August 16, 2015

Zechariah
shared with his contemporary Haggai the prophetic task of getting the people of Judah to rebuild their ruined Temple...There was a job to do, and the two prophets teamed up to make sure it got done.  But Zechariah did more than that as the self-identity as the people of God was in ruins.  For a century they had been knocked around by the world powers, kicked and mocked, used and abused.  This once proud people, their glorious sacred history had been treated with contempt for so long that they were in danger of losing all connection with that past, losing their magnificent identity as God’s people...

Zechariah reinvigorated their imaginations with his visions and messages...Zechariah’s enigmatic visions, working at multiple levels, and his poetically charged messages are at work still.

Zechariah 1-4 - 
In the 8th month of the second year in the reign of Darius, God’s Message came to the prophet Zechariah.  “God was very angry with your ancestors so give to the people the message to ‘come back to me and I’ll come back to you.‘  Don’t be like your parents... who stubbornly refused to listen....                

On the 24th day of the 11th month, Zechariah spoke of how one night he looked out and saw a man astride a red horse.  He was in the shadows in a grove of birches.  Behind him were more horses -- a red, a chestnut and a white....These are the riders God sent to check things out on earth.  They reported back that all was well and everything was under control.  The Angel of God then reported back to God and questioned how long he was going to stay angry with Jerusalem/Judah and when he was going to let up as 70 years seemed long enough.  God reassured the Angel with good and comforting words who then addressed Zechariah to tell the people that God cares deeply for Jerusalem and Zion.  I feel very protective of them.  But I’m thoroughly angry with the godless nations that act as if they own the whole world...I’ve come back to Jerusalem, but with compassion this time...My cities will prosper again.  I will comfort Zion again.  

I looked up and was surprised by another vision: four horns...these are the powers that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem abroad.  Then God expanded the vision to include four blacksmiths God said that since the horns scattered Judah so badly that no one had any hope left, these blacksmiths had arrived to combat the horns.
                                    
I looked up and was surprised to see a man holding a tape measure in his hand.  He was on his way to survey Jerusalem.  An angel came in and said, “Run!  Tell the Surveyor that Jerusalem will burst its walls--bursting with people, bursting with animals, and I’ll be right there with her.”...Up on your feet!  Get out of there -- and now!  God says so.  Return from your far exile.  

Next the Messenger-Angel showed me the high priest Joshua...Joshua, standing before the angel, was dressed in dirty clothes.  The angel spoke to his attendants, “Get him out of those filthy clothes,” and then said to Joshua.  “Look, I’ve stripped you of your sin and dressed you in clean clothes.”...  God’s angel then charged Joshua...”If you live the way I tell you and remain obedient in my service, then you’ll make the decisions around here and oversee my affairs... Careful, High Priest Joshua---both you and your friends sitting here with you, for your friends are in on this, too!  

In a 5th vision, I saw a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top.  Seven lamps, each with seven spouts, are set on the bowl.  And there are two olive trees, one on either side of the bowl... This is God’s message to Zerubbabel:  You can’t force these things.  They only come about through my Spirit, says God... The seven lamps are the eyes of God probing the dark corners of the world like searchlights.  And the two olive trees on either side of the lampstand represent the two who stand beside the Master of the whole earth and supply golden lamp oil worldwide. 

Ephesians 6
Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right.  “Honor your father and mother...so you will live well and have a long life.” “Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them.  Take them by the hand and lead down hard on them.  Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master...Servants, work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do.  And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter what happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God...

And that about wraps it up.  God is strong and he wants you strong.  So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials....    

Be prepared...take all the help you can get...so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet.  Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words.  Learn how to apply them.  You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon.  In the same way, prayer is essential to this ongoing warfare. Pray long and hard.  Pray for your brothers and sisters.

Keep your eyes open.  Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind and drops out.... Love mixed with faith be yours from God the Father and from the Master, Jesus Christ.  Pure grace and nothing but grace be with all who love our Master, Jesus Christ.