Posted by: phillipmway | July 30, 2011

Heed the Word

Darius giving instructions regarding the return of Jewish captives to their Land.

We are about to start a sermon series through the Book of Zechariah. The second to last book in the Old Testament, this “minor” prophet ministered at the same time as Haggai, during the return of the people of Judah to Jerusalem under the leadership of Nehemiah and Ezra. Picking up 10 or 12 years after the end of the Book of Daniel, these minor prophets saw the fulfillment of the promises of a return to the land after the exile in Babylon and after serving under the Medes and Persians.

When Nehemiah and Ezra began to rebuild Jerusalem, the importance of the Temple was not overlooked. However, the people became indifferent, lazy, and apathetic toward the work and in time stopped work altogether on rebuilding the Temple. Haggai was sent by the Lord to rebuke the people for their indifference and to motivate them to finish the work for the glory of the Lord. His short (2 chapters) prophecy contains warnings, encouragement, and promises for the people as he sought to bring them from lukewarmness to being fervent for the Lord and His Temple.

While Haggai’s message leaned toward the negative side of motivating the people, the Lord also sent Zechariah, who began to prophecy 2 months after Haggai. Zechariah was tasked with reassuring the people of the promises God had made about the coming of the Messiah. This was their positive motivation for rebuilding the Temple, for in the near future (within about 400 years), the Messiah would arrive! Together, Haggai and Zechariah took up the positive and negative sides of warning and encouraging the people to be obedient to the Lord.

As we begin to look at Zechariah’s prophecy we will see that he started with an all too common theme – the need for the people to repent of their sin and return to the Lord. He assured them of God’s promise that if they would return to the Lord, He would return to them. We begin this Sunday with the first message from Zechariah 1:1-6 titled “Heed the Word of the Lord.” This series takes its title from the theme of the prophecy, “The Lord Remembers”, which is also what the name Zechariah means.

We will also learn that Zechariah talks more about the Messiah than any other OT book with the exception of Isaiah. In fact, this book is known as the “Apocalypse of the Old Testament” as it is the most eschatological book in the Old Testament.

Zechariah is mentioned in Ezra and Nehemiah. He was a priest who was appointed by Nehemiah to serve in “The Great Synagogue”, which was overseen by Ezra and consisted of 120 priests who would help lead the people during their return to the Land with the re-establishment of the worship of God at the Temple. The Great Synagogue later became the Sanhedrin, the top religious body in Judaism.

He is also mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 23:35, as he has the distinction of being the last Old Testament martyr – Abel was the first to be killed for his faith, and Zechariah was the last before the close of the Old Testament. Jesus tells us that Zechariah was killed between the Temple and the altar while doing his duty as a priest unto the Lord.

In order to better understand the times that these things occurred I would encourage you to listen to the sermon series I preached in 2006 verse by verse through Haggai. The series contains 4 messages and is titled “The Curse of Me-Centered Religion.”

Join us this Sunday, July 31, as we begin this new series and learn the hope that we have and the assurance we can have in the promises of the coming, and the return of Christ, as He will come to rule and reign one day, hopefully soon.


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