~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Zechariah 1:1-21 ~ Revelation 12:1-17
Psalm 140:1-13 ~ Proverbs 30:17
Old Testament - Today we start the book of the prophet Zechariah! You’ll note that we are now at the 2nd to the last book of the Old Testament. Malachi is after Zechariah – and we’ll be camped out in this book for quite a few days. Zechariah was a prophet during the post-exile (out of Babylon) period at about the same time Haggai was a prophet. Both started their prophecies in 520 B.C. – however, Zechariah prophesied for many more years going forward – probably until about 480/475 B.C. Zechariah’s name means, “The Lord remembers,” which is fitting for this book. God is remembering his covenant promise to the Israelites in this post-exilic period. Zechariah’s prophecies are similar to Haggai’s in that he is encouraging the Israelites to rebuild the temple. Zechariah is a very cool book, filled with 8 night visions, 4 messages, and 2 oracles. A good overview of the book of Zechariah is online at bible.org at this link.
Chapter 1 verse 3 stood out to me in today’s readings – “Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD Almighty.'” What a great calling and promise from God! Return to me – and I will return to you. Are there areas in your life where you need to change your ways and return to God? If you change our ways, or repent, and return to God, do you believe that God will also return blessings to you for this act of repentance? Will you return to God? Why would this be wise? Is it a risky waste of time to be apart from God? Will you no longer turn back?
In verse 8 we begin to read about Zechariah’s night visions. It is interesting to note that all 8 of his visions in this book take place in 1 night. Visions are different from dreams in that Zechariah is an in an awake state while these visions occur. You’ll note that the four horsemen described here are very similar to the “four horsemen of the apocalypse” described by John in Revelation chapter 6, which we recently read. The four horns in verse 18 are thought to represent Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, and Persia and the four blacksmiths in verse 20 are thought to represent Egypt, Babylon, Persia, and Greece. Below are the visions of Zechariah from a 14th century illuminated Bible -
New Testament – In Revelation chapter 12 today we read about the Woman and the Dragon. The woman is representative the believing Messianic community and the twelve stars represent Israel’s twelve tribes. The red dragon is Satan. In verse 5 we read about Jesus – “She gave birth to a boy who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And the child was snatched away from the dragon and was caught up to God and to his throne.” The “caught up” part of this verse is representative of Jesus’ ascension into heaven.
In verse 7 we read about Michael the Archangel, who we recently read about in the book of Daniel chapter 12 verse 1 when Daniel is prophesying about the end times – “"At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people-everyone whose name is found written in the book-will be delivered.” In the remainder of the chapter we see a war in the spiritual realm, with Satan becoming alarmed that his time is short and increasingly angry at those who love God.
Verse 10 stood out to me in today’s readings – “Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, "It has happened at last--the salvation and power and kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ!” What a great proclamation! Are you looking forward to the salvation and power and kingdom of God? And do you believe in the authority of Jesus Christ?
Psalms - Psalm 140 is a prayer for deliverance from evil. And this Psalm certainly should be a good reminder of the Lord’s Prayer, where we pray – “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” What is the one thing that can truly deliver us from evil? Can we deliver ourselves from evil on our own? Or do we need something beyond ourselves for this deliverance?
Verse 7 in this Psalm gives each of us something to consider and should be an encouragement – “O Sovereign LORD, my strong savior, you protected me on the day of battle.” Do you believe God is your strong savior who will protect you from evil on the day of battle? Do you believe that perhaps every day is a day of battle? Do you believe that Satan or evil ever rests in attempting to tempt people? Should we pray for protection from evil on a very regular basis? The Lord’s Prayer / Our Father is one great way to do this each day…
From 1928’s Book of Common Prayer - “Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.” Lord, teach us how to pray...
Proverbs - Proverbs chapter 30 verse 17 tells us - "The eye that mocks a father and despises a mother will be plucked out by ravens of the valley and eaten by vultures." This Proverb is another great reminder to honor our parents, as one of the Ten Commandments reminds us of very well... How are your eyes toward your parents these days?
What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!