Thursday, December 21, 2017

December 21: Zechariah 1; Psalm 140; Proverbs 30:17; Revelation 12


            Zechariah: In Darius’ second year and the eighth month, the Lord spoke though Zechariah. He called on the people to return to him by asking them to remember what happened to their fathers when they didn’t return to him. The prophet whom the Lord sent prophesied their plight. Their fathers are dead and so are the prophets. God’s word came true and some repented.
            Three months later, the Lord gave Zechariah a vision of a man on a red horse with three other horses behind him. The angel of the Lord told Zechariah that the horses had patrolled the earth. They reported that all the nations were at peace. The angel of the Lord then asked how long the Lord would exclude mercy from Jerusalem and Judah. It has been 70 years. The Lord answered that he is jealous for Jerusalem and Zion. He is also angry with the nations that carried out his justice and went too far. He will have mercy on Jerusalem and the temple will be rebuilt, the cites will prosper and the Lord will comfort them.
            Zechariah then saw four horns. The angel talking with him explained they are the four horns that scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem. He then saw four craftsmen who were coming to destroy the horns of the nations that came against the land of Judah to scatter it.
            Psalm: David is again asking the Lord to deliver him from his enemies. They are violent, plot evil, and bad-mouth him. They have set up all kinds of traps for him.
            David acknowledges God as Lord and asks for mercy. His strength for battle is found in the Lord and he asks that the enemies desires not be fulfilled or evil will be exalted.
            He asks that the trouble they plan fall on them like burning coals. He asks that no one believes their slander.
            He affirms his belief that the Lord takes care of the afflicted and brings justice. Therefore, the righteous are grateful and dwell in the Lord’s presence.
            Proverbs: A person who mocks and scorns his parents will be paid back by evils in his life.
            Revelation: Another sign appeared in heaven. It was a woman dressed with the sun and she was standing on the moon. She had a crown of 12 stars. She was giving birth to a boy who was to rule all the nations. A great dragon appeared with 7 heads 10 horns and 7 crowns. He knocked a third of the stars from the sky and tried to devour the child. God took the child to heaven and the woman fled to the wilderness where God took care of her for 1,260 days.
            Then there was a war in heaven where Michael and his angels fought the dragon and his angels. The dragon who is Satan was defeated and thrown to the earth with his angels.
            A voice declared that salvation, power, and the kingdom of Christ has come because Satan was defeated. Satan had been before God accusing the brothers of the one speaking. Satan was defeated by the blood of the Lamb and the testimony of those who didn’t love their lives but were willing to die. Therefore, everyone in heaven should rejoice. However, the sea and the earth will suffer because the devil is angry and knows he doesn’t have much time left.
            The dragon tried to pursue the woman, but the woman was given wings to fly away to the wilderness. The dragon tried to flood her out, but the earth opened and swallowed the water. In his anger, the dragon then turned his attention to the woman’s other children, those who obey God and believe in Jesus.
            The dragon stood on the shore.

What Stood Out

            Zechariah: “But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? So they repented and said, As the Lord of hosts purposed to deal with us for our ways and deeds, so has he dealt with us” (Zech 1:6).
            Psalm: “Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence” (Ps 140:13).
            Proverbs: “The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures” (Prov 30:17).
            Revelation: “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death” (Rev 12:11).


            Zechariah: The Lord used Zechariah to remind the exiles who returned from Babylon of some important things. Evil will be punished, people don’t live long, and God’s word never fails to come true. Their fathers had heard from the prophet and had ignored them. This led to most of them being killed and most of the rest were exiled. When God says something, it will happen. Even though the prophets God sent died, some of them died many years before Babylon conquered Judah, God’s word continued on and caught up with those who had been practicing evil. He warned those that had returned from exile that they needed to repent as well.
            This message is just as important for us today as it was for them. Peter reminded his readers by quoting from the Old Testament that we are as short-lived as grass or flowers, but God’s word remains forever (1 Peter 1:23-24). So we also need to get rid of the sin in our lives and live like we are supposed to if we really are saved (1 Peter 2:1-3).
            The horses, horns, and craftsmen are setting the stage for the prophecies of the future, some of which has happened and some of which will be in our future when all nations are at ease, but only for a short while.
            Psalm: We usually don’t face the kinds of trouble that David did. We don’t have enemies who want to violently kill us. However, we may have people who slander us or speak evil against us. How do we respond? Is it okay to ask God to bring it back on their own heads? That was certainly the way things worked in the Old Testament. I think David’s prayer that their slander be ignored is where we start. Jesus said we should pray for our enemies which brings a new light to our behavior. But Jesus says we should also rejoice and be glad when people falsely speak evil against us because of him (Matt 5:11-12). This is the way the righteous behave and David says we will also dwell in God’s presences when we do (Ps 140:13).
            Proverbs: I’ve heard a proverb that tells a woman if she wants to see how she will be treated by a potential husband, she should watch to see how he treats his mother.
            The Bible uses some very descriptive language to convey some general truths. This is one of them. Treating parents with evil only results in a disastrous life. If a person is willing to mock or scorn his parents, he is not going to have any other good relationships. He is all out for himself and he cares nothing for the rest of the people in the world – unless they can do something to meet his wants. Then, when he gets what he wants, they are disposable also.
            We shouldn’t live anything like this.
            Revelation: This chapter in Revelation is significantly symbolic. While some people want to take everything in Revelation completely literal, we have to let the book tell us what is literal and what isn’t. We are told that both the woman and the dragon are signs – no, we will not see these signs in the sky during the tribulation. These are signs that appeared to John in his vision – not our vision or a future vision. However, we can pretty much guess what the signs mean simply by understanding the Bible and history.
            The woman is Israel. We know this because the symbology is similar to Joseph’s dream (Gen 37:9). We know it isn’t Mary because she flees and is guarded by God. The woman isn’t the Church because the Church doesn’t give birth to Jesus. The baby is Jesus as described by being taken to heaven, will reign over all nations, and is with the Father on his throne. The dragon is Satan because that is what we are told.
            The big questions are when does Satan sweep a third of the stars from the sky and when does Satan get cast to the earth? The stars are most likely angels who joined in his rebellion against God and occurred even before the earth was created. Satan standing before the woman represents all his past attempts to destroy the Messiah by preventing his coming as well as trying to kill him prematurely.
            The war in heaven must take place at the 7th trumpet. If it took place at the time of his rebellion, he would not have been able to present himself before God to accuse Job. If it took place when Jesus was crucified, then he would not be able to stand before God and accuse us.
            Here is something interesting. If he is thrown down at the 7th trumpet and he then pursues Israel, who flees to the wilderness and is protected for 1,260 days, then the 7th trumpet must occur at the middle of the tribulation because 1,260 days is just a few days more than three and a half years.
            In practical application, this chapter lets us know that we are up against Satan’s accusation every single day. He wants us to fail and tries to do whatever he can to keep us from living godly lives. We need to be always alert to his schemes. We are more than conquerors through Jesus (Rom 8:37). We conquer by the blood of Jesus and testify to that (Rev 12:11) even though it seems he has the upper hand, especially in the next chapters. It isn’t because of anything we have done that we are saved, but it is by holding fast to that testimony that we live victorious lives. We also know that even though Satan accuses us, Jesus defends us before the throne, he always intercedes for us (Heb 7:25, 1 John 2:1).


             It doesn’t matter what is coming, I’m going to keep my eyes on Jesus. I can rejoice whether it is persecution or all the land is at peace. My life may be short, but eternity with Jesus is worth everything that happens now.

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