OT: Zechariah 4:1-5:11
Egad. More weird prophecies today, both in the OT and NT!
One of my weaknesses as a reader of prophecies is that I'm not great at picturing written descriptions of inanimate objects. I don't know what it is, b/c I have always tested really well in reading comprehension skills, but I just can never picture stuff like the tabernacle and Temple, or any kind of geographical layout just by reading about it. Today, I couldn't really even picture the lampstand, b/c, well, I don't use lampstands. And I don't know what the channels to the lights are. Or really, even what an olive branch looks like. I just do better with people and actions, rather than objects. Anyhow, there is this lampstand, and it is supposed to somehow represent Zerubbabel, who is going to rebuild the Temple. I think. And then they two olive branches are two people who "are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth" (4:14). Okay.
And then there is a flying scroll filled with curses and promises of banishment for thieves and people "who swear falsely by [God's] name" (5:3-4). And then there is a big measuring basket with a woman inside, who represents the sin of the people in the land. And I thought, "What is he saying about women here?" But then it was carried by two women angels (I guess they were angels; verse 9 says that "they had wings like those of a stork"), so I calmed down about the choice of gender. The women angels were taking the basket "to the country of Babylonia to build a house for it" (11). I don't know what that means, but it can't bode well for Babylonia.
NT: Revelation 14:1-20
And the weirdness continues. Is it bad that I sort of think Revelation doesn't apply to me? I mean, I know it is supposed to be telling about the end times and all, but the symbolism is so heavy that I can't make heads or tails of it. And because it is so inaccessible, I just don't feel, deep down, like I am the intended audience. I just feel like if this were for me, I would understand more about it. Even OT prophecies, which were most definitely not written for me, are generally more accessible than Revelation. So maybe saying that Revelation doesn't apply to me is using the wrong phrase. It's more like I don't think it is for me.
Today, there are 144,000 righteous men standing before the Lamb on Mount Zion. I guess we are on earth in this picture--I often have a hard time telling whether we are in heaven or on earth in Revelation. Like, there are humans in this picture, and there is Mount Zion, but what is the Lamb doing there? Anyway, the 144,000 are blameless and redeemed and good to go, but I did wonder why it was just men. At least, I assume it was just men b/c it talks about not defiling themselves with women. And that in itself sounded somewhat misogynistic to me, and then I had to wonder if I was reading too much into a text that I clearly understand nothing about.
Do I have to keep summarizing? I'm going to opt out. Just know that there was a lot of punishment and wrath involved in today's reading, and the overall message seemed to be that the wicked will be eternally punished, but the righteous will be saved.
I did understand the psalm, thank goodness. It was written by David, apparently when he was fleeing from Saul. In it, he prays to God for rescue.
Prov. 30: 21-23
And then Proverbs brought the portions of the Bible that I didn't understand today to 3 out of 4. Apparently, "a servant who becomes king," a fool with a full stomach, an "unloved woman who is married," and "a maidservant who displaces her mistress" are four things that cause the earth to tremble. I guess that all these things involve reversals of what is expected and proper. But it is interesting that much of the message of the Bible is that the poor will be lifted up and the proud will be brought low. Wouldn't that cause the earth to tremble, too, according to this reasoning?