The King is coming, and coming again: Zechariah

Great is the Lord.

Bible in a Year Blog

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Today’s reading: Zechariah 8-14.

Peter Lynch had a remarkable ability to pick stocks. He managed the Magellan Fund from 1977 to 1990, and under his direction the fund gained 29% a year on average, a record that had not been beaten as of 2003. The accuracy of his predictions drew legions of investors and the fund grew from an initial size of $18 million to over $14 billion in assets. We put our trust in people who are able to make accurate predictions.

Zechariah also made some amazingly accurate predictions. Five hundred years before Jesus lived, he wrote the following about Israel’s Messiah:

  • See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (9:9; predicting Jesus’ triumphal entry to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday)
  • So they paid me thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said to me…

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Better get ready: Zechariah

As You said Lord, it shall be. Amen.

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Today’s reading: Zechariah 1-7.

God’s patience is unlimited, but with the return of the exiles it feels like he hit the fast forward button, sweeping out the old and preparing for the new. Zechariah’s prophetic visions reflect the frenzy and outline God’s plan for renewal. The next to last Old Testament book paves the way for the New Testament.

First vision: Horsemen. God is watching over the Jews and the world in order to show compassion to Jerusalem and Zion.

Second vision: Horns. God will remove the horns (nations) that plundered Jerusalem.

Third vision: Man with a measuring line. God will carry out his design to restore Jerusalem.

Fourth vision: Joshua the priest’s filthy garments. God will purify his leaders, symbolic of the cleansing that will come to all his people.

” ‘Listen, O high priest Joshua and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to…

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Putting God first: Haggai

Help me chose priorities from Your viewpoint Lord. I want to do Your will.

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Today’s reading: Haggai 1-2.

If any of you Christian people are tempted to put off some service for God which lies upon your heart, I pray you to remember your Lord’s words, and to imitate his prompt action, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” – Charles Spurgeon

Priorities. Why are they so hard to get right? Personally, I think it’s because we so often selfishly seek our own desires. Or, we give in to the tyranny of the urgent rather than focusing on the more important but quieter eternal matters. The Jews who returned from exile to rebuild Jerusalem failed to make God’s house a priority, and they suffered because of it.

“You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD…

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The Just shall Live by Faith: Habukkak 2

Help me Lord by eyes of faith to believe, even though I do not see. Thank You Lord.

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Today’s reading: Habakkuk – Zephaniah.

Wrestling is at the heart of Habakkuk. The prophet was wrestling with God when he wrote the book. Why were the wicked prospering? What was God up to as he delayed judgment? When would God act and make things right? Habakkuk lived in Jerusalem at a time, before the exile, when the wickedness of Judah’s political and religious leaders seemed ripe and overdue for judgment.

Martin Luther was wrestling with God 2,000 years later when Habakkuk took center stage in his thoughts. He was struggling with assurance of salvation, and failing to find peace with God by his own works, when the reality of “the just shall live by faith” blazed into his soul.

“Before those words broke upon my mind I hated God and was angry with him because, not content with frightening us sinners by the law and by the miseries of life…

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The end of Assyria: Nahum

No matter what happens among the nations, our God reigns.

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Today’s reading: Nahum 1-3.

“Why do those Assyrians keep popping up in the Old Testament?”

Assyria dominated the Middle East from the ninth to seventh centuries BC. Its territory stretched from modern-day Iraq through Syria to Jordan, Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea. It used advanced military technology to conquer surrounding nations and its cruelty was legendary. Nineveh, the same city that Jonah preached in, was its capitol. As Assyria grew in power it threatened the survival of both Israel and Judah, who had never faced such a mighty enemy.

841 BC Assyria begins to exact tribute from Israel.

760 BC (about) Jonah preaches in Nineveh and the city repents.

744 BC Tiglath-pileser III (called Pul in the Bible) reigns, and in 733 begins to invade Israel. Judah, under King Ahaz, pays tribute to Assyria to avoid conflict. Ahaz even builds a shrine to the Assyrian god, Asshur, in the…

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Can this be fixed? Micah

You fixed me Lord. Thank You.

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Today’s reading: Micah 1-7.

Each of us has a worldview, an understanding of how things work. For some it’s a crafted philosophy. For others it’s based on assumptions that are never consciously considered. But all worldviews seek to answer the basic questions of life:

  • How did I get here?
  • What went wrong?
  • Can this be fixed?

All the “isms” aim to provide answers to these questions. As an example, communism would say that things went wrong when owners oppressed workers to extract wealth, and that the way to fix things is to take away rights of property and make everyone equal in producing and consuming. Capitalism, in contrast, would say that the problem began when governments gave advantages to privileged or protected producers, and that the way to solve the problem is to empower entrepreneurs by giving them unregulated access to markets.

The people of Israel knew how we got…

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The reluctant missionary: Jonah

Help me fill my responsibilities in Your work Lord with Your help, not run away from it.

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Today’s reading: Obadiah, Jonah.

“Jonah and the whale. Isn’t that just a kid’s story?”

There’s so much content packed into the short story of Jonah. There’s a broken hero, danger at sea, the mysterious big fish, the impossibility of Jonah’s salvation, and the unexpected outcome of his mission. It’s definitely much more than a children’s story. It’s about the power of God’s word, his big heart for the lost people of the world, and our role in relating that love to people we may consider as enemies. Even Jesus had something to say about Jonah.

I don’t remember what pastor preached this outline on the book of Jonah, but I’ve always found it makes the story easy to remember.

Running away from God. Jonah rejects God’s call to go and preach to Nineveh. He tries to go as far away as possible, thinking foolishly that he can outrun the LORD. Instead…

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Starving for God’s word: Amos 8

Feed me till i want no more. Amen

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Today’s reading: Amos 6-9.

“Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.” – Charles Spurgeon

Nothing kindles a craving like a lack of the thing one desires. Whether it’s food, or sunshine, or affection, it doesn’t take long for pangs to grow when the hunger isn’t satisfied. Yet how easily we take something for granted, even ignoring it, when there is an abundant supply close at hand. Take the Bible, for instance. So many have been printed, so many homes have one, but so many of them go unopened. In ancient Israel and Judah, a multitude of prophets spoke God’s word loudly to the people, but their words were ignored and their mouths were sometimes shut forcibly. God decided it was time to take away his word so that the people would begin to hunger for it.

“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send…

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False vs. True Worship: Amos 5

Teach me Lord, to worship You in spirit and in truth.

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Today’s reading: Amos 1-5.

“What does God really think of the worship in my church?”

Too many times we go to church thinking about what we will get out of the service. What will the music be like? Will the sermon be good? Instead, we should focus on giving praise to God. Worship is about proclaiming the worth of the LORD. Like Isaiah in the temple, true worship occurs when we exalt God and are humbled by our sin. The prophet Amos knew this and pointed it out to his contemporaries in Israel and Judah. The people who showed up at “church” weren’t really worshiping. They were going through the ritual but there was no conviction, and God condemned them for it.

“I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies.  Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice…

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After the Day of the LORD: Joel 2

We are Yours. Please protect us in that day Lord.

Bible in a Year Blog

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Today’s reading: Joel 1-3.

“When is the Day of the LORD?”

It’s a tragic flaw that men and women keep trying to set a date for Jesus’ return. Jesus himself said that no man knows that hour but the Father. As in the ancient Jewish custom, in which the groom depended on his father to tell him when to go and get his bride for the wedding, Jesus waits on his Father for the command to go and claim his bride.

But the Bible has a lot to say about the events that occur before Jesus returns. We don’t know the hour of his second coming, but we can know the season. One of the biggest signals is the Day of the LORD. Isaiah described it this way:

  • The day of the LORD is a day of wrath.  God punishes the wicked and evil with anger and destruction.
  • It is a…

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