The Word of the Lord Concerning Israel

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Dear saints, we’re going to head our ship toward Israel today!  We’ve looked at Syria, Egypt and Psalm 83 nations; now let’s hear God’s Word concerning Israel, specifically Jerusalem!  There are various prophecies concerning Jerusalem throughout Scripture (as we’ve already seen), but today we’ll look at a specific prophecy in Zechariah 12.

The prophet Zechariah, writing after the Israelites’ return from captivity in Babylon, prophesied exclusively of Jerusalem.  God gave him eight visions, four messages and a tremendous burden for Jerusalem, and He granted him vision into the near and far future of Jerusalem.  Thus, in Zechariah you will find prophecies fulfilled and prophecies awaiting fulfillment.

Please read Zechariah 12.  Just as we found in the prophecy about Egypt, the term “In that day…” is used often.  How many times do you find it in this chapter, and to what is “in that day” referring?

This chapter paints the picture of the final siege of Jerusalem.  Look carefully at verses 2-3.  What two things will Jerusalem become in the last days?  What do you think that means?

Indeed, Jerusalem is proving to be a cup of reeling and a heavy stone.  Today’s international news is filled with reports of strife, failed peace plans and trouble, all centered around Jerusalem.  Verse 3 states that “…all who lift it [the burden of Jerusalem] will be severely injured.”  “Severely injured” could be translated to mean “ruptured.”

Interestingly, Jesus Himself was also a heavy stone that caused great destruction.  Read Matthew 21:42-44.  What does verse 44 warn will happen if one falls on this stone?  Likewise, those who try to fix Jerusalem’s problems will be broken, severely injured and even ruptured!

Verses 4-7 of Zechariah 12 describe what the Lord will bring about “in that day.”  However, in verse 8-9 the Lord makes two promises.  What are those promises?

Now, take another look at verse 10.  The pouring out of the Holy Spirit in verse 10 reminds us that it is the Spirit who convicts of sin and reveals God’s righteousness to us.  One day, the Holy Spirit will remove the scales from the eyes of the Jews, and, as this passage attests, Israel will finally recognize her Messiah.  Sins will be forgiven and God’s righteousness will find its home in the heart of Israel!  What an incredible prophecy!

Prophetically, we will see God’s far-reaching grace extend to Egypt, and we’ll see extraordinary grace reach God favored people.  Indeed, the end times will ultimately reflect God’s grace.  But let’s learn some grace lessons from Jerusalem, shall we?  This time we will borrow from a teaching by Jon Courson, senior pastor at Applegate Christian Fellowship.

Though truly God’s chosen city, Jerusalem reflects the imperfections of God’s chosen people.  Though “chosen” as believers (Colossians 3:12, 2 Thessalonians 2:13), our own imperfections certainly leave us in need of God’s unfathomable grace.

For an example of Jerusalem’s imperfections, turn to 1 Kings 11.  The first 8 verses paint an ugly picture of Israel’s King Solomon.  You may recognize some of the people groups identified in verse 1 as distinct enemies of Israel, yet Solomon took many of their women as wives, princesses and concubines.  Is it any wonder that Israel eventually found itself off track?

But focus briefly on verse 7.  Here, we learn that Solomon built altars to pagan idols, including Molech.  In 2 Chronicles 33:1-6 we are told that about 300 years later, Manasseh, wicked king of Judah, actually burned children on the altars of Molech.  Foreign wives turned Solomon’s heart toward pagan practices and created political compromise, and horrible consequences are obvious 300 years later.

Consider this: going to bed with the enemy makes peace a very difficult thing.  As desiring as Jerusalem is of peace today, her willingness to get in bed with the enemy has cost her dearly.

Throughout Israel’s historic pursuit of peace there seems to have been one “non-negotiable”:  Jerusalem.  But today, even Jerusalem is being negotiated away.  The more compromise, the more hellish the situation.  Compromise brings foreign gods.

What about us?  My guess is there is not a single person journeying with us who would willingly lay their children on the altar of Molech.  But what other “foreign gods” invade our lives?  Is it pursuit of prestige, power or significance?  What about the love of money?  Are there altars we have unwittingly built that separate us from the love and grace of God, and may ultimately destroy us?  Is peace in your life an elusive thing?

At various times and to various degrees, if honest, we would all have to admit to altars to foreign gods.  But, fellow believers, may I remind you of Zechariah 12:8-10?

Not only will the Lord defend Jerusalem and destroy all that come against her, but He will also defend you and all that comes against you!  He will pour out His Spirit of grace and of supplication upon you, just as He will upon His chosen city.  Why?  Because we are chosen and beloved by Him!

If you are a believer, but not steeped in that truth, you must be.  Seek out a mature Christian friend or a pastor to help guide you.  It is vital in your battle against “foreign gods” that invade your life.  Learn the lessons of Jerusalem!

As we learn the lessons of Jerusalem, let’s remember to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  Is it any wonder why God commands us to do so?  Great job today, fellow sojourners!  I look forward to studying this week’s final lesson with you tomorrow.  See you then!

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