21 December 2010

Dec 21

Reference links:
Old Testament

We'll be sticking with Zechariah for nearly the rest of the year which is, admittedly, not that long at this point. Harris says,
A contemporary of Haggai, Zechariah employs a series of eight visions to encourage his fellow returned exiles to rely on Yahweh, restore Jerusalem and the Temple, and await the reestablishment of the Davidic line. The second half of the book contains increasingly obscure oracles from a later prophet, known as Second Zechariah. 
Today's reading is very optimistic. The Lord was angry with the Israelites, but he hopes that the returned exiled can turn from evil and live as they should. Israel will be restored and the nations who punished them will be punished in turn.

We then see some imagery that should seem familiar: 4 horsemen patrolling the earth (although not bringing any destruction) and four horns representing nations that scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem. This imagery has been repeated elsewhere, often in apocalyptic settings.

Zechariah also mentions four blacksmiths coming to destroy the four horns/nations. This is to punish them for the excessive punishment they have shown to God's people.

During all this, we read the following statement:
This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: My love for Jerusalem and Mount Zion is passionate and strong. But I am very angry with the other nations that are now enjoying peace and security. I was only a little angry with my people, but the nations inflicted harm on them far beyond my intentions.
Only a little angry? Some of the language used by the other prophets was pretty strong. They must have been exaggerating or wrong. Or God is misremembering or misrepresenting himself. Either way, it certainly does not seem reasonable to call God's pre-exilic anger little. Time softens all memories, I suppose.

New Testament

Today's reading would make a great anime. A pregnant woman,
clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head
Almost has her baby snatched away by a dragon (Satan). God saves the baby (who was destined to rule all nations with an iron rod; sounds lovely). The woman flees.

Then there is a war in heaven between Michael and his angels and the dragon and his angels. The dragon loses and is hurled to earth. There he hunts down the woman, but she is saved, so he decides to pursue the rest of her children: the faithful.

Confounding but exciting!

Psalms and Proverbs

Eyes that mock their parents will be plucked out and eaten by vultures. Symbolically, I hope.