Tag Archives: Prophecy

When in Doubt, Believe the Word! (Matthew 11)

Scripture reading – Matthew 11

A great multitude was following Jesus as we come to Matthew 11. Jesus’ ministry had begun in the countryside of Galilee, and He was followed by great crowds who came to hear Him teach, perform miracles, and ponder if He was the long-awaited Messiah of Israel. The people had been watching and waiting for a Messiah-King who would cast off the oppression of Rome; however, they would learn too late that Jesus had come to be their Savior, Messiah-Redeemer.

Matthew 11 – The Disciples of John the Baptist

Jesus had finished commanding and commissioning His disciples, and appears to have sent them out to minister while He began “to teach and to preach in their cities” (11:1). It was in that hour that John the Baptist, now in prison, sent two of his disciples who came to Jesus and asked, Art thou He that should come, or do we look for another?” (11:3)

Why the question, “Art thou He that should come?” (11:3) Why this wondering? Was John doubting that Jesus was the promised Messiah? When he had baptized Jesus, John had witnessed the anointing of the of the Holy Spirit (3:16) and heard the voice of God the Father affirming, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (3:17).

Perhaps it was the darkness of the dungeon and his uncertain future. Maybe the isolation from those to whom he ministered, and the sudden end of his public ministry that left John seeking assurance that Jesus was the promised Messiah.

John’s disciples had brought him word of a spiritual stirring in Israel, and the people saying, “That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people” (Luke 7:16b). The news of Jesus’ ministry had reached John through his disciples (Luke 7:18). He had faith that God would send His Messiah, and he wanted reassurance, “Art thou He that should come?” (11:3) Jesus answered John’s disciples with love and grace saying,

Matthew 11:4b–6 – “4 …Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: 5The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”

Two Proofs Validated Jesus’ Messiahship: His Works and His Words (11:4-5)

Jesus commanded John’s disciples to go to him and declare what they had witnessed, His works.

Languishing in a Roman dungeon, John sought reassurance that Jesus was the Messiah, and it came in the outward, visible, undeniable evidence of miracles: “The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up.” (11:5)

The miracles Jesus performed, and later His physical bodily resurrection from the dead, give us undeniable proof that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Christ declared to His disciples, “11Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake” (John 14:11).

Are there times you need reassurance? Times when you find your faith weak? Remember, John the Baptist needed his faith strengthened, thou he was a man of whom Jesus said, “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist” (11:11).

The second validating proof Jesus was the Promised One, the long-awaited Messiah, were His words(11:5b)

Jesus commanded John’s disciples to go and tell him what they had heard, His words: “The poor have the gospel preached to them” (11:5b). Unlike men who are given to rhetoric and take pride in their oral arguments and powers of persuasion, Jesus’ words were divinely inspired and delivered with authority.

Luke 4:32 – “They were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.

John 12:48–5048He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. 49For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 50And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.

John 14:1010Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

We conclude with Peter’s assertion of his faith in Jesus Christ: “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 69And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:68b-69).

The works of Christ were essential signs that validated His person and ministry before His generation; however, it is the hearing and preaching of the WORD that was and is essential for men to be saved.

Romans 10:17 17So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Men of Persia: Your Ancestors Were the Wisest of Men! (Matthew 2)

Scripture reading – Matthew 2

Matthew 2 is our assigned Scripture reading, bringing us to a fascinating event in antiquity: The journey of “wise men from the east” who came to Jerusalem (2:1) enquiring, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” (2:2)

Matthew 2

Four centuries of turmoil had preceded the birth of Jesus. The Jews had waited four hundred years for the prophecies of a coming Messiah to be fulfilled. The Temple had been rebuilt, the walls of Jerusalem repaired, and Israel was restored in the land God had promised Abraham would be an inheritance of his lineage.

As a nation and people, Israel was not at peace. Malachi had prophesied the people would suffer God’s judgment for breaking covenant with the LORD, and Israel had experienced the assault of Greece that was soon followed by the armies of Rome. Self-appointed “Messiahs” had come and gone, and Jewish rebellions had been swiftly crushed. Israel was oppressed by taxations and the idolatrous ways of Rome.

Still, the Jews waited for their Messiah, a Deliverer, a political Savior, a leader who would cast off the tyranny of Rome, and revive the glory years of Israel as a kingdom. When Christ was born, Israel was looking, waiting, and longing for a Messiah King, and so, we read,

Matthew 2:1 – “1Now when Jesus was born in Beth-lehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem.”

Bethlehem of Judaea, had been the birthplace of King David, and was the city where Micah prophesied the Christ child would be born (Micah 5:2). Joseph and Mary, both of whom were of the lineage of David, fulfilling the decree of Caesar Augustus that the people should be registered in their ancestral homelands, had journeyed to Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-5). Arriving in Bethlehem, Joseph had been unable to find lodging, and the couple sought shelter in a stable where Mary gave birth to her Son (Luke 2:6-7) whom her husband named Jesus (Matthew 1:25).

Weeks, months, and likely as much as two years, passed before “wise men from the east” (2:1) arrived in Jerusalem.

These “wise men” were doubtless attended by a great caravan of soldiers and servants, as the journey from Persia to Judaea would have taken months, and been known well in advance of their arrival in Jerusalem.

The presence of a powerful company of Persians seeking an infant “King of the Jews” (2:2) had been troubling to King Herod (2:3). He was a puppet of Rome, an illegitimate monarch, an Edomite who lived in constant fear of assassination and the swift reprisals of Caesar Augusts, the Roman emperor. Herod’s role was to keep the peace by pacifying the Jews, but also enforcing the laws and taxations required by Rome to maintain its far-flung armies and the lavish lifestyle of the emperor.

The rumor of an infant king, a legitimate heir to David’s throne, was intolerable to a man like Herod. After learning there was a prophecy that foretold the birth of Christ in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), the king dispatched the wise men to the city, suggesting that he would soon follow to worship the new born king (2:4-8). We read,

Matthew 2:9–10 9When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.”

There has been much debate about the star that served as a guiding light for the wise men and led them from the east to the house in Bethlehem where Jesus, His mother, and Joseph lodged (2:11). Perhaps it was a physical star, miraculously employed by God to guide these wisest of men from the east. Or the star might have been the shekinah glory of God that guided them. It matters not; what does matter is that “the star” led the wise men to Jesus, and “when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him” (2:11).

Think about it: Before there was a prophet named Mohammed; before there was a religion called Islam; before there was a clash of cultures divided over religions, there were men of Persia, “wise men” who comprehended a prophecy that a King of the Jews would be born!

Perhaps with the knowledge of prophecies that foretold the birth of a Messiah King and had been passed down from the prophet Daniel, wise men of Persia read in the heavens, the birth announcement of the King of the Jews (2:2).

An infant King whom the wisest of men would “come to worship” (2:2).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham (Matthew 1; Luke 2)

Scripture reading – Matthew 1; Luke 2

We continue the commencement of our Scripture readings in the New Testament with today’s Scripture reading assignment in the Gospel of Matthew and continuing in the Gospel of Luke.

The Gospel of Matthew was written by the disciple whose name it bears. Also known as Levi (Luke 5:27-32; Mark 2:13-17), Matthew was Jewish by birth, and was a “publican” (a tax collector) by trade when he became a follower of Jesus Christ (Matthew 9:9-13; 10:3).

Matthew 1 – The Genealogy of Jesus Christ

The Gospel of Matthew is the first of the New Testament books and is a history of the conception, virgin birth, life, and earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Believers who are young in their faith, might find the first seventeen verses of Matthew’s Gospel to be a tedious undertaking. The reader finds a long list of names that are difficult to pronounce, spanning forty-two generations, and to a casual student of the Bible, seem to have little significance.

Why all those names? Matthew 1:1-17 is a chronicle of the human ancestry of Jesus Christ beginning with Abraham (1:2), through “David the king” (1:6), and culminating with “Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ” (1:16).

Notice that Matthew does not state that Joseph begat Jesus, but rather, that he was the “husband of Mary” (1:16). Matthew stakes Christ’s claim as heir to the throne of David, through the lineage of Joseph, his adopted earthly father and he was “the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus” (1:16-17). Luke records in Mary’s lineage that Jesus “was [legally] supposed the son of Joseph” (Luke 3:23). And so the opening verses of the Gospel of Matthew give proof that Jesus was the legitimate heir to the throne of David and the covenant promise the LORD made to Abraham (“…in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” – Genesis 12:3).

Matthew 1 – Five Illustrations of God’s Abundant Grace

Among the men named in the lineage of Christ are the names of five women, who individually are testimonies of God’s grace:  Tamar (1:3), who played a harlot and bore two sons to Judah, who was the beginning of the royal lineage of Israel;  Rahab (1:5), a prostitute of the city of Jericho hid Israel’s spies in her home; Ruth (1:5), a Moabitess, a descendant of Lot’s incest with his oldest daughter; Bathsheba (1:6), who though not named, is identified as “her that had been the wife of Urias;” after she committed adultery with King David and later bore him a son named Solomon; and lastly there was Mary (1:18), a virtuous, but humble peasant girl of Nazareth whom God chose to be the virgin mother of Jesus Christ.

Take a moment and ponder those women named in the lineage of Christ: Deceiver, prostitute, child of an incestuous line, an adulterer, and a virtuous, but humble peasant girl. “Scandalous”, you say? Yes, but they are all testimonies of the same mercy and grace, by which all sinners might be saved.

Think you will never be “good enough” for God?  You are right; however, God’s grace, love and forgiveness, is extended to all who turn from their sin and come to Him by faith through the sacrificial death and resurrection of His Son Jesus (Romans 3:23-25).

Romans 5:8-9 – “8  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Part 2 – An Introduction to the Gospels of Luke and John: The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ (Luke 1; John 1)

Daily reading assignment: Luke 1; John 1

The following devotional commentary serves as part 2 of my two-part introduction to the Gospels of Luke and John.

John 1The Gospel of John is the fourth Gospel of the New Testament and was penned by the beloved apostle John.

John was Jewish by birth, and a fisherman by trade (Mark 1:20). We first meet John as a follower of John the Baptist (John 1:35-40); however, he departed and followed Jesus when the Baptist declared Jesus to be the “Lamb of God” (John 1:36).

John was an eyewitness of the events recorded in his Gospel.  He was a disciple of Jesus Christ from the beginning of His earthly ministry, and a member of His inner circle, along with Peter and James, his brother. He was privileged to see Christ cloaked in His heavenly glory on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:2). When Jesus was crucified, John stood beside Mary, the mother of Jesus (John 19:26), at the foot of the cross.

John is believed to have been the last of the apostles, all of whom were martyred according to tradition, and penned the Book of Revelations when he was banished to the isle of Patmos near the end of his life (Revelation 1:1-2).

The opening verses of John’s Gospel are some of the best known of the New Testament and need little exposition for the readers of this devotional blog.  Unlike the Gospels of Matthew and Luke that give rich historical details of the incarnation and birth of Jesus, John’s Gospel opens with a beautiful declaration of the divinity and eternality of Jesus.

Jesus Christ is introduced as Eternal God (1:1-2), Creator (1:3), the Life (1:4), the Light (1:5, 9), the Word of God “made flesh” (1:14a), the Son of God, “the only begotten of the Father” (1:14b). Declaring Jesus to be the long-awaited Messiah whom the Jews rejected, John writes “He came unto his own [the Jews; descendants of Abraham], and his own received him not” (1:11).

Fulfilling the prophecies that a forerunner of the Messiah would come (Isaiah 40:3), we are introduced to the man we know as “John the Baptist” (1:15). While John the Baptist enjoyed a great following, he made it clear that he was not the Messiah (1:15-20); but the one sent before Christ to call the people to repent, and prepare their hearts for His coming (1:21-27).

John 1 records for us the dramatic moment that Jesus identified Himself with the ministry of John the Baptist by baptism (1:28-34), and John declared the purpose of Christ’s coming saying, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (1:29).

John continued, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him… And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (1:32, 34); “Behold the Lamb of God!” (1:36)

I close, drawing your attention to John 1:37-51 where we find the account of Jesus calling the first of disciples: Andrew (1:40), Simon Peter (1:41), Philip (1:43-44), Nathanael (1:45-49).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Part 1 – An Introduction to the Gospels of Luke and John: The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ (Luke 1; John 1)

Daily reading assignment: Luke 1; John 1

As we begin our journey through the Gospels, I feel as though I am facing an impossible task: How to write a daily devotional that is brief enough to not be cumbersome, but enriching enough to be enjoyed. I invite you to consider the eternal truths God, in His sovereignty, has inspired and preserved through the words of the Gospel writers (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21). Today’s devotional commentary will focus on the Gospel of Luke.

Luke 1 – A Credible Account of History Received from Eyewitnesses

The apostle Paul identified Luke as, “Luke, the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14). Luke’s secular occupation was that of a physician. Bible scholars believe he may have been a Gentile covert, and was no doubt an educated man. He was also a traveling companion of Paul on his missionary journeys (Acts 16:10). Luke’s writings reveal he was a man who had a passion for history, especially that of the person and life of Christ, and the history of the early Church. The Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts were historical letters penned by Luke to a friend he identified as Theophilus, “friend of God” (Luke 1:1-3; Acts 1:1).

We can identify Luke as the author of the Gospel of Luke, knowing that his Gospel and the Book of Acts were written to the same man, “most excellent Theophilus” (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1). Luke introduced himself as a historian, one who was privileged to receive an accounting of the person and life of Christ from “eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word” (Luke 1:1-2). His purpose for writing his Gospel is stated to his friend Theophilus: “4That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed” (Luke 1:4).

Luke 1 introduces us to the miraculous birth of John the Baptist, the long-awaited forerunner of the Messiah (Luke 1:5-25).  From his conception, John was destined for greatness; however, it was not the greatness men thrust upon a child because of his lineage (his father Zacharias was a simple priest who lived in relative obscurity). No, John was prophesied to be “great in the sight of the LORD” (Luke 1:15), because he was called to be the messenger of the LORD and his life was dedicated to heralding the coming of Jesus Christ, the “Lamb of God” (John 1:36).

Luke 1:26-38 records the miraculous incarnation of Jesus Christ, conceived in the womb of the virgin named Mary of Nazareth, a child of the Holy Ghost, the only begotten Son of God (Luke 1:35).

Luke 1:39-56 is the record of the expecting Mary’s retreat from Nazareth, to the home of her elder cousin Elisabeth, whom Mary found to be great with child as the angel Gabriel had spoken (Luke 1:36).  The birth of John the Baptist, his divine mission, and his preparation in the desert conclude our study (Luke 1:57-80).

I close today’s devotional commentary with the prophetic words of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, who being filled with the Holy Ghost blessed his son saying,

Luke 1:76 – “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: For thou shalt go before the face of the Lord To prepare his ways.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“I Have Loved You, Israel” (Malachi 1-4)

Daily reading assignment – Malachi 1-4

Today’s Scripture is our 273rd, and brings our year-long chronological reading of the Bible to the final book of the Old Testament. Today’s devotional commentary will focus on Malachi 1.

The Book of Malachi was written around 400 B.C. Malachi was the last of the Old Testament prophets. His ministry was to the remnant of Jews that had returned to Jerusalem following the Babylonian captivity.

Cyrus, king of Persia, had made an emancipation decree in 536 B.C., fulfilling Jeremiah’s prophecy that the Jews would return their land after a seventy-year captivity. The walls of Jerusalem had been rebuilt around 446 B.C.  Less than a half-century later, we find Israel once again having broken covenant with God and facing the consequences of their sin and rebellion.

Malachi’s prophecy is the last word from the LORD recorded in the Old Testament Scriptures, until the nation heard the “voice of one crying in the wilderness” (Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; John 1:23).

Malachi 1

Malachi described his ministry as, “The burden [weight and importance of the prophecy] of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi” (1:1), and declared to Israel on God’s behalf, “I have loved you” (1:2a). God’s love is unconditional (Deuteronomy 7:7-8; Romans 5:8), everlasting, unfailing love (Jeremiah 31:3-4).

Rather than acknowledge God’s love, the people obstinately asked, “Wherein has thou loved us?” (1:2b). In spite of the love and grace He had extended to Israel, the people questioned God’s favor (1:1-5).

Malachi reminded the people how the LORD had chosen Israel (Jacob), but rejected Esau. (1:2-3). He had left Edom impoverished, but had blessed the land of Israel. And yet, the people questioned the LORD’s love!

The people had dishonored the LORD’s name (1:6), and the priests were rebuked for offering sacrifices that were less than the covenant that bound them. God’s Law required perfect sacrifices (Deut. 15:19-23; Leviticus 22:17-33); however, the priests had offered “polluted bread” (food), and animals that were blind, lame, and sick (Malachi 1:7-8, 13). They dared offer to God what their own human authorities would have rejected (1:8b).

Malachi admonished the priests, it would be better to “shut the doors” of the Temple and offer no sacrifice, than to make a pretense of sacrifices that were less than their best (1:10, 14). 

Malachi then prophesied that there would be a future day (the Millennium Kingdom), when the Gentiles would worship the LORD and His name would be “great among the heathen” (1:11).

Sadly, the people whom God had chosen, and with whom He established His covenant, had once again turned from the LORD and despised His offerings (1:13). The LORD, faithful to His Word and covenant, warned, “cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, And voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing” (1:14).

Friend, what attitude do you have toward the LORD in giving Him your tithes, time, and talents? Do you treasure the things that are eternal, or covet the things of this earth that are temporal and fleeting? (Matthew 6:21, 31-33)

Have you given Him your heart?

Romans 12:1 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Ezra: Man of Faith” (Ezra 7-10)

Scripture reading – Ezra 7-10

* Note from the Author: I begin with a brief apology to those who follow my daily devotional posts. A dear friend brought to my attention that I had overlooked Ezra 7-10 (which chronologically should have come after Esther 6-10, and before Nehemiah 1-5). Tomorrow’s devotional in Malachi will conclude our Old Testament readings! Thank you for your patience and faithfulness.

Where do you look to for encouragement and spiritual inspiration?

Hebrews 11 is full of heroic, spiritually inspiring examples. We find Noah, an example of faithfulness in a wicked generation where he stood alone as a man of faith (11:7). Abraham, a man of incomparable faith, who left his family and country, to go to a land he had never seen, but which God had promised Him for an inheritance (11:8-10). Jacob was an example of the foresight of God, who saw in him, not what he was (a self-centered, deceitful man), but who he would become—Israel and a prince with God (11:21). Joseph serves as a model of inordinate forgiveness: He had unwavering confidence in the sovereignty of God, even when he was hated by his brothers and sold as a slave (11:22).

Though not mentioned in the Hebrews 11 “Hall of Faith,” Ezra should be one of our spiritual heroes. He was not a great soldier, nor a descendant of blue blood royalty; however, he was a great man because he was faithful.

Who was Ezra?

Ezra was, as his name suggests, a “Helper.” He was a man of godly character. He was “a ready [trained, experienced; skilled] scribe in the law of Moses,” and “had prepared [fixed; set] his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach [instruct] in Israel statutes and judgments” (Ezra 7:6, 10).

Four Stages for Becoming a “Spiritual Giant” (Ezra 7:6, 10)

Ezra had a passion for studying God’s Word. He was a “ready scribe in the law of Moses,” and was a disciplined student and teacher of God’s Word (7:6).

Ezra “prepared [fixed; set] his heart to seek the law of the Lord” (7:10). He had a right attitude and focus because he made preparing his heart a priority. Solomon taught his son, “The preparations of the heart in man [belong to man],and the answer of the tongue [the outcome of a matter], is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:1). Ezra was ready to serve God because he had prepared his heart.

The third stage of becoming a “spiritual giant” is perspiration. Ezra was committed to not only “seek the law of the LORD,” but “also to do it” (7:10). He understood that what practiced was just as important as what he knew (James 1:22, 25).

We have seen Ezra was passionate, prepared, perspiring, and fourthly – a proclaimer:

He taught “in Israel statutes and judgments” (7:10). Our world is in desperate need of spiritually committed men and women. I fear there are many who lack spiritual disciplines and commitment, and are what the writer of Hebrews described in Hebrews 5:12-14 – “12For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you…and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat14But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

Remember: Like an oak that requires a good foundation to grow tall and become a giant of the forest, you will never be a “spiritual giant” until you have the right foundation…faith and trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior\Redeemer.

Psalm 1:1–31Blessed is the man That walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2But his delight is in the law of the Lord; And in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, That bringeth forth his fruit in his season; His leaf also shall not wither; And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Messianic Prophecies Fulfilled by Christ the King (Zechariah 10-14)

Daily reading assignment – Zechariah 10-14

Today’s Bible reading concludes our study of the Book of Zechariah, the prophet to the post-exilic people of the Babylonian captivity. Of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, only Judah and Benjamin had returned to Judah following the edict of Cyrus, king of Persia (Ezra 1).

Though he began his ministry as a young prophet, and was a contemporary of Haggai, Zechariah was nevertheless a bold prophet who did not shy from his calling. Whether confronting the sins of his people and calling them to repentance, or assuring them with the prophecies and promises of a coming Messiah, Zechariah was faithful and true to the Word of the LORD.

As we have seen, Zechariah was privileged with foretelling some of the great Messianic prophecies found in the Old Testament Scriptures and fulfilled by Jesus Christ in His first coming. For today’s devotional commentary, I invite you to consider Zechariah’s prophecies in light of the Messiah King, Jesus Christ.

The Messiah would come to Jerusalem “riding upon an ass, And upon the colt the foal of an ass” and He would be called King. (Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 27:37; Mark 11:7-11)

Zechariah 9:9 – Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: Behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; Lowly, and riding upon an ass, And upon a colt the foal of an ass.

The Messiah would be betrayed. (Zechariah 11:12-13; Luke 22:47-48; Matthew 26:14-16)

Zechariah 11:12-13 – And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised [i.e. prized or appraised] at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord.

The Messiah’s price would be used to purchase a potter’s field. (Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 27:9-10)

The Messiah would be pierced: Romans soldiers pierced Jesus’ hands, feet, and side. (Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34; John 20:25-27)

Zechariah 12:10 – And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, The spirit of grace and of supplications: And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, And they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, And shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

Notice that the prophecies of Zechariah were fulfilled by Jesus Christ, our Savior Redeemer, in exact detail.

Surely, Christ is coming again as the prophets foretold, and as He promised! Even so Lord, come quickly! (Revelation 3:11; 22:7, 12)

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Fifth Vision of Zechariah: A Flying Scroll (Zechariah 5-9)

Daily reading assignment – Zechariah 5-9

Today’s Scripture reading is Zechariah 5-9, and finds us in the midst of eight visions that came to the prophet Zechariah in the night. We have already noted the first five of the eight visions.

The first vision was of horsemen among a grove of myrtle trees (1:7-17). The second vision was of “four horns,” each representing four world powers (1:18-21). The third vision was of a man who was surveying the city of Jerusalem” (2:1-13). A fourth vision was of the high priest Joshua who was seen wearing “filthy garments” and was given a “change of raiment” (3:1-10), symbolic of Israel repenting, being cleansed of her sin and restored. The fifth vision was of a Menorah, golden lampstand (“candlestick of gold”) that presented “seven lamps” supplied with oil by “two olive trees” (4:1-14).

Zechariah 5 presents us with two visions of the eight visions recorded by Zechariah. The sixth vision is described as a “flying roll” (5:1).  The seventh vision was of a woman in “an ephah [i.e. basket] that goeth forth” (5:5).  The eighth and last nightly vision of Zechariah was of “four chariots” pulled by horses (6:1-3). The four horse drawn chariots represented four angels of judgment (described as “the four spirits of the heavens” (6:5).

I will limit the focus of today’s devotional to the sixth vision found in Zechariah 5:1-4.

The Sixth Vision (5:1-4)

Zechariah’s sixth vision was of “a flying roll,” or perhaps more precisely, a flying scroll (5:1). Zechariah describes his conversation with a man, whom we have already identified as the “angel of the LORD” (1:11; 2:3; 3:6; 4:1; 5:5), and whom I believe was a pre-incarnate appearance of the LORD Jesus Christ).

The angel asked, “What seest thou?” (5:2). Zechariah then described a “flying roll,” giving its dimensions (5:3); however, he did not know its meaning. The angel then revealed to Zechariah that the scroll was a symbol of the Law of God and was inscribed with two commandments:  The third commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” (Exodus 20:7), and the eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not steal”(Exodus 20:15).

I am unsure why only two commandments were inscribed on the “flying roll;” however, it is certain that the Commandments were a reminder to Zechariah: Break the Law of God and you will surely “be cut off” (5:3, 4).

Entering the house as a “flying roll,” the Law remained “in the midst of [the] house” (5:4).  A reminder that, though we might dismiss the weight of the Law of God, we cannot dismiss its judgment.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The LORD Has Chosen Jerusalem (Zechariah 1-4)

Daily reading assignment – Zechariah 1-4

Today’s Scripture reading introduces us to the prophecies of Zechariah, a contemporary of the prophet Haggai. Both prophets were called by the LORD to minister in Jerusalem during the post-exilic era (Ezra 1:1-2). Zechariah, a young prophet at the time of this writing, had the same task as Haggai: To challenge and exhort God’s people to rebuild the Temple on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.

The focus of Haggai’s prophecies was to encourage the people to finish rebuilding the temple. The prophecies of Zechariah had an even far-reaching context; one that was not only applicable to the world of his day, but also to the world at the Second Coming of Christ when He returns as the Messiah King.

Zechariah 1:1-6 – Zechariah’s Commission to the Work of the Prophet

Zechariah announced with exactness the date his ministry as prophet began in Jerusalem: “In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius” (1:1). We know from history that the date was 520 B.C., two months after the commencement of Haggai’s ministry (Haggai 1:1).

Zechariah would have been born in Babylon during the seventy years of captivity. Like Haggai, his ministry was to convey to God’s people the LORD’S displeasure for their neglect of His house (the Temple, 1:2). Their failure to build the Temple had provoked God’s wrath; however, the LORD is longsuffering. Zechariah was commanded to go to the people and “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” (1:3).

Zechariah 1:7-4:14 – Eight Nightly Visions

To enlighten His prophet, the LORD came to Zechariah in eight nighttime visions that are recorded in Zechariah 1:7-6:8. These eight visions gave the prophet a glimpse of the future blessings and the glory the LORD would pour out on His people if they would repent of their sins and turn to Him. I will list five of the eight visions, but will only consider the first for today’s devotional.

The first of the eight visions was of horsemen among a grove of myrtle trees (1:7-17). The second vision was of “four horns” that each represented four world powers (1:18-21). The third vision was of a man who was seen surveying with “a measuring [the city of Jerusalem with a] line in his hand,” (2:1-13). A fourth vision was of “Joshua the high priest” wearing “filthy garments,” but given a “change of raiment” (3:1-10), symbolic of Israel repenting, being cleansed of her sin and restored.

Zechariah’s fifth vision was of a golden lampstand (“candlestick of gold”) that presented “seven lamps” supplied with oil by “two olive trees.” The olive oil flowed into a bowl that supplied the seven lamps with oil (4:1-14).

Time nor space permits me to focus on the eight visions the LORD revealed to Zechariah; however, I will draw your attention to the first vision (1:8-17).

Zechariah saw a “man riding upon a red horse” who was seen “among the myrtle trees…and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white” (1:8). While the number of hoses is not given, we notice that the horses had riders (1:10-11). I believe the man on the horse was “the angel of the LORD” (1:8-12) and a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. This same is true of the man seen surveying the city of Jerusalem in Zechariah’s third vision (2:1-13).

Zechariah 1:11 shows that this vision occurred at a time when the Gentile nations of the world were at peace (the Persians having subdued the nations of the Babylonian empire). The Jews; however, were not at peace after being oppressed by Assyria, and serving Babylon in captivity for seventy years (1:12).

Indicating a season of judgment was to come upon the Gentile nations for their harsh treatment of His people, Zechariah was commanded to cry out against the heathen nations and declare for the LORD, “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” (1:14-15).

The LORD promised to show mercy, and prosper His people if they would rebuild His Temple (1:16). What a joy it would have been for the Jews to hear Zechariah prophesy, 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” (1:17).

God had not forgotten His people, nor the wrongs they had suffered. The LORD was waiting for His people to repent of their sins, that He might overwhelm them with His blessings.

Is the LORD waiting on you? He will bless His people when they confess their sins, repent, and turn to Him.

Psalm 51:10-12 – Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11  Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 12  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith