Sunday, November 24, 2013

Zechariah 9: The King!

In Zechariah 9, God assured His people that their enemies would be judged. The people who had oppressed them would be punished. And He would send them a King. 

When I discussed the book of Zechariah with friends this summer, one friend summarized this chapter this way: "God goes all out." I love that. God loves His people. He cares for them extravagantly. In this chapter I see God giving them hope, and encouraging them to trust Him.

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.
How wonderful and beautiful they will be! (Zechariah 9:16-17 NLT)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Zechariah 7 and 8: The Lord turns Fasting to Feasting

Zechariah 7 and 8 present a question from the people, and an answer from the Lord. The people had been fasting and mourning the temple, several times a year. But now that the temple was being rebuilt, did they need to keep these ritual fasts?

God asked them why they fasted, and reminded them that their hearts were more important than their rituals.  He gave them a glimpse of Jerusalem's glorious future, and He told them to change those fasts into feasts.

Here is another message that came to me from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “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 are now ended. They will become festivals of joy and celebration for the people of Judah. So love truth and peace. (Zechariah 8:18-19)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Connections in Acts and Hebrews

After reading Zechariah 4 (The God Who Empowers) and Zechariah 5 (The God Who Removes Sin) and Zechariah 6 (The Priest King), I ended up in Acts and Hebrews.

Acts shows us the fulfillment of the promise in Zechariah 4: "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts." (verse 6) 

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. And tongues, like flames of fire that were divided, appeared to them and rested on each one of them. Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability for speech. (Acts 2:1-4)
And it will be in the last days, says God,
that I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity;
then your sons and your daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
I will even pour out My Spirit
on My male and female slaves in those days,
and they will prophesy. (Acts 2:17-18)

Hebrews chapter 9 and 10 show us the Priest King. I think these verses in the NLT sum it up:

For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.
And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:24-27)

But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.
And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says,
“This is the new covenant I will make
    with my people on that day, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their hearts,
    and I will write them on their minds.”
Then he says,
“I will never again remember
    their sins and lawless deeds.”
18 And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices. 
(Hebrews 10:12-18)

There are lots of complicated prophecies in Zechariah. But there are also lots of simple foundational spiritual truths. God loves His people. God will remove our sin when we place our faith in Him. God has a glorious plan for the future. 

Zechariah 6: The Priest-King

Today I'm sharing my response to this chapter--my prayer after I read it.

Dear Lord,
I don't understand all the symbols in this chapter. 
But I can see that 
You are aware of everything that happens on the earth,
You have a plan for the future,
You are the King,
and You sent Your Son to be both Priest and King.
Jesus is not only the One who Represents us and Forgives Sin (the Priest),
but also the King of Heaven and Earth,
the glorious Sovereign who commands my worship.
(I'm sure this was confusing to the Jewish people who read this book--
the Priest and the King were totally different people, never the same.)
thank You for Your Word.
Thank You that much of it is far more understandable than the Minor Prophets,
and thank You that even within these prophecies,
I see Your love and care for Your people.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Zechariah 5: The God Who Removes Sin

Read Zechariah 5.

That was confusing, wasn't it?

I have two study books that help me figure out Zachariah, one by Warren Wiersbe and one by Kay Arthur.

Wiersbe tells us that God cleanses and deals with sin. Kay Arthur reminds us that God judges sin.

This is rather a comforting chapter, really. I watch the news and I see such evil and horror happening in our world. Chapters like this remind me that God is in charge, and everyone will get what's coming to them.

But for those of us who have trusted in God's grace, "Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." (Romans 8:1-2)

Zechariah 4: The God Who Empowers

I love Zechariah 4. God gave Zechariah a vision, and Zechariah asked what it meant.

At first, God didn't tell him. God gave him promises of strength and God's spirit.

This is where most of us live. Stuff happens to us. Confusing stuff. Bad stuff. We ask God why.

And He doesn't always show us the why.

But He does always promise to be with us, to be our strength, and to empower us with His spirit.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Connections: John 1:1-18 and Hebrews 7:23-28

I love to see the connections in God's Word--the passages in the New Testament that fulfill or complement passages in the Old Testament.

As I read Zechariah 1-3, I thought of John 1 and Hebrews 7.

I really enjoyed reading the scripture passages in the NLT version. (Look it up at

In John 1, I loved verse 14:

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. (John 1:18)

A few days ago, I read Zechariah 1, and I thought of the Lord as The Word Who Speaks. The book of John refers to Jesus as the Word. Jesus came to earth as God's Message to us, wrapped in a human body.

Hebrews 7 really brought Zechariah 3 alive for me. Hebrews shows me that Jesus came to be the perfect High Priest--the one who could completely forgive us. Joshua was just a man (wearing dirty clothes!), and though he could follow the rituals to offer the sacrifices, he could not forgive anyone. Only the Lord can do that.

There were many priests under the old system, for death prevented them from remaining in office. 24 But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. 25 Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. 26 He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. 27 Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins. 28 The law appointed high priests who were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed his Son with an oath, and his Son has been made the perfect High Priest forever. (Hebrews 7:23-28)

One of the questions I like to ask when I read the New Testament is "what is the main truth of this passage, and do I see this truth today?" As I thought about the readings in John, I thought, "The main truth is that Jesus came to show us God's love and faithfulness. I see women at Bible study showing God's love and faithfulness, because Jesus lives within them!" And as I read Hebrews, I thought, "The main truth is God's forgiveness. I see and experience this truth when I remember that my sins are forgiven and I live with a lighter heart."

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Zechariah 3: The God Who Removes Guilt

If you're new to Old Testament history, this is going to be a confusing chapter. The truth it conveys is very simple: God removes our sin.

Zechariah 3 shows us the High Priest--the one who was supposed to offer sacrifices on behalf of the whole nation, and ask God to forgive their sins. But he was dressed in dirty clothing and Satan was accusing him of sin. The Lord rebuked Satan, and gave Joshua new clean clothes.

This is a vivid picture of the Christian life. When we accept the Lord as our Savior, He forgives our sin. All of it. Yesterday's sin, today's sin, tomorrow's. But sometimes we begin to feel guilty. In fact, Satan wants us to feel guilty. He wants us to question whether we are worthy to serve God.

We can choose to listen to God's word and believe that we are forgiven and He has clothed us in His righteousness--and stop carrying a load of guilt!

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)
To the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,  which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight. (Ephesians 1:6-8)

God has poured out His grace on us. He does not forgive or bless grudgingly or a little at a time. He gives us the riches of His grace, lavishly! Here are those verses in Ephesians, from the NLT version:

So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:6-8)

I pray that you will praise God for His glorious grace today.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Zechariah 2: The God Who Dwells with Us

The book of Zechariah is full of visions: glimpses of spiritual truth presented in pictures and given to the prophet Zechariah. Warren Wiersbe's book Be Heroic summed up the visions in Zechariah 2 by saying "God watches the nations...God judges the nations...and there is a glorious future planned for Jerusalem and the Jewish nation."

In the middle of all these prophecies about Jerusalem, one verse jumped out at me:

...I come, and I will dwell in your midst...Zechariah 2:10

The Creator of the world came to live as a human, to speak His words and share His love and give His life for us. I pray I never lose the wonder of this amazing truth.

I also noticed the phrase, "I will be the glory in her midst." (verse 5)

My prayer today:
You are the glory of Jerusalem
-the shining presence
-the most important detail
-the power
Are You my glory today?
Do You shine through me?
Show me how to put self aside and follow You.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Zechariah 1: The Word Who Speaks.

I'm on a journey through the book of Zechariah. Once a week, I meet with several friends to discuss this Old Testament book.

When I read Old Testament prophecy, I have a Big Picture viewpoint. I don't need to figure out the significance of every vision. I just want to see what each chapter tells me about God: who is He, how does He interact with His people, and are there any clues about the Messiah who would come in the New Testament.

In Zechariah 1, I saw that God spoke to His people. He shared His truth and His love with Zechariah, and expected Zechariah to share that message. In verse 13, I saw that God speaks gracious and comforting words. I am praying that each of us in this small discussion group will hear God's words of grace and comfort today.