December 23

Zechariah 4:1–5:11

Zechariah was given another amazing vision, ultimately of a perpetual supply of oil – symbolic of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of the vision was to communicate to Zerubbabel (the governor) and Joshua (the High Priest) that God would anoint them to finish the work of building the temple. It was a huge task, like moving a mountain, something that couldn’t be done by human resources, but it COULD be done by the Spirit and grace of God…and so we read:

Zechariah 4:6–7 (NKJV) “So he answered and said to me: ‘This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.’ 7 ‘Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’’”

Zerubbabel had laid the foundation and he would finish the work as well.

More details are offered by Holman Bible Dictionary, “According to Ezra 3, Zerubbabel and Jeshua (or Joshua, the high priest) rebuilt the altar and in their second year (538?) laid the foundation of the temple, but their work was halted by opposition from persons who had remained in Palestine during the exile (4:1–6, 24). Darius (Persian emperor, 522–486 B.C.) granted the Jews permission to continue rebuilding the temple (6:1–12). Under the urging of Haggai (1:1, 12–15; 2:1, 20) and Zechariah (4:6–10a), Zerubbabel, now governor (Hag. 1:1) in place of Sheshbazzar (Ezra 5:14), resumed the task (Ezra 5:1–2), completed in 515 B.C.”

Zechariah 4:6 has always been a foundational passage for the Calvary Chapel movement. Pastor Chuck Smith emphasized the fact that it’s not to be perspiration, but inspiration. Just as Jesus told the disciples in Luke 24:49 and Acs 1:8, wait for the power of the Holy Spirit. When we’re saved we have the Holy Spirit IN us, but as we serve we need the Holy Spirit UPON us. Something even seen, to a certain extent, in the Old Testament. As we now live in the last of the last days, let’s pray for a double-portion, of the Holy Spirit upon our lives (2 Kings 2:9; Luke 11:9-13).

Zechariah 5 begins with the vision of a flying scroll 30’ x 15’ – it was abnormally large and therefore easy to read. The fact that it was flying reveals the swift judgment it carried. The violations cited, ie swearing falsely in God’s name, and stealing are the two middle commandments on the two tablets of the law and therefore, most likely represent the entirety of the law. This vision is a warning of judgment upon those whose lives are summarized as a violation of God’s Word. No one escapes as we see the curse entering every house. All are guilty. We all need Jesus.

The vision of the woman in the basket has to do with corrupt commercialism, revealed by the fact that the basket in question was used for weights and measurements. Apparently Israel had learned bad business practices in Babylon. They learned to make money, but often times it was done dishonestly, wickedly. The vision is given to remove such wicked idolatry out of the land of Israel, and transport it back to “Babylon”. Many Bible teachers see this as a rebuilt Babylon in the last of the last days…only to be destroyed by Jesus (see Revelation 17-18).

Warren Wiersbe, “Wickedness confined (Zechariah 5:5–11). In the end times, there will be a concentration of evil at Babylon, that last expression of the evil world system (Rev. 17–18). The word wickedness is feminine in Hebrew, which explains why a woman was used as the illustration.”

Revelation 14:1-20

The scene returns to the 144,000 Jews we saw back in chapter 7. There we read that they were sealed on their foreheads (Revelation 7:3), here we read that the seal consists of the Father’s name. During the Tribulation Period these “Jews for Jesus” witnessed to the world and as we read a description of their lives here in chapter 14, their love for the Lord overflows, it’s both unique and inspirational.

We should all have worship songs that resonate within us because they describe our individual experiences. Such is the case of this song the 144,000 sing – it consists of an expression of worship unique to their lives and love for the Lord. When we read of their virginity in v. 4, it’s not to be taken literally, this group was pure in that they did not commit spiritual adultery (Exodus 34:15; James 4:4). But I love the way they followed Jesus wherever He led them, they were redeemed as firstfruits to God, they spoke only the truth, blameless before Him.

After the 144,000, we have 3 messages from 3 angels. The first angel has a message of salvation as he flies throughout the whole world, to every nation, tribe, tongue and people – the message spoken in 6,500 languages is so simple, fear God, obey God, and give glory to God, the one who made you.

The second angel makes a proclamation about Babylon, which is representative of all the false religions of the world – the day has come for their fall. It all started with the tower of Babel (Genesis 11) when men tried to reach heaven in their own way and efforts – in doing so they caused the world to fall into idolatry and spiritual adultery, but the day will come when all manmade religion will be destroyed (see also Revelation 17).

The third angel warns the people, ever so clearly, not to take the mark of the beast; there is absolutely no hope for anyone who does so. This angel takes some time to describe the wrath of God, the cup of His indignation, the torment, fire, and brimstone, ascending forever and ever – there is no rest, no relief, in all eternity for those who worship the beast, by taking his mark. There will be that pressure to take the mark, but John gives that Godly counsel to those facing that temptation then, and really at any time:

Revelation 14:12 (NLT) “This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently, obeying his commands and maintaining their faith in Jesus.” 

Many will be martyred for their faith in Christ. Revelation 14:13 reminds us that although the suffering of such death may be excruciating, it’s only temporary, the rest and reward are eternal.

Revelation 14:14-16 speaks of the harvest of grain and emphasizes the sifting in the harvest. As Jesus raptures His church and separates the sheep from the goat and the wheat from the tares – the Lord knows those who are His (2 Timothy 2:19).

Revelation 14:17-20 speaks of the harvest grapes and emphasizes the severity of the harvest, culminating in the Battle of Armageddon, where the blood of rebellious man stretches 184 miles, 4-feet high. Our God is a Lamb, but He’s also a lion; He’s our loving Savior, but He’s also the righteous Judge – when you have a moment read Isaiah 63:1-6. How important it is to fear the Lord!

Psalm 142:1-7

Can you imagine living in a cave? That’s where David lived at the time of writing this Psalm, it’s a prayer when he was in the cave. He was on the run from King Saul and the army of Israel, and yet he’d done nothing wrong. So he prays.

He cried out. He made supplication. He poured out his complaint before the LORD. He made a declaration to God of all His troubles. It reminds me of what Peter wrote in:

1 Peter 5:7 (NKJV) “…casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

David was going through it…he was overwhelmed (understandably so). The good thing is, David knew that God knew all about it (Psalm 142:3), and God knew the path David should take (apparently for now, God wanted him to live in a cave).

Psalm 142:4 tells us that David had no one – other than God. He looked to the right, to the left, but no one acknowledged him, no one was willing to give him refuge, no one cared. Forgive me for saying it a million times, but, “Sometimes we don’t realize God is all we need, until He’s all we have.”

David ends the Psalm, as he does almost every Psalm, on a high note. He knows God will answer his prayer and deliver him from his persecutors. He knows that God will set his soul free from this prison he’s in – that one day he’d be surrounded by the righteous…that God would deal bountifully with him. And God did, he would one day be king, God heard his cry and blessed his life.

I hope we know the same is true for us. May we never give up…just keep looking up, continue to pray and do our best to obey. We’ll watch God work, even though it may take some quality quantity time.

Proverbs 30:21-23

Proverbs 30:21-23 (NKJV) “For three things the earth is perturbed, yes, for four it cannot bear up: 22 For a servant when he reigns, a fool when he is filled with food, 23 A hateful woman when she is married, and a maidservant who succeeds her mistress.”

These four things make the earth tremble – we can hardly endure it! 

1. A servant who’s not ready or equipped to lead, but has been placed in that position. An upstart, or one who has the mentality that others should serve him, rather than a servant-leader. This person is oppressive, success has gone to his head. (see also Proverbs 19:10; and Jesus’ words in Mark 10:35-45) 

2. A rich foolish glutton; such people are a harm to society, rather than a help, being both indulgent and ungrateful.

3. A contentious and hateful woman brings much grief to her husband and everyone around her.

4. The maidservant who succeeds her mistress – success has gone to her head. I don’t think it has to do with a lack of royal blood or nobility, it has to do with the a prideful heart, and a lack of humility.

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