Category Archives: 1-Year Bible

December 31

Malachi 3:1–4:6

Malachi begins chapter 3 with a prophecy regarding John the Baptist who would come in the spirit and power of Elijah (Matthew 11:10; 17:12-13; Luke 1:17; Isaiah 40:3). He would be the forerunner to the main Messenger of the New Covenant, Jesus Christ 

Malachi then fast-forwards thousands of years to the Second Coming of Christ. He asks the question, “Who can endure the day of His coming?” (Malachi 3:2). God will judge the world and deal with Israel. The Levitical priests will finally be right in His sight and offer up pleasant sacrifices to God during the Millennial Kingdom.

Malachi then returns to the people of his day and shares with them God’s invitation:

Malachi 3:7 (NKJV) “…’return to Me, and I will return to you,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘But you said, ‘In what way shall we return?’” 

In tithes and offerings. It was here, they needed to return.

They were not giving to God what belonged to God and in that sin they had robbed Him and even brought a curse upon themselves.

I’m of the personal conviction that tithes are still expected of us today (as a minimum, a good place to start in our giving). Regarding tithing Jesus said in Luke 11:42, “…these you ought to have done.” If 10% was the expectation of the Old Testament, under a covenant of the blood of animals, how can it be any less under the covenant of the blood of Jesus?  Granted, there are some widows and others who have no luxuries whatsoever, living on a fixed income who cannot tithe. God knows, and this is why He doesn’t mandate it under the New Covenant, but for the rest of us with the latest phones, cars, clothes, fast food, fine dining, cable TV and all the other wants our hearts desire – to say that we can’t give God tithes and offerings – is closely related to robbing God. 

Now, some may say that I’m only of this conviction because I’m a pastor who depends on the giving of the church, but that’s not the case. I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is my provider and the sustainer of the church.

No, I take Malachi’s warning to heart. I do believe that some will suffer allowing the devourer to devour due to their disobedience in this area.

I believe we should give to God tithes and offerings. If we’re not financially there at this point, we should work our way towards this goal passionately. We should budget our finances in such a way that the first 10% goes to the church we attend (our home church where we’re fed) and the extras (offerings) go to other ministries and needs that God will show you.

Whatever you do, don’t worry. God will provide my friends, and He challenges us to test Him in this area (Malachi 3:10). Try it and watch how He opens the windows of heaven and blesses you in such a way that your cups overflow. That doesn’t mean we will be rich financially, but we will be rich spiritually…and God will meet our every need (Philippians 4:19).

One of my all-time favorite books that covers this topic is “The Treasure Principle,” by Randy Alcorn. You can check it out on Amazon by clicking HERE.

Let’s do all that we can to return to God.

May we never say it’s useless to serve God and to walk in His ways (Malachi 3:14). Tragically that’s what some were saying in Malachi’s day. I’m reminded of that passage in:

1 Corinthians 15:58 (NKJV) “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

Malachi not only warns the people NOT to complain, he encourages them to speak words of praise, and fellowship…words that reverence God. Malachi reveals something found only here, that God has a “Book of Remembrance,” He listens to our conversations and records them in His book. I’m assuming that one day this book will come into play for future rewards.

And then in chapter 4 Malachi closes the book (and the Old Testament) with warning and wooing. For the wicked, the day of the LORD is a fiery furnace. For the righteous His Second Coming brings healing forever. Are we ready? Are we righteous? If not, may Malachi’s words penetrate our hearts to be always be ready, through faith in Christ.

He closes the book with a prophecy of Elijah as one of the two witnesses in Revelation 11, during the Tribulation Period. He will come before that dreadful day of the LORD.

It’s fascinating to me that the Old Testament closes with a curse, while the New Testament closes with grace. 

It’s pretty clear that the difference between the two (blessing or cursing) is dependent upon whether or not we will take God’s Word to heart as spoken through His messengers – messengers like Malachi…and ultimately Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-2).

God helps us to take His Word to heart!

Love you guys! What an incredible journey it’s been going through the Old Testament like this! Thanks for joining me.

Revelation 22:1-21

More visuals of heaven. We once again see the throne of God (which includes the Lamb). From that throne proceeds a pure river, this water of life. I do believe we’ll drink from it, I also believe it symbolizes the wonderful life God grants us in His sovereign grace.

Then there’s the Tree of Life (something we saw back in Genesis 2:9; 3:22, 24) that’s rooted and rises in the middle of the street, and on both sides…yielding different fruits each month (does that mean there’s still this yearly type of calendar we have, with orbits of the earth and moon?). Somehow the consumption of the water, fruit, and leaves contribute to the preparation of our bodies to inhabit eternity. It’s for that reason God did not allow Adam and Eve to partake of the Tree of Life while in a fallen state.

How beautiful are those words, “no more curse.” The immediate contrast to the curse is the crown, God’s crown. His righteous rule over all. There we will see the Lord, we will serve the Lord, and reign with Him forever and ever. There there will be no need for artificial lights, the darkness will flee forever from the presence and glory of God, His Light illuminates every nook and cranny of heaven.

1 John 1:5 (NKJV) “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”

Again, John is instructed to write all this down, for the words are faithful and true – and blessed are those who read and heed this book of Revelation, who preserve its pages and share it with others, “…who keep the words of the prophecy of this book.”  (see also Revelation 3:10; 12:17; 14:12). Some people steer clear of the book of Revelation, they avoid it thinking it’s too tough to interpret, but the angel commands John NOT to seal the words of this prophecy, for the time is at hand.

Revelation 21:11 is not a passage teaching us that God doesn’t want people to repent, it’s simply a literary tool urging us to act NOW – don’t wait ‘till later or tomorrow – it may be too late. And if you’re one of those who love the Lord and are set apart to Him – stay there…may you never be moved.

I believe Jesus mentions His reward to motivate us, so let’s do what John tells us in:

2 John 1:8 (NKJV) “Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.”

The revelation continues with the wooing and warning. If we do His commandments it shows we know God and love God (John 14:21, 23) – we will be blessed to partake of that Tree of Life – God is wooing us. But God also warns, that outside are dogs (metaphorically speaking of a man with an impure and impudent mind), sorcerers (drug addicts), sexually immoral, murderers, and idolaters. You don’t want to end up “outside,” my friend.

Jesus Himself sent His angel to communicate this message to all of us – if anyone thirsts, let that person come to Christ. This is an invitation from Jesus, the Spirit, and the Bride (the church) (see also Isaiah 55:1; John 7:37-38; Matthew 11:28-30) – come to the King of kings (the root and offspring of David), the bright and morning star (announcing the arrival of a new dawn, a new dynasty) come to Him all you who labor and are heavy laden.

How can we possibly be ready for His return? I’m forever grateful that the Bible ends with that word – GRACE!

Psalm 150:1-6

In this final Psalm in the Jewish hymnal we touch on some different facets of praise.


Of course we can praise God anywhere, but two wonderful places to praise God corporately are in His sanctuary on earth (where the congregation is gathered) and in His sanctuary in heaven (some translations say “Mighty heaven”). I love our times of worship in church, but I must admit, I do look forward to praising God in heaven.


We praise God for what He’s done and who He is. His mighty acts include creation, the new creation, and of course redemption (the cross and resurrection). His mighty acts are the wonderful things God has done for us all our lives, and the things He continues to do for us each and every day! How great Thou art!


We praise God with all the instruments God has given us. It’s wonderful to travel the world to see and hear the different forms of praise and worship. Drums and dance galore, percussion, piano, keyboards, saxophones, trumpets, orchestras, guitars (acoustic and electric) even the clashing of cymbals can be celebrations of praise. Although there are a plethora of instruments that vary in worship, the one instrument to be “played” and offered to God by all of us is that of the heart (Ephesians 5:19).

Who should praise God?

Everyone who has breath…let everything that has breath praise the LORD. With that breath we sing, we speak, and we live for God.

Proverbs 31:25-31

Proverbs 31:25–31 (NKJV) “Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. 27 She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.

This fashion of this virtuous woman is godly strength and honor, and she has much to look forward to.

Not only are her tasks amazing, but her tongue is as well.  This virtuous woman has a heart for good works as well as a heart of good words. She’s a woman of wisdom, she knows the Word…and she knows how to apply it.

This virtuous woman knows the Truth and speaks the Truth in love. Notice again the description there in v. 26b, “And on her tongue is the law of kindness.” She’s not a Bible thumper. The Hebrew word translated kindness speaks primarily of mercy.  She’s a merciful woman. Not lashing out with her lips, but she’s kind in conversation…she’s wise, knowing what to say, and when to say, and how to say (Proverbs 25:11). We read something similar in Ephesians 4:15 “…speaking the truth in love…”

Perhaps you’ve heard that maxim, something listed in the Dictionary of American Proverbs that, “Behind every great man, is a great woman.” And here we see, it has some Biblical merit. We would even say, not just behind, but “Beside every great man…”

The city gates back then, were similar to city hall nowadays. There the elders would meet, there the judgments would take place, there the wise men would gather, to be used by God for the good of His people. These guys were counselors, mentors, judges, and in that sense successful. Here we see it’s largely because of their amazing wives.

As a wife fulfills her role…her husband is then freed up to fulfill his – and I believe it works both ways.

We see this virtuous wife doing so much from a practical perspective…for her family and for her husband. The NLT says, “she carefully watches all that goes on in her household…” In other words…she knows what’s up.  She knows what’s going on with all of her children…even her teenagers. You can’t pull the wool over her eyes.

In the end, everyone is appreciative. Notice the children rise up and call her blessed…and that’s probably speaking of the fact that many children don’t realize what a blessing their mothers are, until they’re a little older. It’s okay moms…keep doing what’s right in God’s sight.  Don’t seek the approval ratings of immature children. Raise them up in the training and admonition of the Lord…one day they’ll stand up and publicly thank you.

The word charm in this context (Proverbs 31:30) might be described as elegance…the nice clothes, expensive jewelry, or even the correct mannerisms as a lady. Charm can be good, but ultimately that’s not what it’s about.

Neither is beauty all that big.

The Hebrew word translated “passing,” also means vain.  Don’t misunderstand what God is saying, it’s ok for a man or woman to do his or her best to make themselves presentable and even attractive to their husband or wife, but that is not anywhere nearly as important as the inner man – the inner woman.

You can see the beauty of a woman, and be passionately drawn to her, but it’s just eros, it’s erotic, it’s lust not love.  The good looks, the beautiful body, that won’t make a marriage, neither will it make a husband happy, or a man successful.

What is it that they really want?

The inner beauty; eyes might want the outer beauty, but the heart wants the inner beauty.

We read that clearly articulated in 1 Peter 3:1-4.

When God was looking for a man to bless His people, remember what He said to Samuel?

1 Samuel 16:7 (NKJV) “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.””

…but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.  The fear of the LORD is a phrase we found 17 times in the Proverbs.

The fear of the LORD includes awe and reverence…but it’s more than that.  It’s a fear of discipline as well – that my disobedience will bring the chastening of God, into my life. It’s also a fear that I will disappoint my DADDY.

If God has blessed you with a virtuous wife and/or mom, be sure to “give” her the reward she has earned privately, and even publicly.

Share with others the things she has done, her works, there at the “gates.” May we be grateful and express our gratitude openly.

But ladies, if for some strange reason you are not rewarded on this side of time for your virtue and inner beauty, don’t worry…God will reward you one day. Remember Jesus’ words in:

Revelation 22:12 (NKJV) “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.”

“Let everyone,” says Bishop Patrick, “extol her virtue. Let her not lack the just commendation of her labors. But while some are magnified for the nobleness of the stock from whence they sprung, others for their fortune, others for their beauty, others for other things, let the good deeds that she herself has done be publicly praised in the greatest assemblies, where, if all men should be silent, her own works will declare her excellent worth.”

Ruth 3:11 (NKJV) “And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.”

To the wise guys…and the wise gals. May this book, the Bible…and especially the Proverbs be at home in your heart, and lived out loud in your life. Remember, “Wisdom is to the soul, what health is to the body.”  God is willing and wanting to make us whole and healthy Christians.

May we even follow in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus Christ…as He matured, we read in:

Luke 2:40 (NKJV) “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.”

O Lord, I’m Your child too. Please help me to grow, help me to be strong by Your Spirit, filled with wisdom from above. And Lord, I’m so sorry…for me it’s different than Jesus, I know I will fail You. I’ll try not to, but I know in advance, I will miss the mark. I pray, I plead for Your grace to be upon my life…in Jesus’ name. Amen.

December 30

Malachi 1:1–2:17

Malachi’s name means “messenger,” and that he was! He wrote with courage and clarity in calling out the wicked complacency of the people during the years of Nehemiah’s absence.

Chuck Swindoll, “Malachi certainly wrote to the people of Judah (Malachi 1:1; 2:11), but the historical setting becomes clearer in Malachi 1:8. Here the prophet used the Persian word for governor, indicating a time period between 538–333 BC, when the Persian Empire ruled the Promised Land. Malachi also wrote about the corruption of the temple sacrifices, meaning that he likely delivered his message many years after the Israelites rebuilt the temple in 515 BC. The prophet’s concerns mirror those of Nehemiah’s, suggesting that Malachi prophesied to the people while Nehemiah left the city for several years, beginning in 432 BC (Nehemiah 13:6).”

The book begins with an expression of God’s love for Israel. It’s clearly a corrective writing and warning motivated by love. Have you learned that hard truth that the Lord will correct us…because He loves us?

Some people struggle with the concept of God loving Jacob and hating Esau (Malachi 1:2-3), but this “hate” was an idiom of the day pointing out the chasm of difference between believers and non-believers. Jesus used the same expression teaching us that we are to “hate” everyone, even those closest to us.

Luke 14:26 (NKJV) “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

Of course this doesn’t mean we are to literally hate people…as a matter of fact we are commanded to love everyone, and by this all will know we’re Jesus’ disciples and are saved (John 13:35; 1 John 4:7-8).  So what is Jesus saying? That there is to be no rival throne in our hearts, we are to love the Lord more than anyone else. Malachi’s statement means there is no comparison between the grace a believer has, and the judgment a non-believer will experience. This is the difference (generally speaking) between Israel and Edom.

Having established the fact that Israel is God’s covenant people, Malachi goes on to severely rebuke them, especially the priests. They were viewing ministry as a burden – in despising the offerings of the LORD, they were despising the LORD Himself. The sacrifices the people were giving were the leftovers. The lame, the blind, the sick, the stolen would not be accepted by the Governor, how could they have have the audacity to offer them to God?

The responsibility of the priests was to honor the LORD among all people, but they doing the exact opposite, they were profaning His name. Not only in their sacrifices but in their vows as well.

Malachi 1:14 (NKJV) “But cursed be the deceiver who has in his flock a male, and takes a vow, but sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished— for I am a great King,” says the LORD of hosts, “And My name is to be feared among the nations.”

It makes me examine my life. Am I giving to God the best of the best? The tithe from the top? Or am I giving God the leftovers? Is ministry wearisome to me, am I tired of it, or am I still in awe that I have been given this gracious opportunity to serve the Lord and his people?

In Malachi 2 he continues his heavy rebuke of the priests for various reasons all rooted in the fact that their heart was not right. They were not open to correction and would therefore forfeit their blessings and curse themselves. Tragically this would affect their children as well – the whole household was falling apart.

The priests had drifted from the law of the LORD and had no fear of God. They weren’t loving or living the truth so the people were not learning the truth from their lips.

Malachi 2:7–8 (NKJV) “For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. 8 But you have departed from the way; you have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says the LORD of hosts.”

Rather than helping the people spiritually, these priests were hindering and harming them, even the ones we husbands are called to love the most – our wives. Malachi opens up this section with the fact that we are all made in the image of God and are therefore equal as men and women (Malachi 2:10), this includes husbands and wives – we should not deal treacherously with one another.

It’s heartbreaking to read the way the priests were either marrying non-believers or flippantly divorcing their wives. They were the epitome of hypocrisy weeping on the altar, asking God to receive their offerings and answer their prayers, when behind the scenes they were dealing treacherously with their wives. Make no mistake about it, God sees what’s going on behind the scenes and not just up there on the “stage.”

They had forgotten, or didn’t seem to care about the LORD’s holy institution of marriage (Malachi 2:11), how God loves marriage and hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). What damage it does to everyone involved – it’s spiritual violence!

May husbands and wives meditate on this section of Malachi. May we remember how it all started, how God saw it was not good to be alone so He gave us a companion for life; we entered into a covenant to love and to cherish one another and fulfill our roles and responsibilities of husband and wife. Yes, we know that marriage is hard, it’s a perpetual test of character, but we were made ONE…on that day. Jesus said;

Matthew 19:6 (NKJV) “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Our Father wants to bless families, He wants to bless husbands and wives, as well as their children. It’s a fundamental part of His plan to carry the gospel from generation to generation. We need to be warned and informed that our children may pay the ultimate price of eternity in hell, all because of a parent’s selfishness. Let’s heed the warning and work things out.

Malachi 2:15 (NLT) “Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.”

Revelation 21:1-27

God gives us a glimpse of the glory of heaven, which can ultimately be defined as the sphere of God’s unveiled existence. In “heaven” (which Paul refers to as the “third heaven” – 2 Corinthians 12:2) there will be a new first and second heaven and a new earth (the first and second heaven refer to this planet’s atmosphere and outer space). Some Christians believe that the current heaven and earth will be obliterated and replaced – but I tend to lean more towards God redeeming all creation as Paul wrote in Romans 8:20-22.

Just as our bodies will be resurrected so too will “heaven and earth.”

In Revelation 21:3 the voice is loud because God wants everyone to hear! 

In heaven, God will be with us, we will be with Him, we will see Him (Job 19:26; Matthew 5:8) and there will be no more painful tears, suffering or sorrow, no more death or decay, all that is sinful will pass away, God makes ALL things new. God Himself told John (and us) “Write for these words are true and faithful.” This is not just wishful thinking or a fleeting fantasy, this is reality, there is life after death.

All this is written not just as information, but as an invitation, Jesus Himself invites the weary worn out world, “If you’re thirsty, come to Me, I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to all who thirst.”

Have you responded to Jesus’ invitation?

It’s also clear that this book is written as a bold and blunt warning to those who resist God and insist on their sin, rooted in unbelief. All those who choose to refuse, “…shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

We then get this visual of the New Jerusalem. This is where God’s people live, in a space approximately 1,500 miles in length, in depth, and in height. If every level was a ½ a mile high, the total surface would be larger than the entire land mass of planet earth. We get a glimpse of some of the details, the jewels, the pearly gates, the names of the 12 tribes of Israel on each gate, the names of the 12 Apostles on the foundations of those gates, the walls of jasper, the city and streets are made of pure gold. There is no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. Imagine not needing the light of the sun or any other lamp because the glory of God illuminates everything, the Lamb is its light! As I read, I sense God’s full and unveiled presence everywhere in heaven.

We read that the nations of those who are saved shall walk in this light, they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it, which means that there is still this beautiful diversity in heaven. The different foods, cultural practices, skin colors and the like will be there in heaven. There are still many mysteries and things we don’t know or understand, there are many questions we have as Christians, but the most important part of it all is that we will be with God, and that’s the most important thing. Jesus said in: 

John 14:2-3 (NKJV) “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

“That’s all I want Lord, that where You are, there I may be also…and as we’re on our way, please Lord, help us to bring as many people with us as we can.”

Psalm 149:1-9

I wonder if we realize how powerful praise is? I wonder if we praise God the way we should?

We sing the oldies (they never get old) but we must always be looking for new songs as well, for God is always doing new things.

I love the enthusiasm of this Psalm. Let Israel rejoice in their Maker, the children of Zion (a picture of heaven) be joyful in their King. Dance, and sing praise with timbrel and harp, even the guitar!

We humble ourselves in acknowledging our constant need for God. What a “beautiful” passage:

Psalm 149:4 (NKJV) “For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.”

I thought it was interesting to read how the Psalmist even encourages Israel to sing aloud on their beds! Some say it points to praising God even when it’s “nighttime” (Job 35:10; Psalm 42:8). NET Notes said this, “Perhaps the point is that they should rejoice at all times, even when falling asleep or awaking.”

The Psalm closes with sounding victory over Israel’s enemies. For us, it’s not necessarily victory over nations, but it is victory over the fallen flesh, over the world system under Satan’s sway, and victory over the devil and his demons. Let’s be sure to swing our two-edged sword, the Word of God (Psalm 149:6; Hebrews 4:12).

Proverbs 31:10-24

Proverbs 31:10–24 (NKJV) “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. 11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. 13 She seeks wool and flax, And willingly works with her hands. 14 She is like the merchant ships, She brings her food from afar. 15 She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household, And a portion for her maidservants. 16 She considers a field and buys it; From her profits she plants a vineyard. 17 She girds herself with strength, And strengthens her arms. 18 She perceives that her merchandise is good, And her lamp does not go out by night. 19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hand holds the spindle. 20 She extends her hand to the poor, Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, For all her household is clothed with scarlet. 22 She makes tapestry for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies sashes for the merchants.”

It’s fascinating how this final section of Proverbs is an acrostic poem portraying a virtuous wife. 

Each of the 22 verses begins with a consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

The Hebrew word translated “virtuous,” speaks of strength, might, and efficiency.  I found it fascinating that the word is most often translated “army” in the Bible.  When you find a woman like this, it’s as if you have an army on your side!

The same Hebrew word is translated “excellent” in Proverbs 12:4, where we read that, “an excellent wife is the crown of her husband.”

But…such women are very, very rare.  Hence the question, “who can find a virtuous wife?” If you do find such a wife, you will find that her worth is far above rubies.

V. 11-12

A virtuous wife is trustworthy, committed to her husband, he knows, he can count on her; he has confidence in her; not just that she won’t go out on him, but that she will fulfill her role as wife and mom, helper and homemaker (she builds her house) (I Timothy 5:14; Titus 2:5).

So, he will have no lack of gain…(she will greatly enrich his life – NLT). She does him good…all the days of her life. Keep in mind that “all the days of her life” is not just to the last day…but every day.

Here are some specifics/practical things about her (13-22, 24)

Key Words:

Clothing (13, 17, 19, 21-22)
For her family – she goes out looking for, gathering the material she needs, like wool and flax; she brings it home and makes clothes for her family.  Not just to cover them, but to keep them warm (blankets). Nowadays, it may not be making clothes (for some it’s that way) but it might be more along the lines of shopping, buying, washing, ironing, etc.

Clothing for others

Proverbs 31:19–20 (NLT) “Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. 20 She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.”

When I read of this heart she has, as well as the skill she’s cultivated, it brings to mind a woman in the NT by the name of Dorcas.  

Acts 9:36-39 (NKJV) “At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them.”

Clothing for herself (17, 25a, 22)

She has strength and style, and that’s okay.

She’s definitely not wimpy: “She girds herself with strength.”  No doubt she strengthens herself in the Lord. (1 Samuel 30:6)

All women, wives and moms definitely need that strength.  Having to take care of us husbands in so many ways can be a full-time job in and of itself…but then when you add the kids in, from carrying the baby in your womb, to giving birth, the nursing, the nurturing, the lack of sleep at night, the lack of rest by the day, it just never ends.  Some of you moms who’ve raised, or are raising multiple children…our hats off to you, we’re so grateful to you!

Consumer (14)

Cook (14, 15)
(A great love language)

Capitalist (16, 18, 24)
She makes some money through her line of clothing, or on a property deal…which then is used to plant a vineyard…an awesome blessing for every family in those days.
This woman is able to contribute financially. She makes good material, and does so working late into the evening. She even sells to sellers!

Caring (15b, 20)
…there she is willingly working with her hands, stretching out her hands…even beyond her family…considerate of the needy and the poor.

The Bible dictionary defines wisdom as the “ability to discern and make right choices.” It’s more than knowledge…it includes knowledge, but it’s really the ability to take the knowledge of God, and His Word – and in this world, apply that knowledge…on the decisions we make, the words we speak, the thoughts we think, the passions we pursue.

It’s interesting…over the process of time within the dental world, they began to call those third molars that make their way into our mouths…wisdom teeth.  Their reasoning was the teeth begin to grow in the latter part of the teenage years…and the assumption of the day was…that’s when you become an adult, and with age comes wisdom.

But that’s not always the case. huh? Wisdom doesn’t come from within, or without…wisdom actually comes from above (James 3:17).  We can pray for wisdom (James 1:5) and more often than not, God will give us trials along with teachings, to make us wise guys and gals.

Praise God for this Virtuous Wife!

December 29

Zechariah 14:1-21

During the Tribulation Period Jerusalem will be sacked by the Gentile nations led by the Antichrist. Jesus will save His remnant, and then at the end of the Tribulation Period He will return, and we (all those who have died in Christ up to that point) will return with Him.

Zechariah 14:5b (NKJV) “…thus the LORD my God will come, and all the saints with You.

Jude 14 (NKJV) “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints.”

After the Tribulation Period and the return of Christ, King Jesus will rule from Jerusalem for 1,000 years (the Millennial Reign).

Zechariah 14:9 (NKJV) “And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be ‘The LORD is one,’ and His name one.”

King Jesus’ return will make changes in the heavens (Zechariah 14:6-7) and the earth (Zechariah 14:8), living waters will from from Jerusalem.

Today, Jerusalem is a heavy stone, almost a ticking time bomb, you never know when there will be an uproar in city or at the Temple Mount. Many Arab nations are enemies to Israel and refuse to acknowledge Jerusalem as its capital. But imagine the day when Jerusalem will be safely inhabited (Zechariah 14:11), only during the Millennial Kingdom.

Zechariah 14:12 describes the judgment upon the enemies of Jerusalem, and the plague they will experience (Genesis 12:3).

During the Millennial Kingdom, homage to the LORD will be expected of all people. If the nations (or national representatives) refuse to keep the Feast of Tabernacles then they will be disciplined by God – rain will be withheld from their lands. This gives us an indication of what the “atmosphere” will be like during the Millennial Kingdom. One would figure that the people of the world would believe and bow down to their Lord, but for many (if not most) it will only be a superficial commitment because they were in one sense, forced/expected to honor the King. These people choose their sin over their Savior. This explains how at the end of the Millennial Kingdom, when the devil is released to test the people of the world (Revelation 20:3, 7-10), he is able to muster up a rebellion against Christ…for many will merely have gone through the motions/expectation during Christ’s reign. (heartbreaking)

How critical it is that “HOLINESS TO THE LORD” be engraved not only on the bells of the horses (Zechariah 14:20), but on the tablets of our hearts.

Revelation 20:1-15

For many of us, it’s a prayer we’ve been praying our entire lives:

“…Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”

It’s the Millennial Kingdom – King Jesus has come. Satan is bound in the bottomless pit for a thousand years. That means that the devil and his demons won’t be around to tempt and torment for an entire millennium. During this time, Jesus will rule from Jerusalem as King and we will rule with Him in different cities. Our future jurisdiction as blood-bought believers will be based on our present faithfulness; we recall Jesus’ words in: 

Luke 19:17, (NKJV) “And He said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’” 

And in:

Luke 19:18-19, (NKJV) “And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’ Likewise He said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’” 

(see also Matthew 19:28; 1 Corinthians 6:3; Revelation 3:21).

The Bible is filled with many passages that paint wonderful pictures of the Messiah’s reign. It will be a time of peace and prosperity; if anyone gets out of line, it will be dealt with swiftly as Jesus rules with a “rod of iron.” Death can take place, but for the most part, people will live hundreds of years. Dangerous animals will be tamed as described in:

Isaiah 11:6-9 (NKJV) “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”

What a wonderful time it will be! “Many aspects of the curse (Genesis 3:15-19) will be reversed. People will live to a great age, but death will still occur. As before the flood, animals will revert to vegetarianism and will no longer fear man. Living waters will flow from beneath the sanctuary of the Millennial Temple bringing life to the regions they water.” (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:20, 25; Ezekiel 47:8-12; Zechariah 8:4; 14:8; Revelation 21:1-2)” –

It will be a wonderful land when the Lord physically and literally reigns from Jerusalem…but at the end of the thousand years, Satan will be released one last time to test the heart of man – for love must always be tested. Tragically there will be many who despise Christ reigning over them (Luke 19:14) – they will follow Satan and his soldiers to a futile resistance where fire comes down from heaven and devours them. FINALLY, the devil is cast into the Lake of Fire where the Antichrist and False Prophet are, and all whose names are not written in the Book of Life, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Imagine that Great White Throne – where all non-believers will stand before Jesus to be judged (John 5:22). Is your name in the Book of Life? If you’re not sure, I pray you would receive Christ today, as your Lord and Savior, and then join in on this mission to pull as many people out of the fire as we can (Jude 23).

Psalm 148:1-14

The Psalmist begins with an encouragement to Praise the LORD from the heavens.

The angels, the hosts, the sun, moon, and stars.

Psalm 148:5 (NKJV) “Let them praise the name of the LORD, for He commanded and they were created.”

But then he moves on to tell us to Praise the LORD from the earth. 

The elements of nature, the fire and hail, snow and clouds, the wind…all fulfill His Word. The mountains and trees, beasts and domestic animals, creeping things and flying fowl all bow before Him.

If all creation praises and obeys God then…shouldn’t we? Earthlings? Destined for heaven? Kings, princes, judges, and all people – young and old – you and me, let’s be sure to praise the Lord!

As Christians we have been grafted in, to be so near and dear to Him (Psalm 148:14) – what a an awesome God He is. Let’s settle it in our hearts, therefore, to live a life of praise to God!

Proverbs 31:8-9

Proverbs 31:8–9 (NKJV) “Open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die. 9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.”

Of course we know this is applicable to many victims of injustice and poverty in our days, but I can’t help but think of the abortion issue, the 125,000 babies who are slaughtered every single day, by their parents – legalized, pushed, and propagated by our government. 

Here we see that all of us, and especially leaders have a responsibility to be an influence for good, not evil, to save, not take  lives! We must open our mouths (repeated phrase), judge Biblically, and plead passionately for the needy.

Proverbs 31:8 (NET) “Open your mouth on behalf of those unable to speak, for the legal rights of all the dying.”

December 28

Zechariah 12:1–13:9

Zechariah 12 catapults us all the way to the Battle of Armageddon, when the nations of the world gather together in the Valley of Megiddo, to attack Jerusalem and, in essence, fight against God (Revelation 16:12-16; 19:11-21). This takes place at the end of the Tribulation Period. It won’t be much of a battle; Jesus will return and all the redeemed with Him – Jesus will strike the world with the sword of the Word that proceeds out of His mouth, (He will speak the slaughter) and protect His people living in the land of Jerusalem. We read in:

Zechariah 12:4 (NLT) “On that day,” says the LORD, “I will cause every horse to panic and every rider to lose his nerve. I will watch over the people of Judah, but I will blind all the horses of their enemies.”

This is Bible language for Divine intervention! Divine judgment.

Zechariah 12:9 (NKJV) “It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”

And then the day comes, when the Jews clearly see the sacrifice of their Messiah. It will require the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus returns, He still bears the scars…they will see Him and mourn (Zechariah 12:10-11). 

We read in Zechariah 13 how idolatry will finally be finished, and a fountain of forgiveness will be provided by God.

Zechariah 13:1 (NLT) “On that day a fountain will be opened for the dynasty of David and for the people of Jerusalem, a fountain to cleanse them from all their sins and impurity.”

Of course we know there’s only one fountain of forgiveness, none other than Jesus Christ, who loves us so much, that He’s willing to wash us from all our sins in His own blood…it’s there we’re made as white as snow. Not only are we forgiven initially, but in one sense we’re forgiven continually. I’m reminded of that passage in:

1 John 1:9 (NKJV) “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Not only will the idolatry of the Tribulation period and worship of the beast be extinguished but every false prophet will be judged. Zechariah may be referring to the time of the Millennial kingdom at this point (Zechariah13:3-5), when every false prophet will be swiftly dealt with by King Jesus and those who rule with a rod of iron. 

Some say Zechariah 13:6 refers to the claim of the false prophets, but I have a hunch that Zechariah abruptly shifts gears, and speaks of Jesus, as the Jews see Him, with His scars, they ask Him, “Where did you get those wounds?”

Zechariah 13:6b (NKJV) “…Then he will answer, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.’”

Zechariah continues – more prophecies about Jesus and the Jews. As a matter of fact, Jesus quoted Zechariah 13:7 in:

Matthew 26:31 (NKJV) “Then Jesus said to them, ‘All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’’”

The remainder of the chapter (Zechariah 13:8-9) speaks of the surviving Jews (1/3) protected by God at the end of the Tribulation Period. What a beautiful but painful experience when we’re refined in the fire.

Zechariah 13:9 (NKJV) “I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; and each one will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’”

Job and Peter said something similar (Job23:10; 1 Peter 1:6-7).

Revelation 19:1-21

Revelation 19 begins with a great multitude in heaven praising God for His just judgment. This is the first time we see the word Alleluia in the New Testament. This is a Hebrew word that has been transliterated universally, it means, “Praise the Lord!” Once we’re in heaven, we’ll be able to understand even more so, the necessity of judgment upon those who reject God’s righteousness provided in His Son, and not just a temporary punishment. We read something interesting in:

Revelation 19:3 (NKJV) “Again they said, ‘Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!’”

The next “Alleluia” is due to that glorious wedding day and Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Jesus is the Bridegroom (John 3:29), the church is the bride, and this is the Day we’ve all been waiting for – a formal, finalized, and forever “outward” expression of an inward reality. We belong to Jesus, as a chaste virgin, dressed in white, clean and bright (2 Corinthians 11:2). He bought us by dying for us and takes personal care of us as His bride (see Ephesians 5:25-33).

In Revelation 19:10 we’re reminded that we are NOT to worship angels (Colossians 2:18), we are forbidden to bow down before anyone but God (see Matthew 4:8-10).

Next – what a glorious scene, Jesus returns on a white horse, finally coming to conquer the world, and to literally, physically rule and reign from Jerusalem – the King returns. He has many names (Faithful and True, the Word of God, King of kings, Lord of lords, and one that only He knows) are glorious. His description (eyes like fire, many crowns on His head, a sharp sword proceeding from His mouth) wow! He comes to conquer, He returns to reign and He will do so with a rod of iron, meaning that if anyone gets out of line, He will deal with it immediately – there will be no nonsense when Jesus rules.

This is the battle of Armageddon, and all the rebel soldiers who marched to war as described in Revelation 16:12-16 will foolishly fight God and be massacred on the battlefield with a simple word from the lips of the Lord.

Sandy Adams has some helpful words, “Revelation chapter 19 describes the climactic conclusion to a galactic battle. Waged in heaven, resumed on earth, won at the cross, resisted through the ages – the war between God and Satan winds up for its grand finale’ in the Valley of Megiddo. It has been a long time since this wicked world has seen the Lamb. What a surprise to hear Him roar like a lion. He came the first time to save. He comes the second time to slaughter.”

Revelation 19:14 reveals the fact that we will be with Him, but I’m pretty sure that Jesus does most – if not all of the fighting, we’re just following Him on white horses. If you were to travel to Israel today you would see this battlefield that will one day be swirling 4-feet high in blood. In Revelation 19:19 we read of the capture of the beast (antichrist), as well as the false prophet who are both cast alive into the Lake of Fire burning with brimstone, while the rest of the resistance were killed by the “sword” of our Savior. What a glorious day that will be! It’s not the absolute end of evil, but we’re getting there…and from this point forward it only gets better – next is the Millennial Kingdom, one final fight a thousand years later, followed by the everlasting, unending Kingdom of God.

Psalm 147:1-20

As Christians we know – there are innumerable/infinite reasons to praise the LORD. We also know – how good, pleasant, and beautiful it is to praise Him.

Consider how God has regathered Israel to her land, numerous times! (The outcasts regathered – Psalm 147:2)

Consider how God is so personal and powerful – that He’s able to heal the broken hearts of any person individually, but He also knows every star by name and makes sure that not one is missing (Psalm 147:4; Isaiah 40:26).

He lifts up the humble; He casts down the proud. Psalm 147:6 states it in dramatic fashion.

Psalm 147:6 (NKJV) “The LORD lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground.”

He gives rain for grain for food for people; He’s even responsible for feeding the young raven. He’s not impressed with the strength of man, but He is impressed when men and women fear Him.

Throughout the ages God has protected His people. Some may question this, but we need to know, that if it weren’t for God’s gates (Psalm 147:13) all of God’s people would have been wiped out – instantly.

God blesses us with a wide range of benefits from peace, to meat, to the finest wheat; by His word we get snow and then water, as He melts the snow, and by His Word we receive direction.

And then there’s His Word of Words, so to speak – the Bible! Spiritual insight, truth, revelations of things pertaining to the Kingdom.

Psalm 147:19–20 (NKJV) “He declares His word to Jacob, His statutes and His judgments to Israel. 20 He has not dealt thus with any nation; and as for His judgments, they have not known them. Praise the LORD!”

We have His Word, where would we be without it? Left to ourselves, we’d be lost, and without a clue.

I’m so blessed to think that those of you who are reading this blog are first reading His Word. God will bless you my friend!

“A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.” – President Theodore Roosevelt

Proverbs 31:1-7

Proverbs 31:1-2

The name Lemuel means “for God” or “belonging to God.” It is not at all certain, but some believe this to be King Solomon…Lemuel perhaps being another name given to him by his mother (Bathsheba) (any of you moms have multiple names for your kids?)

Here we read that Lemuel relays the counsel that his mother had given to him, to which Pastor Chuck Smith said, “Much of the book of Proverbs contains advice passed down from father to son. But this last chapter is the advice a mother gave to her son.”

Bathsheba warns her son, beware of the wrong type of woman!

Proverbs 31:3

The first thing she says, we read there in Proverbs 31:3, “Do not give your strength to women…” (some people have the potential to weaken us) (we’ll see later that the virtuous woman is a complete contrast, she strengthens her husband).

If Lemuel is Solomon, he completely ignored his mother’s advice on this point.  As a matter of fact, women were probably the primary cause for Solomon’s failure in the end.
We read about Solomon in: 

1 Kings 11:3 (NKJV) “And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart.”

An later in:

Nehemiah 13:25-26 (NKJV)  “…Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things…who was beloved of his God; and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless, pagan women caused even him to sin.”

Mom tells Solomon, “be careful…” as a king there’s a heavy crown to wear, be sure to take your responsibility seriously, God is the one who’s given you this authority…be careful you don’t get weakened by a woman, who has the potential to reduce a man to a crust of bread. (Proverbs 6:26)

Son – if you’re a womanizer, they’ll take your time, your attention, your money; you won’t be able to fulfill your responsibility as king…you’ll lose your family

Bathsheba also warns her son to beware of wine.

Proverbs 31:4-7

Another thing you must beware of as a leader is wine and intoxicating drink.  Those who are dying need their senses dulled…but not you my son.  You must be sober and sharp, always have your full faculties.

Intoxicating drink – most likely refers to barley beer. We have even stronger drinks now – not to boast, it’s actually something we should be ashamed of.

We read something similar in:

Ecclesiastes 10:17 (NKJV) “Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles, and your princes feast at the proper time–for strength and not for drunkenness!”

Notice again, the reasoning we read there in:

Proverbs 31:5 (NKJV) “…lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the justice of all the afflicted.” 

(See also Deuteronomy 17:18-19)

Drinking and drunkenness are bad for many reasons. The alcohol will master you.  It’s addictive, and destructive to the person who drinks. They bring themselves to a place where they need a drink to think, to calm their nerves, to have fun, and eventually, just to function.

In Proverbs 31:7 we see, it only numbs the pain and hides the problems – it doesn’t heal or help. But the main reason not to drink, as stated in this context, is the way it affects others.  The King might forget the law and therefore pervert justice towards the afflicted. One shouldn’t take that chance! As we’ve seen so often in the Proverbs, justice is first, fundamental, foremost for Godly leaders, in God’s eyes…may we never forget that the poor and afflicted have a special place in His heart.

December 27

Zechariah 10:1–11:17

Zechariah 10 speaks of the restoration of the nation of Israel. 

The chapter begins with the word “Ask.” Sometimes we don’t have simply because we don’t ask (James 4:2). Jesus commands us to keep on asking.

Luke 11:9 (NKJV) “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

God promised, that the time would come when He would answer their prayer for rain, He would “rain” down blessings from above. He’s not like the lifeless idols which the people looked to because of their lifeless leaders. God’s anger was kindled against the leaders of the day; He promised to punish them and to bless the house of Judah.

Zechariah 10:3 (NKJV) “My anger is kindled against the shepherds, and I will punish the goatherds. For the LORD of hosts will visit His flock, the house of Judah, and will make them as His royal horse in the battle.”

Zechariah 10:4 tells us that from Judah would come the Cornerstone…another prophecy of Jesus Christ the Chief Cornerstone who would come to their rescue (Psalm 118:22; Luke 20:17).

Warren Wiersbe, “The flock was in trouble because it had no shepherd to care for it. But the Lord will return and be the Shepherd. He will rescue the people, strengthen them, and establish them in peace.”

In this restoration the nation of Israel, the LORD would be with them and  strengthen them to fight and prevail, to be regathered to the land and increase as they once had. The amazing thing about this prophecy is that this has happened numerous times, even in our generation, Israel was born-again as a nation in 1948 after close to 1,900 years of being without a land scattered throughout the world. God’s blessed them to fight, God’s blessed with fruit (rain). Prophecies fulfilled right before our eyes – ultimately pointing to Jesus’ actual return and reign from Jerusalem forever and ever.

Zechariah 11 begins by speaking of something that would happen in 70 A.D., when the Roman armies would invade Israel traveling through Lebanon and down into the upper Galilee region. God then spends the bulk of the chapter indicting the leaders of the land, the worthless shepherds in the days of Jesus.

Bible Knowledge Commentary, “The passage focuses attention on Israel’s spiritual condition at the time of Christ’s ministry and the consequences of her rejection of Christ, the True Shepherd.”

The Jewish leaders were a mixture of civil and sacred leaders, and they miserably failed the people in both areas. They were not in it for God or the people of God, they were in it for themselves, they were rich as they fleeced the flock and led them to the slaughter.

Zechariah 11:10 is a prophecy of Jesus (Beauty) who was broken on the cross in order to establish a New Covenant.

Zechariah 11:10 (NKJV) “And I took my staff, Beauty, and cut it in two, that I might break the covenant which I had made with all the peoples.”

Zechariah 11:12-13 is a detailed prophecy of the actions of Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver and afterwards regretted it, casting down the money in the Temple . The priests then used the silver to purchase a potter’s field (Matthew 26:15; 27:3-10).

One fascinating thing before we leave this chapter – Zechariah 11:16 is a picture of the antichrist. Having rejected Jesus the Jews would tragically accept the false (John 5:43).

Zechariah 11:16 (NKJV) “For indeed I will raise up a shepherd in the land who will not care for those who are cut off, nor seek the young, nor heal those that are broken, nor feed those that still stand. But he will eat the flesh of the fat and tear their hooves in pieces.”

Did you notice the 4 types of people (sheep)?

1. Sheep who are cut off (lost)

2. Sheep who are young (children and new believers)

3. Sheep who are broken (hurting)

4. Sheep who still stand (healthy)

The antichrist is the epitome of a wicked and worthless shepherds who cares nothing for the flock. Tragically there are many “shepherds” who are more like the antichrist than they are Jesus Christ. God will one day judge the worthless shepherds.

Revelation 18:1-24

We come now to the judgment of what many call “Commercial Babylon.” There have been and will be many people committing spiritual adultery and idolatry through the worship of money and the things that money can buy. It’s okay to have possessions, but it’s not okay when those possessions possess us. It’s okay to have what we need, but God knows that oftentimes we go far beyond our necessities and live in lavish luxuries. Jesus said in:

Matthew 6:24, (NKJV) “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” 

But the kings, leaders, movers and shakers of this world worship at this altar, and get rich at the same time, through the seduction of society – people get caught in culture (especially in the United States of America).

I appreciate the way Warren Wiersbe describes this it, “John certainly had Rome in mind when he wrote this chapter, but his imagery means much more. Babylon symbolizes the whole godless world system that caters to the appetites of sinful men and women (1 John 2: 15–17). True believers have nothing in common with the harlot and her city and should be separated from them (Revelation 18:4; Jeremiah 50:8; 51:6; 2 Corinthians 6:14–18). In every age, the church has had to identify its Babylon and separate from it.”

For that reason the warning is issued in:

Revelation 18:4 (NKJV) “Come out of her, My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.” 

Reminds me of the warning in 2 Corinthians 6:17. It’s so easy to get sucked into the things of this world, the latest and greatest, to where it consumes us – even as Christians. Paul wrote in: 

1 Timothy 6:8 (NKJV) “And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.”

He also wrote in: 

Philippians 4:19 (NKJV) “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” 

God will supply all our needs, not all our “greeds.” How we need to be careful – for as we see in this chapter, the citizens of Babylon will be judged by God…yes it’s true what we’ve heard all of our lives, “It’s all gonna burn!”

I was captured by the concept that it will happen not only in one day (Revelation 18:8), but in one hour (Revelation 18:10, 17). Some say the future city may be a literal place such as New York, or Los Angeles, or maybe even a rebuilt Babylon in modern-day Iraq. Somehow the judgment is connected to a specific place where materialism is mainstream. The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her.

The list of merchandise includes jewelry, clothing, things made of wood, metal, and other materials, there was food and drink, stock, horses, chariots (cars?) and even people were for sale – I think of the sex-trafficking throughout the world – our hearts ache for them. Revelation 18:14 is so sad – to think that sometimes our soul “longs” for these things, we’re told and sold through the endless advertising that bombards us. I need to be careful that my heart doesn’t go after these things, I wouldn’t be the first servant of God who sold out for money (Achan, Gehazi, and Judas did).

The day is coming when this entire entity, this world system, the Babylonian spirits will be judged. I thought it was interesting how in verse 2 the demons are all captured, imprisoned, and caged. Revelation 18:22 mentions the music – what a powerful tool of the enemy much of the worldly music has been…can’t help but think of Romans 12:2.

Psalm 146:1-10

Hallelujah is transliterated from Hebrew – it means, “Praise the LORD.”

We will praise Him in heaven, but then it won’t be by faith – then, it will be by sight. It’s only here, “while I live,” on this side of time that I can praise Him by faith.

May we praise God from the heart, with our whole being.

We love all people and honor our leaders but we must not put our trust in them. Our trust and happiness come only from God.

Psalm 146:5 (NKJV) “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God.”

Our hope and helper is the same One who made the heavens and the earth, who keeps truth and justice, who gives food to the hungry and freedom to the prisoner.

The latter is a literal truth, but it’s also a deeper truth. Before I was a Christian, I was a prisoner to drugs, alcohol, and so much more, I was in bondage to sin. I was headed for an eternal prison, a home forever in hell. But Jesus set me free from every prison I was in – this is who He is, and this is why we praise Him.

He gives sight to the blind. He lifts up the lowly, He loves us and watches over us all. He takes special care of the orphans and widows.

He will bring justice to the wicked…on that day when He makes every wrong right and reigns, forever and ever.

Proverbs 30:33

Proverbs 30:33 (NKJV) “For as the churning of milk produces butter, and wringing the nose produces blood, so the forcing of wrath produces strife.”

Agur advises and God commands that we stop the strife and the things that lead to it…like loose lips and unbridled anger.

‘Cuz stirring it up like that, makes butter from milk, blood from a beating…and strife for life (James 3:5-10).

December 26

Zechariah 9:1-17

Zechariah 9 begins with the declaration of Israel’s ultimate victory over all her enemies – mentioned nations like Syria, Tyre, Sidon, the Philistines, Greece, and even the whole wide world who will oppose Israel under the leadership of the Antichrist, at the end of the age.

Nations that have money, might, wisdom and wealth will not escape the judgment and justice of God! The LORD will destroy, devour, cut-off their pride and defend His people.

Zechariah 9:16 (NKJV) “The LORD their God will save them in that day, as the flock of His people. For they shall be like the jewels of a crown, liffted like a banner over His land.”

God will not only spare Israel, He will restore to them “double” – He will open the windows of heaven and lavish blessings that make-up for all of their losses. It’s a word to all the prisoners who may have still been in Babylon, it’s time to come home!

Zechariah 9:12 (NKJV) “Return to the stronghold, You prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.”

All this is made possible, because of Jesus Christ! We read that amazing prophecy of His entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey. We commonly refer to it as Palm Sunday – that was the Day Jesus publicly revealed Himself as Messiah to the people.

Zechariah 9:9 (NKJV) “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

When a king rode into town on a donkey it meant He was coming in peace. This day was not only prophesied here, but also in Daniel 9:24-27. Daniel said it would be 62 “sevens” plus 7 “sevens” for a total of 69 seven-year periods from the issue to restore and rebuild Jerusalem to the coming of the King. The issue went forth on March 14, 445 B.C.. If you calculate the days involved it equals 173,880 days, which brings you to April 6, 32 A.D. – the VERY DAY Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a Donkey…according to Zechariah 9:9.

Revelation 17:1-18

One of the seven angels spoke with John in order to show him some details about the judgment of God on the “great harlot.” Many Bible teachers refer to Revelation 17 as the judgment of God on “Religious Babylon,” while Revelation 18 is the judgment of God on “Commercial Babylon.” Warren Wiersbe explains the harlot, “The woman represents the ultimate in godless world religion. She is joined with government (carried by the Beast) and corrupts everything she touches.”

As John is carried away in the Spirit he sees this woman sitting on (riding) a scarlet beast which has blasphemous names, seven heads, and ten horns (an obvious reference to the antichrist). We believe that in the last days there will be a dominant one-world religion that will “marry” (work hand in hand) with the antichrist. Revelation 17:5 associates her with Babylon the Great, the mother of all harlots, because it was there at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11) that man tried to reach heaven by his own works (religion). This is the heart and soul of every other belief system known to mankind – they’re all trying to earn their way to heaven through good works, they’re all trying to climb “up” the mountain. Christianity is the only belief system in the world where God has come down the mountain, we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, all other “religions” are descendants of, and bonded to Babylon.

In the last days this religion will ride the advantages of the government, something to be wary of. Again, Warren Wiersbe comments on this, “Though Christians must be good citizens and seek to influence government for the Lord, the church must not marry political systems. The systems will only use the church to promote their own plans and then abandon it.” Which is exactly what the antichrist does, in the end (see Revelation 17:16) once the antichrist is done using the religion of the day he devours it and creates his own, where he presents himself as God (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

Together the antichrist and the harlot are responsible for the death and blood of many, many martyrs of Jesus (Revelation 17:6). But it’s better to die for Christ, than to live for the devil. The only way a person can make sure he or she is not swept away by the antichrist (who will be the epitome of evil deception) is to have their names written in the Book of Life (found 7 times in the Book of Revelation). This principle is true of all our challenges and temptations in life – the only way to “overcome” is to place our faith in Jesus Christ – this is how we “win” against the antichrist.

John goes on to give us details on the 7 heads and 7 mountains (Revelation 17:9-11). Some might point to the 7 mountains as a reference merely to Rome, which is often described as a “city built on 7 hills,” – this same school of thought points largely to the Roman Catholic church as the harlot. That may be true, but as I read the description in Revelation 17:10 (…five have fallen…one is {present tense} the beast is of the seven but will be the eighth) it seems to refer to world powers, 1-Egypt, 2-Assyria, 3-Babylon, 4-Medo-Persia, 5-Greece, 6-Rome, 7-the Revived Roman Empire (European Community), 8-the antichrist will rise out of the Revived Roman Empire. The ten horns are the 10 districts this Empire will be divided into (these are the toes of Daniel 2:41-42). 

With all this on the horizon, let us flee mere religion and make sure we are those who are “…called chosen and faithful.” (Revelation 17:14)

Psalm 145:1-21

Another absolutely beautiful Psalm of David – speaking of the fact that we are called to bless the LORD – to praise the LORD, every single day of our lives!

May we praise Him. May our children praise Him, their children, and their children.

Psalm 145:4 (NKJV) “One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.”

As we honestly meditate upon God and His mighty acts, we blessed that He is gracious and compassionate; He’s slow to anger. He’s good to all and tender over all His works. We are God’s work and at the same time we are called to work for God, to spread the Word of His coming Kingdom, and our coming King.

If you find yourself down or burdened, it’s good to know:

Psalm 145:14 (NLT) “The LORD helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads.”

There will be times when we fail and fall (many times) – but God will be there to lift us up, to encourage us when we’re down.

Let’s just do our best to walk with God and seek Him in all sincerity, if we do, we’ll find Him and be close to Him.

Psalm 145:18 (NKJV) “The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.”

Proverbs 30:32

Proverbs 30:32 (NKJV) “If you have been foolish in exalting yourself, or if you have devised evil, put your hand on your mouth.”

As the Proverb talks to all of us, I’m talking to myself:

If you’ve exalted yourself in any way, you might want to humble yourself right away. If you’ve talked smack and devised any evil, you might want to do whatever you can to stop such foolish talk, put your hand over your mouth, use duct-tape, if necessary – because God sees and hears everything, and He will deal accordingly.

December 25

Zechariah 8:1-23

What a wonderful chapter that prophecies – not only the return of Israel to her land (Zechariah 8:8), but the return of Jesus to His land (Zechariah 8:3).

The bulk of this chapter describes events that take place during the Millennial Reign of Christ…but there are other things mingled in…for example, the completion of the Temple in the days of Zechariah, Zerubbabel, and Joshua.

We all need that encouragement to be strong and finish the work God has for us. Family things, ministry things, it’s all our part in the Great work within the Kingdom of God. Zechariah’s words are applicable to all of us!

Zechariah 8:9 (NKJV) “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Let your hands be strong, you who have been hearing in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, who spoke in the day the foundation was laid for the house of the LORD of hosts, that the temple might be built.”

(See also 1 Corinthians 3:5-16)

Zechariah repeats that message in 8:13b, “…so I will save you, and you shall be a blessing. Do not fear, let your hands be strong.”

God had determined to punish Jerusalem (which He did), but God also determined to bless Jerusalem, and He would (Zechariah 8:14-15). He had certain expectations for the people – that they’d love their neighbors. It’s a word for us as well!

Zechariah 8:16–17 (NKJV) “These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbor; give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace; 17 Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; and do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,’ says the LORD.”

Friend, one day the fasting will turn to feasting. One day Jesus will reign as King in Jerusalem and all the nations will flow to seek Him and pray before Him (Zechariah 8:20-22). Isn’t that awesome! So, even though life is hard, and you may be going through tremendous trials today, I pray that these words of the hope of heaven found in Him would encourage you and carry you through.

Revelation 16:1-21

7 bowls of wrath will be poured out on the earth and take us even closer to the end – something painful to read, and yet joyful to realize. As I hear of – and see so much evil taking place today, mindless murder, widespread war, mass-shootings of random lives – abortion, sexual perversion, confusion (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg), I see ever so clearly that the only hope for evil to end, is for Jesus to come. That’s what this is all about! You might remember the very first words of this, the final book of the Bible, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ…” (Revelation 1:1). These bowls make the message loud and clear that God is holy, and He really will judge sin.

Imagine – scores of sores on all unbelievers, the ocean turns to blood, the fresh water springs and rivers do too, the sun-screen is gone and the world is scorched with its heat. You would figure that the people of this planet would fear God, but they refuse to repent and give Him the glory He deserves. So God’s “outreach” of judgment continues with darkness and pain, and yet they still refuse to repent of their deeds!

The 6th bowl is interesting in that it allows the nations of the world to be deceived by devilish demons, the unholy trinity of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet – they somehow seduce the world into thinking that if they unite, they can actually fight Jesus Christ.

God’s judgment is seen in the drying up of the Euphrates river, which opens the door for the armies of the world to march to their death. This is the battle of Armageddon.

Warren Wiersbe comments, “Armageddon (Rev. 16:16) is Hebrew for “the hill of Megiddo”; and Megiddo means “place of slaughter.” It is the plain in the Holy Land where Barak defeated the Canaanites (Judges 5:19) and Gideon the Midianites (Judges 7). King Saul fought his last battle there (1 Samuel 31). One of the greatest natural battlefields in the world, it is where the Antichrist will gather the world’s armies to fight against Jesus Christ (Isaiah 24; Joel 3; Zechariah 12–14). Revelation 19:11–21 records the outcome.”

Revelation 16:15 is another one of those straight-out reminders – I need to be ready for the return of Jesus Christ. I need to be living in the light of His eminent return. We can sense the season, but we don’t know the day or the hour, He’s coming unexpectedly, I need to always be watching and wearing the righteousness of Christ.

Revelation 16:15 (NKJV) “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”

The 7th bowl ushers in an earthquake infinitely beyond any other on the Richter scale, it rocks the world to the point that no island or mountain is found on the planet. Our prayers are answered, Babylon is judged, the hail falls from heaven weighing-in somewhere between 75 to 100 pounds! Wow!

Psalm 144:1-15

David praises God before the battle, during the battle, and after the battle.

Before the battle God trains us for war (Psalm 144:1).

During the battle God is everything to us and for us. He’s our lovingkindness, our fortress, our high tower, our deliverer. Even though we’re nothing but bad, small, and insignificant in comparison to God, He values us and is mindful of us individually (Psalm 144:2-3).

David cares about Israel nationally and it’s reflected in his prayers.

David knows the difference it makes upon our children for good – a godly nation, leading to a godly generation.

Psalm 144:12 (NKJV) “That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as pillars, sculptured in palace style.”

David even cares about the health of the nation financially, its economy (Psalm 144:13-14).

It’s all dependent upon how we’re doing spiritually. Is our God the LORD? The God of the Bible? If so, we will be blessed beyond measure!

Psalm 144:15 (NKJV) “Happy are the people who are in such a state; Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!”

Proverbs 30:29-31

Proverbs 30:29-31 (NKJV) “There are three things which are majestic in pace, yes, four which are stately in walk: 30 A lion, which is mighty among beasts and does not turn away from any; 31 A greyhound, a male goat also, and a king whose troops are with him.”

Bible Knowledge Commentary, “In contrast with lowly creatures like the four in verses 25–28 are those that appear noble in their bearing and walk.”

Agur mentions four things that are stately in stride and strut:

1. In contrast to smaller or lowly creatures we have the majestic lion – king of the jungle, who never backs down.

2. Most other translations speak of a strutting rooster, rather than a greyhound. In the Hebrew language it literally says, “girded of waist.”

3. A male goat – arrogant in appearance.

4. A king whose troops are with him – seemingly invincible with his supportive army (I think of David and his mighty men).

I appreciate the application of Expositor’s commentary, “The lion, greyhound, and male goat are regal because God made them that way. The dog is not a lion and the goat is not a beautiful dog, but each has its own kind of honor. The king is regal because of his office and his official trappings (such as an army). If you exalt yourself (Proverbs 30:32), you will have only artificial honor. If you let God fulfill in you the purpose for which He made you, you will have true honor.”

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.

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.

December 22

Zechariah 2:1–3:10

In Zechariah 2 he sees a man measuring Jerusalem, its width and its length, as a sign of ownership. He sees no need for walls in Jerusalem for the LORD Himself will be the wall of fiery protection all around her, the glory in her midst (Zechariah 2:4-5). What a beautiful picture.

God had disciplined and dispersed His people, but He had also regathered them, calling them back to the land, out of Babylon (Zechariah 2:7). Some of the Jews had settled in Babylon and were content to stay there…and yet judgment was on its way to Babylon.

 Zion is described as the “apple of His eye,” which carries a couple of connotations. First of all it points to the sensitive and vital part of God’s eye, His pupil, if anyone touches God’s pupil, it’s no small thing. Secondly, if one were to look into God’s eye, one would see the reflection of Jerusalem, His eyes are always upon Jerusalem, and it’s for that reason Babylon and all other nations who oppose Israel, will face God’s wrath.

And yet…even in wrath He remembers mercy, a mercy not only extended to Israel, but to any and all who would turn to God. Zechariah reveals that many nations would turn to God one day – especially during the Millennial Kingdom when He reigns in their midst.

Zechariah 2:11–12 (NKJV) “Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. 12 And the LORD will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem.”

In Zechariah 3 we have a fascinating scene. Joshua the High Priest was standing before the Angel of the LORD who is none other than Jesus Christ. But there’s Satan at his right hand, accusing Joshua of sin and guilt. We read something similar in Revelation 12:10, where Satan is identified as the accuser of the brethren, who accuses them day and night!

But in this vision we see Jesus as our Advocate (1 John 2:1). Jesus stands up for Joshua and rebukes Satan – “No, Joshua is saved, he’s a brand (a piece of smoldering wood) taken from the fire. Yes Joshua has sinned, but Joshua is forgiven.” Even though Satan sees him as carnal and sinful, clothed in his own filthy flesh, God sees Joshua differently, he’s clean, covered, and clothed in the righteousness of Christ (Revelation 3:5, 18).

At this point the Angel of the LORD (Jesus) admonishes Joshua to walk in His ways and keep God’s judgments, in order to be faithful in his position as judge and as a spiritual leader in the nation of Israel. They were to be encouraged in the truth of their coming the Messiah, the Branch who would rule one day. Make no mistake about it, King Jesus is the only Branch of Government that will ever work, He’s all we ever need!

Zechariah 3:8 (NKJV) “Hear, O Joshua, the high priest, You and your companions who sit before you, for they are a wondrous sign; for behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH.”

This lines up with other prophecies about the coming Christ and the Branch!

Isaiah 11:1 (NKJV) “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”

Jeremiah 23:5 (NKJV) “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.”

Bible Knowledge Commentary, “The Lord next affirmed the point of the vision—that Joshua and his priestly companions were symbolic of things to come. In their official priestly cleansing from sin they prefigured the future cleansing of the nation Israel. This future cleansing was linked with the coming of the Sin-Remover who was given three messianic titles—My Servant, the Branch, and the Stone.”

The Servant does the will of the Father. The Stone crushes all opposition (7 eyes probably in reference to the fact that Jesus sees everything). And the Branch connects Him to King David – He’s in David’s family tree twice, as the root and offspring. When David reigned, Israel enjoyed its place of peace and prosperity wherein everyone had his own vine and fig tree. A picture of the Millennial Kingdom.

Revelation 13:1–13:18

The enemy always counterfeits the work of God and even God Himself. In this chapter we have the unholy trinity – the rise of the Antichrist, who is empowered by the Dragon, and promoted by the False Prophet.

The antichrist, or “beast” as he is called, rises from the sea, which symbolizes the mass of humanity. The reason he is called a beast is because he is not domesticated, he is not tame, he is a wild, savage, vicious monster (his true colors of hate, murder, and destruction will eventually be exposed). This is the fourth beast spoken of in Daniel 7 (it would be helpful to read that chapter). We read about this beast back in Revelation 11:7 and will find him mentioned 29 times in the book of Revelation.

As anti-christ, he opposes Christ, and claims to be the Christ. We see in verse 1 that he has 7 heads and 10 horns, something we read about the Dragon back in Revelation 12:3 (the Dragon gives him his power – see Matthew 4:8-9). The 7 heads are explained in Revelation 17. As the 7th and 8th head the Antichrist will follow after Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, the Revived Roman Empire out of which the Anti-Christ will rise. The anti-christ will rise to power with the same evil spirit of the past who hungered to rule the world, many of those rulers elevating themselves as deities, explaining the blasphemies. As you read through Daniel 7 you’ll find these beasts mentioned there as well (leopard, bear, and lion). The 10 horns correspond to the 10 toes spoken of in Daniel 2:41-42 and refer to the organization of the world’s powers in the last days – some say specifically speaking of sections within the Revived Roman Empire, but it may even be the world.

The counterfeits continue in many lying signs and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9) even counterfeiting a resurrection from the dead, which leads the world to worship the beast, all those whose names are not written in the Book of Life (Revelation 13:8). At this point John issues a warning, “If anyone has an ear, let him hear.” He wants us to stop and examine our lives, if a person’s name is not found in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that person will bow down to the beast.

John then mentions the false prophet (another beast) (he is called the false prophet in Revelation 16:13; 19:20; 20:10). He performs great signs with an agenda to woo the entire world to worship the first beast. The antichrist is a political figure, the false prophet is a spiritual figure, and together they figure out a way to convince the world that this is now a religious rule as the antichrist claims to be god (see 2 Thessalonians 2:4).

As his power grows, he causes everyone to receive a mark in the right hand or forehead, without which they cannot buy or sell. People must sell their soul to buy a loaf of bread. Some say this is in reference to a microchip that can easily be inserted under the skin. If you rewind 50 years ago, such technology would have been scoffed at, but now with the astronomical advances in technology, chips the size of a grain of rice (or smaller) can contain all the information necessary for such transactions. These chips are already used all over the world.

John challenges us to calculate the number of the beast – 666. Is this the numerical value of his name? Is it the pinnacle of man’s creation (the computer)? There will be some sort of calculaton revelation. 7 is the number of God, while 6 is the number of man

Psalm 141:1-10

Another Psalm (prayer, song) of David.

Our prayers rise as incense before the Lord. May they be a sweet smelling aroma to Him. Prayer is one of the weapons we have for the war we’re in (Ephesians 6:18) and here we see David once again “fighting on his knees.”

He not only prays that God would defeat his enemies, he even prays that God would help him with the words that he speaks (it’s one of my favorite prayers).

Psalm 141:3 (NKJV) “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

We often mess everything up by careless words spoken to others. How wonderful it would be if we only spoke those words approved by God – if we prayed this prayer and He answered…as the watchman of our words, as the guard of our gab, as the doorkeeper of our every dialogue and discussion.

David also prays something we might consider to be rather outlandish:

Psalm 141:5 (NKJV) “Let the righteous strike me; it shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; it shall be as excellent oil; let my head not refuse it. For still my prayer is against the deeds of the wicked.”

David is asking for it! He’s asking to be rebuked, even “struck” by the righteous. If there’s any area of his life that’s not right, he wants to know about it and he figures the godly and caring people in his life should have the freedom to point things out. It’s all part of winning the war against the wicked.

David (and Israel at that time) was going through it – he counsels us to stay focused. He shows us the power of prayer.

Psalm 141:8 (NKJV) “But my eyes are upon You, O GOD the Lord; in You I take refuge; do not leave my soul destitute.”

Are my eyes truly on the LORD?

Keep in mind this Psalm is a song.  May we pray and even sing these types of songs that bring victory in our lives.

Proverbs 30:18-20

Proverbs 30:18-19 (NKJV) “There are three things which are too wonderful for me, yes, four which I do not understand: 19 The way of an eagle in the air, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship in the midst of the sea, and the way of a man with a virgin.”

Too wonderful…for me!

The way an eagle can fly up to a mile high during migration, at which time they seldom flap their wings. They use thermal updrafts to gain altitude, and can easily reach anywhere from 50 to 70 MPH (wow, too wonderful).

Snakes have 4 ways of moving. They can throw themselves forward, they can lift the middle of their body up and then push the rest along. They can use bumps or surfaces with friction to slither from, or they can use the scales of their body to grip the ground to move forward. Amazing!

The ship in the midst of the water is a vessel that’s man-made, but yielding and cooperating with the sea, which is God-made. In the big picture it turns out to be just a speck in the ocean, and yet is able to carry us to our desired haven.

The last thing that is too wonderful is the wonderful union between husband and wife. Such a lovely gift from God, and through such intimacy…children are conceived. If only the world would see, this intimacy is exclusively for marriage!

Hebrews 13:4 (NKJV) “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”

Tragically, our society has taken something so beautiful, and stripped it of its wonder. I’ve read stories of young women auctioning off their virginity! May it never be among us!

Proverbs 30:20, “This is the way of an adulterous woman: she eats and wipes her mouth, and says, ‘I have done no wickedness.’”

And of course this is true of both men and women – not adults, but adulterous, whose conscience is seared and hearts are hard. There are many wolves out there whose only desire is to increase the number of unfaithful men and women. They have no conscience or conviction.