Today, our passages is Zechariah 2:1–3:10; Revelation 13:1b-18; Psalm 141:1-10; and Proverbs 30:18-20. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. If you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal by using the link below.
Zechariah 2-3:10 (The Message)
Third Vision: The Man with the Tape Measure1-5 I looked up and was surprised to see
a man holding a tape measure in his hand.
I said, "What are you up to?"
"I'm on my way," he said, "to survey Jerusalem,
to measure its width and length."
Just then the Messenger-Angel on his way out
met another angel coming in and said,
"Run! Tell the Surveyor, 'Jerusalem will burst its walls—
bursting with people, bursting with animals.
And I'll be right there with her'—God's Decree—'a wall of fire
around unwalled Jerusalem and a radiant presence within.'" 6-7"Up on your feet! Get out of there—and now!" God says so.
"Return from your far exile.
I scattered you to the four winds." God's Decree.
"Escape from Babylon, Zion, and come home—now!"
8-9God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the One of Glory who sent me on my mission, commenting on the godless nations who stripped you and left you homeless, said, "Anyone who hits you, hits me—bloodies my nose, blackens my eye. Yes, and at the right time I'll give the signal and they'll be stripped and thrown out by their own servants." Then you'll know for sure that God-of-the-Angel-Armies sent me on this mission.
10"Shout and celebrate, Daughter of Zion!
I'm on my way. I'm moving into your neighborhood!"
11-12Many godless nations will be linked up with God at that time. ("They will become my family! I'll live in their homes!") And then you'll know for sure that God-of-the-Angel-Armies sent me on this mission. God will reclaim his Judah inheritance in the Holy Land. He'll again make clear that Jerusalem is his choice.
13Quiet, everyone! Shh! Silence before God. Something's afoot in his holy house. He's on the move!
Fourth Vision: Joshua's New Clothes1-2 Next the Messenger-Angel showed me the high priest Joshua. He was standing before God's Angel where the Accuser showed up to accuse him. Then God said to the Accuser, "I, God, rebuke you, Accuser! I rebuke you and choose Jerusalem. Surprise! Everything is going up in flames, but I reach in and pull out Jerusalem!" 3-4Joshua, standing before the angel, was dressed in dirty clothes. The angel spoke to his attendants, "Get him out of those filthy clothes," and then said to Joshua, "Look, I've stripped you of your sin and dressed you up in clean clothes."
5I spoke up and said, "How about a clean new turban for his head also?" And they did it—put a clean new turban on his head. Then they finished dressing him, with God's Angel looking on.
6-7God's Angel then charged Joshua, "Orders from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: 'If you live the way I tell you and remain obedient in my service, then you'll make the decisions around here and oversee my affairs. And all my attendants standing here will be at your service.
8-9"'Careful, High Priest Joshua—both you and your friends sitting here with you, for your friends are in on this, too! Here's what I'm doing next: I'm introducing my servant Branch. And note this: This stone that I'm placing before Joshua, a single stone with seven eyes'—Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies—'I'll engrave with these words: "I'll strip this land of its filthy sin, all at once, in a single day."
10"'At that time, everyone will get along with one another, with friendly visits across the fence, friendly visits on one another's porches.'"
Revelation 13:1-18 (The Message)
The Beast from the Sea1-2And the Dragon stood on the shore of the sea. I saw a Beast rising from the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads—on each horn a crown, and each head inscribed with a blasphemous name. The Beast I saw looked like a leopard with bear paws and a lion's mouth. The Dragon turned over its power to it, its throne and great authority. 3-4One of the Beast's heads looked as if it had been struck a deathblow, and then healed. The whole earth was agog, gaping at the Beast. They worshiped the Dragon who gave the Beast authority, and they worshiped the Beast, exclaiming, "There's never been anything like the Beast! No one would dare go to war with the Beast!"
5-8The Beast had a loud mouth, boastful and blasphemous. It could do anything it wanted for forty-two months. It yelled blasphemies against God, blasphemed his Name, blasphemed his Church, especially those already dwelling with God in Heaven. It was permitted to make war on God's holy people and conquer them. It held absolute sway over all tribes and peoples, tongues and races. Everyone on earth whose name was not written from the world's foundation in the slaughtered Lamb's Book of Life will worship the Beast.
9-10Are you listening to this? They've made their bed; now they must lie in it. Anyone marked for prison goes straight to prison; anyone pulling a sword goes down by the sword. Meanwhile, God's holy people passionately and faithfully stand their ground.
The Beast from Under the Ground11-12I saw another Beast rising out of the ground. It had two horns like a lamb but sounded like a dragon when it spoke. It was a puppet of the first Beast, made earth and everyone in it worship the first Beast, which had been healed of its deathblow. 13-17This second Beast worked magical signs, dazzling people by making fire come down from Heaven. It used the magic it got from the Beast to dupe earth dwellers, getting them to make an image of the Beast that received the deathblow and lived. It was able to animate the image of the Beast so that it talked, and then arrange that anyone not worshiping the Beast would be killed. It forced all people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to have a mark on the right hand or forehead. Without the mark of the name of the Beast or the number of its name, it was impossible to buy or sell anything.
18Solve a riddle: Put your heads together and figure out the meaning of the number of the Beast. It's a human number: 666.
Psalm 141:1-10 (The Message)
A David Psalm1-2 God, come close. Come quickly! Open your ears—it's my voice you're hearing!
Treat my prayer as sweet incense rising;
my raised hands are my evening prayers.
3-7 Post a guard at my mouth, God,
set a watch at the door of my lips.
Don't let me so much as dream of evil
or thoughtlessly fall into bad company.
And these people who only do wrong—
don't let them lure me with their sweet talk!
May the Just One set me straight,
may the Kind One correct me,
Don't let sin anoint my head.
I'm praying hard against their evil ways!
Oh, let their leaders be pushed off a high rock cliff;
make them face the music.
Like a rock pulverized by a maul,
let their bones be scattered at the gates of hell.
8-10 But God, dear Lord,
I only have eyes for you.
Since I've run for dear life to you,
take good care of me.
Protect me from their evil scheming,
from all their demonic subterfuge.
Let the wicked fall flat on their faces,
while I walk off without a scratch.
Proverbs 30:18-20 (The Message)
Four Mysteries18-19 Three things amaze me,
no, four things I'll never understand—
how an eagle flies so high in the sky,
how a snake glides over a rock,
how a ship navigates the ocean,
why adolescents act the way they do. 20 Here's how a prostitute operates:
she has sex with her client,
Takes a bath,
then asks, "Who's next?"
Verse of the Day
“That night in the fields near Bethlehem some shepherds were guarding their sheep. All at once an angel came down to them from the Lord, and the brightness of the Lord's glory flashed around them. The shepherds were frightened. But the angel said, "Don't be afraid! I have good news for you, which will make everyone happy. This very day in King David's hometown a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord.” - Luke 2:8-11
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Canadian writer of Dutch origins, Charles de Lint wrote, “It's the questions we ask, the journey we take to get to where we are going that is more important than the actual answer. It's good to have mysteries. It reminds us that there's more to the world than just making do and having a bit of fun.”