Today, our passages is Zechariah 4:1–5:11; Revelation 14:1-20; Psalm 142:1-7; and Proverbs 30:21-23. 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 4-5:11 (The Message)
Fifth Vision: A Lampstand and Two Olive Trees1 The Messenger-Angel again called me to attention. It was like being wakened out of deep sleep. 2-3He said, "What do you see?" I answered, "I see a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top. Seven lamps, each with seven spouts, are set on the bowl. And there are two olive trees, one on either side of the bowl."
4Then I asked the Messenger-Angel, "What does this mean, sir?"
5-7The Messenger-Angel said, "Can't you tell?"
"No, sir," I said.
Then he said, "This is God's Message to Zerubbabel: 'You can't force these things. They only come about through my Spirit,' says God-of-the-Angel-Armies. 'So, big mountain, who do you think you are? Next to Zerubbabel you're nothing but a molehill. He'll proceed to set the Cornerstone in place, accompanied by cheers: Yes! Yes! Do it!'"
8-10After that, the Word of God came to me: "Zerubbabel started rebuilding this Temple and he will complete it. That will be your confirmation that God-of-the-Angel-Armies sent me to you. Does anyone dare despise this day of small beginnings? They'll change their tune when they see Zerubbabel setting the last stone in place!"
Going back to the vision, the Messenger-Angel said, "The seven lamps are the eyes of God probing the dark corners of the world like searchlights."
11-12And the two olive trees on either side of the lampstand?" I asked. "What's the meaning of them? And while you're at it, the two branches of the olive trees that feed oil to the lamps—what do they mean?"
13He said, "You haven't figured that out?"
I said, "No, sir."
14He said, "These are the two who stand beside the Master of the whole earth and supply golden lamp oil worldwide."
Sixth Vision: The Flying Book1 I looked up again and saw—surprise!—a book on the wing! A book flying! 2The Messenger-Angel said to me, "What do you see now?" I said, "I see a book flying, a huge book—thirty feet long and fifteen wide!" 3-4He told me, "This book is the verdict going out worldwide against thieves and liars. The first half of the book disposes of everyone who steals; the second half takes care of everyone who lies. I launched it"—Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies—"and so it will fly into the house of every thief and every liar. It will land in each house and tear it down, timbers and stones."
Seventh Vision: A Woman in a Basket5The Messenger-Angel appeared and said, "Look up. Tell me what you see." 6I said, "What in the world is that?"
He said, "This is a bushel basket on a journey. It holds the sin of everyone, everywhere."
7Then the lid made of lead was removed from the basket—and there was a woman sitting in it!
8He said, "This is Miss Wicked." He pushed her back down into the basket and clamped the lead lid over her.
9Then I looked up and to my surprise saw two women flying. On outstretched wings they airlifted the bushel basket into the sky.
10I said to the Messenger-Angel, "Where are they taking the bushel basket?"
11He said, "East to the land of Shinar. They will build a garage to house it. When it's finished, the basket will be stored there."
Revelation 14:1-20 (The Message)
A Perfect Offering1-2I saw—it took my breath away!—the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, 144,000 standing there with him, his Name and the Name of his Father inscribed on their foreheads. And I heard a voice out of Heaven, the sound like a cataract, like the crash of thunder. 2-5And then I heard music, harp music and the harpists singing a new song before the Throne and the Four Animals and the Elders. Only the 144,000 could learn to sing the song. They were bought from earth, lived without compromise, virgin-fresh before God. Wherever the Lamb went, they followed. They were bought from humankind, firstfruits of the harvest for God and the Lamb. Not a false word in their mouths. A perfect offering.
Voices from Heaven6-7I saw another Angel soaring in Middle-Heaven. He had an Eternal Message to preach to all who were still on earth, every nation and tribe, every tongue and people. He preached in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory! His hour of judgment has come! Worship the Maker of Heaven and earth, salt sea and fresh water!" 8A second Angel followed, calling out, "Ruined, ruined, Great Babylon ruined! She made all the nations drunk on the wine of her whoring!"
9-11A third Angel followed, shouting, warning, "If anyone worships the Beast and its image and takes the mark on forehead or hand, that person will drink the wine of God's wrath, prepared unmixed in his chalice of anger, and suffer torment from fire and brimstone in the presence of Holy Angels, in the presence of the Lamb. Smoke from their torment will rise age after age. No respite for those who worship the Beast and its image, who take the mark of its name."
12Meanwhile, the saints stand passionately patient, keeping God's commands, staying faithful to Jesus.
13I heard a voice out of Heaven, "Write this: Blessed are those who die in the Master from now on; how blessed to die that way!"
"Yes," says the Spirit, "and blessed rest from their hard, hard work. None of what they've done is wasted; God blesses them for it all in the end."
Harvest Time14-16I looked up, I caught my breath!—a white cloud and one like the Son of Man sitting on it. He wore a gold crown and held a sharp sickle. Another Angel came out of the Temple, shouting to the Cloud-Enthroned, "Swing your sickle and reap. It's harvest time. Earth's harvest is ripe for reaping." The Cloud-Enthroned gave a mighty sweep of his sickle, began harvesting earth in a stroke. 17-18Then another Angel came out of the Temple in Heaven. He also had a sharp sickle. Yet another Angel, the one in charge of tending the fire, came from the Altar. He thundered to the Angel who held the sharp sickle, "Swing your sharp sickle. Harvest earth's vineyard. The grapes are bursting with ripeness."
19-20The Angel swung his sickle, harvested earth's vintage, and heaved it into the winepress, the giant winepress of God's wrath. The winepress was outside the City. As the vintage was trodden, blood poured from the winepress as high as a horse's bridle, a river of blood for two hundred miles.
Psalm 142:1-7 (The Message)
A David Prayer—When He Was in the Cave1-2 I cry out loudly to God, loudly I plead with God for mercy.
I spill out all my complaints before him,
and spell out my troubles in detail:
3-7 "As I sink in despair, my spirit ebbing away,
you know how I'm feeling,
Know the danger I'm in,
the traps hidden in my path.
Look right, look left—
there's not a soul who cares what happens!
I'm up against it, with no exit—
bereft, left alone.
I cry out, God, call out:
'You're my last chance, my only hope for life!'
Oh listen, please listen;
I've never been this low.
Rescue me from those who are hunting me down;
I'm no match for them.
Get me out of this dungeon
so I can thank you in public.
Your people will form a circle around me
and you'll bring me showers of blessing!"
Proverbs 30:21-23 (The Message)
Four Intolerables21-23 Three things are too much for even the earth to bear,
yes, four things shake its foundations—
when the janitor becomes the boss,
when a fool gets rich,
when a whore is voted "woman of the year,"
when a "girlfriend" replaces a faithful wife.
Verse of the Day
“This very day in King David's hometown a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord. You will know who he is, because you will find him dressed in baby clothes and lying on a bed of hay." Suddenly many other angels came down from heaven and joined in praising God. They said: "Praise God in heaven! Peace on earth to everyone who pleases God.” - Luke 2:11-14
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
American author and scholar, Norman Maclean wrote, “Unless we are willing to escape into sentimentality or fantasy, often the best we can do with catastrophes, even our own, is to find out exactly what happened and restore some of the missing parts — hopefully, even the arch to the sky.”