Zechariah 1-4: The Message

5-6 “‘And where are your ancestors now? Dead and buried. And the prophets who preached to them? Also dead and buried. But the Message that my servants the prophets spoke, that isn’t dead and buried. That Message did its work on your ancestors, did it not? It woke them up and they came back, saying, ‘He did what he said he would do, sure enough. We didn’t get by with a thing.’”

“The Message… isn’t dead and buried.”

What was this message? The one that God sent to His people through the entire O.T.? “I will be your God and you will be my people. I will bless you so that you can be a blessing.”

Over and over in various ways and through various people, God’s message was the same. He promised this to Abram and each time His people turned from Him, He asked them to repent and to come back to Him.

We see it again in the N.T. through the shouts of a locust-eating prophet and in parables that Jesus told, and also through Jesus’ selfless life. He just came to gather what was lost.  God wants His people to come back, not so He can punish them, but so He can bless them.

Even today, the message isn’t dead. I hear testimony upon testimony about God wooing His people back to Him. This message is collective and yet still wildly personal. Mine is in there, with the others, proclaiming that He is good and wants us back. And when we come back…He runs, open armed to embrace us. Every. Single. Time.

 

Ezra 4-6 Psalm 137: Constuction Zone

The enemies of Judah worked hard to get the building of the temple stopped. They wrote letters to kings and discouraged leaders. It was a mess.

But then, King Darius found Cyrus’ decree int eh archives and proclaimed:

Ezra 6: 2May the God who has caused His name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who attempts to change it, so as to destroy this house of God in Jerusalem. I, Darius, have issued this decree, let it be carried out with all diligence!

I can just hear the resounding shout: “Get back to work, Boys!”

I like this part of the verse: “May the God who has caused His name to dwell there overthrow and king or people who attempts to change it…” because, you see, God dwells here, in me.

It reminds me of a verse in Philippians “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (1:6)

Construction continues!

Ezra 1-3: Cyrus

cyrus-cylinder-photo1

This is the “Cyrus Cylinder”, the actual proclamation mentioned in the first chapter of Ezra allowing the people of Israel to return to their lands and to rebuild the temple of God. Cool, huh? Yeah.

This right here is a symbol of hope. The people were enslaved, totally at the mercy of their captors. Cyrus didn’t have to set them free, in fact, it was in his best interest NOT to.

But he did.

‘Cause God told him to.

“God, the God of the heavens, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has also assigned me to build him a Temple of worship in Jerusalem, Judah. Who among you belongs to his people? God be with you! Go to Jerusalem which is in Judah and build The Temple of God, the God of Israel, Jerusalem’s God. Those who stay behind, wherever they happen to live, will support them with silver, gold, tools, and pack animals, along with Freewill-Offerings for The Temple of God in Jerusalem.” Ezra 1:1-4

So these people who, by all accounts were a fallen nation, were able to rebuild because God prodded a foreign king to let them go.

And we think we have hopeless situations? Ha!

Hope is something that God likes to give away.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” Romans 15:13

 

 

Daniel 10-12: A Friend

I am always interested to see how people are described in the Bible, not just by their peers, but by those in heaven. For example, Moses was “a friend of God”. I always thought that it would be amazing to be known as God’s friend, but Daniel, the descriptions of him are equally wonderful…

He said to me, “O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” Daniel 10:11

Here in the NASV he is “man of esteem”, in the Message translation he is “Man of quality” and in the King James Daniel is called “a man greatly beloved.”

Oh, how grand to be thought of as a person of character by heaven!

 

Daniel 7-9

There are so many books, sermons, movies, pamphlets, and blog posts written to decipher these chapters : angry voices raised one against the other. I almost wanted to skip it entirely because I hate the division that I see among the people of God.

But I read the most encouraging thing I could possibly read during this time of unrest, uncertainty and unkindness:

“But then The Old One intervened and decided things in favor of the people of the High God. In the end, God’s holy people took over the kingdom.” Daniel 7:22

Once again, please: “In the end, God’s holy people took over the kingdom.

A happy ending.🙂

Daniel 4-6: Unshakable

There is a lot of action contained in these three chapters…

Nebuchadnezzar has visions, Daniel comes to explain them and then Neb runs around like a wild animal until he says that God is #1.

Neb’s son Belshazzar (not to be confused with Belteshazzar, Daniel’s Persian name) is having a party and an uninvited guest comes and tags the wall with a warning. Daniel comes and busts out some really bad news and is (surprisingly) given honors and a new robe. Belshazzar dies and a new power emerges.

Darius (the new king) makes a decree that everyone needs to recognize that he’s top dog or else they get tossed into the lion’s den. (Apparently he did not read the story of the guy who previously turned into a dog because of his arrogance. History is important, kids!) Daniel, of course, prays to God and Darius sadly adds him to the lion’s den. Daniel does not get eaten, but returns to his buddy Darius and continues to love God.

Three kings, two nations and Daniel is still the same man of integrity that we saw in chapter 1. Daniel, whose nation was subdued, who was forced into slavery, who has a tremendous gift, who gets thrown to be torn limb form limb! Daniel keeps the same humble, joyful posture even in the face of pain, sorrow and possible death.

In heaven’s year book, I’d vote Daniel for “Most Consistent” and maybe “Best Dressed”.

Daniel 1-3: Daniel the Hero

This one isn’t about the lion’s den. This is the one where King Nebuchadnezzar has this horrible game show called “Tell Me My Dream or Die” and Daniel saves the wise men from doom. Yeah. It’s pretty cool.

So, Nebuchadnezzar told his wise men that they had to, not only, tell him what his dream meant, but also, tell him what he dreamed. If the wiseguys could do as he asked they would receive a ticker-tape parade with lots of rewards, but if they failed, he would kill them. No pressure.

Because they could not give the king the answer he wanted, Neb dispatched his man Arioch to go kill all of the wise men. All of them.

When Daniel got wind that something was happening, he asked Arioch to give him the low-down. Daniel prayed and God gave him the answer that the king sought. Arioch didn’t need to kill anyone and all the wise guys cheered!

Here’s the part that’s got my mind turning: Daniel saved the unbelievers, the false prophets–his enemies.  different political and theological ideas than he did.

Daniel heard the Lord, he was faithful AND he blessed those who had different political and theological ideas than he did. For that, Daniel is a hero in my book, or um, my blog. Daniel for president!!

Joel 1-3: The Battle

There is a trumpet sound in Zion, an alarm, a battle cry. Gather the people and…fast and pray?

Blow a trumpet in Zion,
Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly,
Gather the people, sanctify the congregation,
Assemble the elders
Joel 2:15-16
If I were watching an action flick, I would expect a flurry of activity. People would be mounting horses and sharpening swords. In a matter of minutes, generals would be addressing their troops and men would hug and kiss their women and children as they leave for battle.
But this is a different battle, isn’t it? It’s not against an enemy from without, it is the enemy within the camp. The Lord calling His people back to Himself and when they come back,
“It will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions.
“Even on the male and female servants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
Joel 2:28-29
How do we really win a war in the kingdom? With worship, fasting and prayer.

Ezekiel 46-48: The Last Word

“…and the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there.”

That’s the way it ends, folks. Visions, prophetic words, lamentations, rushing water but at the end, just a few words about where the Lord chooses to reside.

I want the rooms and all the space in THIS temple of mine to be called “The Lord is there”. There could be no greater accolade than to have someone look at my life and remark that they see God in me. I want that stamp, that sticker, that seal: “God’s Place” to be over my heart.

Put me like a seal over your heart,

Like a seal on your arm.

For love is as strong as death, Jealousy is as severe as Sheol;

Its flashes are flashes of fire, The very flame of the LORD.

Song of Solomon 8:8

Hear it here.

Ezekiel 43-45: Great and Terrible

Ezekiel 43:2 and behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east. And His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory. 3And it was like the appearance of the vision which I saw, like the vision which I saw when He came to destroy the city.

God’s voice sounded like many waters. MANY waters, not the still waters of Psalm 23. Many waters are not silent, not tranquil: they are uncontrollable and deafening. When He came, the prophet couldn’t tell if this was judgement or mercy. Do they both look the same, I wonder?

Wouldn’t that be frightening? Even if you know who you are and you love the Lord, it’s still scary.

No matter the manner the Holy One comes, our response should be the same as the prophet’s:

and I fell on my face.”

Humility, honor, reverence. It is always the correct response.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.