Crosswalk.com aims to offer the most compelling biblically-based content to Christians on their walk with Jesus. Crosswalk.com is your online destination for all areas of Christian Living – faith, family, fun, and community. Each category is further divided into areas important to you and your Christian faith including Bible study, daily devotions, marriage, parenting, movie reviews, music, news, and more.

Julie Ferwerda Christian Blog and Commentary

OYB December 23

  • Julie Ferwerda
    Are you ready for change in 2009? Grab a One Year Bible (NLT), commit to reading it daily, and join Julie Ferwerda on an extraordinary adventure that will transform your life as you experience its relevance in a fresh, understandable way. In addition to 20+ years in Bible teaching ministry, Julie is a professional speaker and writer. Her works have appeared in publications such as Focus on the Family, Discipleship Journal, Christianity Today, Marriage Partnership, Brio, and Revolve Biblezines & Devotional Bible (for teens). She's also the author of "The Perfect Fit: Piecing Together True Love," and also the upcoming book, "One Million Arrows for God: Raising Your Children to Change the World." Learn more at www.JulieFerwerda.com.
  • 2009 Dec 24
  • Comments

Today's One Year Bible Reading

Zechariah

Who is Zerubbabel? First of all, he is in Jesus' genealogy, I believe on his "father's" side, and he is either a Levite or a priest (I'm leaning toward priest, based on his important role). I also found this helpful background info in Ezra 3:1-6:

Now when the seventh month came, and the sons of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem. Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak [he was the high priest in yesterday's reading] and his brothers the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and his brothers arose and built the altar of the God of Israel to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the law of Moses, the man of God. So they set up the altar on its foundation, for they were terrified because of the peoples of the lands; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the LORD, burnt offerings morning and evening. They celebrated the Feast of Booths [Tabernacles], as it is written, and offered the fixed number of burnt offerings daily, according to the ordinance, as each day required; and afterward there was a continual burnt offering, also for the new moons and for all the fixed festivals of the LORD that were consecrated, and from everyone who offered a freewill offering to the LORD. From the first day of the seventh month [Feast of Trumpets] they began to offer burnt offerings to the LORD, but the foundation of the temple of the LORD had not been laid.

As I continued reading in Zechariah, I started to notice a "knitting together" of this passage above in Ezra, which I believe is a prophetic picture of the start of the MK (especially when you read all of Ezra and the rule of King Cyrus, the Chris-type, who takes over all the kingdoms of the world -2 Chron. 36:23), with Revelation! I also noticed in Nehemiah 7:7, there were 12 priests including Z. who went to build the Temple! Just look at all the other commonalities:

4:6 (NAS) Then he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, `Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts. Recently we've been learning that Jesus' MO on earth was not to come and take it by human force, but by the Spirit. In these last days, it will be important not to side with those who would still try to bring in the Kingdom by force. You can see it in the Middle East, as well as a growing movement among religious leaders (Catholic, Protestant, Anglican) to resort to civil disobedience, basically to strong arm the onset of the Kingdom!

4:10 (NAS) "For who has despised the day of small things? But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel--these are the eyes of the LORD which range to and fro throughout the earth." What are the "seven"? We are told in Revelation:

"And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth" (Rev. 5:6). Remember, the seven lampstands are the seven churches (Rev. 1:20), but the seven lamps are the seven Spirits of God (Rev. 4:5), also the seven eyes. I suppose the lampstands are supposed to hold the lamps in ideal circumstances.

Phew, what does all this mean? For one thing, all these passages are linked and they confirm truth. They are written by different people (Ezra, Zechariah, and John) yet all teach about the same period of time and offer similar accounts! But all this stuff about God's seven eyes and seven Spirits...I don't know. But I do know that we've gotten confirmation once again that our role in the end times is "not by might, but by God's Spirit" that we will see the Kingdom brought in. And we see that there will be those who are still observing God's Holy Days, just as they should be. And at His second coming, the Temple will not yet be built!

4:11-14 (NAS) Then I said to him, "What are these two olive trees on the right of the lampstand and on its left?" ...So he answered me, saying, "Do you not know what (not who) these are?" And I said, "No, my lord." Then he said, "These are the two anointed ones who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth." It is so freaky how similar Z is to Revelation:

"And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. Rev. 11:3-4 Because they are called "lampstands," I think these are churches, not individual people! If I had to guess which two churches, I would say Smyrna and Philadelphia. They have a couple things in common: Jesus did not say anything against them (they are truly overcomers in the last days), and they are both persecuted by the "synagogue of Satan who call themselves believers."

After further study tonight, I put even more together. Here is my summary and the passages for referral:

It appears that during the Tribulation, the two witnesses are two churches (Rev. 11:3-13; Zech. 4:11-14; Rev. 1:20). I am guessing that two of the 7 churches are called upon for this task of being the lampstands and olive trees in the world because of their faithfulness. And I don't believe these are the two churches as in buildings, but two types of believers who form the ecclesia of perhaps these two described churches (see Rev. 2-3).

So...apparently God uses two of His churches to inflict punishment on the world for a time in the last days, but then Satan is allowed to make war with them and overcome them (Rev. 11:7; 13:7), putting them to death. However, they are brought to life (1st resurrection) and taken to Heaven (Rev. 11:12-13). This fits perfectly with what we studied this year about the chosen/overcomers being taken out of the world just before the last of the "vials" of God's wrath, probably on a future Feast of Trumpets (this described takes place at the 7th Trumpet!). They will be taken out of the world, probably for the Wedding Feast, and will likely return with the Groom 10 days later on the Day of Atonement. The 1,260 days that the two witnesses prophesy for is 3.5 years, and then the 3.5 days that they are left dead could also correspond to 3.5 years (or it could be literal). If it is 3.5 years that they are left dead, that would mean that these overcomers are killed at the end of the first half of the Tribulation, but brought back to life just at the end. If it is literally 3.5 days, that would probably mean that these churches are prophesying the last half of the Tribulation, not the first half.

Notice that the earthquake takes place just after the 7th trumpet at the end of the Tribulation, just before Jesus returns to set up His Kingdom. The Bible also prophesies that this earthquake will cause a river to flow from Israel into the Dead Sea, and it will make it alive and fresh again.

Revelation

14:9-11 (NAS) "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever [lit: for the ages of the ages]; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."

In light of the fact that Revelation is symbolic, and that I have found that it is not chronological per se, I see that this passage could have a completely different meaning than what we've thought. Everyone who does not worship God from a sincere heart (through all of history) basically worships the Beast (I believe a false religious system) and receives the "mark of the beast."

Remember that fire and brimstone are purifying elements, and can be used symbolically. Fire is "pur" in Greek (from whence all forms of the word "pure" come), brimstone (theion) means: "divine incense, because burning brimstone was regarded as having power to purify, and to ward off disease."

14:13 (NAS) "Write, `Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!' Yes," says the Spirit, "so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them."

14:14-20 is all about the great fall/grape harvest of mankind, the last harvest. They will go through the winepress. Yikes!

Good reading today! Thanks for hanging...it was all important stuff!