Friday, December 29, 2017

December 29: Zechariah 14; Psalm 148; Proverbs 31:8-9; Revelation 20



Overview

            Zechariah: A day will come when Jerusalem will be ransacked with half the people exiled and half killed. After that, the Lord will fight the nations. In that future day he will set foot on the Mount of Olives and it will split in two. The people will flee by the valley. The Lord will then come with his holy ones.
            That day will be very odd. There won’t be a sun shining, there won’t be day or night, and the temperature will be moderate. There will be living water constantly flowing all year long from Jerusalem to the seas on the east and west. The Lord, who is one, will be king over all the earth.
            The land will be flat except for Jerusalem which will remain higher than the surrounding land. People will live in Jerusalem and it will never be destroyed again. People will be safe.
            The Lord will strike all the people who war against Jerusalem. Their flesh and eyes will rot even as they stand. Their animals will also. They will panic and kill each other. Judah will also fight at Jerusalem. The wealth of the surrounding nations will then be taken.
            The survivors of the nations will then go to Jerusalem every year to worship the King of kings and Lord of lords. They will keep the Feast of Booths. If a nation fails to go, then rain will be withheld from them. The rule will apply to Egypt and other nations as well.
            Then the bells on horses will read, “Holy to the Lord.” Every pot in Jerusalem will be holy just like the ones in the temple. Everyone will be able to use them to boil their sacrifices. There won’t be any merchants in the house of the Lord.
            Psalm: The Lord’s praise comes from the heavens where all the angels praise him. It comes from the celestial objects because God made them all. They will always be around. The earth and all that is in it praise the Lord. Creatures, vegetation, and geological formations praise the Lord. Kings and peoples, men, women, and children all praise the Lord. They praise the Name of the Lord because it is exalted. His majesty is beyond the heavens and he has raised up a ruler for his people, his saints in Israel who are near to him.
            Proverbs: Speak up for people who can’t speak for themselves and defend them. This includes deaf, poor, destitute, and needy. Make sure you judge righteously.
            Revelation: An angel came from heaven, grabbed Satan and locked him in the bottomless pit. He was bound with a chain for 1,000 years. At the end of 1,000 years, he will be released for a short time.
            John saw people who were given authority to judge seated on thrones. He saw everyone who was beheaded for their testimony of Jesus and the Word of God. They hadn’t worshiped the beast. They came to life and reigned with Jesus for 1,000 years. Those that come alive in the first resurrection are blessed and holy. They will never die again but will reign as priest of God and Jesus for 1,000 years.
            The remaining dead people didn’t come alive until the 1,000 years is over. At that time Satan will be released and he will trick the nations to again march on Jerusalem. When they surround Jerusalem, fire will come from heaven and kill them all. Satan will be thrown into hell (the lake of fire). He will be tormented forever with the beast and false prophet.
            John then saw a great white throne and God seated on it. Earth and sky disappeared before it. The dead came to life. It didn’t matter how they died or where their bodies went. They all stood before the throne. They were judged according to their deeds that were written in books. If their names were not in the book of life, they were thrown into the lake of fire along with Death and Hades. The lake of fire is the second death.

What Stood Out

            Zechariah: “Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths” (Zech 14:16).
            Psalm: “Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven” (Ps 148:13).
            Proverbs: “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute” (Prov 31:8).
            Revelation: “Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years” (Rev 20:6).

Insight

            Zechariah: This chapter offers us some great information about Jesus’ return, but it is sometimes hard to understand because everything is referenced by “in that day.” It starts with Jerusalem being ransacked and people sent into exile. This is a description of what happened in AD 70 when Rome destroyed the temple. However, the very next verse describes Jesus return to the Mount of Olives. A lot of time has passed between these two verses.
            The word day appears to apply to a single day when the Lord returns and it also appears to apply to a long period of time afterwards when the Lord reigns. What we learn is that there will be some physical changes to the earth perhaps only for the one day the Lord returns regarding the light and temperature. Then there are also changes to the landscape during the time after his return.
            We learn also that there will be survivors among the nations that tried to win the last battle against Jerusalem. They need not be believers at the time. We also assume from the previous chapter that there will be believing Jews who survive this last battle. However, everyone will submit to and worship the Lord afterward. His rule will be strict as seen by punishment of the nations that refuse to worship him during the Feast of Booths. The people who populate the millennium will be both believers who haven’t been killed and most likely unbelievers who survive at the end.
            Finally, there is a hint that we will all be priests and able to offer our own sacrifices as people will boil their sacrifice in any of the pots in the Jerusalem. All will be holy to the Lord.
            What does that say for us today? It says that we should recognize Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords now. We know Jesus left from the Mount of Olives and the angels said he would return there (Acts 1:11). We should be obedient to him so that we will be one of the holy ones who returns with him (Zech 14:5).
            Psalm: Creation is awesome. It doesn’t matter if you are looking at outer space through the Hubel telescope or looking at a virus with an electron microscope. All creation is awesome. What is even more awesome is the Lord. He created it all. That means he has to have intimate knowledge of atomic particles as well as all the stars in all the galaxies. Consider all that and yet, he cares for us. He has raised up Jesus for our salvation so that we can have a relationship with the maker of the universe. He lives in our hearts because he has saved us and we belong to him. We can praise him for creation but the highest praise goes to him just because of who he is.
            Proverbs: We are not to sit idly by when we see people treated unjustly, especially when they are people who can’t defend themselves. Many can’t defend themselves because of their poverty, education, social position, or age. There are a lot more reasons but the one that results in more deaths per year in the U.S. than any other is age. When a person has a negative age because he or she hasn’t been born yet and is called a fetus instead of a baby, he or she is more vulnerable to unrighteous laws than any other group of people. We are supposed to open our mouths in their defense instead of making laws that allow their murder for the selfishness of the parents who more often than not simply don’t want the baby.
            Revelation: These last three chapters of the Bible are some of my favorites. They are short but let us know that the end of all the pain, sorrow, sin, and everything else bad in the world is going to be finished. Wrong will be punished once and for all, and believers in Jesus will have eternity with God.
            This chapter ends Satan. Oddly enough, he gets 1,000 years to sulk in prison before his finally banished to hell and eternal torment. With all the fanfare and announcements of the previous chapters, besides his centuries of scheming, all it takes to bind him is one lowly angel. You would think that it would take Michael, Gabriel, or one of the other mighty angels to do the job, but there are no adjectives attributed to this angel. The reason must be that it is God’s will and power he is using. That should inspire us to be strong against Satan’s schemes. He who is in us is greater than the devil.
            Our future is mentioned as we will have been resurrected or raptured to reign with Jesus for 1,000 years. Yes, some people say that is now and it is symbolic. I get it. If it were not for all the Old Testament prophecies of golden age where lions and lambs lie down together and many other prophecies such as we just read in Zechariah, I would probably agree.
            One troubling part of this passage is the mention of the first resurrection. How many resurrections are there? If you count the rapture and the resurrection that occurs there as one and this one at the end of the tribulation for those who were killed during the tribulation, then there are at least two. But wait! There is more! There is a third resurrection when the rest of the dead come to life for judgment after the 1,000 years. Daniel 12:2 only mentions one resurrection and that will be for both the just and evil. Daniel was presented an overview and this is more detailed, which explains the difference. But what explains the difference between the resurrection at the rapture with this one being called the first resurrection for those killed during the tribulation? Time lines in the book of Revelation are not consecutive. It is very possible that the first resurrection really is at the end of the tribulation and John only mentions it here.
            Regardless of when the rapture occurs, the final judgment for the dead (those who have never known Jesus – see Ephesians 2:1-2) will be based on works. All the Lord has to do is open one of the books and find a person’s first sin and that person will be condemned because one sin makes a person guilty of breaking all the law (James 2:10). He will then look in the book of life to see if he can find the person’s name in the Lamb’s book of life. If it isn’t there, then he will be thrown into the lake of fire to be tormented forever.
            If a Christian were to appear at this judgment (the won’t), the Lord would look through the book of deeds and essentially say he can’t find any sins in it. All of our sins are blotted out by the blood of Jesus (Isa 44:22, Acts 3:19) for God says he will remember our sins no more (Heb 10:17). Even if he did, our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life even before he created anything. We are secure in Jesus and will never face the second death.

Application

             I just want to praise the Lord. He has made everything and he has saved me along with innumerable other people. I don’t have to wait for heaven to praise him. Everything around me should remind me to praise him.

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