffering things I can’t begin to imagine.  Over the Labor Day weekend, my wife and I went to visit a dear, dear sister who was recently diagnosed with ALS, after a lifetime of suffering with lupus, among other things.  I think she blessed us with her cheerful spirit more than we blessed her.  I can not imagine being completely unable to do ANYTHING for yourself, but having to depend on others for EVERYTHING, though, thankfully, she can still talk – and smile and laugh. [Note: she did get to the point where speech was taken from her before she died.]

“So, why suffering?

“If we could imagine a block of stone suddenly finding its voice, we might hear something like the following:

” ‘Oh, why all this hammering and cutting on me?  This chipping and sanding and buffing?  Why me?’

“The artist replies, ‘Be patient.  There’s a beautiful statue inside you’.”

Now, we grant that there is no “beautiful statue,” no “divine spark” inside of us just waiting to be released or kindled, like so many would have us believe.

There’s no statue, true, but…

…for the believer, there’s something better….

That other post finishes like this:

God “doesn’t come to us and fix us up a little bit.  He doesn’t just slap on a new coat of paint or put down a new carpet.  He makes us a “new creation.”  As in the original creation, He started with nothing, so in the new creation, He starts with nothing.
“And He will finish what He started.  He chips, and cuts and hammers and buffs and polishes to get rid of what we are in order that we might see a little of what we are to become.

Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is, 1 John 3:2.
You see, God has a master plan for His people, a blueprint.  We only see a tiny, tiny portion of it.  But He tells us a little about it in His Word, as we just saw.  There is more.

According to Romans 8:29, it is God’s purpose and plan for His children to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

It’s hard to believe as we look in the mirror on the wall, or the mirror of the Word, but even as God said in the original creation, Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, and it was so, 1:9, 11, 15, 24, so He has said of the new creation, that His children are to be “conformed to the image of His Son,” and it will be so.

Death is just the final tap of the hammer.