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Zechariah 10:1-11:17 ~ Revelation 18:1-24
Psalm 146:1-10 ~ Proverbs 30:33
Old Testament - We continue to read some incredible prophesies from Zechariah today about Jesus, the Messiah, coming in 500 years! In chapter 10 verse 4 today Zechariah calls Jesus the "cornerstone": "From Judah will come the cornerstone, the tent peg, the bow for battle, and all the rulers." Why do you think Zechariah called Jesus the cornerstone? You'll recall that we read earlier in the year this passage in Matthew chapter 21 verse 42: "Then Jesus asked them,
In Zechariah chapter 11 verses 12 & 13 we have a foreshadowing of Judas betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver - and Judas' money being used to buy the potters field: "And I said to them, “If you like, give me my wages, whatever I am worth; but only if you want to.” So they counted out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—this magnificent sum at which they valued me! So I took the thirty coins and threw them to the potter in the Temple of the Lord." (hopefully you caught Zechariah's sarcasm in "this magnificent sum"...) A couple things to note here - 30 pieces of silver was the price of a slave among the Israelites in ancient times. Paying this price to Zechariah was an insult. However, paying this price for the life of Jesus was an unfathomable insult. Our Lord's life was sold for 30 pieces of silver... During this Christmas season this is really sad to think about - it's sad to think about this at any time, but somehow just celebrating our Lord's birth 2 days ago, and then now thinking about how his precious life was sold for 30 silver pieces is just incredibly sad for me today. Zechariah was rejected. Jesus was rejected. Think it's possible that if you and I really live our lives for God - really live our faith - that we too may be rejected some day? That perhaps someday our lives could be sold for just 30 pieces of silver? (There are modern day martyrs whose lives were taken for much less than this amount...) Below is the artist Rembrandt's painting from the year 1629 of "Judas Returning the Thirty Silver Pieces" and below that is a replica of 30 silver shekels from the 1st century:
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Zechariah titled "Oracle Concerning YHWH’s Sovereignty" is at this link.
New Testament – In Revelation chapter 18 today we read about the fall of Babylon. This is one of those chapters in Revelation that can be interpreted in many ways by many different people - with the overriding question / interpretation revolving around who is Babylon that John is referring to here? Most commentaries that I have read suggest that John is referring to the Roman empire of the 1st century in this chapter. Much of Revelation is eschatological - end times prophecy - and some commentaries suggest that this chapter is too. But it seems that most commentaries look at this chapter as a prophecy toward the fall of the Roman empire - an empire that in John's time was a "cult of emperor worship". An empire that John wrote about here to warn the early Christian churches to be on guard against because it stood against God and His people. However - other commentaries do consider Babylon in this chapter to represent the political and religious system of the world in general under the rule of the antichrist. And some others see this chapter to be about a literal Babylon in Mesopotamia that is rebuilt and restored in the end times. Below is John Martin's "Fall of Babylon" from Illustrations from the Bible, 1835:
Since we're nearing the end of the book of Revelation, and in particular because of the questions this chapter 18 can bring up, this is probably a good time for me to re-post this information below about the book of Revelation - same info I posted up when we started Revelation chapter 1 on December 9th. There are basically 4 lines of thinking on how to interpret the book of Revelation, which I think are helpful to consider before diving into this book. I am editing these comments below from bible.org at this link: Please check out this link for more details on these 4 points below and the book of Revelation overall - these comments were edited on bible.org from M. C. Tenney, Interpreting Revelation.
"(1) The preterist approach believes that “Revelation is simply a sketch of the conditions of the empire in the first century.”
(2) The historicist view (or continuous-historicist view) “contends that Revelation is a symbolic presentation of the entire course of the history of the church from the close of the first century to the end of time.”
(3) The futurist approach usually argues that “all of the visions from Revelation 4:1 to the end of the book are yet to be fulfilled in the period immediately preceding and following the second advent of Christ.”
(4) In the idealist approach, “the Revelation represents the eternal conflict of good and evil which persists in every age, although here it may have particular application to the period of the church.”"
Below is art titled "The Angel with the Millstone" - a manuscript illumination from the year 1020 for chapter 18 verse 21 today: "Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a huge millstone. He threw it into the ocean and shouted, “Just like this, the great city Babylon will be thrown down with violence and will never be found again."
Psalms - I love Psalm 146 verse 9 today: "The LORD protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows." If God protects foreigners, orphans and widows, should we protect these folks in our communities as well? How in your life today are you caring for orphans and widows and foreigners? Below is Psalm 146 verses 5 through 10 in another language (can anyone identify this language? I'm sure one of our readers can...), but I think we'll get the point of this image with these 5 verses (re-read verses 5 through 10 again and reflect on this image for a moment):
Proverbs - Today Proverbs chapter 30 verse 33 teaches us: "As the beating of cream yields butter and striking the nose causes bleeding, so stirring up anger causes quarrels." This is an appropriate Proverb for our Christmas season when we spend so much time with our families, no? :) I shouldn't joke about this I realize - but I think it's appropriate to address this issue. During the holiday season I am afraid that sometimes we bring up old battles or wounds when we spend time with our families - and we risk stirring up anger that causes quarrels. Don't get me wrong - I think it's ultimately better to bring things into the open with our families. That's how healing begins. But let us be careful that we don't just revert to some old "scripts" we have with our families that stirs up anger in ourselves or in them and then causes quarrels. Let us write some new redemptive and loving scripts instead! Do you ever stir up anger that causes quarrels in your family? Do some folks in your family stir up anger that causes quarrels? Will you pray that Jesus will introduce new redemptive and loving "scripts" in your family this holiday season? And will you make sure you no longer cause any stirring up of unnecessary anger?
Comments from you: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!