626.) Zechariah 14

September 26, 2011

Zechariah 14 (New International Version)

The LORD Comes and Reigns

1A day of the LORD is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls. 2 I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. 3 Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. 4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.

The Mount of Olives is actually a series of four hills, two of them directly east of the Temple Mount, rising up from the Kidron Valley.  Here is located the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus, in fervent prayer, counted the cost before he went to the cross.  Here also is where Jesus said farewell to his disciples before he ascended into heaven.  The picture above is facing west, looking across the Kidron Valley to the walls of the temple area; directly below the Dome of the Rock, note the Golden Gate / Eastern Gate, inaccessible and blocked shut.  Jews associate this gate with the coming of the Messiah.  Muslims believe the final judgment will occur here.  Christians remember Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and look forward to his return in great glory!

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5 You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

6 On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. 7 It will be a unique day—a day known only to the LORD—with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light.

Revelation 21:23-25 (English Standard Version)

And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.

8 On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter.

Today, the bare shores of the Dead Sea are dotted with ruins: Herod’s desert palace of Masada  where the Romans battled the last of the Jewish Zealots after Jerusalem fell, only to find upon their “victory” that the Zealots had opted for suicide rather than Roman captivity; Qumran, the ancient religious Essene commune near which the Dead Sea Scrolls were found; and the shattered homes of the old Beit HaArava kibbutz, where in the 1940s Zionist pioneers tried to create a life for themselves and their children on land no one else wanted.

Thirty years ago the Dead Sea, one of the world’s saltiest lakes, had two basins — a deep northern one and a shallow southern one. But by the mid-1980s, the southern basin had dried up, leaving a large area of salt flats.  Now the northern basin is drying up as well.

The Dead Sea is obviously shrinking, falling a yard in depth every year.  The Dead Sea relies on the fresh water of the Jordan River as its source.  But that once-wide Biblical river, where John the Baptist baptized Jesus, is now just a contaminated trickle.  Israel, Jordan and Syria siphon off 95 percent of the water for drinking and for irrigation. Over the past century, the water’s surface has dropped 80 feet; in the last two decades, the Dead Sea has shrunk by a third.  As the Dead Sea’s water disappears, it creates large sinkholes that make it dangerous even to approach the sea in certain spots.

Romans 8:22 (English Standard Version)

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

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9 The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.

10 The whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up high from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses, and will remain in its place. 11 It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure.

12 This is the plague with which the LORD will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths.

This “plague” reminds me of the descriptions I have read of the victims of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima.

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13 On that day people will be stricken by the LORD with great panic. They will seize each other by the hand and attack one another. 14 Judah too will fight at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected—great quantities of gold and silver and clothing. 15 A similar plague will strike the horses and mules, the camels and donkeys, and all the animals in those camps.

16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. 17 If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. 18 If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. 19 This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.

20 On that day HOLY TO THE LORD will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the LORD’s house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. 21 Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the LORD Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD Almighty.

In the Old Testament, holiness is expressed in strict separation—what was clean was to be separated from what was unclean.  Remember reading Leviticus?!  In the New Testament however, the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ brought a new emphasis and understanding to what is holy.  Jesus himself associated with the first-century scum of the earth, one could say.  And Paul gives these instructions:  “I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters.  In that case you would have to leave this world . . . ” (1 Corinthians 5:9-10)

Holiness now is not to be rigorously distinct from common life, but woven throughout our lives in every aspect.

“God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship . . . that take place in the kitchen and workplace and on the streets” (Hebrews 13:16).

” . . . but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY”  (1 Peter 1:15, 16).  Moral purity is not separate, not distinct from what is “common” or “secular.”  We are called to live HOLY lives within the world in every regard.

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Music:

Chris Tomlin sings “Holy Is the Lord.”

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New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
HOLY to the Lord.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Do1n17LGJVs/TGG59ZK2yHI/AAAAAAAAA-M/XAaYgGTahM0/s400/arab_flat_text.jpg
Mount of Olives.   http://www.ilibros.net/images/MtOJeru6.jpg
Dead Sea.   http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_xs9T-jlzwhA/Rrg-i4HBSOI/AAAAAAAAA-Q/1thtWahzfkE/s320/Dead%2BSea.jpg
nuclear danger sign.    http://www.clker.com/cliparts/0/5/4/5/12456932322116189065cherrypie_Nuclear_warning_sign.svg.hi.png

625.) Zechariah 13

September 23, 2011

Buckingham Fountain in Chicago. (Perhaps not the kind of fountain Zechariah saw in his mind’s eye!)

Zechariah 13 (New International Version)

Cleansing From Sin

1“On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.

There is a fountain filled with blood,

Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;

And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,

Lose all their guilty stains.

–William Cowper

2 “On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more,” declares the LORD Almighty. “I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land. 3 And if anyone still prophesies, their father and mother, to whom they were born, will say to them, ‘You must die, because you have told lies in the LORD’s name.’ Then their own parents will stab the one who prophesies.

4 “On that day every prophet will be ashamed of their prophetic vision. They will not put on a prophet’s garment of hair in order to deceive. 5 Each will say, ‘I am not a prophet. I am a farmer; the land has been my livelihood since my youth.’ 6 If someone asks, ‘What are these wounds on your body?’ they will answer, ‘The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.’

The “wounds” that are spoken of are wounds that the false prophet inflicted on himself in the throes of his idol worship (see 1 Kings 18:28 for an example of this).  The false prophet described here denies that the wounds had anything to do with idol worship. He gives the somewhat implausible explanation that the wounds were given him “at the house of his friends.” 

The picture is clear.  To be a false prophet is so terrible, the parents would kill him.  At the very least, he would pretend NOT to be a prophet.

The Shepherd Struck, the Sheep Scattered

7 “Awake, sword, against my shepherd,
against the man who is close to me!”
declares the LORD Almighty.
“Strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered,
and I will turn my hand against the little ones.

“The Lord Is My Shepherd” by Morgan Weistling, 1999.

Matthew 26:30-31 (English Standard Version)

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'”

In the context, and especially in light of the quotation of this passage in Matthew 26:31, we understand that the Shepherd is Jesus the Messiah — and it is God the Father Himself who calls for the Shepherd to be struck.

Zechariah relates a thought also said in Isaiah 53:10:  Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.  The prophets Isaiah and Zechariah gloriously and emphatically, state that the suffering of the Servant of the Lord was ordained by the Lord.  This was God’s doing!  He gave the command to strike the Shepherd.  Jesus was no victim of circumstance or at the mercy of political or military power.  It was the planned, ordained work of the Lord God, prophesied by Isaiah hundreds of years before it happened.  This was God’s victory, not Satan’s or man’s triumph.

 As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:19, God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.  The Father and the Son worked together at the cross.  Though Jesus was treated as if He were an enemy of God, He was not.  Even as Jesus was punished as if He were a sinner, He was performing the most holy service unto God the Father ever offered.

–David Guzik

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8 In the whole land,” declares the LORD,
“two-thirds will be struck down and perish;
yet one-third will be left in it.
9 This third I will put into the fire;
I will refine them like silver
and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
and I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are my people,’
and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’”

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Music:

“Rock of Ages” is sung here by the Antrim Mennonite Choir.  Note the fountain imagery in verse 3.

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New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Buckingham Fountain.    http://v4.cache6.c.bigcache.googleapis.com/static.panoramio.com/photos/original/20896265.jpg?redirect_counter=1
Weistling.    http://www.christcenteredmall.com/stores/art/weistling/the_lord_is_my_shepherd.htm

624.) Zechariah 12

September 22, 2011

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Zechariah 12 (New International Version)

Jerusalem’s Enemies to Be Destroyed

1A prophecy: The word of the LORD concerning Israel.   The LORD, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the human spirit within a person, declares: 2 “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem.  3 On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations.

Damascus Gate, Jerusalem

“The very fact that Jerusalem is mentioned more than 800 times in the Bible makes it worthy of special attention.  This unique city is the only one upon which God has bestowed His distinctive blessing and protection (Psalm 132:13-14), and the only city for whose peace we are commanded to pray (Psalm 122:6).  God says He has chosen Jerusalem as the place where He has put His name forever (2 Chronicles 6:6; 33:7; Psalm 46:4; 48:1-8; 87:3).  The new heavens and new earth will contain ‘the city of my God…new Jerusalem’ (Revelation 3:12; 21:2).  That there will be a ‘heavenly Jerusalem’ (Hebrews 12:22) but no ‘heavenly’ New York, Paris, London, Damascus, Cairo, etc. speaks volumes.”  (Dave Hunt, The Berean Call – September 2000)

–David Guzik

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All who try to move it will injure themselves. 4 On that day I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness,” declares the LORD. “I will keep a watchful eye over Judah, but I will blind all the horses of the nations. 5 Then the clans of Judah will say in their hearts, ‘The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the LORD Almighty is their God.’

6 “On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume all the surrounding peoples right and left, but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place.

7 “The LORD will save the dwellings of Judah first, so that the honor of the house of David and of Jerusalem’s inhabitants may not be greater than that of Judah. 8 On that day the LORD will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the LORD going before them. 9 On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.

Mourning for the One They Pierced

His head was pierced with thorns, his hands and feet were pierced with nails, his side was pierced by a spear.

 10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication.

Acts 2:1-4 (English Standard Version)

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

They will look on me, the one they have pierced,

Romans 11:25-26 (English Standard Version)

The Mystery of Israel’s Salvation

Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,

    “The Deliverer will come from Zion,
   he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”

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and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. 11 On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be as great as the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.

This refers to the mourning over King Josiah’s death (2 Kings 23:29 and 2 Chronicles 35:20-25). He was such a godly king that the whole nation wept bitterly at his death.

12 The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives, 13 the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives, 14 and all the rest of the clans and their wives.
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Music:

One of Isaac Watts’ finest hymns, one that has touched my heart many times — “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” — sung here by Kathryn Scott.

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New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.   http://cdn.elev8.com/files//2009/06/hasidic-jew-praying-500.jpg
Damascus Gate.    http://www.holidayinisrael.com/UserFiles/Wall,%20Damascus%20Gate%20IMG_0354%20copy.gifB.gif
star of David and cross.   http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_y8ag4VGcCHo/Syi-wO3g2FI/AAAAAAAAD_8/qnYU8hIK5TE/s200/star_of_david_cross.jpg
Jesus on the cross.    http://dvrbible.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/jesus_on_cross_crucifixion-full.jpg

623.) Zechariah 11

September 21, 2011

Psalm 23 (King James Version)

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:

for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

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Zechariah 11 (New International Version)

 1 Open your doors, Lebanon,
so that fire may devour your cedars!
2 Wail, you juniper, for the cedar has fallen;
the stately trees are ruined!
Wail, oaks of Bashan;
the dense forest has been cut down!
3 Listen to the wail of the shepherds;
their rich pastures are destroyed!
Listen to the roar of the lions;
the lush thicket of the Jordan is ruined!

Two Shepherds

4 This is what the LORD my God says: “Shepherd the flock marked for slaughter. 5 Their buyers slaughter them and go unpunished. Those who sell them say, ‘Praise the LORD, I am rich!’ Their own shepherds do not spare them. 6For I will no longer have pity on the people of the land,” declares the LORD. “I will give everyone into the hands of their neighbors and their king. They will devastate the land, and I will not rescue anyone from their hands.”

The flock refers to Israel.  This prophecy was partly fulfilled in A.D. 70, when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed and the people sold as slaves.

7 So I shepherded the flock marked for slaughter, particularly the oppressed of the flock. Then I took two staffs and called one Favor and the other Union, and I shepherded the flock. 8 In one month I got rid of the three shepherds.

One explanation (among many) of this prophecy is that the three shepherds represent the prophets, the priests, and the kings of Israel.  Jesus replaces all of these — as he said, “I am the Good Shepherd.”

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The flock detested me, and I grew weary of them 9 and said, “I will not be your shepherd. Let the dying die, and the perishing perish. Let those who are left eat one another’s flesh.”

10 Then I took my staff called Favor and broke it, revoking the covenant I had made with all the nations. 11 It was revoked on that day, and so the oppressed of the flock who were watching me knew it was the word of the LORD.

12 I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.

To pay the shepherd 30 pieces of silver was an insult — this was the price paid to an owner for a slave gored by an ox (Exodus 21:32).  This is also the amount Judas received for betraying Jesus (Matthew 27:3-10).  The priceless Messiah was sold for the price of a slave.

— The Life Application Bible study notes

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13 And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the LORD.

14 Then I broke my second staff called Union, breaking the family bond between Judah and Israel.

Not long after Zechariah’s time, the Jews began to divide into numerous factions — Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Herodians, and Zealots.  The discord among these groups was a key factor leading to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

–The Life Application Bible study notes

15 Then the LORD said to me, “Take again the equipment of a foolish shepherd. 16 For I am going to raise up a shepherd over the land who will not care for the lost, or seek the young, or heal the injured, or feed the healthy, but will eat the meat of the choice sheep, tearing off their hooves.

17 “Woe to the worthless shepherd,
who deserts the flock!
May the sword strike his arm and his right eye!
May his arm be completely withered,
his right eye totally blinded!”

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Music:

“Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us” was written as a children’s hymn; the same man (William Bradbury) who wrote the music for this hymn also wrote the music for “Jesus Loves Me.”  Obviously, many adults have loved this hymn for almost two centuries now . . .

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New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
sheep grazing.    http://www.godsgracecc.com/Websites/ggcc/Images/psalm_23_15674_0605_01.jpg
the Good Shepherd.  http://www.ogs.net/images/good-shepherd-2.jpg
thirty pieces of silver.    http://www.atotheword.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/thirty-pieces-of-silver.jpg

622.) Zechariah 10

September 20, 2011

Zechariah 10 (New International Version)

The LORD Will Care for Judah

1 Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime;
it is the LORD who sends the thunderstorms.
He gives showers of rain to all people,
and plants of the field to everyone.
2 The idols speak deceitfully,
diviners see visions that lie;
they tell dreams that are false,
they give comfort in vain.
Therefore the people wander like sheep
oppressed for lack of a shepherd.

3 “My anger burns against the shepherds,
and I will punish the leaders;
for the LORD Almighty will care
for his flock, the people of Judah,
and make them like a proud horse in battle.

Verse 4 has long been considered a messianic prophecy:

4 From Judah will come the cornerstone,

Psalm 118:22 (English Standard Version)

The stone that the builders rejected
   has become the cornerstone.

from him the tent peg,

Isaiah 22:23-24 (English Standard Version)

And I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father’s house. And they will hang on him the whole honor of his father’s house, the offspring and issue, every small vessel, from the cups to all the flagons.

from him the battle bow,

Revelation 19:11-15 (English Standard Version)

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.  From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.

from him every ruler.

Revelation 19:16 (English Standard Version)

On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

5 Together they will be like warriors in battle
trampling their enemy into the mud of the streets.
They will fight because the LORD is with them,
and they will put the enemy horsemen to shame.

6 “I will strengthen Judah
and save the tribes of Joseph.

“The Lord does not say, ‘I will take you away from your labors,’ but ‘I will strengthen you, so that you will be able to perform, them.’ ”
–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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I will restore them
because I have compassion on them.
They will be as though
I had not rejected them,
for I am the LORD their God
and I will answer them.
7 The Ephraimites will become like warriors,
and their hearts will be glad as with wine.
Their children will see it and be joyful;
their hearts will rejoice in the LORD.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Zechariah 10:6-7 (King James Version)

And I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the LORD their God, and will hear them.

And they of Ephraim shall be like a mighty man, and their heart shall rejoice as through wine: yea, their children shall see it, and be glad; their heart shall rejoice in the LORD.

There are wonderful words of assurance and comfort scattered about in the prophets, which seem to be written specially for discouraged hours.  Even though they refer first to the return of the Jews to their own land, they are for us too, in a spiritual sense.  They lift us up when we are cast down and feel “cast off.”  They are among God’s glorious “Fear nots.”

Have you noticed the perfect ending to today’s promise?  God knows that it is our children’s good that we most desire.  And so He says, Their children shall see it, and be glad.

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8 I will signal for them
and gather them in.
Surely I will redeem them;
they will be as numerous as before.
9 Though I scatter them among the peoples,
yet in distant lands they will remember me.
They and their children will survive,
and they will return.
10 I will bring them back from Egypt
and gather them from Assyria.
I will bring them to Gilead and Lebanon,
and there will not be room enough for them.
11 They will pass through the sea of trouble;
the surging sea will be subdued
and all the depths of the Nile will dry up.
Assyria’s pride will be brought down
and Egypt’s scepter will pass away.
12 I will strengthen them in the LORD
and in his name they will live securely,”
declares the LORD.

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Music:

“Unchanging”  by Chris Tomlin.  How wonderful that our God is utterly dependable, that he never backs down from a promise, that he always loves us!

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New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
rain falling on tulips.    http://www.pianosolo.it/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/rain-falling-on-tulips-photographic-print-c12689455.jpg
lifting weights.   http://www.cenegenicsjax.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/woman-lifting-weights1.jpg
fear not.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-cUWCclzaM2c/TWKAl7GBeKI/AAAAAAAAALQ/XZwwH4JvFo8/s1600/fearnot.jpg

621.) Zechariah 9

September 19, 2011

Alexander the Great, a Roman mosaic found in the House of the Faun, Pompeii, Italy.

Zechariah 9 (New International Version)

The prophecies of chapters 1-8 are dated in the text and were delivered between between 520 and 518 B.C.  Those of chapters 9-14, on the other hand, are undated, and there are reasons to believe that Zechariah wrote these later chapters long after the initial eight.  It is perhaps significant that Zechariah and Haggai did not undertake any leadership roles in the community until 520 B.C., about 18 years after the return from exile (c. 538).  The suggestion that they were children at the time of the return is probably confirmed in 2:4, where the prophet in 520 B.C. is called a “young man.”

–The Archaeological Study Bible

Judgment on Israel’s Enemies

1A prophecy:   The word of the LORD is against the land of Hadrak
and will come to rest on Damascus—

Many scholars see the agent of God’s judgment as Alexander the Great.  The cities mentioned in Zechariah 9:1-7 trace Alexander’s march through the Promised Land in 332-331 B.C.

for the eyes of all people and all the tribes of Israel
are on the LORD—
2 and on Hamath too, which borders on it,
and on Tyre and Sidon, though they are very skillful.
3 Tyre has built herself a stronghold;
she has heaped up silver like dust,
and gold like the dirt of the streets.
4 But the Lord will take away her possessions
and destroy her power on the sea,
and she will be consumed by fire.

Tyre (ancient ruins above) was an important commercial city that was thought of as impossible to conquer. The Assyrians laid siege against Tyre for five years, but never conquered the city. Nebuchadnezzar tried for 13 years to conquer Tyre, but Alexander did it in seven months. Alexander the Great conquered Tyre by laying siege for seven months, then using the rubble from the old city to make a causeway out to the island city. It was a spectacular achievement of both military and engineering strategy.

–David Guzik

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5 Ashkelon will see it and fear;
Gaza will writhe in agony,
and Ekron too, for her hope will wither.
Gaza will lose her king
and Ashkelon will be deserted.
6 A mongrel people will occupy Ashdod,
and I will put an end to the pride of the Philistines.

These are Philistine cities, south of Tyre and Sidon, and they, too, were conquered by Alexander the Great.  At Gaza, for example, Alexander had the governor of the city bound to a chariot and then dragged around the city.  He killed 10,000 of the inhabitants and sold the rest as slaves.

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7 I will take the blood from their mouths,
the forbidden food from between their teeth.
Those who are left will belong to our God
and become a clan in Judah,
and Ekron will be like the Jebusites.

Jerusalem belonged to the Jebusites until David took the city.  He did not destroy them but assimilated them into Israelite society.  So the prophecy is that Ekron will disappear as distinct entity.

8 But I will encamp at my temple
to guard it against marauding forces.

When Alexander the Great marched through Lebanon and the Promised Land towards Egypt, he did not conquer or attack Jerusalem.  God promised to protect and spare His temple during this time, and He did through a remarkable chain of events connected to Alexander the Great and the High Priest.

 Josephus’ account of Alexander’s meeting with the High Priest is fascinating
(Antiquities 11.8.4-5):

Now Alexander, when he had taken Gaza, made haste to go up to Jerusalem; and Jaddua the high-priest, when he heard that, was in agony, and under terror, as not knowing how he should meet the Macedonians, since the king was displeased at his foregoing disobedience. He therefore ordained that the people should make supplications, and should join with him in offering sacrifices to God, whom he besought to protect that nation, and to deliver them from the perils that were coming upon them; whereupon God warned him in a dream, which came upon him after he had offered sacrifice, that he should take courage, adorn the city, and open the gates; that the rest appear in white garments, but that he and the priests should meet the king in habits proper to their order, without the dread of any ill consequences, which the providence of God would prevent. Upon which, when he rose from his sleep, he greatly rejoiced; and declared to all the warning he had received from God. According to the dream he acted entirely, and so waited for the coming of the king.

And when he understood that he was not far from the city, he went out in procession, with the priests and the multitude of the citizens. The procession was venerable, and the manner of it different from that of other nations. It reached to a place called Sapha; which name, translated in Greek, signifies a prospect, for you have thence a prospect both of Jerusalem and of the temple; and when the Phoenicians and the Chaldeans that followed him, thought they should have liberty to plunder the city, and torment the high-priest to death, which the king’s displeasure fairly promised them, the very reverse of it happened;

for Alexander, when he saw the multitude at a distance, in white garments, while the priests stood clothed with fine linen, and the high-priest in purple and scarlet clothing, with his mitre on his head having the golden plate on which the name of God was engraved, he approached by himself, and adored that name, and first saluted the high-priest. The Jews also did all together, with one voice, salute Alexander, and encompass him about: whereupon the kings of Syria and the rest were surprised at what Alexander had done, and supposed him to be disordered in his mind.

However, Parmenio [Alexander’s second-in-command] alone went up to him, and asked him how it came to pass, that when all others adored him, he should adore the high-priest of the Jews?

To whom he replied, “I did not adore him, but that God who has honored him with that high-priesthood; for I saw this very person in a dream, in this very habit, when I was at Dios, in Macedonia, who, when I was considering with myself how I might obtain the dominion of Asia, exhorted me to make no delay, but boldly to pass over the sea thither, for that he would conduct my army, and would give me dominion over the Persians; whence it is, that having seen no other in that habit, and now seeing this person in it, and remembering my vision and the exhortation which I had in my dream, I believe that I bring this army under divine conduct, and shall therewith conquer Darius, and destroy the power of the Persians, and that all things will succeed according to what is in my own mind.”

And when he had said this to Parmenio, and had given the high-priest his right hand, the priests ran along by him, and he came into the city; and when he went up into the temple, he offered sacrifice to God, according to the high-priest’s direction, and magnificently treated both the high-priest and the priests. And when the book of Daniel was showed him, wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended; and as he was then glad, he dismissed the multitude for the present,

but the next day he called them to him, and bade them ask what favors they pleased of him: whereupon the high-priest desired that they might enjoy the laws of their forefathers, and might pay no tribute on the seventh year. He granted all they desired: and when they entreated him that he would permit the Jews in Babylon and Media to enjoy their own laws also, he willingly promised to do hereafter what they desired: and when he said to the multitude, that if any of them would enlist themselves in his army on this condition, that they should continue under the laws of their forefathers, and live according to them, he was willing to take them with him, many were ready to accompany him in his wars.

–David Guzik

_________________________

Never again will an oppressor overrun my people,
for now I am keeping watch.

The Coming of Zion’s King


9
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
_________________________

Music:

Renee Fleming sings “Rejoice Greatly” from Handel’s Messiah.  Mainz Cathedral, 2005.

Handel’s text was Zechariah 9:9, which is quoted in Matthew 21:5.

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10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the warhorses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth.

"Let us beat swords into plowshares" statue at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City

These lines seem to point to a future time, when Jesus comes to rule over the earth.  Here is another picture of that time:

Isaiah 2:2-4 (English Standard Version)

It shall come to pass in the latter days
   that the mountain of the house of the LORD
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
   and shall be lifted up above the hills;
and all the nations shall flow to it,
and many peoples shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
   to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
   and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go the law,
   and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
   and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
   and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
   neither shall they learn war anymore.

_________________________

11 As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.
12 Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope;
even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.
13 I will bend Judah as I bend my bow
and fill it with Ephraim.
I will rouse your sons, Zion,
against your sons, Greece,
and make you like a warrior’s sword.

The LORD Will Appear

 14 Then the LORD will appear over them;
his arrow will flash like lightning.
The Sovereign LORD will sound the trumpet;
he will march in the storms of the south,
15 and the LORD Almighty will shield them.
They will destroy
and overcome with slingstones.
They will drink and roar as with wine;
they will be full like a bowl
used for sprinkling the corners of the altar.
16 The LORD their God will save his people on that day
as a shepherd saves his flock.
They will sparkle in his land
like jewels in a crown.
17 How attractive and beautiful they will be!
Grain will make the young men thrive,
and new wine the young women.
True shalom.
_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Alesander the Great mosaic.    http://www.1902encyclopedia.com/A/ALE/alexander-great-mosaic.jpg
Tyre.    http://media.web.britannica.com/eb-media/71/20471-004-0035B65F.jpg
map of Philistine cities.   http://wp.patheos.com/community/mormonportal/files/2010/06/philistia2.jpg
Triumphal entry.    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-i5gYZdUeKdg/TasJfWB__kI/AAAAAAAAB1A/007oW227hHI/s1600/jesus+triumphal+entry.jpg
Swords into plowshares.    http://static.panoramio.com/photos/original/6535835.jpg
Remember who rules.    http://jensenpetersen.org/JensenPetersen.org/Zechariah_files/Zechariah.jpg

620.) Zechariah 8

September 16, 2011

Jerusalem Psalms by Irv Davis, 2000.

Zechariah 8 (New International Version)

The LORD Promises to Bless Jerusalem

1The word of the LORD Almighty came to me. 2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her.”

3 This is what the LORD says: “I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem.

When the Lord comes to Jerusalem, both the city and the people will be transformed. 

In 2 Corinthians 3:18 Paul describes this process of transformation: But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

_________________________

Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, and the mountain of the LORD Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.”

4 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age. 5 The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.”

6 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “It may seem marvelous to the remnant of this people at that time, but will it seem marvelous to me?” declares the LORD Almighty.


7 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. 8 I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God.”

World Jewish Population Statistics

The worldwide Jewish population is 13.3 million Jews.  Jewish population growth worldwide is close to zero percent.

In 2001, 8.3 million Jews lived in the Diaspora and 4.9 million lived in Israel.  Just about half of the world’s Jews reside in the Americas, with about 46% in North America.  Approximately 37% of worldwide Jewry lives in Israel.

Europe, including the Asian territories of the Russian Republic and Turkey, accounts for about 12 percent of the total.  Fewer than 2 percent of the world’s Jews live in Africa and Oceania.

Metropolitan Tel Aviv, with 2.5 million Jews, is the world’s largest Jewish city.  It is followed by New York, with 1.9 million, Haifa 655,000, Los Angeles 621,000, Jerusalem 570,000, and southeast Florida 514,000.

Only 8 countries (plus Israel) have a Jewish population of 100,000 or more  They are, in order,  the United States, France, Canada, the United Kingdom, Russia, Argentina, Germany, and Australia.  

http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/world-jewish-population.htm

The total world Jewish population, however, is difficult to measure. In addition to issues with census methodology, there are disputes regarding who is a Jew according to biblical law, talmudic and rabbinic law, and traditions and customs.  In addition, secular, political, and ancestral identification factors may affect the figure considerably.

_________________________

9 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Now hear these words, ‘Let your hands be strong so that the temple may be built.’ This is also what the prophets said who were present when the foundation was laid for the house of the LORD Almighty. 10 Before that time there were no wages for people or hire for animals. No one could go about their business safely because of their enemies, since I had turned everyone against their neighbor. 11 But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as I did in the past,” declares the LORD Almighty.

12 “The seed will grow well, the vine will yield its fruit,

the ground will produce its crops, and the heavens will drop their dew. I will give all these things as an inheritance to the remnant of this people. 13 Just as you, Judah and Israel, have been a curse among the nations, so I will save you, and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong.”

14 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Just as I had determined to bring disaster on you and showed no pity when your ancestors angered me,” says the LORD Almighty, 15 “so now I have determined to do good again to Jerusalem and Judah. Do not be afraid. 16 These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; 17 do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the LORD.

Proverbs 6:16-19 (English Standard Version)

There are six things that the LORD hates,
   seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
   and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
    feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
   and one who sows discord among brothers.

18 The word of the LORD Almighty came to me.

19 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.”

20 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, 21 and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the LORD and seek the LORD Almighty. I myself am going.’ 22 And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the LORD Almighty and to entreat him.”

23 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’”

And that “one Jew” is Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, dwelling among us!

“Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling.”

_________________________

Music:

Hillsong United in concert with “The Time Has Come.”  We know that God is working all things together for good for all who are called according to his purposes, and that everything is leading to God’s fulfillment of his promises!  That right there is worth lifting our hands in praise and thanksgiving!  (This is the kind of music I turn up real loud as I clean my house!)

Today, today, I live for one thing,
To give you praise in everything I do.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Davis.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_BmgZBuucUjs/RwDUdkUGMmI/AAAAAAAAAEU/2GjWtLDGFrM/s400/Irv+Davis,+Jerusalem+Psalms,+2000.gif
butterfly.    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_pOdvWF5uIYs/Ssk0DIiRnFI/AAAAAAAAPrE/NyLPNwyfGl4/s400/Cc+2+Corinthians+3.jpg
Psalm 118:23.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_YeHzCYbu73w/TKTz5N1ypnI/AAAAAAAAAS0/PU49oOcov6Q/s1600/psalm+118+23.jpg
Jewish father and son.   http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100603/images/news.2010.277.jewish.ancestry.jpg
grapes on the vine.    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_nUPTh9CgwTA/TJmNzAqZoxI/AAAAAAAAADE/Pma7XXBlWQk/s1600/grapes_on_vine.jpg
“Simply to thy cross I cling.”  From New Cathedral Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland.    http://th00.deviantart.net/fs45/PRE/i/2009/149/1/0/Simply_to_Thy_Cross_I_Cling_by_touch_the_flame.jpg