Spiritual Rants: “Is That Oil, Folks?” December 23 Daily Bible Readings in a year: Zechariah 4:1-5:11 Revelation 14:1-20 Psalm 142:1-7 Proverbs 30:21-23

Old Testament:   Zechariah 4:1-5:11

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Zechariah 4:1-5:11   Is That Oil, Folks?

In Chapter 4, Zechariah sees a gold lampstand with the bowl on the top having seven spouts each being fed by an olive tree on each side of it (vv. 1-3, 12).

The angel then gives Zechariah one of the most encouraging sayings in all of the Bible, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, ’ says the Lord of hosts” (v. 6).  By this he meant that Zerubbabel, the governor of Israel, would be able to finish the Temple despite any opposition.  As chapter 3 was an encouragement to Joshua, chapter 4 is an encouragement to Zerubbabel.  They were not to be discouraged by those who were critical of the new Temple because it was not as big as Solomon’s, they were not to “despise the day of small beginnings” (v. 10 NET, NLT, LB).

We read recently of the two witnesses during the time of the Seven Year Tribulation (Rev. 11:4).  Joshua and Zerubbabel are the type to those anti-types in Revelation.  They are God’s witnesses who flow with the Holy Spirit, symbolized by the oil (v. 14, cf. v. 6).  Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit throughout Scripture.

In Chapter 5Zechariah sees a flying scroll 30 ft. long and 15 ft wide (v. 2). It was the scroll of judgment on the whole world.  One side represented judgment for stealing and the other side for false swearing.  The two broken commandments represent the breaking of the entire law.

Next, Zechariah sees a basket with a woman inside.  She is wickedness (v. 8) and accordingly, the angel stuffed her back in the basket and sealed it with a lead cover.  A couple women with wings like a stork appeared carrying the basket over the earth (v. 9).  They were removing her from Israel and taking her to Babylon (“Shinar”) to be venerated there (v. 11).

New Testament:  Revelation 14:1-20

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Revelation 14:1-20   A Battle Him

Christ the Lamb, is shown enthroned in Heaven which is now on earth (cf. Rev. 3:12, 21:2).  The 144,000 witnesses are now before Him to worship (cf. Rev. 7:4).  They had not sinned at all (v. 5) and were eunuchs for the kingdom (cf. Matt. 19:12).  They were the first of all the Israelites to be saved in the Tribulation from amongst an even larger group (v. 4, cf. Isa. 2:3; Rom. 11:15).

The hour has now come as announced by an angel flying in the sky (vv. 6-7).  A second angel announces that Babylon the great had collapsed due to its rampant immorality (v. 8).  A third angel proclaimed that anyone who worships the Antichrist and takes his mark, 666, will receive their just due, eternity in the lake of fire (cf. Rev. 20:5).  In contrast, those who are clothed in Christ’s righteousness will receive their reward of resting forever in the presence of God.  Believers will be able to take encouragement knowing that God will punish the unrighteous (v. 12).

John then saw Christ sitting on a white cloud.  He had a crown on his head and a sickle in His hand (v. 14).  The sickle was symbolic of judgment.  The time to judge the earth had come (vv. 15-16).

Another angel had a sickle and still another had the power of fire (vv. 17-18).  One angel with the sickle harvested the ripe clusters of grapes from the world and threw them in a great wine press of God’s wrath (v. 19).  Of course, this is the passage that Julia Ward Howe used in “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

The result of the harvest was a river of blood about four and a half feet deep (“as high as horses’ bridles”) over the course of 180 miles.  The battle of Armageddon and its resultant slaughter of the armies of the world would produce this much blood (cf. Rev. 16:16; 19:17-19).


Psalm 142:1-7   The Complaint Compartment  A Lament By David

Proverbs 30:21-23  World Turn Upside Down

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I told you that Agur puzzles about more than just the four things in verses 18-20.  Here’s four more.

He doesn’t get how a gofer could end up a president or an idiot ending up rich and well-fed (v. 22).

Even though it’s hard to understand how a ghastly man could get hitched (see yesterday’s comment Mystery Women and Prov. 30:19d), who can fathom a homely chick finding a mate (v. 23a, like , for example, Leah in Gen. 29:31- 32)?

Most of all, Agur is perplexed when a servant ends up marrying her friend’s husband (cf. similar to Hagar bearing a son to Abraham in the place of Sarah in Gen. 16:1-6 or maybe kind of like The Nanny).

Those kinds of disparate events turn the world upside down (cf. The Apostles, cf. Acts 17:6 LB HCSB Phillips ESV KJV).

Are you doing anything to turn the world upside down?


Choose Life: Scripture:  Zechariah 4:6  NASB    “Power Out-rage”

“Then he said to me, ‘This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’” says the LORD of hosts.'” Zechariah 4:6


One of my favorite speakers is Norman Geisler.  The reason I attended the two seminaries that I did was because he was teaching at them at the time I wanted to go to school.  I first heard him in the basement of a house.  He would come and teach once every year in the home of a prominent surgeon who brought in various speakers every summer for college-age students.  About the third time I heard him, it was at the end of the summer and most of the college kids had already gone back to school so there were only a couple handfuls of people in the group the day he came.  I felt bad that such a great speaker did not have much of an audience.  So I asked him afterwards how he felt about speaking to such a small group.  He told me that Jesus only had twelve and that he had even lost one of them!

Later I attended a huge church in the south.  It was part of an international radio and TV ministry.  There were three choirs, each on a different side of the building and several TV cameras placed around the sanctuary with TV screens all around the edges of the room.  I hate to think I may have been influenced by that kind of grandeur to go into the ministry.

However, over several decades of ministry I have rarely spoken to more than a hundred people at most.  I now have a house church of just a couple handfuls!  (I exaggerate.  That would be our numbers on a very good day.)

In verse 10 of Zechariah 4, we are told not to “despise the day of small beginnings” (NET, NLT, LB).  How is it possible to keep a good attitude in the midst of such small ministries?  It has to be in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in the power of our own abilities (cf. “flesh,” Rom. 7:4,15,18,25; 8:3-8).

Trust in God’s power, not in your own power.


If you do, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30: 19)!

Fun Application: 

God has ways to give us the opportunity to trust Him and not ourselves.  Is God allowing you that opportunity today?

If He is, don’t fight Him.  Trust Him.

You’ll be glad you did!



The purpose of Choose Life is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog:   Is That Oil, Folks?

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