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Zechariah 12:1-13:9 ~ Revelation 19:1-21 ~ Psalm 147:1-20 ~ Proverbs 31:1-7
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Old Testament - Today in Zechariah chapter 12 we begin the second oracle in the book of Zechariah! It is interesting to note that the Hebrew term for "oracle" or "the word of the Lord" is only used 3 times in the Old Testament - here in 12:1, in Zechariah 9:1 and in Malachi 1:1. This indicates that Zechariah chapters 9 through 14 were likely written at about the same time as the book of Malachi - the last book of the Old Testament - which we'll be reading in a couple of days! :) This 2nd oracle in Zechariah consists of the final siege of Jerusalem and Jesus' return as Messiah to defeat Israel's enemies and establish his kingdom. Below is a Russian artist's icon of the prophet Zechariah from the 1400's:
Chapter 12 verse 10 is a powerful Messianic verse in today's readings: "Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on all the people of Jerusalem. They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died." The first sentence indicates a pouring out of the Holy Spirit. In the second sentence it appears that Jesus is speaking in the first person - here in the Old Testament! The use of the word pierced here is similar to Psalm 22:16 - "they have pierced my hands and my feet" and John 19:34-37 - "Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”" Below is an oil painting from the year 1515 of the One they pierced by the German painter Matthias Grünewald:
Chapter 13 verse 7 is another powerful verse about Jesus: ""Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, the man who is my partner, says the LORD Almighty. Strike down the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn against the lambs." This last sentence is quoted by Jesus just before his arrest in Matthew 26:31 and Mark 14:27. It is applied to the scattering of the apostles, but can also be considered for the dispersion of the Jews in A.D. 70 after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. And yet, even after the sheep were scattered, do you realize that Jesus is seeking after his lost sheep? Have you been found by Jesus?
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Zechariah titled "Oracle Concerning Israel" is at this link.
New Testament - Revelation chapter 19 verses 7 through 9 discuss the wedding feast of the Lamb (Jesus) in powerful language: "Let us be glad and rejoice and honor him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She is permitted to wear the finest white linen." (Fine linen represents the good deeds done by the people of God.) And the angel said, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb." And he added, "These are true words that come from God." The wedding feast of the Lamb is the end of human history - the judgment of the wicked and the wedding of the Lamb and his bride, the church. Are you looking forward to the wedding feast of the lamb? Do you want to be there? Do you believe the words - blessed are those who are invited to the feast? Have you accepted the Invitation?
Revelation chapter 19 utilizes the Hebrew for Hallelujah! four times in the first six verses - but it is interesting to note that Hallelujah is not used anywhere else in the New Testament. Though, certainly we are reading Hallelujah frequently now in the Psalms! (such as today's Psalm 147). The Hallelujah's in this chapter, along with verse 16 in today's readings - "On his robe and thigh was written this title: King of kings and Lord of lords." - reminded me of Handel's Messiah.
The rider on the white horse in chapter 19 is not the rider of the white horse from earlier in the book of Revelation, chapter 6 verse 2. The rider in this chapter is Jesus, returning as Warrior-Messiah-King. It's interesting to note that many of the Jewish faith in the 1st century were looking for their Messiah to come as Warrior-Messiah-King, and thus they rejected Jesus as Messiah, who came then as the Suffering Servant. However, it is powerful for us to keep in mind that Jesus is indeed coming again - and when he returns it won't be in his previous role as the Suffering Servant. That debt has been paid. Jesus will return as Warrior-Messiah-King!Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit her "Revelation Illustrated" site.
Below is an image for verse 21 in today's readings that is well worth cheering about! "And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast—miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue. Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur."
Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit her "Revelation Illustrated" site.
Psalms - Psalm 147 was thought to have been written for Levitical singers on the happy occasion of the dedication of the rebuilt walls of Jerusalem - see Nehemiah 12:27-43. Psalm 147 was divided into two Psalms - verses 1 through 11 and 12 through 20 - in the Septuagint, the pre-Christian Greek translation of the Old Testament. However, the Hebrew text has the Psalm as one whole Psalm. Verses 10 and 11 are an incredible middle point of this Psalm that stood out to me today: "The strength of a horse does not impress him; how puny in his sight is the strength of a man. Rather, the LORD's delight is in those who honor him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love." These verses remind me that God really is not impressed with our shows of "strength" or "independence." God is much more impressed when we are dependent on Him. Are you honoring the Lord with your life today? Do you put his hope in his unfailing love? Or do you rely on your own strength?
Today in Psalm 147 I liked verse 15 a lot: "how swiftly his word flies!" Indeed, it is true! I pray God's Word, the Bible, is flying swiftly (and powerfully!) in your life this year!
Proverbs - Proverbs chapter 31 and the preceding chapter 30 are thought to be essentially an "appendix" to the overall book of Proverbs, as they are non-Israelite in origin. Chapter 29 was the final chapter of the Proverbs of Solomon. Proverbs chapter 31 verses 1 through 9 consist of 3 sayings that King Lemuel's mother taught him. The entirety of Proverbs chapter 31 demonstrates the significance and role of wise women in the ancient Near East, where the queen mother was often an influential figure. Who have been some wise women in your life?
YouTube - As I mention Handel's Messiah's Hallelujah Chorus in reference to Revelation 19 above, here it is live on December 24, 2006 from Olympic Square park in Hong Kong:
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture this week: "The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let those who hear say, "Come!" Let those who are thirsty come; and let all who wish take the free gift of the water of life." Revelation 22:17 (TNIV)
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!