Please open your Bibles to the Prophecy of Zechariah, Zech 1:1 (2X). The prophecy of Zechariah consists of seven visions and two burdens, and the two burdens are further divided into six parts. And so there are at least thirteen topics to talk about. The sermon of today deals with the third vision, since the first two visions have been dealt with in the two previous sermons. And thus we can look forward to seeing at least another ten sermons to finish this prophecy. The first vision showed us Christ on a red horse. The second vision showed us judgment on the heathen which is parabolically portrayed by the battle between the four horns, and the four carpenters. We had an interesting sermon about that four weeks ago. Let us now focus on the third vision today. We will read from Zech 2:1-13 (2X).
· The Third Vision (Zech 2:1-13)
Zech 2:1,¶ “I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand. 2 Then said I, Whither goest thou? And he said unto me, To measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof. 3 And, behold, the angel that talked with me went forth, and another angel went out to meet him, 4 And said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein: 5 For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her. 6 ¶ Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD. 7 Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon. 8 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. 9 For, behold, I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me. 10 ¶ Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD. 11 And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee. 12 And the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again. 13 Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation.”
What is this third vision all about? What is the main theme of this vision shown to the Prophet Zechariah? It is a vision about “The Restoration of God’s People”. And how shall God’s people be restored? The title of this sermon reveals to us the answer: God says “I Will Be a Wall of Fire Round About Them” (2X), and God says repeatedly “I Will Dwell in the Midst of Them” (2X). Now that is a very beautiful message. Is this protection from God referring to the New Testament church or is it also concerning the Old Testament church? What is God primarily concerned about? We know that God is not concerned about buildings or about real estate. The real estate around Jerusalem, which has seen many bloody wars, and which was the target of many crusades, were all misplaced understandings of what is the Holy Land. God was not pleased with all that bloodshed which was directed by the Roman church and for which the Roman church collected taxes in the form of indulgences. No! God is concerned about people and about worshipping Him and not another. How do we know if we are worshipping Him and not another? We know it from understanding the Bible. How people understand the Bible is of the utmost importance to God, for this reflects who the god is they are worshipping. This is why God wrote so many words in the Old Testament, for the Old Testament is three times larger than the New Testament. But to declare the purpose of God for all mankind, God stated His dealings with mankind in many parables and in many visions. So, here is one of those visions. To begin with we read here in Zech 2:1 about a man with a measuring line in his hand. What does that mean?
#1 A Man With a Measuring Line (Zech 2:1-2, Rev 11:1-2, 21:15-17, Matt 24:37, 2Pet 1:21)
Zech 2:1,¶ “I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand. 2 Then said I, Whither goest thou? And he said unto me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof.” All this is not to be understood literally but symbolically. What is the meaning of measuring Jerusalem? Have we not seen this before? Indeed we saw something like this in Rev 11. Please turn in your Bibles to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, chapter 11, verse 1 (2X). And there we read,
Rev 11:1 ¶ “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. 2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.” Although John is called to measure the temple only, the Lord indicates three distinct areas in these two verses: First of all there is the temple building, with its holy and most holy place, and the people who congregate there for worship. Secondly there is the outer court, which is the “open space”, surrounding the temple building, which is called the “Court of the Gentiles”, for it is open to everyone who wants to come close to the temple of God. Thirdly there is the holy city, which shall together with the outer court be surrendered to the Gentiles “to be trodden under foot forty and two months”, where the forty and two months (3 and ½ years) are symbolic for the entire New Testament period of time, including the Final Tribulation Period. Now the question remains if this passage of Rev 11:1-2 refers to the same subject matter that Zech 2:1-2 refer to? Indeed that is so. Both passages refer to the church in the New Testament time, the wide open church. The church in the wide open space outside the temple represents the Show-Church, which shows herself as the friend of those who worship in the temple. She makes a big show of it, but it is nothing else than ceremonial hoopla. At the time God dictated this letter to the Apostle John, probably around 100 AD, the temple and Jerusalem were already destroyed, for Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD. After that there is no more physical temple. And yet here in Rev 11:1 John is commanded to measure the inner sanctum of the temple and report that number to God. What does this mean? What was the task that John had to perform? He had to measure only the inner sanctum of the temple, the place where the priests used to meet, and where the Holy of Holies was. Remember that this must be understood symbolically. This implied that John had to measure how many people were worshipping the true God, who were worshiping Him in Spirit and in truth. And from the measurements of the court outside the temple, and the size of the country outside the temple we can see what God had in mind. God already knew those measurements. He wanted to show us that the Church may be large, but the fraction of true worshippers is really very, very small. Only those that fit in the small space of the Holy place were the true worshippers. The nation of Judah and the city of Jerusalem represented the New Testament Church. The people who lived there were truly religious. They were abiding by all kinds of ceremonial rules which I would identify as ceremonial hoopla, just like the New Testament churches do today. But there was no God whom they worshipped. And so, where does that lead us? It leads us to the days of Noah. In Noah’s time there were perhaps two million people living on the earth. I am saying two million just to clarify the point I am making, but it could be any large number. How many of the two million did God consider righteous? Only eight, because when the floodwaters came how many did God save? Only eight! Everyone else God did not consider worth saving. They were unrighteous. God had something more to say about this. We find it in Matthew 24. Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 24:37 (2X). When I first understood Matt 24:37 it hit me like a lightning bolt. But here we read in Matt 24:37,
Matt 24:37, “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Let us put this in perspective: As the days of Noah were just before the Flood, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be in this 21st century. In the days of Noah only eight out of two million were found righteous. When Christ comes again only eight out of two million people will be found righteous. What will happen to the remainder of the people, the 1,999,992 out of two million who have remained unrighteous? They are still as unrighteous as when they were born. The Bible says that they will be sent to hell. Yes, hell is in the Bible. You will find it at least 55 times in the Bible. You cannot reason it away with human logic, for then we would declare God a liar in 55 places in the Bible. The Lord Jesus spoke about hell many times, and we must also freely speak about it, without any fear. That is why I am called a “Fire and Brimstone Preacher.” And I am probably the last of the Fire and Brimstone preachers. Most preachers are afraid to touch the subject of hell, for they are afraid that they will scare away some visitors. But we should please God rather than man, and God is very pleased if we preach on everything that is in the Bible. (Col 4:6) “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” And since salt is a symbol for the wrath of God, (remember Lot’s wife,) we understand from this verse that we should always remember to mention the wrath of God in our Gospel message. The full Gospel message must include the wrath of God on sin.
Back to Noah and back to Matt 24:37. “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Where do all these unrighteous people come from? Most people we know go to church regularly. Why would they be declared unrighteous? Well, think of how many people declare God a liar? When in about 100 AD God said in Rev 22:18, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book” and God will not back off on these promises; He shall not be declared a liar. Yet how many people have forgotten this? All those people who are in the Charismatic Movement declare that Rev 22:18 is not true, for God the Holy Spirit is still speaking audibly these days, and He is still bringing additional messages today. They are thereby invoking the curse of God on their own head. On the other hand, how many people will declare God a liar? They will read the Bible, God’s Word written by Him for our salvation, and then they read of the sovereignty of God and they arrive at God’s plan of election and predestination, and they say “I do not believe that.” Or they say, Hell does not exist. What have they done? They have declared God a liar in at least 55 places in the Bible. Their action of unbelief in fact is equivalent to ripping out of the Bible those pages dealing with the sovereignty of God and with God’s decisions in election and reprobation, and in God’s declaration about the existence of Hell. They have forgotten what the Lord Jesus said in Rev 22:19,
Rev 22:19, “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” It means that all the people who violate Rev 22:18-19 are unrighteous. They shall not inherit eternal life for they have declared God a liar in challenging Him in the matters of Rev 22:18-19. People have recognized their troubles with God and now they have come up with the theory that the Bible was not written by God but by men. They want a violation of the statements of Rev 22:18-19 to be not a salvation issue. They are trying to do away with God’s words. But God said in 2Pet 1:21,
2Pet 1:21 “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost”, which really means that all the verses in the Bible were dictated by God. All the verses must harmonize with one another. Rev 22:18-19 are just as much God’s Word as Gen 1:1. And so, when we read again Zech 2:1-2 we should also think of Rev 11:1-2 and Rev 21:15-17. Were these passages comfortable messages to the people of God? NO, they were not. But those three passages belong together; they are complementing one another. Zech 2:1-2 speaks in Old Testament language with Jerusalem in a plain, and Rev 21:15-17 speaks in New Testament language with Jerusalem in a cube, which is not difficult to understand if we remember that the dwelling place of God was as a cube in the Holy of Holies. But in both cases Jerusalem was being measured, and this command to measure Jerusalem implies that the spiritual content of Jerusalem was measured. And both Zech 2:1-2 and Rev 21:15-17 speak about the restoration of the people of God, symbolized by the citizens of Jerusalem as a plain or the citizens of Jerusalem as a cube.
Look again at the two passages in Zech 2:1 “I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand. 2 Then said I, Whither goest thou? And he said unto me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof.” And compare this with Rev 11:1 “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. 2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.”
· Are These Two Messages Complimentary? (Zech 2:1-2, Rev 11:1-2, John 6:44, Psalm 58:3)
Yes they are. Both these messages deal with the New Testament church near the end of time. But are these two passages comforting? No, because in both messages the area assigned to the true worshippers is very small compared to the area assigned to the entire New Testament church. In other words, the majority of the church is going apostate. When we get close to the end of time only a remnant of saved people are left. The probability of salvation will become smaller and smaller. The churches will be occupied by more and more baptized pagans. The court outside the temple is given to the Gentiles and the entire city of Jerusalem represents those who are in name called Christians, but in their souls they are still unsaved. We see a tremendous growth in the cults, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, and we see a few mega churches, but where is the grace of God through the cross of Christ? For example, where is the grace of God? What is the definition of grace? Webster’s Dictionary says grace is unmerited favor. It is the unmerited favor of God drawing us to salvation. Can we merit unmerited favor? Absolutely not! That is a contradiction in terms. The Lord Jesus said in
John 6:44 “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:”
That is how grace works. God the Father draws us to His Son Jesus, through the action of God the Holy Spirit in our soul. This is how we harmonize all the verses in the Bible. We are commanded to harmonize all the passages in the Bible, because these are all words from God. If we cannot harmonize two verses we would have declared God a liar in that place of the Bible. And so our salvation is altogether God’s work, for His grace is unmerited favor. We cannot merit His salvation. Why are there people who claim that they are saved because they have made a decision to follow Jesus? That is a lie! That is nothing else than dumb rotten pride. We do not have a free will to follow Jesus. You do not find that in the Bible. The only free will we find in the Bible is the free will to sin. Indeed, the Bible declares that all mankind, without exception, comes into the world totally depraved, as servants of Satan, and with a free will to sin. In fact, God says in Psalm 58:3, “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” Who are those wicked babies?
Yes indeed. Those cute little babies are not innocent. They are messengers of Satan the moment that they are born. We need to bring them the words of the Gospel so that Christ can save them. How then does anyone become saved? God answers: the same way God created the heavens and the earth. God spoke and life entered the lifeless universe. This is how your spiritually dead children are made alive. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. This is how God makes alive all those whom He chose from before the foundation of the world. It is God who takes all the initiative and then He works through the actions of His saints to finish all the works He intended to complete. And thus He will receive all the honor and the glory for all the work He has done. Let us now continue:
· Towns Without Walls (Zech 2:3-4, )
Zech 2:3 And, behold, the angel that talked with me went forth, and another angel went out to meet him, 4 And said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein:
What does this mean: Towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein? Is he still speaking of Jerusalem? Yes, indeed, but he is speaking of our time. And the Jerusalem he is speaking about represents the New Testament church. The New Testament church is symbolized by a city. That is nothing new. In the Old Testament we already saw that the faithful are represented by a city, the city of God, or the New Jerusalem, and the reprobate are represented by another city, the city of Satan, or Babylon. It tells us that Babylon was never in the favor of God. It may have been a powerful nation on earth, but it was always an enemy of God. That is how we should interpret the spiritual meaning of Babylon. In Zech 2:4 the angel that talked with Zechariah went forth, as if he was leaving Zechariah. But then he was stopped by another angel who urged him: Run, run back! Make haste to tell this young man, referring to Zechariah, that the time is at hand that Jerusalem shall be rebuilt, but you may not recognize it for it will be rebuilt as towns without walls. The walls are no longer necessary, for the Lord Himself will be our Defender. But this will be the nature of the New Testament church: as towns without walls, and yet they will be spiritually stronger than if they had walls, for Christ Himself is our Defender.
#2 A Wall of Fire Round About (Zech 2:5)
Why will the walls no longer be necessary? Because Christ Himself will be like a wall of fire around us. Then we read in Zech 2:5, about the Lord our Defender
Zech 2:5, “For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.” What does this mean? “For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about” I will protect My church like with a wall of fire round about her. No unsaved heathen shall be able to enter therein. Christ shall not allow any of the messengers of Satan to enter into the church that He has reserved for Himself. Any rumors that the church is dead are false. Christ will not abandon the church for which He has suffered and died. And immediately we realize that this is not the externally visible church that most people claim to know, but it is the church of only saved people that is in view. It is a church of only people whose sins have been paid for by Christ on the cross in AD 33. That is the church which is called “the daughter of Zion”, or “the Bride of Christ”, or “the eternal invisible church of Christ”, or “the church of the redeemed only”, or the church of the First-born. And since Christ has paid for all their sins with His blood on the cross, He will never leave her, nor forsake her, ever. Can we see that this is in the nature of God? Can we see this distinction between the two churches? One is a church which is only Christian in name to show the world, the show-church. The other is a church that truly desires to be God’s people and that desire is in their hearts. One church is represented by the people in the temple proper, a small space, and the other church is represented by the large court that is outside the temple, the show-church. The Lord Jesus Christ did not pay on the cross for the sins of all people in the world. This is a lie that is not found in the Bible, and it is a lie that was introduced by people who want to lead us into hell by the Arminian theology, which is a works gospel. Christ paid only for all the sins of all His elect on the cross. If He had paid for all the sins of all people then no one would go to hell. But the Bible is very clear that hell will be a very busy place, and many people will be paying for their own sins in hell. But since the Lord Jesus Christ is God the Son, He will arrange for all the power of Almighty God to protect and defend His people, His elect, from the temptations that Satan wants to bring on the people of God. Who will win this battle? It is clear that Satan shall be the loser. Since Christ is God the Son, the second Person of the triune God, which means He is fully God, He cannot lose, for God cannot lose. The Lord Jesus Christ said in Eph 2:9, “Not of works, lest any man should boast” which means “Salvation does not come by the works of man but only by the works of God”. And now we can hear the voice of Christ calling:
· Flee From the Land of the North (Zech 2:6)
Zech 2:6, “Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD.” What does God mean when He speaks of the Land of the North”? “Flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD.” Which army came from the north to destroy Judah and Jerusalem? It was the Babylonian armies. Although Babylon is located in the east, technically they came from the north because the Babylonian armies did not want to struggle through the extremely hot Arabian Desert. All the invading armies avoided the Arabian Desert. And so, who is in view when God speaks of the land of the north? Babylon! When Babylon had destroyed the land of Judah and Jerusalem they brought home a contingent of Jews that were captured in the land of Judah. These Jews made Babylon their home like so many of the other conquered nations did. That is how Babylon became strong and mighty. But then one day God sent Cyrus with an army of Medes and Persians. Cyrus was a clever civil engineer. He interrupted the flow of the Euphrates River through Babylon. Then at night he and his armies walked through the dry river bed into Babylon and killed King Belshazzar. That was a sudden end of the mighty Babylonian Empire. The Spaniards took this historical lesson to heart. When Cortez with a small army of soldiers and ships invaded the Aztec Empire he entered the island in the center of the Aztec Empire and killed emperor Montezuma. That was the end of the Aztec Empire. Just a few years later Pizarro with a small band of soldiers invaded the Inca Empire in South America. He climbed up Machu-Picchu where the emperor lived; they killed the emperor, and that was the end of the Inca Empire. Let us now return to the fall of the Babylonian Empire. There were still Jews living in Babylon. Not all of them had moved back to Jerusalem when the decree came from Cyrus to go back to the land of Judah. But now the voice of God was heard through the prophet Zechariah, and now the Jews did listen. They did withdraw out of Babylon, and Babylon became a ruin. And so the New Testament prophesies have set in. Jerusalem and all the other cities were now rebuilt as towns without walls, for the Lord Himself will be our Defender, and He will protect us with a spiritual wall of fire, and by dwelling in the midst of us. Now the bad news has become good news, for the Lord dwells in the midst of us, and we have come to know that the Lord had sent Zechariah to bring us the good news. This was the central point of the good news: The Lord promised to dwell in the midst of us. Why was this such tremendous good news? The nature of the Lord’s dwelling is that His eyes cannot behold iniquity. Wherever the Lord is, sin has been dealt with. Before He can dwell with us He has to do away with the guilt of sin. It means that Atonement for sin has to be in place and this means that the cross of Christ has to be in view. In AD 33 the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, and this was the only day in the history of mankind that sins were forgiven. Atonement for the sins of all of God’s elect occurred in AD 33, and this date was the day that Christ dwelt in the midst of us. This is hard to swallow for those who are the physical Jews, descendants of Jacob, for they have always believed that God dwelt in the midst of them. But God does not dwell with unbelievers. And their refusal to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah leaves them out of the commonwealth of Israel. Now we can understand the words of the apostle John when he said in Rom 9:6, “They are not all Israel which are of Israel.” Can we now see the New Testament Israel, which is the Israel of God? And can we now have a clear overview of this second chapter in the prophesy of Zechariah? One angel tells the other angel to run back to tell the young man Zechariah that Jerusalem shall be rebuilt and that it shall be rebuilt without walls with all the consequences thereof. Christ shall be in the midst thereof, and walls stronger than walls of fire shall surround the cities of God. All his must be understood in the symbolical sense. Christ is in the midst of us, for we are His church, the Bride for whom He suffered and died. He will protect His church and guides us for all eternity, and He will not leave us ever. The work which He has done for us on the cross will be of everlasting value.
#3 Many Nations Shall Be Joined to the Lord (Zech 2:10-13)
Zech 2:10, “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD. 11 And many nations (2X) shall be joined to the LORD in that day (2X), and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee. 12 And the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again. 13 Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation.
What is the meaning of the words, “and many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day.” First of all, what day does the Lord have in view? It will be the day when His dwelling in the midst of us will be a blessing because it will be accompanied by His Atonement for the sins of all His elect. And when is that? That day was on Friday, April 3 in the year AD 33 when Christ hung on the cross. God says, of this day: many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day. And so, the nation that bears the name of Christ, Israel, will be of a totally new character on that day. It will not be made up of Jews of the children of Jacob, but it will be a mixture of Jews and Gentiles who are all pleasing to the Lord. And who are they who are pleasing to the Lord? Let us ask God, and He will answer: Look in My Bible. Who do I cherish as My own children? Let us look for this in the New Testament, in Eph 1:3-14.
Eph 1:3, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us (both Jews and Gentiles) with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us (both Jews and Gentiles) unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Does all of this harmonize with God’s statement in Zech 2:12?
Zech 2:12, “And the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land.” Think about this now. What is that holy land? It is the land where the New Testament saints will dwell; it is the New Heaven and the New Earth. Will there be a distinction between Jews who are descendants from Judah and people who have been circumcised in their heart according to Rom 2:28-29? Absolutely not. We all will have been circumcised in our heart. And so Judah, in the New Testament vocabulary, represents all the people who have been saved by grace and who have received their inheritance in the New Heaven and the New Earth. “The LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land.”
AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.