TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- ZECHARIAH 4:1 – 5:11
Zechariah sees the golden lampstand with a bowl on top for the oil supply to go through the seven conduit pipes to the seven lights. Two olive trees are positioned, one to the right and the other to the left of the central bowl.
What does this golden lampstand speak of? In the tabernacle and temple, it was positioned just outside the holiest of all as a perpetual symbol of Light being brought to the world.
The interpretation is that it is only through the work of the Holy Spirit that God’s purposes could be fulfilled in His people, and the temple rebuilt.
Zechariah 4:6 6 Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.
Whereas the fourth vision was to provide encouragement to Joshua, the priest, the fifth vision focuses on the role of Zerubbabel, the prince.
These visions can encourage us today. The work of God will be accomplished not by our might, wealth, power, or will, but the energizing power of the Holy Spirit. The hands of Zerubbabel had laid the foundation of the work; it would also be the hands of Zerubbabel that would complete it. This work would be done in such a way that all will know that it is God who has done this.
The people should not be discouraged, nor despise the day of small things. God uses little things in a big way. God’s plans are bigger than all of us. (4:10)
What do the two olive trees represent? They are the two witnesses. This certainly makes us think of the two witnesses in the Book of Revelation. Zerubbabel and Joshua, as two witnesses, were to pour out their supply of oil, investing in the work to restore Israel to its divine purpose of shedding light to the nations.
The mountain of opposition would be removed. It is all of grace!
The light of God’s people, Israel, could only shine forth by their maintaining close communion with God, drawing from the oil of the Holy Spirit.
You will notice that in the Book of Zechariah, there is one lampstand. As a prophet, Zechariah was a minister of the Word, enlightening Zerubbabel, and Joshua as witnesses to the Spirit’s enabling power. In the Book of Revelation, there are two lampstands, most likely referring to both witnesses being ministers of the enlightening Word.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – REVELATION 14:1-20
The Apostle John is being given a series of visions, special spiritual intelligence, as to what will be going on behind the scenes during the period known as the Great Tribulation.
It is in this period that spiritual forces come to a head, even as there will be earthly battles coming to a head in the Middle East, a battle known as Armageddon.
The Tribulation is a period when final judgments prepare the way for the return of Christ and the ushering in of His kingdom. Jesus spoke about a pivotal event, prophesied in the Book of Daniel, and referred to by both the Apostles John and Paul, when the antichrist, a leader of a one world government, will make an attempt to put himself in the place of God, even desecrating the temple in Jerusalem with his blasphemous claim. With the help of his assistant, the second beast, known as the False Prophet, all will worship the Antichrist in a one world religion.
In Chapter 14, John is shown the first three visions of seven visions before the seventh trumpet is sounded.
Here in Revelation 14, we see once again a company of 144,000 men who demonstrate unusual commitment. These are men from the 12 tribes of Israel who are sealed by the Lord and are to be used in a special way during the Tribulation period.
We met them first in Revelation Chapter 7, right after the 6 seals of judgment have brought devastation to the earth. They were introduced in answer to the question posed in Revelation 6:17
Revelation 6:17 17 for the great day of their wrath (the wrath of the One Who sits on the throne and the wrath of the Lamb) has come, and who is able to stand?”
The answer is the 144,000 who will stand victorious in the power of Christ (Revelation 7:1-8).
In Revelation 14, we see them standing on Mt. Zion with the Lamb. This appears to be the same people but at a later time in the Tribulation Period. God has sealed them and protects them so they can remain standing when the Lord returns.
These 144,000 are singing together a new song that only they can sing. It was a song that had to do with what they had learned and experienced.
Revelation 14:3 3 And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth.
These saints will be gathered at Mt. Zion, most likely referring to the literal, earthly Mt. Zion in Jerusalem (See Joel 2:32). They persevere in the Tribulation because of God’s preserving power working with them.
John Phillips writes, “No other age has produced a company like this veritable army of militant believers marching unscathed through every form of danger. It has been theirs to defy the dragon, to bait the beast, and to give the lie to the false prophet. Their calling has been to preach the gospel from the housetops, when even to name the name of Christ called for the most dreadful penalties. They have been surrounded, these latter day Jobs, with impenetrable hedges, and are able to laugh to scorn all the grand inquisitors of hell. They have walked the streets in broad daylight, careless of the teeth-gnashing rage of their would-be torturers and assassins, true witnesses of Jehovah in the most terrible era of the history of mankind. The devil knows about this coming band of conquerors and writhes already in an agony of anticipation.”
“They kept themselves chaste”. This may refer to the fact that at this time, their lives were so consecrated to God’s purpose in the battle that they did not pursue marriage. They remained sexually pure in what will likely be a sexually perverse culture.
They were of proven character.
Revelation 14:5 5 And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless.
One angel preaches the eternal gospel to those ‘who dwell on the earth’ of every tribe, tongue, and nation. The message is one of judgment and condemnation. The hour of mercy is passed, and the hour of judgment has come. He, who is holy and just, is to be worshiped.
Another angel proclaims judgment upon the Babylonian world system. (This will be described in Chapter 18).
Revelation 14:8 8 And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.”
A third angel pronounces judgment on all those who have submitted themselves to the beast. They will suffer the torment of God’s wrath, ‘with fire and sulfer in the presence of the holy angels and the presence of the Lamb.’
Every human being will be confronted with the pivotal role that the Lamb of God has played in demonstrating God’s justice and mercy.
Those who keep God’s commandments and are faithful to Him will need patient endurance (14:12).
After the solemn announcement of the third angel, John is told to write down this assurance that those who die for their faith during the Tribulation period will be blessed. They will especially appreciate their deliverance from the godless age of Antichrist, the fierce persecution, torture, and hardship. They will welcome the joy of being with their Lord and Savior, who will receive them as He did Stephen when he was being stoned.
The chapter concludes with a vision of Christ with a sickle in His hands, and three angels attending to bring in the judgment of this world to harvest. The first angel is seen coming out of the temple in heaven and he encourages the Lord with the news that the hour has come to reap the harvest. The Lord then swings His sickle to bring the world to judgment.
Another angel appears with a sharp sickle to reap the harvest. Then a third angel who has authority over the fire calls out to the other angel to reap the grapes of wrath and bring them to the winepress for judgment. They are trampled outside the city (probably Jerusalem). The blood flows out of the press, rising as high as a horse’s bridle and for a distance of about 180 miles.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – PSALM 142:1-7
David writes this Psalm during his Adullam Cave days. He seeks refuge from his enemies, particularly King Saul, by hiding in a cave. But his true refuge is found in the Lord.
This Psalm reminds us of the privilege of prayer. When all others fail us, when we feel misunderstood, alone, and that no one cares, we can be confident that there is One who sympathizes with our experience, Whom we can always turn to.
We can pour out our complaints, make bold requests, and give Him our praise. For He is our refuge. He knows our way. We need His protection. We need His power. We need His mercy. We need His help. He is able to deliver us from our bondage.
Psalm 142:7 7 “Bring my soul out of prison, so that I may give thanks to Your name; The righteous will surround me, For You will deal bountifully with me.”
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 30:21-22
Proverbs 30:21-22 21 Under three things the earth quakes, And under four, it cannot bear up: 22 Under a slave when he becomes king, and a fool when he is satisfied with food.
This Proverb uses humorous hyperbole to highlight how suddenly the predictable order of things can be disrupted and create unbearable situations! A slave can rise above his station and become king, which in itself is not a bad thing, but he may prove to be unsuited to the task of reigning. Years ago a business writer, Laurence J Peter observed that competent employees are often promoted in a company hierarchy to a level beyond their competence. Another difficult situation to tolerate is when a fool is promoted and is preoccupied with satisfying his privileges rather than serving. Another situation that is hard to bear is to be in a loveless marriage. It is also difficult to bear when an attendant of one’s spouse, supplants the place of the spouse in a marriage. The animosity of Sarah and Hagar serves as an illustration. The take-away lesson is that we should not allow these situations to develop while under our watch and rely on the grace of God to rectify these problems if they develop.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – ZAMBIA
(from “Operation World Prayer Guide and Prayercast.com)
- Pray for ongoing commitment by Zambians to see their nation flourish as a Christian one which honors the Lord.
- Pray for the development of training programs that will raise up educationally and spiritually equipped leaders.
- Pray for wisdom in tackling extreme poverty and the devastating HIV/AIDS crisis.
Zambia is home to stoic savannah plateaus, the cascading waters of Victoria Falls, and game parks teeming with wild African creatures. Zambia also houses some of the most thriving metropolitan cities in Sub-Saharan Africa, which are filled with people from the nation’s more than 70 ethnic groups. Both diverse in natural beauty and human ethnicity, Zambia remains a destination for tourists as well as a model for peace and ethnic harmony.
Donning the name Zambia in 1963, the newly independent state began the tedious task of political construction. A constitution was established in 1973, however a one-party state left little room for political freedom. By 1991, demands for political diversity led to the establishment of a new constitution and greater political freedom. While the Zambian government has faced intermittent reports of corruption, the nation has remained surprisingly peaceful in a rare commodity amongst Zambia’s neighbors. The nation’s economy is heavily dependent on copper, and it is the world’s largest producer of the metal. Though affected by a recession during the 1970s, recent investment in mining and rising copper prices are hopeful indicators of an economy on the mend.
Despite economic advances, Zambia faces high unemployment rates, with over 70% of its population living in poverty. A high prevalence of HIV/AIDS among adults has drained the healthcare system and economy of resources, and HIV/AIDS related deaths have left over 710,000 children orphaned. Formally recognized as a Christian nation since 1991, Zambia is completely open to the Gospel. Evangelicals in particular have experienced exciting growth and compose 26% of the population, compared to 4% in 1960. Islam, which is growing twice as fast as Christianity, is targeting Zambia with increasing fervor, and there is great need for Zambians who are able to minister to the growing number of Muslims. Pray that God would grow a spiritual fervency among Zambian believers, sending them out with the Gospel to the poor, sick, and spiritually needy.
Landlocked central/ southern African country; largely savannah grasslands with forested areas.
Population: 13,257,269 Annual Growth: 2.46%
Official language: English. Trade languages Bemba and Nyanja spoken by large segments of the population Languages: 72 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
Challenges for Prayer
Missions. There is an open door for ministry, although few are unevangelized.
a) The emphasis is rightly on partnering with Zambians, training them for leadership and service and developing holistic ministries that are sustainable and useful. The largest are: CB/CMML, SIM, IMB, LM.
b) The Zambian Church’s interest in missions has grown in the last 10 years, in large part due to the GLO Centre and ProChristo/OM. Hundreds now serve cross-culturally within Zambia and to neighbouring nations, almost all of which are much less evangelized and even more in need of practical assistance. The Brethren/CMML alone has sent out 150 workers within Zambia, into the region and even to India and the UK. Pray for these first fruits to represent a much greater harvest.
The less reached – there are still unevangelized pockets and a few peoples who have received much less ministry than the majority.
a) The many smaller groups of peoples in the southwest are minimally reached – the Subiya, the four Khoisan groups, others.
b) The urban satellite towns of Lusaka, the Copperbelt and Kabwe are spiritually needy. Many are squalid shanty settlements, rife with poverty, AIDS and little hope. Pray for the work of Dorothea Mission, World Outreach Team Action and others in evangelizing these areas.
c) The Indian Gujarati community is both Hindu and Muslim, but few are Christian. South African SIM, Pentecostal Assemblies of God and Asian missionaries from Tanzania work among them.
PRAYER: Gracious God, we confess that we need Your rescue. We need Jesus. Who else do we have in heaven, but You, Lord? Who else can understand our predicament and deliver us from the horrible pit of our fallen condition? We look to You, Lamb of God, as the only one who is fit to take away the sin of the world and deliver us from evil. We give You glory for manifesting Your justice and Your mercy in the finished work of Christ. We ask that You empower us with Your Spirit, enlighten us with Your Word, and make us faithful witnesses to You in this present age. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.