Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December 21- Visions

December 21, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Zechariah 1:1-21; Revelation 12:1-17;
Psalm 140:1-13; Proverbs 30:17

Zechariah 1:1-21

Today, we have the visions that the Lord gave to Zechariah.  Although he was born outside of Israel, Zechariah saw these visions while in the land of Israel.  He was a contemporary of Haggai and was probably a younger man. Zechariah's name means "whom Jehovah remembers." This would suggest the encouragement that God intends to provide to the remnant in Israel, who have come back to rebuild the Temple. While Haggai looked to the ground and measured the Temple in his visions, Zechariah looks to the sky with apocalyptic musings. Zechariah has ten visions in one night. 

Zechariah receives a call from the Lord for the nation of Israel to return to Him.  They have been in captivity because of the Lord's anger at their sin, but now He is calling for repentance and return.

In the first vision, Zechariah is talking to the angel of the Lord.  From our past studies we know that "the" angel of the Lord is the pre-incarnate Christ.  Zechariah sees a man on a red horse standing among the myrtle trees.  Behind him are riders on red, mottled, and white horses, each with its own rider. The riders on these horses report to the angel of the Lord that they have patrolled the earth and it is at peace. The angel prays to the Lord wondering after the seventy years of captivity when will God's mercy be shown to Jerusalem and Judah. God gives comforting words to the angel about Jerusalem.  After this, the angel tells Zechariah to shout this message:
  • God's love for Jerusalem and Mt. Zion is passionate and strong. 
  • God is angry with the Gentile nations who are enjoying peace and security.
  • The Gentile nations have punished the nation of Israel too much. 
  • He will return to show mercy to Jerusalem.
  • His Temple will be rebuilt.
  • Jerusalem will be reconstructed.
  • Israel will overflow with prosperity and the Lord will comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem as His own.
Let's talk about what the symbols in this vision represent.  The rider on the red horse is Jesus Christ.  The red represents his blood and he rides and stands among the myrtle trees.  Myrtle trees are native to Israel and are one of their signature plants (along with olive trees, fig trees, and the grapevine).  The myrtle tree was a badge of Israel.  It was used to construct the booths that the Jews used during their Festival of Booths each fall. Jesus Christ shed his blood for the whole world and he comes forth from Israel and stands among his people. The other horses and riders are angels that patrol the earth for Christ.  During this short time of peace, Christ expresses anger that the oppressors of Israel have gone too far.  He will have vengeance one day in the future for this. Jesus declares his loyalty to Jerusalem and Israel. We must never forget that God will remain true to his promises to Israel. Jerusalem will be his own.

The second vision is four animal horns.  Zechariah asks the Lord what these are. The angel tells him that these are the world powers that will scatter Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.  We know from prior reading in Daniel 7:24 and Revelation 17:12 that a horn represents a gentile ruler.  These four horns are the four Gentile kingdoms that conquer the world, punish the Jews, and scatter them across the earth.  The kingdoms are Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome.  Remember that the Roman empire was not defeated, but broke up and will reassemble in the end times.

The third vision is the four blacksmiths or carpenters. These are skilled workman that come to terrify the four horns. In other words, Persia becomes a blacksmith or carpenter who defeats Babylon. Greece is a workman who defeats Persia. Rome is a artisan that defeats Greece.  But who defeats the Roman empire?  Remember, no one came in and defeated it.  This is a prophecy that Jesus and his millennial kingdom will be the final carpenter/workman who defeats the revived Roman empire of the Antichrist.  It is no mistake that Jesus really was a trained carpenter.  He was a skilled workman and artisan while on earth.  This prophecy shows that Jesus will be the final ruler on this earth.

These visions should teach us that God is not through with the nation of Israel. Although the Church age is dominant at this time, when God speaks of Jerusalem, Israel, and Judah in prophecy, he means Jerusalem, Israel, and Judah.  He does not mean the Church.  God will fulfill His promises to Israel and to the Church.  One does not exclude the other.

Revelation 12:1-17

John is given a vision of great significance.  God is unfolding the story of the Great Tribulation in layers.  After the seven seals are opened, we go deeper into the story with the seven trumpets.  Now, as we get to the seventh trumpet blast, we meet seven personalities that flesh out the story. During this interlude, we will meet some personalities who will be on earth during the Great Tribulation and who are key characters in God's story. There will be seven personalities, which follow the pattern of sevens throughout the book of Revelation.  Notice that Daniel was also given a pattern of sevens in his prophecy about the end times. This follows the pattern of sevens that is given at the front of the Bible in Genesis with the creation account unfolding the creation of the earth in seven days.  God is consistent.  Seven is His number of completion.

The Woman- Israel

The first thing John sees is a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She is pregnant and she cries out in the pain of labor as she awaits her delivery. The Roman Catholic Church describes this Queen of Heaven as the virgin Mary. Many cults have worshiped the Queen of Heaven, including many ancient pagan cults.  I believe this practice goes back to the promise given to Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3:15) that a woman would conceive and deliver the Redeemer Child, who would defeat Satan and sin on this earth.  Goddess worship has been the attempt to flesh out this promise outside of God's plan.  But Israel through Abraham's line was given the promise by God that the nations would be blessed through them. They would have the labor pains associated with bringing the Messiah to earth.  No one but Israel has suffered that fate.  The nation Israel is the woman who has the child, Jesus. Notice that the twelve stars on her crown are the twelve tribes.  Joseph was given a prophetic dream where the sun and moon bowed down to him.  The image given to John hearkens back to Joseph's dream.

The Red Dragon- Satan

John sees a large red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his head.  He drags one third of the stars to earth. He stands before the woman as she is about to give birth and wants to devour the baby as soon as it is born.  We see here that Satan is great in that he has great power given to him by God on earth.  He is associated with the color red because he is a murderer and he is the reason that death came into this world.  He is a dragon because he has a vicious nature.  He is an enemy of mankind.  The seven heads represent that he is wise.  Remember that Ezekiel 28:2 tells us that he was full of wisdom, perfect in beauty before his rebellion against God. The ten horns represent the ten gentile rulers of the revived Roman Empire that will be subject to Satan in his final effort to rule this world. The seven crowns are on the horns, not the heads in the vision. This is delegated authority to those rulers during Satan's attempt to rule the world.  The one third of the stars that are thrown to earth represent the significant rebellion that occurred in heaven when Satan rebelled and one third of the angels followed this brilliant creature (Daniel 8:10, Jude 6).  Satan waits and hates the Man Child to whom the woman will give birth.  Satan knows Genesis 3:15.  It is promised this Child will bring Satan's demise.

The Child Of the Woman- Jesus Christ

The "man child" or I like to call him the Redeemer Child is Jesus Christ. Jesus rules the nations with an iron rod (Psalm 2:9). Jesus will put down all rebellion on earth. Then the child is snatched away (raptured, caught up) to God.  This is a picture of Jesus' Ascension into heaven.  We must focus on Christ as ascended.  This is his position presently.  He is in glory and he is glorified. He is directing history -His Story- from heaven. He is opening the seals, having the trumpets blown, and directing the coming judgment of the world. This is where Jesus sits on his throne. Please note that when Isaiah prophesied that unto us a child is born, unto us a child is given, he is speaking about the nation of Israel, specifically.  He is not speaking about the Church.  The Church is born at Pentecost.  The child is born to the woman.  The woman in prophecy is Israel and the child is Jesus Christ. Jesus is born unto Israel.  The world is the beneficiary of the promise to the nation of Israel. When Jesus came to earth the first time, Israel had experienced as history of suffering and labor pains prior to his arrival. Because of the Great Tribulation, Israel will again experience great suffering (birth pangs) prior to Christ's second coming.

The Archangel- Michael

Now, we learn of a war that occurs in heaven. If you recall from the book of Job, Satan is allowed to come before the presence of God and interact with God and receive permission to affect human beings on earth. We also see Satan before God in Zechariah 3:1-2, and Satan requests to sift Peter in Luke 22:31.  The book of Jude tells us that Michael is an archangel. We learn in the book of Daniel chapter 12:1 that Michael is assigned to protect Israel. We see that Michael is in charge of an army of angels, who fight against Satan and his army of fallen angels/demons. And now we learn that Michael is the angel who will throw Satan out of heaven. Satan's days are numbered in this epic tale. We see that his demise begins with being thrown out of the presence of God. He does not go lightly. There is a grand war over this. Jesus refers to this event in Luke 10:18, "And he said unto them, I saw Satan as lightning fall from heaven."  The names of this red dragon are the Devil, which means "accuser", Satan which means "adversary" and the Old Serpent, which is a reference to his role in the Garden of Eden.  He has been around a long time and is much smarter than you and me.  He is also called "he that deceiveth the whole world." This will be very true during the Great Tribulation period.

Now, we have the martyred Old Testament saints and the tribulation saints in heaven rejoicing that Satan has been cast out of heaven. This is the group that was under the altar at the beginning of John's vision asking God to avenge their deaths and bring justice to the martyred. This is the beginning of the end for the old dragon.  Here is what they rejoice about:
  • The Accuser has been thrown down to earth.
  • He accused our brothers and our sisters before God day and night.
  • They have defeated him through the blood of the Lamb and with their testimony.
  • They were not afraid to die.
  • Rejoice in heaven.
  • Terror will come to the earth and sea.
  • The Devil has come down to you and his time is short.
Notice that they are speaking about saints who have been martyred for the name of Jesus Christ.  These saints were in direct conflict with Satan. While Satan accused the brethren in heaven, Jesus acted as their Advocate before God.  They have overcome. How? They are not scared of death. It is on this earth that the final battle will occur. Jesus Christ will defeat his nemesis on this planet.

Now we have the Dragon is on earth with no access to God.  Satan comes to earth in the form of the Antichrist and pursues the nation of Israel. The remnant, who truly believe in Christ from the nation of Israel, are given wings to fly from this persecution in the wilderness, where she is given protection and cared for for three and a half years.  Please notice how this imagery hearkens back to Israel being delivered out of Egypt from Pharaoh's hands by Moses and taken into the wilderness, where they were fed by God with manna from heaven for a time.  These images are purposeful. 

The Remnant of Israel- 144,000

The dragon attempts to drown the woman with a flood of water. The earth opens its mouth and swallows the river that gushed forth from the dragon.  We do not know what this may mean. The Israelites were saved through the Nile River and also God parted the Jordan River for them to enter the Promised Land. This could be a literal flood of water or it could represent a flood of armies that swarm the nation of Israel in the end. The dragon/Satan is angry at the woman/Israel and declares war against those of her children who keep God's commandments and confess that they belong to Jesus. This would be the 144,000 witnesses we met before the seventh seal was broken.  These Jewish believers will evangelize the world during the Great Tribulation period.  We see that Satan is not pleased with these sealed individuals.

What a story!  What an epic tale.  These things will happen in the future.  God is telling us in advance. It is the living, breathing truth.

Psalm 140:1-13

Picture the tribulation saints speaking this psalm.

Proverbs 30:17

Oh, to avoid being proud...

What are you noticing as you read?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

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