June 3 – Trip to the Holy Land – The Mount of Olives

DAY 22 – THE MOUNT OF OLIVES

Theme: Passion & Prophecy

Read Zechariah 14: 2-11

The view from the Mount of Olives provides a magnificent panorama of the Temple Mount and the Old City of Jerusalem. From the western slopes of this beautiful hillside, it’s easy to imagine the trail Jesus followed on that first Palm Sunday as He rode into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey to the cries of “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  (Luke 19:38 NIV).  This event introduced the last week before our Lord was crucified, often called, “Passion Week.”

As you walk down the mountain, you can also gaze across the Kidron Valley and see the only gate in the walls of the Old City that is closed today – the Eastern or Golden Gate. It has been sealed because it’s located just above a Muslim cemetery.

In AD 1540, the Eastern Gate was shut by order of Suleiman the Magnificent, who also rebuilt many of the current walls around the Old City. Many suggest that the Gate was closed to prevent the Messiah from entering since Jewish tradition suggests that the Messiah will pass through the Eastern Gate when He comes to rule. The Eastern Gate has remained sealed for almost 500 years.

This prominent mountain, therefore, also serves as a focal point for Bible prophecy. The Bible says that Jerusalem will become a target for all the nations of the world in the future. Yet God protects His people. “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 before them. On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem” (Zechariah 12:8-9 NIV).

Zechariah continues his commentary on how the Messiah settles the score on Jerusalem:. “On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter. The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name” (Zechariah 14:8-9 NIV).

This graphic scene unfolds right on the Mount of Olives! Imagine the cosmic upheaval that occurs because the Son of God comes in justice to rule and reign on this earth. The world has never experienced anything like it! Yet it will happen one day when Jesus returns to earth in power and glory.

Prayer of reflection:  Despite the global uncertainties today, thank you, Lord Jesus, that You will someday reign and create a time of great peace for this world.

Bob Fetterhoff

October 20: 1000 Years

Read Zechariah 14:1-21

As Zechariah closes with more “on that day” prophesies, he draws our attention to the centrality of Jerusalem and to the Lord, who will personally come to this city and reign as King. This prophecy was not fulfilled in Christ’s first coming. It is still ahead and will be fully experienced at His second coming at the end of a seven-year period which is often called the “tribulation.”

What do we know about this future reign of Jesus?

It will be global. Verse 9 tells us that “He will be King over the whole earth.” That is difficult to fathom. During our lifetime, we have only been familiar with a world that includes multiple countries, many governments, and countless leaders. We anticipate, however, a day in which Christ will be the one and only ruler over all the earth.

All opposition will be squelched. At the beginning of His millennial reign, Satan will be bound and unable to exert his influence in this world (Rev. 20:1-6). Meanwhile, any who contest the reign of the King will experience the force of His iron scepter (Rev. 19:15).

It will be a time of economic, social, and physical blessing. Unlike our present time, justice will be the rule. By God’s grace, inadequacies of food and income will not be widespread like they are today (Joel 2:21-27).

Creation will experience transformation. Geographical locations like the Mount of Olives will be different, as indicated in verses 4 and 5. Even animals will relate to one another differently as predator and prey will no longer have their current instincts (Is. 11:6; 65:25).

While all of this may sound like eternity, in reality, it will last 1,000 years. Revelation 20 gives us this time frame. While this period does represent a long time, there is a terminus.

Don’t worry. Even though that thousand year period will come to an end, the following era of human experience will be an unending period of sinless, painless life in the presence of God, with a new heaven and a new earth. It will be a time where things are better even than what will be experienced in the Millennium.

sbk

October 19: Soul Cleansing

Read Zechariah 13:1-9

There is something so refreshing about a shower after a few hours of yard or garden work on a hot, humid summer day. Letting the soap and water cleanse your body of the sweat, dirt, and grass that clings to your body is a good feeling.

But while physical cleansing can be a pleasant experience, soul cleansing is often painful. It is that experience that Zechariah describes as he prophesies of future days for Jerusalem and the nation of Israel (v. 1,). Although the thoughts shared here are specific for that nation, there are some parallels for those of us in the church.

What does that cleansing look like? In the process of soul cleansing, what can we anticipate?

1. The removal of idols (v. 2). I’m guessing that most people you know do not have stone or wooden images in their homes . . . images that represent unseen deities. Meanwhile, it is a very possible that there are those objects or priorities that we allow to compete for the position that God alone wants to fill. Remove those from your life.

2. The elimination of false prophets (vv. 3-6). The prophets indicated here were not speaking words that God revealed. Instead, whether out of ignorance or out of an attempt at personal gain, they presented teaching inconsistent with God’s. With all of the technological advancements, many voices and messages have access to your ear. Are their some you need to eliminate?

3. A reduction in number (vv. 7-9a). Zechariah describes only one-third who survive the cleansing process. Although it is unclear whether this third represents the only true people of faith or not, the New Testament tells us that there are people who claim a commitment to Christ but don’t really have one (Matt. 7:22, 23). Would you make the cut as a genuine follower of Christ? First John 5:11-13 can help you know.

4. Faithfulness through testing (v. 9b). Refining and testing require challenges and adversity. According to Romans 5 and James 1, those experiences will characterize the lives of believers. Are you allowing those kinds of experiences to enable you to come to reflect the person of Jesus in your life?

Embrace the process of soul cleansing today!

sbk

October 18: Someday

Read Zechariah 12:1-14

A few years ago over Memorial Day weekend, our family got away for a few days with family in Kentucky. In the midst of an upscale housing development spread across rolling hills, we noticed a beautiful home surrounded by acres of green grass and a white wooden fence. Inside the fence were horses. There was a sign at the edge of the road identifying the owners, the Huffman’s. But, in larger letters yet, was the name they had ascribed to their horse farm. The sign read:

Someday.

My guess is the owners had always dreamed of the day when they would have a property like that. For years, they had spoken of “Someday when . . .”And now, they are living their “Someday.”

The last three chapters of Zechariah depict a “Someday” for Jerusalem and the nation of Israel. Actually, the repeated phrase in these chapters is “on that day.” Sixteen times over these three chapters, the Lord draws our attention to “that day.”

The description is not one of a large house, green grass, grazing horses, and a white fence. Instead, it is of a day when God’s chosen people would no longer be the underdog. They would be able to withstand and even be victorious over her enemy nations. It was a day when Jerusalem would be an “immovable rock.” How these words must have caused the readers in Zechariah’s day to dream of “that day” . . . to speak of “someday.”

The average “Every Day With God” reader is not a blood descendant of the nation of Israel that has experienced immeasurable adversity over the centuries. Meanwhile, most every one of us has experienced opposition and challenges. Just when you thought you were on the upswing, something new came along and beat you back down. Be encouraged. You can dream of a “someday.” But only if you, like the nation of Israel, look on the Lord with faith-filled, repentant contrition (vv. 10-13). You see, “He was pierced [crucified] for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed”(Is. 53:5). Recognizing what Christ did for you causes you to repent . . . but it also enables you to dream.

Someday.

sbk

October 17: At What Price?

Read Zechariah 11:1-17

What is the Savior worth to you? I’m sure you agree that it is impossible to attach a monetary value to Him.

According to 1 Peter 1:18, 19, the value of His blood is greater than that of silver or gold. And in Matthew 13, His Kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a piece of valuable land. It’s like a pearl worthy of all of your.

Following Him caused some to leave fishing nets and families or would have required that others sell all. Surely, His value is infinite. No price is too high, no sacrifice too great.

In this interesting interplay of past, present, and future kings (shepherds) of Israel in today’s reading, Zechariah was eventually invited to play the part of the coming Messiah.  When asked about His wages, the answer given was thirty pieces of silver (v. 12). My guess is you recognize the prophetic New Testament parallel as the price that Judas would accept for betraying Christ into the hands of the soldiers and authorities.

Before we spend a moment on that thought, let’s consider another Old Testament parallel. You see, thirty pieces of silver was the price a slave owner was paid as compensation and settlement if his slave was gored by another person’s ox (Ex. 21:32). Thirty pieces of silver . . . that’s what a slave was worth.

As Jesus was betrayed, then, Judas saw thirty pieces of silver in his own pocket as having greater value than Jesus in His life. Those wanting the Savior dead were willing to pay the going price for an unfortunate slave. How disappointing that people in Christ’s day drew such conclusions.

The value we ascribe to Him is not so easily measured with monetary value. The price tag we attach is less discernible.

Still, it can be observed. It becomes clear in terms of priority and sacrifice. How much priority do you give to worshiping Him? Growing in intimacy with Him? Serving Him? What are you willing/unwilling to sacrifice when it comes to getting together with God’s people? In order to see others come to Him? In order to see His fame grow around the world?

At some point, does the price become high enough that you sell out?

sbk

October 16: Family Reunion

Read Zechariah 10:1-12

“It is so good to see you!”

“Timmy, is that you? I can’t believe how much you have grown!”

“How was your year?”

“I can’t wait to eat some of Aunt Sarah’s gooseberry pie!”

“I’m stuffed!”

“Are you going to play in the generational softball game this afternoon?”

Those are just a few of the lines you might hear at a good ole’ family reunion. Those are good times. It is true, some of the family members are a bit eccentric. Still, it is great to see them.

They gather from all over the state, country, or even the world in order to descend on one location, spend time together, and eat food . . . too much of it. They have a similar heritage, a common ancestry. Though the tales they swap have grown in incredulity with the passing of time, finding listeners is no problem for they all have a claim in the story. After all, they are family.

Aren’t family gatherings great?

Zechariah depicts that kind of gathering in the last half of the tenth chapter. Jews . . . those with a common lineage traced back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob . . . those with a common faith in the one true God were to be reunited. Although punished through exile and scattered over years, they were to be brought back to their homeland as a testimony to God’s faithfulness and in fulfillment to His promise.

That kind of joyful gathering is a recurring theme of Scripture and experience of God’s people.

  • He restored them to their homeland after more than 400 years in Egypt and the journey of the Exodus.
  • He brought them back in waves after the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles.
  • He restored the Jews to their homeland more recently and miraculously in 1948.
  • He will gather His followers through resurrection and rapture at His return in the air.
  • He will unite His people as He establishes a kingdom where Christ is King and His followers are His subjects for 1000 years.

It is in those last two that we as followers of Christ will participate. Out of a world where we are like foreigners, from a context of adversity and opposition, we too will be gathered to participate in family reunions like none we have experienced. Anticipate it with joy!

sbk

October 15: The Donkey King

Read Zechariah 9:1-17

A donkey is not the kind of animal that commands respect.  Its appearance often causes people to use words like “cute” rather than “powerful.”  Its braying often evokes laughter instead of fear.  Those realities make it an unusual mount for the One described in verse 9.

Equally surprising is this One mounted on the donkey.  He is elsewhere described as a “man of sorrows” (Isa. 53:3).  There was nothing about His physical appearance that set Him apart from the crowd (Isa. 53:2).  But He was unique.  He was unique in the compassion He demonstrated towards others.  He was distinctive in His teaching and in His ability to perform miracles.  He was a one of a kind in the fact that He associated with people of no or low reputation. 

Many didn’t like what they saw.  Wanting to be ruler of their own lives, they rejected Him as King.  Hating those of reputation with whom He spent time, they could not recognize their own sin.  Staunch in their own self-righteousness, they failed to see Him as Savior.  As a result, they despised and rejected Him (Isa. 53:3).  Had they seen Him on the donkey, they would have chuckled.

You have to admit, the contrast is almost humorous…The Creator of the universe riding on a donkey?  The Savior of the world on the back of a burro?  It was a contrast that defied logic. 

But some people seemed to have recognized it for what it was.  They laid down articles of clothing.  They waved palm branches.  They shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!”  (Matt. 21:9)

It is that latter group that we are part of.  We see Him for the person He is.  We recognize His humility and appreciate it.  We witness His compassion and seek to reflect it.  We understand His love for sinners and bask in it.  We hear the authority of His teaching and submit to it.  We picture our King on a donkey, and we celebrate it.

“Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!”

sbk

October 14: Blessed Days Ahead

Read Zechariah 8:1-23

Better days . . . Scratch that . . . Blessed days were ahead for God’s people. Just think about what God promised them . . .

He would dwell in Jerusalem (v. 3).

People would grow old there (v. 4).

Children would play there (v. 5).

A remnant would return there (vv. 7, 8).

They would experience peace, safety, and prosperity there (vv. 10-12).

Their fasting would turn to feasting there (vv. 18, 19).

Nations would worship there (vv. 20-23).

Those blessings certainly stood in stark contrast to the experiences of destruction and exile that had characterized the most recent generations of God’s people and their all-important city. But those were the things that God’s people then, in the days of Zechariah, and ultimately, in the still-future days of the Millennium, could anticipate.

A casual, uninformed observer of those days of blessing could draw some wrong conclusions. He or she might conclude that God is an unpredictable deity, whose emotions and actions might change without rhyme or reason. I hope you are not of that opinion. After all, God is always loving and just. He is continually One who is filled with grace and truth. He always acts true to His character.

In addition, God always keeps His promises. Having adopted the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as His people, He had obligated Himself to blessing them for their obedience and punishing them for their sin (Deut. 11). They had experienced and they would experience the reality of that promise.

By the way we look today for some magic-formula assurance that we will be blessed with good health and financial stability, we may conclude that living a godly life will guarantee it for us. Unfortunately, physical and material blessing cannot be reduced to such a simple math equation. We can, however, say that we are blessed for our obedience . . . in sometimes less tangible ways and, certainly, in eternity.

This chapter also points to the fulfillment of another promise. Through the nation of Israel other nations would experience blessing (Gen. 12:1-3). Christ, as a descendant of the tribe of Judah, offers eternal blessing to all. And today, followers of Jesus have been commissioned to take the life-giving gospel to people from all nations (Matt. 28:18-20).

sbk

October 13: To Fast Or Not To Fast

Read Zechariah 7:1-14

Zechariah 7 introduces for us the subject of fasting. The people of Bethel wanted to know if they should fast as they had done for years. Now that things were going better in Israel, did they really need to continue?

There is, somewhere in the heart of many people, a deep-seated thought that God is for everything that smacks of personal sacrifice and self abasement. Spiritual disciplines such as fasting and prayer, for example, are practices that most of us would concede that we do not do enough. Let’s observe some cautions, especially about fasting, worth noting.

Fast for the right reasons. Verse 5 poses the question, “…was it really for me that you fasted?” We can engage in spiritual disciplines just because we feel better about ourselves. Jesus warns in Matthew 6 about fasting in order to attract attention from others. We might do hoping that we will be seen as godly (Matt. 6:16-18). Fasting, however, serves as a means of seeking God, knowing Him and His will better.

God is the God of the feast and the fast. Verse 6 points to other times when they had feasted . . . but for the wrong reasons. Just as fasting has a place in the life of a God-follower, so too, feasting is very important. The Old Testament points to seven feasts that God’s people were to celebrate. These feasts were designed to be joyful commemorations of God’s work. God is not only pleased when we abstain for the right reasons, but also when we celebrate for the right reasons!

Fasting is no substitute for obedience. While these men from Bethel were concerned about this spiritual discipline, God seemed more concerned about their commitment to justice and compassion. Verses 8-10 seem to echo those priorities stated by Isaiah: “Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free And break every yoke” (Isa. 58:6)?  Seek to honor and obey God in every facet of your life.

Fasting can be a very positive experience through which your relationship with God is enriched.

sbk

October 12: His Sovereign Control

Read Zechariah 6:1-15

The interpretive challenges of the Scriptures . . . particularly the prophetic books of the Old Testament . . . can seem almost impossible at times. The symbolic language of multi-colored horses headed north and south to “patrol the earth” seems to defy simple explanation. Meanwhile, the double entendre of a crowned priest who rebuilds a temple may escape our notice. In spite of the challenges, let’s seek to understand.

Horses headed north and south (vv. 1-8). Similar imagery is used in Revelation 6. These horses are representative of God’s judgment going out over the earth. In particular, attention is drawn to the horses going north, the general location of Israel’s enemies (the Assyrians and Babylonians). Remember, at the time Zechariah wrote this book, God’s people had recently been released from the captivity of these two world powers. No worry, though. God was going to bring judgment on them. After the expression of His righteous anger through punishment, His Spirit would rest.

By the way, it is important to know that the book of Revelation also depicts the rise of “Babylon” as a world power and ungodly influence, especially during the days of the Tribulation (Rev. 16-18). But, just as in Zechariah’s prophecy, God will bring judgment.

The crowning of Joshua (vv. 9-15). Joshua was a priest, not a king! In these verses, however, Zechariah used present realities to depict a prophetic future. Joshua was a picture of the coming Messiah, “the Branch.” Jesus is Prophet, Priest, and King! While Joshua was instrumental in the reconstruction of the temple during the days of Zechariah, Jesus will, one day at His return, rebuild the temple. At that time, He will reign as King.

As God superimposed the prophetic future over the then present realities, He made clear that He is sovereignly in control. The events of this life are not random. He is leading this world towards an end where unrighteousness is punished, where He rescues His people, and where He reigns supreme.

In the seemingly confusing events of your personal life and in the horrors of the headline news of our world, step by step He is taking us to a time and place when He will be the visible ruler of all the earth. Rest in that reality today.

sbk