Welcome to week 2 of our Zechariah series!
In case you weren’t here last week, let me update you just for a minute on where we are in the Bible and in history.
The Book of Zechariah mostly takes place around 520 BC…
And we said last week that before that, in 586 BC, that King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and exiled all of the Jews to Babylon.
But when Babylon was conquered by Persia, King Cyrus, said all of the Jews could go back home.
But only about 50,000 went back to Jerusalem.
And Zechariah comes on the scene about 17 after God’s people have been back in Jerusalem.
So, last week, we studied the introduction to the book.
And then after that introduction comes 8 prophetic visions that Zechariah had.
And all 8 actually occurred on the same night.
The book even tells us the exact night.
It was February 15th, 519 BC
The first two visions are in chapter one (and I encourage you to read them later), but we are in week 2, so we’re in chapter 2 today, so we’re going to take a look at the 3rd vision.
So, go ahead and open up a Bible.
I said last week, you can do that in 3 ways.
You can bring a Bible with you (Remember old school is in)
You can pick up a church Bible at the Welcome Tent
If you did that, we are on page 647
Or, you can use our app (just tap on Outdoor Services, Weekly Verses)
However you do it, we just want you to have it in front of you
WE CAN’T IMAGINE WHAT GOD CAN DO
So let’s take a look at the first few verses of chapter 2.
(Zechariah 2:1-5) – NIV
Then I looked up, and there before me was a man with a measuring line in his hand. 2 I asked, “Where are you going?”
He answered me, “To measure Jerusalem, to find out how wide and how long it is.”
3 While the angel who was speaking to me was leaving, another angel came to meet him 4 and said to him: “Run, tell that young man, ‘Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of people and animals in it. 5 And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will be its glory within.’
I’m titling my message today, “From Babylon to Jerusalem.”
Because that’s what chapter 2 is going to be about.
Zechariah is going to talk about the future glories of Jerusalem, and why God’s people should leave Babylon behind.
So let’s start unpacking this.
So, in verses 1 & 2, there is a man who is walking around measuring Jerusalem.
Remember, Jerusalem has been basically sitting in ruins for almost 70 years now…and the people of Zechariah’s day are very discouraged about it.
And yet what does God say?
(look at verse 4):
The angel says, “Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of people and animals in it”
This would have been shocking for them to hear!
Now, let me tell you something about Biblical prophecy that will be important for us to know this summer.
Some Biblical prophecies have what we might call a double fulfillment.
That is they are fulfilled in some way in the near term, and then more completely fulfilled at a later date.
And there are a couple of prophecies in this chapter would fall under that category.
And the growth of Jerusalem is one of them.
Because in history, the growth does come back.
In fact, by the time of Jesus, Jerusalem has already outgrown its city walls.
And yet, the prophecy isn’t fully fulfilled yet is it?
Because in verse 5, God says, “And I myself will be a wall of fire around it, and I will be its glory within”
Now, Jesus, who is God, did come to Jerusalem (so, yes, there is partial fulfillment there), but the city is not fully protected by God.
In fact, you could make the case that over the last 2,000 years, that Jerusalem might qualify as one of the world’s most dangerous places to live.
So what is Zechariah ultimately pointing to then?
Well, like many of his prophecies we’ll see this summer, he’s referring to the end times.
In fact, did you know for every 1 time the Old Testament prophesies about the 1st coming of Jesus, it prophesies 8 times about his 2nd coming!
And so what Zechariah is pointing to in the distant future is what we see in the last three chapters of the Bible, in the Book of Revelation.
In those chapters, we’re told that after the tribulation of the end times, there will be a one-thousand year period in which Christ will reign on earth, and Satan will be bound.
At the end of those 1,000 years, Satan will be set free, and he will gather an army to attack Jerusalem
But fire will come down from heaven and devour God’s enemies.
Which is very similar to the wall of fire in Zechariah (In fact, there are A LOT of connections between Zechariah and the book of Revelation.
And then after that last battle, we’re told there will be a new heaven, and a new earth.
In fact, a new Jerusalem will come down out of heaven to earth.
And there, the Book of Revelation tells us, that God will dwell with us (Just as Zechariah said), and God will be the city’s glory within (just like Zechariah said)
Okay, this is pretty fascinating stuff about the end times, but why did this matter to the people Zechariah was talking to, and why does it matter for us?
Well, for Zechariah’s listeners…it was actually a massive dose of encouragement.
They’re wondering if the city of Jerusalem is even worth rebuilding.
And God’s saying, “Friends, this is going to be the most important city…on EARTH!”
Remember, God sees what we don’t see, and He can do what we could never do.
I believe we have an example of this right in front of us with our church.
Back when we were meeting inside the gym of this building over here, we couldn’t have imagined God would have us here.
We’re like, the man with the measuring line, figuring out what we think the boundaries are of what God could do.
But he can do so much more!
Where are you limiting what God can do in your life right now?
Where are you putting him in a box that you’ve measured out?
COME OUT OF BABYLON
So, God wants his people of that day to come back to Jerusalem.
He’s doing something great there.
But He’s going to bring judgment to Babylon…let’s keep reading.
(Zechariah 2:6-9) – NIV
6 “Come! Come! Flee from the land of the north,” declares the Lord, “for I have scattered you to the four winds of heaven,” declares the Lord.
7 “Come, Zion! Escape, you who live in Daughter Babylon!” 8 For this is what the Lord Almighty says: “After the Glorious One has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye— 9 I will surely raise my hand against them so that their slaves will plunder them. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me.
Okay, this is actually a fairly common theme amongst the Old Testament prophets.
They declare God’s judgment against those who have harmed God’s people.
And God says, “if you come against the apple of my eye, Israel (and, I would say now, that’s also “the church, God’s people)..
“if you come against my people, don’t expect to win in the end.
He says, “I will raise my hand against you”
And what happened to Babylon?
You can’t even find the city on a map today!
The Roman Emperors?
The Caesars? Nero?
When they persecuted and murdered Christians like Peter and Paul?
God’s long arm of justice happened.
And now, people name their kids after Peter and Paul, and their dogs Nero and Caesar
No offense to dog lovers.
And so God says, “Flee! Come out of Babylon! Its future isn’t bright!”
And this word is for us still today.
In the Bible, Babylon isn’t just a literal place, but Babylon also has a spiritual meaning.
In fact, Babylon typifies human opposition against God.
All the way from the Tower of Babel in the Book of Genesis to Babylon being the very name of the opposition against God in the Book of Revelation at the end.
In fact, if you read Revelation 18, you’ll see the whole chapter is about the spiritual Babylon.
Revelation 18:4 says:
(Revelation 18:4) - NIV
Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “‘Come out of her, my people,’
so that you will not share in her sins,
so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
And so here, in Zechariah, God is saying (verse 6), “Come, Come! Flee! (come out of Babylon)
And then verse 7: “Come, Zion! Escape!”
God is saying, “If you don’t leave Babylon, what’s going to happen over time is you will get swallowed up by their culture, and eventually…and you’ll look and act just like them.
“And eventually, you too, will get caught up in my judgment for them”
And to us, as Christians, his new people, God is saying the same thing today: “Come, flee…stop fully integrating with the culture”
“You are to be in the world, but not of the world”
And God is saying to each and every one of us on this field today: Flee Babylon, this worldly culture around you that lives to gratify the flesh and oppose God…
…and come to Jerusalem…which typifies living like God is your King.
Because for some of us, we’re so embedded into our worldly culture, that people can’t tell the difference between us and non-Christians
We act the same, talk the same, live the same, think the same.
The great pollster George Barna has come out with multiple polls in the last couple of years that say only 6% of Americans have a Biblical world view
That is they believe what the Bible teaches about God and what the Bible teaches about how to live.
But there are way more than 6% of Americans who go to church and call themselves Christian.
We, as Christians, are becoming…like Babylon (the worldly culture).
We’ve so immersed ourselves into this culture that we:
watch the same perverse shows as Babylon
We listen to the same ungodly music as Babylon
We go about our relationships (not according to the Bible), but according to Babylon
We make our moral decisions not according to the Bible, but according to what’s normal in Babylon.
But God is saying, “Flee. Come out. Leave Babylon, and live like you’re in Jerusalem…the city of God.”
Let me just tell you something: If you’re going to be a Christian in America over the next decade, you’re going to have to get used to being weird.
And maybe even persecuted.
I could be wrong (and I hope that I am), but I fear that we are going to have to start making hard decisions about HOW much we are integrated with Babylon…
Even hard decisions around what organizations we work with and volunteer with
Even what companies we work for
Things we might not even thought about 5 years ago.
In fact, in other parts of the world, many of our brothers & sisters in Christ, have already had to seek God on these very difficult questions
Like, what will we do, Christians, if it becomes (not just subtle, but crystal clear), that the companies we work for are against God?
Teachers, if you are asked to teach something to children that is against the Bible, will you do it?
Business folks, if you are a part of a company that wants you to train people on issues that are against your faith (I’m not just saying it’s secular, I’m saying what if it is against the Bible), will you, participate, in training people in what you know is against God?
I believe these are becoming serious questions for American Christians over the next decade.
And these are nuanced, hard questions by the way.
It’s okay if you feel a bit off kilter by this.
This is why we always say, we hope this drives you to seek direction from the Holy Spirit on it, and to seek Godly counsel from your Christian friends, or your House leaders.
Because the call of God is a different for each of us:
Because for some of you, God absolutely wants you to flee from the part of secular culture you’re immersed in, and for others, he wants you to be a light in the darkness.
And I often hear Christians say that: “I want to be a light in the darkness”
And I say, “Yes, Illuminate it!”
But I think the question for a lot of us is: How far into the darkness do I go?
And I think it is a bit a matter of conscience…
It’s a matter of direction from God…
It’s a matter of, “Is it making you becoming more dark” (then, no, get out)
And the other litmus test I would give you is this:
If in your job, you personally, have to participate in advancing the agenda of darkness, realize your coworkers aren’t seeing you as the light, but as one of them, but as a Babylonian
You’re not a light if you’re just there…and you never say anything.
We’re not a light if we too advance the darkness.
Paul says in Ephesians 5, “have NOTHING to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness”
And so pray on this.
God may want you right there where you are.
But as the world changes, it’s also possible that God will call some of you, over the next few years, to quit your jobs,” or a dating relationship, or a friendship, or a habit, or wherever you’re in league with Babylon.
Because the overall point of chapter 2 is that we must not align our hearts with Babylon.
Otherwise it’s like aligning yourself with the losing team.
Do you remember who lost the Super Bowl this year?
I couldn’t remember, so I had to look it up
And then I saw it was the Eagles, and I enjoyed looking it up because it was like watching them lose all over again 😊
What I want you to understand is this: Aligning yourself with Babylon, with the secular culture…
…is like going back to rewatch that Super Bowl, putting on an Eagles Jersey, and cheering for the Eagles.
That is a pointless endeavor.
The Eagles are going to lose.
The outcome will not change no matter how many times you watch it or complain about that last penalty flag.
The Eagles are going to lose.
I’m telling you: Babylon is going to lose.
And it doesn’t matter how powerful the secular culture seems right now.
It doesn’t matter if you feel like a minority at work as a Christian…or if you feel weird at school as a Christ follower
It doesn’t matter how dark it’s getting
Babylon is going to lose.
God is going to win.
I don’t when, but He will.
Stop trying to fit in with Babylon.
Don’t advance the ways of Babylon.
Come out from it!
It’s the losing team.
THE FUTURE WILL HELP YOU DECIDE
The Lord explains himself further, let’s read the last few verses of chapter 2
(Zechariah 2:10-13) - NIV
10 “Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord. 11 “Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. 12 The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem. 13 Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.”
That is a great section!
And again, we see partial fulfillment of this in Jesus’ first coming.
Because the Lord Jesus did come and live among them.
And he came to Judah
And walked the streets of Jerusalem.
The holy land.
By the way, this is the only place in the Bible the phrase “holy land” is used.
But again, Zechariah points to an even greater fulfillment of this in the future...
Because verse 13 says, “BE STILL….
“Because the Lord has roused himself from His holy dwelling.
In other words, God is getting up off of His throne.
Heaven is coming down to earth.
The end will come.
And Babylon will surely lose.
And Jerusalem, the symbol of God’s Kingdom, will undoubtedly win.
And here’s why this particular prophecy of chapter 2 is so important.
This (show Bible) is not wrong.
Jesus fulfilled hundreds of prophecies already when he came the first time.
And hundreds more (hundreds more!) will be fulfilled when he comes back the 2nd time.
And he’s going to come back, and He will bring judgment to Babylon and victory to Jerusalem (to God’s people).
So Christians, don’t mimic the ways of the losing team.
The jersey of Babylon is for you.
Their ways are not for you.
It is the losing side.
Come back to Jesus.
Walk with your Savior more closely this week.
Seek Him out anew.
And if you need to come to Him the first time, do that today.
If you’ve been living apart from God, or against Him, know that someday you will meet God face to face.
And not only is God serious about sin, He’s serious about forgiveness.
But the only way you can be forgiven is to repent of your sin, it’s to turn away from your wrongdoing, and accept Christ as your Leader and Savior.
That is: To give your life over to Him as your leader.
And to trust that HE is your Savior.
That he, out of his love for you (even in your sin) gave his life to die for your sins on the cross.
Thus allowing you to be forgiven and have eternal life in heaven with Him and know Him personally.
And some of you need that forgiveness today.
You will not go to heaven if you’re not on Jesus’ side.
I’ve read all of the spoiler alerts, the world out there (Babylon) does not win.
If you want to be forgiven, and be saved, and know God, make a decision to accept Him as your Leader and Savior today.
In fact, let’s all bow our heads and close our eyes.
If that’s you, I want you to raise your hand.
The Bible tells us that in this moment we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths.
Repeat after me
I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.
But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place
And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.
And now I commit, to following you, with my life.
If you raised your hand, I’ll give you some instructions at the end of the service. LET ME PRAY.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.
JUNE 11, 2023