It’s Saturday morning, December 10, 2011. I’m going to try to whiz through this before time to leave for setup this morning. I may save it and come back this afternoon, if I don’t feel like I’ve done it justice. It’s 33 degrees at the moment, a tad chillier than yesterday morning, but will get up to around 53 today. We have rain forecast to begin around Tuesday of next week.
Stephanie met with her teacher again yesterday, and then got all of her work completed yesterday afternoon. Things are looking up. After next week, she gets two weeks off. I hope we can get back on schedule quickly in January.
Today’s Bible readings:
Revelation 1; Zechariah 5-6; Isaiah 11:1-5
So today, I get to probably the most difficult book of the whole Bible. And, by the way, please note that it is “Revelation” (singular), NOT “Revelations.” The official, complete title of the book is either “The Revelation of St. John the Divine,” or “The Revelation of Jesus Christ,” depending on which version you are reading. Since it begins with the words, “The revelation of Jesus Christ,” I believe I’ll stick with that one. There is some disagreement on who the author is, but I think that most scholars agree that it was John, the disciple of Jesus. I read one commentary, a long time ago, that opined that it might have been John the Baptist. I’ve never seen anyone else suggest that. Here is how it begins:
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
I’m wondering if I should be sitting here reading this out loud… Also, we must understand that the word “soon” is relative. The “last days” were begun when Christ was resurrected, and when we remember that time is irrelevant to God, the word “soon” kind of loses any sense of urgency.
John begins by sending blessings to the “seven churches that are in Asia.” (v. 4) John also begins with a doxology, which, as we have seen in most of the New Testament Epistles, is saved for the ending. Then John gives us these words: Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. (v. 7) Yes, it is declared, Jesus will return, and all will see him! And it will not be a happy time for some people! “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (v. 8 )
After this, John describes the circumstances in which he received this revelation. He was exiled on an island called Patmos, “on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” (v. 9) Here you can see the location of Patmos.
John was told by a loud voice to “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” (v. 11) He described the voice as sounding like a trumpet. When he turned around to see the source of the voice, at first, he saw seven golden lampstands. And then here is what he saw. …in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. (vv. 13-16) Understandably, John’s first reaction was to fall at his feet as though dead. John was seeing a vision of the Lord! It was Jesus he saw. But Jesus put a hand on him and said to him, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. (vv. 18-20) Thus ends the first chapter of Revelation.
(It is now 3:30 pm, we have been to setup, the grocery store, and lunch at Hoffbrau. I’m back to pick up where I left off.)
At the beginning of Zechariah 5, the prophet sees a flying scroll. But what makes this flying scroll so special (besides the fact that it’s a flying scroll) is that it is twenty cubits by 10 cubits. That’s quite a large scroll. (If you remember, a cubit is approximately 18 inches, so 20 cubits would be approximately 30 feet…10 yards!) The Lord said that this scroll represented a curse going out over the land to clean out everyone who stole or swore falsely by his name. Then, Zechariah sees a basket with a lead cover. There is a woman in the basket, and it is stated that she is “Wickedness.” Then two other women, who must have been angels of some kind, picked up the basket and took it away. Zechariah was told that she was being taken to “Shinar.” This, apparently, is an ancient name for Babylon.
In chapter 6, Zechariah is told to go to Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and place upon his head a crown of gold. Then, it was stated, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD. It is he who shall build the temple of the LORD and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule on his throne. And there shall be a priest on his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”‘ You see, “Joshua” is also “Yeshua,” which can also be translated “Jesus.” It is Jesus who will become the High Priest. He will build the true Temple, and he will sit on the throne forever. He is “the Branch,” that is referred to in Zechariah.
This same idea is brought forth in Isaiah’s prophecy, in chapter 11:1-5. There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins. Once again, this “Branch” is Jesus the Messiah.
I am thankful, Lord, that, as I come close to finishing my quest of reading through the Bible this year, you have kept me faithful in my reading, and that I have made it this far. As I start my foray into the book of Revelation, I pray that you would keep me focused on what is central in the book, as well as what is central in the entire Bible, and that is Jesus Christ. There is much to get bogged down with in reading Revelation, and that is a danger of it. But I want to focus on Christ as I read this book, and his ultimate victory. In fact, Father, as I finish this year, let me see Christ in every part of Scripture that I read from now until the close of the year, especially since we spend this part of the year celebrating his birth.
Lord, I am thankful for good friends. Especially good friends who are faithful to pray, even when we don’t ask them to. Lord, you have worked on my pride this year. And perhaps I didn’t realize until this morning, just exactly what you were doing. But I thank you for the work that you have done in my life. You led us to The Exchange for a reason. I’m not 100% sure yet what that reason is, but I’m beginning to have a good idea. I am grateful for it, Lord. We have a ministry already, even though it is mostly behind the scenes. And I’m thinking that is good for us, after spending so many years being “up front.” I praise you, Father. Not really for any specific thing, but just because I feel like praising you.
I pray for the rest of this day. We plan to venture out to look at Christmas lights this evening. I pray for a good time as we do this. It’s always been a special time for our family. I pray for good rest tonight, and, as we get up tomorrow, may we be alert and rested for the part we will play in tomorrow’s Worship Celebration. May the worship that is offered up to you tomorrow morning be pure and acceptable in your sight. May we be all about Jesus and nothing else!
I’ve discovered, today, how difficult it is to come back to a blog that was begun earlier in the day. The focus is disrupted, and I think it shows. My main thing today is simply Jesus. He is The Branch. He is the King. He is my Redeemer. All glory to him!
Grace and peace, friends.