From Jim McGuiggan... WHO'S SPEAKING, GOD OR ME?


We’re tempted to read Romans 1:18-32 and think every Gentile in world history was a villain and a reprobate. That certainly wasn’t Paul’s view or point because in Romans 2:14-15 he insists that there were Gentiles whose moral lives were to be commended. Then in chapters 2 & 3 he paints the nation of Israel in the gloomiest colours. “There is no one who is righteous, not even one…there is no one who seeks God. All have turned aside, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one” (3:10-12). This is a generalized description of the history of the nation as a corporate entity and doesn’t describe Hannah, Samuel, Ruth, Habakkuk and a host of righteous individuals. Every accountable person sins, of course, but that’s not what Romans 1:18—3:20 is about; it speaks in general terms of humanity’s faithless response to God whether Jews or Gentiles as a contrast to God’s gracious faithfulness (3:20-28). “There is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one” is not a description of Ruth and “all have turned aside [and] become worthless” is no description of Hannah or her righteous son Samuel.

This tendency to ignore a text’s purpose and apply it to every specific case under heaven leads us to say silly things and very often in a heartless fashion we bind burdens on people, burdens of extraordinary weight (compare Matthew 23:4). When that’s our way of thinking there are no “exceptional” cases or “extenuating circumstances”. With a handful of laws and a string of verses all ready for use our approach is, “The Law’s the Law!” and non-believers who know better than that become even more sceptical of the Bible we church-goers are representing. [“Does their Bible really teach that way? If so…”] It’s bad enough that they take offence at plain biblical truth; it’s worse when they are needlessly confronted with pseudo-scandals.

With our “paint them all the same” mentality Jean Valjean’s stealing a loaf to feed his starving sister and her kids is treated the same as the act of a career-thief, the abortion of a baby with horrific defects is treated the same as the act of the famous tennis-player aborting a very well developed human so she could play a couple more seasons of tennis, the 14 year old boy who went to the hospital and shot to death the older brother he idolized who in agony had begged him to put him out of his misery is morally condemned as surely as the callous assassin who kills humans as he would a cockroach and an elected government taking the life of an impenitent serial killer is regarded as vengeful and barbaric as the killer. We don’t have to approve of any of these acts but to lump them all together with a glib, “They’re all the same!” is ethical and biblical nonsense that results in heartless treatment of fellow-strugglers and promotes the despising of law that we think we’re honouring.

It doesn’t matter that it might be “easier” if all “crimes” were treated as if they were equally reprehensible. It doesn’t matter that we’re afraid of opening a door that we might later wish we had kept shut. We have no right to be more rigid than God and we have no right to grab verses to “prove” our case which in fact have no immediate relevance to our case. When we do that we’re false witnesses for God, which is what Job called his friends at one point and told them that God would hold them accountable for it.

Right or wrong, I am personally opposed to the case for “mercy killings” but it has nothing to do with “You shall not kill!” in Exodus 20:13 because Exodus 20:13 has nothing to do with an elderly man who has adored his sweet wife for sixty-five years and can’t bear to see her suffer any more and gives her medicine she begs for that hastens her death. I don’t say he has done the right thing but I’ll be hanged if I’ll agree that he comes under the judgment of breaking Exodus 20:13.
Though it’s often more complex than it looks the problem doesn’t lie so much in the areas where God speaks “plainly”—it lies in our wish to “cover all the bases”. He condemns “murder” so we logic our way to a condemnation of every conceivable taking of life under every conceivable circumstance and we insist that these are embraced in the command, “You shall not murder!” God clearly condemns adultery and homosexuality [sometimes under the cover-all word “porneia”] and we logic our way to a condemnation of everything that even looks like “sexual immorality” or that could lead to it.

Someone recently defined the right kind of kiss for me. It had to be “a peck” that didn’t sexually stimulate because the Song of Solomon warns against doing anything that sexually stimulates. For some it isn’t just a specific act that’s wrong; the wrong includes being in a place where an act of arousal could take place. So from the truth that God sees full sexual fulfilment as the experience between a husband and wife and their commitment of fidelity exclusively one to another we logic our way down to what kind of kisses, glances, hand-holding, touching and how closely chaperoned unmarried people should be.

I once listened to a shepherd in an assembly argue that since they were to shepherd people’s souls they should know everyone’s income and out-goings that they could wisely instruct them on how much they should give. The logic was impressive. I asked if he thought they should enquire after the sexual comings and goings between husbands and wives so that they might wisely instruct them in that as well. From God’s call to leaders to be shepherds of his people we were “logic-ing” our way to a blueprint for living handed down by concerned leaders.

This is a very complex area because we’re in need of wise, courageous and compassionate leaders—especially in our areas of known weakness—but no one is God but God. Our wisdom may be real and undoubted in some areas but we all have our limits and where we don’t have a plain word from God that is manifestly an absolute and universal we need to be careful when we claim we’re speaking for him. There’s no point in denying that there are wise and compassionate Christians whose guidance we should consider very seriously. These people are gifts to us (Ephesians 4:8, 11-16) to God’s glory and for the blessing of humanity.

Still, we must be careful how we handle scripture and we should be careful about making our wise advice into God’s commands. My specific moral weaknesses may mean that a specific piece of advice or warning is important—even critically important for my welfare while for someone else it may be redundant or even counter-productive. To urge some of us to avoid certain places or certain companions may be the kindest thing that can be done for us. To tell Jesus (or a devoted servant of his) to avoid a certain class of people would be absurd or a denial of their calling and giftedness.

Some years ago a friend and I were debating the issue of the Christian and dancing. He thought that all dancing was sinful (except school cheer-leading which sometimes looks like lap-dancers are at work). Somewhere around midnight his boy came in all sweaty and rumpled looking; he and his girlfriend had been out for a drive and he had just left her home. The dance debate stalled. So where should we go? From all dancing is sinful to no dancing is sinful? It doesn’t settle anything to point to some of the dancing that goes on in the movie and music videos and say that’s the same as line-dancing or folk dancing or the heavily costumed national dances or even a well-conducted prom dance. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that the setting and the purpose of the dance may well make a difference to the dance but there are only a few strange ones among us who think that folk dancing is voluptuous. But for fear of being thought “soft on sin” or setting someone on “the slippery slope” we’re tempted to be “consistent” and brand all dancing as sinful. Of course we have to start with a verse so we go hunting for one that’ll fit and, “Avoid every appearance of evil” is a good text to prove any case you favour if you can’t find one that’s specific enough.

But it matters in the end who's speaking: God or me?

One Question, Three Different Answers by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


One Question, Three Different Answers

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Three times in the book of Acts, Luke the physician recorded non-Christians asking what they needed to do to be saved, and three times a different answer was given. The heathen jailor from Philippi asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?,” and was told: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (16:30-31). The Jews on Pentecost asked the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?,” and were instructed to “repent and be baptized” (2:37-38). A few years later, Saul (later called Paul—Acts 13:9) asked Jesus, Who appeared to Saul on his way to Damascus, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” (9:6; 22:10). After being told to go into Damascus to find out what he “must do” to be saved, Ananias, the Lord’s servant, commanded Saul to “[a]rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (22:16). The question that many ask is: “Why are three different answers given to the same question?” Are these answers contradictory, or is there a logical explanation for their differences?
The reason that three different answers were given to the question of salvation is because on each occasion the questioners were at different “locations” on the road to salvation. The rationality of such answers can be illustrated by considering what a person is told in reference to his physical distance from a certain city. If a friend calls me to ask how far it is from his house in Jackson, Tennessee to my parents’ house in Neosho, Missouri, I would inform him that he is 475 miles from Neosho. If he calls me back the next day, notifying me that he is now in Little Rock, Arkansas, and asks about the distance to Neosho, I would give him a different answer. He now would be 260 miles from Neosho. If, later that evening, he called me one last time and asked how far Fort Smith is from Neosho, again I would give him a different answer—130 miles. No rational person would accuse me of contradicting myself, since each question was asked from a different reference point. Three different answers were given, but all three were correct. Likewise, the New Testament records three different answers given to the question, “What must I do to be saved,” because the sinners who asked these questions were at different places of understanding on the road to salvation.
The Philippian jailor was commanded to believe in Christ, because he had not yet heard and believed the saving message of Jesus (Acts 16:31-32; Romans 10:17). It would have been pointless for Paul and Silas to command the jailor to repent and/or be baptized when he had not yet even heard the Gospel. If today, a Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist, asked a Christian the same question the Philippian jailor asked Paul and Silas, the same answer would need to be given. Before ever teaching a Muslim about the essentiality of repentance and baptism, he first must express belief in Jesus as the Son of God. If this step (i.e., believing) is never taken on the road to salvation, the other steps are meaningless. [NOTE: The Bible reveals that after Paul and Silas “spoke the word of the Lord” to the jailor and his household, they believed and “immediately” were baptized (Acts 16:33). By implication, Paul and Silas must have taught the jailor and his family about the essentiality of baptism after stressing the need to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” (cf. Acts 8:35-36,38). Question: If water baptism has nothing to do with salvation, then why were the jailor and his household immersed in water not long after midnight (cf. Acts 16:25,33)?]
The Jews on Pentecost had already heard Peter’s sermon when they asked their question about salvation (Acts 2:37). Peter knew that they already believed, and that such belief came from hearing the message he preached (cf. Romans 10:17). The Jews had passed the point of belief (being “pricked in their heart”), and were told to “repent and be baptized” in order to obtain salvation (cf. Mark 16:16).
Still, someone might wonder why Ananias told Saul neither to believe nor repent when he informed him about how to have his sins washed away. The reason: Saul already was a penitent believer in Christ by the time he came in contact with Ananias. Saul did not need to be told to believe or repent, since he had already done so. He knew the Lord existed, having spoken directly with Him on the road to Damascus, and he expressed a penitent attitude by praying to God and fasting for three days (Acts 9:9,11). At this point, Saul lacked only one thing: he needed to be baptized (Acts 22:16).
The reason these sinners were told three different things regarding salvation was because they were at different starting points when given the various answers. It is as if the jailor were in Jackson, Tennessee, the Jews on Pentecost in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Saul in Fort Smith. All wanted to go to the same place, but were at different starting points when they asked the question, “What must I do to be saved?” The unbeliever was told to believe. The believers were told to repent. And the penitent believer was told to be baptized. The three statements may be different, but they are not contradictory. For a person to become a child of God, he or she must do all three (see John 8:24; Luke 13:3,5; Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16).

From Mark Copeland... Malachi - My Messenger (2:17-4:6)

                    "STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS"

                   Malachi - My Messenger (2:17-4:6)


1. In our previous lesson we introduced the last of "The Minor
   a. Malachi, whose name means "My Messenger"
   b. A prophet of God during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah (ca. 444 
   c. A prophet who like Ezra the priest...
      1) Attacked the spiritual and moral decay at that time
      2) Especially among the priests
   d. A prophet who used the didactic-dialectic style of teaching
      1) Making a charge, raising potential objections, and then 
         refuting them
      2) Which later became common in Jewish schools and synagogues

2. We have already seen how Malachi addressed three problems affecting
   Israel at that time...
   a. They were doubting God's love - Mal 1:1-5
   b. They were dishonoring God's name - Mal 1:6-2:9
      1) By offering blemished sacrifices
      2) By offering half-hearted worship
   c. They were profaning God's covenant - Mal 2:10-16
      1) By marrying heathen women
      2) By divorcing their Jewish wives

3. In the last section of the book of Malachi, we find...
   a. More indications of their spiritual and moral decay
   b. Promises concerning the coming Messiah!

[We begin with the last verse of the second chapter, noting how...]


      1. They had wearied God with their words
      2. Especially regarding His justice:
         a. For they said that those who do evil is good in God's 
            sight, that He even delights in them
         b. For they asked, "Where is the God of justice?"

      1. First, the "messenger" who will prepare His way for Him - Mal 3:1a
         a. A clear reference to John the Baptist
         b. Compare Isa 40:3; Mt 3:1-3; 11:7-10
      2. Then will appear the "Messenger of the covenant" - Mal 3:1b
         a. Here the reference is to Christ, the Messiah for which they
            had longed
         b. Who certainly came to His temple - Mt 21:12ff
         c. And was a messenger of a new covenant - Mt 26:26-28
      3. His coming will be one to purge His people - Mal 3:2-5
         a. Like a refiner's fire and a fuller's soap
         b. The sons of Levi (i.e., priests) especially, that their
            offerings may be acceptable
         c. He will come near to judge those who do not fear the Lord 
            - cf. Mt 3:11-12

[With the coming of the "Messenger of the covenant", they would have
their answer to the question "Where is the God of justice?"  

As we continue, we see yet another complaint God had against the 
Israelites in Malachi's day...]


      1. Unlike God Himself, whose unchanging nature has kept Him from
         totally consuming Israel! - Mal 3:6
      2. Yet their history showed a practice of apostasy - Mal 3:7a
      3. Even when called to return, they ask "In what way shall we 
         return?" - Mal 3:7b
      4. No answer is given directly
         a. Perhaps because the answer is so obvious it does not 
            deserve a response
         b. Or the answer is given by the example which follows...

      1. They had robbed God by their failure to offer their tithes 
         - Mal 3:8
      2. For this reason the whole nation had been accursed - Mal 3:9
      3. They are challenged to bring the tithes, and to see the 
         blessings that would follow - Mal 3:10-12

[The sixth and final complaint that God had against them is now 


      1. Their words were harsh against God - Mal 3:13
      2. Questioning what profit there was in keeping His ordinances 
         - Mal 3:14
      2. Calling the proud blessed, saying the wicked are raised up,
         and those who tempt God go free - Mal 3:15

      1. Those who feared the Lord, as they spoke to one another - Mal 3:16a
      2. Whom the Lord noticed, and a "book of remembrance" was written
         - Mal 3:16b
      3. Whom the Lord promised to make His "jewels" and spare them 
         - Mal 3:17
         a. It will be easy to discern the righteous - Mal 3:18
         b. For the day was coming when the wicked will be burned liked
            stubble - Mal 4:1
         c. But those who fear His name will be blessed  by "the Sun of
            Righteousness" (i.e., Jesus) - Mal 4:2-3
      4. Until then...
         a. The faithful are exhorted to heed the Law of Moses - Mal 4:4
         b. And await the coming of "Elijah the prophet" (i.e., John
            the Baptist) who will come to prepare people for the coming
            of the Lord - Mal 4:5-6; cf. Lk 1:16-17


1. As with most prophets, Malachi had a message for both the present
   and the future...
   a. Exhorting the people to look at themselves, how they were guilty
      1) Doubting God's love
      2) Dishonoring God's name
      3) Profaning God's covenant
      4) Trying God's patience
      5) Forsaking God's ordinances
      6) Despising God's service
      -- Note:  These points were adapted from Wiersbe's "Be Amazed"
   b. Encouraging the people to look forward to the coming of:
      1) God's Messenger (John), who would come in the spirit of Elijah
         and prepare people for the coming of the Lord
      2) The Messenger of the covenant (Jesus), who come to refine and
         purify those willing to repent, and bring judgment on those
         who do not fear the Lord

2. It is encouraging to note that some evidently took Malachi's message
   to heart - Mal 3:16-18
   a. Whom the Lord would claim as His
   b. Whom the Lord would make His "jewels"
   c. Whom the Lord would spare as a man spares His own son who serves

As we come to the close of this survey of "The Minor Prophets", perhaps
it is appropriate to ask:  Are we willing to take the prophets' messages
to heart?

   * They were written for our learning and admonition - cf. Ro 15:4;
     1Co 10:11

   * They help make us wise for the salvation which by faith in Christ
     - cf. 2Ti 3:14-15

   * They are certainly profitable for instruction in righteousness
     - cf. 2Ti 3:16-17

I pray that in some way this series has helped you to appreciate the
value of studying "The Minor Prophets" and making application of them
to your life.

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... Malachi - My Messenger (1:1-2:16)

                    "STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS"

                   Malachi - My Messenger (1:1-2:16)


1. With the aid of the prophetic ministries of Haggai and Zechariah...
   a. The temple was rebuilt - Ezra 5:1-2; 6:14-16
   b. What had begun in 536 B.C. was finally finished in 516 B.C.

2. In 458 B.C., another group of exiles returned to Jerusalem, led by
   a. A priest
   b. His work was to teach the people the word of God - Ezra 7:10

3. About 444 B.C., a third group of exiles returned led by Nehemiah...
   a. Who became governor
   b. Under his leadership, the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt
      (Neh 1-6)
   c. Together with Ezra, he led the people to a great revival (Neh 7-13)

4. Contemporary with Ezra and Nehemiah was another prophet, Malachi...
   a. His name means "My Messenger"
      1) Certainly Malachi was a messenger of God
      2) But he also spoke of God's messengers to come - Mal 3:1
   b. Like Ezra the priest...
      1) Malachi attacked the spiritual and moral decay that was
      2) Among both priests and people
   c. In so doing, he resorted to a new style of teaching
      1) Known as the didactic-dialectic method of speaking
      2) I.e., making a charge, raising potential objections, and then
         refuting them
      3) Which later became common in Jewish schools and synagogues

[In this study, we shall consider several examples of this style of
teaching as we survey the first two chapters.  In these chapters we
find Malachi addressing several problems...]


      1. After years of captivity, one might understand why they felt
         this way
      2. Their return from Babylonian captivity was not without

      1. Note the didactic-dialectic style - Mal 1:2
         a. "I have loved you"
         b. "In what way have You loved us?"
         c. "Was not Esau Jacob's brother?  Yet Jacob I have loved; but
            Esau I have hated"
      2. God is speaking of Jacob and Esau as the representative of
         their descendant nations; God did not hate Esau personally,
         but did hate what Edom as a nation had become
      3. He goes on to illustrate what He means
         a. Edom (the descendants of Esau) had become desolate; despite
            their claims to the country, it would remain desolate
            - Mal 1:3-4
         b. But Israel would one day see the Lord magnified beyond its
            border - Mal 1:5

[If the people only observed how Israel was being restored while Edom
remained desolate, they would know God still loved them as a nation.

But perhaps their doubting of God's love had led to another problem
that was prevalent at that time...]


      1. Sons honor their fathers, and servants their masters; but they
         were despising God
      2. When asked in what way, they are told of their defiled
      3. They were offering to God what they would be embarrassed to
         offer men
      4. The Lord would even wish that someone shut the doors so they
         could not sacrifice
      5. Despite their dishonor, one day God's name would be great even
         among the Gentiles

      1. They also were profaning God's name by saying His service is
         contemptible and a weariness
      2. Those who continued to bring blemished sacrifices would fall
         under God's curse, for He is "a great King"

      1. Addressing the priests directly, the nature of God's curse is
         graphically depicted
      2. Because they had failed to live up to what was expected of
         God's priests, He will make them base and contemptible

[As Malachi continues, we also learn...]


      1. They were dealing treacherously and profaning the covenant
         made with their fathers by marrying pagan women ("the daughter
         of a foreign God")
      2. This nature of this problem is described in Ezra 9-10; Neh 13:23-24
      3. Malachi prays that the Lord will cut off from Jacob those who
         do this - Mal 2:12; cf. Ezr 10:7-8; Neh 13:23-28

      1. Despite their weeping, God was no longer regarding their
         sacrifices - cf. 1Pe 3:7
      2. For they had dealt treacherously with the wives of the their
         youth (i.e., Jewish wives) by divorcing them
         a. Even though they had entered into a covenant (e.g., "Till
            death do us part")
         b. Even though God had made them one (cf. Gen 2:24)
      3. Therefore God hates divorce - Mal 2:16
         a. For it covers one's garment with violence (e.g., against
            the wife and children)
         b. It is treacherous to so deal with one's spouse in that way!


1. Israel was showing signs of spiritual and moral decay...
   a. Failing to appreciate God's love for them
   b. Dishonoring God by offering second-best and half-hearted worship
   c. Profaning God's covenant by disregarding it and their wives

2. It is easy for Christians to make application with such verses...
   a. As spiritual priests we are to offer spiritual sacrifices (1 Pe 2:9; Ro 12:1-2)
   b. Is our service honoring God?  Or do we:
      1) Dishonor God by offering less than our best and with
         half-hearted service?
      2) Profane God's covenant by disregarding the covenant we made
         with Him and our wives when we married them?
      3) Hinder our worship to God by our treatment of our wives?
   c. Are we any better than the priests of Malachi's day?

Let the book of Malachi be a guide as to when one's religion is showing
signs of spiritual and moral decay!   Certainly God is worthy of our
best, and we should do what we can to make sure these words prove true:

      For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down,
         My name shall be great among the Gentiles;
      In every place incense shall be offered to My name,
         And a pure offering;
      For My name shall be great among the nations,"
         Says the LORD of hosts.
                                - Malachi 1:11

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... Zechariah - I Am Zealous For Zion (12:1-14:21)

                    "STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS"

             Zechariah - I Am Zealous For Zion (12:1-14:21)


1. With this final lesson on the book of Zechariah, we come to the
   second of two "burdens" which make up the last six chapters...
   a. The first "burden" was against Israel's enemies, though it also
      spoke of Israel's hope for the future - cf. Zech 9:1-2,9-10
   b. This second "burden" is against Israel herself, though it too
      speaks of a glorious future for Jerusalem - cf. Zech 12:1;

2. As previously mentioned, these last chapters are among the most
   difficult in the Bible...
   a. Some look for a literal fulfillment of what is described,
      concluding it has yet to come
   b. Others suggest this section is figurative, and is fulfilled with
      the coming of Christ and His kingdom, the church

3. I confess I am challenged by this section of Scripture; what I will
   do in this lesson is:
   a. Briefly survey the main points presented in Zechariah's prophecy
   b. Offer some thoughts as to what this prophecy refers to

[As we have seen from the very beginning, the main theme of the book is
"I Am Zealous For Zion" (cf. Zech 1:14).  This last section certainly
resounds with that theme as it describes...]


      1. Jerusalem is depicted in some future time as under siege by
         the nations - Zech 12:1-9
      2. "In that day" (12:3,4), the Lord will use Jerusalem:
         a. As a "cup of drunkenness" to all the surrounding peoples
         b. As a "very heavy stone" for all peoples
         -- I.e., Jerusalem will be a means by which God judges the 
      3. "In that day" (12:6,8,9), the Lord will defend Jerusalem, and
         destroy her enemies
      1. Cleansed from her sins - Zech 12:10-13:6
         a. The Lord will pour out on Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and
         b. They will look on Him whom they have pierced, and mourn "in
            that day" (12:11) as they did when Josiah died - cf. 2 Chr 35:20-25
         c. "In that day" (13:1,2,4), the Lord will...
            1) Open a fountain for sin and for uncleanness
            2) Cut off the idols from the land
            3) Cause the prophets and unclean spirit to depart from the
               land, prompting...
               a) Parents to kill their sons who dare to prophesy
               b) Those who prophesy to be ashamed and admit they are
                  not prophets
      2. Refined through persecution - Zech 13:7-9
         a. The Shepherd will be struck and His sheep scattered - cf. 
            Mt 26:31-32
         b. But the Lord will use this to refine and test the people of
            God - cf. He 12:3-11

      1. "The day of the Lord" is coming when the Lord will gather all
         the nations to battle against Jerusalem  - Zech 14:1-3
         a. The city will be taken and rifled, the women ravished
         b. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant
            will not be cut off
      2. But then the Lord go forth and fight against those nations 
         - Zech 14:4-7
         a. He will stand on the Mount of Olives, which will cause a
            great valley
         b. Through the valley the people will flee for safety
         c. "In that day" (14:6) there will be no light until evening

      1. What is said of Jerusalem "in that day" (14:8,9) - Zech 14:8-11
         a. Living waters shall flow from Jerusalem both east and west,
            summer and winter
         b. The Lord will be King over all the earth
         c. The land from Geba (6 mi. NE of Jerusalem) to Rimmon (35
            mi. SW of Jerusalem) will be turned into a plain, while 
            Jerusalem will be built up and safely inhabited
      2. What is said of Jerusalem's enemies "in that day" (14:13) 
         - Zech 14:12-15
         a. The Lord will strike them with a plague
         b. The Lord will send a great panic among them
         c. Judah will fight for Jerusalem, with the wealth of the
            nations gathered
         d. The plague will afflict even the animals
      3. What is said of Jerusalem "in that day" (14:20,21), continued
         - Zech 14:16-21
         a. Those of the nations which remain will worship the King,
            the LORD of hosts and keep the Feast of Tabernacles
         b. Those who do not will experience drought and the plague
         c. "Holiness to the Lord" will be engraved on the bells of the
            horses - cf. Exo 28:36-38
         d. The pots in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holiness to the
            LORD of Hosts
         e. There shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the
            LORD of hosts

[Can you see why it has been said that these last six chapters are 
among the most difficult in the Bible?  What is this talking about?  
Has it been fulfilled?]

      1. Are we to expect a literal or figurative fulfillment?
      2. Was it fulfilled at the beginning of the Messianic period?
         (His first coming)
      3. Or is it to be fulfilled toward the end of the Messianic 
         period? (His second coming)

      1. As mentioned previously, I recommend the following regarding 
         OT prophecy:
         a. Where the inspired writers of the NT have provided inspired
            interpretation, we should certainly hold to what they wrote
         b. But with prophecies of the OT where NT writers have not
            commented, we should be very cautious
            1) We can offer our understanding as to what they pertain
            2) But we should abstain from developing doctrines or 
               practices based upon our uninspired interpretations of 
               such prophecies
            3) Indeed, many false doctrines and cults are based upon
               speculative interpretations of OT prophecies
      2. Those who believe in a literal fulfillment say it is yet to be
         a. The pre-millenialist, for example, believes this section 
            pertains to events surrounding literal Jerusalem just prior
            to the coming of Christ
         b. But what little is quoted by Jesus and NT writers is 
            applied to His first coming
            1) Compare Zech 13:7 with Mt 26:31-32; Mk 14:27
            2) Compare Zech 12:10 with Jn 19:37
      3. I believe this section is intended to be understood 
         a. For that is how inspired men in the NT often explained OT
            prophecy; e.g....
            1) Notice how James applied Amos 9:11-12
            2) He applied the rebuilding of the tabernacle of David to
               the establishment of the church - cf. Ac 15:14-17
         b. If so, then Jerusalem throughout this section should be 
            understood as the church
            1) As seen in He 12:22-24
            2) That the Lord is illustrating how His care, cleansing,
               deliverance and glory for His people would continue
            3) But it is written in terms meaningful to the people of
               Zechariah's day
      4. I am not closed to the idea that there may be futuristic 
         elements of this prophecy
         a. For Peter indicates that some of Isaiah's prophecies were
            yet to be fulfilled - cf. 2Pe 3:13-14 with Isa 65:17-19;
         b. But if there are, I would tend to view Zechariah's prophecy
            in the same time frame as Re 20:7-22:25
            1) I.e., a depiction of the church in its last tribulation
               and ultimate glory
            2) In which both Zechariah and John describe it in terms
               particularly meaningful to the people of their day


1. While the book of Zechariah may continue to challenge us, its main
   purpose is evident...
   a. Zechariah was sent to encourage the people of God
   b. This he did, through visions, teachings, and prophecies
   c. His theme throughout is the same:  "I Am Zealous For Zion"

2. As Christians in the church of our Lord...
   a. We have come to "Mt Zion and to the City of living God, the
      heavenly Jerusalem" - He 12:22
   b. We can rest assured that regarding His church today the Lord is
      still "zealous for Zion"!

In light of the wonderful truth expressed by Paul...

   Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but
   fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of
   God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and
   prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in
   whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a
   holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built
   together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.  (Ep 2:19-22)

...may we be diligent in building the "temple" (church) of the Lord 

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... Zechariah - I Am Zealous For Zion (9:1-11:17)

                    "STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS"

             Zechariah - I Am Zealous For Zion (9:1-11:17)


1. The last six chapters of the book of Zechariah contain two "burdens"
   (i.e., weighty words of judgment)...
   a. The "burden" against Israel's enemies - cf. Zech 9:1-2
   b. The "burden" against Israel herself - Zech 12:1

2. There is a sharp contrast between these chapters and the first 
   a. Prompting some to suggest they may have been written by a 
      different author
   b. While others (myself included) believe they were written much 
      later in the life of Zechariah

3. Though the temple was completed by this time, and Zechariah's 
   initial work a success...
   a. His work as a prophet was not over
   b. Through him the Lord has much to say about the future of Israel,
      with glimpses concerning the coming Messiah (Jesus)

[In this lesson, we shall survey the first "burden", which contains
words of judgment against Israel's longtime enemies, while offering 
words of hope to Israel herself...]


      1. Against its leading cities:  Damascus, Tyre, Sidon - Zech 9:
      2. Despite her strength and wealth, the Lord will bring 
         destruction - Zech 9:3-4
      -- Many commentators point to the conquests of Alexander the 
         Great as the fulfillment of this prophecy (ca. 333 B.C.)

      1. Her cities (Gaza, Ekron, Ashkelon) will be dismayed - Zech 9:5
      2. Strangers will abide there; those that remain will be for God
         - Zech 9:6-7
      3. In contrast, God will protect His house, or Israel - Zech 9:8
      -- Alexander the Great did not destroy Jerusalem as he made his 
         way through Palestine (cf. Josephus, Antiquities Of The Jews)

[Verse 8 might actually belong to what follows.  If so, then it begins
what appears to be designed to provide comfort to Israel concerning her


      1. The promise of the King - Zech 9:9a
      2. The character of the King - Zech 9:9b
      3. The nature of His kingdom - Zech 9:10
         a. A peaceful kingdom
         b. A universal reign
      -- That Jesus fulfilled this passage is taught in the New 
         Testament! - Mt 21:1-7; 28:18; Ep 1:22; 2:14-17

      1. Her prisoners will be delivered, even from her enemies like
         Greece - Zech 9:11-13
      2. The Lord lead them to victory and glory - Zech 9:14-17
      -- The fulfillment of this passage may be figurative, alluding to
         the spiritual victory we have in Christ (cf. Lk 4:16-21);
         some, however, believe Zechariah is returning to the theme of
         Israel overcoming the Greeks in the time of Alexander

      1. The people are encouraged to seek blessings from the Lord, not
         idols - Zech 10:1-2
      2. The Lord will provide proper shepherds - Zech 10:3-5
         a. The old leaders removed
         b. New leaders raised up to lead them to victory
      3. Both Judah and Joseph (Ephraim) will be redeemed and restored
         - Zech 10:6-8
      4. Though sown among the nations, they shall remember and return
         - Zech 10:9-11
      5. Strengthened in the Lord, they shall walk in His name - Zech 10:12
      -- While speaking in terms that may have been meaningful to the
         Israelites of that day, this section may also have its 
         fulfillment in the work of Christ through the gospel

      1. With great imagery, coming judgment is described - Zech 11:1-3
         a. Coming by way of the north (Lebanon)
         b. In which the shepherds in particular wail for their loss
      2. Zechariah is told to feed a flock destined for slaughter 
         - Zech 11:4-6
         a. Whose owners and shepherds do not pity them
         b. For a time is coming when the Lord would not pity His flock
      3. Zechariah does so, but not for long - Zech 11:7-14
         a. He starts by making two staffs, one called "Beauty", the 
            other "Bonds"
         b. He feeds the flock, but not without opposition from the 
            other shepherds
         c. He gives up on the flock, breaking his staffs
            1) The breaking of "Beauty" symbolizing the breaking of the
            2) He is paid 30 pieces of silver, and is told to throw it
               to the potter
            3) Then he breaks "Bonds" which symbolizes the break of the
               brotherhood between Judah and Israel
      4. Zechariah is then told to take the implements of a foolish 
         shepherd - Zech 11:15-17
         a. For the Lord will one day raise up a foolish shepherd
         b. One who will not care for the flock, upon whom judgment 
            will come
      5. What is this chapter about?  
         a. Many see in it the destruction that befell Israel and 
            Jerusalem by the hands of the Romans in A.D. 70
         b. Because Israel's shepherds (leaders) rejected its Good 
            Shepherd for which they paid a paltry 30 pieces of silver
            (cf. Mt 27:1-10), they were rejected by God


1. The last six chapters of Zechariah have been described as some of 
   the most difficult in the Bible...
   a. The difficulty lies in discerning the true fulfillment of these
   b. Not only their initial fulfillment, but whether a double 
      fulfillment was intended as well
   -- Even the apostles were unable to fully discern Old Testament 
      prophecy without the Lord's help - cf. Lk 24:44-47

2. As with all Old Testament prophecy, I recommend the following...
   a. Where the inspired writers of the NT have provided inspired
      interpretation, we should certainly hold to what they wrote
   b. But on those prophecies of the OT where NT writers have not 
      commented, we should be very cautious:
      1) We can offer our understanding as to what they pertain
      2) But we should abstain from developing doctrines or practices 
         based upon our uninspired interpretations of such prophecy

3. Indeed, if the Lord had wanted us to know...
   a. I am persuaded the New Testament would have made it known
   b. Just as it did the "mystery" of the gospel - cf. Ro 16:25-26; 
      Ep 3:3-5

Part of that "mystery" that had been hidden so long was contained in 
these very words of Zechariah:

   "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of 
   Jerusalem!  Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and
   having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal
   of a donkey.  (Zech 9:9)

And again...

   Then I said to them, "If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages;
   and if not, refrain." So they weighed out for my wages thirty 
   pieces of silver.  And the LORD said to me, "Throw it to the 
   potter"; that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty
   pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for
   the potter.  (Zech 11:12-13)

Yes, the mystery concerning One who was coming to be their King. He has
come, but some rejected Him for 30 pieces of silver (cf. Mt 27:1-10)!

Have you rejected Jesus from being your King, for what is a paltry sum
in comparison to the blessings He provides? - cf. Ac 2:36-38

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... Zechariah - I Am Zealous For Zion (7:1-8:23)

                    "STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS"

              Zechariah - I Am Zealous For Zion (7:1-8:23)


1. Thus far in our survey of the book of Zechariah...
   a. We noticed "A Call To Repentance" - Zech 1:1-6
   b. We surveyed the "Visions In The Night", of which there were eight
      1) The rider and the horses - Zech 1:7-17
      2) The four horns and four craftsmen - Zech 1:18-21
      3) The man with the measuring line - Zech 2:1-13
      4) Joshua the high priest - Zech 3:1-10
      5) The gold lampstand and two olive trees - Zech 4:1-14
      6) The flying scroll - Zech 5:1-4
      7) The woman in a basket - Zech 5:5-11
      8) The four chariots - Zech 6:1-8
   c. We considered "The Command To Crown Joshua" - Zech 6:9-15

2. In these different ways God used Zechariah...
   a. To motivate Joshua, Zerubbabel, and the captives who returned 
      with them to rebuild the temple - cf. Ezra 6:14-15
   b. To increase their anticipation of the future as well, as they 
      would wonder about the fulfillment of these visions

3. Zechariah's work was not yet finished...
   a. About two years later, as the temple was still in construction, 
      he was asked concerning the observance of certain fasts
   b. This provided the Lord the opportunity to do two things:
      1) To remind the people of what prompted their exile
      2) To once again proclaim His great zeal for Zion (Jerusalem)

[An important lesson or two can be gleaned from this section (Zech 7:1-
8:23) that Christians would do well to remember.  Also, God's zeal for
Zion as expressed in this section appears to have Messianic


      1. In the fourth year of King Darius (ca. 518 B.C., nearly two 
         years later) - Zech 7:1
      2. When the people send messengers - Zech 7:2

      1. Should they continue to weep and fast in the fifth month? 
         - Zech 7:3
      2. The fifth month was the time of the year the temple was 
         destroyed nearly seventy years before - cf. 2Ki 25:8,9; Jer 52:12,13

[Perhaps because the temple was being rebuilt, they wanted to know if
they should continue with a fast designed to commemorate the temple's 
destruction.  In response, the Lord challenges them to evaluate their 


      1. In addition to the fast on the fifth month, there was one on
         the seventh (mourning the murder of Gedaliah - cf. 2Ki 25:25;
         Jer 41:1-3)
      2. These fasts were developed during their seventy year exile
      3. But the people are challenged to consider whether they had 
         been serving themselves or the Lord in keeping these fasts 
         - Zech 7:4-6
      4. The Lord would have preferred them to obey Him from the 
         beginning - Zech 7:7
      5. Note:  Which is better...
         a. To worship God as He first instructed?
         b. Or to develop traditions to bemoan your state after you 
            have disobeyed Him?
         -- Clearly God desired the former

      1. The Lord had asked them to display justice, mercy and 
         compassion - Zech 7:9-10
      2. But the people refused to hear, so God scattered them among
         the nations - Zech 7:11-14

[Their fasting, while appearing to express devotion for the loss of the
temple, should never have been necessary.  If they had served God to
begin with, there would be no need to fast!

As the Lord continues, He explains why their fasts should now be 
occasions for feasting...]


      1. The Lord is zealous for Zion with great zeal - Zech 8:1-2
      2. He will return to Zion, and dwell in Jerusalem - Zech 8:3a
      3. Jerusalem will be called "the City of Truth", "The Mountain of
         the LORD of hosts", and "The Holy Mountain" - Zech 8:3b

      1. It will be place of peace for the elderly and young - Zech 8:
      2. The Lord will bring His remnant back, and He shall be their
         God - Zech 8:7-8
      3. Those building the temple should take heart, for the Lord
         shall make them a blessing - Zech 8:9-13
      4. Just as God once sought their punishment, now He is determined
         to do good for them - Zech 8:14-15

      1. For the people to speak truth, show justice and peace, not
         evil (to do what should have been done before the exile!)
         - Zech 8:16-17
      2. To let the fasts be a time for joy, gladness and cheerful
         feasts - Zech 8:18-19
         a. The fast of the fourth month had commemorated the breaching
            of the walls when Jerusalem was destroyed - 2Ki 25:3,4;
            Jer 52:6,7
         b. The fast of the fifth month commemorated the destruction of
            the temple
         c. The fast of the seventh month commemorated the murder of
         d. The fast of the tenth month commemorated the beginning of
            the siege of Jerusalem - 2Ki 25:1,2; Jer 39:1; 52:4,5
         -- But now these were to be replaced with feasting!

      1. Many nations will come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem
         - Zech 8:20-22
      2. People of every language will seek to know the God of the Jews
         - Zech 8:23


1. How comforting and exciting this must have been to those in 
   Zechariah's day!
   a. It certainly should have encouraged them to continue with 
      rebuilding the temple
   b. It should have encouraged them to look forward to the future

2. While there may have been a partial fulfillment to these prophecies
   with the rebuilding of the temple and walls of Jerusalem, it is 
   likely that there are Messianic elements as well...
   a. With fulfillment beginning with the establishment of the church
      in Jerusalem - cf. Isa 2:2-3; Ac 2:1-47; He 12:22
   b. With fulfillment culminating with the ushering in of the "New 
      Jerusalem" in the "new heavens and new earth" following the 
      Lord's second coming - cf. He 11:16; 13:14; 2Pe 3:10-13; Re 21:

3. Finally, is there a not a lesson to be learned about "self-imposed 
   a. The exiles had begun fasting by their own design
   b. What the Lord preferred was for them to have heeded His Word in
      the beginning!
   c. Jesus taught that man-made traditions lead to vain worship - Mt 15:8-9
   d. Paul described the inability of self-imposed religion to deal 
      with the flesh - Col 2:20-23

If we desire to truly be citizens in the "New Jerusalem", then let's 
concentrate on doing the will of the Father, not on making up new ways
to worship Him.  As Jesus warned:

   "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom
   of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
                                                              (Mt 7:21)

In our acts of devotion, are we doing the Father's will, or things 
devised by men?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... Zechariah - I Am Zealous For Zion (4:1-6:15)

                    "STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS"

              Zechariah - I Am Zealous For Zion (4:1-6:15)


1. Our previous study introduced us to the book of Zechariah...
   a. A prophet of God who worked together with Haggai
   b. Whose work focused mainly on the rebuilding of the temple - Ezra 5:1-2; 6:14-15

2. The book starts out in typical fashion with a call to repentance
   (Zech 1:1-6), but then we find eight visions that occurred in one
   a. We briefly considered the first four in the previous study
      1) The rider and the horses - Zech 1:7-17
      2) The four horns and four craftsmen - Zech 1:18-21
      3) The man with the measuring line - Zech 2:1-13
      4) Joshua the high priest - Zech 3:1-10
   b. These visions were designed to motivate the people in completing
      the temple
      1) As God related His zeal for Jerusalem and His house - e.g.,
         Zech 1:14,16,21; 2:4
      2) As God reassured Joshua the high priest of his role - e.g.,
         Zech 3:6-7
      3) As God revealed even greater things to come pertaining to His
         Servant (the Messiah) - e.g., Zech 3:8-10

3. In this study, we shall examine...
   a. The remaining four visions - Zech 4:1-6:8
   b. The command to crown Joshua the high priest - Zech 6:9-15

[From Zech 4:1, it appears that Zechariah had fallen into a deep sleep
after the first four visions.  Awakened by the angel, he is shown four 


      1. Awakened from a deep sleep, Zechariah is shown a golden 
         lampstand with seven lamps and seven pipes, with olive trees
         on both sides - Zech 4:1-3
      2. Asking the angel what they represent, he is told...
         a. That it is a message to Zerubbabel (the governor) - Zech 4:6a
         b. That by God's Spirit, not man's might or power, Zerubbabel
            shall bring forth the capstone (finishing stone) of the 
            temple - Zech 4:6b-7
         c. Thus Zerubbabel will finish the temple - Zech 4:8-9
         d. For the eyes of the Lord (represented by the seven lamps)
            which scan the whole earth, rejoice to see the plumb line
            in the hand of Zerubbabel - Zech 4:10
         e. And that the olive trees represent "two anointed ones" 
            (Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the governor?) who 
            stand beside the Lord - Zech 4:11-14
      -- With such encouragement, who can "despise the day of small 
         things?" (as the temple looked when its foundation was first 
         laid - cf. Ezra 3:11-12; Hag 2:2-3)

      1. Turning and raising his eyes, Zechariah sees a flying scroll,
         twenty cubits long and 10 cubits wide (approx. 30 feet by 15 
         feet) - Zech 5:1-2
      2. The scroll is explained as being the curse going out on the
         whole earth - Zech 5:3-4
         a. According to what is written on one side, every thief will
            be expelled
         b. According to what is written on the other side, every 
            perjurer will be expelled
         c. Thus it will enter and consume the houses of thieves and
            those who swear falsely
      -- Such people were responsible for the downfall of Israel and
         Judah (cf. Hos 4:2-3; Mic 2:2-3); this vision ensures such 
         will be removed from God's people

      1. Zechariah is directed to see a large basket, in which sits a
         woman - Zech 5:5-7
      2. As the woman is explained to represent wickedness...
         a. She is thrust down into the basket with a lead cover over
            the top - Zech 5:8
         b. Two women with wings like those of a stork lift the basket
            to take it a house in the land of Shinar (Babylon) - Zech 5:9-11
      -- This vision symbolizes that wickedness will be removed from 
         the land

      1. Zechariah sees four chariots coming between two bronze 
         mountains - Zech 6:1-3
         a. The first chariot had red horses
         b. The second chariot had black horses
         c. The third chariot had white horses
         d. The fourth chariot had dappled horses
      2. He is told what the chariots represent - Zech 6:4-8
         a. They represent the four spirits of heaven
         b. The chariot with the black horses is going to the north 
            country, followed by the chariot with the white horses
         c. The chariot with the dappled horses is going to the south
         d. The chariots go throughout the earth, with those going to
            the north giving rest to God's Spirit in the north country
      3. This final vision appears to correspond with the first (cf.
         Zech 1:7-11)
         a. In the first vision, the four horses report that the earth
            was at peace, while the temple lay uncompleted
         b. Now, it is God's Spirit which is given rest in the north 
            country (Babylon?)
      -- Perhaps this vision reflects that God would be at ease once 
         His purposes concerning Jerusalem (restoration of its temple)
         and Babylon (judgment for its sins) were completed

[With these eight visions in one night, Zechariah had a message to 
encourage Zerubbabel and Joshua in their efforts to rebuild the temple.
The message would be reinforced with yet another given to Zechariah...]


      1. Take the gift from the captives and make an elaborate crown 
         - Zech 6:9-11a
      2. Set the crown on the head of Joshua the high priest - Zech 6:11b
      3. Speak the following words to Joshua - Zech 6:12-13
         a. Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH!
         b. From His place He shall branch out
         c. He shall build the temple of the LORD
         d. He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and reign on the His
         e. He shall be a priest on His throne, with the counsel of 
      4. The elaborate crown to be a memorial in the temple - Zech 6:14
      5. Those from far away will help build the temple - Zech 6:15

      1. Certainly this symbolic crowning was intended to encourage
         Joshua and those captives who had returned to build the temple
      2. But Joshua appears to be a type of the coming Messiah., i.e.,
         a. Jesus was called "a Nazarene" (branch) - Mt 2:23; cf. Zech 3:8
         b. He would "branch out" - cf. Isa 11:1-2; 53:2
         c. He would build the "temple of the Lord" (i.e., His church)
            - Mt 16:18; Ep 2:21-22
         d. He would "rule on His throne" - 1Co 15:25; Re 1:5; 2:27-28
         e. He would be "a priest on His throne" - He 8:1-2; Re 3:21
         f. He would provide the "counsel of peace" - Ep 2:14-17
      -- And so this symbolic crowning was not only to encourage 
         Joshua, but those who looked forward to the coming of the 
         Messiah, whom Joshua represented!


1. Through the use of such visions and symbolic representations...
   a. Zechariah succeeded in motivating Joshua, Zerubbabel, and the
      captives who returned with them to rebuild the temple - cf. Ezra 6:14-15
   b. Zechariah likely increased their anticipation of the future as
      well, as they would wonder about the fulfillment of these visions

2. Zechariah's work is not finished, however...
   a. He will provide answers to questions the people had regarding
      certain fasts
   b. He will have more to say about the future of Jerusalem and the
      coming Messiah
   ...which we shall consider in the next couple of lessons

Having been reminded in this study of our Lord's role as both king and
priest, perhaps we can close by asking:

   Are you submitting to the Kingship of Jesus Christ?

   Are you making proper use of His intercession as our High Priest?

How you respond to His gospel will answer such questions!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011