Zechariah 2:1-3:10; Revelation 12:18-13:18;
Psalm 141:1-10; Proverbs 30:18-20
He that struggles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper. ~Edmund Burke
Vision of the Measuring Line:
We find in the vision that the man (Jesus) is sent to put down the nations that have oppressed Israel and have had their period of glory (the times of the Gentiles). Preincarnate Jesus tells Zechariah that anyone who harms Israel harms God's most precious possession. Jesus will raise his fist to crush them. Then, Israel will know that the Lord Almighty sent Jesus. Psalm 2 is a good description of this.
We learn that Jesus promises to come and live among the people of Israel. Many nations (Gentiles) will join themselves to the Lord in that time and also be God's people. God will choose Jerusalem in that day. God will spring into action from this holy dwelling place. Zechariah is getting a glimpse into the millennial kingdom, the final kingdom on earth.
Vision of Jeshua- The High Priest
Next, Zechariah sees Jeshua, the High Priest, who is the High Priest for the remnant that has returned from the Babylonian captivity and is back in Jerusalem, but now in the vision he is standing before the angel of the Lord (Jesus). Satan is also in the vision in heaven and Satan is accusing Jeshua of many things before the Lord. Yesterday we read in Revelation 12 that the name Devil means "accuser and slanderer." This is one of his main tactics in warring against mankind. Jesus is our Advocate before the throne of God. These two play opposite roles. Jesus defends us not because we are perfect, but because His death has made us righteous before God. The Lord rebukes Satan's accusations and reminds Satan that he (Jesus) has chosen Jerusalem and that Jeshua is like a burning stick that has been snatched from the fire. Oh my, aren't we all burning sticks that have been snatched from the flames by a gracious and loving God?
Jeshua is indeed clothed in filthy rags before Christ. The word "filthy" implies that he has excrement on himself. You may recall that the High Priest is the representative of the nation of Israel, who goes before God to carry the sins of the nation to Him to be forgiven. The priest was to be ceremonially clean when he entered the Holy of Holies. He was to wear clean priestly robes that were only to be worn once a year on the Day of Atonement. But this vision shows us that the High Priest and the nation of Israel are sinful before God. Jesus takes away their sin and gives Jeshua new clothes that represent the nation's righteousness through Christ. Jesus promises the newly clothed High Priest that by following him and obeying Jesus' commands the Jews will be given authority over His Temple and courtyards. This is a picture of the future turning of Israel to their Messiah and the nation's role as religious leaders in the millennial kingdom of Christ on earth. Jeshua is told that he is a symbol of the good things to come. Jeshua is a symbol of the nation of Israel and good things to come for this nation in the future.
Jeshua is given a promise that The Branch (Jesus) will come. This is the branch that comes from the root/stump of Jesse and David. He is also the single stone that Jeshua has set before him with seven facets. In a single day, the sins of the land will be removed. In this future day (the day of the Lord, which is a time period longer than 24 hours), people will live in peace and prosperity in the land.
As we study the prophesies of Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Malachi, we find a consistent pattern of promises to Israel. God's Story is consistent. Israel has been chosen for a purpose. They are rescued by God out of Egypt (the world) and led into the Promised Land. They fall from grace as they sin before God. They suffer judgment from God as a result of their rebellion. They bring forth the Messiah. They are dispersed and set aside by God for a time, and then they are regathered to their Savior. This is the story. The Church is grafted in to the story to be part of the olive tree (see Romans 11). God saves people from across all nations, tribes, languages and races. We are fruit on the Branch, which is Jesus Christ. But God will always set his eye on Israel.
We are once again meeting the seven personalities of the Great Tribulation. Have you noticed that the Church is not one of the personalities? That is because the Church is up in heaven during all of the travails that come upon the earth. People who come to know the Lord on earth during the Tribulation period are referred to as tribulation saints, brother and sisters, and the accused. Now we meet the main antagonist of the Great Tribulation.
The Beast From the Sea- Revelation 13:1-8
So we saw that the enormous red dragon (Satan) in John's vision, went off to make war with the offspring of the woman (Israel), particularly those who keep God's commandments and belong to Jesus Christ (Tribulation saints). So how exactly is Satan going to war against the saints both from Israel and from the Gentile world? This vision gives us an inkling.
This Beast is a political leader with political power and authority. There is going to arise a second Beast from the land that is a religious leader. The world during the end times and during the Great Tribulation will be deceived into following both of these leaders. The great mob of mankind will bring forth this leader of the sea, which represents the Gentile nations. Notice that the political power that this first Antichrist (instead of Christ) is granted from Satan, who is given the power by God to control the governments of the world at this time in the story, is comprehensive across the earth. We learn from other parts of Scripture that this is a punishment to the earth for man's rebellion against God.
Here are some of the characteristics and events that happen with this political leader/Antichrist (the Beast from the sea):
- One of the heads of the Beast appears to be wounded beyond recovery, but the fatal wound is healed. This is a death and resurrection that the world will witness with this leader powered by Satan. Some commentators feel that this is a fake death and resurrection.Vs. 3
- All the world will marvel at this miracle and will follow the leader in awe. Vs. 3
- They will worship Satan for giving the Beast/Antichrist/seemingly peaceful world leader such power. Vs. 4
- They worship the Beast, also. Vs. 4
- No one tries to fight against him. Vs. 4
- He blasphemes against God greatly. Vs. 5
- He is given authority to do as he wishes for 3 1/2 years. Vs. 5
- He slanders God and all who live in heaven (the Church), who are God's temple. Vs. 6
- He wages war against God's holy people (Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ) to overcome them. Many are martyred. Vs. 7
- He rules over every tribe, people, language, and nation as a world dictator. Vs. 7
- Everyone on earth (except tribulation saints) worships the Beast because their names are not written in the Lamb's Book of Life. Vs. 8
John now gives an interlude where he calls on anyone who has ears to listen and understand. This message is for those inclined to God. They have hearts designed to respond to their Creator. They will listen to His message. John says that some saints are destined for prison during the Great Tribulation. Some saints are destined for death under the Antichrist. But followers of Christ during this day should not be dismayed. They should see this as an opportunity for endurance and faith. This will be a time of unprecedented evil on earth. By God's design, He will pull back and allow Satan to have a go at ruling the earth as he has always wanted to. It will bring the earth to the brink of destruction because Satan is the father of death, not life. What God has been saying in His Word for all of time will be evidenced by all of creation. Jesus warned of this day in Matthew 24:22 when he said, "If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened." The elect are God's true followers who have ears to hear and understand. They will be rewarded for staying true to their faith, even in the face of death.
The Beast from the Land- Revelation 13:11-18
Now we have another beast that rises up from the land. The land would be the Promised Land and this person is an imitator of Christ from the nation of Israel. This beast has two horns like a lamb, but speaks with the voice of a dragon. He is a wolf in sheep's clothing. He's a dragon in lamb's clothing. This means that this religious leader speaks as if to unite the world in one religion. But he is speaking the ideas of Satan (the voice of a dragon). He is the religious leader/pastor/priest who convinces the whole world to worship the first Beast/Antichrist/world dictator. This false Christ does miracles and wows the world with miracles that ape the miracles of past true prophets of God like Elijah, who called down fire from heaven.
This beast sets up an image of the first Beast, which is a statue that they somehow manage to have talk. This is an idol that will talk. This will surely get on the evening news and on all of the entertainment channels. The statue says that all people must worship him or die. This is the abomination of desolation spoken of in the Old Testament in Daniel and by the Lord in Matthew 24:15. Note that Jesus made sure that no representations of how he looked would survive from his day and age. The fake Christ will be consumed with images of himself. He will promote business and religion through his image.
Next, we see that Satan cannot stay away from his main tool to turn people away from God, money. The religious beast who rises up from the land (Israel) is the one who gets all wrapped up in the commerce of the world. He is the beast who requires that everyone get a mark that allows for buying and selling in this world system. This mark will be tied to the number or name of the political Antichrist/world leader.
Notice that this false Christ is all tied up with money and commerce. Jesus was just the opposite. Jesus said,
"Do not lay up treasures on this earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in to steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6:19-34You cannot get anymore opposite than the beasts in these visions and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank God that I will be in heaven during this evil time on earth. John is given a number associated with the man who is this beast from the land. The number is 666. Man was created on the sixth day. This is the trinity of man/Satan. Satan/The Beast from the Sea/The Beast from the Land are the unholy trinity. This is their number. This numerology will probably make sense to Tribulation saints who are alive at the time that all of this occurs. Perhaps it will be associated with the mark that allows people to buy and sell in the one world international commerce market. This number will be a sign for true believers to identify who the Antichrist is.
Read this psalm as if you are a Tribulation saint. How meaningful this passage will be for those who are upon the earth at this time.
Wow. Sinful people who shrug off their wrong doing as though it is nothing are amazing, but in a bad way.
What are you realizing as you read?