Wednesday, December 27, 2017

December 27: Zechariah 10 – 11; Psalm 146; Proverbs 30:33; Revelation 18


            Zechariah: Ask for rain from God not household idols. Lying fortunetellers lead people astray. The Lord is angry with shepherds who mislead, because he cares for his flock, Judah. He will make his flock majestic and the cornerstone will come from him as well as other leaders. They will be mighty and fight because the Lord is with them. He will make Judah strong and save Joseph. He has compassion on them and will bring them back, Ephraim also. The Lord will gather them because he has redeemed them. He scattered them but they will remember him and return. He will bring Assyria and Egypt low so that his people will be strong and walk with the Lord.
            Lebanon and Bashan’s trees will be destroyed with fire. The shepherds will wail at their ruin. The Lord warns the shepherds who have lead the sheep to slaughter and those who buy them. The Lord will not have pity on them.
            Zechariah became the shepherd of the flock doomed to slaughter. He took two staffs and named them Favor and Union. In one month he got rid of three evil shepherds. He became impatient with the sheep and they hated him. He quit his job as shepherd and let the sheep be killed, die, or kill each other. He broke the staff called Favor breaking his covenant with the nations. The afflicted people knew his action was the word of the Lord.
            He asked for his pay and they gave him 30 pieces of silver. The Lord told him to throw it to the potter as the price they paid for him.
            He then broke Union and the relationship between Judah and Israel. The Lord told him to get the shepherd tools of a foolish shepherd. The Lord was once again going to turn the land over to those who didn’t look out for the sheep’s wellbeing. Woe to the bad shepherd. The Lord will blind his right eye and wither his arm.
            Psalm: We are to praise the Lord from our souls as long as we live and are able. To do that we can’t trust rulers or any other people for salvation. They are mortal.
            We are blessed when the Lord helps us because he is the Creator, faithful, just, and takes care of the oppressed. He sets prisoners free, heals the blind, and lifts our heavy loads. He guards foreigners, widows, and the fatherless. He ruins the way of the wicked.
            The Lord reigns forever.
            Proverbs: Pressure always produces something; cheese from milk; blood from your nose; strife from anger.
            Revelation: Another angel came from heaven. He was bright, glorious, and had great authority. He announced that Babylon was fallen and would only be inhabited by demons and unclean animals. It is because the immorality she had with nations, kings, and merchants.
            Another voice from heaven called for his people to come out of her so they wouldn’t be caught in her plagues when God remembered her sins and paid her back. She glorified herself with riches and thought she would always be able to do so. Her plagues will all come in one day because God has judged her.
            All the kings who committed sins with her will see the city destroyed and will watch from a distance and mourn. The merchants will no longer be able buy her merchandise, which includes people. They lost everything they loved there. Sailors will mourn as well. They all thought the city was great! They mourn because the city is destroyed in a single hour.
            Heavens rejoice over the disaster because God has judged her on behalf of the saints, apostles, and prophets.
            Another angel threw a huge stone like a millstone into the sea. He proclaimed that the city would be destroyed with violence and never be seen again. There would not be any more music, crafts, manufacturing, marriages, merchants, or light in her. All because of her deceptions, sorcery, and killing prophets and saints.

What Stood Out

            Zechariah: “‘I will make them strong in the Lord, and they shall walk in his name,’ declares the Lord” (Zech 10:12).
            Psalm: “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation” (Ps 146:3).
            Proverbs: “For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife” (Prov 30:33).
            Revelation: “And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth” (Rev 18:24).


            Zechariah: It is hard to tell exactly what is going on in these two chapters. Some of it is obviously a prophecy of a future when the Lord will bring back all the Jews from different countries around the world. He speaks of the cornerstone who is Jesus and will lead them and make them strong. They will walk in his name (Zech 10:12). This theme has been repeated several times in Zechariah.
            The picture that Zechariah portrays of a shepherd with two staffs appears to be part history and part future. The part where he is paid 30 pieces of silver and throws it to the potter was fulfilled by Judas when he betrayed Jesus. But breaking the staffs, both appear to be historical to Zechariah’s life and something that will happen in the future. It reflects the times from the split of Israel into Judah and Israel. But it doesn’t fit with the three evil shepherds that came before the split. Nor does it account for the foolish or worthless shepherd that comes after Zechariah portrays the good shepherd.
            Whatever it means, the one thing we can take away from this is that the Lord will not be patient with willful disobedience forever. He will eventually let people who continually reject him be punished. We see that in Revelation at the end of the age. We see that when people die without faith in Jesus. Our response should be submission to Jesus, the great Shepard of the sheep so that he will make us strong and we will be able to walk in his ways.
            Psalm: We often forget that the Lord is sovereign. He has made everything and he provides everything we have. We may think we have provided for ourselves, but our every breath comes from him. If he did not will us to keep breathing, we would die. If he did not keep on willing everything in this universe to exist, it would disappear.
            So why do we often think that a person is the answer to our problems. For a husband and wife, they often look to the other to meet all their perceived emotional, physical, or romantic needs. Every four years, we look to the Republican or Democratic party to solve all the socio-economic problems of our country. We will only be content in this world when we look to Jesus as our Savior. Then we’ll know that this world is temporary and our real future is secure in the Lord.
            Proverbs: Certain things in life are inevitable. There are actions and reactions. Newton discovered this with his observance of nature and developed laws of physics. Human relations are not as cut and dried, but you can count on anger bringing strife. Jesus said that being angry against another is just as bad as killing a person (Matt 5:21-22). It is a law of the fallen nature to cause problems when there is anger. No wonder Jesus condemned it. We should not think that we can excuse our anger because it is seldom “righteous.” James made that clear when he said that our anger doesn’t bring about a righteous life (James 1:20).
            Anger usually comes because we don’t get what we want and we therefore sin (by getting angry) to get it. We can even think that our anger is righteous because what we want is someone else to behave better. We are really angry because they aren’t doing what we expect, not because they are offending God. Think about it!
            Revelation: At this point, Babylon is representative of all the evils in the world. Yes, it could also be a literal city that will be the seat of some one-world religion that is based on sorcery and evil. However, it doesn’t negate that the evils mentioned in this chapter are representative of all the evils that have been going on ever since the fall of man. The biggest clue to Babylon being representative of all evil is Revelation 18:24. She is responsible for the death of all God’s people, whether they are New Testament saints or Old Testament prophets.
            With Satan the instigator of evil, it is obvious that he thought he still had a chance to overcome God in some way. Just as Babylon thought she would never be a widow or face her downfall, he will never give up until he is thrown into hell forever.
            In the middle of this is God’s call for us today. We are to remove ourselves from this world system (Rev 18:4). We can’t continue to live like the people who indulge in Babylon’s sinfulness and expect that we will not be harmed. We will be collateral damage either spiritually or physically. Our lives will be devoid of God’s power when we are mixing with the world. If this is literal, then we have to face the fact that God may be speaking to Christians during the tribulation. If it is representative, then he is speaking to Christians who may be harmed when he punishes sin at anytime in history. As an example, look back at Jeremiah and see how he suffered when Babylon conquered Jerusalem. The bottom line is: don’t play footsie with the world.


             I want to depend on the Holy Spirit to live a life pleasing to God. I don’t want to be so involved in the world’s ways that I will be compromised spiritually or harmed physically because I’m too close to Babylon.

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