TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- ZECHARIAH 6:9- 7:14.
The sixth chapter began with a vision of four chariots drawn by horses. Each chariot was drawn by horses of a specific color. The first was drawn by red horses, the second by black horses, the third, white, and the fourth, dappled. Each one represents ‘spirits’ or ‘angels’ deployed by the God of heaven to different parts of the world to do His bidding. During the Day of the Lord, judgments will be brought to the earth. The symbolism here resembles what we saw in the Book of Revelation and the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
In the eighth vision, Zechariah was instructed to perform a symbolic act. He was to crown Joshua, the high priest. Joshua would be a ‘type,’ a ‘stand-in,’ representing the future Messiah. He prophecies that this man would have the combined office of both Priest AND King and would build the temple of the Lord.
How do we know that these men are symbols? From Chapter 3, verse 8:
Zechariah 3:8 8 ‘Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you—indeed they are men who are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the Branch.
Jesus is our Great High Priest and King, and He said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
Zechariah is to take gold and silver from the newly arrived exiles from Babylon, Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah, and go to the house of Josiah, the son of Zephaniah, and make a crown. Then he is to set it on the head of Joshua. This must have been a shock to them, as the materials were most likely dedicated to the temple. But God wanted them to be used to symbolize one who would be greater than the temple. The King of kings.
Zechariah 6:12 12 “Then say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the LORD.
Zechariah 6:13 13 “Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the LORD, and He who will bear the honor and sit and rule on His throne. Thus, He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices.”‘
Jesus is both the Just King and the Justifier of sinful mankind. The fact that Joshua, the priest, is crowned, and not Zerubbabel, a descendant of David, safeguards the significance of a new order for the Messiah of King and Priest, after the order of Melchizedek.
The crown is to be placed in Zerubbabel’s temple as a reminder to those who brought silver and gold that Israel’s King is coming.
Almost two years later, the word of the Lord comes again to Zechariah (7:1).
There was only one period appointed for fasting according to the Law of Moses. That was on the Day of Atonement. But during the Captivity in Babylon, they had added other fasts to commemorate their humiliation in the destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple.
The Lord first calls them to consider their motives. He reiterates what He expressed through the pre-exilic prophets, such as Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 58. Don’t think your outward consecration and piety can cover your desire to pursue the kingdom of self!
Instead, demonstrate you are in a right relationship with God by doing right to others! This is the fast that God has chosen (See Isaiah 58:5).
Zechariah 7:9-10 9 “Thus has the LORD of hosts said, ‘Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; 10 and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.’
He reminds them that it was because of their hard-hearted disobedience to God’s Word that caused their scattering and captivity.
We should humbly ask ourselves, “Are we truly doing our service for the Lord, or for self-aggrandizement and self-glory?”
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – REVELATION 15:1-8.
John sees another sign. This is the sixth of seven signs shown to him during the interval between the sixth and 7th trumpet judgments. This time he sees 7 angels with 7 plagues with which to complete the judgment of the wrath of God. He is going to thoroughly sweep the threshing floor.
Matthew 3:12 12 “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
Hebrews 10:31-32 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 32 But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings,
He sees something like a sea of glass mixed with fire. He sees the victorious saints standing beside the sea, with harps in their hands, singing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. We can hear the echo of earlier songs of praise (Deut 32:3-4; Job 37:5; Psalm 11:2; 145:17) as they glorify God.
Revelation 15:3-4 “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! 4 “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU, FOR YOUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED.”
Worshipers in heaven recognize the glorious manifestation of justice and mercy taking place at the climax of history. Their unadulterated worship challenges our dullness and blindness to things as they are and as they will be.
After this, he has another vision, the seventh in the series of seven. The seven angels with the seven plagues come out of the heavenly sanctuary tent, the Tabernacle of the Testimony, the presence of the Lord. They are clothed in bright linen with golden sashes around their chests. One of the four living creatures gives the seven bowls full of the wrath of God to the seven angels. Then smoke fills the temple, making it impossible for anyone to enter until the seven plagues are poured out on the earth.
We have seen throughout the Old Testament these moments when the smoke or cloud of glory fills the tabernacle, or temple, and no man can enter (Exodus 40:34-35; 2 Chronicles 7:1-4). This emphasizes that there is no room for man to add to or take away from what God is doing. All is for His glory alone.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – PSALMS 143:1-12
This is the seventh and last of the penitential psalms, in which the writer recognizes that one’s suffering can be God’s means of bringing discipline for one’s sin. (The seven penitential psalms are Psalm 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143).
This is a prayer of the Lord’s Servant (Psalm 143:12) who is overwhelmed, oppressed, and crushed in spirit. He recognizes his need for God’s mercy.
He recognizes God is holy, and there is no man living who is righteous.
Psalm 143:2 2 And do not enter into judgment with Your servant, For in Your sight no man living is righteous.
He resolves to meditate upon the character and the works of the Lord.
Psalm 143:5-6 5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings; I muse on the work of Your hands. 6 I stretch out my hands to You; My soul longs for You, as a parched land. Selah.
Here is a practical prayer for us all:
Psalm 143:10-11 10 Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. 11 For the sake of Your name, O LORD, revive me. In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble.
These words encourage us to remain humble, attentive and teachable. We are asking the Spirit of Truth to lead us on the level ground of Calvary, to recognize that we have been crucified with Christ, bought with a price and therefore, as His bondservants, we present ourselves as surrendered and available vessels to do His will in the power of His indwelling resurrection life. This kind of daily renewal, in which we remain honest with Christ’s finished work of righteousness, will bring our souls out of trouble!
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 30:24-28
Proverbs 30:24-28 24 Four things are small on the earth, but they are exceedingly wise: 25 The ants are not a strong people, but they prepare their food in the summer; 26 The shephanim are not mighty people, yet they make their houses in the rocks; 27 The locusts have no king, yet all of them go out in ranks; 28 The lizard you may grasp with the hands, yet it is in kings’ palaces.
These verses focus on four things that are small, but according to God’s design are ‘exceedingly wise’. The wisdom of the ant is displayed by its forethought and diligence to prepare and store its food for the future. The wisdom of the rock badgers (shaphanim, hyraxes, coneys in other translations) is its ability to find a place of security in the rocks. The wisdom of the locust consists of its organization, cooperation and order so that when massed together it becomes a force for human beings to reckon with. The wisdom of the lizard is its elusiveness and boldness. The idea here is that we can learn from God’s creation order that wisdom is to be valued over size or numerical strength. Get wisdom and plan wisely.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – ZIMBABWE
Republic of Zimbabwe
Landlocked state in southern Africa.
Population: 12,644,041 Annual Growth: 0.27%
Official language: English. Trade languages Shona spoken widely, Ndebele in the West Languages: 22 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
Challenges for Prayer
Young people have watched idealistic visions fade to empty slogans and oppressive misrule. They constitute a huge swathe of the population but have little reason to hope for improvement to their difficult lot. Pray for the ministries of:
a) Fellowship of Christian Unions– FOCUS(IFES) has 50 groups with 5,000 students served by five full-time and one part-time staff. In the midst of societal dysfunction, the students continue to declare the gospel and help where they can to serve the practical needs of the people.
b) Scripture Union has had a decisive impact on the educated via its work in secondary schools. They impart life skills to younger students, work with orphans and children at risk and provide HIV/AIDS education. Camp ministry has been especially fruitful. Pray for more Christian teachers to nurture this work in their spare time.
c) African Enterprise impacts about 50,000 people and hundreds of churches per year with its youth-oriented Foxfire ministries. This ministry, going since 1980, has spiritually shaped many of the nation’s top Christian leaders.
Pray for the less-evangelized. Zimbabwe has been extensively evangelized, but areas of need remain:
a) The rural areas, often neglected for church planting and for sending qualified workers. Pray more will be called to this humble but vital task. Pray also for evangelistic outreaches and suitable literature distribution specifically to these areas.
b) The burgeoning cities, swollen with hundreds of thousands of rural migrants looking for non-existant jobs. Squatter settlements are multiplying and crime is on the increase. Outreach to the unemployed is a major challenge.
c) Less-reached peoples. There are some congregations in every indigenous people, but relatively few among the Tonga, Nambya and Dombe of the Hwange-Kariba area in the northwest (where the AoG have made a significant impact), the Kunda in the northeast and the Tswa in the southeast.
d) They are a small minority but wield disproportionate influence on the country through foreign aid “with strings”, mosque-building and scholarships in Muslim universities. Most are Yao from Malawi, some are South Asian immigrants, and a few are indigenous Shona-speakers. Little Christian outreach has been made to win them, and churches are ill-equipped to do so.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, let Your Holy Spirit lead me into the truth of Calvary. It is there we meet on level ground. It is there where Your justice and mercy meet, and by virtue of Your atoning sacrifice, they both find full satisfaction. In Your righteousness You has rescued us from a state of condemnation and spiritual death. By the power of Your grace, You have raised us to life. May we live in an ongoing state of revival, fully yielded to Your Spirit and actively obeying Your Holy Word. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.