Through The Bible Tuesday 12-25-18 Devotions
A Call to Justice and Mercy
7 On December 7[a] of the fourth year of King Darius’s reign, another message came to Zechariah from the Lord. 2 The people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regemmelech,[b] along with their attendants, to seek the Lord’s favor. 3 They were to ask this question of the prophets and the priests at the Temple of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: “Should we continue to mourn and fast each summer on the anniversary of the Temple’s destruction,[c] as we have done for so many years?”
4 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies sent me this message in reply: 5 “Say to all your people and your priests, ‘During these seventy years of exile, when you fasted and mourned in the summer and in early autumn,[d] was it really for me that you were fasting? 6 And even now in your holy festivals, aren’t you eating and drinking just to please yourselves? 7 Isn’t this the same message the Lord proclaimed through the prophets in years past when Jerusalem and the towns of Judah were bustling with people, and the Negev and the foothills of Judah[e] were well populated?’”
8 Then this message came to Zechariah from the Lord: 9 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. 10 Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other.
11 “Your ancestors refused to listen to this message. They stubbornly turned away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing. 12 They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the instructions or the messages that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies had sent them by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. That is why the Lord of Heaven’s Armies was so angry with them.
13 “Since they refused to listen when I called to them, I would not listen when they called to me, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 14 As with a whirlwind, I scattered them among the distant nations, where they lived as strangers. Their land became so desolate that no one even traveled through it. They turned their pleasant land into a desert.”
Promised Blessings for Jerusalem
8 Then another message came to me from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: 2 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: My love for Mount Zion is passionate and strong; I am consumed with passion for Jerusalem!
3 “And now the Lord says: I am returning to Mount Zion, and I will live in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City; the mountain of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will be called the Holy Mountain.
4 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Once again old men and women will walk Jerusalem’s streets with their canes and will sit together in the city squares. 5 And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls at play.
6 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: All this may seem impossible to you now, a small remnant of God’s people. But is it impossible for me? says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
7 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: You can be sure that I will rescue my people from the east and from the west. 8 I will bring them home again to live safely in Jerusalem. They will be my people, and I will be faithful and just toward them as their God.
9 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Be strong and finish the task! Ever since the laying of the foundation of the Temple of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, you have heard what the prophets have been saying about completing the building. 10 Before the work on the Temple began, there were no jobs and no money to hire people or animals. No traveler was safe from the enemy, for there were enemies on all sides. I had turned everyone against each other.
11 “But now I will not treat the remnant of my people as I treated them before, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 12 For I am planting seeds of peace and prosperity among you. The grapevines will be heavy with fruit. The earth will produce its crops, and the heavens will release the dew. Once more I will cause the remnant in Judah and Israel to inherit these blessings. 13 Among the other nations, Judah and Israel became symbols of a cursed nation. But no longer! Now I will rescue you and make you both a symbol and a source of blessing. So don’t be afraid. Be strong, and get on with rebuilding the Temple!
14 “For this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: I was determined to punish you when your ancestors angered me, and I did not change my mind, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 15 But now I am determined to bless Jerusalem and the people of Judah. So don’t be afraid. 16 But this is what you must do: Tell the truth to each other. Render verdicts in your courts that are just and that lead to peace. 17 Don’t scheme against each other. Stop your love of telling lies that you swear are the truth. I hate all these things, says the Lord.”
18 Here is another message that came to me from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 19 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: The traditional fasts and times of mourning you have kept in early summer, midsummer, autumn, and winter[f] are now ended. They will become festivals of joy and celebration for the people of Judah. So love truth and peace.
20 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: People from nations and cities around the world will travel to Jerusalem. 21 The people of one city will say to the people of another, ‘Come with us to Jerusalem to ask the Lord to bless us. Let’s worship the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. I’m determined to go.’ 22 Many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord of Heaven’s Armies and to ask for his blessing.
23 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: In those days ten men from different nations and languages of the world will clutch at the sleeve of one Jew. And they will say, ‘Please let us walk with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”
Judgment against Israel’s Enemies
9 This is the message[g] from the Lord against the land of Aram[h] and the city of Damascus, for the eyes of humanity, including all the tribes of Israel, are on the Lord.
2 Doom is certain for Hamath,
and for the cities of Tyre and Sidon,
though they are so clever.
3 Tyre has built a strong fortress
and has made silver and gold
as plentiful as dust in the streets!
4 But now the Lord will strip away Tyre’s possessions
and hurl its fortifications into the sea,
and it will be burned to the ground.
5 The city of Ashkelon will see Tyre fall
and will be filled with fear.
Gaza will shake with terror,
as will Ekron, for their hopes will be dashed.
Gaza’s king will be killed,
and Ashkelon will be deserted.
6 Foreigners will occupy the city of Ashdod.
I will destroy the pride of the Philistines.
7 I will grab the bloody meat from their mouths
and snatch the detestable sacrifices from their teeth.
Then the surviving Philistines will worship our God
and become like a clan in Judah.[i] The Philistines of Ekron will join my people,
as the ancient Jebusites once did.
8 I will guard my Temple
and protect it from invading armies.
I am watching closely to ensure
that no more foreign oppressors overrun my people’s land.
Zion’s Coming King
9 Rejoice, O people of Zion![j] Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem!
Look, your king is coming to you.
He is righteous and victorious,[k] yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—
riding on a donkey’s colt.
10 I will remove the battle chariots from Israel[l] and the warhorses from Jerusalem.
I will destroy all the weapons used in battle,
and your king will bring peace to the nations.
His realm will stretch from sea to sea
and from the Euphrates River[m] to the ends of the earth.[n] 11 Because of the covenant I made with you,
sealed with blood,
I will free your prisoners
from death in a waterless dungeon.
12 Come back to the place of safety,
all you prisoners who still have hope!
I promise this very day
that I will repay two blessings for each of your troubles.
13 Judah is my bow,
and Israel is my arrow.
Jerusalem[o] is my sword,
and like a warrior, I will brandish it against the Greeks.
his arrows will fly like lightning!
The Sovereign Lord will sound the ram’s horn
and attack like a whirlwind from the southern desert.
15 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies will protect his people,
and they will defeat their enemies by hurling great stones.
They will shout in battle as though drunk with wine.
They will be filled with blood like a bowl,
drenched with blood like the corners of the altar.
16 On that day the Lord their God will rescue his people,
just as a shepherd rescues his sheep.
They will sparkle in his land
like jewels in a crown.
17 How wonderful and beautiful they will be!
The young men will thrive on abundant grain,
and the young women will flourish on new wine.
7:1 Hebrew On the fourth day of the ninth month, the month of Kislev, of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar. This event occurred on December 7, 518 B.c.; also see note on 1:1.
7:2 Or Bethel-sharezer had sent Regemmelech.
7:3 Hebrew mourn and fast in the fifth month. The Temple had been destroyed in the fifth month of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar (August 586 B.c.); see 2 Kgs 25:8.
7:5 Hebrew fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months. The fifth month of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar usually occurs within the months of July and August. The seventh month usually occurs within the months of September and October; both the Day of Atonement and the Festival of Shelters were celebrated in the seventh month.
7:7 Hebrew the Shephelah.
8:19 Hebrew in the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months. The fourth month of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar usually occurs within the months of June and July. The fifth month usually occurs within the months of July and August. The seventh month usually occurs within the months of September and October. The tenth month usually occurs within the months of December and January.
9:1a Hebrew An Oracle: The message.
9:1b Hebrew land of Hadrach.
9:7 Hebrew like a leader in Judah.
9:9a Hebrew O daughter of Zion!
9:9b Hebrew and is being vindicated.
9:10a Hebrew Ephraim, referring to the northern kingdom of Israel; also in 9:13.
9:10b Hebrew the river.
9:10c Or the end of the land.
9:13a Hebrew Zion.
9:13b Hebrew the sons of Javan.
24 There are four things on earth that are small but unusually wise:
25 Ants—they aren’t strong,
but they store up food all summer.
26 Hyraxes[a]—they aren’t powerful,
but they make their homes among the rocks.
27 Locusts—they have no king,
but they march in formation.
28 Lizards—they are easy to catch,
but they are found even in kings’ palaces.
29 There are three things that walk with stately stride—
no, four that strut about:
30 the lion, king of animals, who won’t turn aside for anything,
31 the strutting rooster,
the male goat,
a king as he leads his army.
32 If you have been a fool by being proud or plotting evil,
cover your mouth in shame.
33 As the beating of cream yields butter
and striking the nose causes bleeding,
so stirring up anger causes quarrels.
30:26 Or Coneys, or Rock badgers.
Songs of Victory in Heaven
19 After this, I heard what sounded like a vast crowd in heaven shouting,
“Praise the Lord![a]
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.
2 His judgments are true and just.
He has punished the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth with her immorality.
He has avenged the murder of his servants.”
3 And again their voices rang out:
“Praise the Lord!
The smoke from that city ascends forever and ever!”
4 Then the twenty-four elders and the four living beings fell down and worshiped God, who was sitting on the throne. They cried out, “Amen! Praise the Lord!”
5 And from the throne came a voice that said,
“Praise our God,
all his servants,
all who fear him,
from the least to the greatest.”
6 Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder:
“Praise the Lord!
For the Lord our God,[b] the Almighty, reigns.
7 Let us be glad and rejoice,
and let us give honor to him.
For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb,
and his bride has prepared herself.
8 She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.”
For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.
9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.”
10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers and sisters[c] who testify about their faith in Jesus. Worship only God. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.[d]”
The Rider on the White Horse
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. 12 His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. 13 He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. 15 From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. 16 On his robe at his thigh[e] was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.
17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, shouting to the vultures flying high in the sky: “Come! Gather together for the great banquet God has prepared. 18 Come and eat the flesh of kings, generals, and strong warriors; of horses and their riders; and of all humanity, both free and slave, small and great.”
19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the world and their armies gathered together to fight against the one sitting on the horse and his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast—miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue. Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 Their entire army was killed by the sharp sword that came from the mouth of the one riding the white horse. And the vultures all gorged themselves on the dead bodies.
19:1 Greek Hallelujah; also in 19:3, 4, 6. Hallelujah is the transliteration of a Hebrew term that means “Praise the Lord.”
19:6 Some manuscripts read the Lord God.
19:10a Greek brothers.
19:10b Or is the message confirmed by Jesus.
19:16 Or On his robe and thigh.
1 Praise the Lord!
How good to sing praises to our God!
How delightful and how fitting!
2 The Lord is rebuilding Jerusalem
and bringing the exiles back to Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted
and bandages their wounds.
4 He counts the stars
and calls them all by name.
5 How great is our Lord! His power is absolute!
His understanding is beyond comprehension!
6 The Lord supports the humble,
but he brings the wicked down into the dust.
7 Sing out your thanks to the Lord;
sing praises to our God with a harp.
8 He covers the heavens with clouds,
provides rain for the earth,
and makes the grass grow in mountain pastures.
9 He gives food to the wild animals
and feeds the young ravens when they cry.
10 He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse
or in human might.
11 No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him,
those who put their hope in his unfailing love.
12 Glorify the Lord, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
13 For he has strengthened the bars of your gates
and blessed your children within your walls.
14 He sends peace across your nation
and satisfies your hunger with the finest wheat.
15 He sends his orders to the world—
how swiftly his word flies!
16 He sends the snow like white wool;
he scatters frost upon the ground like ashes.
17 He hurls the hail like stones.[a] Who can stand against his freezing cold?
18 Then, at his command, it all melts.
He sends his winds, and the ice thaws.
19 He has revealed his words to Jacob,
his decrees and regulations to Israel.
20 He has not done this for any other nation;
they do not know his regulations.
Praise the Lord!
147:17 Hebrew like bread crumbs.
Wednesday, December 26, 2018