September 20, Zechariah 5-9

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I looked up again and saw a flying scroll. “What do you see?” he asked me.

“I see a flying scroll,” I replied, “thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide.”

Then he said to me, “This is the curse that is going out over the whole land, for everyone who is a thief, contrary to what is written on one side, has gone unpunished, and everyone who swears falsely, contrary to what is written on the other side, has gone unpunished. I will send it out,”—this is the declaration of the Lord of Armies—“and it will enter the house of the thief and the house of the one who swears falsely by my name. It will stay inside his house and destroy it along with its timbers and stones.”

Then the angel who was speaking with me came forward and told me, “Look up and see what this is that is approaching.”

So I asked, “What is it?”

He responded, “It’s a measuring basket that is approaching.” And he continued, “This is their iniquity in all the land.” Then a lead cover was lifted, and there was a woman sitting inside the basket. “This is Wickedness,” he said. He shoved her down into the basket and pushed the lead weight over its opening. Then I looked up and saw two women approaching with the wind in their wings. Their wings were like those of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and sky.

10 So I asked the angel who was speaking with me, “Where are they taking the basket?”

11 “To build a shrine for it in the land of Shinar,” he told me. “When that is ready, the basket will be placed there on its pedestal.”

Then I looked up again and saw four chariots coming from between two mountains. The mountains were made of bronze. The first chariot had chestnut horses, the second chariot black horses, the third chariot white horses, and the fourth chariot dappled horses—all strong horses. So I inquired of the angel who was speaking with me, “What are these, my lord?”

The angel told me, “These are the four spirits of heaven going out after presenting themselves to the Lord of the whole earth. The one with the black horses is going to the land of the north, the white horses are going after them, but the dappled horses are going to the land of the south.” As the strong horses went out, they wanted to go patrol the earth, and the Lord said, “Go, patrol the earth.” So they patrolled the earth. Then he summoned me saying, “See, those going to the land of the north have pacified my Spirit in the northern land.”

The word of the Lord came to me: 10 “Take an offering from the exiles, from Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah, who have arrived from Babylon, and go that same day to the house of Josiah son of Zephaniah. 11 Take silver and gold, make a crown, and place it on the head of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. 12 You are to tell him: This is what the Lord of Armies says: Here is a man whose name is Branch; he will branch out from his place and build the Lord’s temple. 13 Yes, he will build the Lord’s temple; he will bear royal splendor and will sit on his throne and rule. There will be a priest on his throne, and there will be peaceful counsel between the two of them. 14 The crown will reside in the Lord’s temple as a memorial to Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah, and Hen son of Zephaniah. 15 People who are far off will come and build the Lord’s temple, and you will know that the Lord of Armies has sent me to you. This will happen when you fully obey the Lord your God.”

In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, which is Chislev. Now the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer, Regem-melech, and their men to plead for the Lord’s favor by asking the priests who were at the house of the Lord of Armies as well as the prophets, “Should we mourn and fast in the fifth month as we have done these many years?”

Then the word of the Lord of Armies came to me: “Ask all the people of the land and the priests: When you fasted and lamented in the fifth and in the seventh months for these seventy years, did you really fast for me? When you eat and drink, don’t you eat and drink simply for yourselves? Aren’t these the words that the Lord proclaimed through the earlier prophets when Jerusalem was inhabited and secure, along with its surrounding cities, and when the southern region and the Judean foothills were inhabited?”

The word of the Lord came to Zechariah: “The Lord of Armies says this: ‘Make fair decisions. Show faithful love and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the resident alien or the poor, and do not plot evil in your hearts against one another.’ 11 But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder; they closed their ears so they could not hear. 12 They made their hearts like a rock so as not to obey the law or the words that the Lord of Armies had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. Therefore intense anger came from the Lord of Armies. 13 Just as he had called, and they would not listen, so when they called, I would not listen, says the Lord of Armies. 14 I scattered them with a windstorm over all the nations that had not known them, and the land was left desolate behind them, with no one coming or going. They turned a pleasant land into a desolation.”

The word of the Lord of Armies came: The Lord of Armies says this: “I am extremely jealous for Zion; I am jealous for her with great wrath.” The Lord says this: “I will return to Zion and live in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City; the mountain of the Lord of Armies will be called the Holy Mountain.” The Lord of Armies says this: “Old men and women will again sit along the streets of Jerusalem, each with a staff in hand because of advanced age. The streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in them.” The Lord of Armies says this: “Though it may seem impossible to the remnant of this people in those days, should it also seem impossible to me?”—this is the declaration of the Lord of Armies. The Lord of Armies says this: “I will save my people from the land of the east and the land of the west. I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem. They will be my people, and I will be their faithful and righteous God.”

The Lord of Armies says this: “Let your hands be strong, you who now hear these words that the prophets spoke when the foundations were laid for the rebuilding of the temple, the house of the Lord of Armies. 10 For prior to those days neither people nor animals had wages. There was no safety from the enemy for anyone who came or went, for I turned everyone against his neighbor. 11 But now, I will not treat the remnant of this people as in the former days”—this is the declaration of the Lord of Armies. 12 “For they will sow in peace: the vine will yield its fruit, the land will yield its produce, and the skies will yield their dew. I will give the remnant of this people all these things as an inheritance. 13 As you have been a curse among the nations, house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you, and you will be a blessing. Don’t be afraid; let your hands be strong.” 14 For the Lord of Armies says this: “As I resolved to treat you badly when your ancestors provoked me to anger, and I did not relent,” says the Lord of Armies, 15 “so I have resolved again in these days to do what is good to Jerusalem and the house of Judah. Don’t be afraid. 16 These are the things you must do: Speak truth to one another; make true and sound decisions within your city gates. 17 Do not plot evil in your hearts against your neighbor, and do not love perjury, for I hate all this”—this is the Lord’s declaration.

18 Then the word of the Lord of Armies came to me: 19 The Lord of Armies says this: “The fast of the fourth month, the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth will become times of joy, gladness, and cheerful festivals for the house of Judah. Therefore, love truth and peace.” 20 The Lord of Armies says this: “Peoples will yet come, the residents of many cities; 21 the residents of one city will go to another, saying: Let’s go at once to plead for the Lord’s favor and to seek the Lord of Armies. I am also going. 22 Many peoples and strong nations will come to seek the Lord of Armies in Jerusalem and to plead for the Lord’s favor.” 23 The Lord of Armies says this: “In those days, ten men from nations of every language will grab the robe of a Jewish man tightly, urging: Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”

A pronouncement:

The word of the Lord
is against the land of Hadrach,
and Damascus is its resting place—
for the eyes of humanity
and all the tribes of Israel
are on the Lord—
and also against Hamath, which borders it,
as well as Tyre and Sidon,
though they are very shrewd.
Tyre has built herself a fortress;
she has heaped up silver like dust
and gold like the dirt of the streets.
Listen! The Lord will impoverish her
and cast her wealth into the sea;
she herself will be consumed by fire.
Ashkelon will see it and be afraid;
Gaza too, and will writhe in great pain,
as will Ekron, for her hope will fail.
There will cease to be a king in Gaza,
and Ashkelon will become uninhabited.
A mongrel people will live in Ashdod,
and I will destroy the pride of the Philistines.
I will remove the blood from their mouths
and the abhorrent things
from between their teeth.
Then they too will become a remnant for our God;
they will become like a clan in Judah
and Ekron like the Jebusites.
I will encamp at my house as a guard,
against those who march back and forth,
and no oppressor will march against them again,
for now I have seen with my own eyes.

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout in triumph, Daughter Jerusalem!
Look, your King is coming to you;
he is righteous and victorious,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
and the horse from Jerusalem.
The bow of war will be removed,
and he will proclaim peace to the nations.
His dominion will extend from sea to sea,
from the Euphrates River
to the ends of the earth.
11 As for you,
because of the blood of your covenant,
I will release your prisoners
from the waterless cistern.
12 Return to a stronghold,
you prisoners who have hope;
today I declare that I will restore double to you.
13 For I will bend Judah as my bow;
I will fill that bow with Ephraim.
I will rouse your sons, Zion,
against your sons, Greece.
I will make you like a warrior’s sword.
14 Then the Lord will appear over them,
and his arrow will fly like lightning.
The Lord God will sound the ram’s horn
and advance with the southern storms.
15 The Lord of Armies will defend them.
They will consume and conquer with slingstones;
they will drink and be rowdy as if with wine.
They will be as full as the sprinkling basin,
like those at the corners of the altar.
16 The Lord their God will save them on that day
as the flock of his people;
for they are like jewels in a crown,
sparkling over his land.
17 How lovely and beautiful!
Grain will make the young men flourish,
and new wine, the young women.

Look back at this small part of the passage we just read: The word of the Lord came to Zechariah: “The Lord of Armies says this: ‘Make fair decisions. Show faithful love and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the resident alien or the poor, and do not plot evil in your hearts against one another.’ 11 But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder; they closed their ears so they could not hear. 12 They made their hearts like a rock so as not to obey the law or the words that the Lord of Armies had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. Therefore intense anger came from the Lord of Armies. 13 Just as he had called, and they would not listen, so when they called, I would not listen, says the Lord of Armies. 14 I scattered them with a windstorm over all the nations that had not known them, and the land was left desolate behind them, with no one coming or going. They turned a pleasant land into a desolation.”

Our prayer today should be that we would not harden our hearts to the things God has told us to do. Those things which He requires of us to live holy lives. We have a decision we have to make…will we listen and obey or will we do as the Israelites did and make our hearts like a rock and not do as God has asked us.

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