TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- ZECHARIAH 8:1-23

The phrase, “Thus says the Lord” occurs 10 times in this chapter (Zechariah 8:2,3,4,6,7,9,14, 19, 20, 23). The Lord nurtures the faith and hope of His people by offering them promises for the future. He is jealous for the devotion of His chosen city, Jerusalem, and assures her that in the future, she will be called “the City of Truth”. And ‘the mountain of the Lord’ will have the reputation of being ‘the holy mountain’ (Zech 8:3).

When Jesus returns, He will rule a God-centered world, a truth-seeking, justice-loving, people-respecting, law-abiding world. The Lord promises to save His people, defeating enemies from the east and west. The old and the young will feel safe in the streets (Zech 8:5). How different from the cities today!

For a time, God gave Israel the shoulder, even to the point of disowning her. He called them ‘Lo-ammi’, meaning ‘you are not my people and I will not be your God’ (Hosea 1:9). She was punished for her idolatry by being taken into exile by the Assyrians and Babylonians. She was also punished for rejecting the Messiah by being scattered throughout the earth.

But the Lord promised to bring them back. We are seeing the fulfillment of these prophecies in our lifetime.

Zechariah 8:8 8 and I will bring them back and they will live in the midst of Jerusalem; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God in truth and righteousness.’

Zechariah describes the invasion of the Greeks under the leadership of Alexander the Great, taking the territory north and east of Palestine. Hadrach is in a region far north of Palestine. Damascus is the capital of Syria. The Greek army marched down the western coast, taking the cities of Tyre and Sidon in the north and Askelon and Gaza in the south. God is cutting off the pride of the Philistines and punishing her for her idolatries (Zech 9:7).

Alexander the Great took Gaza after a two-month siege. But God promised that Jerusalem and Judah would be spared.

Verse 9 is a prophecy that was fulfilled on Palm Sunday when Jesus entered Jerusalem being acclaimed as ‘the Son of David’.

Zechariah 9:9 9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

This was the only public declaration of Jesus with the Messianic title of ‘Son of David’ that Jesus allowed. The event is recorded in all four gospels.

Warren Wiersbe offers a contrast between Zechariah’s descriptions of the Conqueror Alexander the Great and the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth in Zech 9.

Alexander rode a mighty steed and proudly led a great army from one victory to another, but Jesus rode a lowly donkey and came in humility. The people who welcomed Him were common peasants who laid palm branches and garments before Him on the road. The great people of Jerusalem didn’t welcome Him, but little children sang to Him in the temple. Jesus could have brought judgment, but instead He brought grace and forgiveness (John 3:17). Instead of making a grand oration, Jesus beheld the city and wept over it; instead of slaying His enemies, He went to a cross and died for them! – Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) – Old Testament – The Bible Exposition Commentary – The Prophets.

Verses 10 describes Christ leading His people into battle in the future against the kingdom of darkness.

Zechariah 9:16 16 And the LORD their God will save them in that day as the flock of His people; For they are as the stones of a crown, Sparkling in His land.

TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – REVELATION 16:1-21

We have been preparing for this moment since Chapter 11:15, when the seventh trumpet sounded.

Revelation 11:15 15 Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”

The seventh trumpet sounded by the seventh angel signaled that the time had come for pouring out of the seven bowls of wrath. The Greek word for bowls implies saucer-shaped containers. Chapters 12 through 15 served as a parenthesis introducing us to seven personages that were operating behind the scenes.

Chapter 16 records the seven bowl judgments, which are swift and final rapid-fire judgments that come upon the earth immediately prior to the return of Jesus Christ. These culminate with the climactic battle of Armageddon, during which men rally in opposition to the Lamb of God. This final display of mankind’s impudence will be interrupted by the appearance of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, in Chapter 19.

The seed of the woman (Christ) will crush the head (depose the rule of) the serpent.

Bowl #1- Harmful and painful sores plague those who received the mark of the beast.

Bowl # 2- The salt water of the sea becomes like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing that is in the sea will die.

Bowl #3- The freshwater systems of springs and rivers will become like blood. (The angel in charge of the water sees this as a just punishment for those who shed the blood of saints and prophets (16:6).

Bowl #4- The bowl was poured out on the sun, which then was allowed to scorch people with fierce heat, causing people to curse God.

Then we read these fateful words:

“They did not repent of their deeds” (Rev 16:9b).

Bowl #5- The bowl is poured out on the throne of the beast and his kingdom, plunging it into darkness. The darkness is felt, causing pain and sores. Once again, the people curse God, and “they did not repent of their deeds” (Rev 16:11b).

Bowl #6- The bowl is poured out on the Great River Euphrates, drying up its waters and preparing a way for the kings of the east to march to Jerusalem for the Battle of Armageddon. Unclean demonic spirits are released from the mouth of the dragon (Satan), the beast (Antichrist), and the mouth of the false prophet. These spirits are likened to frogs. These three unleashed demonic spirits are instrumental in calling the nations to assemble on the battlefield of Armageddon and war against the army of God’s elect.

Jesus Himself speaks in this parenthesis:

Revelation 16:15 15 (“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”)

Bowl #7- The seventh angel pours out the seventh bowl into the air for the dramatic climax. A loud voice is heard coming from the throne in the midst of the temple, shouting, “It is done!” (It has come into being).

Bowl 7 unleashes the fury of a great earthquake, with thunder, lightning flashes, and tumult unsurpassed by anything experienced in human history.

The great city is split into three parts, and the cities of the earth fall. Great topographical changes take place. Islands flee away, and mountains are removed. Babylon the Great also falls. The details will follow in Chapters 17 and 18.

John shows that this is not a mere symbol. He describes the 100-pound weight of some of the hail stones that fall upon people.  

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – PSALM 144:1-15

We are in training for reigning. God uses life’s circumstances to teach us to lean into His counsel and learn the art of responding to His provisions for overcoming sin and deception. He teaches our hands to war. He readies us for the good fight of faith (verse 1).

We learn to trust Him and remain secure in our relationship to Him (v. 2). The Psalmist affirms God’s covenantal promises to be his Savior. He speaks of the Lord as being “My Lovingkindness”, “My fortress”, “My stronghold”, “My deliverer”, “My shield”, “My conqueror”. Do you know Him in this way? Have you laid hold of the privileged relationship offered to you?

The Lord is your Shepherd. He is your King. The mystery of God’s kindness to us causes us to marvel: “What is man that You take knowledge of him?” (v.3)

David calls for the Lord to show Himself once again to be strong on his behalf.

Psalm 144:7-8 7 Stretch forth Your hand from on high; Rescue me and deliver me out of great waters, out of the hand of aliens 8 Whose mouths speak deceit, and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.

Psalm 144:11 11 Rescue me and deliver me out of the hand of aliens, whose mouth speaks deceit and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.

David promises to praise the Lord with a new song as he experiences fresh revelation and new deliverances. He is not shy to ask for God’s blessing because of His gracious covenant. It is all because of God’s gracious promise to bless those who by faith are situated ‘in His promise’, ‘in Christ’.

Psalm 144:15 15 How blessed are the people who are so situated; How blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 30:29-31

Proverbs 30:29-31 29 There are three things which are stately in their march, even four which are stately when they walk: 30 The lion which is mighty among beasts and does not retreat before any, 31 The strutting rooster, the male goat also, and a king when his army is with him. 

PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – ZIMBABWE

  • Pray for increased health care and preventative education for this HIV/AIDS ravaged nation 
  • Pray for unity, cooperation, and additional resources for Christian care organizations 
  • Pray for a moral, visionary government to rebuild this impoverished nation

SUMMARY

The world’s largest curtain of water parades down Victoria Falls on the edge of the Republic of Zimbabwe. The plummeting waters mimic the fallen economy in this landlocked South African nation. Once known as Rhodesia, the nation was under British rule until officially gaining independence in 1980. During the move towards independence, most farms owned by whites were seized, and land was distributed, in many cases, to party loyalists and their families. This led to a sharp decline in production and caused the collapse of the agriculture-based economy.

The nation’s only leader since independence, President Mugabe, is widely accused of corruption and cronyism. In 2007 he demanded price controls on all basic commodities, causing many Zimbabweans to buy out of panic and leaving store shelves empty for months. Zimbabwe was also involved in the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, costing hundreds of millions of dollars. It wasn’t until 2008 that Zimbabwe became a multi-party state after electing an opposition leader as prime minister. The economy has thankfully recorded growth despite political uncertainty. However, Zimbabwe maintains the distinction of having the highest public debt and consumer price inflation in the world, in addition to having an unemployment rate over 90%. Zimbabwe has the fifth most HIV/AIDS-related deaths in the world: about 2,000 per week. This amounts to 286 every day and 12 every hour. This epidemic has orphaned over one million children. Roughly two-thirds of the nation’s wildlife has been killed for sustenance in just over a decade. Zimbabweans have been betrayed by their government and therefore have the second-highest migration rate in the world.

Zimbabwe is looking for a savior, and thankfully nearly 80% have sought out Jesus. However, the majority of people believe in a syncretistic Christianity, one mixed with indigenous beliefs. The church in Zimbabwe needs purity in their doctrine and unity among denominations, especially amongst Apostolic and charismatic believers. Missionaries in Zimbabwe need training to effectively reach out to the small Muslim population. The Church must also raise up strong, spirit-filled leaders to point the people of their broken nation to Christ. 

PRAYER: O Mighty God, You lead us in the battle. You teach us how to stand in Christ and overcome the enemy. Thank You for the full armor we have through the Word and prayer. We are girded with Your full counsel from Genesis to Revelation. You have given us a sure standing through the gospel, a breastplate of righteousness, helmet of salvation, and a shield of faith. Help us to wield the sword of Your Word with the agility of the Holy Spirit. Put Your finger on idolatries and enable us to turn from them as we put our full trust in You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.