Bible reading for weekend December 17 -- 19
Dec 17 -- Zechariah 4 and John 7
Dec 18 -- Zechariah 5 and John 8
Dec 19 -- Zechariah 6 and John 9
"This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts." (Zechariah 4:6)
THE DAY OF SMALL THINGS (ch 4). We are reading the visions which the prophet Zechariah received. God is giving encouragement to the post-exilic Jews to continue their work in rebuilding the temple and the nation. Many of the images in these chapters recall those symbols portrayed in Christ's Revelation to the Apostle John in the last book of the Bible. The near events of rebuilding the temple (and the purging of evil) point ahead to more distant future events. An abiding principle both in the OT and NT is that the Lord himself will do the work through his Spirit and through his anointed servants. The two servants in view here are Joshua (the high priest) and Zerubbabel (the governor). The two anointed offices are that of the priesthood and of the civil ruler. "Grace, grace to it!" at the placement of the last stone of the temple (v 7) is either an expression of joy over its completion and beauty, or a blessing, "may the Lord be favorable toward this house." We should never despise the "day of small things" (v 10) for God delights to do great things through humble vessels (2 Cor 12:9-10).
A FLYING SCROLL AND BASKET (ch 5). The large scroll contains many words of judgment, which will surely come to pass. (Compare this with similar images in Ezekiel and Revelation.) The basket of wickedness (the real "basket of deplorables") is carried out of Judah and back to Babylon from whence it came.
THE BRANCH (ch 6). We read of a crown upon the priest Joshua -- not Zerubbabel, who was the descendant of David. This never took place in the history of Zechariah's day. It is visionary language, symbolizing the uniting of two anointed offices, that of priest and king. The title of "Branch" reflects the action of pruning, whereby a plant is severely pruned back, but new life emerges. Israel's new life will come through a Priest-King (cf Ps 110; Jer 33:15), who will be like a humble sprout from the ground (Isa 53:2). The OT recognized three anointed offices: the prophet, the priest, and the king. The Messiah (the Anointed One, the Christ) alone would combine all three roles! He is the Prophet who reveals God to the people, the Priest who represents the people before God, and the King who rules the people for God. He wears the crown!
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)
THE LIVING WATER (ch 7). Here are some notes on John 7.
THE GREAT "I AM" (ch 8). In this chapter Jesus says to the Jews, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am" (v 58, cf vv 24, 28). This greatly agitated his opponents, for "I am" is related to the covenant name of God (Ex 3:14). "Yahweh" -- written in most of our translations as "LORD" -- came from the Hebrew verb meaning "to be". So, "I am who I am" designates God's eternal self-existence, that he is the One who is, was, and always will be. The Greek phrase, "ego eimi", appears often in John's gospel on Jesus' lips (e.g., 4:26; 6:20; 13:19). It's been noted that there are seven statements that relate specifically to what Jesus is (or will be) to his people:
“I am the bread of life.” (6:35, 41, 48, 51)
“I am the light of the world.” (8:12)
“I am the door of the sheep.” (10:7,9)
“I am the good shepherd.” (10:11, 14)
“I am the resurrection and the life.” (11:25)
“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (14:6)
“I am the true vine.” (15:1, 5)
SIGHT TO THE BLIND (ch 9). In chapter eight Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." In this chapter we read of the miraculous healing of a man blind from birth. The testimony of this man -- "One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see" (v 25) -- has been read, recited, and sung with joy by multitudes of Christians down through the centuries. All believers should resonate with C. S. Lewis' statement, "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
About this newsletter: I'm Sandy Young, and I post three times a week on my Bible reading, following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Subscribe for email at Buttondown.email/Sandy. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. A very helpful resource is the NET Bible with its excellent notes at netbible.org.