The critical message of Zechariah is sometimes called the Apocalypse of the Old Testament. In a prophetic vision that is broader than any of the other Minor Prophets God gives prophecies that cover the ages. In this study, we’ll take a quick overview of the book and then zero in on God’s message through Zechariah for his time, how it applies today and a special glimpse of a prophecy about the future reign of Jesus Christ on earth.
[Steve Myers] Good evening everyone, welcome to our midweek Bible study. Glad that you could make it here with us here in our lecture hall at the home office of the United Church of God. Good to be together tonight. It’s a beautiful night in Cincinnati, sun is shining still, and it’s been almost like summer weather, which has really been enjoyable. Hopefully, the weather by you, as well, is good. We are glad that you’re joining us here on the web, as well. So welcome to all of you who are joining us through technology tonight.
Tonight, we have our last in the series of studies on the Minor Prophets. So, this will be the last one. I got a note earlier in the week from someone that was looking through the website trying to find the Minor Prophets Bible studies, and they’ve wrote a little note that said, “You missed one.” And so I had to type a little note back, I said, “You’re very observant. We haven’t done that last one yet.” So, this is the last one in the series. We didn’t have them all in the exact order, so this is Zechariah. So this will be the last study in the series even though Malachi comes after it. So, we’re going to be opening our books to Zechariah tonight, and looking at a couple different aspects in this book. Now we can’t cover it all because there’s a lot of material here in the book of Zechariah.
So, I thought what we could do is kind of take a little bit of an overview, and then zero in on something that I’ve found kind of interesting, and hopefully, you’ll find it interesting in the book as well. So with that, why don’t we bow our heads and ask God’s blessing on our Bible study, and then we can begin.
Great loving Heavenly Father, God Almighty, we are so thankful that You are our awesome God. We are so pleased, Father, that You want us to be a part of Your family forever. We’re thankful for Your truth, and Your mercy, and Your love. We’re thankful God You opened our minds to Your truth, and that You are working with us, and that You are a great, honoring, loving God.
And so we are so thankful for that. And we pray God that You put Your presence here tonight that You would open our ears, and our minds, and our hearts as we study Your Word, that we can glean even more understanding of Your way so that we can apply it in how we live our lives. So, Father, bless the study tonight. We pray that You bless the hearing and the speaking and every aspect of it. And, Father, we just ask all of this now in and by and through the authority of our Savior Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
Well, let’s begin tonight by opening your Bible to the book of Zechariah. Thought I could begin just by reading the very first verse. The very first verse has a couple of interesting things that help to set the tone for the entire book. So let’s go ahead and just read a little bit at the very beginning of the book of Zechariah. It starts out like this, “In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet.” And so we have a number of names, the heritage of Zechariah is mentioned here.
And one thing that’s interesting that doesn’t necessarily jump out at you as you just read it in English is the Hebrew meanings of the names that are mentioned here. Do Hebrew names have any significance? Yeah, they sure do. I hear “yes” in the room here. They do, they do. Zechariah has the Hebrew meaning of “God remembers,” God remembers. Now Berechiah is his father, means “God blesses.” So, we have “God remembers,” and Berechiah the father, “God blesses.” Did I say that right? Zechariah, God remembers, Berechiah, God blesses. The grandfather, Iddo means “at the appointed time,” at the appointed time.
And in a moment, we’re going to talk about those three names and how it has significance, really, for the entire outline of the book, entire outline of the book. And it’s critical because Zechariah has a heritage, and as a prophet of God, he’s an interesting character. Now he was of the priestly family, and that would have been like an Ezekiel or like a Jeremiah, but not only from the priestly line, he was also a prophet. So, he was both prophet and priest.
Now, interesting about Zechariah, he’s called a post-exilic prophet. Now he was born in Babylon, but he returned to Jerusalem when Cyrus issued the decree that the Jews could go back. Remember, after Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon, that fell to the Persians, and Cyrus, who was kind of a benevolent kind of a ruler in some ways anyway, he allowed people to worship the way they wanted. So he sent them back to Jerusalem, and by his decree, we have Zechariah as one of those that came back.
Now, Zechariah was also one that had a challenging life. He was given by God to bring a message to the people. And as he did this, it was during this time that was probably around 516 BC or BCE. Some argue that it might have been about four years earlier, 520 BCE. So, he’s somewhere right in there. But important to remember, it’s after the exile, so post-exilic means after the exile.
Remember Israel was taken into captivity by the Syrians, the Jews were taken into captivity by the Babylonians, Cyrus releases them. So after the exile, post-exilic, is the time frame we’re looking at. Sometimes not only is it called post-exilic this period between, let’s say, 516 BC all the way up till the time of Christ, all the way up to about, well, 1 AD, let’s say, that’s a nice round number, that would be this post-exilic period. It would be sometimes called the restoration period, the restoration period because one of the chief jobs they had was to restore the temple, to restore the temple. So, Zechariah would have been one of those post-exilic prophets. Others would have been like Haggai as well as Malachi; they would have been post-exilic prophets.
In fact, one of the things that’s interesting about Zechariah coming out from the exile, coming back to Jerusalem—what an amazing time of hope. And Zechariah is sometimes called the prophet of hope, the prophet of hope because that temple needs to be rebuilt, and proper worship has to be restored. And Zechariah is one that’s called by God to encourage the people to do just that.
Now if you were to read through Zechariah in its original language, it’s not like some of the other prophets. It’s not necessarily the most beautiful writing. It’s not necessarily writing that has a beautiful symmetry like the poetry or the prose. It’s just not that great when it comes to the style of the writing of the book. And so some of the scholars will even say, “Zechariah really wasn’t as great a poet as quite a few of the other prophets.” But one of the things he was really powerful in doing was that the message that he brought was one that was done a little bit differently than some of the others, but one that was a powerful message.
Because if you can imagine the scenario at this time, the temple… they’d already come back, they started to rebuild the temple but kind of got stuck. The temple was probably about half done at this time, and probably had sat that way well over a decade. So well over a decade, the temple hadn’t been completed. And so, you know what God wanted. He wanted that temple completed. And so he sends Zechariah to help encourage the people to do just that, to finish the construction of the temple. And so that would be one of the chief messages that we find here. Now he delivers that message in a couple of different ways. That message is brought to the people in a style that’s sometimes called apocalyptic, apocalyptic. And so if you were to think of the apocalypse, oftentimes, you’ll think of the Book of Revelation, the Apocalypse.
Well, in some ways, we find that happening in that style through the writings of Zechariah because the writings here point not only to the present building of that temple but also points to the future. It also points to the future. So in a sense, Zechariah is not just about building a building. It’s not just about having that temple, that physical temple rebuilt, it’s also about building the future, building the future. And so you could, if you really try to dissect the whole book of Zechariah, you could probably divide it up into two major sections. There’s really two major sections through the book of Zechariah. Zechariah chapter 1 through 8 is a section that mainly deals with visions, apocalyptic visions that seem mostly tied to that present rebuilding, that rebuilding of the temple. Of course, then that means that the last chapters, chapters 9 through 14 are more futuristic, they’re more millennial, they’re really pointing to the end time prophecies.
And as you consider that, these two sections, rather than being ones that say, “All right people, you better rebuild this temple or I’m going to punish you.” Zechariah really doesn’t approach it that way. He doesn’t come with rebuke, he doesn’t come with correction, at least not in the way you would normally think about it as a prophet in that sense. Instead, he comes with a message of encouragement. So overall, the message is an encouraging message. It’s a powerful message that says, “Yes let’s complete the temple. There are so many blessings to gain from accomplishing what God wants.”
And so Zechariah brings the message by, “Here’s how we’re going to do it, and here’s who’s going to do it.” And so that’s part of this message of encouragement. Now, that’s more of a present tense kind of a thing, “Let’s get this thing done. It’s been sitting here over a decade, it’s time to finish it. God wants this temple completed.”
But like those two sections of the book, it also points to the fact that there’s a future, there’s a future temple. And so the encouraging part of that aspect of Zechariah’s prophecy is that, it’s foretelling the Messiah and it’s talking about the millennium. And so how encouraging, especially for us, that the millennium is coming, Jesus Christ is going to return, that is going to happen. And so Zechariah ties his message around that big theme of encouragement. Build the temple because there’s a future coming. Christ is returning. The millennium will be here. The Kingdom of God will be established on earth.
And part of the outline ties right back to this very first verse that we read. Part of that outline, now you remember the names that we talked about, those three names. We said God blesses is Berechiah’s name, God blesses. God remembers, Zechariah’s name. At the appointed time, Iddo’s name. So wrap around this message of Zechariah are those three things: God blesses, God remembers, at the appointed time. And so the names tell the story, the names tell the story in the book of Zechariah. And imagine being one of those that came out of the exile, being a good Jew at that time, recognizing that flow. Does God remember us? Boy, He certainly does. And, you know, at the appointed time, Christ is going to return, He is going to return and it’s a sure thing. And so that introduces the outline of the book.
So as we think about this for just a second, just the first chapter alone kind of completes that outline a little bit. And oftentimes, you’ll find that throughout different books in the Bible. The first chapter will tell the story of everything else you’re going to be hearing. And in some ways, that’s true about Zechariah, the first chapter gives a brief outline of the book itself.
So, we look back at chapter 1. Here’s something that is key as the book starts. Look at verse 2, this is chapter 1 verse 2, it says, “The Lord has been very angry with your fathers. Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Return to Me,” says the Lord of hosts, “and I will return to you,” says the Lord of hosts. Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Turn now from your evil ways, from your evil deeds.’ But they did not hear nor heed Me,” says the Lord.’”
So, in these very first few verses, I mean it doesn’t read that way in English, but this is pretty dramatic. This is pretty dramatic, the way that it’s stated here. And the interesting part is the name “the Lord of hosts,” the Lord of hosts. Now if you’ve got a Bible like the New King James, the Lord, L-O-R-D is probably all capitalized, which is showing that that’s the Tetragrammaton, that’s the Y-H-V-H, the Eternal. And the hosts is the Hebrew word Sabaoth , Sabaoth , the Lord of Sabaoth or the Lord of hosts or the Eternal of hosts or maybe another way to say it, the God of Armies, the God of Angelic Armies, or some translations even say, the Almighty God of hosts. And so it’s picturing Almighty God who is, as we read it maybe doesn’t make as much sense, but God is sovereign, God is over everything, God is Almighty.
And this particular name, the Eternal of hosts, the Lord of Sabaoth, the Lord of all Armies, the only times this is mentioned throughout the book of Zechariah to show God’s greatness, to show His authority, to show His sovereignty—just in the first eight chapters—44 times, 44 times this New King James Version, 44 times in the first eight chapters. Do you think Zechariah is trying to stress God’s power, God’s might, God’s sovereignty? I mean he just used it here and in verse 2 and 3, used it three times.
And every one of those, each of those three times in verses 2 and 3, are important to the message that Zechariah is bringing. It outlines the book, once again, like the names. Notice, look at verse 2 again, “The Lord has been angry with your fathers.” Well, the very beginning of the book here describes just that all the way through verse 6 describes that very thing. Now the next comment was, “Return to Me.” “Return to Me” is kind of a general fit from this chapter through about chapter 8. “Return to Me,” and then going on from there, “’I will return to you,’ says the Lord.” Well, ultimately when is the Lord going to return? When Christ comes back. When Christ comes back, ultimately.
And so this section here generally fits with that end time or the millennial prophecies that Zechariah is going to give in the later chapters of the book. And think about that for just a minute. Is that an important formula for all of us? And when you stray from God, when we get off track, when we feel we’re removed from God’s presence, what do we do? I mean, these three things are critical. Is God happy with us when we stray? No, He wants a right relationship with us, He wants to be close to us. So He says, “Return to Me.” And when we repent and we come back to God, what does He do? He says, “I will return to you.” And so we have this beautiful formula that not only applied in Zechariah’s time, it applies to us. It applies to us when we stray from God, as well.
Okay, well let’s go on just a little bit. Verse 7, verse 7, we could see this starts another section because the beginning, it started out in the eighth month of the second year. Now we’re, “On the 24th day of the eleventh month, which is the month Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet.” Interesting, he mentions those names again that God blesses, God remembers, and I will come at the appointed time. So, he mentions that again to keep that vision alive in the people’s minds.
And this section of the book of Zechariah begins a vision and it’s a remarkable vision, an amazing vision. And it wasn’t the only one that Zechariah had. He had vision, after vision, after vision, in fact, as you read through Zechariah, there are eight separate visions that he has. Some scholars say seven, some say nine, so let’s zero in right on the middle and say there’s eight, eight visions that were all given in one night.
Now, one of the cool things, we won’t take time to go through this, but one of the cool things about those visions, there are all kinds of connections in those visions to the book of Revelation. There is also connections in those visions to the book of Daniel. So if you think of the book of Revelation maybe, you know, some of the images that come to mind are horses. Well, Zechariah’s visions have to do with horses. Zechariah’s visions—think of Daniel, you might think of the horns. Zechariah also talks about those things. He also talks about the two witnesses, which also show up later in the book of Revelation, as well.
And so we see this comparing and contrasting between the physical temple that’s going to be rebuilt at that time, and ultimately, the millennial temple, the temple that will be there when Jesus Christ returns. And so he stresses these things in these different visions. And, of course, not taking time to go through that, I’m going to jump ahead all the way to chapter 8, all the way to chapter 8.
And in chapter 8, we have this connection to not only revelation, but to ultimately the return of Jesus Christ. So it’s not just about the temple during Zechariah’s day, let’s notice that, in Zechariah 8, look at verse 3. “Thus says the Lord of hosts,” there’s that name again, right? The Lord of Sabaoth, the Lord of Angelic Armies, Spiritual Armies, says, “Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem each one with his staff in his hand because of great age.” Now, I skipped a little bit, didn’t I? Go back to verse 3, sorry about that.
Chapter 8 verse 3, “Thus says the Lord, ‘I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, the Mountain of the Lord of hosts, the Holy Mountain.’ Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem each one with his staff in his hand because of great age. The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets.’” What time period is that talking about? That’s the millennium, that’s at the return of Christ.
And so what’s the picture that Zechariah is visioning for us? Well, verse 3 says it very clear, it’s picturing Jesus Christ dwelling in the midst of His people because He’s saying, “I will return to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.” And that’s a key point. One day, that will be fulfilled. One day, Jesus Christ will return. One day, the Kingdom of God will be established on earth. One day, Jerusalem will be world headquarters, and we will worship God. And Jesus Christ will be there; He will be present among His people.
Now how will that actually work then? What will that be like? What will that be like? Well, through the rest of the book of Zechariah, we see different indications of things that will be going on during the millennium. What will worship be like? What will physical people who will be alive at that time, how will they relate to the presence of God with them? Well, that’s an interesting question because a little later on, Zechariah said something kind of interesting as he draws near to the end of the book, some would even say it was kind of a difficult passage.
But let’s see if we can pick it up and try to figure out what exactly is going on here. Right near the end of the book, Zechariah 14:16 Zechariah 14:16And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
American King James Version×, it says, “It shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came up against Jerusalem.” So here we’re seeing these are people that lived through the Great Tribulation, they’re still alive, they’re physically alive during the millennium. It says, “They shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.”
So we see during the millennium, God’s Holy Days are going to be observed. The example of the Feast of Tabernacles will be observed by the people, but that’s not all. Verse 17, it says, “And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up from Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain.” So, disobedience brings punishment, doesn’t it? Says, “If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.”
And so we see pretty clearly Holy Days will be observed during the millennium. Now verse 20 gives us some insight into something else that’s going on during the millennium. Verse 20 says, “In that day, ‘Holiness to the Lord,’ shall be engraved on the bells of the horses. The pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holiness to the Lord of hosts. Everyone who sacrifices shall come and take them and cook in them. In that day there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts.”
So we get a little bit of an insight into what’s going on as people worship and honor God. What is mentioned down there in verse 20 and 21? It’s not just the observance of the Holy Days, it also says there will be sacrifices, there will be sacrifices. So will there be a sacrificial system instituted during the millennium? Yes. Yes, in fact Zechariah is not the only one to mention that. Among the other prophets, it’s mentioned among Isaiah, you might write down Isaiah 56:7 Isaiah 56:7Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.
American King James Version×is just one you can zero right in to where it says, “There will be, at that time, burnt offerings and sacrifices.” So that’s going to be happening during the millennium.
Jeremiah prophesies the same thing. Jeremiah 33:18 Jeremiah 33:18Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually.
American King James Version×discusses that, that those sacrifices, that system will be there during the millennium. They’re not the only two. Ezekiel also mentions it; in fact, he’s got an extensive prophecy about this timeframe. But in Ezekiel 43:18 Ezekiel 43:18And he said to me, Son of man, thus said the Lord GOD; These are the ordinances of the altar in the day when they shall make it, to offer burnt offerings thereon, and to sprinkle blood thereon.
American King James Version×talks about, not only will there be sacrifices, but Ezekiel even talks a little bit about some of the instructions of how that will happen during that time. And then there’s one other prophet that intimates that same sacrificial system, and that’s Malachi. Malachi talks about that as well. Chapter 3 seems to point to that system being instituted at that time, as well.
Now, here’s the challenge though, here’s the challenge: why? Why have sacrifices during the millennium? Because we know what Hebrews 9:12 Hebrews 9:12Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
American King James Version×says, if you’d like to turn there with me, Hebrews 9:12 Hebrews 9:12Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
American King James Version×, it says very clearly, “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” And so we read this in the book of Hebrews and you can’t help but wonder, well, is there some conflict between that? Is there a conflict that today, Christ sacrifices put an end to all sacrifice? We don’t sacrifice today because Jesus Christ paid that penalty, that sacrifice of His life.
So what would be the purpose of these future sacrifices? And especially after the return of Jesus Christ, is there really a purpose for those sacrifices during the millennium, or is that kind of odd or maybe just a mistake? Is it just a nice idea, or is it one of those things? Sometimes, they’ll say, “Well, it’s just painting the picture of what it will be like.” Or is it a real thing? Well, I think there’s a couple things that we have to recognize. First of all, Zechariah says it clearly, so does Ezekiel, so does Isaiah, so does Jeremiah, so does Malachi. They all say it’s going to happen. So do we take that literally or not, or does it become void because Hebrews says this as we look at things today? Well, let’s think about a couple of things. There’s a couple of things we should consider as we think about sacrifices during the millennium.
Okay, the first thing deals with the theme of Zechariah, and that theme is the temple, the theme is the temple, and that becomes critical, that becomes critical. So I want to talk about that just a moment. The first thing I want to talk about is the fact that sin is still around. Even though Jesus Christ returns, sin still remains on earth. There’s still a physical people, not everybody is spirit. The first resurrection has happened, and there are those who are reigning and ruling with Christ as Revelation 20 talks about, but there’s still a physical people who have survived the tribulation and live over into the millennium.
And so even though the government of God will be on earth, does that automatically eradicate sin from human beings? Well, it doesn’t. Human being still have a choice. Even though there’s going to be God’s government on earth, even though the environment is going to be amazing, is going to be restored like the Garden of Eden, even though the nature of animals are going to be changed, all of those things don’t solve a major problem. What’s the major problem? Sin. It doesn’t solve the problem of sin. Sin remains, and there’s many, many, many passages we could turn to that are millennial passages that point that out that a physical people will still be a sinful people.
Remember the passage in Isaiah, I think it’s in Isaiah 30 where it says, “You’ll hear a voice from behind saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’” In other words, “Don’t go that way, don’t sin! This is the way you want to go.” And so sin will still be there, a physical people can still choose to sin because not everyone under the government of God at that time will be spirit, they will still be physical and they can choose to sin. So that becomes, I think, an important consideration as we think about sacrifices in the millennium.
Now the other one I talked about was the theme, the theme of the book being the temple. I think that’s a good consideration that we have to keep in mind is that, as we think about the temple of today, the temple of today, what is the temple of today? Well, it’s the Church. Collectively it’s the Church. And as members of the body of Christ, individually and collectively, we are the temple of God, we house God’s Spirit. And so the Church of God is the temple of today.
Now, compare that to when Christ returns. You see, when Jesus Christ returns, He’ll be present on the earth. And even Zechariah said His feet are going to be on the Mount of Olives. He’s going to return. Jesus Christ, we’re told through many prophecies, will be seated on the throne of David. So he will have rulership right from Jerusalem, headquarters of the world at that time. And so to keep that in mind, Christ will be here, Christ will be here. There will be a temple, there will be a temple. Ezekiel focuses nine full chapters on this millennial temple, chapter 40-48 in the book of Ezekiel focuses on that temple, and Jesus’ presence right there at Jerusalem.
And so that’s something we need to keep in mind as we consider this sacrificial system. Important consideration; we’ll come back to it in just a second here. Because what that points to is a third critical factor, third consideration. That’s God’s presence. Jesus’ presence will be here. Now in the Old Testament, remember what it was like? If you remember Solomon’s Temple. Solomon’s Temple, they dedicated the temple, they prayed, and what happened? Anyone remember the story? The glory of God filled the temple, the Shekinah glory. The glory of God filled that temple. God’s presence, His glory was right there, was right there in that Old Testament temple. It was also there in the pillar of cloud as they left Egypt, the pillar of fire right there, God’s presence. That glory filled the temple as well.
Now later as we move through time, those high priests would only go into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, on the Day of Atonement. Go into the very presence of God, go into the mercy seat where the Ark was, but only happened on the Day of Atonement. So later on, it was only the high priest that could do that.
Now as we think about the presence of God, that was Old Testament, the Shekinah glory of God filled the temple. So the high priest went in before the presence of God, and he had to do it in a precise way on the Day of Atonement so that he wouldn’t die.
Now today, we’re looking after the crucifixion, after the sacrifice of Christ. Now God has poured His Spirit out for us, He’s called us. God’s presence today is in us, is in us. It’s in us individually, it’s in us collectively. Now, as we compare that then—okay, so that was past, this is present. Now think about the future, think about the future for a second. During the Kingdom of God on earth, during the millennium, Christ’s presence will be here. And since He’s going to be reigning from Jerusalem, He’ll be reigning… well, if we look back to Zechariah maybe for just a moment, there’s an interesting comment that Zechariah makes.
In Zechariah chapter 6, verse 13, I’m not sure I have a slide on this one, so sorry if I’m getting a little bit out of order. Zechariah 6:13 Zechariah 6:13Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule on his throne; and he shall be a priest on his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.
American King James Version×, it says, “Yes, He shall build the temple of the Lord, He shall bear the glory, He shall sit and rule on his throne. So He shall be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” This is a dual prophecy, a dual prophecy for Zechariah’s day that that temple would be built. But ultimately, it’s a millennial prophecy that Jesus Christ presence will be here, He will reside in that temple and there will be, as Zechariah says a little later, there will be a sacrificial system that will be instituted.
Okay. With those things as considerations, we still haven’t answered that question exactly, so what? Why would that be? That’s seems to be going in reverse, doesn’t it? Well, not really, not really. I think there are some interesting connections that we can make when it comes to this sacrificial system.
In the Old Testament, what about sacrifices? You think about what the purpose of sacrifices in the Old Testament were about. What would you say? Well, you probably think, or at least if you think like I do, you probably think, “Oh, they point to the sacrifice of Christ.” These sacrifices of bulls and goats and lambs and turtle doves, all that pointed to the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus Christ would come.
And, what is it, 1 Peter 1:18 1 Peter 1:18For as much as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
American King James Version×, I won’t turn there, but it shows what it pointed to in the sense that, “We are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.” Jesus Christ, we are redeemed through that blood of the Lamb, like a lamb was that sacrifice.
So, certainly the sacrifice could be said to be a forward-looking tribute, a forward-looking memorial that those sacrifices the Old Testament point us forward to when Christ would come and sacrifice His life for us, and I think that becomes pretty evident. So the sacrifices would do just that, that Jesus Christ is going to come, He would give his life for us. But did that solve the problem of sin? Didn’t really solve the problem of sin, didn’t it? Didn’t, it didn’t solve that problem.
And in a similar sense, sacrifices in the millennium seem to also point to something. But instead of being a forward-looking memorial, we can say it looks the other direction. It goes to hindsight. We could say maybe it’s a memorial in hindsight because we’re not looking forward to the sacrifice; the sacrifice has already happened by the time we get to the millennium. Could it be that sacrifices during the millennium will have kind of a reverse look, a backward-looking memorial as its purpose, kind of like a memorial in hindsight. This has already taken place. So that a future sacrifice could still typify and could still be a symbol of the sacrifice of Christ.
They might say, “Well, that sounds kind of silly. Why would you want to look back or something like that?” It seems like, you know, most of the Bible points forward, points forward, points forward. Well, let’s think about that for a second. If you think about that memorial, looking back to the sacrifice of Christ, the literal crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, would that cause a physical people to recall, “Okay, it’s not just the blood of a bull or a goat, it’s through the sacrifice of our Savior, that’s the only sacrifice that we have hope in.”
So would that be a reminder for a physical people? Would it also be a reminder to look back and say, “How could our forefathers have missed this? How could they have missed this? These sacrifices pointed to the ultimate sacrifice in Christ. Here we are doing similar animal sacrifices, and it’s obvious to us that this is symbolic of His sacrifice.” And would that maybe drive the point home even much more clearly for them so that they could have vision their need to accept that sacrifice on their behalf? Yeah, I think in a way, it does fit, it does fit. In fact, we have an example of that today, don’t we? Because not all of those things were forward-looking. Think of the example of the Passover. The example of the Passover, we look back, we look back to the sacrifice of Christ that’s symbolized in the bread and the wine, in the body and the blood of Jesus Christ. The Passover that we celebrate today in a sense embodies an aspect of what future sacrifices would do. They’re physically sacrificing, we take the bread and the wine as we look back to the sacrifice of Christ, and recommit ourselves to living His way.
And so I can’t help but think maybe millennial sacrifices will do the same thing. Will have a similar kind of an impact on them as perhaps the Passover has on us, and see the great significance. How much more valuable is the sacrifice of our Savior on our behalf? Just as an amazing circumstance in that way.
Now, we did mention another issue that kind of is a bit of a problem, because in the Old Testament, it wasn’t just a forward-looking memorial, was it? I don’t think we can contain it in just that one example. I think there’s more to it. The sacrificial system of the Old Covenant had more than just pointing to Jesus Christ. Remember we talked about God’s glory being present there. That certainly is part of it because this future sacrifice that’ll happen during the millennium, it doesn’t seem to be only a memorial for Christ’s death. Just in the same way the Old Testament sacrifices were not entirely just a forward-looking memorial because scripture points out, there’s more to it than that, there’s more to it than that.
Take for example one of the other holy days, the Day of Atonement, the Day of Atonement. If you like to turn back to Leviticus 16, we’re going to look at a word here, it’s the Hebrew word kaphar , it’s K-A-P-H-A-R, and that’s the word, the Hebrew word for atonement. The Hebrew word for atonement, it’s from the base word Kaphar, and it means to atone, yeah, no wonder they translate it that way, but it also means to purge or to cover, to cover. So you’ve heard of Yom Kippur is the day that the Jews call the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippurim, it’s another name, Purim, if you remember during the time of Esther was a cleansing, a restoration, a day of deliverance. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, also called the day of covering, the day of covering. And that encapsulates this meaning of the Hebrew word, kaphar . It’s a covering or atoning, to cover or to purge.
So when you look at, here I’m talking and didn’t turn to Leviticus, when you go to Leviticus 16, we’ll see this word used in verse 6, Leviticus 16:6 Leviticus 16:6And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house.
American King James Version×, it says, “Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house.” So he’s going to make a covering. He’s going to make a kaphar , a purging for himself and for his house. Now goes on and then a little bit later down in verse 17, it says, “There shall be no man in the tabernacle of meeting when he goes in to make atonement in the Holy Place, until he comes out, that he may make atonement for himself, for his household, and for all the assembly of Israel.”
So now we see on the Day of Atonement, that day of covering, it was a covering or a purging, a kaphar for the people and the priests, for everybody, it covered everybody. Now what’s interesting about that is that these rituals, these sacrifices that were made, did they forgive sin? They didn’t forgive sin, not at all. They covered sins, but they didn’t forgive sins. It didn’t make the people during the Old Testament at one with God, did it? It didn’t change them. It didn’t have that impact on their hearts, in their minds. Didn’t change that, didn’t change their minds. In fact, if you want to look back at Hebrews 10 clearly reminds us that it didn’t do that, that was not the impact of those sacrifices even on the Day of Atonement. On the Day of Atonement, verse 3 says, “Those sacrifices were a reminder of sins every year, for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” It’s not possible.
In fact, across the page, we have the description of that covering. Since it didn’t take away sins, what exactly was it doing? Well, if you look over at chapter 9, verse 13. Chapter 9:13, it says, “If the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh.” So what were those sacrifices doing? Well, it was providing atonement, it was providing a covering, it was providing a purifying of the flesh. Wasn’t forgiveness of sin. No, we’re told that really clearly a couple of verses later. There’s a big difference between purification of the flesh and a cleansing of the conscience, cleansing of sin. Those are two totally different things.
Why was that necessary back in the Old Testament? Why was this purification necessary? Remember our considerations that we talked about. We have a holy God, God’s glory, present there with them, and because of God’s presence with them, there had to be a purifying of the flesh, had to be a purifying of the flesh. And so to think of it this way, God had taken up residence in the midst of this unclean people, sinful people. That flesh had to be purified, had to be covered in order for God’s presence to be there.
Okay, now we think about it in those terms—fast-forward to Zechariah and the prophecies about the millennium—will there be the presence of a sinful people among God’s presence? Yeah, there will be. So, here’s Zechariah is looking forward to the return of Christ, he’s looking forward to the millennial temple, and you’ve got this same scenario of a holy God and a sinful people. They’re not yet repentant, they’re learning God’s ways. Hopefully, they’re going to come to repentance, but it seems that these animal sacrifices during the millennium. Yes, it’ll look back to the sacrifice of Christ, but it also seems to serve the purpose to remove that ceremonial uncleanness, to purify the flesh, to prevent this defilement of a physical people polluting this temple of God.
So a very similar circumstance to Old Testament times. Is it necessary? Oh, I think it’s needed because you’ve got the glorious presence of Jesus Christ dwelling on earth in the midst of an unclean, sinful people. And because of that, that sacrificial system will be reinstituted for the purifying of the flesh like Hebrews talks about, like the kaphar of the Old Testament talked about. Because it’s certainly not right to think that animal sacrifices took away sin, didn’t do it. It’s not, I think by comparison in the millennium, it’s not going to take away sin. It’d be the same. Why would it be different? Because we know it’s not the blood of bulls and goats, we know it’s the sacrifice of Christ.
So, in the past, they were for the purifying of the flesh. It seems that it wasn’t just looking forward to the sacrifice, but also that same aspect of functioning for the kaphar , the covering. So it’s got that, at least, maybe more, of purposes, but I think it’s definitely got those two-fold purposes. It will be a memorial that looks back to the sacrifice of Christ, but in a physical sense, it will help clean the people, clean the flesh and remove that outward defilement like they had at Old Testament times. Because when you compare all of these passages, you compare what Ezekiel says, you compare what Malachi says, all of those passages, and Isaiah, the focus is worshipping God. That’s the focus.
The sacrifices will serve as a reminder of our needs, of a physical human being’s needs before a holy God, and it will point to the idea that they must be converted, they must ultimately come to conversion. And in a way, I think it demonstrates God’s love, doesn’t it? That God cares about His people. He wants to remove every single hurdle, every single obstacle that lies in our way of having a right relationship with Him, He wants to get that out of the way. And so it seems that this future sacrificial system will help do that very thing, will help the people come to understand God at a much deeper level, and hopefully make that choice to commit their lives to God.
Now, as we think about that, you might say, “Okay, well that’s kind of interesting, interesting postulations here. What does it have to do with me today? I don’t want to have to worry about that because I want to be converted now. I’m baptized, I’ve been given God’s Spirit, I want to be spirit during the millennium.” Boy, amen to that, no doubt. But the question is what’s most important and what the sacrifices will point people to in the future is not just covering the sin, it’s getting rid of it. It is removing it. Sin must be removed. And so all of these things, I think, point to the tremendous significance that God has made a way that we can have our sins removed.
And when we look through the books of the New Testament, over and over and over again, it points to that very thing. And, you know, it doesn’t use the Hebrew, kaphar , it uses a different word, uses the Greek word—New Testament is written in Greek—the Greek word that it uses is kattallage . Kattallage is the Greek word, and it has an entirely different meaning than kaphar . It means reconciliation, to be reconciled with God, to be made right with God. 2 Corinthians 5:18 2 Corinthians 5:18And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
American King James Version×, points to that very fact when it says that God has reconciled Himself to us, and that happens through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
So this reconciliation is not just a covering, it’s not just a purifying of the flesh, this kattallage is the complete removal of sin. It’s reconciling us to a perfect God. And so we can be justified by the blood of the Lamb. In other words, we can be brought into a right relationship, we can have our sins removed, we can be acquitted of sin, not just purified of the flesh, but we can have our sins acquitted. When we go before God in repentance, we are reconciled to him. And He applies that principle to us so that now, we can be reconciled to the Father through Jesus Christ. That’s totally different than just having a covering.
What does it point to? It points to the fact that there will be a spiritual temple, there’ll be a temple in the future where Jesus Christ will come and He will reside. Today, we are that temple, we are that spiritual temple. So, the imagery, whether you go to the glory of God in the Old Testament, you go to the future of Jesus Christ returning to Jerusalem, God was in the midst. And for us, He is there now. You know, through the power of God’s Spirit, we have God dwelling in us, and so we can be reconciled to God. He wants to pour those blessings out on us so that we can grow in His character, in His attitude, in His way of thinking.
And, in fact, in kind of a roundabout kind of a way, there’s a sacrificial system that we have today, as well. That’s not bulls and goats as Hebrews said. No, that doesn’t cut it, but we are a sacrifice. We’re a living sacrifice, we’re a living sacrifice. Romans 12 talks about that because when we consider the significance for us, and the difference between this purifying of the flesh and the kattallage , the reconciliation, the reconciliation, the kattallage transcends the kaphar of the Old Testament. It transcends that, so that we offer up spiritual sacrifices to God, which in a way, we could say—because that veil is now torn and we have direct access into the Holy of Holies—we have direct access into the presence of God, we should live in the Holy of Holies. We should live, that should be, symbolically, where we’re living right now. And through the power of God’s Spirit, we have that reality in our lives today. So this reconciliation should be a vital part, it has to be our life.
And so no wonder here in these sections of Hebrews, we find those words that we can boldly come before the throne of God. We could boldly come, we can go at any time, because He’s given us the reconciliation, He’s shown us the way. And so no wonder God would have this complete package that, whether it was the Old Testament and His Shekinah glory in the temple and a covering for the purifying of the flesh, whether it’s the future where sacrifices will once again be given as a hindsight memorial and as a covering, as a kaphar for sin in the future, it should be a reminder for us—what a blessing it is to have God’s calling now. What a blessing to have God working with us, to have called us out of this world, so that we can have the opportunity to think like Christ, to have His attitude, to have His perspective, to be given God’s Spirit so that we can have the reconciliation now.
And so let’s live that way. Let’s make it our goal to have that continual reality of living lives of reconciliation, striving always to be a part of that Holy of Holies, to be in the presence of God and boldly go before Him at all times, at all times. And, you know, Zechariah points to the way that makes it all possible. Maybe one of the most inspirational scriptures in all of the Bible, kind of sums up this whole package, I think, in a very short little sense. In fact, it’s over in Zechariah chapter 4, verse 6. Let’s notice Zechariah 4:6 Zechariah 4:6Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, said the LORD of hosts.
American King James Version×. Here is what makes it all possible, Zechariah 4:6 Zechariah 4:6Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, said the LORD of hosts.
American King James Version×, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Eternal of Armies, the Eternal of hosts, the Lord of Sabaoth.”
So He points to what makes reconciliation possible. We have a great God that has poured out His Spirit on us, and He wants to call all mankind, He looks forward to calling all mankind. So no wonder, no wonder there will be sacrifices in the millennium to show the greatness of our God who makes a way, who makes a way by the power of His Holy Spirit.
Right, well, that will do it for our study for this evening. I certainly hope that you’ve enjoyed the study. There’s so much more in the book of Zechariah, I wish there was more time to cover, this is just one little piece. So many other prophecies that we could cover maybe at a later date, we’ll try to cover more of those down the line.
This will conclude then our series on the Minor Prophets. We will get together on June 7th to begin our next series of Bible studies, so we hope that you’ll join us then. If you haven’t heard all of the Bible studies on the Minor Prophets, they are archived on the website, so you can go there and listen and catch up on all of those that are already there. So thank you for coming tonight, have a safe trip back home, and we look forward to seeing you next time.