Hey everyone, My name is Josh Pollard and I am the adult ministries Pastor here at Renovation Church.
This week we are concluding our summer long study of the book of Zechariah.
It is a book full of really interesting sections. Particularly prophecies about Jesus.
It’s interesting that Zechariah is one of the books that Christians are usually less familiar with but for the Jews of Jesus’s day, it was very important.
Especially as they waited for the Messiah.
Let’s read it! Go ahead and open up your bibles to Zechariah 14, if you are using one of the Bible from the table in the hall we’ll be on page 652. Or you can find the verses on our app under Summer services.
1 A day of the Lord is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls.
2 I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. 3 Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. 4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. 5 You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.
6 On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. 7 It will be a unique day—a day known only to the Lord—with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light.
8 On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter.
9 The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.
The rest of the chapter goes on to describe this Day of the Lord when Jesus will return to earth and reign physically here on earth with Jerusalem as the center pierce, once again, of his kingship.
The Jews in Jesus’ day, including even the disciples, expected the messiah to be a great military leader that would lead the Jews into battle and restore the nation of Israel to it’s glory days.
And Zechariah 14, among other places in the Old Testament, is a major part of that expectation.
We of course now see clearly how the savior had to die and rise again, but for the disciples, that was the confusing part.
For example, In Matthew 16, Jesus tells his disciples plainly that he is the Messiah. And the it says in verse 21
[put Matt 16:21-22 on the screen]
21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders and the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
They had a certain expectation of what they needed saving from - The Romans, who were genuinely terrible in many respects.
But Jesus was reorienting their understanding of who God is, and what he would be saving them from through his death and resurrection.
And the disciples go on to watch Jesus fulfill prophecy after prophecy.
-They saw him ride into Jerusalem on a Donkey, Which was prophesied in Zechariah 9.
-They saw him be sold for 30 pieces of silver, which we saw prophesied in Chapter 11.
-They saw him pierced for their sins which was prophesied in Zechariah 12.
-They saw him forsaken by all of his disciples during his crucifixion, which was prophesied in Zechariah 13.
And those were just some of the prophecies from Zechariah, not to mention so many other places in other books from the Old Testament.
The disciples saw all that.
Now, Turn over to Acts 1 (page ____)
Here, we get to one of the very last interactions that the disciples had with Jesus in Acts ch 1,
where they follow the risen Jesus out of Jerusalem and on to the Mount of Olives,
The very place that Zechariah 14:4 said he would stand after all those other things happened, and they are looking down on the city of Jerusalem, it would make sense that their minds go to Zechariah 14, the next chapter!
Which is why it’s not surprising that in Acts 1 it says: 6 Then [the disciples] gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
They thought, ‘ok Jesus, is this “that day” that we are all expecting?! You know, the “On That Day” that we read about in Zechariah 14.’
Of course, they didn’t originally get that he had to die and rise again, but now they get that part…so this is next on the list.
The military battle where the Messiah restores the kingdom once and for all. The grand finally that we’ve all been waiting for?!
They are on the Mount of Olives, looking down on Jerusalem, occupied by the Romans, the city that just tried to kill the the Messiah but He even conquered death.
So much expectation, so much promise built into that moment now staring down on so much pain.
They saw him walk on water.
They saw him calm storms with a word.
They saw the sun go dark for 3 hours while he was on the cross.
And now they’ve seen him raised from the dead.
They know who He is.
Was it so much now for them to be wondering if the mountain that they were on at that moment was about to split in two?
Would it be weird for the Sun to go dark again but there be no darkness?
Or for a river of living water to spring up out of Jerusalem?
Those seem so weird and far fetched to us, but to them it probably sounded like just another day.
In fact, Jesus doesn’t tell them that their expectations are wrong! All these military expectations are coming from scripture.
Instead he just says that it’s not the right time.
in Acts 1:7 “He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.’”
So this is a prophecy that we’re still waiting to be fulfilled when Christ returns.
That is where we find ourselves here today.
We are living between Zechariah 13 and Zechariah 14.
The first coming and the second coming
Fulfilled prophecy, and prophecy that we are still waiting for God’s timing.
In fact there are so many passages that talk about Jesus coming back!
All of them give us this amazing picture of Jesus returning in Glory to establish his kingdom here on earth that will come one day, and that day will be amazing and his kingdom will be amazing. Jesus is coming back. And that’s an amazing truth that we have to look forward to.
But when I read all these prophecies about the second coming and I can’t help but wonder “Ok what am I supposed to do with that?”
It’s interesting to know what will happen one day, but why is it important for me to know today. ‘
God never wastes his breath on mere theological information.
The word of God isn’t meant to just be pondered and chartered and debated and studied.
No, This word of God is alive and active.
So I ask how should this passage penetrate my soul and spirit.
How does this passage judge the thoughts and attitudes of my heart?
Well, when it comes to biblical prophecy about the second coming it penetrates us by opening our eyes.
And it does that in two ways.
Let’s look again at Acts 1 because I think Jesus’s instruction to his disciples are really helpful in seeing what to do in light of future prophecies of His second coming and the end times.
It says 6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
So the first way that the knowledge of the second coming should open our eyes is to our call to be His Witnesses.
[Jesus is Coming back!
Two Ways that should open our eyes:
Called to be Witnesses
The disciples asked Jesus if Zechariah14 was about to happen. He said not yet, But, go with the power of the Holy Spirit and tell people about me.
And in Acts ch. 2, the Holy Spirit comes, and they start sharing and many are saved.
And the rest of the Book of Acts is all about that.
It’s all about how followers of Christ are being his witnesses, empowered by the Holy Spirit, as they wait for him to come back. And fulfill Zecheriah 14.
This is why one of our values as a church that guides everything we do is that we will not rest until every person in our city has heard the gospel.
-That’s the last thing he told us to do before he ascended.
-That’s why we have the holy spirit! He’s coming back.
-That’s why we pray for our neighbors and our family members with urgency.
-That’s why we explain the gospel and invite people to respond every Sunday.
-And that’s also why we send and support long term missionaries like the Pepins to the ends of the earth.
I believe that there are some of you in here that need to seriously consider and pray about going onto the mission field full time.
We are all called to this mission, and God may be calling some of you to be those front line workers.
In fact, it’s quite odd for a group of Christians our size to have not sent out more people onto the mission field.
I think part of the reason for that is that some of you might be feeling that call but just do not know what to do with it.
Or maybe you’ve been fighting it and noone’s called you out on fighting it yet.. Maybe you are scared to follow Jesus into the unknown.
But Into the unknown is the only place we can follow Jesus anyway, The future is always unknown.
Except that he is coming back to judge the world, and we’ve got a job to do.
So if you are feeling the call to go into full time missions work or even just curious about what that would look like, please reach out. As part of my role as the Adult Ministries Pastor here, I oversee all of our missions, so you can either email me or even just come talk to me and we can help you figure out if that’s what God is calling you to and help you with next steps.
And that is open to anyone from young people and teenagers considering how to spend your life in a way that honors God,
or people midway through their life like the Pepins with skills and family and careers - the Mission field needs those skills and families, take them with you and use them, serve together!
Or even if you are retired. Many missionaries are retired folks and they are just asking God what to do with the rest of your life.
I had a woman in my Renovation U class this summer come up to me after the last class and say “The average life expectancy for women in America is about 80 years old. That means I’ve got about 20 years left to serve him.” Seeing where you are going gives you such a perspective on how you should invest your time right now.
So I’d like to encourage our church to start praying for missionaries to send out, and asking if maybe you are that missionary, because he’s coming back and we’ve been given this task.
The worst thing the disciples in Acts 1 could have done is to just sit and watch and wait for Jesus to return.
And one of the things I fear most is that our church becomes a place to come and sit and wait in disobedience.
But each of us is called to this mission as literally the most important thing in the history of the world.
When Jesus told the disciples to go be his witnesses, did they say, “Sorry Jesus, it’s just not the right time right now” Did they say, “You know I’m really busy right now with other stuff, I don’t think I can commit. Maybe next year”
No. Jesus said, “I’m coming back, as it was prophesied in Zechariah 14 so go back down into Jerusalem and tell them what you saw - be a witness.”
and they went right back down into that city that wanted to kill them and arranged the rest of their lives to fulfill that mission as the primary purpose of their exsistance.
We are on that same mission. The mission of Christ is the most important thing there is.
If you call yourself a Christ follower, Everyday, you should wake up and say, Jesus I died and was buried in baptism, my life is yours, what do you want me to do today.
And then whatever he says, just do it.
Even if it causes you to live risky and in discomfort and sometimes in ways that don’t make sense because of how closely you follow Christ.
That life will require you to pick up your cross daily and give up what you want all the time.
We are to be like the disciples, and go arrange our entire lives to fulfill the mission of Christ.
Every time you make a choice in life, big or small, you need to ask, “will this help me set up my life to be a witness for Christ in this world, or will it get in the way, and make me more like the world?”
Because He’s coming back and that should give you some perspective on what you are living for now.
Which brings me to the other way that today’s passage should open our eyes:
[Jesus is Coming back!
Two Ways that should open our eyes:
Called to be Witnesses
Take Judgment Seriously
It should cause us to take the warning of Judgment seriously.
Prophecy in the bible was often for those living in sin and in need of repentance and Zechariah 14 is no different. It serves as a warning of the coming judgment.
Let’s look at v.12 to see more details about what is coming for those that do not run to Christ for safety:
12 This is the plague with which the Lord will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. 13 On that day people will be stricken by the Lord with great panic.They will seize each other by the hand and attack one another. 14 Judah too will fight at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected—great quantities of gold and silver and clothing. 15 A similar plague will strike the horses and mules, the camels and donkeys, and all the animals in those camps.
16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. 17 If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain. 18 If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The Lord will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. 19 This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.
Some people will hear this and think, “What a bully God is. Come worship me or else I’ll kill you.” My friend, if that is you, you need to see how that thinking is wrong.
You see, if this was a person demanding and even enforcing obedience and reverence and worship, yes that would be very wrong of them.
You’d be right to call that person a bully, an abuser, evil even.
But the reason that person is evil is because in demanding worship they would be doing what only God can rightfully and justly do.
We are not talking about a person, - we are talking about a perfect and all knowing judge and all powerful creator whom you have sinned against.
And while he could have rightfully condemned you, and still may, he instead here warns you.
He’s not hiding his hand at all, he’s laying it all out in neon lights. Saying look what’s coming!
Not because he wanted to scare us into his faith but because he hates that people would have to go there. 1 Tim 2 says that God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
And that truth is that Jesus is God,
-he came to earth as a human,
-He lived a perfect life and then
-was killed on a cross as a sacrifice for our sin
-And he didn’t have to do that but he loved us so much he did that! He made a way for sinners and prideful people to be saved!
And then he could have been on the mount of Olives in Acts 1 and when the disciples asked if it was That Day and he could have said yes,
but instead he's been patient, waiting for as many people as will come to him to come.
And he’s made sure that you are here today to hear that the Day of the Lord is coming and
that if you just believe in him and give him your life you will be saved. Today, and on that day.
But he doesn’t just want you to hear this news - he wants you to respond!
Look one more time at today’s passage. Did you see how important the Festival of Tabernacles is in the passage. It’s in there three times.
That’s a festival that remembered God’s provision for his people as they wandered through the wilderness.
It was a festival of gathering and rest, of joy, praise, and thanksgiving. That’s what he’s made us to do.
But If you refuse to come to the source of life, to the provider, to the stream of living water, is it any wonder that you become dry and rot away.
Some of you feel like your life is just rotting away because you are on the wrong path.
If you don’t come to the king, the only one who can forgive your sins and give you rest, is it any wonder that you are stuck lost in the wilderness without a way to go?
Instead, hear the mercy of God in this warning from Zechariah 14. Hear the love he has for you in making sure you hear of how to be saved. I want to give you a moment to seriously consider that today.
Let’s have everyone bow your heads and close your eyes to give everyone a private moment with the Lord to consider their path that they are on.
And if you just know that you are headed for destruction, even if you’ve fought against God or you’ve thought faith was stupid or weak or a waste of time, listen to where that will lead and turn your life over to the king today.
He will reorient everything for you. If you need to do that today I want you to stand up where you are.
When we get to this point, scripture says, when we believe in our heart, we confess with our mouths. So I want to lead you through a prayer, just talking with God, and I want us all to do this together, wether you are just believing for the first time or you have been a follower for many years.
“Jesus I confess that I have sinned against you.
I believe that you died for my sins.
Thank you, God
Now, I commit to giving the rest of my life to you.
Please help me do that. Amen.”
For those of you that just made this decision, it’s an amazingly important decision and also a challenging road to go alone, so we’d love to chat with you about what you should do next. So I’m going to pray and if you would just slip out into the hall, then our follow up team will meet you right out there and I’ll go also and we’ll chat for just a few moments during this last song.
Ok let’s pray and you can head right over there.
Copyright: Josh Pollard
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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