broken for the broken

The Word for today:
Zechariah 11

mark this: Zechariah 11:12-13

We–you and I–don’t get mentioned much in Old Testament prophecy. But today we do, in a sad and happy and wistful way.

It’s not an easy prophecy to follow, because it depends on irony. Irony is when the surface meaning and the underlying meaning of what is said are not the same.

We are told that Zechariah’s severance pay was thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave:
Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver. Then the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”–the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD, to the potter. (Zechariah 11:12-13)

We hear irony in “the lordly price at which I was priced by them.” The thirty pieces, of course, was anything but lordly!

The only thing it would purchase was a field next to the potter’s house–where so many broken, rejected pieces of pottery were thrown that the land was considered useless.

When we get to the New Testament, a disciple named Judas Iscariot will betray Jesus by informing the religious leaders of his whereabouts. There, where Judas said he would be, Jesus was seized. Then he was brought to trial. Soon thereafter he was crucified.

The money, Judas came to realize, was blood money; he had profited by betraying an innocent man. So he took the money and threw it back to the religious leaders. Then he hanged himself.

So tainted was this money that the religious leaders would not place it into the Temple treasury. They “laundered” the money–literally taking the blood off their hands–by purchasing the worthless potter’s field as a burial ground for strangers:
Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. (Matthew 27:3-8)

***

So where are you and I in this prophecy? We’re the broken and rejected vessels that the blood money purchased. We’re the clay that the LORD God reclaimed, at the price of his blood, in order to renew and reshape us.

We appear in this prophecy, but it isn’t about the clay. It isn’t even about the blood.

It’s about a potter, broken and rejected himself.

It’s all about a potter, broken for the broken.

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don’t get skewed

The Word for today:
Zechariah 9, 10

mark this: Zechariah 9:9-11

We must be careful not to limit Jesus to the Jesus we think we know. Towards that end, let’s think about donkeys and charging white stallions.

In Zechariah 9:9, we see a picture of the Jesus we’re accustomed to. He comes riding into town on a donkey, bearing salvation through a blood covenant. This is Jesus of the Gospels, who died to save our souls from the consequences of our sin. It is an astonishingly vivid prophecy:

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Then, without transition, in the next verse we see another side of the same person:

I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the war-horses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth.

That is Jesus of Revelation, the conquering King:

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:11-16)

Jesus is a man of peace, one way or the other.  The first time he arrived, he purchased peace with God:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  (Romans 5:1)

The second time he arrives, he will enforce the peace amongst men:

The hand of the LORD will be made known to his servants,

but his fury will be shown to his foes.

See, the LORD is coming with fire,

and his chariots are like a whirlwind;

he will bring down his anger with fury,

and his rebuke with flames of fire.

For with fire and with his sword

the LORD will execute judgment upon all men,

and many will be those slain by the LORD.  (Isaiah 66:14-16)

There might be too much donkey–and not enough war horse— in your concept of Jesus. That skewed view is held by many in the church today.

Or there might be too much war horse and not enough donkey.  The church has, in other centuries, held that skewed view.

Don’t get skewed by whatever age you live in or whatever church you attend.  Mount up, and travel all the way through scripture with the servant Jesus, with the conqueror Jesus.  From day to day, you will know his intentions by his ride.

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on better streets beyond

The Word for today:
Zechariah 8

mark this: Zechariah 8:5
And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.

Most everything I’ve learned about the Bible, I learned from J. Vernon McGee.  Most everything J. Vernon McGee learned about the Bible, he learned from G. Campbell Morgan and Cyrus I. Scofield. Most everything G. Campbell Morgan and Cyrus I. Scofield learned about the Bible, they learned from God.

So you can see that when I say the name ‘G. Campbell Morgan,’ we are in pretty fast company!

G. Campbell Morgan said that when he wanted to catch a glimpse of the kingdom of God, he didn’t go into a room where adults were praying but into the street where kids were playing.  Jesus said essentially the same thing in Matthew 18:3.

In Zechariah 8 we get a foretaste of the Millennium, which itself is a foretaste of Jesus’ eternal Kingdom (commonly referred to as heaven).

The Bible only hints at what heaven will be like–probably because our imaginations are too feeble to comprehend more complete descriptions.  God’s works, we are told, will be immeasurably more than all we imagine.  (1)

But don’t let that stop you from imagining like a child and reading between the lines like an adult. Because when we do, we begin to get specific hints of heaven!

Let’s look at one brief line from Zechariah 8:
And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. (v.5)

What can we gather? First of all, it seems obvious that in the Millennium, crime will be eradicated, allowing children to play without fear. But don’t stop there. Think of what life, in general, will be like without any crime. We are hardly capable of comprehending all the consequences.

What else is missing from Zechariah 8:5? Here’s a hint: If my children were to play in the streets, it would mean that there were no cars out there any more. Now go ahead and begin to spin the consequences of that!

***

My favorite thing, when I was a kid on Gooding Street, was playing marbles.  (Since then, alas, I’ve lost them all!)

But I’ve got a feeling there’s a big bag of them, just waiting, on better streets beyond.

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(1) see Ephesians 3:20

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he’s the ‘spark’ in sparkle

The Word for today:
Zechariah 7

mark this: Zechariah 6:12-13 —
Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne.  And he will be a priest on his throne.

The Bible is an amazing,extraordinary, unique, one-of-a-kind book. Want to know why? Jesus, that’s why! (I’ll bet you already knew.)

Jesus is an amazing, extraordinary, unique, one-of-a-kind person. He invented all the things that you find fascinating, which makes him more fascinating than fascination itself.

He made puppies’ ears too big so we would smile. He made women with beauty so indelible that we find it an effort to exhale. He made water and he made light and joined them to form sparkle on the pond.

The real hard thing, the master stroke, isn’t in making sparkle, but in thinking up the concept of sparkle in the first place. Before sparkle was sparkle it was a thought in Jesus’ mind. He has a vivid imagination.

God goes out of his way to teach us that with Jesus, what we thought impossible becomes possible after all. The careful Bible student, reading Zechariah 6:12-13 (above), will be a bit perplexed to find that a priest is sitting on the royal throne. That’s not possible, according to “the law and the prophets.”

The law tells us that the priest must be from the tribe of Levi. The prophets tell us that the king must be from the tribe of Judah. So how can someone be priest and king at the same time? That’s impossible!

No, that’s Jesus! As king, he is from the tribe of Judah. As priest, he is from the order of Melchizedek, who predates the nation Israel. (You can read all about it in Genesis 14, Psalm 110, and Hebrews 5-7.)

The Bible tells us that man is man and God is God. Between them is a great moral divide. How to reconcile the difference? Impossible, except for Jesus:
For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and people. He is the man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5)

Who can be Lamb and Lion? Who can be God and Man? Who can be King and servant? Who can be the the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End? (1) Who can be a priest on his throne? That’s impossible!

No, that’s Jesus! He’s the ‘spark’ in sparkle.

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(1) Revelation 22:13

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special effects

The Word for today:
Zechariah 5, 6

The book of Zechariah is wild.  Wild, I tell you.

But even those who haven’t read it before will find it vaguely familiar.

That’s because so many of us have been exposed (even over-exposed) to the book of Revelation, which seems to have borrowed Zechariah’s atmospherics.

The highly symbolic and figurative language of these two books lends them a cinematic quality that appeals to our graphics-driven era. All well and good, as long as we can see through and past the special effects to the heart of the matter.

Zechariah, Revelation, Ezekiel, Jesus’ Olivet Discourse (1) and, to some extent, the book of Daniel are known as apocalyptic literature. The term is taken from the opening words of the book of Revelation:
The revelation of Jesus Christ…

The word revelation is, in the Greek original, apokálypsis.  It means a lifting of the veil–a revealing of what had been hidden. Because the word is taken from the opening words of the Bible’s final book, it has also come to be associated with–but not confined to–the end times.

As long as we remember that Revelation isn’t about the beast; that Ezekiel chapter 1 isn’t about wheels and wings and lions and lamps; that Zechariah isn’t about flying scrolls and women in baskets (!);

as long as we remember that these are mere brush strokes in the emerging portrait of Jesus Christ;

and as long as we remember that, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, the Bible’s one and only purpose is the revelation of Jesus Christ, then we won’t, as Bible students, be Left Behind.

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(1) see Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21

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