Zechariah 2:1-3:10 ~ Revelation 12:18-13:18 ~ Psalm 141:1-10 ~ Proverbs 30:18-20
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Old Testament - Today in Zechariah we read about the future prosperity of Jerusalem, the Exiles being called home, and cleansing for the high priest. Chapter 2, verses 4 & 5 stood out to me in today's readings: ""Hurry, and say to that young man, `Jerusalem will someday be so full of people that it won't have room enough for everyone! Many will live outside the city walls, with all their livestock--and yet they will be safe. For I, myself, will be a wall of fire around Jerusalem, says the LORD. And I will be the glory inside the city!'" My mind took me to the thought of the holy heavenly Jerusalem being chocked full of people who love God! And a wall of fire - holy protection - surrounding everyone in a heavenly Jerusalem and providing safety. And God's glory reigning eternally... I don't think this is quite proper exegesis on this passage... :) but I like the thought!
Chapter 1 verse 13 also jumped out at me during this Christmas season: "Be silent before the LORD, all humanity, for he is springing into action from his holy dwelling."" I think sometimes we get so busy during the Christmas season that we forget to be silent and to be still. We can just go, go, go - rush, rush rush - and maybe miss the true meaning of Christmas? Don't forget the song, "Silent Night, Holy Night...." Can you find time and space to be silent before the Lord this Christmas? And time and space to reflect upon what the advent of Jesus as a baby in the manger means to you?
Chapter 3 verses 8 & 9 were also beautiful for me today in this Christmas season as we think about the birth of Jesus: "Listen to me, O Jeshua the high priest, and all you other priests. You are symbols of the good things to come. Soon I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. Now look at the jewel I have set before Jeshua, a single stone with seven facets. I will engrave an inscription on it, says the LORD Almighty, and I will remove the sins of this land in a single day." Are you looking forward to the coming of the Branch? What does the Branch symbolize to you? Verse 9 above also looks beyond Christmas and toward Good Friday - How were our sins removed in a single day? Do you believe that your sins were removed by Jesus on the cross on that single day?
And chapter 3 verse 10 also works well in this Christmas season! :) "And on that day, says the LORD Almighty, each of you will invite your neighbor into your home to share your peace and prosperity." Will you have an opportunity over this next couple of weeks to invite someone into your home to share in your peace and prosperity? Or, if not, can you find an opportunity to go out and share your peace and prosperity with others? Maybe volunteer at a place that has neighbors that really need your peace and prosperity this Christmas season?
New Testament - Okay, I know I'm doing some serious hermeneutics stretching above today in the Zechariah readings... I'll try to get back to some exegesis here in Revelation chapter 13! Today we read about the beast that comes out of the sea and the beast that comes out of the earth. This is a pretty intense chapter that ends in the infamous number of the beast, 666. One thing I learned from reading Tyndale's One Year Bible Companion book today is that the 3 sixes could represent the unholy trinity of Satan - which is comprised of Satan, the first beast, and the false prophet coming up in Revelation chapter 13. Also, the number 666 was probably applied to the emperor Nero, whose Greek letters in his name represent numbers that total 666, by John's 1st century readers. The other way to look at this number is that each of the numbers fall short of the holy numbering of 777 - which represents complete perfection. Below is artist Pat Marvenko Smith's take on "The Three Beasts and 666":
To order prints visit her "Revelation Illustrated" site.
In verse 1 we read: "And written on each head were names that blasphemed God." Back in the Roman empire many emperors assumed titles of deity and require worship of them, which would obviously be blasphemous to God. An example was the emperor Domitian (AD 51-96) required people to address him as Dominus et Deus, which means "our lord and our god". Below is an ancient bust of Domitian:
Verses 13 - 15 should be warning to us to not fall for false signs and wonders that do not come from God... as we read about the beast from the earth - "He did astounding miracles, such as making fire flash down to earth from heaven while everyone was watching. And with all the miracles he was allowed to perform on behalf of the first beast, he deceived all the people who belong to this world. He ordered the people of the world to make a great statue of the first beast, who was fatally wounded and then came back to life. He was permitted to give life to this statue so that it could speak. Then the statue commanded that anyone refusing to worship it must die." The danger of these above verses can best be demonstrated by Deuteronomy chapter 13 verses 1 through 4 - "If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him." How do these 2 sets of verses - from Revelation and Deuteronomy - speak to you? Are there possibly even false signs and wonders and false idols in our world today which draw our attention away from loving God with all of our heart and soul? Will you hold fast to God?
Psalms - Psalm 141 is a beautiful prayer of David's - praying for deliverance from the wicked and their ways. Verse 4 is powerful - "Don't let me lust for evil things; don't let me participate in acts of wickedness.
Don't let me share in the delicacies of those who do evil." Is this a prayer you could incorporate into your prayer life? What might be some examples of "delicacies of those who do evil"? Will you pray to God to avoid these "delicacies" and "treasures" that will ultimately fail you?
Proverbs - Proverbs 30 verse 19 tells us about the author's amazement of "how an eagle glides through the sky." This is a great reminder of God's creativity and how it is exhibited in nature! Below is a bald eagle soaring in the blue sky of Homer, Alaska:
YouTube: As I mention "Silent Night" above, here it is by Sixpence None The Richer with Dan Hasteline from Jars of Clay on vocals too:
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!