Bible reading for weekend December 20 -- 21
Dec 20 -- Zechariah 7 and John 10
Dec 21 -- Zechariah 8 and John 11
"And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets." (Zechariah 8:5)
WHAT'S THE USE (ch 7)? These two chapters go together, as seen by the opening question regarding fast days (7:3), and the Lord's reference to these same fasts (8:19). The opening question may be seen as a kind of complaint, i.e., does it really do any good to observe the appointed fasts? The people have a kind of formalistic view of their relationship with God. They are ticking the boxes of ceremonial observation and nothing much has changed in their post-exilic life back in Jerusalem (vv 1-3). The Lord answers, questioning their motives (vv 5-7). They are using religion as a way to improve their own lot in life. They are not seeking the Lord for himself. So, they need to make real changes, that is, to observe justice and to not harden their hearts as their fellow Jews did before the exile (vv 8-14).
GOD'S DESIGN FOR LIFE (ch 8). This is a fabulous chapter, looking ahead to the restoration of the city and people of Zion. As regards the divine timeline, I believe this refers to the millennial period of Revelation 20. What could be more beautiful than this picture: "Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets" (vv 4-5). It's like a happy town square, where people of all ages are together, enjoying one another! This is God's design, and he himself delights in this view (v 6). He says, "I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness" (v 8). The Lord, who walked in the midst of Eden (Gen 3:8), will at last gather together all his people and dwell among them (Rev 21:3). The application for the people of Zechariah's day was to strengthen their hands (vv 9, 13), to complete the work of rebuilding the temple, to do justice, and to observe the fasts (along with the feasts) with zeal and joy in the Lord. The Lord does not want us to go through empty motions of begrudging worship, but he desires that we enjoy knowing and serving him. He is the One who makes life worth living!
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand." (John 10:27-28)
THE GOOD SHEPHERD (ch 10). The Lord's sheep will "never perish..." (v 28). The subjunctive form of the verb "perish" (or "die, be destroyed") in verse 28 with the added double negative means that there is absolutely no possible way that those who have trusted Christ will ever perish. There is strong comfort for us in these words! Our safety and security lie in the hands of our all-wise, all-powerful Good Shepherd.
THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE (ch 11). John R. W. Stott wrote, "Christianity is in its very essence a resurrection religion. The concept of resurrection lies at its heart. If you remove it, Christianity is destroyed." Read my comments on John chapters 10 and 11 here.
Image credit: photo above by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash. 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.