TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- ZECHARIAH 1:1-21

The Book of Zechariah is known as the Apocalypse of the Old Testament. You will discover why in the next few days, as we are reading both The Book of Zechariah and The Book of Revelation together!

Both the Book of Revelation and The Book of Zechariah are very visual. The Lord shows these prophets how His purposes have advanced and are advancing to history’s climax- the restoration of all things through Christ (Colossians 1:20), and particularly in respect to His promises to Israel.

Like his older contemporary, Haggai, the prophet Zechariah prophesied to Zerubbabel (the governor), Joshua (the high priest), and the remnant that returned to Jerusalem with them, encouraging them to rebuild the temple.

Zechariah was called to prophesy when he was a young man (Zechariah 2:4). Both prophets encouraged Zerubbabel to finish the work to which God had called him – the rebuilding of God’s dwelling place.

Zechariah’s first message (Zechariah 1:1-16) was delivered about a month after Haggai’s second message. Zechariah’s second message (1:17-6:15) was delivered about two months after Haggai’s last. His third message (Zechariah 7-8) was delivered two years later and his last message (Zechariah 9-14) was delivered after the temple was completed.

Haggai had prophesied that the glory of the latter house (the second temple, the temple of Zerubbabel) would exceed that of the former (the temple of Solomon). Those that were old enough to remember the temple of Solomon before it was destroyed were nostalgically looking back at what they imagined as ‘the glory days. The prophet points out that those days were not as glorious as they seemed, although the silver and gold were impressive to the natural eye. The glory of Solomon’s temple was only a shadow of what was to come. And the glory in the old temple paled in comparison to the glory that would be manifested when God would tabernacle among us in human flesh. The history of their ancestors was more one of rebellion and disobedience than glory. It was a tragic period with much loss due to their sinful practices.

This is the post-exilic age for Israel. The age of Gentile domination has begun, even though the Jews are back in their homeland. The first prophecy of Zechariah is dated according to the reign of the Persian King Darius.  The Word of the Lord comes to him in the eighth month of Darius Hystaspes’ second year, just two months after Haggai’s first vision. The Lord calls his people to learn from the example of their ancestors who failed to repent.

The people respond to God’s Word and repent (Zechariah 1:6).

Zechariah was then shown a vision of a man riding a red horse standing among myrtle trees (Hadassah trees) by a ravine with red, sorrel, and white horses behind him. Zechariah asks, “My lord, what are these?” (Zechariah 1:9)

The man standing by the myrtle trees, whom we learn is an angel, said, “we have patrolled the whole earth, and all is quiet”.   The Lord was assuring the people that their time of chastisement and captivity had come to an end. He now measures out Jerusalem for protection and prosperity. The Lord promises that His presence will return to Jerusalem with compassion and that His house will be rebuilt in it (Zechariah 1:16).

We all need to be encouraged with God’s assurances of sure mercies!

The measuring line stretched over the city reminds us of what we read yesterday in the Book of Revelation.  In Revelation 11: 1-2, John was given a measuring rod to measure out the temple of God, and the altar, for protection and preservation. The rest of the city was marked to be trodden by the Gentiles.

The two olive trees and two lampstands in the Book of Revelation refer to the two witnesses in Jerusalem (Revelation 11:3) and will resemble what we will soon read in Zechariah 4:1-7).

Zechariah is then shown 4 horns. He is told that they represent those powers (nations of the world) that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem. But the craftsmen have come to terrify these horns, overthrowing those same nations. Deliverance is on its way!

TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – REVELATION 12:1-13a

In Revelation Chapter 12, we have a flashback to view the central story of redemption. We see the unfolding conflict between the serpent and the seed of the woman. The woman speaks of the faithful who have been waiting for the Messiah. The twelve stars speak of the twelve tribes as pictured in Joseph’s dream (Genesis 37:9). The male child is the promised seed, Christ (Rev 12:5) born of a virgin. As soon as he is born, he is sought after to be destroyed.

The Adversary, Satan (The Red Dragon), opposes God’s plan of redemption and motivates King Herod to attempt to kill the Savior when He is born. He also persecutes all who identify with the Savior.

This picture is a reminder that Christ coming into our world and taking on our humanity as the promised seed of the woman has cosmic significance and that there is a spiritual war on.

Satan goes forth with great fury and rage against all who align themselves with the promised seed and His redemptive purpose.

In chapters 12 to 13, we are introduced to 7 personages.

1. The woman clothed with the sun (12:1-2)

2. The red dragon (12:3-4)

3. The male child (12:5-6)

4. Michael the archangel (12:7-12)

5. Offspring of the woman (12:13-17)

6. The beast out of the sea (13:2-10)

7. The beast out of the earth (13:11-18)

In Chapters 14 and 15, we will learn the results of the activities of these personages.

John makes it clear that what he is seeing is symbolic. It is a great sign (Rev 12:1- The Greek word is ‘Semeion’ – a sign that points to or symbolizes something else).

The woman is Israel (Genesis 37:9-10; Jeremiah 4:31; 13:21; Isaiah 26). (She is not the mother of Jesus, as Mary was not persecuted for 1260 days. Nor is she the church, as the church does not give birth to Christ. Jesus was born according to the promise given to Israel.)

The dragon is specifically identified as Satan (Rev. 12:9). His revolt led to the fall of many angels.

The seven heads with royal diadems representing seven kingdoms of the world and the ten horns, representing powers, are under the control of Satan, the god of this age (2 Cor 4:4; 1 John 5:19).  Satan, the fallen Lucifer, has one-third (a proportion) of the angels in tow as his demonic host (Isaiah 14:12-15; Rev 12:4).

Judging from The Book of Daniel, Chapter 7, the seven consecutive world empires are:

  1. Egypt
  2. Assyria
  3. Babylon
  4. Persia
  5. Greece
  6. Rome
  7. The kingdom of the beast- a ten-kingdom confederacy

The male child represents Christ. He rules with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:7-9).

The woman’s flight into the wilderness represents what Jesus spoke about on the Mount of Olives before He was crucified when he referred to future events (Matthew 24:15-25).

Michael the archangel serves as Israel’s defending prince (Daniel 10:313,21; 12:1).

There is a further judgment upon Satan that focuses his opposition on God’s people. He is revealed as ‘the accuser of the brethren’.

Revelation 12:9-10 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. 

The followers of Christ put their trust in the finished work of redemption and overcome the accuser:

Revelation 12:11 11 “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

The victory is past, won by Christ’s “blood” (12:11; cf. 1:5; 7:14); the conquering Lion was a slain Lamb (5:5–6). The saints implement that victory by faith (cf. 1 John 4:4; 5:4–5), boldly proclaiming Christ regardless of the cost to themselves (Rev. 12:11; 20:4), thus hastening the coming of the end and the fulfillment of God’s purposes in human history (6:9–11).

Midway through the Great Tribulation, Satan’s anger is triggered further. Having great wrath, he unleashes his fury in the last of the last days, knowing that he has a short time before he is judged once and for all. His fury will be particularly focused on Israel in the Middle East. 

Revelation 12:13 13 And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child.

Reading this Book, we cannot miss the fact that we are being called to holiness and a readiness for what is coming- Christ’s return.

Titus 2:11-13 11  For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12  instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13  looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – PSALMS 140:1-13.

This is a heart cry for deliverance!  Where do you need to experience deliverance today?

During the Psalmist’s trouble, he affirms that the Lord is in control and will use his current circumstance and give him a song in the night.

Psalm 140:12-13 12 I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted and justice for the poor. 13 Surely the righteous will give thanks to Your name; The upright will dwell in Your presence.

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 30:17

Proverbs 30:17 17 The eye that mocks a father and scorns a mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, And the young eagles will eat it. 

PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – YEMEN (from Prayercast.com and Operation World)

Yemen

Republic of Yemen

Asia

Geography

Area: 531,869 sq km 

Yemen, the birthplace of algebra, has a long history of trade in frankincense and myrrh and now makes most of its revenue exporting oil products. Yet, it is sadly the poorest Arab nation and is currently facing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Decades of war and unrest have torn this nation apart, leaving it crippled by long-standing social, political, and economic instability.

Civilians have borne the brunt of the violence and suffering caused by the unraveling turmoil of civil war since 2012. This has left 80% of the population in need of some form of humanitarian assistance. Yemen’s hunger crisis is one of the worst in the world. Yemeni’s have also endured the devastation of widespread diseases such as cholera. With only 45% of hospitals functional, medications in short supply, and little to no clean drinking water, diseases that should be preventable and treatable have claimed the lives of thousands. The nation’s immense water shortage has only been made worse by the widespread use of the country’s most popular narcotic, qat, which demands approximately 40% of the nation’s supply. Terrorist and militant groups like Al-Qaeda, Islamic State, and the Houthis have taken advantage of the chaos and human suffering to gain territory and momentum.

But the most dire issue in Yemen is that it remains one of the least evangelized nations on earth. Only .08% of its population knows and follows Christ; 99% of the population is Muslim. The gruesome treatment of Yemen’s small body of believers has put this nation in the top ten for worst persecution of Christians. Most believers are first-generation. The majority of expatriate or migrant Christians have fled due to war and violence. Of the few believers that remain, most have converted from Islam. Evangelism is against the law, and those who do so risk death. Still, despite these unrelenting restrictions, Christians have found ways to meet together. Through social media and secret gatherings, the Church in Yemen continues to grow, and more people are turning to Christ than ever before!

  • Pray for the Gospel to go forth in power despite current legal restrictions. 
  • Pray for freedom from the narcotic qat that holds 80% of Yemeni adults captive. 
  • Pray for the desperate economic situation to ignite a longing for lasting hope and security.

PRAYER: Father in heaven, thank You for showing us Who You Are. We believe Your Word. You promise to reward those who diligently seek You. So, thank You for hearing our prayers. You have demonstrated that You will protect and provide for Your children. We recognize that we are in a spiritual battle. We wrestle not against flesh and blood. We bind ourselves with the fact that we have been identified with Christ who has won the day for us! We trust in His saving work, the Lamb’s shed blood, and that our lives are not our own. He has purchased us out of the slave market of sin and adopted us into Your family. So, we can call You our Father.  Give us this day our daily bread, all that we need to be sustained as we walk through the wilderness of this world. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. 

Pastor David