December 26 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty.” ~Zechariah 1:3

OLD TESTAMENT

Zechariah is a contemporary of Haggai and so he also is a prophet of the restoration period (also known as a post-exilic prophet). Haggai told the people living in their wood-paneled houses to stop making excuses and get to work on the place of worship. Zechariah assures them of God’s determination to bless them. You might say that Haggai brought the stick while Zechariah held out the carrot.

As this new generation settles back into Jerusalem with all their hopes and dreams of rebuilding, the prophet reminds them of the past. Their parents and grandparents were unfaithful to the Lord, and although He gave them opportunity after opportunity to change their ways, they refused to listen and so God brought them into exile. However, God promises to return His presence and His blessing to those who return to Him. He is coming to the aid of His people because they are precious to Him; they are the “apple of my eye” (Zech. 2:8). This Hebrew idiom simply means the most precious thing in the world to me. He will prosper His people until the walls of the city cannot contain their wealth. “Jerusalem will be a city without walls” (Zech. 2:4).

God will rebuild the lives of His people. That’s what the vision of the man with a measuring rod in his hand is all about. You know when you see surveyors measuring that construction is going to commence! Let the rebuilding begin! In another of Zechariah’s visions, Satan accuses God’s people, who are represented by the high priest, of the sinful deeds of the past (Zech. 3:1-2). However, the Lord removes the priest’s old filthy clothes to replace them with rich, clean garments. God will forgive His people, and He will rebuild their lives!

The Old Testament prophets are not all doom and gloom. Their sermons are filled with hope, especially to those who have failed in the past. We all have things in our past we wish were different, but here is the good news. A fresh start is possible right here, right now. God wants to forgive you and rebuild your life. He will remove your old garments and cloth you in clean ones. Return to Him and He will return to you. You are the apple of His eye, and He longs to bless you!

NEW TESTAMENT

There are two beasts in Revelation. One represents faux religion while the other represents secular power. In Revelation 17, a woman rides on the beast representing secular power, which means that she (whoever she represents) is providing direction for the beast. The scholarly consensus is that this woman symbolizes the power of the greatest city in the world during John’s day—the city of Rome (see Revelation 17:9, 18 along with commentaries). Rome held the reins of power over the other kingdoms of the world. The woman is referred to as a prostitute because of the city’s idolatrous practices.

What John appears to be seeing in this vision is the destruction of Rome, the city that persecuted the people of God until at least the early fourth century, followed by the rise of more secular powers (“ten kings”). These powers take up the persecution of the church after the fall of Rome in the fifth century. (John’s vision in this chapter is very similar to Daniel’s.)

The take-away from this chapter is that God is sovereign, even over the secular powers that hurt His people. Soon they all will be defeated. Take heart, church. God controls the rise and fall of nations, and the rise and fall of kings and presidents, and He is coming again to make all things new. Stay faithful!


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.