Monday, December 25, 2017

December 25: Zechariah 8; Psalm 144; Proverbs 30:29-31; Revelation 16



Overview

            Zechariah: The Lord told Zechariah that he is zealous for the prosperity of Jerusalem. It will be called the faithful city, the mountain of the Lord, and the holy mountain. He will bring people to it and they will be able to grow very old. They will have children playing in the streets. It may seem impossible to the remnant but not to the Lord. He will save them from the surrounding countries and live with them as he will be their God and they will be his people.
            Those that have heard the prophet tell about the rebuilding of the temple should continue in the work. Before the foundation was laid, people couldn’t find paying work. People weren’t safe and neighbors weren’t friendly. But, from now on the Lord will give peace and prosperity for the remnant of the people. They will be a blessing to other nations. They should not fear but work hard.
            Just as the Lord brought disaster on their fathers for their wickedness, so he will now bring good to Jerusalem and Judah. They should tell the truth, judge correctly, and work for peace. They should not do things he hates like planning evil and loving falsehoods.
            The fast of the 4th, 5th, 7th, and 10th months shall be turned to feast of joy when they love truth and peace.
            The Lord also told Zechariah that more people will be coming to inhabit the cities. Then they will go and seek the Lord and encourage each other to do so. Many people from many strong nations will also come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord. Ten of them will ask Jews to go with them because they have heard that the Lord is with the Jews.
            Psalm: David praises that Lord for training him for war. The Lord is his loving God, a fortress, shield, deliver, and refuge. God has subjected peoples under David.
            David ponders what man means to God because we are so short lived.
            David asks the Lord to come down and show his might in thunder and lightning to scatter his enemies and deliver David from nature, foreigners, and liars.
            David will sing a new song to God because he gives victory to kings and rescues his servant, David.
            David proclaims a benediction upon Israel to have strong and good-looking youth, abundant food, and animals. He asks for peace in the streets. He declares that the people who have God as their Lord are blessed.
            Proverbs: Four things march with majestic strides; a lion, which is king of the beasts and doesn’t run from any; a roster as it struts; a male goat and a king leading his army.
            Revelation: The seven angels are told to pour out their bowls on the earth. The first bowl brought painful sores on all who had the mark of the beast. The second turned the sea into blood and everything in it died. The third bowl turned rivers and springs into blood. The angel in charge of the waters proclaimed that God is holy and he was just in doing this because they had shed the blood of saints and prophets. It is what they deserve. The altar agreed in the judgment.
            The fourth bowl was poured on the sun and it scorched people. They cursed God and didn’t repent. The fifth bowl turned the beast’s kingdom dark. People gnawed their tongues and cursed God. The didn’t repent.
            The sixth bowl dried up the Euphrates to make a way for the kings of the east. The dragon, beast, and false prophet each spit up a frog-like demon. The three demonic spirits performed signs and convinced the rulers of the world to assemble for war against God Almighty.
            Jesus says that he is coming like a thief. Blessed is everyone who is alert and has clothes on so he won’t be naked.
            They all assembled at Armageddon.
            The seventh bowl is poured out on the air and God says it is done. There is the usual lightning and rumblings that come with God’s voice. The earthquake that also comes is greater than any ever seen before. The great city is split into three parts and other cities around the world are demolished. Babylon is paid back with God’s wrath. Islands and mountains disappeared. 100-pound hailstones fell on people. They cursed God.

What Stood Out

            Zechariah: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you’” (Zech 8:23).
            Psalm: “O Lord, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him?” (Ps 144:3).
            Proverbs: “Three things are stately in their tread;
 four are stately in their stride … a king whose army is with him” (Prov 30:29, 31).
            Revelation: “Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!” (Rev 16:15).

Insight

            Zechariah: While encouraging the returned exiles from Babylon to keep building the temple, the Lord made some promises to them. Some were for their immediate future if they kept up the work on the temple and started treating each other better. Other promises are for the distant future, a time we haven’t yet seen.
            One of these promises was to bring people to live in the cities that were decimated and abandoned. When that happens, the people will want to seek the Lord. They will encourage each other as they do. This is what we should be doing in our churches. We should be encouraging each other to gather together regularly for worship, Bible study, prayer, and fellowship (Heb 10:24-25). We should not try to be Lone Ranger Christians who think we can do what we want and don’t need other believers. As we encourage each other, we also hold each other accountable to live godly lives.
            Another promise for Israel is one that is for the future. All nations will converge on Jerusalem to seek the Lord instead of trying to destroy them. In that day, Jews will be the spiritual leaders among the nations. The nations will come to Jerusalem because that is where Jesus will reign. He will be physically present just as indicated in the previous chapters when the Lord spoke about the Branch. We won’t see that day until the tribulation is over and Jesus comes back.
            The Lord has sprinkled these promises of a peaceful earth throughout Scripture. If we know Jesus now, we will participate in the future kingdom with the promises given to the overcomers in Revelation 2 and 3. So let’s be diligent in obeying him in the areas he instructed the exiles because that always is pleasing in his sight.
            Psalm: On Christmas day, it is appropriate to ask the question, “O Lord, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him?” (Ps 144:3). David writes about our might God who took care of him in war and prosperity for the nation. He writes of God’s awesome power that shakes mountains. Think about the time he appeared to Israel on Mount Sinai; the smoke, thunder, lightning, and trumpet sounds. They portray someone who is far beyond anything or anyone we can imagine. He is the creator of a universe so vast that we can barely see a tiny part of it; it is beyond our imagination. Yet he cares for us. He put aside all the grandeur to actually become one of us so that he could save us from ourselves.
            It isn’t so much that he regards us as anything because we are worthless, despicable, and deserving only of hell. But his regard for us is all about his love, grace, and mercy. He saves us for his name’s sake and for his glory. Let’s not forget that and put correct emphasis on Christmas. It points to his glory not our worth.
            Proverbs: Being raised on a farm, I’ve noticed that some male animals tend to think they are big-shots around the barnyard. The term bully comes from the way a bull will dominate others in the herd. When a bull becomes a steer, his nature changes quickly. That is why it is interesting to see that this proverb includes a king with his army. His pride and his power is in his army. He marches or rides in front of it as if he has the power to defeat the enemy. We should all be careful to make sure that if we are to boast about anything, we should boast in the Lord, not ourselves. We can quickly be turned around when we trust in ourselves or other things.
            Revelation: These bowls are all apparently poured out in rapid succession. There isn’t anything here that indicates how long they last, however it must take quite a while because it would take some time for all the kings of the earth to assemble their armies at Armageddon. The serious points of this is that no one repents. They all curse God. The spiritual darkness is so bad that they know who is causing the disaster because they curse him, yet they won’t repent.
            This isn’t new, it has been happening to for thousands of years. People refuse to believe that their sinful actions can or will bring disaster on themselves. Jeremiah 44 is a clear example of how it happens. The people confused their prosperity given by God with their offerings to the queen of heaven. They didn’t acknowledge that God was granting them grace and time to repent. When Jeremiah told them that their idolatry had caused the destruction of Jerusalem, they stood by their queen of heaven and told Jeremiah they would keep on offering to her.
            Revelation tells us that God has a limit on his patience. He makes one more announcement to his people for us to be awake and continue to be dressed. He is telling us to maintain the righteousness he has given us. The warning between the sixth and seventh bowls indicates that there are still Christians on earth at this time. There is always an opportunity for salvation as long as we are alive. It doesn’t mean people will take it, but they won’t be able to look back and blame God for not giving them a chance if they don’t.

Application

             I need to remember that I don’t deserve to be saved. Jesus came to this earth to save those who recognize this and want to bring glory to him. He didn’t come to save those who think they are worth saving. I don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking that our salvation is about anything other than bringing glory to God. Yes, we benefit. Yes, we are then declared worthy when we are saved. The big yes should be when we give glory to God for it.

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