TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- ZECHARIAH 10:1-11:17
In Zechariah 9:1-9, the prophet foretold events that led up to the first coming of Christ, including Jesus being recognized as Messiah when he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey on the Sunday before he was crucified.
In Zechariah 9:10- 10:12, he continues to prophesy but describes events that were either fulfilled in the intertestamental period, when the Jews defend themselves against the Greeks, or that will take place when the Messiah returns to earth and will speak peace to the nations (9:10). Prophets Isaiah and Micah foretold that the Messiah would judge between the nations and cause the swords to be beaten into plowshares, establishing universal peace (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3).
His return is one that will be visible to all and signaled by a trumpet (9:14). His march is likened to ‘a storm’ from the south. The image changes to that of a feast, where the nation of Israel will be enabled by the returning Christ to defeat their enemies. Their victory is described in the apocalyptic language we encounter in the Book of Revelation. There, the harlot, the Satanic world system-Babylon the Great, is drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. Here in Zechariah, the victorious vindication of the followers of the Lamb is described by their being drunk with the blood of their enemies. Each man is filled to the brim, like the bowls that are used to catch the blood from the animal sacrifices that are offered on the altar at the temple.
The image, having changed from storm to feast, now changes to lambs (Zechariah 9:16a), and then to precious stones (9:16B), indicating that the Lord will defend His flock like a faithful shepherd, and wear them on His heart, like the High Priest wears the precious 12 stones symbolizing the 12 tribes when He goes as their representative before the Holiest of all.
During the Tribulation period, there will be faithful witnesses to the Messiah–the two witnesses from heaven who are sent to testify of Christ, and the 144,000. Not all Jews are quick to repent because they are attached to idolatry and submitted to false teachers. (Zechariah 10:2 speaks of their clinging to pagan idols, teraphim, and going to mediums, diviners, and false prophets).
The request in Zechariah 10:1 to ‘ask for rain’ is a call to the people of Israel to recognize their dependence once again upon their God. (And here is a Scriptural example where it is reasonable for believers to pray to the Lord for favorable weather!)
Zechariah 10:1 1 Ask rain from the LORD at the time of the spring rain— The LORD who makes the storm clouds; And He will give them showers of rain, vegetation in the field to each man.
But the prophetic command could also refer to the need to call out to God for favorable conditions for the ministry of the Word. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit’s ministry is needed to work upon the dry and barren conditions of each human soul if the receptive conditions of repentance and faith are to embrace the word of God.
Zechariah refers to such an outpouring that will produce repentance in Chapter 12.
Zechariah 12:10 10 “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.
Those who are not yet converted are trusting in themselves, a form of idolatry known as secular humanism.
“They comfort in vain. Therefore, the people wander like sheep, they are afflicted because there is no shepherd” (Zechariah 10:2b).
After all, it is from the Jews that the Messiah comes! He is the Cornerstone, the central tent peg upon which their salvation hangs, the bow Who enables them to be victorious over their enemies!
Zechariah 10:4-5 4 “From them will come the cornerstone, From them the tent peg, From them the bow of battle, From them every ruler, all of them together. 5 “They will be as mighty men, treading down the enemy in the mire of the streets in battle; And they will fight, for the LORD will be with them; And the riders on horses will be put to shame.
What a story of mercy! They do not deserve His favor, nor do we, but because of His covenant promise, He will have compassion and bring salvation. The One who has scattered them will regather them, strengthen them, and give them the promises of the New Covenant- forgiveness of sins, intuitive knowledge of the Lord through the new birth, and a desire to pursue holiness (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
“And in His Name, they will walk!” declares the Lord. (Zechariah 10:12; Ezekiel 36:27)
Ezekiel 36:27 27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
Chapter 11 describes the history of the Jew’s rejection of the Messiah. Because of their refusal to heed the Law and the Prophets and put their trust in the Messianic promise and His gift of salvation, they find themselves under God’s chastening rod.
In the ‘age of the Gentiles’ they are subjected to the Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, Persians, Greeks, and Romans.
Chapter 11, verses 1-3 describe the invasion of their land by the Romans as being consumed by a fire. The shepherds (the Jewish leaders) wail. The Lord allows them to be oppressed by the Gentiles. The priest, Caiaphas, thought that by sentencing Jesus of Nazareth, he would be saving the nation. By rejecting the Messiah, they opened the doors to judgment and dispersal. The Romans would launch a horrific attack and destroy the temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
God commanded Zechariah to stand in as a ‘type’ of the Messiah and play the role of the True Shepherd, even as he earlier commanded the priest Joshua to play the role of the Messiah as King and Priest. He was to act out the role of a Shepherd trying to rescue a flock that consistently went astray. He was given two Shepherd rods indicating his God-given purposes. One was named ‘Favor’ and the other ‘Union’. The flock broke covenant with the Shepherd and no longer could divine favor rest upon them. No longer were they in union as one flock under his care.
Zechariah 11:10-12 10 I took my staff Favor and cut it in pieces, to break my covenant which I had made with all the peoples. 11 So it was broken on that day, and thus the afflicted of the flock who were watching me realized that it was the word of the LORD. 12 I said to them, “If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!” So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages.
The people watched Zechariah, playing the role of the Messiah, and realized that he was portraying their history of rebellion. They wanted him to stop. They offered him wages, thirty pieces of silver, which they considered a worthy sum. But the Lord speaks words that will prove to be prophetic when He Himself will be betrayed by Judas.
Zechariah 11:13-14 13 Then the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them.” So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the LORD. 14 Then I cut in pieces my second staff Union, to break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
Judas betrayed the Good Shepherd, selling him to the false shepherds of Israel for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 27:3-10). (The prophet Jeremiah also prophecies this incident in a similar dramatic action in Jeremiah 19.)
In verses 15-17, Zechariah is commanded to adopt the role of a false shepherd. This is a prophetic picture of the Antichrist who will lead Israel astray, causing them to make a covenant with him (which he will break).
Then Zechariah proclaims the word of the Lord. The Antichrist’s power (symbolized by the arm) will be destroyed, and his mind confused (symbolized by the right eye).
Zechariah 11:17 17 “Woe to the worthless shepherd who leaves the flock! A sword will be on his arm and on his right eye! His arm will be totally withered and his right eye will be blind.”
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – REVELATION 18:1-24
Chapters 17 and 18 give us a greater look at the Judgment that will fall on Babylon the Great. In Chapter 17, we see the judgment that falls upon the religious system of Babylon. The city was known as the gate of the gods. The false prophet brought about a one-world religion, directing worship to the Beast, the Antichrist. That one world religion would persecute true believers. The harlot is described as being drunk on the blood of the saints. The Antichrist will turn on the religions and the religious leaders that helped to bring worshipers under his spell.
In Chapter 18 we get a greater look into God’s judgment upon the commercial, political, and economic systems of Babylon. Another angel of the same kind that descends from heaven gives us heaven’s viewpoint on this world’s corruption. When we see everything in the light of God’s glory, the cheap, lifeless, counterfeit, demonic, and corrupt nature of the world system becomes exposed.
The Babylonian world system delights in being the opposite of everything Jesus Christ and His church stands for. Babylon is the harlot. The church is the pure, chaste bride of Christ. Babylon delights in wickedness, feeds on lies, and lives with unbridled sensuality, lust, and greed. The church delights in the testimony of Christ- His righteousness, truth, and holy life reproduced in each member by the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, God’s people need to heed the voice that is heard in verse 4.
Revelation 18:4-5 4 I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; 5 for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.
Do we find ourselves giving in to this world’s corrupt view of morality, calling evil good and good evil? Do we adopt the world’s definition of marriage? Do we adopt the Biblical view of gender? Personal responsibility and accountability? The world twists, distorts and rejects God’s Word. The result is that its thinking is diseased. Unless people repent, turn from their sins, and trust the Savior, they will be made to pay for their sins in hell.
The world system lives in denial:
Revelation 18:7-8 7 “To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, ‘I SIT as A QUEEN AND I AM NOT A WIDOW, and will never see mourning.’ 8 “For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong.
Babylon’s fall affects the economy. The merchants will mourn. They profited on its infidelity.
John goes into great detail describing the Babylonian cargo that the merchants of this world trade in. In one hour of judgment, Babylon has been laid to waste.
What a contrast between the royal purple, scarlet, fine linen, and precious adornment of God’s eternal dwelling place, to the short-lived splendor of Babylon’s treasures.
Whereas the kings, merchants, and sailors mourn, heaven rejoices! This is a righteous judgment in the eyes of God. And God’s people are called to share that perspective concerning the deceitful nature of this present age.
A strong angel portrays the tsunami impact of Babylon’s fall.
Revelation 18:21 21 Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer.
The entertainment industry, with its artisans, musicians, and designers, will no longer have a sponsor. There will be no more city lights. There will be no more voice of the bride or bridegroom. The mixed-up priorities that fell short of seeking the kingdom of God bred deception and incurred destruction.
Revelation 18:24 24 “And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.”
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – PSALM 146:1-10
The Psalm begins and ends with whole-hearted praise. He resolves to praise the Lord all of his life. The Lord reigns forever and is worthy of praise from every generation.
The Psalmist recognizes the futility of putting trust in anyone or anything other than the Savior. Our works will end with the grave. Our plans only go so far. God’s plan is for eternal salvation.
Psalm 146:3 3 Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.
Do you know the Lord as your liberator? (Psalm 146:7) Do you know Him as the One who watches over you and frustrates the way of the wicked?
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 30:33
Proverbs 30:33 33 For the churning of milk produces butter, and pressing the nose brings forth blood; so the churning of anger produces strife.
This Proverb highlights known outcomes. The same verb in Hebrew is used for churning milk, twisting the nose, and stirring up anger, translated in the ESV as ‘pressing’. The Proverb is given in the context of the problems resulting from pride and evil planning. The outcome of churning milk is known- it is how you make butter. The twisting or pressing of the nose will cause a nosebleed. And so, if we don’t handle our anger, (our emotional responses to perceived injustices) by bringing it under control, the inevitable consequence will be further trouble.
PRAYER: We praise You, O LORD, for You reign forever. We thank You for faithfully coming to our rescue. Lord Jesus, You are the true Shepherd, who secured our salvation, delivering us from our enemies. We thank You for shielding us with Your favor and securing our access to the Father. You lift us up and uphold our cause. Holy Spirit, activate the ministry of Your Word to our hearts, that it would take root and bear much fruit. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.