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Thursday, August 31, 2023

Zechariah 3:9

For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.

For further study - Zechariah 3:1-10

Zechariah 3 is a record of one of the visions the prophet received from the Lord. It is a prophecy of the Jewish people as a whole, not each individual, but as a whole turning to Christ as their Saviour.
This salvation will come to the Jews "in a day", verse 9. In addition to the central theme of the chapter there are a number of great truths that must be seen as we read through our devotions for today.

Joshua "the High Priest", verse 1, is the representative of the Jewish people to whom the prophecy is given. Remember the High Priest went as the representative of all Jews when he entered the "Holy of Holies" on the Day of Atonement to offer the sacrifice that would "cover" the sins of the Jewish people for one year.

The high priest, Joshua, representing the Jewish people, will stand before God and the vision reveals that Satan is there to accuse them; however, Jesus Christ is there as well. The "Angel of the Lord" is a "pre-incarnate" appearance of Jesus.

Joshua has on "filthy garments", representing sin, as he stands before God and Jesus tells him to take off his "filthy garment" and get dressed in "clean garments".

"Filthy garments" represent the sins of all humankind and "clean garments" the righteousness of God, verses 2-6.

By the way, notice who it is that can rebuke Satan, only the Lord Jesus Christ, verse 2. We must never rebuke the devil, but submit to the Lord and the devil will flee from us, because of the rebuke of the Lord, James 4:7.

Verse 8 tells us that the Lord will bring Jesus Christ, "the BRANCH", to remove the sins of the people, not just cover them for a year. This will happen in "one day", verse 9In the context of this apocalyptic passage the "high priest" Joshua is also representative of Jesus Christ the High Priest, Hebrews 8:1.

Jesus as the High Priest will enter the "Holy of Holies" of the Temple He builds, Zechariah 6:12 on the Jewish Feast day of "Yom Kippur", Day of Atonement, in the future to remove the iniquity of the Jewish people, forever.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Thank you, dear Lord, for removing my sins and giving me eternal life. Help me to share this message with others that need this same salvation.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Zechariah 2:8

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.

For further study - Zechariah 2:1-13

This second chapter of Zechariah focuses on the city of Jerusalem. It is natural that Jerusalem should be mentioned again and again in this prophecy. It is a prophecy written by the Jewish prophet that was called to exhort the Jewish people to rebuild the temple after their return to Jerusalem from the Babylonian exile.

In our last devotional reading in Zechariah, we found out that the Lord is "aggressively possessive" of Jerusalem and "sore displeased" with those who are "arrogantly secure" with present-day control of the Temple Mount.

Also, Jesus will come one day to build His Temple in the heart of Jerusalem on the Temple Mount. Now Zechariah reveals Jerusalem in the "kingdom age to come" in our reading for today.

The city of Jerusalem is mentioned 37 times in this prophetic book and here in the second chapter the prophet refers to the holy city as the "apple of his eye". That phrase is speaking of the "pupil" of the eye, the most sensitive spot on the entire body. This is a warning to those who might consider touching - attacking - the city of Jerusalem.

This reading for today is looking past the time of real controversy that will surround Jerusalem approaching the time of the Second Coming of Jesus, including the seven year period of great judgment called the Tribulation Period.

Our devotional is looking to the time that the Glory (Jesus Christ) will be in the midst of Jerusalem, verse 5. The Lord has promised to dwell among His people, the Jewish people, forever in Jerusalem, verses 10-11. This chapter is depicting the "chosen city" in the "holy land" in the "kingdom to come".

However, remember as I mentioned earlier, the city of Jerusalem will be the center of controversy. In fact, it is the same prophet, Zechariah, that reveals this information to us in Zechariah 12:2. I will develop that prophecy in a future devotional.

Suffice to say, leading up to the coming of the Messiah back to Jerusalem, things will become very tense in the "holy city". This is becoming more evident with each passing day as we approach the Lord's return.

As you couple the vision of the future kingdom headquartered in Jerusalem, with the festering controversy surrounding Jerusalem today, we can know both are close at hand and thus so is His Second Coming.

Remember, the Rapture takes place seven years before His Second Coming, meaning that the Rapture could happen at any moment. Keep looking up.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Dear Jesus, as I watch Jerusalem, help me to recognize where we are in God's time for the last days, and help me to live according to that knowledge.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Zechariah 1:16

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.

For further study - Zechariah 1:12-17

As we come to the prophetic book of Zechariah, I have so much that I would like to use for our devotional. Zechariah was unique in that he was both a "prophet" and a "priest". The Lord selected three men who were Priest and made them Prophets, Zechariah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

As I mentioned in our look at Haggai - these two are contemporaries in their ministry after the return of a number of Jews from Babylon. Zechariah is a "prophet" but also a "priest", how appropriate that the Lord selected him to challenge the people to re-build the temple.

In the portion we're reading today there is a focus on the city of Jerusalem and our Lord's attitude about this "holy city" and it's inhabitants. The city of Jerusalem is mentioned 37 times in Zechariah and for its size that is a large number of times to focus on Jerusalem.

In Zechariah 1:12 we see the phrase, "the angel of the Lord". That phrase is always a "theophany", a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. Jesus will say to Zechariah three significant things about Jerusalem.

In verse 14 the Lord says He is "jealous for Jerusalem". The Hebrew flavor for "jealous" is "aggressively possessive". The Lord has chosen Jerusalem for His eternal abode, the place to dwell among His people, the Jewish people, forever. Therefore, He is "aggressively possessive" of the city.

In verse 15 He says He is "sore displeased" with those who are "at ease" in Jerusalem. The Hebrew refers to those who are "arrogantly secure" in their control of Jerusalem. Those who have that control are the Palestinian Muslim people of today.

Verse 16 tells us that, one day, Jesus will return to Jerusalem and will build "His house" in it, His Temple. The city of Jerusalem is set aside for the Lord's program, which is the reason He is "aggressively possessive" of Jerusalem.

The city of Jerusalem, as the song says, is the "city of God". Therefore, as Zechariah tells us, Jerusalem will be the center of controversy, Zechariah 12:2-3, in the last days. Each and every controversy surrounding Jerusalem in our day brings us closer to the Lord's return.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Help me to focus on Jerusalem so that I can determine God's timing for His return to Jerusalem.
Saturday, August 26, 2023

Haggai 2:23

In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.

For further study - Haggai 2:20-23

Today, we are only going to read 4 verses in our extended reading, a short, quick read but full of information about God's plan for the last days. This prophecy is one of defeat for the Gentiles and deliverance for the Jews.

In the last days after the Rapture of the Church, when the Lord takes us, who are Christians, up to be with Him in "His Father's house", there will be a major time of judgment upon the earth.

God has several purposes for this time known as the "Tribulation Period". One purpose is to bring the Jewish people to the reality that Jesus Christ was indeed the Messiah and will be their Savior.

Now we come to the prophecy of Haggai. This Jewish prophet ministered to the Jewish people after the Babylonian Captivity, a ministry that would be manifested by his exhorting the returning Jews to get beyond their own needs and to the task of rebuilding the temple - the permanent dwelling place for the Lord, a permanent worship center.

With the last 4 verses of Haggai's prophecy, the Lord promises to "shake the heavens and the earth", verse 21. The Lord will use the seven years of judgment on this earth to not only evangelize the Jewish people but to also "overthrow the throne of kingdoms and destroy the strength of the kingdoms", the kingdoms of the heathen, the Gentile world powers.

Notice also in verse 22 that the "riders of the chariots and the horses", a military terminology, the Lord will bring them down. This is a prophecy of the defeat of the Gentile world powers as foretold by another ancient Jewish prophet, Daniel.

Jesus also mentioned this defeat in His Olivet Discourse as recorded in Luke 21. The phrase in Luke 21:24, "until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled", is the same prophecy revealing that God will defeat the Antichrist, the dictator of the Gentile world powers in the end times and bring an end to the Gentile world leaders controlling the Jews and Jerusalem.

The Jews will be "God's chosen", verse 23, in the city He chose to dwell among His people, Jerusalem, forever. Thus saith the "Lord of Hosts". Today, the Gentiles control the world. One day soon, Jesus, "King of the Jews", will fulfill the promise of Haggai.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Thank you, Lord, for fulfilling all of your promises to the Jewish people because then I can rest assured that You will fulfill all promises made to me about eternal life.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Haggai 2:19

Is the seed yet in the barn? Yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless you.

For further study - Haggai 2:10-19

Please remember that Haggai is a contemporary of the prophet Zechariah. These two prophets were called of God to exhort the Jewish people to rebuild the temple after their return from the Babylonian captivity. Haggai was somewhat of an "in your face" type of prophet, more so than was Zechariah.

This older prophet was growing impatient with the Jews, his people, as they were taking so long to finish up the work of rebuilding the temple, the permanent worship center for the Jewish people. The Jews had been disobedient and the prophet had been led by the Lord to chastise them verbally and exhort them to finish up the building of the house of the Lord.

As we come to verse 10, and through 19, we see that the returning Jewish people were starting to become obedient and starting to get more serious about doing as the Lord had commanded. Haggai was revealing the word of the Lord directly to the people. They could see that the Lord had chastened them for not obeying, verse 17.

Haggai said, verses 18 and 19, "consider" that when you become obedient there will be "seed in the barn", the vine, fig tree, and pomegranate will bring forth fruit. From that day, the day of their obedience, from that day they would be blessed of the Lord.

Verses 20-23, as we will see in a future devotional, states that the ultimate fulfillment of Haggai's prophecy would be the destruction of the Gentile world powers and the building of the temple, Messiah's Temple, where Messiah Jesus will rule and reign forever.

Thus, our passage is also applicable to the end times as the Jewish people return to the land of their forefathers and become obedient to the Lord. The blessings will then be poured out on them.

As in the days of Haggai, the Jews are today coming back into the land and have allowed their own comforts to be of greater priority than the building of the temple for the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The Bible does call for a Temple in Jerusalem in the last days, and in fact, into the future and forever.

There is a remnant of Jews who are working towards a rebuilding of the temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, but the vast majority and especially the Israeli government have no desire to rebuild the temple. This subject is so controversial that the politicians of Israel never mention it and deny any efforts to rebuild the temple when confronted by the Moslem world.

This caveat, as we conclude our devotional. The preparations for the next temple are ready for the building of a temple right now in Jerusalem with one small problem. The ones preparing to build the next temple are not following the instructions for Messiah's Temple as found in Ezekiel 40-46.

The next temple to be built in Jerusalem will be the "Tribulation Temple" that will be desecrated by Antichrist, II Thessalonians 2:4. That temple is ready to be built on the Temple Mount right now, but the Rapture must happen before they start construction. Thus the Rapture could happen at any moment - keep looking up.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Thank You, Lord, that we live in a day that seems to be near the time of the Rapture. Help me to live in light of that fact.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Haggai 2:9

The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.

For further study - Haggai 2:1-9

The Prophet Haggai is a contemporary of Zechariah. These two prophets, along with Malachi, prophesied after the Babylonian captivity.

Both Haggai and Zechariah were exhorting the Jews that had returned with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem from Babylon to get busy in the rebuilding of the temple - to replace Solomon's temple, the first temple, that had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian King.

Haggai was concerned that those returning Jews were too busy building their own houses to take care of building the "house of the Lord". Haggai as a prophet was a bit more "crusty" than Zechariah, who was also a priest. Haggai gives the Jews a stern warning of the Lord's displeasure with their disobedience and lack of priority in the building of His house.

It is in this context that Haggai looks down the corridor of time to a future temple to be built on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Actually, from Haggai's day until the time that the Lord Jesus will sit on His throne in the Temple at Jerusalem there will be three temples.

The temple built in Haggai's day was the 2nd temple, also known as Zerubbabel's Temple or Herod's Temple. Then there will be the temple to stand in Jerusalem during the Tribulation Period. And finally, the temple referred to as "Messiah's Temple" the one that Jesus will build, Zechariah 6:12following all the detailed instructions of Ezekiel 40-46.

The Messiah's Temple is the one Haggai is referring to in Haggai 2:9. When Jesus rules from that "latter house" the Lord will give peace to the whole world.

One final note: The next temple, the Tribulation Temple, is ready to be built right now. That would make us living in the days of that temple - meaning Jesus is coming and it could be soon. Remember, the Rapture takes place before the next temple is built in Jerusalem.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Thank you Lord for allowing us to be alive in what could be the day of your return.
Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Haggai 1:2

Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD's house should be built.

For further study - Haggai 1:1-15

We could well rehearse the words of a previous devotional when I wrote that prophecy is not only prophetic but practical as well. This you can discern as you read the extended portion of our devotional today.

Haggai and Zechariah are two of the three prophets that had ministry after the return of the Jews to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity. Both of these men exhorted the Jews to rebuild the Temple. Remember, Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian army had destroyed the first temple, Solomon's Temple.

Now, the Jews, around 50,000 of them, who had returned to Jerusalem with Zerubabbel, had done so for the purpose of rebuilding the Temple and once again offering sacrifice and worship in this "worship center" in Jerusalem.

Haggai challenged the people to not focus on their own homes, Haggai 1:3-9, but instead move quickly to rebuild the Temple, the place to worship the God of Israel. Haggai reminded the people of the Lord's chastisement on them for not rebuilding the Temple, Haggai 1:10-11.

There had been a major draught upon the land of Israel so that the needed foodstuffs were in much lesser supply, even the provision for the cattle. Under Haggai's ministry, the Jewish people got their hearts right by fearing the Lord, with a "reverential fear", and the Lord stirred the spirit of Zerubabbel to lead the people in the rebuilding of the Temple.

As in Haggai's day, there is need for a Temple in the city of Jerusalem today. The Jewish people who have returned to the land God promised them have been concerned about their own houses, their livelihood and not rebuilding the permanent worship center for the Lord.

Although that is the case with most Jews in modern-day Israel, there is a group of religious Jews that believe the Bible and believe that there needs to be a Temple in Jerusalem. In fact, the leaders of these dedicated Jews are preparing to rebuild the Temple.

All preparations have been made and they could start construction of the Temple at any time. However, the Bible teaches that the Rapture must take place first, Daniel 11:45, and then the next Temple will be built.

With all the activity surrounding the preparations to build the next Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, we have the evidence that the Rapture is close at hand, in fact it could happen today, keep looking up!

PRAYER THOUGHT: Help me to set my priorities in light of the fact that Jesus will soon call Christians to join Him in the air at the Rapture.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Zephaniah 3:20

At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD.

For further study - Zephaniah 3:14-20

These verses, written by the ancient Jewish prophet Zephaniah for our reading today are a prophecy of a day yet future for the Jewish people. The prophecy will be fulfilled in the coming "kingdom period" promised to the Jewish people.

There was an interesting phrase used in verse 14, the word "daughters" before Zion and Jerusalem. The prophet used "daughter" because in Hebrew, the name of a city is in the feminine gender and "daughter" is referring to the residents of the city. The people of Jerusalem, Zion, which are synonymous, mean the same city and the daughters are the residents of that city.

These residents will rejoice in Jerusalem because God has given the Kingdom to Jesus, the Messiah King and has taken away the judgment of almost 2,000 years from the Jews, verse 15. The "King", King Jesus, the one who comes from the family of King David, will be in the midst of the Jews on His throne in the eternal undivided city of Jerusalem.

The Jewish people, because of disobedience, have been scattered around the world for almost 2,000 years. In this coming "kingdom period", the Lord will not only gather them "back home" but the nations from which these Jews have been gathered will praise the Jews as compared to today when they are dishonored, oppressed, and often persecuted.

This will be a new age for the Jewish people. Ironically, the world should be honoring the Jews today - they are the "chosen people" of God. God is not finished with the Jewish people.

Today, the world finds it difficult to honor the Jews and instead easy to mock them. This type of treatment focused on the Jews will continue until the Messiah Jesus comes. Then the world will realize that the Lord has another plan for His "chosen people".

PRAYER THOUGHT: Give me, dear Lord, a special love for the Jewish people and the Messiah of the Jewish people, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Zephaniah 3:9

For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.

For further study - Zephaniah 3:8-13 

As we read our selection of God's prophetic word in Zephaniah, we must realize that the Lord will one day, a day that seems not too far into the future, will one day pour out his indignation upon the nations of the world that have brought harm to the Jewish people, verse 8.

God through the prophet Zephaniah tells the Jews not to be proud. In fact, He tells them they will be no "more haughty" because of His "holy mountain". The "holy mountain of God" is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This is to be the location of the Lord's presence among His people forever, Psalm 132:13-14.

It is in the midst of the warnings and promises that the Lord tells His people that He will return to them a "pure language", verse 9. This passage needs some explanation. The language of the Jewish people for the first 2,000 years of their existence was the Hebrew language.

With the destruction of the Temple, the devastation of the city of Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews into the four corners of the earth in 70A.D, the Jews basically left off from speaking the Hebrew language.

Any linguist will confirm that Hebrew was a dead language for almost 2000 years. It was not used for daily conversation, for commerce, or for anything else except a rare reading of the Hebrew text in a place of Jewish worship.

In the late 1800's, a Jewish man named Eliezar Ben-Yahuda moved to Israel with his new bride and they started to learn Hebrew, develop new Hebrew words, develop a method of teaching Hebrew, and even put together a Hebrew dictionary with the new words in it.

The miracle of the restoration of the Hebrew language to the Jewish people of today is evidence that we are living in the days referred to by Zephaniah. Not only was the prophecy of the resurrection of the Hebrew language fulfilled, but all the other prophecies Zephaniah wrote down for us today will be fulfilled as well - and most likely in the near future.

Let's keep looking up - Jesus is coming!

PRAYER THOUGHT: Thank you Lord for making clear in my mind that God's faithfulness to fulfilled prophecy is an assurance that He is the One He said He is and will do what He said He would do.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Zephaniah 2:3

Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD's anger.

For further study - Zephaniah 2:1-15

As is the case in much of Bible prophecy in each prophecy there may well be a "short term" fulfillment and/or a "long term" fulfillment. Thus, the prophecy we are looking at may be fulfilled in the near future, sometime soon after the prophecy was given.

It may also have a long term fulfillment, in other words it will be fulfilled in the future, certainly in the future from Zephaniah's day, as well as future as it relates to our day.

Our devotional reading for today, the extended reading, has both a short-term fulfillment and a yet to be fulfilled aspect to the prophecy. Zephaniah was telling his people that there was judgment coming to Judah in his day, in the times of King Josiah.

Zephaniah was a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah who also called for judgment upon Judah. The time period was around 630 - 625 BC before the capture and destruction of Judah in 586 BC. The Babylonians would come as God's agents in the punishment of Judea, at the time when they would be carried out of the land of Israel into Babylon for 70 years.

The often used phrase in this book, "the Day of the Lord", is evidence that the prophecy also pertains to the last days, the days when Messiah Jesus Christ comes to judge and then to rule and reign in Jerusalem.

Zephaniah is a prophet to Judah and the Jewish people, but also a prophet with a prophecy for our present day. Notice verse 1 as it relates to the gathering together of a people, the Jewish people, into a nation that is not desired by the world. This is certainly the case in our world today. The Jewish nation of Israel is a nation not wanted by many nations in the Middle East.

The phrase the "Day of the Lord" is referring to the times leading up to the return of the Messiah, Jesus, which includes the seven-year Tribulation Period preceding the Second Coming.

It is very interesting to note the geographical areas referred to by Zephaniah found in verses 4-15. This is a prophecy focused by Zephaniah on the neighbors of the Jews in Israel. Look at verse 4 where it names the location of Gaza, a "hot-spot" today in the Middle East.

Gaza, Ashkelon and Ashdod, towns in Biblical times located in the lands of the Philistines, will come under judgment. By the way the Philistines are not the Palestinian people of today. The present-day Palestinians are descendants of Esau and the Edomites.

However, this geographical location and its inhabitants today are the ones who will face judgment. Obadiah 15-18 and Ezekiel 35 tell of the coming judgment on the people of Gaza today, the Palestinians.

These passages of prophecy indicate that the Palestinians will be as if they never were a people. This prophecy, the prophecies of Obadiah and Ezekiel, and the present-day situation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, focused on the Gaza and the Gaza Strip, reveal to us that the stage is being set for the final drama to begin. Bible prophecy will be fulfilled.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Dear Lord, since I can know the times of Your return as described in Bible prophecy, help me to understand our present days and look and live for Your soon return.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Zephaniah 1:18

Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD's wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.

For further study - Zephaniah 1:1-18

Zephaniah is a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah, thus he would have exercised his ministry during the reign of Josiah, which would have been prior to the 70 years of Babylonian captivity.

During Josiah's reign, there had been somewhat of a revival among the Jewish people. A closer study of the time of this revival, which was a superficial revival, made it inevitable that the pending judgment of the Babylonian captivity would take place.

This is the situation in Zephaniah's day of ministry as God brings this Jewish prophet to His people to warn them. As we join Zephaniah, we see he is revealing to the Jews the approaching "Day of the Lord". This phrase, "the Day of the Lord", is a key phrase, and used often, in Bible prophecy.

The phrase, the "Day of the Lord", was first introduced by the ancient prophet Joel and is a phrase used by many of the prophets. The definition of the phrase is, "any time in history when God intercedes in the affairs of man personally on the earth". That definition certainly describes the approaching judgment for the Jews in Zephaniah's day.

Zephaniah, in this reading for today, will use the term 7 times. Indeed, the Lord will intercede in the affairs of the Jewish people and even though there was a revival, God's chastisement did come and it did happen in the "near future", as it relates to Zephaniah's day.

When God uses a prophet to tell the people the future, those prophecies will either have a short-term fulfillment or a long- term fulfillment. Sometimes the prophecy will have both a short-term and/or a long-term future fulfillment. Zephaniah's prophecies in our reading today are to warn the people of the coming of the Babylonian captivity, which was close at hand.

But as mentioned, there is also a long-term fulfillment in view here as well. The long-term fulfillment is to come about, I believe, in the not to distant future. Let me remind you that the Babylonians of Zephaniah's day are the Iraqis today.

Prophecy even tells us that the literal city of "Babylon" will be center stage as the final-days drama unfolds not too far down the prophetic pathway, Revelation 18.

As we look at current events in the Middle East, with a focus on Iraq, we see that the stage is being set, all the actors are moving onto the stage, and the curtain is about to go up on the last act in the drama for the "end times".

That being the case, we also are about to leave this earth and go up into the heavenlies, as soon as Jesus shouts to call us to join Him in His Father's house. That shout could come today.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Lord, help me this day to live as if it indeed will be the day Jesus will shout to call us to join Him in the heavens.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Habakkuk 3:18-19

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.

For further study - Habakkuk 3:1-19

Those of us who are using this third chapter of Habakkuk for our daily devotion most likely have difficulty even pronouncing the prophets name as we endeavor to understand what is taking place in this little prophetic book.

Before we look at our passage for today I think a quick look back at the entire prophecy would be good. Because of destruction, violence, strife, conflict, injustice and wickedness all around him, Habakkuk, as recorded in chapter one, was so depressed that he was about to go under when he started this book.

The prophet had a number of questions for God. All of his questions started with "Why". Habakkuk cried out to the Lord for some answers and his call did not go unheeded.

In the Lord's response, as revealed in chapter two, He not only answered the prophets demanding questions as to why "bad things happen to good people" but the Lord gave His prophet the confidence to lift him up from the "pits to the mountaintop".

In the third chapter God gives the prophet a "prayer of praise" that was the "song of joy" for a servant who began in a "valley of distress" and ends his journey on the "mountaintop of delight".
As you read our extended passage you can almost hear the music. It is a "hymn of praise", a "prayer of praise" put to music that glorifies the Lord, with who the prophet had been conversing and complaining.

Now Habakkuk will celebrate as he comes to the understanding of why Judah was being punished and the "who" that God had chosen to chastise the Jews, Babylon.

To make the song complete, God revealed the defeat of Babylon and that Judah would return to the Lord. The key verse of the entire book, 2:4, expresses the principle upon which we must develop our own lives in this time, similar to the times of Habakkuk.

"The just shall live by his faith" is the principle that must be applied in our day of wickedness, distress, violence, evil, conflict, injustice and destruction. God has a plan that is found in the pages of His prophetic passages that prepare us for His purpose in these days.

As we stop and listen to Him, by reading His Word daily, we can move from "distress to deliverance", as did Habakkuk. One very interesting thought before we conclude, the ultimate destruction of Babylon, modern-day Iraq, will take place after the Anti-christ sets up his worldwide political, economic, governmental kingdom in that "literal" city of Babylon (Revelation 18 and 16:17-21 ).

All that we see going on in Iraq today is setting the stage for Bible prophecy to be fulfilled, seemingly in the near future. But remember, the total destruction of Babylon takes place just before Jesus comes back to Earth and steps down on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

These events will take place at least seven years from today, and I say that because the next event on God’s calendar is the Rapture, which has not happened yet. However, it could happen today……….Keep looking up. 

PRAYER THOUGHTHelp me Lord, to live by faith, faith in You and Your plan for the future, which will be the very best for me.
Sunday, August 13, 2023

Habakkuk 2:4

For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

For further study - Habakkuk 2:1-14

In my teaching of prophecy, I always say that the prophetic word of God not only reveals what the future holds, but prophecy is very practical as well. Our reading today will be a perfect example of that fact.

Before we get into the "practical", let me take care of the "prophetic". Habakkuk was a prophet that had his ministry on the eve of the Babylonian captivity. Most likely he was foretelling the future events of the Jewish people during the latter years of Josiah.

There is not a lot known about Habakkuk except the fact that to him, the character of Jehovah God was revealed in terms of the highest spirituality. He alone of the prophets was most concerned that the "holiness of Jehovah" should be vindicated even to the extent that he would see that as a higher priority than Israel's escape from Jehovah's chastisement.

Habakkuk foretold the rise of the Chaldeans, chapter 1, verse 6 and that they would be the instrument that God would use to discipline the Jewish people. Habakkuk considered himself a "watchman", one who would stand upon the wall or the tower to watch and see, and then warn the people.

Habakkuk takes this "watchmen mentality" into the spiritual realm as well, watching for the Lord's message and then warning the people, verse 1 of our extended reading for today. As you read the 14 assigned verses for today you will get the flavor of the chastisement that the Jewish people will face because of their sin. Notice the "woes" in verses 6, 9 and 12.

Now, let’s take a look at the practical aspect of prophecy. Habakkuk is a perfect example of what our ministry should be - we also must be watchmen. I would imagine that if you are reading this devotional you have a great interest in prophecy and must have some knowledge of what the future holds. Therefore, as a watchman, you have "seen" - now "warn" the people.

Verse 4 relates to us how the Jewish people should have lived and Habakkuk exhorts them that they must "live by faith" - faith in God and His instructions and directions.

The last verse of our reading, verse 14, looks to the future time when the "glory of the Lord" will fill the earth. That is a future prophecy to be fulfilled during the Kingdom period when Christ "rules and reigns" from the Temple in Jerusalem.

However, Psalm 19 tells us we can witness "the glory of the Lord" today as we look into the heavens where His glory is declared. We can also observe His creation all around us. Prophecy is indeed so practical.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Help me to be the watchman you want me to be, hearing the prophetic message from your Word and warning the people.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Habakkuk 1:5

Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days which ye will not believe, though it be told you.

For further study - Habakkuk 1:1-11

The ancient Jewish prophet Habakkuk is one of the "Minor Prophets" of which little is known. Most likely, he prophesied in the latter years of King Josiah making him a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah. This prophecy is a warning to the Jewish people about coming chastisement, as they would be taken into the Babylonian captivity as a result of their sins.

As you read through this short warning message to the Jewish people you will notice that Habakkuk is more concerned that the "holiness of God" be vindicated than that Israel should escape judgment. In fact, Habakkuk sees the "holiness of God" as the reason He will have to judge those who He chose to represent Him here on the earth.

Jeremiah reveals to the Jews of his day that because they did not follow God's command to give the land a Sabbath every seven years, the Jews would be punished. The Jews were to rest the land, Leviticus 25:8-23. They would be judged for their neglect to obey the Lord.

God then would raise up the Babylonians (the Chaldeans) to take the Jewish people out of the land to give the land the "seventy years" of rest required by God's law, II Chronicles 36.

Habakkuk had a message that confirmed the prophetic message of Jeremiah about the Babylonians taking the Jews into captivity. However, in his message of "retribution", Habakkuk had a message of "restoration".

This prophecy reveals the love that God has for His people and His greatness, one who will do a great work among the Jews even as they are under His judgment, verse 5.

Prophetic passages have a short-term fulfillment and/or a long-term fulfillment. Sometimes, a prophecy will be speaking of a short-term and a long-term fulfillment. This is the case in Habakkuk 1:5

As the book of Ezra records in chapters 1-6, the Lord raises up the leader of the Medo-Persian Empire - Cyrus, Ezra 1:2-4, to allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem and to build the Temple. Thus you have the short-term fulfillment.

The Jews today are beginning to witness the Lord doing a great work among them as He has brought them from the four corners of the earth back to the land of their forefathers.

In a future tomorrow, His holiness will even do a greater work among the Jewish people. We are living in the days that Habakkuk was writing about.

PRAYER THOUGHT: Help me to be holy as the Lord is holy.