Thursday, August 17, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - August 17, 2017

Today's Reading:

John 3:22-36

1 Chronicles 13-14

Zechariah 3

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading   


Today, continuing our reading and study in Zechariah, we will examine the fourth vision, found in Zechariah 3:1-10.

In his fourth vision, Zechariah saw someone who was called Joshua the High Priest standing in the Heavenlies with Satan also there opposing him.

Now, at first, one may wonder how Satan could be present since this is a Heavenly setting in this vision. But both Job and John the Revelator describe Satan standing in the Heavenly Court, as the accuser of the brethren (Job 1:6-8, Revelation 12:10).

In Zechariah 3, we find a number of key clues which help us to identify "Joshua". From these clues, we can determine that "Joshua" must be none other than Yahshua, our Saviour. Here the the identifying clues which make it plain that Joshua must be Christ:
  • Joshua is the High Priest (Zechariah 3:1) - this is a title of Christ (Hebrews 4:14-15)
  • In Zechariah's third vision, a mitre (crown) is set on Joshua's Head (Zechariah 3:5) - Christ is the One Who is crowned as our King (Revelation 19:11-16).
  • Joshua is appointed as Judge over Yahweh's House (Zech 3:7) - Scripture tells us that the Father has committed the work of Judgment to Yahshua (John 5:22).
  • Joshua is called the Branch (Zechariah 3:8, 6:12) - this is a special title which belongs exclusively to Christ (Jeremiah 23:5-6).
  • The Name, which is translated as "Joshua" in Zechariah 3, is actually Yahshua - the Saviour's real Name, as you can see by looking it up with a Strong's Concordance. In fact, Zechariah chapter 3 is one of the few places where our Saviour's Name is preserved (other than putting a "J" in place of the "Y") in the KJV.
Clearly, Joshua must be Yahshua - Christ. But what about the fact that Zechariah sees Joshua clothed in a filthy robe. Since a filthy robe represents sin, how can our sinless High Priest, Who is righteous, be found in filthy rags?

Scripture tells us of an amazing exchange. Messiah takes my filthy rags of unrighteousness, and clothes me in His righteous robe. This fourth vision of Zechariah is showing Christ's redemptive work as our Heavenly High Priest (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Zechariah 3:3-4 "Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment."
There is a very beautiful quotation that puts it all in a right perspective, giving us a better grasp of what our Saviour did for us, in order to provide our Salvation:
“Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. "With His stripes we are healed."  {Desire of Ages, p. 25}


In this vision, Zechariah sees Christ interceding for you and for me. He so closely identifies with His people, that He takes our filthy garments of unrighteousness. And He gives us a beautiful promise. He says, "Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with a change of rainment (His Righteousness is imputed to us in exchange). 

Reviewing the message of the fourth vision of Zechariah
  • Christ, our great High Priest intercedes for us, pleading our case before the Throne.
  • He takes our filthiness (when we confess and ask for cleansing), and replaces it with His righteousness
  • Satan accuses the brethren day and night.
  • But because Yahshua is standing in our place, the accusations of the wicked one are insufficient cause to bar us from Eternal Life. Yahweh may render righteous Judgment in our favor, because the merits of Yahshua are credited to our accounts! What a Saviour!

 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - August 16, 2017

Today's Reading:

John 3:1-21

1 Chronicles 12

Zechariah 2

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Today, continuing our reading and study in Zechariah, we will look at his second and third visions.

Zechariah’s Second Vision

What does Zechariah see in his second vision? (Zechariah 1:18-21) 
  • He sees four horns which have scattered Israel, Judah and Jerusalem.
  • And Zechariah sees four carpenters which have come to fray and cast out the horns of the Gentiles.
Who are the Four Horns?
  • Horns in Bible Prophecy, represent political powers (referred to as "kings" and "kingdoms")

Daniel 7:24   “And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise...”

So, these four horns represent four political powers, which are specifically coming to "scatter" Israel and Jerusalem.

The four political powers who took Israel captive are represented in the image of Daniel 2 and the beasts of Daniel 7.  They are:

The head of gold represented the kingdom of Babylon (Daniel2:38).

The chest and arms of silver represented the next kingdom, which history bears out was Medo Persia.

The waist and loins of brass represented the third world-dominating kingdom, which we know to have been ancient Greece.

The fourth world-dominating kingdom, which was in power in Christ’s day, was pagan Rome.

These four powers are represented as beasts in Daniel 7. 

The first beast is a lion with eagle's wings (Daniel 7:4).  It represented Babylon.

Then came the bear  raised up on one side and with 3 ribs in its mouth.  It represented Medo-Persia which destroyed three kingdoms in its rise to power (Daniel 7:5).

Then came the leopard with four heads and wings. (Daniel 7:6). This beast represented Alexander the Great, who conquered with lightning speed (four wings) and was succeeded by four generals who divided the rule of Greece at his untimely death.

Last came a terrible beast with iron teeth and ten horns.  Out of the horns comes up the Little Horn, which claims to be God and is blasphemous.  This last beast represents pagan Rome (Daniel 7:7-8), which was the globally dominant power in the days of Christ.

Since all of these four political powers are past, why would Zechariah’s End-time vision be about them?

The beast of Revelation 13:2-3 is an amalgamation of all these four beasts from Daniel 7.  This beast is run with the brains of Babylon, the might of Persia, the conquering speed of Greece, and the crushing strength of Rome.  Its power comes from the dragon (who is Satan himself - Revelation 12:9).   

Clearly, the ancient ideologies are still present at the end of the world, even though their former kingdoms have passed away. In fact, in the end, the beasts are actually used to represent  the political powers which they symbolize.  

For example, the lion with eagle's wings represents the
coalition between England (which is represented by the lion) and the United States (which is represented by the eagle's wings). This "special relationship" has been the globally dominating power since the time of WWII. Notably, this was the first beast of Daniel 7, in its final manifestation. And it is the first of the four horns from Zechariah's second vision, which is going to "scatter" the people of God in the last days.
Notably also, these two joined powers are forming the new Babylon - bringing back the old Babylonian system, which includes its false religion. This point is well-documented in Michael Collins Piper's book The New Babylon, and in several other such books.


In the final round, Russia is the bear, and the three Baltic States which it consumed in its rise to power are the three ribs in its mouth. 

The leopard symbolizes the new Ottoman Empire, which is the Muslim power working to bring back the old Caliphate. Once this is accomplished, this leopard-beast will be fully formed. The four heads of the leopard represent the four Rashidun Caliphs. And the wings of the beast are rooster-wings, which represents the power of France (which is represented by the rooster), which will be used by this leopard to help swiftly dominate.

Finally, the dragon-like fourth beast is the perfect picture of China, which is represented by that symbol.  China is the Globalists ideal for the New World Order. Its political structure under Chairman Mao has been called the "litmus test" of the New World Order. In Zechariah's second vision, this is the fourth and most terrible of the horns.
Zechariah 1:18-21  "Then lifted I up mine eyes, and saw, and behold four horns. And I said unto the angel that talked with me, What be these? And he answered me, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem. And Yahweh showed me four carpenters. Then said I, What come these to do? And he spake, saying, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, so that no man did lift up his head: but these are come to fray them, to cast out the horns of the Gentiles, which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah to scatter it."
The reference to these four horns "scattering" God's people means that these powers will persecute them and cause them to flee. This is something Scripture tells us will take place in the final 1260-day timeline:
Daniel 12:6-7  "And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto Heaven, and sware by Him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished." 

What are the four carpenters of Zechariah’s second vision going to do to the four horns? Zechariah says that the carpenters will "fray" the persecuting horns.

The word "fray" in Zechariah 1:21 is translated from the Hebrew word charad and means to "cause to tremble with fear". The idea that the powers of the wicked will be terrified is also shown in Matthew:

Matthew 21:26   “Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”

Since the four beasts of Daniel 7 are also the four horns of Zechariah's second vision - and since these four beasts join together to form the final beast of Revelation, we see a promise in this vision that Yahweh is going to use his "carpenters" to defeat the beast, causing it to be completely terrified at the Power and Judgments of the Almighty. Who are the carpenters who scare the beast?

The word “carpenters” means "workers". Yahweh sends His messengers to do His work in delivering a terrifying message to the beast.  These workers are Yahweh's people - His final Elijah Team, who give the Message of Elijah in the Last Days. Also known as the Message of the Fourth Angel, this message which terrifies the Beast at the end of the world is found in Revelation 18:1-5:
Revelation 18:1-5  "And after these things I saw another angel come down from Heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from Heaven, saying, Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.  For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." 


Now, let's turn our attention to Zechariah's third vision, which is the one we read today in Zechariah 2.

Decoding the Message of Zechariah’s 3rd Vision

What did Zechariah See in his Third Vision? (Zechariah 2:1-2)
  • He saw a man with a measuring line
  • This man was measuring Jerusalem.
What does Jerusalem symbolize?

    • According to Zechariah 3:2 - Jerusalem will be saved from the final Fire of Judgment. Since Scripture tells us that every earthly city will be destroyed and whole earth consumed (which is why there will be a New Heaven and a New Earth - and a New Jerusalem which will come down from Heaven - Revelation 21:1-2), we may clearly see that the "Jerusalem" that is being referred to in Zechariah's visions is not the literal city. But, in Bible prophecy, Jerusalem and Zion are terms which represent the saved people of God - those who will be saved from the final Fire of Judgment - Isaiah 51:16.
    • Matthew 23:34-38 also shows that Jerusalem is people in Bible prophecy. Here, it was people, not the gates or walls of a literal city, which stoned the prophets.
So, in the third vision of Zechariah, we see a process of "measurement" going on. It is from this measurement that it will be determined who is the Jerusalem that will be saved from the Fire. Measurement is a symbol of Judgment. People are "measured" against a "standard" to see how they measure up. 

What is measured in Zechariah’s 3rd Vision? (Zech 2:1-2, Isaiah 64:6, Job 29:14, Isaiah 61:10) Our spiritual "garments" are being measured. The Bride of Messiah cannot be clothed in her own character robes, which are filthy rags. She must be clothed in Yahshua's Righteousness, which is the Wedding Garment of the saved.

Who will receive this special clothing? (Rev. 3:5) “He that overcometh” through Christ’s power over EVERY besetting sin, will be clothed in the White Robe, at last.

What is the significance of the order of these visions in Jerusalem being measured (judged) first? (1 Peter 4:17) “Judgment must begin at the House of God”. Thus, we see that the "measurement" of Jerusalem (God's professing people) will happen before the world is measured.
  
By what Standard are we measured? In other words, what is symbolized by the measuring line in Zechariah’s 3rd vision?
  • We are measured according to God’s Rule (2 Corinthians 10:12-13), which is His holy Law.
  • James comes right out and states that we are judged by the Law of God (James 2:10-12).

Since we are measured by the Law, we had better know what the Law is.  What is Yahweh’s Law to which we are measured?
  • The word “Law” is translated from the original Hebrew word Torah, which means, "the Commandments (Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5) the Statutes (the 613 principles which support and explain the 10 Commandments) and the whole of the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch).

In Psalm 19, David extolled the virtues of the Law of God, listing its parts: commandments, statutes, judgments, testimony: 

Psalm 19:7-10    "The Law of Yahweh is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of Yahweh is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of Yahweh are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of Yahweh is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of Yahweh is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of Yahweh are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb." 

As David explains, the Law of God converts the soul!
 Then he breaks down the parts listing first the Commandment, which he says are “right” and bring joy to the heart. Next David says that the Statutes of Yahweh are pure, enlightening the eyes (giving wisdom).

What is the Message of Zechariah’s 3rd Vision?

Judgment is coming. It comes first to the people who claim to belong to Yahweh. We are to be judged by the Standard of the Law. By God's Indwelling Grace, our lives must reflect the Standard of the Torah, just as Christ’s own life did. For those who do not measure up, their house is left unto them desolate, meaning that the Holy Spirit is not dwelling within. 

In the end, the father who claims us (whether Yahweh or Satan) will be the one we look like in character, not the one to which we pay lip service.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - August 15, 2017

Today's Reading:

John 2

1 Chronicles 10-11

Zechariah 1

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Zechariah's first vision was part of our Bible reading for today. Zechariah's visions are all significant as end-time prophecies. For this reason, over the next few days, we will study the visions of Zechariah in this blog. Let's begin with the amazing vision of the colored horses, the red horse of which stands among the myrtle trees before beginning his apocalyptic ride throughout the earth:

Zechariah 1:8-11 "I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white.
Then said I, O my Sovereign, what are these? And the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will shew thee what these be.
And the man that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, These are they whom Yahweh hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth.
And they answered the angel of Yahweh that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest."
What does Zechariah see in his first vision? He sees a horseman riding a red horse. The red horse and rider are accompanied by other horses, which look like the ones John saw in Revelation 6. 

In his vision, Zechariah sees the rider of the red horse dismount and stand among the myrtle trees in a low area. The angel identifies the horses as spirits sent from Yahweh to ride through the whole earth. 

This vision of Zechariah is for the Last Days. How can we be certain of this? Both the red horse and myrtle trees are End-time prophetic symbols.

The fact that the red horseman is an End-time prophetic symbol is established in Revelation. The red horse and rider are the second among the apocalyptic horsemen of Revelation 6. This horseman rides with the opening of the second Seal, at the end of the world.
Revelation 6:3-4 "And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword."
To connect myrtle trees with End-time prophetic events, we must notice that they are used in the sukkots (which is the Hebrew name for the booths) as part of the spiritual trees at the Feast of Tabernacles. Since the Feast of Tabernacles is the Feast which foreshadows the Second Coming of Christ, the use of myrtle trees in this significant time shows that myrtle
trees are an End-time prophetic symbol.
Nehemiah 8:14-15  "And they found written in the Law which Yahweh had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the Feast of the seventh month (the Feast in the 7th month, in which Yahweh said to dwell in booths, is the Feast of Tabernacles - Leviticus 23:39-43).  And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written."
Trees, in Bible prophecy, represent people, as we find in Judges 9:8-14 and in Isaiah 41:19-20:

Judges 9:8-14  "The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us. But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us. And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us."  

Isaiah 41:19-20  "I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together: That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the Hand of Yahweh hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it." 

Myrtle trees represent God's End-time saints, to whom He has made a special promise:

Isaiah 55:13  "Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to Yahweh for a Name, for an everlasting Sign that shall not be cut off."

In this verse, we see that myrtle trees bring glory to Yahweh's Name. "Name" in Isaiah 55:13, is translated from the Hebrew word "shem", which means "mark, character, authority" or "seal". This group of people are called "an everlasting sign" that is never cut off.

From all of these prophetic characteristics of the End-time myrtle trees, we may plainly see that these trees represent the 144,000. This special group of saints are the ones whom Yahweh will hold up to the universe and say, "Here are they that keep the Commandments of God and have the faith of Yahshua," (Revelation 14:12).

The 144,000 are the people of God who will vindicate Yahweh's maligned Character. These "myrtle trees" will show the world that the Law of Yahweh can be lived out in a holy life, by the Power and Grace of God. 

Having identified the two key symbols of Zechariah's first vision (the red horse is the horsemen from the second seal of Revelation 6 and the myrtle trees are the 144,000), we are now ready to look at the meaning of this vision. What is meant by the placement of the myrtle trees in the "bottom" in Zechariah 1:8? 


Zechariah 1:8 "I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white."

The word "bottom", which is the location of the myrtle trees in this first vision, is translated from the Hebrew word metsullah, which means "shade" and is from the root word which means the time when it "begins to be dark". 

Shadows of the evening are a term used to prophetically symbolize a warning of impending doom - a time when the "dark clouds" of war, trouble, and persecution are gathering, but the "rain" has not yet started.

Jeremiah 6:2-4 "I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman. The shepherds with their flocks shall come unto her; they shall pitch their tents against her round about; they shall feed every one in his place. Prepare ye war against her; arise, and let us go up at noon. Woe unto us! for the day goeth away, for the shadows of the evening are stretched out."


The fact that the myrtle trees are in the "bottom" at the time of Zechariah's first vision gives us a vital key to understanding this prophecy. Just before the final Time of Trouble, there will be a special prophetic message intended for Yahweh's 144,000. But what is the message? To understand this part, we need to examine the red horse and rider.

As we have already seen, according to Revelation 6, the Red Horse and Rider is released and rides through the earth in the Second Seal.  

In Revelation 6, this red horse and rider run throughout the whole earth. But in Zechariah's first vision, the red horseman appears to Yahweh's people before he begins his official "ride" (which is when he brings a sword of war and takes peace from the earth). We may know that this first vision of Zechariah takes place before the Revelation 6 ride because the horseman is seen running throughout the earth later - as is recorded in Zechariah 6:1-7

The main work of this red horse and rider is given in Revelation 6:4. He brings a sword (representing war and persecution - Jeremiah 30:7) and he takes "peace from the earth". Taking peace from the earth doesn't just indicate war, it also indicates the loss of Eternal Life.

According to Psalm 37:37, "peace" represents Eternal Peace - which is Eternal Life, promised to all who receive the Seal of Yahweh.

Psalm 37:37 "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace."

There is only only one thing which can forever remove the possibility of receiving Yahweh's "mark" (Seal) of Eternal Peace: the Mark of the Beast. Thus, the rider of the red horse comes to bring the Mark of the Beast to the wicked.

But, before he begins to do this sobering work, the rider of the red horse is found standing in the shadows (just before it all begins) as a warning to the people of Yahweh. Zechariah's first vision contains a promise: the terrible season of persecution and Mark of the Beast will not begin until the people of Yahweh have first been warned. 

Before literal Jerusalem fell and the city was sacked, Yahweh warned His true followers, so that they would flee - and thus escape - what was coming. The faithful obeyed the warning and fled. Many did not heed the warning, and there was no protection for the disobedient and unwatchful. The number who died was so great, that history records "rivers" of blood in the destroyed city.

Obviously then, being able to discern the warning is vitally important! What will it look like when the red horse man really stands among the myrtle trees in the Last Days? In plain English, what is the sign of coming persecution? To answer this, we need to look at our Saviour's Words, for He (and Daniel) gave us the sign to look for:
Matthew 24:15-16  "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains."

In simple terms, the red horseman is standing among the myrtle trees when the Abomination of Desolation is set up. That is the signal to flee, which all of God's true people must recognize. If you are unsure what the Abomination of Desolation will look like, check out the feature article in our April-June 2016 Lighted Way News Magazine.

Mrytle trees! Alert! Zechariah's first vision is a strong reminder to be watchful and on guard. We must not miss discerning the moment when the red horse stands among the myrtle trees!