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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Zechariah Bible Study #3 The Horns and the "Carpenters"


Zechariah Bible Study #3
Zechariah 1:18-21
The Horns and the ‘Carpenters’

18 Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, there were four horns. 19 So I said to the angel who was speaking with me, “What are these?” And he answered me, “These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.” 20 Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen. 21 I said, “What are these coming to do?” And he said, “These are the horns which have scattered Judah so that no man lifts up his head; but these craftsmen have come to terrify them, to throw down the horns of the nations who have lifted up their horns against the land of Judah in order to scatter it.”     NASB

18 Then I looked up and saw four animal horns. 19 “What are these?” I asked the angel who was talking with me.
He replied, “These horns represent the nations that scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.”
20 Then the Lord showed me four blacksmiths. 21 “What are these men coming to do?” I asked.
The angel replied, “These four horns—these nations—scattered and humbled Judah. Now these blacksmiths have come to terrify those nations and throw them down and destroy them.”   NLT

This vision connects to the comforting words of the last vision.  It shows that those nations who ‘went too far’ in harming the Jewish people will be judged/conquered/defeated/humbled.  Zechariah would have been familiar with Daniel and his prophecies.  Also in Revelation, horns represent ruling world powers.  Daniel’s prophecy contains an image of a statue with four types of metal, and another dream/vision that had 4 beasts.  Babylon is the power that took Daniel and many others from Judah captive.  Persia defeated Babylon during Daniels lifetime and a Persian king is the one who allowed the remnant Jews to return to Jerusalem and begin rebuilding.  Greece would be the next world power, Daniel spoke of the leadership of Alexander the Great, long before Alexander was born.  The last great world power is Rome.
A good question is, “How is it a comforting word to be told, ‘Here are the two world powers that scattered you recently and here are the next two who will step up and do the same?’”  The answer is two-fold.  #1 God is totally in control, knows the end from the beginning and knows what next will befall His people.  #2 As each world power comes and goes, because of God’s calling, Israel remains.  The preservation of Israel’s national identity and even Hebrew language, has to be seen as something that only God could do.  Jeremiah 30:11  ‘For I am with you,’ declares the Lord, ‘to save you;
For I will destroy completely all the nations where I have scattered you,
Only I will not destroy you completely.
But I will chasten you justly
And will by no means leave you unpunished.’
If you know that you deserved to be ‘destroyed completely’, not being destroyed will be seen as the mercy that it is.  It is only those who do not see their own depravity and God’s holiness, who have to be told about mercy.
Abraham experienced a lot of favor from the nations around him, but from Isaac, down to the present day, God no sooner called Israel, His son, than the nations began to hate them.  The nations pushed and prodded by the principalities and powers of course, who are always jealous and hateful towards God’s merciful, grace-filled choices.
“The more they afflicted them the more they multiplied and grew.”  Exodus 1:12.

An example of this from history is the surprising, sad, origin of the phrase,
Hep Hep Hurray, English Hip hip hurray   "Hierosylma est Perdita," Latin for "Jerusalem is lost," which later was shortened to its acronym, "hep."  The crusaders shortened it to the first letter of each word.  Why this excessive hatred, toward a city and a people?  God’s right to choose, to elect, grinds against the pride of man like nothing else.

Again one of my favorite, Reggie Kelly quotes, “Everything is fine, until someone gets a coat of many colors."

Psalm 83 gives a good rendition of this truth which will continue to the end of this age.
 “1 O God, do not remain quiet;
Do not be silent and, O God, do not be still.
2 For behold, Your enemies make an uproar,
And those who hate You have exalted themselves.
3 They make shrewd plans against Your people,
And conspire together against Your treasured ones.
4 They have said, “Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation,
That the name of Israel be remembered no more.”
5 For they have conspired together with one mind;
Against You they make a covenant:
6 The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
Moab and the Hagrites;
7 Gebal and Ammon and Amalek,
Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
8 Assyria also has joined with them;
They have become a help to the children of Lot. Selah.”
We should  take a minute with this Psalm to consider it, which is what Selah means.
The enemies experience great unity when they want to bring Israel down.  The mention of 10 nations lines up with other end time scenarios where 10 nations are mentioned.  Verse 2 makes it clear that the anger and unity of the enemies is, at its root against God.

Verse 19 - The mention of Judah, Israel and Jerusalem in the same verse shows the unity of the nation as it goes through tribulation.  Actually, we see this in the church in persecuted lands, they have no time or energy to ‘waste’ on denominational disagreements, there is a unity in tribulation that does not exist in prosperity.  The purifying work that God does in our lives as individuals, and in the life of the Church (1 Peter 4:17), is the same work He is doing in the Jewish people.  Fire purifies, so if God is coming back for a pure and spotless church... how do you think He will get us from where we are now to where we need to be at that time??

Verse 21 - The ‘carpenters’ are craftsmen with specific tools to do their job.  So how is it comforting to be told, “Here are four powerful kingdoms that will overthrow your people and here are four kingdoms that will in turn overthrow them.”?   Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome are the kingdoms, and each succeeds in destroying the one before it, lastly leaving Jesus Himself to destroy the final kingdom, which has sprung out of the vast Roman empire.  Bottom line,  the sovereign God is in control of it all.  Kingdoms rise and fall at His command and His care of the Jewish people continues without interruption or end.

With the reformation and the move of God that put the scriptures in the hands of the ‘common man’ there was a need for direction on how to properly interpret scripture.  The reformers came up with the perfect solution.  Let scripture interpret scripture, and so we turn to the book of Daniel for a very similar section of scripture to get more insight into what Zechariah is showing us.

Daniel 7:19 “Then I desired to know the exact meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its claws of bronze, and which devoured, crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet, 20 and the meaning of the ten horns that were on its head and the other horn which came up, and before which three of them fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth uttering great boasts and which was larger in appearance than its associates. 21 I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them 22 until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom.

23 “Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it. 24 As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings. 25 He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. 26 But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever. 27 Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.’

28 “At this point the revelation ended. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts were greatly alarming me and my face grew pale, but I kept the matter to myself.”

This quote, to show God’s unyeilding plan, from one of the first five books in the Bible written by Moses.

Deut. 4:
27 The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the Lord drives you. 28 There you will serve gods, the work of man’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. 29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the Lord your God and listen to His voice. 31 For the Lord your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.

Knowing the truth and sticking with what God has said, and knowing that none of His words will fall to the ground, we press on!!

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