June 30 - The Day of the Lord

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June 30 - The Day of the Lord

Jesus, Paul, Peter and John emphasize that we are to be prepared for the coming of the Day of the Lord. The Old Testament prophets were concerned with idolatry and the way that the entire community of Israel had fallen out of relationship with the Lord. In the New Testament, with Jesus' death and resurrection, the idea of an entire community being in relationship with God was transformed to individual relationships. Each of us became responsible for bringing the Kingdom of God to earth.

While pastors and priests have a responsibility to teach and encourage their flock, they no longer had to face punishment by God because the people chose to worship idols or live outside of righteousness.

Paul tells us that it is our responsibility to pay attention to the signs that signal the coming of the Day of the Lord in 2 Thessalonians 2:2. "Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction."

Peter tells us to be prepared in 2 Peter 3:11b-12, "You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat."

In Philippians 1:4-6, Paul says "In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

We are to be prepared. We are to be ready. We are to always be working to further the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ. The Day of the Lord is coming. In every portion of the Scriptures we are assured of this message. From the beginning to the end, God is moving His creation forward with a purpose. He created us to be in relationship with Him ... sin removed us from the righteousness that allowed us to be in His presence at all times. Everything God has done in the history of mankind has been done to return us to that place.

But, until the Day of the Lord, none of it has been brought to fullness. He has given us the freedom to live our lives on this earth and make choices. Our choices are always selfish and self-serving and He laments day and night that we don't choose to fully rest in Him.

But, when the Day comes, everything will change. Heaven and Earth will be purified, transformed. The evil doers will be punished and the righteous will be returned to Paradise to reside with the Lord God Almighty.

June 29 - Malachi 4

Monday, June 29, 2009

June 29 - Malachi 4:1-6

In Revelation 9:2, the fifth trumpet sounds and the Abyss is opened. Smoke rose from it like the smoke from a giant furnace. From that smoke came locusts that destroyed the earth. The furnace speaks of destruction. In Malachi 4:1, the Day of the Lord is likened to that furnace. The fire is not a fire of purification such as we saw in Malachi 3:2-3, but one that will destroy everything that is evil.

All through the Revelation, we read about the destruction of the sun along with the heavenly bodies, but in Revelation 21:23-25, we read that "The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there."

The sun of righteousness will rise ... there will be no more night ... healing will come to all nations. When the Day of the Lord arrives, the world will face terror such as it has never known due to the wrath of God being poured out on the evil that has made its way into our world, but for those who revere Him, that Day will bring joy ... Malachi describes it as seeing young calves leaping with exuberance when released into the fields.

He reminds everyone of the Covenant made with Moses when God gave the Law to the people of Israel. This is the reason that all of this is in place. Everything God has done and will continue to do is to draw His people back into the Covenant that was established with Moses and then with Daniel. God has always honored His side and desperately wants His children to return to a right relationship with Him.

The return of the prophet Elijah was promised to the people since the day he was taken up into heaven. There will be a warning. Elijah will return to announce the coming. The messenger will prepare the way.

Notice, though, that the end of Malachi, the last words of the Old Testament end with a warning, not a blessing. If there is no rescuing the relationship between God and His people, He will strike the land with a curse.

June 28 - Malachi 3

Sunday, June 28, 2009

June 28 - Malachi 2:17-3:18

How weary we get of seeing the wicked prosper in this life! The Israelites were tired of seeing this happen around them, so they began speaking against the Lord declaring that He must approve of the wicked. The weariness we feel, though is nothing like what the Lord feels when He hears His people speak words against Him.

John the Baptist fulfilled the prophecy of Malachi 3:1, but this is more than just the prophecy of the coming of tohe Messiah, this prophecy regards the coming of the one who will unleash the purifying fire of the Lord God Almighty!

We can not endure that day when it comes. The priests of the Levite tribe who have so distressed Him in the previous verses of this prophecy will be made pure as they are sent through fire. The launderer's soap would be like lye, stripping off layers of of filth as the alkaline base acts against the soul.

He declares in Malachi 3:4, that He WILL have men bringing righteous offerings and He WILL have acceptable offerings brought to the temple of the Lord. He goes on to say that He will come for judgment, but finishes that declaration with the words 'Do not fear me.' (Malachi 3:5)

In Malachi 3:6, we see the promise of the Covenant continue. Judah will be purified, but will not be destroyed by the refiner's fire. God continues to plead with them for their return. He tells Israel that they have robbed him. When they ask how, He tells them in one of the most beautiful passages, that if they were to offer the tithe to Him, He would unleash blessings on them that would be unimaginable. He doesn't ask them to bring everything, simply the tithe - the firstfruits from their lives. His blessings would be poured out on them and He would care for all of their needs. (Malachi 3:10-12)

In Malachi 3:13, He reiterates the information from the last verses of chapter 2 (Malachi 2:17). He is frustrated that they believe the evildoers prosper and that God has allowed arrogance, evil and challengers to go unpunished.

The remnant remains. There were those who began to talk together about serving the Lord alone. In Malachi 3:16, a scroll of remembrance was written in the presence of the Lord. He promised that they would be His. He would distinguish between the righteous and the wicked on the Day of the Lord.

June 27 - Malachi 2

Saturday, June 27, 2009

June 27 - Malachi 2:1-16

In Numbers 6:22-27, Aaron was given a blessing that the Levites were to pronounce upon the people of Israel. Because of their actions, the Lord said that He would curse their blessings. Because their hearts were so out of whack, things were already cursed. He says in Malachi 3:4 that He is admonishing them so that He can purify the priesthood once again. The priests are to have a higher calling so that they can lead and teach the people of God.

The teachings of the priests had caused many to stumble and they violated the covenant that God made with Levi which is found in Number 18:7-8, 19-21. For the work that the tribe of Levi did in the temple in the name of God, they would receive portions of the offerings and a portion of all the tithes from the tribes of Israel.

The third oracle or prophecy is found in Malachi 2:10-16. It begins with three questions. The first two deal with their relationship with the one God, but the last question sets the stage for the followup remarks. These people had acted treacherously in their relationships with each other.

Intermarriage with pagans had been a huge problem among the Israelites since they had returned from exile. Ezra 9:1-2, 10-12 and Nehemiah 13:23-27 both spoke of the problem. The pagan women that were coming into the community were bringing with them worship of foreign idols. Not only were the Israelite men marrying foreign women, but many were divorcing their Israelite wives to do this. And God had been the witness for those unions.

They didn't understand why the Lord wouldn't accept their offerings, so Malachi had to spell it out for them. And some of the strongest language in the Old Testament regarding divorce is used here. "I hate divorce" says the Lord God. In the case of these Israelite men, they were setting aside everything that the Covenant had called for them to do so that they could have whatever it was that they desired.

Guard yourself ... in your spirit ... and do not break faith.

June 26 - Malachi 1

Friday, June 26, 2009

June 26 - Malachi 1:1-14

Malachi is the last of the Old Testament prophets until John the Baptist shows up. In fact, we will see that he predicts his ministry in Malachi 3:1. His message is that to receive the blessings of the covenant, the people have to be faithful to the covenant.

He lived in the mid - 5th century bc. The Jews had returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple, but they were still under the political rule of the Persians. Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem during this time. The people should be dedicated to and pursuing a relationship with God, but they had become indifferent and even resentful of God and were pursuing pagan lifestyles.

The NIV translates the word 'mazza' as 'oracle' in Malachi 1:1, but the true translation is actually 'burden.' This is not a joyous prophecy, but begins with a very somber tone.

The Lord says to Israel in Malachi 1:2, "I have loved you." This is such a tender moment. Before she even existed, He loved her. But, the people of Israel didn't seem to believe it. It had been 100 years since they had returned to Jerusalem, and they still didn't see freedom. They were being ruled by Persians. There was no Messiah reigning over them, bringing peace and plenty. They asked, "How have you loved us?"

This is a plea for answers. They didn't believe that God was honoring His part of the covenant. They no longer trusted God. But he tells them that He chose them over Esau/Edom and will lift them up while crushing Edom.

The last portion of this chapter (Malachi 1:6-14) admonishes them for their disrespect of Him. They have defiled the sacrifice by offering crippled and diseased animals. The governor wouldn't accept that, why should God?

In Malachi 1:11, the Lord is very clear that His name will be great and beautiful offerings will be brought to Him, though the Israelites clearly see it as a burden. The Lord feels cheated by those He loves the most.

This breaks my heart. We cheat the Lord of that which He deserves the most. We offer the best that we have to our work, our families, our hobbies and everything else that takes up time in our lives. He has loved us with an everlasting love and established a covenant not only with His people, Israel, but the New Covenant was established through Jesus' blood. He will always honor that covenant. What can we offer Him in return?

July Blog Study - Hebrews

Thursday, June 25, 2009

It's certainly taken me awhile to decide what to study during the month of July. I didn't think I wanted to do something exceptionally heavy, but I'm not sure that there is really anything 'light' in scripture.

There are a couple of New Testament books that I don't know terribly well, one of which is the letter to the Hebrews. No, I wouldn't call this light reading, but I look forward to reading and studying Paul's encouraging words to the children of Israel.

If you would like to invite someone to join us, please feel free. If they would like to receive an email reminder each day, just send an email to nammynools (@) cox (.) net and I will get them on the mailing list. Otherwise, they can 'follow' this blog or subscribe to it in an RSS Reader. I'm just glad to be able to share my thoughts with everyone and it's quite exciting to discover information within Scripture on a daily basis. I learn so much as I do this!

Join us in July and invite someone else to begin studying scripture daily as well!

June 25 - Zechariah 14

June 25 - Zechariah 14:1-21

One of the things I find most interesting about apocalyptic literature and even contemporary interpretation of passages in our scripture is the interpretation of the visions that God gives to His prophets.

We interpret these symbolic passages based on our knowledge of the world. When Zechariah, Joel, Malachi, Zephaniah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah received prophetic visions regarding the return of the Messiah and The Day of the Lord, they interpreted the information based on the world-knowledge that they had at the time.

Zechariah limited his worldview to the cities that he was aware of in the immediate vicinity of Israel. He recognized the power of the covenant that God had made with Israel and he finishes this prophecy with the words that "on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord Almighty."

As we read the book of Revelation, we see that John interpreted the vision and prophecy he received based on the fact that Babylon was the worst evil Israel had ever experienced. Interpretation says that he actually meant Rome, but needed to be careful, so he called her Babylon.

Others have interpreted these apocalyptic visions based on technology and knowledge we have today. Locusts are warplanes and horses are actually tanks. (etc., etc.) We aren't limited in who the Gentile nations might be, they extend far beyond Tyre and Sidon, Canaan and Egypt during Zechariah's time. We aren't limited by the worldview that John had, where Rome was the greatest evil Gentile nation. But, we are limited by what we know today. How different might the world look if in 500 years, God chooses that the Messiah should return. Will we have reached the stars? Will there be planets that have rulers and Gentile leaders that are worse than Egypt or Rome ever was?

The truth of all of this prophecy is that the Messiah will return. There will be devastation caused by His wrath. No one knows when the day or time will be. The Lord will return as King over everything. There will be Armageddon (Zechariah 14:2, Isaiah 34:2, Obadiah 15, Revelation 16:14, 16) but the Lord will empower His children for victory. The Messiah will be the warrior on the battlefield, fighting for His people.

In Zechariah 14:4-5, we see that the Messiah will stand on the Mount of Olives. This is where He ascended into heaven in Acts 1:11-12.

The spring of living water will erupt in Jerusalem and will promote fertility throughout the land (Isaiah 35:1-7, Amos 9:13-14, Revelation 22:1-2).

Zechariah 14:16-19 is very plain that the Gentiles will be there to worship. Before Jesus came, before Paul brought the Good News to the Gentiles, God promised that we would be part of the glory of the Day of the Lord.

The cooking pots in Zechariah 14:20-21 actually describe the blending of the sacred and the secular. Once the Lord reigns, there will be no need to separate the holy from the common. Everything will be made ceremonially clean because He will reside among His people.

The Day of the Lord is coming. We don't know when, but we do know that the Lord God Almighty will fulfill His promise.

June 24 - Zechariah 13

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

June 24 - Zechariah 13:1-9

In yesterday’s reading weeping was heard throughout Judah and Jerusalem. Their grief was overwhelming as they looked for forgiveness and cleansing. Now, in Zechariah 13:1, the Lord offers a source of cleansing.

On that day … this is the Day of the Lord when all things shall be made clear and the visible return of the Messiah has occurred. On that day, a fountain will be opened and will flow continuously to cleanse all of Israel. The sin of idolatry continues to plague these people as idt does us, but On That Day, the idols will finally be banished and remembered no more.

Zechariah 13:2-6 tells us that even the prophets were subject to this sin. They were giving false prophecies so that they could justify their awful behavior. Prophecy had fallen so far that no one could trust the words from their lips and they were to be rejected by everyone.

In 1 Kings 18:25-28, we find that the prophets of Baal slashed themselves with swords and spears to allow their blood to flow as an offering to the idol. These wounds are now hidden as the prophets try to hide in jobs such as farming.

Zechariah 13:7 is Messianic prophecy that is fulfilled in Matthew 26:31, 56. Jesus acknowledges this prophecy when He tells them that they will fall away and then Matthew goes on to say that it was fulfilled when the disciples all fled from Him upon His arrest.

God always promises that there will be a remnant for Israel. Zechariah 13:8 tells us that two-thirds will be struck down, yet there will be a third that remains. These people will be tested and purified and they will acknowledge the Lord as their God.

June 23 - Zechariah 12

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

June 23 - Zechariah 12:1-14

The final Oracle of Zechariah describe the final outcome of Israel's relationship with God and its history in the world. We see God in all of His power.

The cup that we see in Zechariah 12:2 is a familiar symbol of the wrath of God (Isaiah 51:17, 22; Jeremiah 13:13; 25:15-28; 51:7). For those nations that move against Jerusalem and Judah, the cup of wrath will be poured out. The enemies of Judah will be consumed by fire while Jerusalem will remain.

Zechariah 12:7 - the dwellings of Judah first refers to the outlying, less defended areas of the land. The Lord will rescue the lesser inhabitants of the city before He delivers the city. Those that are weak will be as important as David himself. The house of David is where the Messiah will come from. This is the Angel of the Lord which will go before the people of Israel as they destroy the nations that attack Jerusalem.

When the enemy is destroyed, God will transform the people of Jerusalem spiritually. He will pour out a spirit of grace and supplication - they will learn to pray.

We see the prophecy of the rejected Christ in Zechariah 12:10-14. But, the Holy Spirit, who brings the people of Israel to a point of prayer will guide the people of Israel into acceptance of the Messiah that they once rejected. When the final days come, Israel will know what grief is and each tribe will mourn throughout the land.

The mourning of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo refers to the murder of Josiah, a godly king of Judah by the Egyptian Pharoah, told in II Kings 23:29-30, II Chronicles 35:22-27). That was a tragic day in the memory of the Israelites and the stories had been told of the incredible mourning that happened.

There is every probability that the location of Armegeddon in Revelation 16:16, which is where the final battle will take place is actually the plain of Megiddo.

June 22 - Zechariah 11

Monday, June 22, 2009

June 22 - Zechariah 11:1-17

Zechariah is prophesying about the rejection of the coming Messiah and what will ultimately happen to the people of Israel when they do this terrible thing. The entire land will be devastated. Lebanon, Bashan and the area around the Jordan river were thick with forests. The loss would be overwhelming. The loss of the pastures would destroy the shepherds business. The destruction would be more than they could handle.

The Israelites had rejected God and been taken into exile. They had lost everything. In the future, the hope for unification under the Messiah seemed impossible, especially knowing that they would ultimately reject Him when He came.

The flock in Zechariah 11:4 is Israel. They were marked for slaughter because of their rejection of Christ. This would come when Rome destroyed the temple in 70 AD. 'Their own shepherds' (Zechariah 11:5) will fail them, God's pity will be withheld.

The two staves - Favor and Union - tell of God's desires for His people. He wants to show favor towards them and He wants them to come together in unity. In Zechariah 11:10, the staff called Favor is broken. God removes His favor from them. And what does he ask for? 30 pieces of silver - the same amount that was paid for Jesus' betrayal. This is the amount that was paid for the cheapest slave.

The prophecy continues when the money is thrown at the potter. In Matthew 27:7, we find that the thirty pieces of silver purchased a potter's field, fulfilling Jeremiah's prophecy of Jer. 32:6-9.

The covenant that is revoked is not the Abrahamic covenant of Genesis 12 or the Davidic covenant of 2 Samuel 7, but the one made with Gentile nations on Israel's behalf.

The staff called Union was then broken signifying the fact that with the rejection of the Messiah, Israel would not be unified under one shepherd. In fact, with the loss of the leadership of the Messiah, that would leave the leadership of Israel open to the entrance of the Antichrist.

June 21 - Zechariah 10

Sunday, June 21, 2009

June 21 - Zechariah 10:1-12

God will restore His people to Judah. In assuring the people of this promise, Zechariah begins with a transition from the previous chapter. The Lord is the One who provides the rain and causes the growth of the fields. In opposition to that are the household idols that most Israelites own. These are the sources of much of their trouble. They can't focus on the things of the Lord because they are distracted by the false promises of the idols - idols that were given to them by false shepherds and leaders.

God is furious. He will care for His flock. In Zechariah 10:4, we find 4 attributes of the Lord: the cornerstone which represents strength, the tent peg which represents stability, the battle bow which represents victory and the ruler which represents trust. When Israel comes together under their Shepherd, they will be like mighty men and they will fight and overthrow nations that come against them.

While Judah was the name of the Southern Kingdom, Joseph represented the two largest tribes of the Northern Kingdom and Ephraim is the representation of the entire Northern Kingdom (Zechariah 10:6-7). God continues to promise re-unification of all the tribes. Zechariah 10:8-10 describes a regathering of Israelites from around the world.

Just as God parted the Red Sea so that the children of Israel could cross, He will again remove every obstacle so that they can return to the Judah, even to the point of drying up the Nile River if it becomes necessary.

When the people of the Lord finally return to Judah, they will walk with the Lord. There will be no more household idols, they will no longer be corrupted by false shepherds. The people of Israel will walk in the name of the Lord.

June 19 - Zechariah 9

Saturday, June 20, 2009

June 19 - Zechariah 9:1-17

As you read Zechariah 9:1-8, you may not realize that what you are reading is the march of Alexander the Great and his armies as they marched through and took possession of the land around Jerusalem in the fourth century b.c. The cities represent the progression of Alexander through the region. Zechariah 9:1b tells us that all of the people of Israel watched as this happened and when we get to the Lord's promise to defend Jerusalem in Zechariah 9:8, the truth is that Alexander's armies never touched Jerusalem. They passed it over and over and never laid seige to that city.

There was one song in Handel's "Messiah" that I always wanted to sing, but absolutely never had the vocal technique to pull off. Too many runs throughout the piece. I practiced and practiced, but you could always tell that I was forcing the runs ... so, it fell by the wayside. "Rejoice Greatly" comes from this passage in Zechariah 9:9.

This is one of the beautiful prophecies of the coming Messiah. We find the prophecy that he fulfilled when he entered Jerusalem riding on the donkey. This Messiah is the King of peace. This peaceful reign will come when the Messiah returns the second time.

The promise in Zechariah 9:13 is that the land of Ephraim (the ten northern tribes) will be reunited with Judah (the two southern tribes).

Zechariah 9:14-17 - The Lord Will Appear.

The Lord will appear in the clouds with the sound of the trumpet. This imagery is repeated by Paul and by John in the Revelation. We are not going to miss it.

The promise is being made to Israel that there will be unrestrained joy at the end when the Lord finally comes. They will be beautiful symbols of God's fulfilled promises.

June 19 - Zechariah 8

Friday, June 19, 2009

June 19 - Zechariah 8:1-23

The greatest desire of God is to dwell among His people and to bring them abundant joy. His creation was brought forth and it was good. He called Abraham out of Ur, walked among His people, He brought His children out of slavery to Egypt and gave them the promised land. When they rejected Him and bowed before other Gods, He sent Kings and Prophets to engage them and beg them to reconsider their actions. He brought them back out of exile when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem.

Through all of that, He remains jealous for Zion ... for his people. Jerusalem was a symbol of the relationship between God and His people. He continues to desire to dwell in Jerusalem, to make it a city that is safe for both the elderly and the young children. Can you imagine the terror of both of those age groups as they watched their homes being destroyed. Everything the elderly had worked for and planned for was gone. Everything that represented safety to small children was gone. God promises that sense of safety will return. (Zechariah 8:3-6)

God is drawing the remnant back to Jerusalem and when they return, He promises that they will find prosperity. In Zechariah 8:13, He tells them that though Israel was once cursed among the nations, they would become a blessing to those same nations.

Zechariah reminds the people of their responsibility in Zechariah 8:16. "Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against your neighbor, and do not love to swear falsely."

The end of this passage offers another glimpse into the future for Israel if they will just follow the Lord's commands - people from all over will come to seek the Lord. People will grab hold of a Jew by the edge of his robe and say, "Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you."

This is their inheritance, a claim on the wisdom of the Lord God Almighty. This is the inheritance we can claim and the power of His presence in our lives. People should see us and know that God is with us and we can lead them to Him.

June 18 - Zechariah 7

Thursday, June 18, 2009

June 18 – Zechariah 7

In 587 bc, the temple was burned by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 25:8) and for 70 years, the people had fasted and mourned during the fifth month to commemorate this event. Now that the temple was being rebuilt, they wondered if they needed to continue with this period of fasting. The delegation from Bethel had asked the question of the priests, but the Lord spoke to Zechariah instead, asking what their motives for fasting and mourning had been all those years. Had it been to reach out to the Lord, or had it simply been an occasion to come together and show off?

Do you suppose God still asks that question of us as we come together in worship? What is the purpose? Is it really for God that we come together corporately or is it for ourselves? (Zechariah 7:4-6)

Zechariah continues to preach to the people, encouraging them to not be like their fathers, who were the reason that they had been taken into exile in the first place. He teaches them to care for each other, and much like the same words that Micah taught in Micah 6:8, he begs them to bring true justice (God’s justice, not man’s justice), mercy and compassion to the world.

Earlier prophets by God’s Spirit had tried to bring the word of God to them, they had the Law that had been given to them, yet they refused to listen and he said that they turned their backs so that they could no longer listen to the Lord.

Why are these things so important? True justice, mercy and compassion to the world, show what our relationship is like with the Lord. Without that, we have no reason to call ourselves His children. And when there is no relationship between God and His children, He will choose to scatter them among all the nations.

What had been the land of milk and honey became desolate without God’s hand working through His children.

Could the same thing be true of our world today? Do we pursue worship for God or for ourselves? Do we offer compassion, mercy and true justice to the world or do we pursue our own selfish agendas? What will Gods judgment of us be in the end?

June 17 - Zechariah 6

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

June 17 - Zechariah 6 - 1:15

Four Chariots

Zechariah looked up again and saw four chariots coming from between two mountains of bronze. These bronze mountains are probably not anywhere specific, but represent God righteous judgment. Revelation 1:15; 2:18 tells us that Jesus' feet were like bronze. This was a symbol of his power to judge sin.

The four chariots pulled by horses of varying colors tell of the universality of God's judgment. The come from the presence of God and go throughout the whole world. We know of these four horses from Revelation 6:1-8. The white horse represents conquest and victory, the red horse represents the blood of warfare, the black horse represents death & famine and the dappled (or pale) horse represents plague & pestilence.

Zechariah tells us that they were straining to go out until the Lord released them. We know that this release comes when the Lamb opens the first of the seven seals. God's judgment has been released onto the earth.

In Zechariah 6:8, the reference to the north is that of Babylon. This would give great comfort to the people who have been returning from Exile. God will rest when Babylon is finally punished. the black horse will take death and famine to the country that ripped Israel from her home.

A Crown for Joshua

The last of the 8 visions are complete and the word of the Lord comes again to Zechariah. He is told to create a crown from silver and gold. It is to be placed on the head of the high priest, Joshua. Then, the Branch (we recognize Him as Jesus - the branch of Jesse, the continuation of David's kingdom and also the Angel of the Lord), is recognized as the One who will continue the building of the Temple.

Jesus is the King and the Priest (Hebrews 7:11-28) that will bring harmony to throne of Israel. The crowning of Joshua was a symbolic gesture that was prophetic in nature. The crown would then be given to a delegation of Jews that are returning from Babylon to place as a memorial in the temple. This temple will draw people home from all over the world. They will bring their wealth to ensure that the temple is built.

All of these things will happen if you diligently obey the Lord your God. (Zechariah 6:15)

June 16 - Zechariah 5

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

June 16 - Zechariah 5:1-11

The Flying Scroll

"What do you see, Zechariah?"

An immense scroll with writing on both sides - reminiscent of the tablets of the Law. In fact, the sins that were described on the scroll are the middle commandments on each side of the Tablet. Number 8 - "You shall not steal" and then Number 3 - "You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God - (swear by God's name)." In essence, this scroll encompasses sin in Israel. Sin will be banished from the land.

The Woman in a Basket

The measuring basket was a tool used to measure grain and would hold on average something equal to 5 - 10 gallons. Since there was a woman in the basket, it is assumed that the basket measured much larger so as to accommodate her.

The translation of the word in Zechariah 5:6 can be translated as 'iniquity' as most Bibles have it, but it also translates as "appearance." This basket symbolizes how Israel appears to the world. Though they are supposed to be God's chosen people, they are filled with wickedness (Zechariah 5:7-8). The woman in these verses is pushed back in to the basket and a lead cover is pressed over her head to keep her within.

If you turn to Revelation 17-18, we meet this woman again. She is known as "The Mother of Prostitutes and of the Abominations of the Earth." (Revelation 17:5) She corrupts absolutely and brings all manner of hell to earth. She is Babylon.

If we return to Zechariah 5:9-11, two women with wings like a stork took the basket to Babylon to create an idol of it in the place of wickedness. This is in preparation for the final judgment on Babylon which will come when Christ returns.

June 15 - Zechariah 4

Monday, June 15, 2009

June 15 - Zechariah 4:1-14

The Gold Lampstand and the Two Olive Trees

This is one of those really wild, apocalyptic, filled with symbolism visions. It takes awhile to understand all of the different parts of this vision.

Zechariah was now awakened by the angel. The next vision is a waking vision. The angel wanted him to be fully aware of what he was seeing.

A lampstand made of solid gold. The lampstand that was in Solomon's temple required human intervention to keep it filled with oil. This lampstand, however, had a bowl hovering over the top which fed the lamp. If you look at Zechariah 4:12, you will see that there are two pipes, one from each of the olive trees feeding the bowl olive oil and from there it pours into the lampstand.

Zechariah asks in Zechariah 4:4 what the seven lights on the bowl are. The angel deflects him and doesn't answer until Zechariah 4:10 when he says that they are the eyes of the Lord which range throughout the earth.

It does seem as if the angel has a little bit of ADD going on here. We get to Zechariah 4:6-10a and he begins speaking of Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah. It is under his rule, that the temple will be finished. Not by might (military strength), nor by power (manpower), but only by the Holy Spirit will this temple be completed.

Nothing will get in the way - even a mountain is no obstacle to the completion of God's Temple. The promise is made to Zechariah that Zerubbabel will see the completion of the temple, just as he was there to supervise the laying of the foundation.

In Zechariah 4:10, we read a comment regarding the small things. This is more than likely a reference to the older Jews who compared this smaller temple with the glory of Solomon's Temple. God assures them that men will rejoice over the completion of this temple under the hand of Zerubbabel.

Now, what are these two olive trees on either side of the lampstand? This is where things get very exciting. These represent the two ruling powers of Israel - the priests and the Kings which are represented here in the form of Joshua, the high priest (Zechariah 3:1) and Zerubbabel, the king. But, we know that Jesus Christ comes in the order of Melchizidek who was both a priest and a King (Hebrews 7:11-28). Israel will be unified as it becomes a light to the nations with the Messiah to guide them.

When we get into the Revelation, we will find that the two witnesses in Revelation 11:1-14 are also representative of these same two entities - the priesthood and the royalty. Revelation 11:4 says "These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth."

The Lord has enabled Israel to be a light to the nations. The Messiah will return expecting His children to come into the fullness of her covenant with God. The prophecies have been in place for thousands and thousands of years. Will we see their fulfillment?

June 14 - Zechariah 3

Sunday, June 14, 2009

June 14 - Zechariah 3:1-10

Clean Garments for the High Priest

We see that Satan is allowed to remain in the courts of God in Job 1 and 2. We find him there in the book of Revelation as well, always as the prosecutor, the accuser. He stands before God slinging accusations about all of us. But, now, the Lord has had enough. He rebukes the accuser and stops him from his slander.

Joshua represents the priesthood of Israel. (This is not the same Joshua who was Moses' right hand man). He was dressed in filthy clothes which represent the terrible sin that the priests had allowed into the community. They were responsible for the religious life of the people and had set aside their care for personal gain.

The Lord removed the sin stained garments from the high priest and replaced them with rich garments and a clean turban. He was cleansed. The priesthood was cleansed. One of the first things that Aaron and his sons did when the institution of the priesthood was introduced was to be cleansed and made pure (Leviticus 8:5-7). A new chance for a right relationship with God is being introduced as the temple is being rebuilt in Jerusalem.

The vision makes clear that these actions are a symbol of things to come in Zechariah 3:8. There are promises being made to the priesthood. If they walk in the ways of the Lord, they will receive once again the responsibilities of governing the house of the Lord.

But, keep reading. Do you see the Messianic promise? Zech. 3:8b. "I am going to bring my servant, the Branch."

Oh, this just makes my heart pound! Isaiah 4:2, "In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the Land will be the pride and glory of the Survivors in Israel."

Isaiah 11:1, "A shoot will come up from the stomp of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him - the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding ..." (read the whole of Isaiah 11:1-16 for a glorious prophecy on the coming Messiah).

Jeremiah 23:5, "The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land."

These Messianic prophecies flow through the Old Testament. We will see this reference once more in Zechariah 6:12.

The stone that he speaks of in Zechariah 3:9 is another Messianic reference. Look at Psalm 118:22, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone;" and Isaiah 28:16, "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed."

The seven eyes on this stone more than likely reflects the completeness of his wisdom and knowledge, the omniscience of the coming Messiah.

The image of the vine and fig tree is found in Micah 4:4 and is that of peace and tranquility that will exist when the Messiah reigns.

The Messiah is coming!

June 13 - Zechariah 2

Saturday, June 13, 2009

June 13 - Zechariah 2:1-13

The Man with a Measuring Line

As Jerusalem is being rebuilt, Zechariah has a vision about a surveyor who is there to measure the city. Just as this process is beginning, a second angel shows up, saying that Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the huge number of people and animals that will live there. But, God will be a wall of fire around it for protection and the glory within. (Zechariah 2:3-5)

In Revelation 11:1, we find an angel handing a measuring stick to John and telling him to temple of God and the altar and to count the worshipers there.

Both of these types of measurement indicate that there is something to be built. In Revelation, the implication is that of the new temple in the new Jerusalem, in Zechariah, the city walls were rubble left from the destruction by the Babylonians. But, the promise from God is that people will fill Jerusalem again and it will grow too large to be encompassed by mere walls. Only the protection of the Lord God will be enough to keep the people of Jerusalem safe.

The land of the north in Zechariah 2:6 is more than likely Babylon, though it lay directly to the east. However, the desert separated the two lands and to travel there, you had to begin by traveling north out of Jerusalem. The Lord is encouraging the exiles to return to their home. He promises to punish the nations that plundered Judah and in Zechariah 2:10, I promises to live among His people once again.

Our promise comes in Zechariah 2:11. "Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you."

We will be His people. Our response?

"Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling." (Zechariah 2:13)

June 12 - Zechariah 1

Friday, June 12, 2009

June 12 – Zechariah 1

We have entered a different period of time for the Israelites. They have been in exile under Nebuchadnezzar and have returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. The temple is being rebuilt as Zechariah delivers his prophecy, but he returns to the exile, asking his listeners to learn from the past. It is written at the same time and in the same place as Haggai. Zechariah and Haggai are actually mentioned in the book of Ezra (Ezra 5:1, 6:14) as the prophets who led the elders in the rebuilding of the temple.

So, why, when the people have returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple, does Zechariah call for a return to the Lord at the beginning of this prophecy? The people must learn from the past and they must find a way to avoid the same mistakes of their forefathers. Within a short period of time, even though they had regained their freedom, they were abusing the privilege of being God’s chosen people. A call to repentance came just in time. They did so and recognized the power of the Lord among them.

Following this call, there are eight ‘night visions.’ They tell of the restoration of Zion. The first three are about Jerusalem and the last five are about the Messiah. Notice that Zechariah is able to ask questions during these visions to gain more clarity.

The Man Among the Myrtle Trees.

The colored horses are actually symbolic. We see colored horses again in Revelation 6. The red horse represents war and blood, white represents victory and peace, while brown represents the muddiness of unsettled times. They travel throughout the earth and declare that there is peace. The Lord offers this same peace to Jerusalem, ensuring that the temple will be rebuilt and a time of prosperity will come.

The temple was rebuilt, but not to its former glory. Nehemiah would finish this in another 80 years or so. The time of prosperity wouldn’t actually happen for the Israelites until about 165 bc during the time of the Maccabeans. The final period of peace and great glory for Zion won’t occur until far into the future.

Four Horns and Four Craftsmen.

While there is some discussion regarding the identity of the four nations that scattered Israel, it makes sense that it could be Assyria, Babylonia, Persia-Medea and Greece. The four craftsmen or smiths are the rebuilders of the temple in Jerusalem, those that bring the nation back to its worship of God.

June 11 - Zephaniah 3

Thursday, June 11, 2009

June 11 – Zephaniah 3

Zephaniah moves from Nineveh to a ‘Woe’ against Jerusalem. All God has asked over the many years that He has held Israel near is that she acknowledge Him as her God. But, Israel’s disobedience and corruption have brought her to a point that require severe correction.

Israel’s religious and political life were completely intertwined. The rulers, officials, prophets and priests should all work as a single unit to encourage the growth and prosperity of the nation, but their personal agendas and lack of morality have only brought more corruption to the nation. In Zephaniah 3:4 we find that the one thing to be treasured above all else, the Law, has been treated as profane.

But even with all of this ugliness, the Lord remains righteous. He does not fail. (Zephaniah 3:5)

In Zephaniah 3:6-7, God reminds them of the power that He has exerted over many other nations, yet Judah (whose capital is Jerusalem) refuses to fear Him.

“Wait for me,” declares the Lord, “for the day I will stand up to testify.” (Zephaniah 3:8)

The prophecy returns to the admonition from Zephaniah 2:1 to gather the people together. The whole world will face His wrath. He will purify the lips of His people (Isaiah 6:6-7) to make them holy, so that they will serve Him.

The remnant will worship and honor the Lord their Creator. They are the ones who will remain when God has finished purging the world of its horrors. (Zephaniah 3:10-13)

The last verses of Zephaniah (Zephaniah 3:14-20) offer comfort and restoration. The people of Israel are His children. The Lord will be with them … He is mighty to save. He takes great delight in them, will quiet them with His love and rejoice over them with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17).

In His time, all will be restored.

June 10 - Zephaniah 2

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

June 10 – Zephaniah 2:1-15

As Zephaniah calls the people of Israel to gather in humility, he begs them to seek the Lord, to seek righteousness as these are the only things that will offer shelter from the Lord’s wrath.

Judah was surrounded on all sides by nations that were condemned by the Lord. The rest of this chapter consists of oracles or prophecies against these nations.

To the west was Philistia along the coast. (Zephaniah 1:4-7) The city names Ashkelon and Ashdod are similar in sound to words that mean ‘waste’ (Ashkelon) and ‘to expel’ (Ashdod). The oracle finishes with a promise that the remnant of the House of Judah would return to possess the land.

To the east were Moab and Ammon. These tribes were descended from Lot’s daughters and had always been enemies of Israel. Though the Lord was finished with their verbal threats, taunts and insults, their long history with God’s kingdom included battles with both Saul and David.

God promised that the remnant would also take over this land. (Zephaniah 2:8-11)

Cush lay to the south, the country we know as Ethiopia. (Zephaniah 2:12) Not much was said, just assurance that the Lord would destroy them.

To the north was Assyria (Zephaniah 2:13-15). Nineveh was the capital of Assyria and at the time of Zephaniah was known for being invincible and very cruel. For much of the last 100 years, Assyria had demanded a tribute from Judah to ensure peace.

In 609 bc, Assyria fell and Nineveh was destroyed. Due to the huge number of irrigation lines that came through the city, desolation possessed the capital of Assyria when the armies of Babylonia and the Medes allied with the Egyptian Pharoah. Her time of rule was finished and she was nothing more than a ruined pile of rubble.

June 9 - Zephaniah 1

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

June 9 - Zephaniah 1

"The word of the Lord that came" are the same words that open the books of Hosea, Joel and Micah. These leave no doubt about who is behind the prophecies and warnings that are about to be delivered.

This is another prophecy of God's impending wrath compounded with the comfort of His remembrance of the covenant.

Zephaniah wastes no time getting down to business. The power of God's destruction is laid out immediately. There will be nothing left but rubble.

Baal was the Canaanite god of fertility and worship of this god involved terrible sexual acts. In Zephaniah 1:4, he names two types of priests: pagan priests who were outsiders that had come in to lead in idol worship and the idolatrous priests who were Levitical priests given over to worship of Baal. Then, in Zephaniah 1:5, he identifies three different types of worshipers. In Deuteronomy 4:19, God specifically forbade His people to worship the sun, moon and stars, but we find that they are doing just that. The second type of worshipers were those who tried to combine the worship of the Lord with the worship of Molech, the chief god of the Ammonites. The third group were those who simply left the worship of God behind.

But, the Day of the Lord is coming. The Lord is preparing for that day, even though we are not. He will search for the complacent (Zephaniah 1:12). Those who think that the Lord really isn't going to do anything - either good or bad. They will lose everything.

As I read these verses, I see our society so plainly in all of the things that the Lord is speaking through Zephaniah. The worship of nature, those who try to blend worship of the Lord in with all of the other things around them and those who simply have walked away. Then the complacency with which we avoid thinking that He will return with judgment. God's words are never returned empty.

Isaiah 55:11 says, "...so is my word that goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."

God will accomplish his purpose. He will return with judgment against the nations and against those that worship anything other than Him.

Zephaniah 1:14-18 describes the Great Day of the Lord - the day of wrath. There is nothing bleaker than what will be seen on the earth when the Lord releases His wrath.

June 8 - Joel 3:17-21

Monday, June 8, 2009

June 8 - Joel 3:17-21

Israel will see an awesome display of God's power and then they will know that God dwells in Zion. Everything that God has done was done to show His people that He is the Lord their God.

But, He promises them safety and abundance.

Jerusalem, on Mount Zion was set apart as a holy place. This was the place where God would reside among His people. He promises that though they have brought idols into the temple and allowed terrible things to transpire, it would once again by holy and would once again be free of those that would corrupt the people.

The grape harvest would bring forth mountains dripping with wine, the hillsides would be rich with cattle that provide milk and all of the dried up wadis and streams would flow with water to enrich the land. Everything that the locusts had destroyed in the beginning of this prophecy, would be made lush and rich again. (Joel 3:18a)

A fountain will flow from the Lord's house, from the temple. This will be a tangible reminder that it is the Lord who provides life for His people. We see this flow of water in the New Jerusalem in Revelation 22:1-2, "Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations."

Those nations that sought to destroy Judah will become a wasteland, but God will dwell on Zion again and Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. The Lord promises His people that they are His ... His promise will be fulfilled.

June 7 - Joel 3:1-16

Sunday, June 7, 2009

June 7 - Joel 3:1-16

We now see God's fury at the nations that have attempted to destroy both Judah and Israel. All will be brought to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There is no known location for this Valley, the name Jehoshaphat means "The Lord judges," which is exactly what He says He will do. As they are gathered, He will pass judgment on them for scattering the people, dividing the land, and selling the people into slavery, a sin punishable by death!

The punishment that is decreed for the cities of Tyre & Sidon in Phoenicia and Philistia is described in Joel 3:4-8. All that they have done to the Israelites will be compounded as it is returned to them.

The Lord speaks again in Joel 3:9-16. Prepare for the final battle. Everyone should assemble. The judgment is to begin.

In Joel 3:13, He uses imagery of the harvest and the winepress. This imagery is repeated in Revelation 14:14-20 where we see the Son of Man with a crown of gold on his head and a sickle in his hand. He is there to judge the earth. The harvest was ripe, the grapes were ripe. The grapes were tossed into the winepress of God's wrath and blood flowed.

The final battle in John's vision is found in Revelation 19:13-16. The rider on the white horse, whose name was "Faithful and True" will judge with justice and will make war. The armies of heaven were with him and from his mouth comes a sword with which to strike down the nations. He is "King of Kings and Lord of Lords."

But the reminder is still there, in Joel 3:16b. "But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel."

The nations of the world will face judgment for their part in denying God's Kingdom. But, He is a refuge. Romans 10:13, "For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." We will be on the outside of this battle looking in.

Behold, He is coming soon. (Revelation 22:7)

June 6 - Joel 2:28-32

Saturday, June 6, 2009

June 6 - Joel 2:28-32

This passage is also found in Acts 2:17-22 when Peter quotes it as he addresses the crowd who accused the Christians of being drunk, when in fact, the Holy Spirit had come down on the Day of Pentecost. It really is one of my favorite set of verses. These are the positive things to watch for that will signify the coming of the Day of the Lord.

In Numbers 11:24-28, Moses calls together 72 elders and the Spirit of the Lord comes upon them. These men prophesied. Even two men who remained in camp, but were part of the 72 began prophesying. Joshua, who was still quite a young man at the time, freaked out and told Moses that he should stop them!

Moses' response in Numbers 11:29 was, "Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord's people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them."

In the last days, Joel's words from the Lord are that He will pour out His Spirit on all people and they will ALL prophesy. Moses desire will be made manifest.

In Joel 2:30, God says that He will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth.

Now, let's spend a few minutes looking at the Acts 2 passage. Peter needs to explain the miraculous event that has just occurred in Acts 2:1-13. He also is compelled to remind the crowd that Jesus was sent by the God to fulfill prophecy.

In Acts 2:15-16, he says, "These men are not drunk as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:" and he goes on to quote the passage we are studying today.

In Acts 2:22, he fleshes out the fulfillment of prophecy by telling us that "Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know."

All men shall prophesy, God will show wonders and signs in heaven and earth. Moses prayed for it, Peter acknowledged it through Jesus Christ. But, the prophecy is not yet finished.

Joel goes on the tell us that the sun will be made dark and the moon will turn to blood before the Day of the Lord. We don't actually see this until the opening of the sixth seal in Revelation 6:12, "I watched as he opened the sixth seal. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red."

Just as the Lord declares the ultimate disaster, He turns to His people and says (in Joel 2:32), "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

While Joel is speaking of the rescue of a remnant of Israel in this passage, Paul uses these same words in Romans 10:13, when assuring the Gentiles of their salvation.

The Day of the Lord will come. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

June 5 - Joel 2:12-17

Friday, June 5, 2009

June 5 - Joel 2:12-17

Return to me with all your heart. (Joel 2:12) What a beautiful plea from the Lord God Almighty! To the ancient, the heart was not only the seat of all emotions, but the personality, intellect, sensibility and will of a man. The Lord called His people to bring everything within them before Him in repentance.

Periods of great mourning were marked by the rending of garments and wearing of sackcloth. The Lord asked for the mourning of the sins of Israel and Judah to be marked by the rending of the people's hearts.

Look at the words of love He uses in Joel 2:13. "Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity."

Our repentance ... His abundant love. Joel 2:14 tells us that this repentance will bring a blessing. But, look at what an amazing blessing it is. We will receive a blessing that should be turned around and poured into an offering to the Lord our God. This is what is missing from so many of us. We believe that if we repent and call on the name of the Lord, He will bless us so that our lives will be better.

No ... God calls us to a greater blessing so that we can offer it to Him!

For the second time in this chapter, Joel declares that a trumpet be blown in Zion. While the trumpet in Joel 2:1 was the watchman calling for attentive listening, this blast calls the people to the assembly. A gathering of the repentant.

Joel 2:16 tells us that everyone should come. The very oldest (the elders) to the very youngest (those nursing at the breast), even the bride and groom should leave their passions behind to join this assembly.

The priests are the mediators between God and His people. In Joel 2:17 we see that they are called to weep between the temple porch, where the people will gather and the altar, which is the Holy of Holies and only the priests are allowed to approach that point.

They are the ones responsible for bringing the offerings and the prayers of repentance before the Lord.

The words they are given to speak before the Lord plead for mercy. These are the people of the Covenant, the people that have received the inheritance of the Lord, the Creator of all and their provider.

June 4 - Joel 2:1-11

Thursday, June 4, 2009

June 4 - Joel 2:1-11

Apocalyptic literature is filled with symbols that try to explain the things that are unexplainable. We have no idea exactly what The Day of the Lord will look like, we just know that it will be unimaginable, even though prophets and seers have tried to describe what it is that they are envisioning.

Joel sounds an alarm in Joel 2:1 and it is one that should resound through our hearts today. The Day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand. Jesus reiterates that we will not know a date or a time, but we need to be ready.

The invaders will be like the locusts from Chapter 1. Everything will be devoured and destroyed. Look at the beauty of the comparison in Joel 2:3. The Garden of Eden was the epitome of beauty, yet the beauty that lies before the invaders will fall to them and become as a desert.

Look at Revelation 9:7. The locusts that John saw looked like horses prepared for battle. We see this same imagery in Joel and then turn to Revelation 9:17-19. As the horses tore through the land fire, smoke and sulfer came from their mouths - all symbols of destruction.

In Joel 2:6-9, we see paralyzing fear fall on the people as the warriors move throughout the land. John gives us a deepening image of the riders on their horses in Revelation 9:17 with breastplates of fiery red, dark blue and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions.

In Revelation 6:15, we see the fear of the people. "Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slavea nd every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks. 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?'"

Joel 2:11. "The Lord thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty are those who obey his command. The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?"

Who can stand? Who can endure it?

John's vision, Paul's vision, Jesus' revelation, Old Testament prophets. Their warnings are to be heeded. Who will listen?

June 3 - Joel 1:13-20

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

June 3 - Joel 1:13-20

The priests are told to wail. There isn't enough grain or livestock to pour out offerings before the Lord. They are to mourn and to call the people to a sacred assembly - a day long fast. All of the leaders, all of the people are to come together to do nothing other than cry out to the Lord. There is to be no work, no food, nothing except crying out to the Lord for forgiveness.

The locust plague represents so much more than the destruction of the land by a swarm of insects. This is God's judgment against the disobedience of Israel. God's name in Joel 1:15, 'Almighty' is translated from 'Shaddai.' This is God the Provider. How easy it is to forget that He is the Creator, the Provider, the Almighty. We not only take His gift to us of life for granted, we seem to believe that He owes us something for our lives here on earth. We would never choose to fast in mourning and repentance. If we choose to fast, we do it to get God's attention and draw it to a specific need.

Joel tells the people of Israel that their actions have brought them to the point of final destruction. The Day of Judgment by the same Creator that made this earth is near. Our actions will continue to spur us further and further along the path of Destruction. It is time to stop and repent. The thing is, what God wants is not perfection, but pliable, loving hearts that are willing to allow Him to be in relationship with us. He isn't asking us to follow specific rules and regulations as we move through our lives. He simply wants us to walk closely enough with Him that He can guide our steps so that we are walking within His will.

The next verses of this chapter resound with sorrow. Food has been cut off, there is no joy in the house of God, crops are destroyed, cattle can't grain because everything is in ruins and even the sheep who graze in the pastures are suffering. (Joel 1:16-18)

The destructive fire of the Lord has destroyed everything that was left and even the streams have dried up. What is next? It seems as if this is enough, doesn't it?

June 2 - Joel 1:1-12

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

June 2 - Joel 1:1-12

Most people in my generation have never seen a locust plague. I remember reading about it in one of the "Little House on the Prairie" books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and it absolutely terrified me! I was worried about facing down a hordes of locusts. Even to this day when I see numerous cicadas, grasshopper, locusts - whatever you want to call them, I shudder. I don't find them endearing at all.

In 1915, locusts swarmed Palestine and surrounding areas from March to October, stripping the land of all vegetation. A rabbi declared a day of prayer and petition, believing that the swarm was a punishment from God. Within a few days, the locusts had finished swarming and left, though they also left larvae throughout the region. A local law was passed that each man was to collect 20 kilograms of locust eggs for destruction or risk a monetary fine.

The devastation that locusts bring is terrifying and Joel's prophecy tells us that four separate waves of locusts will come through the region destroying everything in sight. This plague of locusts is like nothing anyone has ever seen (Joel 1:2-3) and is a harbinger of the Day of the Lord.

He tells them that the locust's invasion is like that of a nation. Drunkards will weep because the vines have been destroyed (Joel 1:5-7), offerings will no longer be offered to the Lord because the fields are ruined (Joel 1:8-12).

And the joy of mankind is withered away (Joel 1:12b). There will be no harvest, there will be nothing to offer to the Lord. There will be no joy.

This is a call to mourning. When the airplanes attacked the Twin Towers and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, the nation went into a long period of mourning. The devastation of our sense of safety and the loss of lives wrung every ounce of joy from people around the world. Nothing like this had ever happened to us. No one knew how to comprehend the pain.

God offers us chance after chance to come before Him in repentance, whether it is individually or as a nation. The Day of the Lord will come. Who will be ready?

June 1 - Introduction

Monday, June 1, 2009

June 1 - Introduction

The last twelve books of our Old Testament contain the words of prophets who called out to the kingdoms of Israel and Judah to repent and return to a restored relationship with God. Warnings of impending destruction by the Assyrians and then the Babylonians seemed to go unheeded. The northern kingdom of Israel fell first, and though Judah was defined by many good kings during her time, idolatry and sin prevailed. The further the people pulled away from God, the less effective He could be in protecting them from outside forces. When they no longer relied on His power, but only on their own, they were overtaken.

Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.

These twelve books of prophecy were gathered together as one grouping due to the small size of each. They were placed together on one scroll to ensure that none were ever lost. This scroll became known as "The Book of the Twelve" or just "The Twelve." (Don't you just love how God repeatedly uses specific numbers?)

The prophecies found in these twelve books spanned several hundred years, encompassed both the northern and southern kingdoms and some of the prophets worked alongside Isaiah and Jeremiah in trying to bring Israel back into covenant relationship with God.

The main theme for each of these prophecies is that relationship. The Israelites had long since forgotten the covenant that was made between them and God. A covenant works quite differently than a contract. While we know that contracts can be broken by either signatory party, a covenant is not broken if one party moves away from it. Since God is eternal, once He enacts a covenant, it will never be broken. Everything is about restoring His people to the covenant established with Abraham in Genesis 15 and then with David in 2 Samuel 7:8-16.

The first nine of these twelve books is prophecy that was spoken before the Babylonians took the people of Israel into exile. The last three, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi are post-exilic prophets.

All of these prophets recognized that Israel and Judah needed to cease to exist for God to continue His work and draw all people to His kingdom. The ruler of that kingdom, which had been promised since the dawn of history, would reign, but not until after God had swept through the earth, eliminating sin and corruption.

The Day of the Lord is coming. It has been prophesied since the days of Isaiah. While these twelve prophets spoke of judgment against the current kingdoms, they also spoke of a time far into the future when God would bring all of mankind into the Covenant relationship He had established with Abraham, David and through Jesus Christ.

Joel, Zephaniah, Zechariah and Malachi speak very clearly about "The Day of the Lord" and for the next month, we are going to look closely at their words.