TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- ZECHARIAH 2:1- 3:10

Here we have Zechariah’s third vision of eight, foretelling the history of Israel from the post-exilic period to the future consummation of its divine purpose.

The first vision (Zechariah 1:7-17) of the man dwelling among the shadows of the myrtle trees represents the long history of Israel dwelling in the shadows during the age of the Gentiles.

The second vision (Zechariah 1:18- 21) describes the nations of this world, the four horns, and then the smiths that God raises up against these nations that scattered his people.

The third vision (Zechariah 2:1-13) discloses the extraordinary mercy and favor shown to Israel. The city of Jerusalem is measured and marked for protection. The Lord promises to prosper the city to the degree that one day it will become a city without walls, for He will be a wall of fire around it and be its glory within (2:5).

The Lord assures His people that ‘whoever touches you touches the apple of my eye” (2:8). The kingdom reign of Messiah is anticipated as He promises that He will live among them.

In Chapter 3, we are presented with Zechariah’s fourth vision. Joshua, the high priest, is standing to perform his priestly function and being accused by Satan. The Lord describes Joshua as a burning stick snatched from the fire (3:2). The Lord speaks to Satan, saying, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you!”

Joshua, the priest, is pictured in filthy clothes as he stands representing his people before the angel of the Lord. The angel orders attendants to remove the filthy garments and then says to Joshua, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.” (3:4)

So, a clean turban and rich clothes are put on Joshua while the angel of the LORD stands by. He is given this charge:

Zechariah 3:7 7  “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘If you will walk in My ways and if you will perform My service, then you will also govern My house and also have charge of My courts, and I will grant you free access among these who are standing here.

Then the angel of the Lord announces that Joshua and his associates seated with him are symbolic of things to come. It is a picture of those made right with God and are seated together with Christ. The angel promises to bring forth the One who is given the special title, God’s ‘Servant,’ ‘The Branch’ (3:8). He is the only one who can cleanse His people from their sin. And the LORD promises that He will do it in a single day! (3:9)

Matthew 1:21 21 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

The Lord reiterates the promise of His coming kingdom of peace and prosperity for all His redeemed subjects.

Zechariah 3:10 10 ‘In that day,’ declares the LORD of hosts, ‘every one of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and under his fig tree.'”

TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – REVELATION 13:1b-18.

Chapter 13 is in the middle of the interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpets (Chapters 12-14).  In Chapter 12, we were given a comprehensive view of the conflict between the forces of the Messiah and the Adversary. We saw the war in heaven and its intensification in the period of the Great Tribulation. Now in Chapter 13, we have the fullest manifestation of the spirit of anti-Christ in the person of the Antichrist.

The Antichrist is pictured as ‘a beast coming out of the sea’. He appears with all the signs and symbols of kingship. Satan (the dragon), cast down from the heavens, infiltrates and possesses this man for his purpose. He appears to have supernatural powers to do wonders.

One of the heads of the beast appeared to have a fatal wound that had been healed. He is counterfeiting the Christ with a pseudo death and resurrection.

Satan is drawing worshipers to himself by drawing the world to worship the beast.

The Antichrist is given the power of persuasive yet blasphemous speech. He slanders God, His dwelling place, and believers (those who live in heaven) (Rev. 13:6). He does this for 42 months (3 ½ years). History has had more than its share of evil dictators, but this one will outdo them all.

He is allowed to temporarily overwhelm the saints with persecution.  Some will be martyred. These are those whom God has appointed to make war on the beast. Those whose names are not written in the Book of Life from all the nations of the world will bow down, submitting themselves to the Satanic reign of this Antichrist ruler.

John writes, “He who has an ear, let him hear” (Rev 13:9).  This is another hint that the church will not be present for this Great Tribulation period. In every other instance, John is careful to write, “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 2:7,11, 17,29; 3:6, 13, 22).

Those who are willing to listen are reminded that their obedience to God’s Word may lead to their captivity or martyrdom (Rev.13:10). This period of trial calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.

A second beast (the false prophet) is introduced in verse 11. He comes out of the earth and is a religious leader. He directs people to worship the Antichrist. They attempt to seduce men by false representations of Christ and the Holy Spirit. He looks like the lamb but speaks like the dragon. He is able to produce supernatural signs on behalf of the Antichrist and will set up his image which is able to speak. All who refuse to worship will be threatened with death.

The Antichrist will only permit those who receive his mark, ‘the mark of the beast’, to buy or sell. This is a one world government with one world economy.

This is the end result of man’s rule. Totalitarian oppression.

Revelation 13:18 18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.

We know, however, that the Lord will destroy the Antichrist with the breath of His mouth (2 Thessalonians 2:8).

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – PSALMS 141:1-10

This Psalm is a prayer for sanctification and protection.

The Psalmist asks God to protect him from himself! He asks the Lord to set a guard over his mouth, to direct his heart away from evil and his fellowship away from those who practice iniquity.

We need the Lord to sanctify our speech, our thoughts, our affections, motives, actions, and relationships.

The Psalmist faces some difficult situations and people. But he dignifies the trial by asking the Lord to use these adversarial forces to sanctify him.

He welcomes correction from righteous friends (Psalm 141:5).

He knows that he has enemies who would love to bring him down, so he asks the Lord to protect him. He asks that the enemy would be ensnared in his own traps.

O Lord deliver us from evil! 

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 30:18-20

Proverbs 30:18-20 18  There are three things which are too wonderful for me, Four which I do not understand: 19  The way of an eagle in the sky, The way of a serpent on a rock, The way of a ship in the middle of the sea, And the way of a man with a maid. 20 This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth, and says, “I have done no wrong.”

The eagle in the sky, the serpent on the rock, and the ship in the sea leave no trace of where they have been, and their intended course cannot be discerned by the eye of the observer. They have ways and desires known only to themselves. Such is the unpredictable way of a man with a maid.

The adulterous woman (and man) find ways to justify their transgressions, working carefully to erase any trace of guilt.

PRAYER: Lord, You have made us for Yourself.  And we only have peace when we are in a right relationship with You, corresponding to You in fellowship. Let us hear what Your Spirit is saying and obey when we hear. We fix our eyes on You, Our Sovereign King. May we stand strong in the Lord, who has made peace through paying our sin-debt in full on the cross.  Give us discernment so we do not fall prey to the deceitful schemes of the Evil One. Teach us, by Your grace, to say ‘no’ to ungodliness and the entrapments of Satan’s world system. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.