~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Zechariah 14:1-21 ~ Revelation 20:1-15
Psalm 148:1-14 ~ Proverbs 31:8-9
Old Testament - Today we finish the book of the prophet Zechariah! Only one more book in the Bible to go with Malachi, which we'll read over the next couple of days. In Zechariah chapter 14 today we read about the Lord's reign on earth - this reading fits in pretty nicely with the Revelation readings we have been going through recently. Verses 6 through 8 gave my imagination a great workout today - "On that day the sources of light will no longer shine, yet there will be continuous day! Only the LORD knows how this could happen! There will be no normal day and night, for at evening time it will still be light. On that day life-giving waters will flow out from Jerusalem, half toward the Dead Sea and half toward the Mediterranean, flowing continuously both in summer and in winter." How does this sound to you? Not bad, eh. The light and the life-giving waters sound wonderful to me. Has anyone read the book Peace Like a River by Leif Enger? A great fiction read. For some reason these verses made me think about the very end of that book where a couple of the characters are in a heaven-like place. I like thinking about that place... :)
Verse 16 is interesting - "In the end, the enemies of Jerusalem who survive the plague will go up to Jerusalem each year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Shelters." The phenomenal One Year Bible Companion book has a great Question of "Why will there still be an Old Testament Feast during the Messiah's Kingdom?" And an answer that basically says the Feast of the Tabernacles (or Shelters or Booths or simply Sukkot) will still be appropriate because it is a festival of thanksgiving, celebrating those who love God with all their soul. The other feasts of the Old Testament won't be celebrated as they were all fulfilled - The Passover in Jesus' death - Day of Atonement in Jesus' Salvation - Feast of Firstfruits in Jesus' resurrection - and Pentecost with the gift of the Holy Spirit. More great info on the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, from a Jewish website is at this link. For a Christian website's perspective on this Feast go here.
New Testament - In Revelation chapter 20 today we read about the Millennial Reign of Christ. There are 3 basic beliefs in the 1,000 years described in this chapter - 1. Amillennialism (means we're in a figurative 1,000 years now) describes the present reign of Jesus in heaven, along with deceased believers and currently living believers - all of which will be followed by Jesus' second coming, the resurrection of the dead, the final judgment, and Jesus' reign over the new earth eternally. 2. Premillennialism (means Jesus will come pre-1,000 years) also believes in the present reign of Jesus in heaven that is moving toward a time when Jesus returns again, the first resurrection occurs, and there will be a reign of Jesus on the current earth as we know it for 1,000 years. Then will come the final general resurrection, the final judgment, and then the eternal kingdom on the new earth. 3. Postmillennialism (means Jesus will come post-1,000 years) believes that the entire world as we currently know it will be converted to Christianity and this will bring a millennium of peace - then to be followed by Jesus' second coming, the general resurrection, final judgment, and the eternal kingdom. Hopefully this makes some sort of sense on these 3. :) I read a commentary that said the key to remember with all 3 of these views is that they are simply timing differences. In all 3 views, Jesus returns again. Jesus reigns. Forever.
Verses 11-12 get into Judgment, which is obviously quite a topic to attempt to cover in a daily blog... :) "And I saw a great white throne, and I saw the one who was sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God's throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to the things written in the books, according to what they had done." So... I am going to defer to someone much smarter than me on this one, and encourage you to read Lehman Strauss's article entitled "The Future Judgment of the Believer" at bible.org at this link. I encourage you to check this link out if you'd like a glimpse toward what happens after we pass on from this life - including a very interesting look at 5 crowns that can be given / received! Actually, if you are really interested in learning more about what happens after we die, Mr. Strauss at bible.org has a great 10 part series called "Death and Afterward" at this link. (which "The Future Judgment of the Believer link above is #6 in the 10 part series.)
Psalms - Psalm 148 is a call for all creation to praise God! I love it. As I was reading this Psalm I was reminded of a song that we sometimes sing in church that goes something like - "Let everything that. Let everything that. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!" I love how the Psalms can stir up worship songs in our minds!
We read this in verse 5 - "Let every created thing give praise to the LORD, for he issued his command, and they came into being." Do you agree with this verse? That you came into being because the Lord commanded it? Do you give thanks to God frequently? And joyfully? Even in the midst of maybe some challenging times in your life, can you still give praise to your Creator?
Proverbs - Proverbs 31:8-9 today reminded me of the victims and families and people still suffering due to the hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunami's this past year - "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those who are perishing. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice." Is God calling you to speak up in some way for the poor and helpless? This question is not necessarily related to the natural disasters of this past year - maybe it's somewhere in your city or neighborhood or home that this call is leading you to speak up... Will you speak up? Will we speak up? Tangent alert - It's been a while since I've posted up about World Vision, so I hope you don't mind me going down a bit of a tangential path here that I do think is related to this Proverb. Please know that I don't work for World Vision - I simply love their ministry and know they are efficient and effective in their work. I've been sponsoring children through World Vision for the past 5 years. Below are a couple of paragraphs I sent out in an email to my friends and family a few weeks ago about World Vision -
"The real reason for this portion of the email is to encourage you to do your shopping throughout the year at World Vision’s Gifts website - http://www.WorldVisionGifts.org/ On this website you can purchase a goat for a family in need in our world! Yes, instead of buying your father another tie he won’t wear, buy him a World Vision goat this Christmas! (or for his birthday or Father’s Day) Everyone loves a goat! And the good news about this goat is that it won’t come to live with your gift recipient. :) It will go to a family who really needs the goat’s milk - a family who perhaps can start breeding goats and start a small business. And World Vision will mail a wonderful gift card to your recipient to let them know about the goat you bought in their honor! In addition to goats, you can buy wells for clean water, fruit trees, and food."
"Last, but not least, for just $1 a day you can change a child’s life through World Vision’s Child Sponsorship. World Vision works in villages where people are making less than $1 a day. You might be surprised to know that there are 1.2 billion people on our planet that are making less than $1 a day. This is poverty. And you and I can do something about it by investing 1 of our dollars from our wallets or purses each day into World Vision’s Child Sponsorship program. Will you join me in sponsoring a child? It will change that child’s life – and yours. Details are here - http://www.worldvision.org/ "
What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!