Zech 9:16 - 10:2 The Time of the Latter Rain 5/26/2002

 

 

 

#1. In That Day (Zech 9:16, Psalm 58:3, Rom 8:8, Eph 2:4-5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2. Ask Ye of the Lord (Zech 10:1, John 7:37-38)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3. Showers of Blessing (Ezek 34:5-8, 22-26)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Prophecy of Zechariah, chapter 9. You find Zechariah very near the end of the O.T., just before Malachi. (Zechariah, chapter 9.) Here in Zech 9 we are immediately pushed with our noses in events we find in the N.T. For example, in verse 9 God dictated to Zechariah the prophecy of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, 5 days before He went to the cross. This was written more than 400 years before it actually happened. So, immediately we see that this section of Zechariah speaks about "salvation". Then in verse 11 God speaks to Christ, and He said:

Zechariah 9:11 As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.

"The blood of Thy Covenant" speaks of the blood that the Lord Jesus Christ shed for the complete remission of the sins of all those whom the Father had chosen to become saved. "Thy prisoners" refer to those people for whom the Lord Jesus shed His blood. We were those prisoners, and we were formerly in "the pit wherein is no water", which refers to the "Bottomless Pit" wherein all mankind is born and where Satan is the "prince of the power of the air". Is there a way out of the Bottomless Pit? Yes there is. There is hope for us. We read in Zech 9:12,

Zechariah 9:12 Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee;

Because the Lord Jesus Christ has paid for our sins, therefore God turned us to the Stronghold, which is Christ, and Christ saved us out of the Bottomless Pit. Therefore we see clearly in this verse that Christ did not pay for the sins of every human being in the world, because not every human being becomes saved. But for all those whose sins were paid, the Lord shall defend them and:

We read those words in verses 15 and 16,

Zechariah 9:15 The LORD of hosts shall defend them; and they shall devour, and subdue with sling stones; and they shall drink, and make a noise as through wine; and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar.

And now comes one of the verses I want to focus on for today. Verse 16,

Zechariah 9:16 And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for (they shall be as) the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land.

What does it mean when God says: "The LORD their God shall save them"? It means that Christ, who is Jehovah our God, shall save us absolutely by Himself, without asking us for help. There are people who believe that Christ has done all He could, and now it is up to us to reach out and take the salvation that has been offered. They have a hard time explaining verse 11, which says:

"By the blood of Thy covenant I have sent forth Thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water."

Verse 11 speaks about Thy Covenant. God did not make a covenant with all the people in the entire world. Verse 11 speaks about Thy prisoners. These are the people with whom God made a covenant. These are the prisoners that are set free based on the payment that Christ made on their behalf. And when did this happen? Verse 15 gives us a clue: "And they shall devour, and subdue with sling stones". This is pointing to the event that David slew Goliath with a sling stone, which is a picture of the defeat of Satan at the cross. Therefore we read in verse 16,

#1. In That Day (Zech 9:16, Psalm 58:3, Rom 8:8, Eph 2:4-5)

This refers to the day that Christ went to the cross. That day was Friday, April 3, in the year AD 33 when the Lord Jesus Christ finished suffering for the sins of all those whom the Father had given Him.

Zechariah 9:16 And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for (they shall be as) the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land.

1) Why did we need to be saved, and 2) how did Jehovah our God save us in that day?

1) We all need to be saved from our sins. God wrote about the condition of the human heart in many places in the Bible. God referred to the entire human race when He said in Psalm 58:3,

Psalm 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

We were born as wicked liars, and we continued falling from one sin into another. Why were we born as wicked liars? Did God create us so wicked? No! God created Adam good. But Adam chose to sin against God, and the result was that he sold himself and the entire human race as slaves into the hand of Satan. Therefore the entire human race came into the world as sinners, hating the God of the Bible who exposed their sins, and are in rebellion against God and against His laws. But God's righteousness demands that every sin must have its retribution in Hell. Therefore the entire human race came under the wrath of God and the entire human race is on a slippery slide into Hell. That is why, spiritually speaking, we all were born in the Bottomless Pit, from which there is no escape. Just like the children of Israel were born as slaves in Egypt, from which there was no escape because Egypt is surrounded by desert, so the entire human race was born in the Bottomless Pit as slaves of Satan. We were spiritually dead in trespasses and sins. God says in Rom 8:8, "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God". This means that in our natural state we were absolutely dead, unable to make a move pleasing to God. We were only capable of more and more sin.

2) "But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has made us alive together with Christ". That is what God says in Eph 2:4-5. God the Creator loved His creatures. That is amazing. Would any of you love something that you have made, and love it so much that you are willing to sacrifice the life of your only son for that created thing? But God did. We cannot understand such a great love. Would any of you love a burglar? If the burglar broke into you home, ransacked it thoroughly, and killed your only son, would you love that burglar so much that you would invite him into your home and adopt him as your own son? Would you? But God did that. We cannot understand such a great love. We were guilty of murdering His only begotten Son and nailing Him to a tree. Our representatives did that in our place. And they were truly our representatives in the religious rulers of that day, and in the Roman authorities of that day, and in the population of that day. They all agreed on one thing: "Crucify Him". Therefore God made Pilate write the accusation above Jesus' head in three languages: In Greek, in Latin, and in Hebrew, so that all the world may know that all the world were co-contributors to this horrible crime.

Therefore, it is only by God's grace that we are saved, not of works, lest any man should boast. We were not saved because we reached out to take hold of this salvation. That is not grace; that is a salvation by works. Grace is a gift that is totally FREE, and that is not earned or deserved. It was God's choice to whom He would grant this great gift. God decided that before the foundation of the world, and God made it happen when the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross, and God made it real when God grabbed us in this life, and gave us a new heart (or soul), and God turned our life around, and He did all that because Christ had paid for our sins IN THAT DAY. What a grace!

We want to remember that day, and we want to know more about the:

Zechariah 9:16 And the LORD their God shall save them in that day, as the flock of his people: for (they shall be as) the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land.

The words "they shall be as" are in italics, which means they were not in the original Hebrew text, and we shall leave them out. Literally then the second half of this verse says: "as the flock of his people: for the stones of a crown, lifted up as a banner upon his land". The picture is that of a huge crown lifted up by Christ as a symbol of His victory over Satan, and displaying the stones in the crown as a trophy of His conquest. Those stones, or jewels in the crown are representing the flock of His people. How can we know that this is the right interpretation?

Please turn one or two pages to your left, to Zech chapter 6. (2X) There we read in Zech 6:11,

Zechariah 6:11 Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest;

Zechariah 6:12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:

Zechariah 6:13 Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.

When God says: "Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH", that obviously refers to the Lord Jesus Christ. Joshua is here a representation of the Lord Jesus. The Hebrew name Joshua is the same as the Greek name Jesus. The Lord Jesus also came as our High Priest, and He also came as our temple builder and as our King. His head is to be crowned. What about the crown jewels?

Please turn a few pages to your right, to Malachi chapter 3. (2X) In Mal 3:17 God is speaking of His elect people chosen out of every tribe, tongue and nation, and God says:

Mal 3:17 And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them (lit: I will pity them), as a man spareth (lit: pitieth) his own son that serveth him.

In that day, in the day of the cross, the elect people of God are called jewels. We are His peculiar treasure. The Lord will pity us, or will have mercy on us, and will send the Lord Jesus Christ to make the payment for our sins, which we are unable to make. Where are those jewels located? They are in the crown. Hold one finger here in Zechariah and please turn to Isaiah chapter 62. (2X) In Isa 62 God speaks of His elect people out of every tribe, tongue and nation, and He calls them Jerusalem. The reason we know that God is speaking about the elect is that God speaks of their righteousness. Then God says in Isa 62:3,

Isaiah 62:3 Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.

Therefore the crown that is in the hand of the Lord is identified with the crown jewels from Mal 3:17, and with the golden crown that is upon the head of Christ in Zech 6. Please turn again to Zech 9:16. These are the crown jewels that are displayed as a banner over the land and are representing the flock of His people. We lift up the Lord Jesus Christ, and He lifts us up as a banner. We glorify Him, and He glorifies us. He lifts us up so that all the world may see what miraculous work He has done for all the believers at the cross. The cross gave all the glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Zechariah 9:17 For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! Corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids.

How great is His goodness in saving us. We cannot understand such great love God has for His creatures. God loves us so much that He was willing to have the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, come down to earth, to become man, to take upon Himself the sins of all His elect, to pay for those sins the full price on the cross, which was the equivalent of an eternity in Hell, and to rise up from the grave, which was proof that the payment was fully made. What a blessing that our sins were totally forgiven. Just listen as I read from Psalm 32:1-2,

Psalm 32:1-2, Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

God spoke here through the pen of David, and God informs us that this is a man who knew that he was a sinner. That is a necessary step to salvation. We must first realize that we are sinners and that we have violated the righteousness of God. The wages of sin is death. But O what a blessedness when we hear of the wonderful forgiveness there is in the cross of Christ. How great is His goodness and His mercy? We cannot comprehend God's ways. We can only read it in the Bible and believe it.

Let's move on to chapter 10 in Zechariah. The chapter and verse divisions were introduced only about 700 years ago, and therefore the beginning of chapter 10 ties in with the ending of chapter 9. We have seen that Zech 9:16-17 refer to the time of the cross. Therefore all ye His people,

#2. Ask Ye of the Lord (Zech 10:1, John 7:37-38). We read in Zech 10:1,

Zechariah 10:1 Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; (so) the LORD shall make bright clouds (lit: lightnings), and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.

Ask ye of the Lord rain in its season, in the time of the spring rains. Do not assume that the spring rains will automatically come. The crops in the field need the early rain in the fall as well as the latter rain in the spring. But what has this to do with anything? In chapter 9, verse 17, does God's goodness and beauty only refer to physical prosperity through abundant crops? No! Chapter 9, verses 16 and 17 refer to the time of the cross. And in chapter 10, verse 2, does the idolatry only refer to the business of rainmakers? Of course not! There is a spiritual message here.

In the Bible, what is usually the spiritual meaning of water? It is the water of the Gospel. Hold one finger in Zech 10 and please turn with me to the Gospel according to John, chapter 7. (2X). The Lord Jesus was attending the Feast of Tabernacles, which occurs in a period of September or October. This is the time when the earth is dry, and it is just about the time that the early rain begins to fall. Then on the last day of the feast, the Lord Jesus said in John 7:37-39,

John 7:37-38 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

John 7:39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

The Lord Jesus was offering living water to anyone who would believe on Him. The Lord Jesus offered the same to the Samaritan woman earlier in John 4. Verse 39 does not mean that this living water was the Holy Spirit, but verse 39 indicates, in agreement with John 4, that the action of the Holy Spirit would result in rivers of living water flowing out of the person who comes and drinks from Jesus. What is that living water? It is the Gospel. Words proclaiming the Gospel will be pouring forth like rivers of water from the person who has been saved. There are no silent Christians.

Please turn back to Zech 10:1. God says here: "Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the Latter Rain". What is that time? It is some time after the event of the cross, in Zech 9:16-17. The time of the Latter Rain is in March and April. It may be physically raining, but there is no spiritual rain yet. Therefore "Ask ye of the Lord water of the Gospel in the time of the physical Latter Rain". Then the Lord shall make lightnings. In other words, the Lord shall give light by His Holy Spirit, and He (the Holy Spirit) shall bring showers of rain, showers of living water of the Gospel. When is this downpour supposed to take place? The answer is, shortly after the cross. In hindsight we see this downpour at Pentecost, where the Apostle Peter preached one sermon and about 3000 people became saved. Therefore, the time of the Latter Rain is the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ from the O.T. as well as from the N.T. In fact, the N.T. Scriptures came into existence after Pentecost in AD 33 until about AD 95, when God dictated the "Revelation of Jesus Christ" to the Apostle John. Here in the first century AD are the:

Zechariah 10:1 Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so the LORD shall make lightnings, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.

God the Holy Spirit has given us great showers of living water. Ever since Pentecost in AD 33 the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ has been preached. We must be careful to note that only when the whole counsel of God is preached is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ preached. For example, during the middle ages the people of the world were physically and spiritually in darkness. But during the Reformation, beginning with Martin Luther, there was again a great outpouring of living water. But today many of the Lutherans have abandoned what Martin Luther was fighting for.

What is the whole counsel of God? It is everything God wrote, from Gen 1:1 to Rev 22:21.

If a church holds a doctrine leaving the back door open for theories of evolution, then it means that this church has spiritually ripped out the first eleven chapters of Genesis, and so this church is no longer preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. They may use the name of Jesus, but they are using the name of Jesus in vain, because they are worshipping another jesus.

If a church holds a doctrine believing that God is still bringing Divine messages today in dreams, or visions, or tongues, or angel visitations, then that church leaves the back door open for all kinds of additions to the Word of God, and so this church is no longer preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. They may use the name of Jesus, but they are using the name of Jesus in vain, because they are worshipping another jesus.

Briefly, if a church is in violation of Rev 22:18-19, then that church is no longer preaching Christ crucified, but they are preaching another jesus. These days there are many who have abandoned the principles laid down during the Reformation. That is why people do not remember that Oct 31 stands for Reformation Day, but they remember it stands for Halloween. What an ugly substitution.

But wherever the whole counsel of God is preached, showers of living water are poured upon the hearers. Hold one finger in Zech 10:1 and please turn to the Prophecy of Jeremiah, chapter 10. (2X). We have here in Jeremiah 10:12-13 a passage that is remarkably similar to our passage in Zech 10. Here in Jer 10 God begins with the words: "Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven". Instead, fix your eyes on the God of the Bible. God says in Jer 10:12-13,

Jeremiah 10:12, He (the God of the Bible) hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.

Jeremiah 10:13, When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapors (lit: princes) to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind (lit: the Spirit) out of his treasures.

What is God saying here? He, the God of the Bible, has made the heavens and the earth by His power, and by His wisdom, and by His understanding. When He speaks there is an abundance of water, living water, coming forth from Him. How does God speak? God speaks through people whom He has raised up to speak for Him. They are the princes whom God raised up from the ends of the earth. God maketh lightnings with rain, the Latter Rain, and He bringeth forth the Spirit of God out of His treasures in the Word of God, the Bible. Certainly the rain that God pours out over the heads of all His people represents the preaching of the Gospel, the preaching of the whole counsel of God.

Please turn again to the Prophecy of Zechariah, chapter 10:1. Why does God say in the end of verse 1 that He gives "to everyone grass in the field"? Do we eat grass? Only if we are sheep. And indeed, the Bible speaks of the people of God as sheep. We read in Psalm 79:13 these famous wrds:

Psalm 79:13 So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.

Let us now look at verse 2, and see:

Do you see any Teraphim in verse 2? No. But the word "idols" in verse 2 is the same as Teraphim and it refers to household idols, like the ones that Rachel stole from her father Laban. But here in Zech 10:2 God is speaking of those who were in the O.T. congregation, who were under the hearing of the Word of God. These were people who had just returned from their captivity in Babylon. They should know better. But they still had Teraphim, household idols. We know that Teraphim cannot speak. But false prophets can claim that the Teraphim spoke to them. We read in verse 2,

Zechariah 10:2 For the idols (lit: Teraphim) have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd.

Did God perhaps refer to our time? These days we are hearing many false teachers on TV and on the radio touting their false gospels. It takes a great deal of discernment to separate the good from the bad. There is more bad than good out there on the airwaves. Just like in the days of Zechariah, we too are hearing the diviners say that they have seen a vision from God, or that they have had a dream from God. They comfort in vain, because they don't have truth. They are not from God.

You can let go of Zechariah now, and please turn again to Jeremiah, chapter 23. (2X). God begins this chapter of Jer 23 with the words: "Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture, saith the Lord". Does this sound like Zech 10:2? Indeed, here in Jer 23:25-27 God addresses the same issues as in Zech 10:2. God says in Jer 23:25,

Jeremiah 23:25 I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.

Jeremiah 23:26 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? Yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart;

Jeremiah 23:27 Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal.

What is God's message here? God warns us, in these last days, that those who claim to have additional revelations from God through dreams, and visions, and angel visitations, and tongues, have not been sent by God. No, they have been sent by Satan "to cause My people to forget My Name". If we listen to these false prophets, who really are worshipping another god, we will forget the Name of the God of the Bible. His Name is the Word of God. This is the God whom we must worship.

And when we worship this God of the Bible, then we shall receive:

#3. Showers of Blessing (Ezek 34:5-8, 22-26)

Please turn a few pages to your right to the Prophecy of Ezekiel, chapter 34. (2X). I want to continue on this theme of false prophets, false teachers, and false shepherds. This is a very timely subject. In the beginning of Ezekiel 34 God says: "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel". Then God describes the shepherds that were feeding themselves but they were not feeding the flock. Is God concerned about sheep? No! God is concerned about those who are His people who are not being fed the true Gospel. God says in Ezek 34:5,

Ezekiel 34:5 And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered.

Ezekiel 34:6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.

Ezekiel 34:7 Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD;

Ezekiel 34:8 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock;

And let me now paraphrase the following verses. God says: You are fired. I will do the job myself and I will feed My flock. Then God addressed the flock, and God said in verse 22,

Ezekiel 34:22 Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle.

Ezekiel 34:23 And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David (means Christ as the Word of God); he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.

Ezekiel 34:24 And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it.

Ezekiel 34:25 And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.

Ezekiel 34:26 And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.

In verse 22 God said:

Ezekiel 34:22 Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle.

In verse 17 God says that He will judge between the rams and the he goats. In Matt 25 the Lord Jesus said that on the Last Day He shall separate the sheep from the goats. What this means is that within the churches of our day there are many false teachers and false preachers who are leading the church more and more astray. Why are they doing that? God says it is because they feed their own belly and they do not care if they preach the truth from the Word of God. They preach and teach what comes out of their own imagination. But God allows this situation to continue, because God's plan for the church is that there must come a worldwide apostasy. "The beast that ascendeth out of the Bottomless Pit shall make war against them and kill them". We can hear these false preachers and false teachers every day through the media of radio and TV. We must stop listening to them.

God says: "Therefore I will save My flock". And:

Ezekiel 34:26 And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.

My sheep shall be safe and secure, in spite of all the false teachings around them. There always have been false teachings in the churches. My people have always been surrounded by deceivers, but My people have always been safe and secure. As we approach the end of time it will not be any different. For My people there will be showers of blessings coming from the Word of God.

But these blessings will not be just spiritual blessings. These blessings will also be seen on the outside. We read in II Cor 2:14-16, "Thanks be unto God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes outwardly known the fragrance of His knowledge. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life". Our inner transformation will be seen in the fruit in our lives. Our faith will be seen on the outside. Our language has changed. Our priorities have changed. Our friends have changed. Our schedules have changed. Our desires are now to have fellowship with the body of believers. Our prayers go up not for ourselves but for our enemies.

But we did not do that. God has done it within us and for us. To Him be all the glory.

Amen. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.