The Cleansing Fountain

Today’s reading:

Zechariah 9:9-14:21

My Selection:

“On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.  Zechariah 13:1

Today’s reading and selection reminds me of the old hymn:

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

According to the cyber hymnal website, William Cowper wrote this hymn after suffering deep depression and attempting suicide several times.  God in His mercy spared Cowper and he left us a wonderful testimony to the power of our Lord Jesus Christ to cleanse the most wicked sinner.

Trust the One whose blood was shed to redeem, forgive, and cleanse hopeless rebels.

For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

The Day of Small Things

Today’s reading:

Zechariah 4:1-9:8

My Selection:

Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you.  For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.   Zechariah 4:8-10

In this selection, there is a wonderful reminder that God is not limited to what Man can do.  He can bring much glory out of that which we see as a small thing.  The purpose of life and the universe is the glory of the Holy, Omnipotent Creator God.  Small things reveal His greatness.  He delights in showing His power through weakness, as Paul discovered.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Have you discovered this truth in your life?

For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

A Taste of Heaven

Today’s reading:

Haggai 1:1-Zechariah 3:10

My Selection:

For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day.  In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.  Zechariah 3:9-10

The prophet Zechariah, like many of the prophets in the Bible, paints a wonderful, vivid picture of the age to come when all sin is forgiven, all suffering is gone, and there is prosperity, unity, and love among all people.  We are not there yet, clearly.

Can we get a taste of heaven today?

Jesus proclaimed that the Kingdom of God was near (Mark 1:14,15).  By His death and resurrection, cleansing has been purchased for all who believe in Him.  We get a taste of heaven when we walk in the light and have fellowship with one another (I John 1:7).

Enjoy that taste today, living the truth, trusting the gospel of Jesus Christ, and showing love to others.

For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

 

 

All Things New

Those who believe God’s word live today in the light of a day to come when He makes all things new.

Today’s reading: Zechariah 13-14; Revelation 21

And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one. Zechariah 14:9

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:5a

The Urban Dictionary defines the “now generation” as “People who want instant gratification.” By definition Bible believers are not members of that group. We live for a day when His kingdom will come and the will of God will be done “on earth as it is in heaven.”

Zechariah’s prophecy and the vision of John in Revelation intersect in today’s readings. Here we can see:

  1. God exercises authority over all things. He sits on the throne and there is no one who can compete with Him.
  2. All come to Him in worship.
  3. All things are made new. The fallen world with sickness, sorrow, tears, and death give way to a new heavens and earth where all is renewed.

Flee from the foolishness of the “now generation.” They want what they want and they want it now. Don’t fall for that illusion. Cling to the promises of God for a day when all things will be made new. The new year which is about to begin gives us an opportunity to consider how to make necessary changes to live more fully in the light of that day to come. How will you invest the year ahead to reflect an attitude of expectancy and faith in the day when the Lord makes all things new?

The Key and the Book

While Bible scholars and students disagree over the interpretation of certain prophetic passages, the absolute sovereignty of God over all the affairs of human history is never in doubt.

Today’s reading: Zechariah 10-12; Revelation 20

16 For behold, I am raising up in the land a shepherd who does not care for those being destroyed, or seek the young or heal the maimed or nourish the healthy, but devours the flesh of the fat ones, tearing off even their hoofs.

17 “Woe to my worthless shepherd,
who deserts the flock!
May the sword strike his arm
and his right eye!
Let his arm be wholly withered,
his right eye utterly blinded!” Zechariah 11:16-17

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. Revelation 20:1

When the Bible addresses the final events of time, not every detail is clear, but what is clear is that God reigns over all and that every person will stand in judgment before Him. There are three possible responses to these passages: comfort, terror, or ridicule. For those who believe in the Triune God revealed in Scripture, there is great reassurance that, for us, all will be well. For those who do not believe, their attitude may be to dismiss the assertions with ridicule or to ponder with terror the possibility that they may be true.

Zechariah shows us that God is the One raising up leaders, even evil ones. He is the One who is also judging them and putting them down. God doesn’t merely permit some wicked to gain power. He actually controls their ascendance and uses it for His purposes, in some cases to discipline His own people. In the end, He brings judgment on these ungodly powers.

In Revelation 20, God’s control of the cosmos is demonstrated by the key and the book. The key, entrusted to an angel, is the key to the bottomless pit, the place where Satan is cast and held impotent. Satan is completely wicked but he is not in control, not even of his own actions and destiny. There is also a book, the book of life, in which are written the names of those chosen to live and not be condemned to the lake of fire.

Those who consider these claims to God’s sovereignty over all things and of a final judgment to be mere myths are left, it seems to me, with the alternatives of a universe which is out-of-control and human existence which is without purpose. I don’t find this comforting or reassuring at all, do you? Praise God for His sovereignty and wisdom. He holds the key and the book.

The Bride’s Dress

The true worship of the saints is more than merely acceptable. It is the glorious attire of the Church, the Bride’s dress.

Today’s reading: Zechariah 7-9; Revelation 19

5 “Say to all the people of the land and the priests, When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted? 6 And when you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves? Zechariah 7:5-6

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
8 it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. Revelation 19:6-8

Do our good deeds, done for God on earth, matter in heaven? The answer may surprise you.

Zechariah was sent to confront Judah about her unacceptable service to God. Oh, she had fasted and mourned. She had put on an outward show of brokenness and repentance, but the Lord saw through the phoniness and hypocrisy. True service to God is performed with fear of Him, not some kind of self-serving motivation. It is done by “small and great” since no one is exempt from responsibility before Him (Revelation 19:4). It is futile to attempt to perform outward acts of service to God that are not matched by inward piety.

John relates his vision of the marriage supper of the Lamb. What a joyous occasion it is! There is nothing quite like a wedding celebration where bride and groom are filled with love and hope for their future. They commit themselves fully to one another “till death do us part.”   But no matter how splendid the ceremony, the banquet, or the couple, nothing compares to the marriage of the Lamb to His bride, the Church.

At weddings, the big question is always, “how will the bride look? What will she wear?” Through John’s vision we are allowed the rare privilege of seeing the bride before the ceremony. Are you, like me, surprised by her attire? We expect it to be fine linen, bright and pure, but on closer examination we see that this linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. That is what she is wearing.

Fellow disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, never underestimate the eternal significance of your righteous deeds done in fear of and love for Him. Your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). You and I are creating the bride’s dress.

Final Victory

God will bring final victory over all the forces of evil, therefore He calls His people to separate themselves from those who are doomed.

Today’s reading: Zechariah 4-6; Revelation 18

6 Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. 7 Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’”  Zechariah 4:6-7

4 Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,

“Come out of her, my people,
lest you take part in her sins,
lest you share in her plagues;
5 for her sins are heaped high as heaven,
and God has remembered her iniquities. Revelation 18:4-5

There have been many moments in history when it appeared that God’s people had no hope of final victory. The Lord always sent messengers to reassure the Church that she would not be ultimately defeated.

In Zechariah’s day, the temple was in ruins and God commanded its rebuilding. It seemed impossible and, in fact, it was. But it did not depend on the strength or might of human beings, even of those who loved the Lord and longed to see worship restored. Through the vision, the prophet understood that it would be successful through the Spirit of the Lord of hosts. God commands all the armies of angels and He does His will which no one can thwart.

John was permitted to see the fall of Babylon. She had commanded the world, economically and culturally, and seemed invincible. All who dealt with her enjoyed wealth and pleasure. But her end is assured. She will be brought down to nothing. Her ruin will be mourned by those who depended on her. God called His people to come out and not to go down with her in judgment.

What is your view of the dominant culture of our day? Are you optimistic that God’s truth will ultimately triumph? If you are one who has been bought by the blood of the Lamb, flee either pessimism or compromise. Final victory is  assured.

 

 

God Rules

Both believers and unbelievers alike can lose sight of the fact that God rules over human history and will ultimately conquer all those who oppose Him.

Today’s reading: Zechariah 1-3; Revelation 17

13 Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling. Zechariah 2:13

16 And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, 17 for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. Revelation 17:16-17

My seminary professor, Steve Brown, used to quip, “Christians don’t pray because they are afraid God doesn’t exist. Atheists don’t pray because they are afraid He does.”   Certainly, there are times when everyone doubts God’s existence. Our experience can make us question whether our faith is based on reality. Is our experience a reliable basis for faith? The Scriptures tell us to trust what God has said, not what our hunches tell us.

Zechariah delivered messages to Judah assuring them that though their forefathers had brought God’s judgment on themselves, they were not thereby automatically left with no hope. Each person is responsible before God to repent of sin and turn to Him in faith. There are times when God may appear to be unengaged or sleeping, but that is an illusion. All the earth owes Him glory and honor. It is wise to keep silence before Him.

In John’s visions, he sees that reality. There is chaos and wickedness in the world, but do not be confused. God is still ruling over all things. He puts His purposes into the hearts of those who hate Him and they do His bidding without intending to.

Our observations on the state of the world, if uninformed by Scripture, are not trustworthy.  Let God’s Word give you a solid basis for faith and life. You will know that, indeed, God rules.

The Cleansing Fountain

Today’s reading: Zechariah 9:9-14:21

My selection: Zechariah 13:1

“On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.

My reflections:What a picture of the mercy and grace of God toward His sinful, filthy people! The fountain, gushing continuously, would be a reminder of the ongoing need for cleansing. Our problem is not only sin, those individual acts of rebellion against a holy God, but also the residual stains it leaves on our souls, the uncleanness it leaves behind. We need a fountain that cleanses and that never runs dry. That fountain is Jesus Christ, in whom alone we find forgiveness and cleansing. He washes His people by regeneration, a new spiritual birth, and He renews them by His Holy Spirit resulting in an inheritance of hope of eternal life (Titus 3:4-7).

My challenge: If your sin weighs heavily upon you, if you are painfully aware of the corruption of sin on your soul, come to the fountain flowing abundantly to rid you of every stain. Rejoice in the truth that this fountain will never run dry. God poured out His Spirit richly so that being declared righteous you would become an heir to the hope of eternal life.

Tomorrow’s reading: Malachi 1:1-Matthew 1:25

The Day of Small Things

Today’s reading: Zechariah 4:1-9:8

My selection: Zechariah 4:8-10

8 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 9 “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. 10 For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.

My reflections: When the rebuilding of the temple began, there were many who thought that nothing would come of it, that it would be insignificant, a pale shadow of the original temple. They thought it would be a “small thing” and they despised that “day of small things.”  But God delights in working in unpromising situations and through weak human instruments effecting His will by His Spirit (4:6). God shows His power in small things and small people so that the glory goes to Him alone. Zerubbabel would be the general contractor to rebuild the temple but the glory would go to God, not Zerubbabel.

My challenge: What kinds of apparently small things are you despising today? Be faithful in the small things in your life that seem unimportant, mundane, tedious, and unpromising. They may be like a mustard seed that will grow and overwhelm the more impressive “big things” you see.

As Jesus said,

10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. Luke 16:10 (ESV)

Tomorrow’s reading: Zechariah 9:9-14:21