Zechariah 2:1-13; Revelation 12:18-13:10; Psalms 141:1-2; Proverbs 29:23
OT: “I looked up and saw a man with a measuring line in his hand. I asked, “Where are you going?” He answered me, “To measure Jerusalem to determine its width and length.” Then the angel who was speaking with me went out, and another angel went out to meet him. He said to him, “Run and tell this young man: Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls because of the number of people and animals in it.” The declaration of the Lord: “I myself will be a wall of fire around it, and I will be the glory within it.” …For the Lord of Armies says this: “In pursuit of his glory, he sent me against the nations plundering you, for whoever touches you touches the pupil of my eye… “Daughter Zion, shout for joy and be glad, for I am coming to dwell among you” — this is the Lord’s declaration. “Many nations will join themselves to the Lord on that day and become my people. I will dwell among you, and you will know that the Lord of Armies has sent me to you.” (Zechariah 2:1-5, 8, 10-11 CSB)
What a beautiful scripture and a beautiful picture of God’s willingness to not only forgive, but to redeem, reconcile and restore. The nation of Judah became unfaithful to the Lord who had been so faithful to Him. They introduced pagan idol worship into the holy temple of God and refused the hear the voice of the prophets calling them to repent. Because of their unrepentant unfaithfulness, God gave them over to be invaded and carried into exile by the Babylonian empire. For seventy years they remained enslaved in a foreign nation – until finally, God saw fit to allow them to return to the land and rebuild. This word from Zechariah was given to the people of Judah in the midst of their struggles to rebuild and reestablish the worship of God in the land. Despite Judah’s past unfaithfulness and rejection of God, He still treasured them as His people… His bride. They were to Him, the pupil (or apple) of His eye.
The phrase, “the apple of my eye” refers to the central aperture (or pupil) of the eye and is used to describe something or someone that is cherished above any other person or thing. Though Judah had been completely unfaithful to the Lord, He was willing to forgive them, reconcile them, and restore them to most-favored status. This prophecy was initially and partially fulfilled as the temple was rebuilt under Zerubbabel and the walls of the city rebuilt under the leadership of Nehemiah. This prophecy was more fully fulfilled as Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to fill and dwell within His covenant people the church – His holy nation of royal priests that He redeemed from sin and reconciled completely to God. This prophecy will ultimately be fulfilled at the end of the age, when all evil is destroyed, heaven and earth are made new, and God and the Lord Jesus Christ live in the New Jerusalem with those who were redeemed by faith and remained faithful to Christ until the end.
As we remain in Christ by faith, we are among God’s most cherished and favored people. He protects us and preserves us, just as one would preserve and protect that most vulnerable and sensitive area of the eye. Though trials and tribulations will come, as we remain in Christ and faithful to His purposes and word, He will be a wall of fire around us and will avenge us against those who try to destroy us – and when it is all over, He will dwell among us and we will be His for eternity.
NT: “And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads. On its horns were ten crowns, and on its heads were blasphemous names. The beast I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. The dragon gave the beast his power, his throne, and great authority. One of its heads appeared to be fatally wounded, but its fatal wound was healed. The whole earth was amazed and followed the beast. They worshiped the dragon because he gave authority to the beast. And they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to wage war against it?” The beast was given a mouth to utter boasts and blasphemies. It was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It began to speak blasphemies against God: to blaspheme his name and his dwelling — those who dwell in heaven. And it was permitted to wage war against the saints and to conquer them. It was also given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation. All those who live on the earth will worship it, everyone whose name was not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen. If anyone is to be taken captive, into captivity he goes. If anyone is to be killed with a sword, with a sword he will be killed. This calls for endurance and faithfulness from the saints.” (Revelation 13:1-10 CSB)
After the dragon (Satan) was cast to the earth, John saw a vision of a beast coming out of the sea. The beast that John saw was a composite of the four individual beasts that Daniel saw in his vision (Daniel 7:1-8). The four beasts of Daniel’s vision symbolized four great empires that would rule the world. The lion was symbolic of Babylon, the bear was symbolic of Media-Persia, the leopard was symbolic of Greece, and the seven-headed beast was Rome. As such, the beast that John saw represented the incarnation of politico-social evil. As John explained, the beast was given power and great authority by Satan the dragon to rule over every tribe, people, language and nation. Not only that, the beast was allowed to not only wage war against the saints, but (for a time) conquer them. John also said that the beast uttered blasphemies, not only against God and heaven, but against the saints who had died and now dwelt in heaven. Blasphemy is irreverent speech that calls what is human “divine,” what is evil “good,” and what is good “evil.” That sounds very familiar to what we experience on the earth now.
The beast that rose from the ocean is referred to as the Antichrist. The antichrist spirit has been prevalent in the earth since Christ ascended into heaven. Since then many evil, socio-political leader antichrists have arisen in different eras of history. Will there be an ultimate Antichrist that comes to power during the great tribulation? It appears so. That may seem frightening to many believers in Christ – especially after the warning that John gave saying that some will be taken captive and some will be killed. One important truth to keep before us it this: the Book of Revelation is not called the revelation of the Antichrist. It is called the Revelation of Jesus Christ… and at the center of all the things that are described in the book is a throne that is forever and always inhabited by the King of kings and Lord of lords. Those who are redeemed through faith in Christ and remain faithful to His testimony through every trial and tribulation – even the ruthless rule of the Antichrist – are treated as the apple of God’s eye. And though it may seem for a time that the beast is victorious, Christ stands victorious over it all. Those who remain in Christ, though they may even lose their earthly lives, will be victorious in the end.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that though I may at times act unfaithfully toward You, You are always faithful to me. What an incredible thought to know that You see me as the apple of Your eye, and as such, You do everything to protect, preserve and perfect what You have established in me through faith. Help me to persevere and remain faithful through all the trials and tribulations that come as I keep my faith placed solidly on You. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
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