December 24

Zechariah 6:1–7:14

Zechariah 6 resembles Zechariah 1:7-11 where we saw angels patrolling the earth. Here we see these blessed beings patrolling, protecting and providing peace in the north, a direction from where Israel had been invaded many times.

Zechariah then commanded Judah to receive the gifts and crown Joshua both priest and king. Priest and King? This was something unprecedented in Israel and no-doubt points to the coming Messiah who would be the only Priest-King they would ever have – it’s a prophecy of Jesus! 

The building of the Temple ultimately speaks of Jesus building the church (Matthew 16:18). Isn’t it wonderful that we’re also blessed to join in this building commission, by co-laboring with Him? (Zechariah 6:15; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15)

Regarding the Branch (Zechariah 6:12), Warren Wiersbe shares something interesting: “The BRANCH is an important messianic title, signifying our Lord’s coming from the stock of David (Isaiah 11:1). As Branch, He is King (Jerermiah 23:5; 33:15), God’s Servant (Zechariah 3:8), “the Man whose name is the BRANCH” (Zecheriah 6:12), and “the Branch of the LORD” (Isaiah 4:2). Some see in these 4 titles a parallel to the 4 Gospels. Matthew presents the Branch of David, the King; Mark, the Servant; Luke, the Man; and John, “the Branch of the Lord” who is God come in human flesh (John 20:30–31).

In Zechariah 7 we find the Jews who had a practice and pattern of fasting in the 5th and 7th month during the captivity, approach the priests in Jerusalem and ask them if they should continue to fast as they had in the past. By this time (in the 4th year of Darius) the rebuilt temple is only half-way done (518 B.C.). 

The word of the LORD came to Zechariah, to question the question, to press the matter, to ask these men to search their hearts, “…during these 70 years, did you really fast for Me – for Me?” (Zechariah 7:5). It wasn’t a random accusation, for God went on to reveal that the things they did, they did for themselves (Zechariah 7:6). We must always check our hearts, check our motives in all things, as Paul the Apostle wrote to the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 10:31 (NKJV) “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Obedience is always better than fasting. Zechariah goes on to explain to the people that DISobedience is the reason the people were carried away into captivity in the first place. It’s important for us (for me) to realize that a genuine walk and relationship with the LORD is not found in mere religion. Are we doing this for God? How do we treat the least?

Zechariah 7:9–10 (NKJV) “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother.’”

Tragically, the people did not heed the message, they shrugged their shoulders, it was no big deal, they did not know (or care) that the prophets were speaking God’s Word to them. So God’s chastening hand fell hard and God dispersed them throughout the world.

Will we learn these lessons God lays before us, over and over again?

Revelation 15:1-8

The number 7 is found 32 times in the book of Revelation. It’s the number of completion. The Tribulation Period is 7 years long, John writes his letters to 7 churches, there were 7 seals, followed by 7 trumpets, and now 7 bowls that will be poured out by 7 angels with the 7 last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is “complete.”

This scene, in one sense, takes us to the heavenly temple, and before the temple there is this sea of glass mingled with fire. Some compare this to what was called the “brazen sea,” the large laver of water that stood outside the Jewish tabernacle and temple where the priests washed. Of course, there’s no washing taking place in heaven, but it may represent the fact that we are washed in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 1:5). Other’s simply see the sea as the mass of humanity from which the people rise. In either case these are people who have won the battle. Victory over the beast, over his image, over his mark, and over the number of his name!

They sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb; it’s a song where-in the people rejoice over the victory God has granted! We read in:

Exodus 15:1 (NKJV) “Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and spoke, saying: ‘I will sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!’” 

You’ll notice when you read Revelation 16 there is quite a parallel between the plagues of Exodus and the plagues of Revelation. God is clearly making that connection as He triumphs over the enemy.

This song gives praise to God for His ultimate victory, but it also emphasizes His justice. In Revelation 15:3b we read those words, “…just and true are Your ways O King of the saints!” There are those who question God’s ways, even His judgments; but it’s only because we are a sin-sick people who aren’t able to understand the severity of our sinfulness. When we get a glimpse of God’s majesty and holiness, when we’re home in heaven, we will all join in with that declaration, “…just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints.” The seals, the trumpets, the bowls of wrath – the non-believer sees it as only painful judgment…the believer sees it as pure justice.

There were those times in the Old Testament where the Jewish tabernacle or temple was filled with so much smoke, representing God’s glory, that no person was able to enter in –  we see the same thing here. This is not a man-thing, this is a God-thing, God Himself will judge the world and complete what He has started.

Although it’s bittersweet, I look forward to that day, when there’s no more sin, when evil is eradicated…when it’s time for God to go “bowling” with the final 7 bowls.

Psalm 143:1-12

Again David is down. Again David prays. That God would hear and answer and save, even though he’s not worthy. When we survey David’s situation with Saul, David was blameless – but still it’s true what he says, that in God’s sight, “…no one living is righteous.”

David was not just down, he was way down. Notice what he wrote:

Psalm 143:3–4 (NKJV) “For the enemy has persecuted my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me dwell in darkness, like those who have long been dead. 4 Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is distressed.”

Depression, anxiety, suicide, and suicidal thoughts have been around for a long time. Even the “best,” and the “blessed,” suffer from it. Covid-19 seems to have amplified it. Our hearts go out to those in this state, crushed, in darkness, overwhelmed, and distressed. David was there – and somehow from that place he lifted his eyes, his voice and he prayed to God:

“Answer me…”

“Cause me to hear You…”

“Cause me to know,” what to do

“Teach me…”

“Lead me…”

Revive me…”

“In Your mercy LORD, cut off all my enemies, because I know who I am…”

“…I am Your servant.”

It helps to know who we are – created in His image. It helps to know who we are in Christ, we are children of God and servants of God – may we never forget, may we always look up to our Lord who loves us.

Proverbs 30:24-28

Proverbs 30:24-28 (NKJV) “There are four things which are little on the earth, but they are exceedingly wise: 25 The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their food in the summer; 26 The rock badgers are a feeble folk, yet they make their homes in the crags; 27 The locusts have no king, yet they all advance in ranks; 28 The spider skillfully grasps with its hands, and it is in kings’ palaces.”

Agur magnifies the Maker in a brief observation of creatures that are small but both strong and wise.

Ants are wise in many ways, especially in the way they – together, prepare for the future. They are extremely strong for their size with necks able to hold 5,000 times their weight, that would be around 750,000 pounds for most of us in the human realm. Leafcutter ants are able to lift 50 times their body weight – with their jaws – that would be like us lifting a car with our teeth!

Rock Badgers, or hyraxes – make their homes in the rocks, they’re very durable animals still around today in Israel.

Locusts are able to advance because of their cooperation and teamwork. They don’t need someone pushing them, their work ethic is strong and inherent.

Spiders use little hairs called scopulae (millions and billions of them) on their legs to act like an adhesive. This scopulae combined with lighter body weight, make it is possible for them to climb the walls and ceilings without falling…and there they are in king’s palaces.

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