Tag Archives: Apocalypse

God’s People, part 108: Zechariah

Read Zecharaiah 3


“Because of the covenant I made with you, sealed with blood, I will free your prisoners from death in a waterless dungeon.” (Zechariah 9:11)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

  Part 108: Zechariah. As with all of the prophets, we really know very little about who Zechariah was. The main purpose of the prophetic writings was to warn people of the dangers of their sins and to steer people back to God. That is never an easy task. As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others have found out, people resist being told they are wrong; in fact, they often violently and vehemently resist it. We are seeing this unfold before our very eyes as people stand up for the justice of immigrants (and others) and the absolutely vitriolic reaction people are having to that. Don’t believe me? Here’s an experiment for you: post #blacklivesmatter or #allfamiliesmatter or #justiceforimmigrants as your Facebook status and see what reaction you get.

What we do know about about Zechariah is that he probably came from a priestly family. His father was the son of Berechiah, who was the son of Iddo. Iddo was a Levite and a priestly figure, mentioned in Ezra 8:17, and it is believed that he returned from exile with Zerubbabel. Berechiah, no doubt, would have carried those priestly duties on from his father; therefore, many scholars believe that Zechariah was a priest, in a lineage of priests, as well as a prophet.

Zechariah began his prophetical career during the second year of King Darius the Great’s reign and is the prophet that the Old Testament book of the same name is attributed to. It is in that book that we see the focus of Zechariah’s prophetic ministry and the kind of opposition he was up against.

In the first section of the book (Chapters 1-4), Zechariah lays out Israel’s history in order to present the returned exiles with a stern warning. They had, as was discussed in the last devotion, been returned to their homeland and commissioned by King Cyrus to rebuild the holy Temple. Yet, years had passed and a new king was ruling and the Temple had still not been built. This was because the the people were debating over whether or not to let the Samaritans build it, as they had offered. The debate seriously stalled the construction project.

Zechariah, therefore, was instrumental in getting the people back on track regarding the rebuilding of God’s Temple. At the same time, so was the high priest Yeshua. We will get into Yeshua’s story in more detail in a couple of weeks; however, suffice it to say that Yeshua was against stalling the rebuilding of the Temple and wanted to see it built without the help of the Samaritans. As such, he was up against a very divided people. Some of those people were in support of him and some were in support of further negotiations with Samaritans.

Zechariah denounced the opposition and firmly pronounced that God had appointed Zechariah and was on his side. Furthermore, the prophet exposed the real culprit behind the division: SATAN. Zechariah proclaimed, “And the LORD said to Satan, ‘I, the LORD, reject your accusations, Satan. Yes, the LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebukes you. This man is like a burning stick that has been snatched from the fire.’”

It is important to understand that throughout Old Testament and the New Testament, the word satan is not a name but a title. The Hebrew word, שָׂטָן(pronounced saw-tawn’) literally meant “the accuser” or “the adversary”. This role is played by different entities in different ways throughout the Old Testament (for instance, in the story about Balaam’s donkey, the Angel of the LORD stood in the road as an adversary, blocking Balaam’s way forward); however, there seems to have been a being that was an adversary to God and to God’s people.

This being, forever known as Satan, was a divider and conquerer. His role was to divide God’s people against themselves and keep them from obeying and following God. Thus, as we learn from Zechariah, Satan’s chief modus operendi division.

This is important for us to understand as God’s people in today’s time. Satan has not gone anywhere and this adversary of ours is still operating in the same way: THROUGH DIVISION. Think about that. Take a look around the United States of America and around this world. Look at social media and at our political climate.

 Most importantly, look at the church and look at our own relationships with the church, as well as with our families and friends. Let us be challenged to realize the truth behind Zechariah’s warning. Let us assess our own lives, our own attitudes and our own positions. Do we see the handy work of God, or do we see the foul play of the devil. Let us, like God, rebuke Satan and move toward peace and unity around Christ’ mission.


In 9:9, Zechariah also prophesied that, sometime following the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple, the Messiah would come riding into the holy city on a donkey and it’s colt in holy victory This prophecy was clearly fulfilled a few hundred years later by Jesus of Nazareth.


Lord, like you I rebuke satan’s divisive meddling in my life in your name and turn my eyes firmly upon you. Give me the strength to continue to do so and keep me on your path of righteousness. Amen.

God’s People, part 100: Daniel

Read Daniel 7


“Jesus said, ‘I AM. And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.’” (Mark‬ ‭14:62‬ ‭NLT‬‬)‬‬

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

 Part 100: Daniel. Wow! We’ve just hit the 100 devotion mark in this devotion series. It’s hard to believe how quickly that time flew. With that said, I can think of no better prophet to discuss in the 100th devotion than Daniel. While the book of Daniel is technically not considered a “prophetic text” like Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, etc., Daniel himself was a prophet who started life as an aristocrat and grew up in Jerusalem; however, when Jerusalem fell to Babylon, Daniel was among those who were taken back to Babylon to live in exile.

The book of Daniel is an apocalyptic narrative, written sometime after the Babylonian Exile, that tells of Daniel’s time in Babylon. Let me unpack that sentence a bit. First, an apocalypse is the announcing of a revelation or revealing of knowledge. Thus, an apocalyptic narrative is a written account of the revelation or revealing of knowledge. In the case of Daniel, it is the revealing of Israel’s redemption from exile and the establishment of God’s rule on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, Daniel was not considered to be a prophet by ancient Jews; however, there is no doubt that the eponymous book is prophetic. While in Babylon, Daniel and his friends (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah) were chosen for their intellect to serve in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar II. While they did show loyalty to the king, Daniel and his three friends also displayed tremendous zeal for their God. For instance, they refused to eat any meats because the animals were sacrificed to the Babylonian gods and to the king. To eat such meat would defile them and be a sin against God Almighty.

Thus, Daniel and his friends ate a strictly vegan diet. Concerned that they would get weak and die, the king ordered that they eat all the food and wine that was given to them and not just the vegetables. They refused and told the guard that if their diet made them weak after 10 days they would eat the meat. Of course, after 10 days Daniel and his friends were not only surviving, but were thriving. Being a vegan myself, I can attest to that.

Daniel also became known as an interpreter of the king’s dreams. Nebuchadnezzar II had a series of bad dreams and none of his Babylonian prophets could tell him what they meant. Yet Daniel, a Jew, was able to tell the king not only what he dreamed, but what the dreams meant. The dreams were of a giant statue that is smashed by a stone from heaven and of a great tree of which a heavenly figure declares will be destroyed. Both dreams, according to Daniel, show Babylon as the current world power that will be destroyed by other world powers yet to come; however, in the end God’s kingdom will conquer them all.

Eventually, the first part of that prophecy came to pass and Babylon was conquered by the Medes and Persians. Darius the Mede becomes the ruler and grew fond of Daniel. This, of course, sparked bitter envy in the hearts of some of Darius’ officials, who tricked the king into making a royal decree that no one may pray to anyone, divine or human, for a month. The only one who could be prayed to was King Darius himself. They told the king this was to test his subjects for their loyalty.

Filled with zeal for his God, Daniel prayed anyway. When he was caught, he was thrown into the lion’s den. The king was troubled by this for he loved and admired Daniel; however, he could not go against his own royal decree. Once morning came and Daniel was seen to be unharmed by the lions, the king had the advisors thrown in and they were subsequently eaten by the lions.

Daniel did continue to have apocalyptic visions of a time when God’s Messiah would come and set up heaven, God’s kingdom, on earth. This heavenly ruler was identified as “one like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven” (Daniel 7:13). This prophetic dream contained a horrific beast, but the beast was conquered by the heavenly warrior that was to come and establish God’s kingdom. Both visions were symbolic of God’s conquering of the wicked nations that had tried to conquer God’s people. In other words, while nations put themsevles above God, the fail to thwart God’s plan of redemption in the world.

One day, the “One like a Son of Man” would show up on the scene and bring God’s redemption to a world that, once again, would try to stop God. Jesus Christ would not be stopped. There is much for us to learn from Daniel. In a time where where the wickedness of the world, its empires, and its leaders is at an all-time high, we are being called to stand up and speak out against the dreams and visions of this world. God desires for us to be God’s mouthpiece, speaking truth to power and making straight the pathway of the Lord.


Christ is Lord of all and should never take the backseat to our world leaders or their politics.


Lord, spark in me the desire to speak truth to power and represent your Truth in all I say or do. Amen.


Read Matthew 11:25-30

“The thief enters only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest.“ (John 10:10 CEB)

the-walking-dead-episode-602-enid-nacon-breckinridge-935As I have stated on multiple occasions, one of my all-time favorite shows is “The Walking Dead” on AMC. I was just watching the most recent episode entitled, “J.S.S..” I run a pretty tight ship in the “no spoiler zone”, so I will not be making any major spoils to the episode; however, I will be letting you know what the initials “J.S.S.” stand for. So if you are a fan of the show, haven’t seen this episode and don’t want to know what they mean, let this be your warning. Just put this devotion aside and read it after you watch the episode.

In the latest episode, a girl is seen wandering the empty streets. She is the last in her family to survive and she is wandering by day and hiding in empty cars by night. She eats whatever she can get her hands on to survive and looks like a bloody mess from all of the animals, and zombies, she’s had to kill. There doesn’t seem to be much left of her. She looks exhausted, confused, lost, empty, and hollowed out like an embalmed cranium. She is a shadow of her former self and she is just barely surviving. Everywhere she goes, she writes the initials, “J.S.S.”.

Without giving anymore of the storyline away, we finally find out what “J.S.S.” stands for: “Just Survive Somehow.” Indeed, that is what she had been doing, wandering from place to place, eating whatever disgusting and unpalatable animal that came her way. That is what she had been doing night after night, clearing the rotting dead from the cars parked on the road so that she could have a “safe” shelter to sleep in. That is what she had been doing…just surviving somehow.

As I see it, that is what a lot of us do. We just survive somehow. Day after day, night after night, week after week, and year after year. We just survive somehow. We wander through our lives like the aforementioned girl wandering the zombie infested streets. Every day we wake up, get out of bed, put on our shallow, fake smiles and our “happy face” masks and set out to just survive another long and painful day. In fact, we’ve gotten so accustomed to surviving that it has really, for all intents and purposes, become our sole purpose in life: just survive somehow.

We think to ourselves, “maybe tomorrow will be better,” and when tomorrow comes and goes we think, “Maybe next week will be better.” Of course, next week, next year, next decade, things don’t seem to ever get better and we feel trapped in perpetual survival mode. So we tell ourselves again to “just survive somehow.” Surviving becomes such a terrible and lonely fight and some of us, too many of us, simply don’t win out in the end. Surviving becomes too much for us and we find that it’s better to succumb.

How sad it is that so many people have spent their lives “surviving.” Sadder still is the truth that many people don’t survive at all, but rather become victims of their loneliness and hopelessness. These unfortunate ones never got to see their true worth, they never had a chance to see that there is beauty in this life, and they never had the chance to see that God wants them to thrive, not just survive.

If this is you, if you are just surviving somehow, if you are merely hanging on in your life, then I bring you good news. You are not alone in your struggles. God created you, you are a daughter or a son of God, and God wants you to move beyond surviving to thriving in life. This doesn’t mean that you’ll become rich and permanently happy; rather, this means that you will rise up out of the ashes of survival and into the hope that comes through the sacred community of the Triune God. You will be surrounded by a community of thriving survivors who have experienced God’s hope, healing and wholeness and want to freely share that with you. If this is you, I pray that you enter God’s community and experience love.

“The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.” – Aristotle

Lord, I’ve been in survival mode for far too long. Awake in me the desire to thrive in my faith and in my life. Amen.

Daniel’s Apocalypse

Read Daniel 7

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.” (Matthew 13:37, NRSV)

daniel-10-vision-son-of-manThroughout the nearly twenty centuries in which Christianity has existed, many Christians have been raptured by the notion that the End Times are approaching, looking to the apocalyptic texts in the Bible to interpret the events happening in their world. Since the nineteenth century, there has been a renewed and somewhat reimagined End Times narrative that has since become the dominant perception in popular culture of what the Bible is saying in books such as Daniel, Ezekiel, 1 Thessalonians, and Revelation. This popular understanding has been propagated in Christian literature such as “The Late Great Planet Earth” by Hal Lindsey and the Left Behind series. It has been found in the secular world as well in films such as Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen, and other such horror films.

The word “apocalypse” means “unveiling” and in apocalyptic writings, the authors have been given a “revelation” or an “unveiling” of the things that are currently happen and/or are soon to pass in the future. Daniel 7 is such an apocalyptic text, and in modern popular culture, it has been interpreted in light of other apocalyptic texts such as Matthew 24, 1 Thessalonians 4, and Revelation. The problem with this is that these interpretations often do not take the apocalyptic author’s own historical and religious context into account, which leaves us with a heavily skewed understanding of what those texts are stating.

Daniel 7 talks about the winds stirring the sea, four beasts rising up, and ten horns found on the fourth beast (three of which are removed and replaced by another smaller horn covered with eyes and a boasting mouth. The sea is always symbolizes the primordial chaos that surrounds God’s ordered and good creation. Water is both life and death, and the chaotic seas in the ancient world (as well as in ours) are always threatening to destroy us. The winds that are stirring them are the “angels” of heaven, implying that there is a spiritual warfare going on in the cosmos, mirroring the ancient Semitic myth of the storm god (Baal in Canaanite mythology and Marduk in the Babylonian mythology). In the ancient world, beasts always represented Empires and/or Kingdoms. Thus, in Daniel’s apocalyptic dream, the first beast represented Babylon, the second represented the Medes, the third the Persians, and the fourth represented the Greek/Seleucid Empire.

It was under these Empires, one after the next, that the Hebrew people suffered great oppression under. But, in Daniel’s vision, these Empires wouldn’t have the final say. God was doing something significant, something that would overthrow the forces of evil in the world and would begin the establishment of God’s Kingdom on Earth. He sees someone like the “Son of Man” coming on the clouds and ushering in that Kingdom. The apocalyptic author of Daniel was providing hope for people caught in what seemed like a hopeless situation. God would take authority away from the beast-like Kingdoms and return it to human-like Israel

It was this hope that, 160 years after the writing of this text, a Jewish prophet and teacher would proclaim he was the fulfillment of. That man, of course, was Jesus of Nazareth and he was claiming that he was that “Son of Man” and he proclaimed the arrival of God’s Kingdom on Earth. It was this “Son of Man” that was proclaiming a message that was counter to the powers of the world, one that preached of strength through humility, through meekness, through peace, through compassion, through self-sacrifice and through unconditional love. While Jesus does proclaim a post-ascension time when he would return, Daniel, according to Jesus, was not pointing to an event following the Christ; rather, Daniel was pointing to the Christ event itself. Let us who believe in Jesus as the Christ rejoice, for we have been chosen by him to continue the unveiling of the enduring Kingdom he ushered in! Our call is not to predict the future, but to serve God’s Kingdom today.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” – Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ (Matthew 19:21)

PRAYER Lord, thank you for revealing to me the Son of Man. Help me to do my part in serving your Kingdom on Earth. Amen.

Left Behind

Read Mark 13:1-13,

Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.” (Mark 13:33)

left-behind-7-book-set-500bI just recently saw the new film, “Left Behind”, starring Nicholas Cage, which was based off of the book series of the same name. Very loosely modeled off of the book of Revelation, they envision what the end times will look like as it is supposedly “reported” in scripture. In actuality, the Left Behind series takes many liberties and it cross-references many other books in the Bible as if they were either written by the same author or, at least, with the same events in mind. What’s more, it naturally reads a whole lot between the lines in order to formulate what the authors believe will happen based off of their reading and/or interpretation of Revelation, Daniel, Ezekiel, 1 Thessalonians, select passages from the Gospels, 1 Corinthians, and other passages in correlation with modern-day events.

While these novels make for thought-provoking speculation, if not just good fiction, many people have made it their purpose in life to try and scry when these things will take place, let alone how they will take place. Aside from just the novels, there are tons of other books predicting the world’s end and how it will come about. There have been Christian radio show hosts, television personalities and others who have all bought into this notion that this world is coming to an end, and have seen to it to warn people that they had better wake up before Jesus comes to takes the faithful and leave the rest behind.

Of course, what has always struck me as rather funny is the fact that Jesus only talked about such things when he was pressed to, and he always began and/or ended those discussions with the warning that “no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36) Certainly, the end times were not the focal point of his ministry as much as it was the focal point of his followers’ concerns. He recognized his disciples’ concerns, he let them know that indeed God was active in the world and would eventually bring justice justice to the world; however, he also told them the futile nature of being caught up of wondering where and when, as opposed to taking an active role in bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth here and now.

It is very easy to turn on the news and to see the world around us burning in flames. It is easy to be like smoke rising up off of those flames and to get caught up in the heat of the moment, wondering when and where God is going to stop the injustice in the world. With that said, what are we doing to act against the injustice of the world? We are not called to be stagnant, or to be paralyzed in fear of what lies ahead. Also, Jesus never, ever used the end times as a means of frightening people to convert to his way of thinking! Rather, his end times message was always directed at his disciples in order to spark them into active participation in the Kingdom of Heaven. It saddens me when I see Christians using fear tactics as a way of spreading a “good news” that sound a lot more horrific than it does “good”.

We, as God’s creation, are being called to take an active role in the coming of God’s Kingdom…which IS GOOD NEWS! After all, with God’s Kingdom comes hope for the hopeless, rest for the weary, healing for the sick, shelter for the homeless, love for the unloved and abandoned, acceptance for the rejected and wholeness for all who find themselves in need! Let us not leave behind our call to be there for the “least of these”, while getting raptured by our fantastic re-imagining of the world’s demise. We are called to be a part of God’s Kingdom by living as Christ lived and loving as Christ loved. We are called to make that our focal point, leaving the rest to God and God’s timing. What’s more, if we live that call out in our lives, we will be far too busy to worry about things that, in the end, only serve our fearful curiosity and nothing more. I pray that all that gets left behind is our complacency to the live out the TRUE message of the Gospel. Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

Therefore, keep awake–for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.” – Jesus of Nazareth (Mark 13:35-37)

Lord, help me to be leave behind my complacency and to pick up the truth of your Good News for all people. Amen.

The Walking Dead

Read Acts 2:1-21

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth.” (Matthew 23:27)

WalkingDeadOne of my favorite TV shows as of late is called “The Walking Dead.” I’m kind of a late comer to this show, as I am to all shows, and have been catching up on the three seasons that are available on Netflix. At some point, the fourth season will be out and I will catch up on that too, hopefully in time to catch the fifth season as it airs on TV. Needless to say, I am hooked on the show and for good reason.

The Walking Dead is a series that is about the zombie apocalypse. For those of you who are not already aware, zombies are en vogue in today’s society. It used to be that when we talked about the apocalypse, we discussed seven headed beasts, “the antichrist”, or even nuclear warfare. We may have even thought of machines we originally designed to kill our enemies turning against humanity in general and altering their mission to “terminate” all of human kind. Nowadays, when the word apocalypse is talked of people think of the living dead wandering the earth in search of human flesh to feast on. Mmmmm. I apologize if you are reading this while eating.

In the series, a group of survivors make their way place to place trying to avoid contact with the walking dead in order to not get bitten and turned into the walking dead themselves. As it turns out, the walking dead are in the state they are because of a virus that reanimated them into walking corpses. The kicker is that living humans are actually carrying this virus and, when they die, they too will become walking corpses. Pleasant, right?

What I love about the show is that, though on the surface it is dealing with zombies, it really is a metaphor for our world and society today. When we turn on the news we can see lots of instances of “the walking dead.” From our government, to crazed individuals, there are lots of people and institutions that just seem to have lost their way. They were created and/or designed for a specific purpose…but that purpose is dead to them and they are just wandering mindlessly preying and feasting upon others. What’s more disturbing is that, most people, are not fighting against such a state of being as much as they are fighting to maintain their status quo…only to become “the walking dead” themselves.

In this season of Pentecost, we think of the Holy Spirit filling the disciples with new life and a sense of purpose. We hear of the fire that was kindled within them that raged out of control and spread to 3,000 people on that day, which then turned to tens of thousands, millions and eventually billions of people. The church was God’s antidote to the virus that creates the “walking dead.” Yet, from time to time the virus seems to creep into the life of the church as well. Every so often, the Holy Spirit raises up a leader such as Paul, Martin Luther, John Wesley, Mother Theresa, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., etc. to go against the status quo and act as an antidote to the virus that is consuming us.

The Holy Spirit is calling you to be an antidote to the Walking Dead virus in the church. The Holy Spirit is calling you to stand up against the injustices, oppression and bonds that the world, including the Church, put upon people. Are you going to be among the countless zombies lurking around in the shadows looking for people to mindlessly feast on, or are you going to be filled with the TRUE LIFE of the spirit and become an agent of God’s Hope, Healing, and Wholeness. Christ is calling us to be in a deeper relationship with him so that, instead of reanimation, we find RESURRECTION and LIFE! Rise up with Jesus, be filled by the Holy Spirit and become an ANTIDOTE that brings life and resurrection to the LOST and NEGLECTED!

“What is my task? First of all, my task is to be pleasing to Christ. To be empty of self and be filled with Himself. To be filled with the Holy Spirit; to be led by the Holy Spirit.” – Aimee Semple McPherson

Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I may be guided into serving others and bringing them your Hope, Healing and Wholeness. Amen.