The Lord Remembers
The Lord Remembers
Responsive Reading: Psalm 25.1-7
Text: Zechariah 1.12-21
Introduction: In verse 12, the Angel of the Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ, our Mediator, asks the question, “How long will You not have mercy on Jerusalem?” Doesn’t this hit at the heart of the matter for them? And, for you? You think about your own trials, afflictions and sorrows and generally, the question eventually comes up, “How long?”
God’s people sinned greatly. I remind you of 2 Chronicles 36, “They mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy.” After 70 years are completed, then God moves a heathen king to return the children back to their land and gives them permission to rebuild the temple of God. However, oppositions arise. Obstacles “frustrate their purpose” all the days of Cyrus even until the reign of Darius until the “work of the house of God… (finally) ceases.”
Because the returnees coward in fear of the severe opposition and because they soon become complacent in their fear of these men. We find them ignoring the provisions and commands of God to rebuild the temple. They become concerned more with their own land, buildings and profits. They begin to fit in very well in the culture and people of the land. So, we now come to the Prophecy of Zechariah. The Word of the Lord comes to Zechariah, “Say to them, Return to Me.” We first have a Call to Repentance in verse 1-7 and then in the midst of severe opposition and oppression, The Lord gives a Glorious Consolation of Good and Comforting Words. But, all they have are words. There is no deliverance. There is no change, only these words. But, they are the Words of the Mighty God, the Lord. They will overtake. What He says will transpire.
The prophet receives the first vision and sinks down in meditation. Certainly, this must have overwhelmed him. Surely, he had many questions. How will this happen? When will this transpire? Now we find the Lord immediately revealing to him His provision for the destruction of his enemies.
The beauty of this passage is that The Lord Remembers. He has not forgotten His people and left them to be destroyed. I want to preach to you today under this topic – “The Lord Remembers.”
I. The Four Horns Scatter the Lord’s people.
This vision delivers the assurance of what God promised in good and comforting words showing the provision of the Lord repelling the enemies of His people. “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because (of them), for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
- The prophet asks a good question: “What are these?” The horn commonly symbolizes strength and power in Scripture. There is much dispute over what these Four Horns symbolize. Do they refer to kings or empires? Many scholars believe they do, but they dispute over who. The answers vary from those in the past (from the time of the vision) such as Assyria, Egypt, Babylonia and Medo-Persia to include those in the future such as Greece and Rome. It appears to be the nations who were past and present enemies; such as, Assyria, Egypt, Babylonia and Medo-Persia, if we take this vision as a continuation of the first vision. See verse 15.
- To get really at the heart of the vision is to concentrate not so much on who these are specifically, but on what they did. They scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem and the manner in which they did this was the issue. Verse 15 again states they did it with “evil intent.” The word used here to describe the “scattering” is ra‛râ‛âh. It signifies both the evil intent and the consequences of it, that is, the calamity it caused. This is why the Lord says, they helped or furthered it along, although the Lord was “a little angry.” You have this same spirit in the time of the “Dark Ages.” William Tyndale translates the Bible into the English language and they kill him. But, the hatred is so venomous that they 100 years later dig his bones up and burn them. It really doesn’t matter the identification of the Four Horns, but that they scattered God’s people. They did such a job of it that in verse 21 we are told that “no one could lift up his head.”
- So, then what about the number Four? What is the significance of Four Horns? It indicates that they came from every direction: north, south, west and east. It includes all possible enemies. “There was” as is stated at the end of 2 Chronicles, “no Remedy.” No one could escape. The Divine Judgment is always complete. Whenever the wrath of God comes down, there is no escape. Nothing is left undone.
“What the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten; what the swarming locust left, the crawling locust has eaten; and what the crawling locust left, the consuming locust has eaten.” Joel 1.4
II. The Four Craftsmen Terrify and Cast Down the Four Horns.
A. Who then are the Four Craftsmen? Notice, the Prophet’s question, “What are these coming to do?” He is not interested in what they are as much as he is in what they are coming to do! It ought to help us understand this vision. Two things should be evident to us: Number and Purpose.
B. Notice, 1st, there are four and not three Craftsmen, equally matching each Horn. They simply express the various powers, which God raises up and uses to overthrow those agencies in hostility to His people. Each Horn rises up to do his work, but every Craftsman rises up to overthrow that Horn.
C. 2nd, They have a purpose. The Lord raises tem up to terrify and cast it down each Horn. They are Divinely Suitable Instruments. Each Horn symbolizes the greatest power and strength in the world at its time. Don’t your particular trials and situations appear equally overbearing? Are you not left in the position of these Jews, not able to “lift up your head?” How severe things can get! How troubling and evil days are! It is important to remember that phrase from 2 Chronicles – “no remedy.” All is hopeless – unless – well, unless God! The Craftsmen are perfectly suitable in terrifying the Horns. How is it possible? Were not the Horns terrifying? The word translated Craftsmen is chârâsh. It literally is fabricator of any material. It can refer to carpenters, masons, smiths or engravers. They beat, cut, carved and shaved. They were strong, powerful and skillful men. They were quite capable men. They may forge steel, but they had an artist touch to delicately carve or engrave beautiful works of art in stone, wood or precious metals.
But what significance was this to our text. They powerfully and adequately brought terror to the Horns because of their ability to handle the Horns with power and skill. Whether to cut them off or to beat them down, the result was always the same – They cast out the Horns. It was the purpose for which they were designed and the purpose for which they were raised. “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.”
III. The Lord Remembers and Assures His People
What is the purpose of this vision? The Church, if you have not considered this exists in the midst of conflict. There is always an enemy seeking to scatter it. “The flesh wareth with the spirit.” “The carnal mine is enmity against God.” “The Kingdom of God suffereth violence and the violent take it by force.” Fiery darts, a wicked one, death, hell and a flood of lies all demonstratively indicate there is a war! But because there is a conflict does not mean there is defeat! The very same One who sent forth the Horn also sent the Craftsman to throw it down!
What is the purpose of the vision? What does Zechariah mean? The purpose of the vision is to demonstrate vividly “The Lord Remembers.” The 2nd Vision takes up in detail how the Lord will deal with these enemies of His people, these nations at ease who with evil intent to matters to a malicious conclusion.
Verse 18, “Then I raised my eyes and looked, and there were four horns.” This seems to just appear. But, look at how verse 20 reads. “Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen.” This was a moment of decisiveness for the Lord. He wanted Zechariah and His people to see what He was doing. Notice it is happening as though the whole thing is at that moment transpiring. “The craftsmen are coming to terrify them, to cast out the horns of the nations…”
And notice the brevity of the vision, four short verses. Four Horns and Four Craftsmen and on to the next vision, as if there were not much to their tyrannical reign. This can give you great assurance. You may be assured of God’s deliverance based on His remembrance of you. Why does He Remember? These Four Principles demonstrate this: He Remembers because,
1st, He loves you intensely. “I am zealous for Jerusalem.” In verse 8 of chapter 2 we find this description, “He who touches you touches the apple of His eye.” All throughout Scripture we are reminded of His intense love toward us: “Behold, you are fair, My love.” “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.” “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
2nd, He is able to accomplish the feat. His power and skill are revealed in the Four Craftsmen. As terrible and destructive was the reign of the Four Horns, the Four Craftsmen sufficiently shut them down. Not a horn is left. No power stands or remains. What they did destroy, the Lord restored. “I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy; My house shall be built in it….My cities shall again spread out through prosperity; The Lord will again comfort Zion, and will again choose Jerusalem.” There is no indication of lack. Chapter 2.8-9
3rd, He is faithful to do it. He promised to do it. Remember His word will overtake you. Now, He demonstrates that He is actively engaged in the matter. There are the Four Horns, but “What are these coming to do?” The King James is better here, “these are come…” Here it is, right here, right now. God demonstrates His faithfulness. Can any one tell me where we find these verses, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Thy Faithfulness!”? It is in the book Lamentations. Isn’t that amazing to find the prophet speaking of the Greatness of God’s Faithfulness in the middle of Lamentations?
4th, He does so according to His “tender mercies and loving kindness.” Psalm 25 – zakar – Literally, “to imprint,” to remember. We are tempted in the midst of trials and seasons of affliction to fear that God has forgotten either because of the affliction or because of our own sin. If these were not possible, David would not have cried out for these. Remember Your tender mercies and Your loving kindness, for they are from of old or they are “from eternity.” There has never been a time they were not. The Lord does not change. He is still the same, forgiving sin and transgressions. This vision demonstrates – “The Lord Remembers!”
Conclusion: Let me conclude in a way that grips your very soul. Zechariah, the Lord remembers. Be assured of it. He remembers because of His own self. You are His workmanship. He has chosen you. The Lord has not forgotten you. He began a good work in you. He keeps you by His power. No power, no force, no Horn will or can utterly destroy you. He sends His Craftsmen to terrify and cast down the Horns. He will complete His work in you. He Remembers you.