I am very excited to share some precious thoughts from Zechariah chapter 3. The Israelites were in Babylonian Captivity for seventy years. The Babylonians who took the Jews into captivity were gone.Now the Persians were calling the shots.
In 538 BC, the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great ordered that Jews could return to Judea.
The Persians were more generous towards the Jews.
Not all Jews were happy with the decree of Cyrus because life was pleasant in Babylon. But most of them were convinced that they should return to the land God promised their forefathers.
But when they saw Jerusalem, it was full of barrenness and desolation.
It’s future looked bleak.
The people of Israel were disheartened, melancholy engulfed their hearts, discouragement crippled their vision. Their leaders were in pessimism and defeatism.
They were dragging their days in hopelessness and despondency.
During those dark days, God gave his word to prophet Zechariah.
God wanted to encourage his people through this prophet.
The times of Gentiles have started, but God still has a plan for his people.
Group after group, He brought them back to Jerusalem.
In 538 BC, first group returned under Zerubbabel
In 458 BC, the second group returned under Ezra
In 445 BC, the third group returned under Nehemiah.
The people are exhausted and fatigued.
But God has a plan for his people.
In 520 BC, prophet Zachariah started to write the visions God revealed to him.
God talked to his people through this prophet.
‘I am going to send you the Messiah. You’ve never seen someone like the Messiah in your history. The Messiah will come to you as a true servant of God,
as a Branch that bears fruits and nourishes your hearts
as a King who strengthens your nation
as a Priest who ministers to your needs
as a Good Shepherd who will die for your sins’
When people heard about the Messiah, they leapt in joy.
Their hearts were uplifted.
Their souls now cheering with joy.
Their bodies invigorated
They got up and started to build Jerusalem.
The promises of God gave them hope.
As Zechariah was preaching to them,
they completed the construction of the Temple.
they fortified Jerusalem with walls and gates.
God gave Zechariah 8 visions.
Let us study one of those visions from Zechariah chapter 3.
We see three individuals in this vision.
Joshua the high priest
the Angel of the Lord
Who is this Joshua? We learn from the book of Ezra that Joshua was one of the priests who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:36-29)
Who is this Angel of the Lord? He is preincarnate Christ. You see, the existence of Jesus Christ did not start with his birth in Bethlehem. Jesus is the second member of the trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God the Son manifested to us as Lord Jesus Christ. Before his incarnation, he was appearing as Angel of the Lord.
Then there is Satan accusing Joshua the high priest.
If Joshua the high priest could be condemned by Satan, what hope is there for the people of Israel?
If Joshua the high priest could be arraigned by Satan, what hope is there for the ordinary men and women who cannot represent themselves before God?
So, the stakes are very high.
Everything depends on whether Joshua the High Priest can stand the trial.
Satan started to denounce Joshua with all his force.
But God came to the defence of Joshua.
We read in verse 2,
- And the LORD said unto Satan, “The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD who hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee! Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?”
Please note chose words.
The Lord who hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee.
It’s not Abraham, or Moses or David, the Lord himself has chosen Jerusalem as the central stage for the drama of redemption unfolding from the hand of God.
And God gave Jerusalem to the Jews. No one else should claim it.
God gave over 99 percent of this world to Gentiles.
Just 0.01 percent of land was given to the Jews.
The entire nation of Israel is barely equal to New Jersey, one of the smallest states in the United States. Yonge Street in Toronto, Canada is longer than the State of Israel.
Think of that, a street in Toronto is longer than the entire State of Israel.
That’s all the land world gave to Jews.
Still the Arabs demand that this land belongs to them.
There are 22 Arab nations, each much, much larger than Israel. They made United Nations a platform to excoriate Israel.
Recently Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations was visiting Israel. She said in Jerusalem that Israel faces constant bullying at the United Nations and she has no patience for it. She reported that United Nations became bully towards Israel.
In our time, the Democrats and Republicans rarely agree on anything in Washington DC. But recently, all 100 senators signed the letter asking for equal treatment of Israel at the United Nations.
Now, Israel is not perfect, but it is struggling to survive in the midst of many Muslim nations, some of which pledged its destruction.
That’s the spirit of Satan and God is rebuking Satan, here in Zechariah chapter 3.
‘O Satan, even the Lord who hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee!
Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?’
Israel is like a nation plucked out of the fire. Like current nation of Israel that was born out of the fires of Holocaust, the Post-exilic Israel was born out of the ashes of Babylonian Captivity.
God is rebuking Satan for his accusations against the nation of Israel.
God showed Moses a burning bush: The Bush is burning but it is not consumed. That’s summarizes the state of Israel until the Second Coming of Christ. It will burn but God will preserve it.
But Satan wanted to see Israel destroyed because out of Israel the Messiah would come.
Satan is accusing Joshua.
Joshua is wearing filthy garments.
He represented the nation of Israel.
The filthy garments represented Israel’s infidelity, idolatry and apostasy. The stench of sin is coming out of those garments and Satan asked God, ‘How can you allow this person into your presence?’
When we move away from God, we only gather filth on our clothes.
There is so much filth in our society because it is moving away from God.
The filth of fornication
The filth of adultery
The filth of drugs
The filth of pornography
The filth of profanity.
The filth of violence
Lately, when I watch news on TV channels like CNN, I would ask my 6 year old son to leave the room. Because the news is full of profanities. A senator opened her mouth and said, F this and F that. Unbelievable, that a senator would use that kind of language.
Our secular leaders today believe that God, Bible and Christian values do not matter. They should look back and see what the Founding Fathers believed.
James Madison warned the Virginia ratifying convention, “To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people is a chimerical idea”. The Founders realized that Enlightenment and Lockean ideas would not produce virtue. After the Revolution, historian David Ramsay said, “our morals are more depreciated than our currency”.
Political freedom itself would not make us more virtuous. In 1783, Ramsay wrote, “this revolution has introduced so much anarchy that it will take half a century to eradicate the licentiousness of the people”.
The Founders were perplexed with a question, ‘What can make us virtuous?’ George Washington believed that only Christian faith could produce the moral climate needed to preserve America.
Let me tell you about Timothy Dwight. Most of us hear the names of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. But Timothy Dwight was a great Christian intellectual whose ideas were instrumental in making Christian virtue a component of life and politics of the new republic. Timothy Dwight was born on May 14, 1752. He was the grandson of great theologian Jonathan Edwards. Timothy Dwight loved the Bible since he was a little boy. He started to study the Bible before he was four years old. He mastered Latin by age 8. He graduated from Yale in 1769 when he was only 17 years old. Later in 1795, he became the president of Yale College.He recognized the value of Christian education. In his address to the General Association of Connecticut, he said, ‘The whole end singly aimed at in the New Testament, is manifestly to make mankind virtuous, and nothing will promote virtue better throughout society than Christianity’.
During those years, colleges were full of deism, intellectuals were enthralled with French Revolution, they started to question the biblical education. Timothy Dwight condemned unbelief as “the genuine source, the Vesuvius” of the French Revolution. Like Mount Vesuvius that exploded and destroyed Pompeii in Italy, the unbelief that came out of French Revolution was destroying the foundations of Western Civilization. Dwight proclaimed, “There can be no halting between two opinions. Will you enthrone a Goddess of Reason before the table of Christ? Will you burn your Bibles? Will you crucify anew your Redeemer?”
French Revolution refused the God of the Bible; They put away their Bible, and wanted to reconstruct their society according to their utopians. Soon violence broke out, they were building guillotines, beheading each other. Timothy Dwight warned when we move away from God of the Bible, that is where we end up: the filth of violence.
We have a filth of violence in our society because there is no fear of God. We used to have great leaders like Timothy Dwight, now people are following leaders like Bernie Sanders. Now, let me tell you about a heated exchange happened between a Bernie Sanders and Russell Vought.
Mr.Vought is a graduate of Wheaton College, in Illinois. He is committed to New Testament Christianity. Senator Bernie Sanders thinks that makes Russell unfit for any job in the federal government.
Russell Vought was nominated for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. Back in January 2016 there was a controversy at Wheaton College, Illinois. Professor Larycia Hawkins started to wear a hijab while teaching at Wheaton. On December 10,2015, she wrote on her Facebook page, “I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God….As part of my Advent Worship, I will wear the hijab to work at Wheaton College……”
This is the filth of political correctness making inroads even into Christian colleges.
This is the filth of false teaching entering our seminaries.
Christians and Muslims don’t worship the same God. That is very important truth we should remember. Allah in Quran sent Muhammad as his final messenger while God in the Bible sent Jesus as his final messenger.
Bible proclaims the divinity of Lord Jesus Christ, while Quran denies it.
Bible proclaims the crucifixion of Lord Jesus Christ, while Quran denies it
Bible proclaims the resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ, while Quran implicitly denies it.
Bible proclaims salvation by faith in Lord Jesus Christ, while Quran offers salvation through the message of Muhammad.
The gospel of the New Testament is incompatible with Quran. As a result, Muslim nations persecuted Christians throughout their history. In fact, no religion persecuted Christians more than Islam. It takes complete intellectual dishonesty to claim that Christians and Muslims worship same God.
Russell Vought in response to Larycia Hawkins controversy at Wheaton College posted his views on the Facebook. He wrote, ‘Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ his Son, and they stand condemned”
Bernie Sanders found this post on Facebook hateful and unacceptable. I don’t see anything wrong with what Mr.Vought posted. That is what Jesus taught in the New Testament. In fact, that is what Muslims earnestly believe about Christianity. They do not accept Jesus as the Son of God. As I said, Islam rejects the divinity of Christ. An orthodox Muslim would post similar description of Christianity. He would say,
“Christians do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know Allah because they have rejected Muhammad his messenger, and they stand condemned”
If you apply Bernie’s standards to all religions, he has to declare Islamic teachings also as hateful and unacceptable. Bernie said, “In my view, the statement made by Mr.Vought is indefensible, it is hateful, it is Islamophobic, and it is an insult to over a billion Muslims throughout the world. This country, since its inception, has struggled, sometimes with great pain, to overcome discrimination of all forms…we must not go backwards”.
So, according to Bernie Sanders, believing in Christian orthodoxy is hateful and Islamophobic. It is an insult to over a billion Muslims throughout the world. Bernie thinks that if you are committed to the doctrines of the Bible, that is Islamophobia, racism and bigotry.
While accusing Russell Vought of Islamophobia, Bernie Sanders expressed Christophobia. He also violated the US Constitution he promised to uphold. Article VI of the US Constitution states that ‘no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States” So, Bernie should not be even questioning Russell Vought along these lines. What Russell believes about salvation is none of his business. But in Bernie’s world, Christians and their beliefs are not acceptable in public square. He continued to attack Russell.
He asked Vought, “Do you believe that statement is Islamophobic?”
Vought replied, “Absolutely not, Senator, I’m a Christian, and I believe in a Christian set of principles based on my faith” Later he said, “As a Christian, I believe that all individuals are made in the image of God and are worthy of dignity and respect, regardless of their religious beliefs. I believe as a Christian, that’s how I should treat all individuals”
While Bernie Sanders attacking Christians for their faith, one of his supporters went and shot on congressmen. Now, Bernie Sanders may not condone violence, but he is opposing God in the public square who is our source of life, liberty and freedom. American politics have been known around the world as an exercise in peace and nonviolence. You express your ideas without any fear of violence. You believe no matter how different all people bear the image of God and are entitled to equal rights as creatures of God. The idea of imago dei has been foundational to this political structure. But that is changing. Like they did in French Revolution, we are going after each other’s necks. Leaders like Bernie Sanders do not realize that by abandoning our Christian values, we are making our politics toxic and violent.
Two hundred years ago, Timothy Dwight warned about people like Bernie Sanders.
Dwight asked his generation: “WIll you enthrone a Goddess of Reason before the table of Christ? Will you burn your Bibles? Will you crucify anew your Redeemer?”
When we remove God from our lives, the filth of violence is inevitable.
When you get some time, read Romans chapter 13. Apostle Paul commands that all Christians should submit to government authorities. He says
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof”
We are seeing a very toxic atmosphere in our society. People are attacking even Congressmen. There is no trace of respect for authorities. There is no respect for the office of the President of the United States. There is no respect for the law enforcement. Comedians are showing decapitated head of the president and dramatizing his assassination.
We all have political differences. But Apostle Paul asked us to submit to the government authorities. He was writing these words two thousand years when Roman Government was dealing with its subjects much, much harshly than our modern governments. Apostle Paul spent most of his life in prisons. Throughout his ministry he was wrongfully charged, wrongfully convicted and wrongfully punished. Yet, he commanded Christians to submit to government authorities, to live in peace, to love their enemies and to ‘Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ’. That’s virtue.
The greatest virtue in life is to live a life like Lord Jesus Christ. Without virtue, as C.S.Lewis said, we make ‘men without chests’. In his book ‘The Abolition of Man’, Lewis wrote, “We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful’.
As American Revolution was maturing, Thomas Paine’s book Age of Reason became a best-seller in America. It promoted deism, the idea that God left humanity to itself, and human beings could carve out their own destiny. Patrick Henry was infuriated by deism. He wrote, “This view which the rising greatness of our country presents to my eyes, is greatly tarnished by the general prevalence of deism; which, with me, it but another name for vice and depravity”.
Many people embrace deism because they feel it gives them freedom from God, ‘God, leave us alone, we want to live our lives as we like’. Patrick Henry rightly called deism as another name for vice and depravity.
Bernie Sanders should read the life of Patrick Henry. Patrick Henry was a very devout Christian. The French Revolution embraced reason and denied God of the Bible. People like Blaise Pascal were troubled by this phenomenon. Pascal respected reason but recognized its limits. He said, ‘Reason’s last step is the recognition that there are an infinite number of things which are beyond it’. French Revolution brought no liberty. It ended up with a dictator named Napoleon Bonaparte. Great preachers like George Whitfield and John Wesley taught that God of the Bible is the source of our liberty.
One of their students was Samuel Davies. He started to preach in Virginia in 1747. Samuel Davies was an evangelist and fourth President of Princeton University. Despite suffering from tuberculosis, Samuel Davies went around preaching the Word of God. He strongly emphasized freedom of mind and. liberty of conscience. Young Patrick Henry went to listen to Samuel Davies. He was influenced alot by Samuel Davies. Patrick Henry met Thomas Jefferson and made it clear to him: Without God, there is no liberty.
In 1774, Patrick Henry gave a famous speech in Virginia. He said, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me…give me liberty, or give me death!”
We all know the famous words, ‘give me liberty or give me death’. Those words came from this prayer Patrick Henry made to Almighty God. People like Bernie Sanders who rail against Christianity in the public square must realize that God, God of the Bible, is the source of our liberty and virtues.
Timothy Dwight also gave the same warning: American Revolution will soon become like violent French Revolution. Timothy Dwight maintained that Christianity must a necessary component of republican government as the source of virtue. His Christian teachings brought a great transformation in Yale College. A revival broke out among its students. The scholars and intellectuals turned to God, leading to Second Great Awakening. The followers of Timothy Dwight soon started Bible Societies, Missionary societies, and churches. By 1825, the American Bible Society was distributing the Bible in 140 languages. Over 10,000 new churches and over 50 new seminaries were started.Noah Porter wrote about the climate prevailed during those days, “Wherever students were found in their rooms, in the chapel, in the hall, in the college-yard, in their walks about the city, the reigning impression was, ‘Surely God is in this place’”
Yale University wrote its motto in Hebrew. It says Urim V’Thummim, Light and Truth. Lord Jesus Christ as the source of light and truth. The Christian virtue changed people from inside out. Timothy Dwight recognized that true virtue starts with God. Note his words: ‘The whole end singly aimed at in the New Testament, is manifestly to make mankind virtuous, and nothing will promote virtue better throughout society than Christianity’. Many great Christian leaders were born out Timothy Dwight’s ministry, like, David Dudly Field, Moses Stuart, Nathaniel Taylor, Lyman Beecher, Asahel Nettleton, Roger Sherman Baldwin.
George Washington was also inspired by Timothy Dwight. Washington said, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.’
Sadly our secular leaders and celebrities today think religion and morality are dispensable, they rejected the Bible and New Testament Christianity. When they open their mouths, all kinds of filthy words and filthy jokes come out. But the good news is, when Joshua walked into the presence of God with his filthy garments, God did not reject him. God said,
“Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.
Take away the filthy garments from him.
It reminds me the words of Lord Jesus Christ in John chapter 11.
After raising Lazarus from the dead, our blessed Lord says, ‘loose him, and let him go’
Lazarus had been dead for four days. Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus were there weeping for their brother. They all went to the grave.
Jesus said, ‘take away the stone’.
They were shocked. Are you serious? It has been four days since we buried him. He must be stinking by now’
They did not realized that God, the creator of life, is standing right in front of them as a human being.
Jesus shouted out, ‘Lazarus, come out’.
Lazarus walked out. He is covered with grave clothes from head to feet.
Jesus told them, ‘Loose him, and let him go’
You are raised from dead, don’t wear grave clothes.
We read in 1 John chapter 1, verse 7
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
Sin must be cleansed before you walk into the presence of God.
That is what Jesus did to Joshua the high priest in Zechariah chapter 3.
He removed his filthy garments and clothed him with garments of righteousness.
“I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.
Only God can tell us our true condition. A woman came to me once for a physical examination. After examining her, I told her she must have some blood testing. She was not happy at all. She almost threw a fit. She said, ‘I am alright, I am alright’, but finally she agreed to be tested. Her blood tests revealed that she is positive for Hepatitis C. When I told her the test results, she was shocked, ‘Hepatitis C, no way’. I opened my computer and showed her the lab report, and said ‘I am sorry to inform you this result, you have Hepatitis C virus in your body. She looked at the test result and said, ‘No one ever told me I have hepatitis C, I thought I am fine and healthy’. Hepatitis C can stay in our body and in the long run can cause liver disease, Cirrhosis and liver cancer. We had a discussion, and she agreed to go for the treatment. We often think we are healthy, but we are not. We often think we are righteous, but we are not. Only God can tell us our true condition. Joshua the high priest realized his true condition in the sight of God. The filth of his garments became visible in the light of God. Our righteousness is like filthy rags in the sight of God. If our best works are like filthy rags, what about our bad works? Many people think that our good works can cancel our bad works.
Recently I was watching a documentary on Einstein. Einstein had a friend named Fritz Haber. Haber was a great chemist, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1918 for his invention of the Haber-Bosch process. It was a great invention, half of the world depends on this method to produce nitrogen fertilizers for their food production. Haber became a celebrity in Germany and around the world. The Nazis were drawn to Haber’s genius. They went to his home and asked him, ‘Mr.Haber, you are a great scientist, use your intellect in the service of the fuhrer, now do us a favor, build chemical weapons for us’
Fritz Haber accepted their offer. He started to work on manufacturing deadly chlorine and poisonous gases. He supervised the use of chemical weapons on people during the Second Battle of Ypres. He watched people wrenching in pain, convulsing, foam gushing from their mouth, and dying in excruciating pain as a result of the chemical weapons he developed. Nazis gave him lot of praise and accolades. Fritz Haber was Jewish. Soon, the Nazis would use the chemical weapons he developed on his own family members in the gas chambers they built in the concentration camps.
Haber’s wife Clara could not take this any more. She looked at him as an angel of death. The guilty was so unbearable that one fine evening Clara committed suicide. One evening many scientists gathered to honor Fritz Haber. Einstein looks at Haber and says, ‘Did you invent a new way to destroy human life?’
Haber: ‘Yes, but that was not my only invention. I’m being honored tonight for the good I’ve done’
Einstein: ‘Life cannot be balanced like an equation, Fritz. Good deeds do not erase the evil ones’
Haber: ‘I certainly pray to God you’re wrong for once, Albert’
Many people think like Fritz Haber. They look at life like an equation in which good can cancel out evil.
Remember the words of Prophet Isaiah: our righteousness is like filthy rags in the sight of God.
Lord Jesus took away the filthy garments of Joshua the High Priest and gave him garments of righteousness. Israel was chosen by God as a high priestly nation before the world. But it failed.
The Levites were given to Israel as priests and high priests. They too failed. But our High Priest, Lord Jesus Christ will never fail us.
We read in Hebrews chapter 7, “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens’
We have a great High Priest, the very Son of God, the Incarnate Second Person of Triune God.
God told Joshua about this coming Messiah.
‘Hear now, O Joshua…for behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch. For behold the stone I have laid before Joshua’.
God used three names to describe the coming Messiah, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
- My Servant
- The Branch
- The Stone
1.My Servant: God had many servants, they all failed. But the Messiah would be the greatest servant God would ever have. Prophet Isaiah described Messiah as the Servant.
We read in Isaiah chapter 42:1,
Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him’
Isaiah 49:3, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.
Isaiah 52:13, Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.
Isaiah 53:11, By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
- Branch: Messiah will be our Branch, the Life Giver. We take plants and their branches for granted. Most of us don’t even know the names of many trees right in our neighborhood. We have plant blindness. But life would be impossible without plants. They absorb carbon dioxide and give us oxygen, the life sustaining gas.
They do photosynthesis and produce food, for all animals and human beings.
Like a tree that gives out oxygen, Messiah will be the life
Like a tree that supplies food, Messiah will be our bread of life.
Even a giant sequoia tree will start with a humble seed. Similarly Messiah will come through a feeble woman in a tiny village called Bethlehem. Like a giant sequoia reaching into the high elevations, He will be exalted.
Prophet Jeremiah says that this Branch of God will become our righteousness. We read in Jeremiah chapter 23: 5 and 6
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Messiah, the righteous Branch of David, shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness.
How shall he become our righteousness?
Through His death and resurrection.
In John 12:24, Jesus said,
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
Our Lord is speaking about his death and resurrection in this verse. Like a wheat falling in ground and then sprouting as a new plant from ground, our Lord will die and resurrect from the dead ground.
In Romans chapter 5:8-10, Apostle Paul describes how we are justified through the blood of Jesus Christ.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
Having justified through by his blood, we have hope in Jesus. He is also the hope of Israel. Isaiah says,
‘And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots’
- Stone: Finally, Messiah will be our Stone.
Let us see Zechariah chapter 3: verse 9
For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes:
Finally God is showing us the Messiah as our stone.
What is your foundation? Are you building on the sand or on the stone?
Throughout the scripture, Messiah is described as the Stone.
In Psalm 118:22, He is called the Stone that builders refused
in verse 23, He is called the CornerStone.
In Isaiah 8:13-15, He is called a stone of stumbling, a rock of offence
Isaiah 28:16, He is called a foundation stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation.
Daniel 2:35,45, He is called a stone that became a great mountain that filled the whole earth.
Ephesians 2:19-22, He is called the foundation of the apostles and prophets, ‘Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone’
Jesus Christ is our foundation stone. Without Him as our foundation, sooner or later, all our edifices will collapse. One of my mentors was Pastor Curtis Hutson. I remember the time he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The doctors gave him a very bad prognosis. I remember him going to the church he pastored for many years and singing a song. He was so weak that he was carried in a wheelchair. As he started to sing the hymn, there was not one dry eye in the church. He sang Edward Mote’s hymn, ‘My Hope is Built on Nothing Less’
- My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
- When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
- His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
- When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand
All other ground is sinking sand.
You don’t trust your finances, that’s sinking sand
You don’t trust your health, that’s sinking sand
You don’t trust your society, that’s sinking sand
You don’t trust your culture, that’s sinking sand
In China, recently a glass-bottomed bridge was built. It is located in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province. It’s 430 meters long and 300 meters above the ground. Imagine that, a bridge 300 meters above the ground.
It’s glass-bottomed bridge. After the construction, they opened it to the public. But people were not convinced of its strength. So, the engineers organized a series of events to prove the resilience of this bridge. They called people to come with sledgehammers,
‘hit the glass floor with your sledgehammers
Jump over it
Dance over it
Drive your car over it
Run over it’
People took sledgehammers and went over the bridge. They hit the glass bottom and tested its strength. They said, now we are convinced that this bridge has strength to sustain us across the valley’
Jesus is the rock. He was tested by the sledgehammers of Satan and sin. The countless attacks of Satan only proved His strength.
Christ is the solid Rock. In Genesis 49:24, He is called the Stone of Israel.
This Stone has seven eyes. In the Bible, Seven is a number of perfection.
This Stone has complete perception. He is watching you day and night.
Your life is an open book before him. He sees everything.
His constant watch on our lives should give us courage that He is our Shepherd who maintains his watchful eye over us. It should also make us introspect our behavior, to search our lives whether we have any unconfessed sin in our life.
Finally God offers forgiveness and peace through the Messiah. Let us verse 9 and 10.
..saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.10. In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree.
‘I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day’: God will remove the iniquity of Israel through the Messiah. Zechariah tells us that Israel will finally see the Lord whom they pierced, whom they crucified. They will repent and turn to their true Messiah, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
After forgiveness, they will receive peace and security.
Everyone will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and fig tree.
That’s a beautiful image of peace and security.
You see the order, forgiveness comes before peace and security. That’s the order for Christians, that’s the same order for the Jews and Israel. Sin must be dealt with before we can have peace and security in our lives. God is calling both gentiles and Jews to the cross where Messiah was crucified and made the sacrifice for the remission of our sins.
After forgiveness of our sins, we enter into peace with God.
Everyone will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and fig tree.
This image also speaks of future Millennial peace Israel will enjoy under it’s true Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ.
George Washington used this image in his speeches. On August 17, 1790 George Washington gave an address to the Hebrew congregation at Newport, Rhode Island. He said, “May the Children of the stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants, while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid’.
George Washington was wishing peace and security to Jewish immigrants who arrived in America. He said, ‘every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree’. Those words were borrowed from Zechariah chapter 3. Outside of Israel, America has been the nation that granted more freedom and more opportunities to the Jewish people than any other nation in the world. That is due to its Christian heritage.
The true fulfillment of Zechariah 3: 10 will come to fruition through Messiah. When the Messiah will return, during his Millennial reign, Israel will enjoy its true peace and security. That peace will extend to the entire world. The whole world will have peace because it will be under the authority of the Prince of Peace.
So we have seen Christ in all His splendor. He is the incarnation of God, who created our universe. He is our Messiah. In Zechariah chapter 3, we saw a vision God gave to prophet Zechariah.
Joshua the high priest went into the presence of God with filthy garments. Satan was accusing him. But God came to his defense. That is what Jesus did for us. He is our High Priest.
He is our Servant, ministering to us
He is our Branch, giving us life and sustenance
He is our Stone, giving us hope and security.
I hope you come to the Messiah, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and make him your personal Savior and Lord today.