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Zechariah 2:8-9

The Apple of His Eye

8 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. 9 For, behold, I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me.

How can you encourage anyone to leave their comfort zone and move into a place of uncertainty and danger? I guess the answer to that would have to depend on the incentives offered to them. Most people would weigh the costs and risks against the benefits of the move. What were the benefits offered to the Jews to leave prosperous Babylon and return to a devastated Jerusalem?

In verses 6 and 7, they were not told to simply leave. They were told to flee and to rescue themselves from the wrath to come. Would this be enough to make one leave? It would be if you trusted the one who delivered the warning. The person would need to have a strong faith, for there was no evidence that anything terrible was about to happen. But, "...we walk by faith, not by sight." (2Corinthians 5:7)

Now, in verse 8, there is another promise made that also required the hearer to have faith. This verse, however, has presented a problem for many scholars. "For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath He sent me..." Who is the messenger and who sent him? If God is the speaker, it would be strange for Him to be sent by someone. The LORD, or Yahweh, of hosts has to be Jesus Christ who is then sent by the Father.

He says, "After the glory hath He sent Me." It is not clear exactly what this means. Does it mean that He was being sent after Judah had been spoiled by the nations and her glory was gone? It could also mean that the glory of the nations who had harmed Judah was coming to an end and Christ was being sent afterward. Richard D. Phillips in the Reformed Expository Commentary prefers the view presented by H. C. Leupold and Thomas McComiskey that "after" should be rendered "in pursuit of." I also like this, because it fits the context and seems to make the most sense.

The LORD of hosts, Jesus Christ is sent to the enemy nations in pursuit of God's glory. He was going to avenge the wrongs that were done to Judah. By harming God's people, they had also damaged His reputation, changed the way that He was worshiped, and caused the heathen to mock Him. The Son would now come in pursuit of His glory and, by destroying the heathen nations, He would restore it.

He would also come in response to the Father's love for the nation of Judah, which is reflected in the statement, "for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye." Adam Clarke wrote in his commentary, "This is a remarkable expression. Any person, by looking into the eye of another, will see his own image perfectly expressed, though in extreme miniature, in the pupil... And does not the expression mean that the eye of God is ever on his follower, and that his person is ever impressed on the eye, the notice, attention, providence, and mercy of God?"

The eye is perhaps the most sensitive part of the body. Who would want anyone to touch his eyeball? Even a light and gentle touch will cause the tears to flow and could damage the eye. Similarly, when anyone touches God's people, they have touched a very sensitive spot. His love for them causes Him to be as protective of them as anyone would be of their own eyes.

And how would God reclaim His glory from the heathen nations? Christ will simply wave His hand at the nations and they will fall. Their power will be lost, and every nation that they had conquered and beaten into submission would now do the same to them. They would be the spoil of their own servants and everyone would know that He is God.

Yes, God's people are the apple of His eye. We were created in His own image, and every day we are conformed to be a little more like Him. Those who harm us will suffer for their sins. "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)

Before the Throne:

Where is your comfort zone? Maybe it is time to come out of it and do the will of the LORD. If you do not know His will for your life and ministry, begin praying about it today. Every Christian is called to serve the LORD in some kind of ministry. "Ye have not, because ye ask not." Confess your sins, purify yourself, ask God to reveal His will to you, and then go. God's work is not done from the comfort of a church pew. Go wherever He sends you, knowing that you are the apple of His eye. You have His protection and divine authority to spread the gospel.

For Further Study:

(v.8 )
** After. Zech 1:15, 16; Isa 60:7-14; ** sent. Isa 48:15, 16; Mal 3:1; John 14:23, 24, 26; John 15:21-23; John 17:18; 1John 4:9, 10, 14; ** the nations. 2Kgs 24:2; Jer 50:17-18; 51:34-35; Ezek 25:6-7, 12, 15; 26:2; 35:5; ** Joel 3:2-8; Amos 1:3-5, 9, 11, 13; Obad 1:10-16; Mic 4:11; 5:6; 7:10; Hab 2:8, 17; Zeph 2:8; ** for. Gen 20:6; Psa 105:13-15; Acts 9:4; 2Thess 1:6; ** the apple. Deut 32:10; Psa 17:8; Matt 25:40, 45;

(v.9) ** I will. Isa 10:32; 11:15; 13:2; 19:16; ** and they. Isa 14:2; 33:1, 23; Jer 27:7; Ezek 39:10; Hab 2:8, 17; Zeph 2:9; ** and ye. Zech 4:9; 6:15; Jer 28:9; John 13:19; 16:4;

Zechariah 2:6-7

Come Out!

6 Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD. 7 Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon.

It had been twenty years since the first group of Jews had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon, yet many people chose to stay in Babylon. They had made new lives for themselves there and they were comfortable. Jerusalem was a devastated city with few buildings that would be comfortable as a family home.

Babylon was a powerful empire with great commercial assets. It was a place where a person could earn a good living and care for his family. Jerusalem had almost no commerce at all. It seemed to offer nothing but problems.

Babylon and Jerusalem represent the two kingdoms of the Bible. Babylon is the worldly kingdom, the kingdom of man, with all of its comforts and temptations. Jerusalem represents the church, the kingdom of God, offering salvation, eternal life and great promises for the future of those who live in it. Jerusalem will be exalted in victory, while Babylon will end in destruction.

"Ho, ho..." was a phrase used to get someone's attention, like saying, "Hey, hey!" Sometimes, maybe too often, God's people become apathetic toward their religion and/or the church. They get sidetracked by worldly temptations, which carry grave and unseen dangers.

"Flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD" The land of the north is Babylon. God's people needed to hear the promises of the previous verses and come out of Babylon. They needed to return to the home, which God was going to provide in Jerusalem, and to come help do the work of the LORD.

God's assurance to them was that He was the one who had spread them abroad like the four winds of heaven, intimating that He could also reunite them with their countrymen in Jerusalem.

But, the people would have to do their part. "Deliver yourself!" They would have to rescue themselves from what was about to happen to Babylon by returning home.

Throughout the Bible, men are asked to choose between the two kingdoms. Paul called the Corinthians to make their choice between idolaters and the kingdom of God. "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you," (2 Corinthians 6:17)

Again in Revelation the church is called out of Babylon with these words: "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. (Revelation 18:4)

There are only two choices that we have to make in this life... God or the world. The first choice takes faith in God's willingness and ability to keep His promises. The second requires nothing of us except to continue the life we are living, the easy choice that leads to destruction. Jesus made the choice clearer, but most are still taking the easy way.

Before the Throne:

Have you made your choice? Ask the LORD to show you how you are still too attached to the world. Confess your sins and ask Him to show you how to come out of Babylon. Praise Him for His salvation. Praise Him for His promises, His faithfulness and His power.

For Further Study:

** ho. Ruth 4:1; Isa 55:1; ** and flee. Gen 19:17; Isa 48:20; Isa 52:11, 12; Jer 1:14; 3:18; 31:8; 50:8; 51:6, 45, 50; 2Cor 6:16, 17; Rev 18:4; ** spread. Deut 28:64; Jer 15:4; 31:10; Ezek 5:12; 11:16; 12:14, 15; 17:21; Amos 9:9

(v.7) ** Deliver. Gen 19:17; Num 16:26, 34; Isa 48:20; 52:11; Jer 50:8; 51:6, 45; Acts 2:40; Re 18:4; ** that. Isa 52:2; Mic 4:10;

Zechariah 2:1-5

Without Limits

1 I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand. 2 Then said I, Whither goest thou? And he said unto me, To measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof. 3 And, behold, the angel that talked with me went forth, and another angel went out to meet him, 4 And said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein: 5 For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.

How great is your God? What do you ask him for and how much do you expect from Him? If you are like me, you are always setting goals that are much smaller than God's plan. Why do we always put limits on Him, if we believe that nothing is impossible for Him? Why don't we just expect Him to do the impossible?

In Zechariah's third vision, he sees a man with a measuring line in his hand. This is presumably the line that was mentioned in 1:16. It was to be stretched over Jerusalem. "Where are you going?" he asked the man.

And, the man replied, "To measure Jerusalem." God had promised that the holy city would be rebuilt. It had been destroyed, because the Jewish people had become over-confident in their relationship with God. They felt like this was God's city in which He had His temple. It was here that He had chosen to live among His people. Surely, they were safe living in the city that was so precious to God. He would not allow His enemies to destroy it, but He did.

Now, this young man was enthusiastically rushing to measure it, in order to plan the surrounding walls. Suddenly the angel speaking to Zechariah stepped forward and another angel came to meet him, saying, "Run! Speak to the young man." What was so urgent?

It seems that the man's plans were much smaller than God's plans. God was going to make the city so prosperous that it could not be contained within the old walls. There would be a multitude of people and animals overflowing the city's former limits.

Furthermore, the walls would be unnecessary. Yahweh Himself would be a wall of fire around the city. God always exceeds our expectations, always supplies us with an abundance, and our cup runneth over. How much more secure would the city be with God as their wall of protection than with a stone wall?

This is where modern Christians fall so far short in our relationship with Christ. We tend to trust everything to worldly protections. Doctors, lawyers, insurance companies, the police, security surveillance equipment and many other protections seem to be sufficient for us, but we would be much more secure, if we remembered to place our trust in God instead.

The N.T. church is Jerusalem. A city is nothing but bricks and mortar, worldly substance, which cannot hold the love and interest of the eternal God. The real Jerusalem is the people whom He loves. While the physical Jerusalem did become prosperous again and overflowed its old boundaries, the New Jerusalem has stretched around the world. Its gospel is being preached in nearly every country and the glory of the church is Christ who dwells in the midst of it.

Before the Throne:

Today when you pray, do not place any limits on what you want God to accomplish in your life. Pray with great expectations. Pray for the impossible. Pray believing. Pray with the confidence that He is standing as a wall of fire around you. "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:31-32)

For Further Study:

** a man. Ezek 40:3, 5; 47:4; Rev 11:1; 21:15;

(v.2) ** Whither. Zech 5:10; John 16:5; ** To. Jer 31:39; Ezek 45:6; 48:15-17, 30-35; Rev 11:1; 21:15-17;

(v.3) ** the angel. Zech 1:9, 13, 14, 19; 4:1, 5; 5:5; ** and another. Zech 1:8, 10, 11;

(v.4) ** young. Jer 1:6; Dan 1:17; 1Tim 4:12; ** Jerusalem. Zech 1:17; 8:4, 5; 12:6; 14:10, 11; Isa 33:20; 44:26; Jer 30:18, 19; 31:24; 31:27, 38-40; 33:10-13; Ezek 36:10, 11; Mic 7:11;

(v.5) ** a wall. Zech 9:8; Psa 46:7-11; 48:3, 12; 4:5; Isa 12:6; 26:1, 2; 33:21; Isa 60:18, 19; ** the glory. Psa 3:3; Isa 60:19; Hag 2:7-9; Luke 2:32; Rev 21:10, 11, 23; 22:3-5;

Zechariah 1:18-21

Holy Revenge

18 Then lifted I up mine eyes, and saw, and behold four horns. 19 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. 20 And the LORD shewed me four carpenters.21 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.

Many years ago, when I was struggling to survive financially, someone whom I thought was a good friend betrayed my friendship and cost me a whole lot of money that I did not have. As he went on to be moderately successful and I continued to struggle, I couldn't help feeling a compelling desire to get revenge every time I thought of him. Perhaps you have experienced the same feeling toward someone.

Only after becoming a Christian was I able to rid myself of those feelings and to understand the meaning of, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." (Romans 12:19) That is the lesson taught in Zechariah's second vision.

When he looked up, he saw four horns. The horn was a symbol of great power and dignity. It usually represented a powerful nation or kingdom, so the prophet asked, "What are these?"

The angel answered, "These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem." The horns represented the nations that were Judah's enemies, nations that had caused her people to be scattered. The ten tribes of the northern kingdom, Israel, were lost even to this day, and the southern kingdom had been attacked from all sides before finally being taken into captivity. Even as Zechariah saw this vision, Sanballat, a Moabite, was leading the opposition to the rebuilding of the temple.

The four horns, then, probably represent the nations that came from the four ends of the map. From the North, the Assyrians and Babylonians, from the East, the Moabites and Ammonites; from the South, the Egyptians; and from the West, the Philistines. These nations had scattered God's people and had stolen their dignity so that no man could lift his head.

It is difficult for us to understand how the people of Judah must have felt about these nations. The desire for revenge leaves an empty and nasty feeling in a person's gut, especially when he is helpless to do anything about it. God, however, relieves us of these miseries, because He has always promised to avenge the wrongs that are done to His people and He always keeps His promise.

Zechariah's vision is one of those promises. God showed him "four carpenters." The Hebrew word charash is used to indicate any kind of fabricator... a carpenter, engraver, mason, or smith, so let's call them "craftsman," people skilled at what they do. These represent nations who will cause Judah's enemies to shudder with fear. Perhaps they are the same nations who will now turn on each other and cast each other out of the land where they can no longer pose a threat.

Revenge? God's people need not concern themselves with such things. It will be taken care of with greater zeal and efficiency than any of us could do. Our God is a consuming fire and no man or nation should dare to anger Him.

God told Abraham, "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee." (Genesis 12:3)

Then, Paul said, "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Galatians 3:29) We do not need revenge, because we have a God who protects us with zealous love.

Before the Throne:

Ask the Lord to examine your heart to see whether or not you are harboring any feelings of resentment toward another person. Ask Him to remove it and replace it with His wonderful peace. Pray for Him to increase your faith, that you might be content to trust in Him and to leave your enemies in His hands. Thank Him for loving you and for His wonderful promises.

For Further Study:

** lifted. Zech 2:1; 5:1, 5, 9; Josh 5:13; Dan 8:3; ** four. 2Kgs 15:29; 17:1-6; 18:9-12; 24:1-25; Dan 2:37-43; 7:3-8; 8:3-14; 11:28-35;

(v.19) ** What. Zech 2:2; 4:11-14; Rev 7:13, 14; ** scattered. Zech 8:14; Ezra 4:1, 4, 7; 5:3; Jer 50:17, 18; Dan 12:7; Hab 3:14 ;

(v.20) ** four. Zech 9:12-16; 10:3-5; 12:2-6; Deut 33:25; Judg 11:16, 18; 1Sam 12:11; Neh 9:27; Isa 54:15-17; Obad 1:21; Mic 5:5, 6, 8, 9;

(v.21) ** lifted. Zech 2:1; 5:1, 5, 9; Josh 5:13; Dan 8:3; ** four. 2Kgs 15:29; 17:1-6; 18:9-12; 24:1-25; Dan 2:37-43; 7:3-8; 8:3-14; 11:28-35;

Zechariah 1:16-17

Coming With Mercies

16 Therefore thus saith the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem. 17 Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.

"Therefore," God says, "Because my love for Jerusalem and for my people is a zealous love, I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies." Could they have heard anything more comforting? God had returned, not with justice and not with rewards, but with mercies. Had He come with justice, He would have destroyed even the small part that had been restored. And, If He had come with rewards, He would have come empty handed, for all are sinners and deserve no rewards.

But, this zealously loving God comes bearing gifts for the people whom He had had to punish for their wickedness. His justice is fierce, but His love is unconditional and undaunted. Mercy implies that He has forgiven them and is ready to give them more than they justly deserve. "O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever." (Psalms 118:1)

What would it be like to be the recipient of God's mercies? Well, for one thing, He says that His house would be built in Jerusalem. The temple was finished just four years after this vision was given to Zechariah. "And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God." (Exodus 29:46)

"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16) Christians can take comfort in the same words. At our conversion, God comes in the person of the Holy Spirit bearing His mercy. We are built up as a spiritual house, and Christ is the head stone. We are a forgiven people who have escaped the Law's condemnations. God has returned to Jerusalem, His glorious church, forever.

He promises that a line shall be stretched forth over Jerusalem. Calvin thought that this is referring to a plumbline as in Isaiah 28:17, but that appears to be a line of judgment. It would be a perfectly straight perpendicular line against which the righteousness of the people are judged the way a building's walls are judged to be straight. That is not the idea here, because God is bringing mercy, not judgment.

In this case the line was probably mentioned as a means for accurately measuring the buildings that were to be rebuilt. It represents urban renewal, a great and prosperous reconstruction of a city that was in ruins. The line was a symbol of the precision and beautiful symmetry of the new buildings over which God would supervise the construction.

Once again, Zechariah is given the commandment to shout the good news to the people (v.17). The word comes again from the zealous LORD of hosts. Notice how He claims His rightful sovereignty. "My cities shall again overflow with prosperity." (ESV) They are His cities, occupied by His people, and He will guarantee their reconstruction and prosperity. This, however, would come according to His schedule, because it was another seventy years after the completion of the temple till the walls of Jerusalem were finished.

Meanwhile, the people would be comforted by His promises and would experience the joy of seeing this prophesy fulfilled.

Before the Throne

Perhaps we should humbly fall to our knees today and thank God for His mercies. If you know Him as your Lord and Savior, you are a recipient of His merciful grace. Ask Him to forgive your apathy towards Him. Pray that he would use you to continue building His house, the church. Ask Him to help you be holy so that His Spirit will have a wonderful temple in which to live.

For Further Study:

(v.16) ** I am. Zech 2:10, 11; 8:3; Isa 12:1; 54:8-10; Jer 31:22-25; 33:10-12; Ezek 37:24-28; 39:25-29; 48:35; ** my house. Zech 4:9; Ezra 6:14, 15; Isa 44:26-28; Hag 1:14; ** and. Zech 2:1, 2; Job 38:5; Isa 34:11; Jer 31:39; 40; Ezek 40:3; 47:3;

(v.17) ** My cities. Neh 11:3, 20; Psa 69:35; Isa 44:26; 61:4-6; Jer 31:23, 24; 32:43, 44; 33:13; Ezek 36:10, 11, 33; Amos 9:14; Obad 1:20; ** the Lord shall. Isa 40:1, 2; 49:13; 51:3, 12; 52:9; 54:8; 66:13; Jer 31:13; Zeph 3:15-17; ** choose. Zech 2:12; 3:2; 2Chron 6:6; Psa 132:13, 14; Isa 14:1; 41:8, 9; Rom 11:28, 29; Eph 1:4;

Zechariah 1:13-15

Comforting Words

13 And the LORD answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words. 14 So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy. 15 And I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease: for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction.

Look how quickly God will answer our prayers when we pray with sincerely burdened hearts. Almost immediately, He gave the angel an answer for Zechariah. It has always been God's desire to have a close relationship with men, but our sins have separated us from Him. We pray to a God who seems so distant to us, and yet, He is right here ready to engage us in a conversation.

We may not always like the answer we get, but we can be certain that it is the best one possible. God's word for Zechariah was good and comforting. Good, in that "Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him." There is nothing in God's word that could ever harm us. Every word is for our benefit. Through it, He teaches us the way to a prosperous and happy life, even the way to eternal life.

Because God's word is good, it must also be comforting. It may not seem comforting to those who do not believe in Him nor to those who are living in rebellion against Him. But, to those who trust in Him, His word is the most encouraging and comforting thing a person could read or hear.
The angel's words are themselves the proof of what I have just said. First, he gave Zechariah permission to cry out, to bring the LORD's answer to the people with the utmost passion and joy. He was about to be given good news, comforting words, that merited his best emotion-packed preaching. They were words sent directly from Yahweh of hosts.

"I am zealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great zeal." What an amazing statement! God is passionately focused on His holy city and His church. "Zechariah, you may not see the evidence yet, but be assured that Jerusalem is a priority of mine. Now, go preach the good news. Shout it from the roof tops."

The night was about to end and a new day was dawning in Jerusalem. The LORD of hosts had taken a personal interest in bringing about a change. Zechariah could relax and be comforted by the knowledge that God's promise had not been forgotten. He had said, "For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." (Jeremiah 29:10-11)

God had only good thoughts for His people, but he was not happy with the surrounding heathen nations. They were at ease or indifferent at the plight of Jerusalem Yes, God was a little displeased with His people, but the heathen nations had helped make her suffering a little more severe. They had no right at that moment to be indifferent to Jerusalem's problems, which they had helped to create.

The LORD is just as zealous for His church. This passage should be an encouragement and a comfort to everyone who reads it. We live in a nation in which the night seems to be growing darker. A tremendous cloud of sin has is being pulled steadily over the evening sky, blocking out the light of God's word. But, God is zealous for His church and not happy with those around her who are indifferent to her mission. We will have our victory.

Before the Throne:

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:" (Matthew 7:7) God answers prayer; do not neglect to engage Him. When you pray, expect a quick answer, but not necessarily quick results. Be patient and wait on Him. He is zealous about His church and its work, and He will perform every promise when it is best for you. Let that message comfort you and pray with great faith.

For Further Study:

** with good. Zech 1:14-16; 2:4-12; 8:2-8, 19; Isa 40:1-2; Jer 29:10; 30:10-22; 31:3-14; Amos 9:11-15; Zeph 3:14-20;

(v.14) ** the angel. Zech 1:9, 13; 2:3-4; 4:1; ** Cry. Zech 1:17; Isa 40:1,6; ** I am. Zech 8:2-3; Isa 9:7; 38:22; 42:13; 59:17; 63:15; Hos 11:8; Joel 2:18; Nah 1:2;

(v.15) ** Zech 1:2, 11; 47:7-9; Jer 48:11-13; Amos 6:1; Rev 18:7-8; ** for. Isa 54:8; Heb 12:6-7; ** and. Psa 69:26; 83:2-5; 137:7; Isa 10:5-7; 47:6; Jer 51:24, 34-35; Ezek 25:3-7; 25:12-17; 26:2; 29:6-7; 25:3-9; 36:4-5; Amos 1:3-13; Obad 1:10-16;

Zechariah 1:12

The Angel's Prayer

12 Then the angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years?"

When the whole world around you seems to be at peace, but nothing is going well for you, how do you feel? We might imagine that Zechariah felt the same way. After seeing in his vision that the world was at rest, he was probably wondering when Judah would emerge from the darkness of night that seemed to cover her.

It had been twenty years since the Babylonian captivity had ended, yet the city and the temple were still in a state of disrepair and the people seemed to have returned to their old sinful ways. Where was the promise of God that His indignation would only be poured out on Judah for seventy years?

Fortunately, we have a God who knows how we feel and cares about us. The angel of the LORD was there in the vision and he empathized with Zechariah. He knew what the prophet was thinking and he carried his concerns to the LORD of hosts. God's angels are posted around His people to minister to them. Since some believe that this Angel of the LORD was Jesus, we can also appreciate the fact that he is acting as a mediator. Whether he was Jesus or an angel, the angel would be doing the will of the Savior.

His prayer echoed the concerns of Zechariah, "O LORD of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years.?"

While some believe that this was a critical complaint against God's lack of mercy, that is a significant error. Those saints who have a close relationship with God have a right, perhaps even a duty to ask, "How long?" It is our duty to discover God's will for every aspect of our lives, especially one so important as the restoration of the holy city.

David cried, "How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD?"(See Psalms 13:1,2) and the souls under the altar in Revelation 6:10 cry out, "How long?"

Here the question is, "How long will you withold your mercy?" This is a prayer that appeals to God's will and calls upon His character as a merciful God. He described Himself to Moses, saying, "And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth," (Exodus 34:6) Such prayers that appeal to God's promises and to His character are most effective, and we should make greater efforts to know Him through His word.

God had punished Judah with seventy years of captivity, but twenty years later His beloved city, Jerusalem, and the other cities in Judah were not prospering. How long would God keep them in this nightly darkness? It was not only a question; it was also a plea for mercy.

Before the Throne:

Whenever you are afraid or depressed, ask God to show you His angels. Remember Elisha's servant's fear? "And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha." (2Kings 6:16-17) Pray for God's will to be revealed to you in every difficult situation. It is perfectly acceptable to ask, "Why," or, "How long?" Remember that you have an Advocate interceding for you in the throne room of the Almighty.

For Further Study:

** the angel. Zech 1:8,10-11; Exod 23:20-23; Isa 63:9; Heb 7:25; ** how. Psa 74:10;69:5; 102:13; Isa 64:9-12; Rev 6:10; ** thou hast.
Zech 7:5; 2Chron 36:21; Jer 25:11-12;29:10; Dan 9:2;

Zechariah 1:7-11

God of Comfort

7 Upon the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Sebat, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, 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. 9 Then said I, O my lord, what are these? And the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will shew thee what these be. 10 And the man that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, These are they whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth. 11 And they answered the angel of the LORD 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 was your most memorable dream? Nearly everyone has had a dream that they will never forget, perhaps one in which there seems to be an important but elusive message. Throughout history, God has spoken to His prophets in word as well as in dreams and/or visions. Some of those visions have been difficult for modern scholars to interpret.

The seventh verse of the first chapter of Zechariah introduces the first of eight night visions given to Zechariah beginning three months after the previous introductory prophecy and two months after the construction of the temple had resumed. Each of the eight visions must have made an extremely vivid impression on the prophet.

That the vision came to him by night is significant. First, the night's darkness combined with the shadows of the trees give us the impression of gloom, a time of trouble. In The Word Biblical Commentary, Ralph L. Smith says, "Rex Mason believes that the expression 'in the night' (v.8 ) suggests the idea of the prophet as a watchman for the dawn or for the enemy... Zechariah appears as a watchman through the long night of distress and is informed of the fist signs of God's return to His people."

John Calvin, on the other hand, thought that the night's darkness symbolized the lack of total clarity in the vision, since God does not reveal at once every detail of His intentions to us. Both interpretations are reasonable.

The vision began with a man riding a red horse and standing among the myrtle trees in a ravine. Some have speculated that this is the pre-incarnate Christ, because he appears to be the commander of the other angelic riders who were behind him. We should not think that there were only three horses. There were three colors, which could indicate the military rank of each rider, but we should not give the colors anymore significance than that.

The prophet himself did not understand the meaning of the vision and had to ask the angel in the myrtles what all these things were. The answer is one of great comfort. These angelic riders, sent by Yahweh, ride back and forth throughout the earth.

They are symbolic of an omniscient God who really does not need angels to report to Him. Instead they are there to let Zechariah and his readers know that God is aware of everything that is going on. What a comfort this should be to each of us, especially when we are going through trying times! God knows our troubles, He sees our suffering and He understands our weaknesses.

The fact that this angelic army can ride throughout the earth at will represents the sovereignty of God. A sovereign king can send his army to patrol at will throughout his kingdom. Likewise, God's army has control over the entire earth. He is in control of the troubles that we suffer. We are not alone.

The angels reported that the whole earth was peaceful and at rest. There was no danger from any foreign enemy. The dangers were in Judah's own relationship with God who knew their problems and was in control of their situation. Their solution would be to turn to Him.

Before the Throne:

Whatever you are suffering today, God knows about it and is in control of it. Turn to Him. It is okay to ask Him for an explanation of it. Perhaps the enemy is attacking you and God wants you to stand firm, or it could be that the world around you is at rest and your problems are self-imposed. Be ready to submit to Him and to receive His instruction. He loves you and will guide you safely down the right path.

For Further Study:

(v.8 )
** by night. Gen 20:3; 1Kgs 3:5; Job 4:13; Dan 2:19;7:2,13 ** behold. Zech 13:7; Josh 5:13; Psa 45:3-4; Isa 63:1-4; ** riding. Zech 6:2-7; Rev 6:4;19:19-21; ** among. Song 2:16; 6:2; Isa 41:19;55:13;57:15; Rev 2:1; ** speckled. Zech 6:6-7;

(v.9) ** what. Zech 1:19;4:4,11;6:4; Dan 7:16;8:15; Rev 7:13-14; ** the angel. Zech 2:3;4:5;5:5;6:4-5; Gen 31:11; Dan 8:16;9:22-23;10:11-14; Rev 17:1-7;19:9-10; Rev 22:8-16;

(v.10) ** the man. Zech 1:8,11;13:7; Gen 32:24-31; Hos 12:3-5; ** These. Zech 1:11;4:10;6:5-8; Job 2:1-2; Psa 103:20-21; Ezek 1:5-14; Heb 1:14;

(v.11) ** they answered. Zech 1:8,10; Psa 68:17;103:20-21; Matt 13:41,49;24:30-31;25:31; 2Thess 1:7; Re 1:1; ** We. Zech 6:7; Dan 10:20; ** is. Zech 1:15; 1Thess 5:3;

Zechariah 1:5-6

The Power of His Word

5 Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever? 6 But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? and they returned and said, Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.

Perhaps you think, as the Jews obviously did, that you can get by with a little sin. After all, you are not doing anything that everyone else isn't doing. God surely won't punish you like He punished the Jews or their fathers? You just have to fit in with your friends somehow? You certainly don't want to be the prude or the geek in the crowd. Right?

Well... you had better listen to what God says through Zechariah in this passage. He asked the Jews, "Where are your fathers and the prophets? Are they still alive? Do they live forever?" Or, maybe I could put it this way. " is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." (Hebrews 9:27) Your fathers are dead, the prophets are dead and your time is coming. The wicked and the righteous are all subject to die, unless Jesus returns first.

But God's word and His statutes, which were delivered to us by those prophets, still live on. "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." (Matthew 5:18) Since God never changes, His word is as good and as relevant today as it was when His prophets first preached it.

Not only is His word immutable and eternal, but we also find that it has power. Again God asks a rhetorical question, "Did they (God's words) not take hold of your fathers?" Everything that the prophets had warned about came to pass. Their fathers were overcome by the power of God's word. They were severely punished for their sins, and the punishments were effective.

Today, we "have forgotten that the Scriptures say to God's children, "When the Lord punishes you, don't make light of it, and when he corrects you, don't be discouraged. The Lord corrects the people he loves and disciplines those he calls his own." (Hebrews 12:5-6 CEV)

The fathers did return to God, admitting that He had done exactly as He had said He would do. They admitted that He had punished them on account of their sinful ways and deeds. Unfortunately, they did not change their ways.

The Jews were God's people, but that did not give them the liberty to defy His commandments nor immunity from punishment. As Christians, we might begin to feel like we can sin without fear of punishment, but the passage above from Hebrews 12:5-6 clearly warns that this is not true.

This passage teaches us about our own mortality and the immortality of God's word. It contrasts our weaknesses against the power of God's word; and it draws a line between our sins and God's righteousness. If we learn nothing else from it, we should learn that God will deal with sinners according to their refusal to repent.

Before The Throne:

Pray now for His forgiveness. Ask Him to help you turn from your sins. Praise Him for having given you a Savior so that you do not have to suffer eternal punishment. As you take the time to draw closer to Him, meditate on His word and ask God to show you what He wants you to do with your life. Pray that He will protect you from being deceived by others who think that sin is not serious business.

For Further Study:

Job 14:10-12; Psa 90:10; Eccl 1:4; 9:1-3; 12:5, 7; Acts 13:36; Heb 7:23-24; 9:27; 2Pet 3:2-4;

(v.6) ** my words. Isa 55:1; ** did. Num 23:19; 32:23; 2Chron 36:17-21; Isa 44:26; Jer 26:15; 44:28; Ezek 12:25-28; Dan 9:11-12; Matt 24:35; **take hold of. Deut 28:15, 45; Jer 12:16; Amos 9:10; 1Thess 5:4; ** they returned. Job 6:29; Mal 3:18; ** Like. Lam 1:18; 2:17; 4:11-12; Ezek 37:11; ** thought. Num 33:56; Jer 23:20; ** according to our ways. Deut 28:20; Isa 3:8-11; Jer 4:4; 18:8-11; Ezek 20:43; Hos 9:15; 2:6-11

Zechariah 1:4

Turn, Turn, Turn

4 Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD.

Turning to the Lord means to turn away from sin. There is no sin in the presence of God, because He abhors it and will not tolerate it. When we turn to Him, we may not bring our sins with us, "Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:16) But, most of us do not know what it means to be holy.

God was sore displeased with the fathers of the people of Judah, and the fathers taught their children their wicked ways. It seems each generation introduces more sin into the culture than the one before it. The sins of succeeding generations are piled one upon another until they seem to be acceptable behavior to everyone but God.

God had sent them prophet after prophet to call them to repentance, but they would not change. They hated the prophets, killed some of them, and completely rejected the word of God, which the prophets had faithfully preached. Their evil ways had become traditions handed down from one generation to another. Who did the prophets think they were to speak against the ways of their people?

Yet, the prophets had loved both their God and their people. They cried out passionately for the people to listen to God and avoid His anger, but they would not. Finally, God had sent His people into captivity, just as the prophets had said He would, and now he warns, "Be not as your fathers..."

In Jesus' day, the Jewish people were still living in disobedience to God. Both their oral and written traditions had rendered God's laws unrecognizable. "Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition." (Mark 7:5-9)

How easy it is for sin to become tradition! People no longer think anything is wrong with the skimpy bikinis worn by women on our beaches or the sexy lingerie ads on T.V. A hundred years ago those women would have been arrested. I hear pastors using language to youth that was considered filthy when I was a kid. Sin has become the norm and we do not recognize it, because our fathers did it, we have expanded on it, and our children are building upon that. It is even considered a mother's right to kill her unborn baby.

Our forefathers did not listen to God, and we are following in their footsteps. Even Christians want to be God's people, but practice the sins that have practically become traditions. But, there is no sin in the presence of God. To turn to Him, you must turn away from sin... permanently. You simply cannot bounce back and forth like a rubber ball.

Turn, turn, turn... Thus saith the LORD of hosts!

Before The Throne:

Compare your life with the lives of people who lived a hundred years ago. What would they have thought? What do you think God would say? Why not ask Him? Have we made the sins of our fathers to be the traditions we teach to our children? Ask God to show you how to be holy as He is holy. Then, repent.

For Further Study:

** as: 2Chron 29:6-10; 30:7; 34:21; Ezra 9:7; Neh 9:16; Psa 78:8; 106:6-7; Eze 18:14-17; 1Pet 1:18; ** unto: Zech 7:11-13; 2Chron 24:19-22; 36:15-16; Neh 9:26, 30; Isa 30:9-11; Jer 6:16-17; 13:16-18; 17:19-23; 25:3-7; 35:15; 36:2, 3-10; 44:4-5; Eze 3:7-9; Mic 2:6; Act 7:51-52; 1Thes 2:15-16; ** Turn: Zech 1:3; Isa 1:16-19; 31:6; Jer 3:12; 7:3-7; 18:11; Eze 18:30-32; 33:11; Hos 14:1; Amos 5:13-15, 24; Mat 3:8-10; Act 3:19; 26:20; ** but: Jer 11:6-8; 13:9-10; 26:5; 36:23-24; 44:16;

Zechariah 1:1-3 (cont.)

Turn to Me

1 In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, 2 The LORD hath been sore displeased with your fathers. 3 Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.

Have you ever played handball? You slap the ball against a wall and it keeps bouncing back to you. Sinners are like that ball. God slaps them over and over, but they keep bouncing back to their sinful ways. That is the subject of verses 2-6 in this first chapter of Zechariah. Those verses serve as an introduction to Zechariah's eight night visions found in the first six chapters.

The prophet says that the LORD had been extremely unhappy with Judah's fathers. He had sent them into captivity for seventy years in Babylon. His repeated warnings and lesser punishments had only resulted in their repeated returns to sin. Now, their children had returned from the captivity and nothing had changed. They abandoned the rebuilding of the temple for their own interests and pursuits. They rearranged their priorities to place themselves ahead of God.

But, we cannot judge them, because we are just as bad. Since the fall of Adam, all men have been conceived in sin. "The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one." (Psalms 14:2-3)

So, Zechariah sets the stage for what he will write in the coming chapters. Here is the reason for his ministry. He speaks the word and the will of the LORD of hosts to the people of Judah and to all who would follow them. He will give them warnings, "Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts." We cannot fail to notice how the authority for those words is emphasized. They are not Zechariah's words, but the words of YAHWEH, the Commander in Chief of all the armies in heaven and earth. He will judge all men so turn to Him.

And, he will give them promises, "...and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts." Despite all of His power, His displeasure with us notwithstanding, He is willing to turn to us and bless us with unconditional love and grace. Our God is One who delights in mercy and stands ready to receive us the minute we repent of our sins and turn to Him.

God is patient with us, but He is not interested in a game of handball. And the LORD said, "My spirit shall not always strive with man,.." Therefore, since man suffers from an inherent depravity, God sent His Son to take the punishment for our sins once and for all. Those who receive the Son are given eternal life and will be able to resist sin. They belong to Him and no one can pluck them out of His hand.

Now the words "Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts," have more impact. Now, we see the promises of a relationship with God, of an eternity with Him and of a security that man had not understood in the days of Zechariah.

Will you turn your life over to Him today or are you content to be a bouncing ball? God's Spirit will not always strive with you. One day you will suddenly find yourself before the judgment seat. If you have not turned to Christ, He will reject you.

Before The Throne:

Pray for God's forgiveness. Have you, like the people of Judah, placed your own interests above the interests of God? Have you laid aside the work of building His temple? Pray for the faith to get back on track. He is ready to receive you.

For Further Study:

** the eighth: Zech 1:7, 7:1; Ezra 4:24, 6:15; Hag 1:1, 15, 2:1, 10, 20; ** Zechariah: Ezra 5:1; Mat 23:35; Luk 11:51; ** Iddo: Neh 12:4, 16;

(v.2) ** Lord: 2Kgs 22:16-17,19; 23:26; 2Chron 36:13-20; Ezra 9:6-7, 13; Neh 9:26-27; Psa 60:1; 79:5-6; Jer 44:6; Lam 1:12-15; 2:3-5; 3:42-45; 5:7; Eze 22:31; Dan 9:11-12; Zeph 2:1-3; Mat 23:30-32; Act 7:52;

(v.3) ** Turn: Deut 4:30-31; 30:2-10; 1Kgs 8:47-48; 2Chron 15:4; 30:6-9; Neh 9:28; Isa 31:6; 55:6-7; Jer 3:12-14, 22; 4:1; 25:5; 35:15; Lam 3:39-41; Ezek 33:11; Hos 6:1; 14:1; Joel 2:12; Mal 3:7; Luk 15:18-20; Jam 4:8-10; **and: Jer 12:15; 29:12-14; 31:18-20; Hos 14:4; Mic 7:19-20; Luk 15:21-22;

Zechariah 1:1-3


1 In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, 2 The LORD hath been sore displeased with your fathers. 3 Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.

The book of Zechariah has always attracted my interests, first because of its Messianic prophecies and secondly because of its several mysteries.

While the prophet seems to clearly identify himself, his identity is unknown and has been richly debated. He is called "the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo." Yet it is not clear whether Berechiah was his father and Iddo his grandfather, or whether there were even two Zechariah's, one who wrote the first eight chapters and another who wrote chapters nine through 14. Jerome believed that Berechiah was his father and Iddo was his spiritual father. In the book of Ezra, he is simply called the son of Iddo.

Zechariah prophesied after the return of the Jews from their Babylonian exile, around the same time as Haggai, beginning in October, 520 B.C., about two months after Haggai began and after the rebuilding of the temple had stalled. Together they were responsible for encouraging the work to continue. (see Ezra 4:24-5:2)

The first 8 chapters of the book are very accurately dated and clearly attributed to Zechariah, but chapters nine through fourteen have no dates and no mention of the prophet's name. Of course, scholars have been at odds over the dates and origins, which simply adds more mystery to our study.

With all of its mystery however, Zechariah's importance is recognized in the New Testament. In Mark 14:27 "And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered," Jesus was quoting Zechariah 13:7. The prophet is quoted six more times in the gospels and Revelation and can often be compared to other New Testament passages.

I always believe that if God had wanted us to know certain facts, He would have revealed them to us. The identity and even the name of Zechariah is of little importance here. This is emphasized by the fact that in these first three verses the emphasis is on the name of the LORD. He is called the LORD of hosts three times. Zechariah is simply the messenger, and our attention should be on the One who is speaking.

It is so easy for us to be distracted by worldly things such as dates, names, and historical settings. While these things are sometimes relevant and even necessary to our understanding, in this instance God calls us to hear what He is saying. Yahweh the LORD Almighty has a word for you and I. Zechariah wrote it to the people of Judah, but today it is for you and I. We must listen, understand it, and apply it to our lives in a way that will be consistent with our Christian calling.

Before The Throne:

Ask God to prepare your heart and mind to receive the amazing truths in this prophesy. Pray that you will always be able to separate the message from the messenger, placing God first in all things. Tomorrow you will see how Zechariah began with a call to repentance, but you can begin to answer that call right now by confessing your sins and asking God to cleanse you of all unrighteousness. A clean heart and mind is better able to absorb the wonderful truths of God.

For Further Study:

** the eighth: Zech 1:7, 7:1; Ezr 4:24, 6:15; Hag 1:1, 15, 2:1, 10, 20; ** Zechariah: Ezr 5:1; Mat 23:35; Luk 11:51; ** Iddo: Neh 12:4, 16;

John 21:20-25

Follow Me

20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? 21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? 22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. 23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? 24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. 25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

Having been told by Jesus how he would die, Peter turned and saw John following them. Peter and John were very close and Peter wanted to know about John's future. "What about this man?"

It is typical of men to be more concerned with the affairs of others than with their own. Perhaps it is because they need to have something by which to compare themselves. If they can find fault in another, they feel better about and even forget their own faults. If they see another person failing in his duties to Christ, they can cover up their own shortcomings by pointing to him. This tendency to focus on the affairs of others is the substance of gossip and backbiting.

Jesus would not allow Peter to focus on what John would do with his life. Peter was not called to be John's guardian or publicist. God had individual plans for each of them, because they were uniquely created, and each was special in his own way. This is true of everyone. God has a unique plan for our lives and, if we spend all of our time concentrating on what others are doing, we will neglect to do the things that He has called us to do.

"If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me." Indeed, what difference does it make to the follower of Jesus what another person's life should be like. Your life will not change, the things that you will suffer for Jesus' sake will not change, the blessings that God will shower upon you will not change, and your eternal security cannot be taken away from you. "Follow me!"

In order to make His question more emphatic, Jesus used the Greek third class condition. In other words, "If I will that he tarry till I come..." grammatically indicated a high probability of being fulfilled. Yet, it was only a hypothetical question. What effect would it have on Peter's future, if Jesus allowed John to live until His second coming? The question demands that we answer, "None whatsoever!"

However, when we are more focused on the affairs of others than on ourselves, we will miss much of what we see and hear in life. From this simple question posed by Jesus to one disciple, false rumors began to spread, saying that John would never die. These rumors were fed by the fact that John lived to be quite old and was the only one of the disciples who did not suffer a violent death.

As he finished this gospel, he wanted to dispel this rumor. It was important to John that only the truth about Jesus should be known and that no false statements should be attributed to Him. But he also wanted the world to know that Jesus had done so many marvelous things that no single man could ever have done justice to his story. The world was not large enough to contain all of the books that could be written about His ministry.

I hope you have enjoyed our study on the Gospel of John. It has deeply affected me and my ministry, as I have tried to apply the teachings of Jesus to my life. I hope that you have also been doing more than simply learning the facts and that this study has brought you closer to your Savior than you were when you started.

Before The Throne:

Confess to God the many times that you were more focused on someone else than on yourself. Confess those moments of envy or jealousy, those times when you engaged in gossip, and the times when you used someone else's sins to make your own seem alright. Praise Him for creating you as a unique individual with a unique role in His plan for mankind. Thank Him for allowing you into his kingdom to be a part of that plan. Pray that He will help you to focus on the ministry to which He has called you, and that you will do it well.

For Further Study:

** seeth. John 20:2; ** which. John 13:23-26; 20:2;

(v.21) ** Lord. Mt 24:3,4; Luk 13:23,24; Act 1:6,7;

(v.22) ** If. Mt 16:27,28; 24:3,27,44; 25:31; Mr 9:1; 1Cor 4:5; 11:26; Rev 1:7; 2:25; 3:11; 22:7,20;

(v.23) ** what. Deut 29:29; Job 28:28; 33:13; Dan 4:35;

(v.24) ** we know. John 19:35; 1John 1:1,2; 5:6; 3John 1:12;

(v.25) ** there. John 20:30,31; Job 26:14; Psa 40:5; 71:15; Eccl 12:12; Mt 11:5; Act 10:38; 20:35; Heb 11:32;

John 21:18-19

Count the Cost

18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

After questioning Peter about his love for Him, Jesus proceeded to tell him what his love would cost?

This is an important lesson for most of us who live in a country where there is an abundance of material wealth. Most modern Christians living in the United States seem unwilling to sacrifice very much for the cause of Christ. They say that they love Him and are willing to die for Him but, when asked to help in a ministry, they say that they do not have the time. How can anyone be willing to die for Him but not be willing to live for Him; how would they sacrifice their life for Him when they are not willing to give up even an hour or two of their time?

"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?" (Luke 14:26-28)

There is a cost to be paid for following Jesus. He had told His disciples on many occasions that the world would hate them because of their love for Him. He had said that the servant was not greater than the Master and therefore should not expect to be treated any better. Yet, most people who follow Him are only looking for the rewards.

"When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest..." Perhaps Jesus was making a reference to the way Peter had quickly girded himself with his fisherman's undergarment. dived into the water and swam toward the shore to be with Jesus. It was a rather youthful and impetuous act, which demonstrated the freedom that Peter enjoyed as a young man. Few people are willing to give up their freedoms, especially when they are young.

However, Jesus told Peter, "...but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not." There would come a time when Peter would pay the cost of discipleship. Jesus said that when Peter was old, instead of enjoying his freedom, he would see a day when he would be held prisoner. Instead of tying his garment around his waist so he could run, someone else would be tying his outstretched hands to a cross upon which he would die.

Although his flesh would not want to die, Peter's love for Christ would make him willing to face death on the tortuous cross. Both his life and his death would be committed to bringing glory to God. Having denied Jesus three times, these words must have been comforting to Peter. Now he knew that Jesus understood how much he loved Him; and when Jesus said, "Follow me," Peter did not hesitate.

Each of us has to examine our own hearts to see how deep our love for Jesus goes. Do we serve Him with everything we have, or is there a point where we say, "That's enough! That is all I can give?" We must count the cost of discipleship and decide whether or not we will follow Him. If we pick up our cross daily, we must be willing to die upon it daily. If we are dying daily, why do we do so much for ourselves and so little for Jesus?

These are hard questions, but they must be resolved before anyone can claim to be a Christian. The answers will determine not only how we live today but where we will spend eternity.

Before The Throne:

The questions that are raised in this devotional can only be resolved by asking the Holy Spirit to examine your heart and to reveal the answers to you. We do not know how we will respond when faced with immediate death because of our faith, but Jesus knows. Pray that He would give you the assurance that your faith is real. Ask Him to help you act out that faith in your daily life. Pray that everything you do in life and in death would be to the glory of God. Pray that He would keep you from yielding to temptations and from dishonoring His name. Praise Him with a song.

For Further Study:

** but. John 13:36; Act 12:3,4; ** another. Act 21:11; ** thou wouldest not. John 12:27,28; 2Cor 5:4;

(v.19) ** by. Phil 1:20; 1Pet 4:11-14; 2Pet 1:14; ** Follow. John 12:26; 13:36,37; Num 14:24; 1Sam 12:20; Mt 10:38; 16:21-25; 19:28; Mr 8:33-38; Luk 9:22-26;