Saturday, December 24, 2011

December 24- The Kingdom Comes After Judgment

December 24, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Zechariah 6:1-7:14; Revelation 15:1-8;
Psalm 143:1-12; Proverbs 30:24-28

The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, 
and He shall reign for ever and ever. Hallelujah! 
 ~Handel's Messiah

Zechariah 6:1-7:14

Well folks, we are getting close to the end. You probably are noticing that Old Testament prophecies are overlapping with New Testament prophecies about how God's Story ends.  God is consistent in His images and illustrations.  Today, we see that Zechariah's last of the ten visions is a picture that we have read about in the book of Revelation.

Vision- The Four Chariots

We saw in yesterday's reading that Zechariah was given a vision that reflected the nation of Israel as a woman in a basket of sin.  Also, a flying scroll that contained the Word of God and the Ten Commandments went out across the earth to curse those who did not follow the writings of the scroll.  Those visions were God's warning of judgment against the nation of Israel.  Now, Zechariah sees four chariots coming between two bronze mountains.  This vision is a vision of judgment for the Gentile nations who have oppressed God's people. Bronze is a symbol of judgment in the Bible. Jesus is depicted with bronze feet in chapter 1 of the book of Revelation (Rev. 1:13, 15) as he stands among the churches (lampstands) to judge them.  Purity comes through judgment.

Four angels or spirits are seen in this vision with authority to ride throughout the earth and patrol. The colors of the horses correspond to the colors of the horses in the vision of the four horses of the Apocalypse seen in Revelation chapter 6. Chariots were used in warfare in the ancient world.  This is a picture of God on the move to judge the earth. Here we have the black horse mentioned first.  The black horse represents famine.  The white horse represents conquest. The red horse represents war and the dappled horse represents death. This vision is given to Zechariah to encourage the Israelites that they would not be the only group judged by God on earth.  The Gentile nations will be held accountable by their Creator. Notice that the angels are told to go forth to vent the anger of God's Spirit across the earth. This is seen in the Great Tribulation period.

Coronation of Jeshua- The High Priest

Normally, the High Priest has a position that is strictly religious.  The royal line is responsible for civil government and in the case of Israel, the royal line was the house of David.  We now have an unusual coronation of Jeshua, the High Priest.  Jeshua means "Savior" and this particular coronation is a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ, who after the judgment of the Great Tribulation on earth will be crowned the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Remember that Christ is given the title deed to the earth in Revelation 4. This section of scripture shows us Christ claiming what is rightfully his. The judgment ushers in Jesus' earthly kingdom.

Zechariah is told that three men will come from the Jews, who have been exiled in Babylon, bearing gifts of gold and silver which should be made into a crown.  The crown is to be put onto Jeshua's head and Zechariah is to tell Jeshua,
"Here is the man called the Branch.  He will branch out where he is and build the Temple of the Lord. He will build the Lord's Temple, and he will receive royal honor and will rule as king from his throne.  He will also serve as priest from his throne, and there will be perfect harmony between the two." Zechariah 6:12-13
Although Jeshua is involved in helping to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem after the remnant returns to Jerusalem, this is obviously not speaking about Jeshua.  The Branch is a reference to Jesus Christ. This prophecy clarifies that Jesus will reign as a priest and king in his earthly kingdom.  Notice that the Antichrist of Revelation attempts to be a civil and religious world dictator in imitation of this role of Jesus on earth.  The Antichrist will fail in his effort.  Jesus, alone, will rule this earth with perfect harmony between the civil and religious aspects of society.  This will be unprecedented on earth!

We see in verse 14 that Jeshua's crown is kept in memorial in the Temple of the Lord in anticipation of the day that the Messiah comes to reign on earth in the nation of Israel as both the priest and the king.  The Israelites were told to look forward to this day.  One can understand why the Jews in the days of Jesus' first coming to earth as a man were looking for him to be an earthly king.  They were believing the promises given to their nation through their prophets.  Unfortunately, they did not look closely enough at Isaiah's and Daniel's messages to see that the Savior would first be a bruised reed.

One other reminder, Jesus is acting as our High Priest in heaven as he intercedes for us day and night, right now.  During the Great Tribulation we see Jesus directing judgment on the earth from his heavenly position as king of heaven. The judgment of the Great Tribulation on earth ushers in Jesus' coronation as the king of the earth. From judgment comes purity. Gentile nations who have mistreated God's people (true believers from Israel and the Gentile nations) will be judged in the Great Tribulation. During his millennial kingdom, Jesus will rule from Jerusalem as the priest and king over those who have been found righteous.  These prophecies to Zechariah are specifically to the nation of Israel to understand their future role in Jesus' earthly kingdom. Remember that the visions of the woman in the basket and the flying scroll are warnings to the nation of Israel that those who buy into the Antichrist's religious and commercial systems will not participate in Christ's earthly kingdom.

The Question

Next, Zechariah deals with the question that the returned remnant are asking about their religious traditions now that they are back in Jerusalem.  They wonder whether or not they should continue to mourn and fast on the anniversary of the Temple's destruction from over seventy years ago.  God answers by confronting them about their heart attitudes.  He challenges their motives in their religious activity declaring they performed them for themselves, not for Him.  This is a strong message to all people who seek to please God.  He is not interested in your religious rituals and activities.  He is interested in the attitudes of your heart!

The Message

In order to clarify what He means by having a good heart attitude, God gives Zechariah a message about behaviors that really please God.  Here is the list:
  • Judge fairly and honestly.
  • Show mercy and kindness to one another.
  • Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and poor people.
  • Do not make evil plans to harm one another.
The ancestors of the nation of Israel were scattered across the earth because they refused to listen to this message.  We will see that after their rejection of Jesus Christ on earth, the remnant of the Jews who came back and rebuilt Jerusalem are scattered again across the earth until the end times when they are regathered to Jerusalem by God.

Revelation 15:1-8

As we have seen in our previous readings in Revelation, God unfolds the story of the end times in series of sevens.  The progressive visions reiterate and further explain the judgment of God upon the earth during the Great Tribulation period.  Today, we have completed the seven seals, the seven judgments and the seven personalities.  Each has given us a more in depth look at the same event. Now, we are introduced to the seven bowls of wrath.  These bowls of God's judgment will be poured out upon the earth and give further explanation of what occurs during this awful time on the planet when God's judgment will be complete.

Before the pouring of the seven bowls, John sees a vision of a crystal sea with a fire upon it.  This represents the nations of the earth who tortured and persecuted the Tribulation saints on earth during the Great Tribulation period.  On top of the sea are the Tribulation saints, who were victorious over the beast, his statue, and his mark, which was needed to participate in commerce allowing buying and selling.  These people were preserved by God and in His strength  they were able to resist the deception that came upon the earth. They also patiently endured the suffering of being persecuted for their faith in Christ during these dark times.  These are the 144,000 witnesses from the nation of Israel, who were preserved by Christ though the Tribulation.  Although some of them were surely martyred, they did not lose their faith. Christ did not lose any of the sheep, which were his. Each of these saints is given a harp and now sings a victory song that we have seen before in the Bible.  They are going to sing the song that Moses composed after God defeated the Egyptians.  This song is found in Exodus 15.  They are also singing a song of the Lord that we have not seen before. We are given this glorious song about God's marvelous action and that God is King of the nations. This is a marriage of the Old Testament promises to Israel and the New Testament fulfillment of those promises.  God is victorious in His Truth.

John sees the Temple in heaven.  When the Temple is mentioned, we are always dealing with the nation of Israel, not the Church.  From the promises given to the nation of Israel and the God of those promises come the final judgments upon the earth as was promised through the prophets.  Angels come forth in white clothing, which represents the righteousness of God's judgment.  One of the four living beings that represents the Living God hands each of the angels one of the bowls of God's wrath.  The Temple is filled with smoke, reminding us of the smoke that filled the Tabernacle when God would come to dwell among the nation of Israel. His righteous, holy anger is justified.  This is Jesus as Judge.  The Lamb is a Lion.  Notice that the 144,000 cannot enter the Temple in heaven until the judgments of the seven bowls of wrath are poured out upon the earth. The true nation of Israel, who loves the Lord, dwells with the Lord in His holy Temple.  Their kingdom with God on earth, which includes a fulfillment of the promise of restored Temple worship with Christ as their priest and king, only comes after the judgment of evil on the earth.  The prophecies of the Old Testament prophets will be completely fulfilled.

What About the Church?

You may be wondering what is going on with the Church in heaven during all of this.  The Church will dwell with God in the New Jerusalem.  The Church is worshiping and praising God in heaven for fulfilling His promises about the earth during this time. The New Jerusalem of the future will not need a temple because God and Christ are the temple in the new heaven and the new earth (see Revelation 21).  We will read about this later.  First, God is going to fulfill His promises to Israel.  The story started in Genesis and has unrolled throughout the Bible.  God is going to tie up the loose ends and leave no promise unfulfilled. Israel will dwell in the Promised Land with her Messiah. Some commentators believe that the Church has a role during the millennial kingdom of administration. It is believed that Christ's Church will rule with Christ, even in his earthly reign. Other commentators believe the Church is not part of some of these promises and therefore, is not mentioned or involved.  We definitely see the Church coming out of heaven as a bride in the New Jerusalem to be with Christ in the new heaven and new earth forever and some commentators believe that Christ's earthly reign represents the marriage feast for Christ and His church..

Is your heart stirring at God's faithfulness? 

Psalm 143:1-12

"For the glory of your Name, O Lord, save me."  It is all for the glory of His Name!

Proverbs 30:24-28

I hope to be small, but unusually wise.

What are you learning?  Please share.


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

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