devotions written by Deborah Galyen
“'I will make them strong in the LORD, and they shall walk in His name,' declares the LORD” (v12). Zechariah prophesied that God would show compassion on Israel, heal them, and raise up a people who were dependent on the Lord. They would ask God for “showers of rain” (v1) to produce a good harvest, and they would look to the Lord as the good shepherd who “cares for His flock” (v3). God’s desire was to gather His people from the corners of the earth (v8-9) and unite them under His perfect rule.
“I will bring them home …” (v10). Jew and Gentile, God calls us home to Himself through the peace-making work of His Son.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (v9). The Jews looked forward to the Messiah, the anointed One who was coming to save them. His rule would be one of justice and righteousness, and “He shall speak peace to the nations” (v10). The peace of His rule, surprisingly, would begin with His own death.
“For how great is His goodness!” (v17)! The Messiah, our humble King, triumphed over our enemies, sin and death, and won true peace for us.
“I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city” (v3). As the Jews who had returned from exile struggled to rebuild their city, Zechariah prophesied that God had much more in store for His people. God’s plan was for Zion/Jerusalem to be a community of “faithfulness and righteousness” (v8), where old people and little children felt safe (v4-5), where there was a constant “sowing of peace” that produced thriving life (v12).
“Therefore love truth and peace” (v19). Zechariah described what Jesus announced as “the kingdom of God.” This kingdom exists wherever Jesus is present in the lives of those who love Him.
“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons” (v2). In John’s time, Rome was “Babylon,” the wealthiest, most powerful city on earth, symbol of humanity’s desire to rule earth without submitting to God. John says that in their frantic buying and selling and power-stealing, the kings of the earth had committed “sexual immorality”; they were unfaithful to their Creator (v3). They grew rich by oppressing others (v13), but they would eventually lose their “delicacies and splendors” (v14).
Everything the world produces that is anti-God will be gone “in a single hour” (v17), and what will last, redeemed, is everything we do in the name of Christ.
“These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast” (v13). John’s visions describe, in metaphorical language, the logical endpoint of human history. Those who follow Christ, from various nations and times, often go through suffering, yet their end is joy, comfort, and peace in His presence (Rev 21-22). Those who reject God may be worshipping wealth, power, lust, or simply their own selves, but they are going in the same direction and are “of one mind.”
John says that to reject God’s mercy is to “make war” against the Lamb (v14). There is no neutral position; we are either walking toward Christ or away from Him.
"Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!" (v7). John describes the seven bowls of wrath which are poured out and fill the earth with plagues and disasters (v1). In reaction, the people on earth curse God and do not repent or give Him glory (v9, 11), confirming their rejection of His mercy. The “altar” – the heavenly witness – declares that God’s judgments are right because people have chosen to worship “the beast” – the power of evil (v2).
The terrible wrath John described is what Jesus experienced for all humanity on the cross. Believing in Him, we receive forgiveness, and we also share in His victorious life.
“The LORD builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel” (v2). Jerusalem is a physical city that, in the New Testament, becomes more: it becomes shorthand for the community of God’s people. God builds up His community not with winners and strong warriors, but with “the outcasts” and “the brokenhearted” who trust Him (v3). Earthly power doesn’t amaze God (v10), since He is “abundant in power” (v5). He is more concerned with healing us, providing for us, and drawing us into His steadfast love (v11).
God, who numbers and names the stars, also lifts up the humble, brings justice, and cares for each one His creatures (v4-6).
“When you fasted and mourned … for these seventy years, was it for Me that you fasted?” (v5). During their 70 years of exile in Babylon, the Jews had fasted regularly to commemorate the destruction of the Temple, and they wondered if they should continue (v3), now back in the land. Through the prophet Zechariah, God asked if their tradition was about repentance and worship, or about themselves? God’s main concern (and reason for judgment) before the exile had not changed:
“Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor” (v9-10).
“It is he who shall build the temple of the LORD … and shall sit and rule on his throne. And there shall be a priest on his throne …” (6:13). Leadership among the returned exiles in Judah did not follow the exact pattern of Israel’s past. Zechariah the prophet told four men to symbolically put a crown on the head of the high priest Joshua (6:11), recognizing his power but also pointing toward the coming Messiah. “And the crown shall be in the temple of the Lord” (6:13).
Jesus Christ, high priest and king, holds all authority. We don’t give Him only “spiritual allegiance,” but the loyalty of all aspects of our hearts and minds.
“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts” (v6). The rebuilding of Jerusalem’s Temple, destroyed by the Babylonians, was a stop-and-start project filled with problems. In the prophet Zechariah’s time of the 6th century BC, the returned exiles of Judah were led by Zerubbabel – a descendent of David who was not a king, but a governor under the ultimate control of the Persians.
The prophet Zechariah encouraged the people that this fragile beginning, this “day of small things” (v10), would end in glory - not because of human power, but by the power of God’s Spirit.
“And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” (v3). When John describes the saints who celebrate God’s justice, his images connect the faithful people of the Old Testament (song of Moses, tent of witness) to the faithful people who know Jesus. God will leave nothing and no one out when He returns to fulfill all His promises, which is why the saints sing “Great and amazing are Your deeds!” (v3).
We don’t have to try to figure out the details of the world’s end. Our part is to be faithful to God, who is in charge, and to declare “Just and true are Your ways” (v3).
“Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth …” (v6). While John’s visions point to the end of this age, the visions also describe the ongoing reality of our world. Believers are persecuted and “die in the Lord” in some lands (v13), the “eternal gospel” is always being proclaimed, and people must choose between light and darkness.
“Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus” (v12). The call to faithful endurance is not only for the cataclysmic end, but for the small, private choices of daily life.
“Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation …” (v7). The believers in John’s time had already seen and experienced persecution. John’s vision of the dragon and the beast “conquering” the saints put their suffering in a cosmic context. God saw the present and the future, and evil could not win; the authority, signs, and dominance (v12-13) of these corrupt leaders were false and temporary.
God’s plan of redemption was written before the foundation of the world (v8). Our hope is in “the Lamb who was slain,” and He is already victorious.
“Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation” (v3). The people of Israel, like all humans, found it tempting to put their trust in fallible human leaders. Because they could not see Him, they doubted the power of God, “who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry” (v7). Yet only God will not disappoint us. Only God “sets the prisoners free … lifts up those who are bowed down …will reign forever” (v7-10).
The Lord “keeps faith forever” (v6). When our hope is firmly in Him, we have realistic expectations for fellow humans, and we are not easily shaken.
December 15: Revelation 16 (12/15/2014)
December 14: Psalm 147 (12/14/2014)
December 13: Zechariah 7 (12/13/2014)
December 12: Zechariah 5-6 (12/12/2014)
December 11: Zechariah 4 (12/11/2014)
December 10: Revelation 15 (12/10/2014)
December 9: Revelation 14 (12/09/2014)
December 8: Revelation 13 (12/08/2014)
December 7: Psalm 146 (12/07/2014)
December 6: Zechariah 3 (12/06/2014)
December 5: Zechariah 2 (12/05/2014)
December 4: Zechariah 1 (12/04/2014)
December 3: Revelation 12 (12/03/2014)
December 2: Revelation 11 (12/02/2014)
December 1: Revelation 10 (12/01/2014)
November 30: Psalm 145 (11/30/2014)
November 29: Haggai 2 (11/29/2014)
November 28: Haggai 1 (11/28/2014)
November 27: Zephaniah 3 (11/27/2014)
November 26: Zephaniah 2 (11/26/2014)