2. When it Seems God Has Forgotten You
When it seems as if the wicked are at ease and the godly are forgotten, Christ encourages us with His mighty presence.
”7 On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo. 8 During the night I had a vision, and there before me was a man mounted on a red horse. He was standing among the myrtle trees in a ravine. Behind him were red, brown and white horses. 9 I asked, “What are these, my lord?” The angel who was talking with me answered, “I will show you what they are.” 10 Then the man standing among the myrtle trees explained, “They are the ones the Lord has sent to go throughout the earth.” 11 And they reported to the angel of the Lord who was standing among the myrtle trees, “We have gone throughout the earth and found the whole world at rest and in peace.” 12 Then the angel of the Lord said, “Lord Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?” 13 So the Lord spoke kind and comforting words to the angel who talked with me. 14 Then the angel who was speaking to me said, “Proclaim this word: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion, 15 and I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry, but they went too far with the punishment.’ 16 “Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,’ declares the Lord Almighty. 17 “Proclaim further: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘My towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem.’” 18 Then I looked up, and there before me were four horns. 19 I asked the angel who was speaking to me, “What are these?” He answered me, “These are the horns that scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.” 20 Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen. 21 I asked, “What are these coming to do?” He answered, “These are the horns that scattered Judah so that no one could raise their head, but the craftsmen have come to terrify them and throw down these horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter its people.” – Zechariah 1:7-21
I. First Vision: God Has Not Forgotten You
II. Second Vision: God Acts on Your Behalf
Quick Thought: The Way o the Myrtle Tree
Commentators agree that the myrtle trees in the ravine symbolize God’s lowly people, the Jews. They are not stately cedars on a mountaintop, but humble myrtles in a ravine, under Gentile domination. The myrtle is an evergreen that can grow to about 30 feet. It exudes a fragrant aroma from its berries, leaves and flowers when crushed, but not before.
Speaking of prophetically of His death by crucifixion, and to His disciples about what it means to follow Him, Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Following Jesus means following the way of the myrtle or following the way of the cross. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus says: “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:27)
To follow the way of the myrtle and the cross means to show the same sacrificial love, submission to God, willingness to suffer, service for others that Jesus did. Sacrifice, submission, suffering, service: is God challenging you in any of these areas today?
Review: The Names of Zechariah 1:1; 7
Today in 1:7, we have again the three names of Zechariah that help us remember the theme of the Book. Do you remember them?
Zechariah means “whom the Lord remembers.” Berechiah means, “the Lord blesses.” Iddo means “at the appointed time” (Charles Feinberg, God Remembers [American Board of Missions to the Jews], p. 17).
So… God raised up Zechariah to proclaim that God remembers His chosen people and that He will bless them in His appointed time.
Life Group Study
In this section of chapter 1, the first of three major divisions of the prophet’s message, Zechariah details a series of eight visions the Lord reveals to Him over the course of one evening in 519 BC. These visions are apocalyptic in nature and are communicated to encourage the people to finish rebuilding the Temple, which at that point was five months into reconstruction. Additionally, these visions are given to relay hope for the people’s future status and the future status of the city of the Temple, Jerusalem.
I. The first vision (1:7-17) consists of four angelic riders on four horses of various colors.
1. Describe the scene in this vision.
2. In the sermon, the riders were described as God’s reconnaissance mission. What was meant by this interpretation?
3. God doesn’t always open our eyes to see the unseen world, but Scripture assures us that His angels keep watch over His chosen people (Ps. 34:7; 91:11; Dan. 6:22). And not just His angels, but Jesus Christ Himself promised to be with us to the end of the age as we take His good news throughout the world (Matt. 28:20).
A. What practical difference does the knowledge of God’s presence with us make in our daily lives?
B. How would you counsel a friend who claims that God has forgotten them?
C. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) How can we (practically) deepen our faith in the promise that God is with us?
II. The second vision (1:18-21) builds on one motif of the previous vision: the Lord’s anger toward the nations that have proven hostile to the Jewish people, making it the theme.
1. Describe the scene in this vision.
2. The four horns in verse 18 symbolize the strength and power of oppression against God’s people.
A. What kind of opposition does the church face today: globally, locally, you personally?
B. There is a lot of talks recently about Christians in the West losing their freedom. What do Christians mean by this? Is this the same as oppression? Do you agree that this is a helpful way to speak? Answer with reference to this passage.
3. What significance is the craftsman being introduced to counter the four horns in this vision? How will they overcome the oppression of God’s people? How does this passage look forward to Jesus Christ?
4. What would you say to a Christian friend enduring a trial who thinks God has forgotten them because he has not delivered them yet? What would you say to a Christian friend enduring a trial who thinks their suffering has no meaning?
Close in prayer.