If you are a Christian, and you want something solid to read and to believe, you must go to the Old Testament. There can be no question about this – if you really are a Christian.
Some people, of course, claim to be Christians and then discount the Old Testament as myth or some lesser sort of scripture that documents the Israelites’ faulty view of God. These people, who claim to be Christians, might say the God of the Old Testament is angry and mean, or they might say they can’t accept some of the things that are recorded in the Old Testament – unspeakable horrors and things like that. I’m not sure what to say about people like this, other than that they don’t really believe what Jesus had to say. Not really. They may claim to be Christians, but they don’t really believe Him.
No, if you are a Christian – if you believe Jesus Christ is the God in the flesh – then you have a document on which to “hang your hat,” so to speak. And it’s the Old Testament. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-18).
That’s a straight-up teaching of Jesus. “Pay attention to the Old Testament,” he said.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus said something that is maybe even more direct. He made an off-hand comment – just a little “aside” in talking about something written in the Old Testament. He said this, “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). He was talking to Jews, and “Scripture” to them most certainly was what we would call the Old Testament. The Old Testament cannot be broken.
I say all that as we read Zechariah 6. It records the eighth and last of a series of visions Zechariah received from God. Zechariah saw chariots led by horses of different colors emerging from the temple (from between two bronze “mountains” that likely were bronze pillars similar to what existed in the original temple – 1 Kings 7:15).
The horses and chariots presented themselves before God and then went out “to the four winds of heaven.” That means the whole earth. This is, after all, “the Lord of all the earth.” And these chariots – these weapons of war – brought “rest” to the north country. That would be to Babylon. This rounds out the first vision Zechariah received of nations unduly being “at rest.” God was setting things straight.
Scripture cannot be broken. Not an iota, not a dot, will pass away.
And then Zechariah was given instructions about the high priest Joshua. The high priest was going to be given a crown. The offices of high priest and king would be combined. A “Branch” would emerge from Joshua. The temple would be built. The high priest would have “royal honor.” And people who were far off would come to the temple.
This is a prophecy about Christ. The prophet Jeremiah, decades earlier, had said, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness'” (Jeremiah 23:5-6).
Priest and king will be One. And he will be known as righteousness itself. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith'” (Romans 1:16-17).
Again, Scripture cannot be broken. Not an iota, not a dot, will pass away.
In uncertain times, it is good to have something on which we can “hang our hats.” We want something sure and steady on which to lean when the world around us feels a little bit shaky. These are shaky times, after all. I read today that unemployment next month in America is going to be at Great Depression levels – more than 20 percent.
We can’t lean on the economic strength of our lives. Too many people have lost their jobs for that to be true. We can’t lean on our physical strength. Too many people have gotten sick and died to believe that. We can’t lean on our emotional strength. Too many people are fearful in their homes, wearing masks all by themselves, to believe that.
I think Jesus would say we can lean on the strength of the Old Testament in times like these. I think Jesus would say we can lean on the strength of passages like Zechariah 6 in times like these. I think Jesus would reaffirm that Scripture cannot be broken.
And in Zechariah 6, we see a God who is completely in control of the things that happen on earth. He is sovereign over the nations. God has heavenly forces that can bring justice to the earth, that can protect and build up his people – that can preserve them from harm. If there is someone to seek after, if there is someone to return to, it is the God of the Old Testament.
And in Zechariah 6, we see a God who wants to bring blessing to the earth. He wants to dwell here with us as our priest-king. He wants to meet with us, and he wants to lead us into peace.
I am certain you aren’t reading along with us in Zechariah if you aren’t taking the Old Testament seriously. You likely believe Jesus when he said Scripture cannot be broken. So as you read, look for what this ancient book tells us about the God we worship. Look for what it tells us about Jesus. There’s a lot here to bring us hope in uncertain times.