Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December 28

OT: Zechariah 12:1-13:9

Like yesterday, I got a bad case of whiplash from the reversal that happened between chapters 12 and 13. In chapter 12, it's all good for Judah. God is going to make Judah "a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling" (2), "an immovable rock" (3), "a firepot in a woodpile," and "a flaming torch among sheaves" (6). In other words, Judah is going to kick some serious booty. The oracle further says that, "on that day the Lord will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord going out before them" (8). Whoa. That is some forceful imagery. If this section were graphed according to the positivity of the images, 10:8 would definitely be the high point.

It starts to go downhill from there. It also starts to get weird. Verse 10 says, "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son." Okay, I had a little bit of trouble with "person" here. We start out in the first person, and the first person is clearly God. God will "pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication." Yes, the "I" there is clearly God. The first person continues in the next sentence, which says, "The will look on me, the one they have pierced." So...you would think the "I" there is God, too, right? But when and how did they pierce God? What does that even mean? For a Christian, the answer is obvious, right? This is a reference to Jesus. Even John 19:37 quotes this verse when telling of the crucifixion. And honestly, I can think of no other explanation, even if I wasn't a Christian. God being pierced? It makes no sense.

But...neither does the rest of today's reading, in light of the Christological interpretation (not sure if I used that word right). For one thing, it says that everyone in the area would mourn the pierced God's death, and they didn't when Christ died. Also, chapter 13 continues the prophecy with, "On that day." So it is clearly linked with the events of the preceding verses. And it says that on that day, God would get rid of all the idols, and there would be no more false prophets, and parents would stab their own kids if they prophesied falsely. And again, I saw none of that in the NT.

Like I said earlier, I still can't see another explanation for that verse besides that it was about Christ. It makes absolutely sense to me apart from God becoming a man and getting pierced. But I don't really understand how the rest of the prophecy is about Him.

I feel compelled to try and make it make sense on the blog, but like I have said all along, I'm not the Bible's apologist. It can speak for and handle itself. I am just a student trying to learn. And I have so many questions. Maybe further study on prophecy will one day shed light on these questions. Maybe not. My hope, though, is that just by asking them, I can grow closer to God. I ask questions about the things and people that I care about, that I want to know better. And that's what I'm reading the Bible as honestly as possible; I want to honestly know the God who gave it to me.

NT: Revelation 19:1-21

We are nearing the end. The bridegroom is coming for the bride, and the wedding feast is about to take place. I don't know that I ever understood that the wedding feast would involve eating all the bad guys (17-18), but then again, I'm thinking that all of this language is highly figurative. After all, the bridegroom kills all the bad guys with a sword that comes out of his mouth, so....it doesn't really seem literal.

Speaking of figurative language, I love the imagery in verses 7-8:

"'Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.'
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)"

I love the image of the collective church waiting as a bride for Christ to return, and especially that her beautiful clothes are the "righteous acts of the saints." That is beautiful to me.

The bridegroom is a warrior. Before he gets his bride, he must vanquish all his enemies. Apparently, his main enemies are the beast and the false prophet, and both of them are thrown into a lake of fire (20). Clearly, I don't know what the beast and the false prophet stand for, but the clear image is that when Christ returns, it will be really good news for some people, and really bad news for other people. So, it is both exciting and really sobering to realize the import of these events.

Psalm 147:1-20

One verse that stood out to me today was verse 10:

"His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of a man;
the Lord delights in those who fear Him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love."

There is a lot to say about this verse, but here is its application to me: I tend to really prize human effort, to prize efficiency, dependability, productivity. If I am not being efficiently productive, I often feel like a failure. This verse reminds me that God is not impressed with man's efficiency or his productivity. What he wants is not my best, most efficient and productive efforts at life; what he wants is my heart and my faith.

Prov. 31:1-7

King Lemuel warns his son not to chase women and wine. He makes a pretty valid point that someone with everything shouldn't even need wine. Wine should appeal more to people who are hopeless and desperate than to future kings--or people who have responsibilities (5).

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