29 December 2010

Dec 29

Reference links:
Old Testament

Last day of Zechariah. The day of the Lord is coming, and bad things will happen in Jerusalem. Half the population will be taken into captivity. Wait, didn't that already happen? So the day of the Lord is going to be a repeat of Babylon's conquering of the city? That's not very creative of Zechariah.

But this time the Lord jumps into the fray. Amongst other things, he will divide a mountain for people to flee through. Is that more or less impressive than splitting a sea? A mountain is harder to split, but a sea is harder to keep split.

After the Lord takes action, good things happen in Jerusalem: it will always be light without the aid of the sun and the moon (actually, I think that would be freaky, but it's meant to be taken as good), life-giving waters will flow from Jerusalem, and the Lord will be worshiped over all the earth. The population of Jerusalem will grow. And the nations which fought against Jerusalem will suffer from plague.
Their people will become like walking corpses, their flesh rotting away. Their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths.
Oh wait, that last one is only good if you believe that Israel is the only nation that is worth anything to God.

And people will panic and fight their neighbors and lose wealth and livestock... these continue to be things that are not good. The nations will eventually come to worship the Lord through blackmail: any nation that does not worship him will suffer from droughts and plagues.

And there, after a brief side note about how everything will be holy, ends Zechariah. His vision of the end times certainly strikes me as rather vengeful. The end times, in his view, are simply the time when his God chooses to tyrannically exert the power that he already posses. The only people who really matter are God's chosen people. All others are relevant only in so far as they relate to Jerusalem.

All in all, Zechariah was interesting but did not provide any insights.

New Testament

An angel throws the dragon (Satan) into a pit for 1000 years. For some reason, after that millennium, he must be allowed brief freedom once again. During this 1000 years, the martyred believers rule with Christ (but no one else is resurrected yet).

After the 1000 years, Satan is freed again and goes about to deceive that nations. He gathered an army to attack a city, but fire from heaven defeated them. At this point, Satan is thrown into the lake of fire with the beast and the false prophet.

That whole episode was rather pointless. Why not just throw Satan into the lake of fire in the first place? Obviously, it's because this is all symbolism that I don't get, but from a literary perspective, it's terrible story telling.

This is followed by an entertaining image of the earth and the sky fleeing from a being on a great white throne.

The being on the throne judges all of the dead and all whose name was not recorded in the Book of Life were thrown into the lake of fire with the devil, the beast, and the false prophet. This brings up the ever pertinent question: is it really just to prescribe eternal punishment and torture for the sins of any finite lifetime? I would say no.

Psalms and Proverbs

Today's proverbs contain the good advice to speak up for the poor and helpless:
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.