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I love it! In today's readings Zechariah prophesies 500 years in advance about Jesus entering Jerusalem riding on a donkey to a hail of Hosanna's (days before his death - popularly known as Palm Sunday) in verse 9: "Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt." This reminds me of a saying of one of my classmates in a Bible study class: "You can't understand the New Testament if you don't understand the Old Testament!" How have the prophecies in the Old Testament this year strengthened your faith in the New Testament? How have they strengthened your faith in Jesus? Below is an image of the fulfillment of this prophesy by the Italian artist Ambrogio Bondone Giotto from the year 1303:
We continue to read some incredible prophesies from Zechariah today about Jesus, the Messiah, coming in 500 years! In chapter 10 verse 4 today Zechariah calls Jesus the "cornerstone": "From Judah will come the cornerstone, the tent peg, the bow for battle, and all the rulers." Why do you think Zechariah called Jesus the cornerstone? You'll recall that we read earlier in the year this passage in Matthew chapter 21 verse 42: "Then Jesus asked them,
In Zechariah chapter 11 verses 12 & 13 we have a foreshadowing of Judas betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver - and Judas' money being used to buy the potters field: "And I said to them, “If you like, give me my wages, whatever I am worth; but only if you want to.” So they counted out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—this magnificent sum at which they valued me! So I took the thirty coins and threw them to the potter in the Temple of the Lord." (hopefully you caught Zechariah's sarcasm in "this magnificent sum"...) A couple things to note here - 30 pieces of silver was the price of a slave among the Israelites in ancient times. Paying this price to Zechariah was an insult. However, paying this price for the life of Jesus was an unfathomable insult. Our Lord's life was sold for 30 pieces of silver... During this Christmas season this is really sad to think about - it's sad to think about this at any time, but somehow just celebrating our Lord's birth 2 days ago, and then now thinking about how his precious life was sold for 30 silver pieces is just incredibly sad for me today. Zechariah was rejected. Jesus was rejected. Think it's possible that if you and I really live our lives for God - really live our faith - that we too may be rejected some day? That perhaps someday our lives could be sold for just 30 pieces of silver? (There are modern day martyrs whose lives were taken for much less than this amount...) Below is the artist Rembrandt's painting from the year 1629 of "Judas Returning the Thirty Silver Pieces" and below that is a replica of 30 silver shekels from the 1st century:
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Zechariah titled "Oracle Concerning YHWH's Sovereignty" is at this link.
Today in Zechariah chapter 12 we begin the second oracle in the book of Zechariah! It is interesting to note that the Hebrew term for "oracle" or "the word of the Lord" is only used 3 times in the Old Testament - here in 12:1, in Zechariah 9:1 and in Malachi 1:1. This indicates that Zechariah chapters 9 through 14 were likely written at about the same time as the book of Malachi - the last book of the Old Testament - which we'll be reading in a couple of days! :) This 2nd oracle in Zechariah consists of the final siege of Jerusalem and Jesus' return as Messiah to defeat Israel's enemies and establish his kingdom. Below is a Russian artist's icon of the prophet Zechariah from the 1400's:
Chapter 12 verse 10 is a powerful Messianic verse in today's readings: "Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on all the people of Jerusalem. They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died." The first sentence indicates a pouring out of the Holy Spirit. In the second sentence it appears that Jesus is speaking in the first person - here in the Old Testament! The use of the word pierced here is similar to Psalm 22:16 - "they have pierced my hands and my feet" and John 19:34-37 - "Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”" Below is an oil painting from the year 1515 of the One they pierced by the German painter Matthias Grünewald:
Chapter 13 verse 7 is another powerful verse about Jesus: ""Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, the man who is my partner, says the LORD Almighty. Strike down the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn against the lambs." This last sentence is quoted by Jesus just before his arrest in Matthew 26:31 and Mark 14:27. It is applied to the scattering of the apostles, but can also be considered for the dispersion of the Jews in A.D. 70 after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. And yet, even after the sheep were scattered, do you realize that Jesus is seeking after his lost sheep? Have you been found by Jesus?
Today we finish the book of the prophet Zechariah! Verses 6 through 8 gave my imagination a great workout today: "On that day the sources of light will no longer shine, yet there will be continuous day! Only the LORD knows how this could happen! There will be no normal day and night, for at evening time it will still be light. On that day life-giving waters will flow out from Jerusalem, half toward the Dead Sea and half toward the Mediterranean, flowing continuously both in summer and in winter." How does this sound to you? Not bad, eh. The light and the life-giving waters sound wonderful to me! When it comes to the continuous Light mentioned in these verses, where do you suppose the continuous Light will be coming from? Or - rather than from where - perhaps I should ask from Whom do you suppose the continuous Light will be coming from...
Verse 16 is interesting: "In the end, the enemies of Jerusalem who survive the plague will go up to Jerusalem each year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Shelters." Tyndale's One Year Bible Companion has a great Question of "Why will there still be an Old Testament Feast during the Messiah's Kingdom?" And an answer that basically says the Feast of the Tabernacles (also called Shelters or Booths or simply Sukkot) will still be appropriate because it is a festival of thanksgiving, celebrating those who love God with all their soul. The other feasts of the Old Testament won't be celebrated as they were all fulfilled - The Passover in Jesus' death - Day of Atonement in Jesus' Salvation - Feast of Firstfruits in Jesus' resurrection - and Pentecost with the gift of the Holy Spirit. More great info on the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, from a Jewish website is at this link. For a Christian website's perspective on this Feast go here.
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Zechariah titled "Oracle Concerning Israel" is at this link.
Worship God: Today's readings reminded me of the Jars of Clay song "Something Beautiful." I love the chorus to this song: "Close my eyes and hold my heart. Cover me and make me something. Change this something normal into something beautiful... "
Has God changed your something normal into something beautiful? Click here for your spiritual makeover!
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!