Vs. 3 , “As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” It is probably Tuesday on the Passion week of Christ. Jesus and his disciples are returning to Bethany for the evening. They rest at the Mount of Olives and look down upon the beautiful city and temple. The disciple’s comment of the beauty of the temple (vs. 1-2) and it is here that Jesus uses this opportunity to warn His disciples of the future. Bear in mind, these prophecies had both meaning for their near future (destruction of the temple) and the End Times in which we live today. We must be careful to watch out (vs. 4-14) for these things: false prophets, wars, famines, death, martyrs, world chaos, and a good one, the spreading of the Gospel. Brothers and sisters, we are so close to the Gospel being preached to all nations (vs. 14)! Jesus not switches gears and points to a specific prophecy (Daniel 9:27) concerning the abomination of desolation (vs. 15-28). This description has a double-meaning for the destruction done in 70 AD, but also the Tribulation that is yet to come. Jesus also reminds them again of false Christ’s and false prophets. Jesus then gives all of us a preview into His second coming (vs. 29-31). The fig tree (vs. 32-35) reminds us to ultimately be ready because the signs point towards Jesus’ return. Jesus uses the days of Noah and the flood as an example of people being told, but not realizing when (vs. 36-41). Just as a homeowner must be diligent to keep watch for a thief at night, we too are to be alert (vs. 42-44). This is a very easy example to take for granted because we think that surely Jesus won’t come back now. The last example/parable is the good servant vs. the wicked servant (vs. 45-51). This is more about the heart of each person, one takes for granted that Jesus will return while the other’s heart stays true.
Regarding application…Love Growing Cold. Vs. 12, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” This is a startling statement of truth from Jesus! It’s a sobering thought because He spoke of the time that we live in. I’ve heard people blame the media for over-exaggerating the atrocities of this world. Our excuse is that it’s always been that way, so don’t be alarmed. I would concur that a sinful world has been evil, but Jesus makes it quite clear that IS getting worse. The concern for us Christians today is that the increase of wickedness is affecting the church. We see the sinful world and then we look at the imperfect church and we grow disillusioned by it all. Brothers and sisters, don’t let your love grow cold. It is this very day that Jesus showed the full extent of His love by washing His disciples feel at the Last Supper on Thursday night before His death on the cross.
Vs. 1, “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.” What a wonderful hope we have for our future! The promise of a new heaven and earth (Isaiah 65:17, 66:22) now will come to fruition. Question: Can you imagine a place with no more tears, death, mourning, crying or pain (vs. 4)? This is the place where those who softened their heart and put all trust in the Savior will reside, and quite a comparison to those who do not (vs. 6-8). The bride of Christ (the church) is the new city Jerusalem. We see the combining of the OT saints to the church with the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles (vs. 11-14). In other words, the faithful will have an eternal reunion! As John takes his measuring rod, we should be stunned by the size and of the new heavens (vs. 15-21). Think about it; 12,000 stadia is equivalent to 1500 miles long, wide and the kicker, tall! That’s a gargantuan new heavens! The beauty will take our breath away because it will reflect the glory of God. It’s quite notable that there is no specific temple (vs. 22), for the whole place is the temple of God. There will be no need for the sun or moon, for God’s glory will provide the light (vs. 23-24).
Regarding application…God Dwells with Us. Vs. 3, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” Jesus is called Immanuel (God with us) and now we literally will have God dwell physically with us again (Garden of Eden). While we find much comfort in the promised Holy Spirit, dwelling with God in the new heavens and earth is going to be amazing! I think back to my young childhood on those scary nights where the darkness would seem to overwhelm me. The noises and sounds of the wind would cause me to run to my mom’s room and beg her to sleep in her bed that night. The safety I felt like a child was wonderful, but imagine brothers and sisters that it will be incredibly amplified when we are finally dwelling with our God!
Vs. 3, “And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” Much is covered in this chapter, but a huge question looms. Question: Who are these two witnesses? The book of Revelation has strong differing opinions from biblical scholars. Some believe that John is approaching this particular chapter metaphorically, while others believe in a more literal approach. A wide belief over the centuries have been that the two witnesses are Moses (Law) and Elijah (Prophets). Their purpose is to display the power of God during this time of Tribulation. The antichrist will seemingly defeat them in the middle of the Tribulation, but God had different plans for them (vs. 7-14).
From an historical point of view, the purpose of trumpets were used to acknowledge the ascent of a king to the throne. This event looks to the future as God’s wrath will be poured out upon the evil that is in rebellion towards God. We see the ark of God’s covenant which symbolized God’s presence with His people.
Regarding application…Bearing Witness.Vs. 3, “And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” In the face of trial and persecution, they set the example for us. For Jesus Himself gave us the responsibility to bear witness to this world too (Acts 1:8). The two witnesses remind us that God will give us power. However, the temporal outcome looked grim. But God raised them up and He will raise us up too! Brothers and sisters, let us not grow weary in bearing witness about our Lord and Savior! What area in your life today can you share the love of Christ?
Vs. 1, “From the blue, purple and scarlet yarn they made woven garments for ministering in the sanctuary. They also made sacred garments for Aaron, as the Lord commanded Moses.” The first portion of this chapter (vs. 1-31) is a repeated from chapter 28. In this chapter, we see the specific instructions of the holy priesthood. Question: What was the purpose of the priests? They were the ones responsible to bringing sacrifices and offerings in the tabernacle/temple. Additionally, they served to bless God and help teach His word to others. Bear in mind, earlier we read that God promised Israel that they all would become a “kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6). And in the New Testament, this thought affirms this priesthood for the church in Hebrews and Revelation. When we look at the descriptions of the garments the High Priest and the priests were to wear, notice the garments were made of the same material of the actual tabernacle (vs. 5). They were not made to draw attention to the priests, but really bring attention to their purpose. Out of the seven pieces of apparel, the ephod and breastpiece stand out among them. Both of these pieces would bear the names of the sons of Israel. And the latter part of our chapter covers Moses’ inspection of the completed tabernacle (vs. 32-43).
Regarding application…Job Well Done. Vs. 43, “Moses inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the Lord had commanded. So Moses blessed them.” A fitting end to the completion of the tabernacle finished not by individuals but a team. There is something special in hearing a job well done. We love to hear compliments. God created us with emotions and feelings. This past weekend was a busy one as my church hosted a booth at our local community parade. It literally took months of planning and preparation. It was quite a relief to hear many people give compliments to our ministry for a job well done. I couldn’t have done it without all those who helped. We are all building God’s spiritual tabernacle/temple in the church today. One day, we look forward to hearing the Lord say, “Well done good and faithful servant.” Let’s have a blessed start of our week!
Vs. 1, “Have Aaron your brother brought to you from among the Israelites, along with his sons Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, so they may serve me as priests.” In this chapter, we see the specific instructions of the holy priesthood. Question: What was the purpose of the priests? They were the ones responsible to bringing sacrifices and offerings in the tabernacle/temple. Additionally, they served to bless God and help teach His word to others. Bear in mind, earlier we read that God promised Israel that they all would become a “kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6). And in the New Testament, this thought affirms this priesthood for the church in Hebrews and Revelation. When we look at the descriptions of the garments the High Priest and the priests were to wear, notice the garments were made of the same material of the actual tabernacle (vs. 5). They were not made to draw attention to the priests, but really bring attention to their purpose. Out of the seven pieces of apparel, the ephod and breastpiece stand out among them. Both of these pieces would bear the names of the sons of Israel.
Regarding application…Sacred Garments. Vs. 2, “Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron to give him dignity and honor.” God called His people to be set apart from the ways of this world. The ornate garments for the priests were to bring honor to them (vs. 2), but not just for themselves, but to honor the Lord! If the President Barak Obama came out to give his state of the union address in his pajama’s, that would not only bring shame to him, but it would bring ridicule from many others. When God gives us a responsibility, we are to ensure that honor is brought to His name. While God does look at the heart, that doesn’t excuse us from what we do on the outside.
Vs. 8, “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.” In the first section of our chapter, we see the Lord begin to give very specific instructions on the building of His sanctuary (vs. 1-9). The Israelites must have attained such wealthy items from the plunder of the Egyptians before they left Egypt (Exodus 12:36). Question: What is the purpose of this construction of the tabernacle? The answer is found in the verse above, so that God can dwell among them. It is interesting that the first instruction is the building of the ark (vs. 10-22). The ark would be the symbol of God’s powerful presence with His people. The building of the table (vs. 23-30) serves the purpose of holding the bread of the Presence. Most scholars believe this bread is indicative of the meal aspect of fellowship with God. They were to put out twelve loaves on the table (Leviticus 24:6) and replaced weekly. Then they were to build with a talent of pure gold (75 pounds) a golden lampstand (vs. 31-40) . Aside from giving light at night, we are not entirely sure what the purpose of the lampstand is. Some scholars speculate it represents a tree of life. Some of you may be wondering what’s the point of all of this? With the idea of God dwelling among them gives us the understanding that this is God’s way to connect with His people. It is symbolic of the detail that God has put in the world He created for us. Eventually the tabernacle would be replaced with temple and then in the New Testament, we are reminded that we are now the temple of God (I Corinthians 3:16-17).
Regarding application…Offering Freely. Vs. 2, “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give.” This was an exciting time for the Israelites as the LORD continued to show them His love for them. The building of this tabernacle could have been done completely by God in an instant. But instead, He called upon His people to offer freely of what He blessed them with already. In fact, the people gave so freely and so much that Moses literally had to tell them to stop giving (Exodus 36:3-7). What a wonderful problem! Brothers and sisters, God is continuing to build His temple in our hearts and in our church today. We have both physically means and spiritual means of giving freely that which God has given to us. Question: How can you offer freely to your church? Give with a cheerful heart!
Vs. 1, “An oracle: The word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi.” Malachi opens up with some rhetorical questions regarding the LORD’s love for Jacob and his hatred towards Esau (vs. 2-5). Basically, they had forgotten God’s grace showered upon them (vs. 2). This idea of hate is not stemming from evil, rather it shows the just actions of our Heavenly Father. Israel should have known better their standing with the LORD. Their sinful ways (most notably, the priests) led to a response that completely brought shame. They were withholding their best animals and sacrificing blemished offerings (vs. 8) (Leviticus 22:19). To make matters worse, they would not have done such a thing for their human governor, yet they were doing this to the LORD! They had forgotten through their actions (at least) that God was the numero uno (vs. 11-14).
Regarding application…Second Best. Vs. 13b, “…When you bring injured, crippled or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the Lord.” Before we are quick to judge the priests of Malachi’s time, I wonder how many times we have given God our second best. Especially these days, bills and debt seem to accumulate far more than profit. It’s easy to quickly justify our offerings to God (both money and spiritual gifts). I’ve seen far more commitment from Christians to their workplace or hobbies than to their church. Brothers and sisters, God is not pleased (vs. 10). Let us rethink and pray where our priorities are. Serve the Lord and His church and let’s bring a sacrifice of praise holy and pleasing to God! Not because we have too, but because He loves us and we love Him!
Vs. 1, “A prophecy: The word of the Lord concerning Israel. The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the human spirit within a person, declares:…” Another oracle/prophesy reminds us that God of all creation is at work and in control! God’s people (Jerusalem) will be like a cup of wrath, an immovable rock, a blinding defense, and a consuming fire against the nations that go against her (vs. 2-8). Question: Why is this so important? Zechariah is trying to remind them that with God on their side, Jerusalem is unbeatable. The people took for granted that Jerusalem would always be impenetrable. But, their sin separated them from God. That is why the city and temple were destroyed by the Babylonians. Now as they rebuild after the exile, they need encouragement and a reminder that God’s promises will still come true. There are several thoughts on who Zechariah is referring to (vs. 10-14) and the subsequent identity of the mourners. However, most believe it does point ultimately to Christ, the Anointed one!
Regarding application…Source of Strength. Vs. 5, “Then the clans of Judah will say in their hearts, ‘The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the Lord Almighty is their God.” This reminds me of Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The summer of my 8th grade year into high school, I ran the state 10K competition. I was quite skinny and could run like the wind back in the day. The day of run, it was a hot and humid August day in the Mid-west. As we ran our course, I was surprised to see water stations setup every mile. I felt like a person running on the red carpet of fame! It was so nice to have people holding out water for each runner as we ran by. That day, I ran my fastest 10K and while I could have done it without the water stations, I would not have ran it much slower. It was the water that was the source of my strength. Likewise, we are strong because the LORD Almighty is our source!
Vs. 1, “I looked up again, and there before me were four chariots coming out from between two mountains—mountains of bronze.” This is the 8th an final night vision for Zechariah and is reminiscent of the initial vision in chapter one serving as a bookend. However, this time the horses are pulling chariots and there is a fourth black horse. Question: What do these horses and chariots signify? Chariots were like the modern version of tanks, so they were readying themselves to dispense judgment. Most biblical scholars believe the two mountains are Mount Zion and the Mount of Olives and the four spirits (vs. 5) represent the four corners of the earth (North, South East, West). This vision is fulfilled by the overthrow of the Babylonians via the Persians (vs. 8). The latter half of the chapter (vs. 9-15), we see God’s plan for the return from Babylon for His people. As the captives came back, they were to pool their gold and silver and construct a crown for Joshua the High Priest (vs. 11). This event in Zechariah bringing the royal and priestly (vs. 12-13) lines together help fulfill the prophecy of Jeremiah.
Regarding application…Future Hope! Vs. 12, “Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord.” Though the crown was intended for Joshua the High Priest, the Branch (vs. 12) really points us towards our true future hope in Jesus the Messiah! It is Jesus who fulfills the royal and priestly lines! There was much hope for Israel as they returned from Exile. I can’t help but think of our own future hope as we await the Lord Jesus a second time! This really helps me have perspective about the bigger picture. With a new church and moving next weekend, there are many thoughts about what is in store for my family and I. Yet, this hope drives me in faith to know that God is in control!
Vs. 1, “Then the angel who talked with me returned and woke me up, like someone awakened from sleep.” Zechariah fifth vision comes as the angel wakes him up, remember all of these vision came to him in one night. Zechariah is given a vision of a golden lampstand with a bowl on top along with seven lamps and two olive trees on the right and left side of it (vs. 3-4). Question: What is the significance of this golden lampstand and the two olive trees? The Olive trees signify the olive oil that is continuously supplying the lamps via the channels from the trees. The purpose of the vision is to encourage Zerubbabel (Governor) that God will help supply all the needs to lead the rebuilding. No enemy would be able to stand against Israel. Subsequently, the olive trees also represent the leaders of Zechariah’s time, Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel (vs. 14) or prophets like Haggai and Zechariah. There are differing thoughts on this understanding.
Regarding application…Spirit’s Power. Vs. 6, “So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Question: How was this big monumental task of rebuilding God’s temple going to be possible? By the Spirit’s power. Last week, we were reminded from our reading in Galatians 5, that we are to keep in step with the Spirit. As a preacher and teacher of God’s word, I too have been admonished to pray for the Spirit’s illumination as I prepare and teach. I think there is certainly a tendency to rely too much on our own talent and abilities. When we look at many church communities today, there are fears about our future. Yet, this was what was going on in Zechariah’s time for there was fear about their own community. There is when we must not try to do things by our own power, trust in the Lord!