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Zechariah 12:1–14:21 (LEB)

The Day of Yahweh

12 An oracle. The word of Yahweh concerning Israel. “Thus declares Yahweh, who stretches out the heavens, founds the earth, and forms the spirit of humankind in its midst: ‘Look, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup of reeling for all the surrounding nations; it will also be against Judah in the siege against Jerusalem. And then on that day I will make Jerusalem a stone weight for all the peoples. All those lifting it up will grievously hurt themselves, and all the nations of the earth will assemble against it. On that day,’ declares Yahweh, ‘I will strike every horse with confusion, and the one riding it with madness; but over the house of Judah I will keep my eyes open, and I will strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. And the clans of Judah will say to themselves, “The inhabitants of Jerusalem are a strength to us, through Yahweh of hosts, their God.”

“ ‘On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a pan of fire among sticks of wood, and like a torch of fire among stalks of grain, and they will devour to the right and to the left all the surrounding peoples, and Jerusalem will be inhabited again in its place, in Jerusalem. And Yahweh will save the tents of Judah first, so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not be exalted over Judah. On that day Yahweh will put a shield around the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the one who stumbles among them on that day will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of Yahweh, before them. And then on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations coming against Jerusalem.

10 “ ‘I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication, and they will look to me whom they pierced, and they shall mourn over him, as one wails over an only child, and they will grieve bitterly over him as one grieves bitterly over a firstborn. 11 On that day the wailing will be great in Jerusalem, like the wailing for Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12 And the land shall mourn, each clan by itself; the clan of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the clan of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; 13 the clan of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the clan of the Shimeites by itself, and their wives by themselves; 14 and all those clans remaining, each clan by itself, and their wives by themselves.’ ”

13 “ ‘On that day a well will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and from impurity. And then, on that day,’ declares Yahweh of hosts, ‘I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they will no longer be remembered; and also the prophets and the spirit of uncleanness I will banish from the land. And then, if anyone prophesies again, his father and his mother who bore him will say to him, “You shall not live, because you have spoken a lie in the name of Yahweh!” And his father and his mother who bore him will pierce him through when he prophesies. And then on that day, each of the prophets will be ashamed because of his vision when he was prophesying, and they will not put on a cloak of hair in order to deceive, but he will say, “I am not a prophet; I am a tiller of the soil, for a man has acquired me since my youth.” And someone shall say to him, “What are these wounds between your arms?” and he will say, “Those I have received in the house of the ones who love me.” ’ ”

The Sword Shall Strike the Shepherd

“O sword, awake against my shepherd,

against the man who is my associate,”

declares Yahweh of hosts.

“Strike the shepherd,

so that the sheep may be scattered,

and I will turn my hand against the small ones.

And then in all the land,” declares Yahweh,

two thirds will be cut off and perish,

and one third will be left alive in it.

And I will bring the remaining third into the fire,

and I will refine them like one refines silver,

and I will test them like one tests gold.

They will call my name,

and I will answer them.

I will say, ‘They are my people,’

and they will say, ‘Yahweh is my God.’ ”

Zechariah’s Apocalyptic Vision

14 Look! A day is coming for Yahweh, when your plunder will be divided in your midst. I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, and they will loot the houses, and the women will be raped; half of the city will go into exile, but the remainder of the people will not be cut off from the city. Then Yahweh will go forth and fight against those nations, like when he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in half, from east to west, by a very great valley; and half of the mountain will withdraw toward the north, and the other half toward the south. And you will flee by the valley of my mountains, because the valley of the mountains will reach to Azal, and you will flee like you fled from the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah of Judah. And Yahweh my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

And then on that day there will not be light, the precious things will congeal. There shall be continuous day—it is known to Yahweh—not day and not night; and at evening time there will be light.

And then on that day, living waters will flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea, and the other half to the western sea; it will happen both in the summer and in the winter. And Yahweh will be king over all the earth; on that day Yahweh will be one and his name one. 10 All the land will be transformed into a desert plateau from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. But it will rise up high and it will stay in its place from the Gate of Benjamin to the place of the former gate, up to the Corner Gate and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s winepresses. 11 And they will dwell in it, and there will be no more ban imposed, and Jerusalem will dwell in security.

12 And this will be the plague with which Yahweh will strike all the peoples that fight against Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they are standing on their feet; their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. 13 And then on that day a great panic from Yahweh will fall on them, and they will seize one another’s hand, and the hand of the one will be raised against the hand of another. 14 And Judah also will fight at Jerusalem. And the wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected—gold and silver, and garments in great abundance. 15 Like this plague will be the plague on the horse, the mule, the camel, and the donkey, and every kind of animal in those camps.

16 And then every survivor from all those nations coming against Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the king, Yahweh of hosts, and celebrate the Feast of Booths. 17 And then whoever of the clans of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the king, Yahweh of hosts, it will not rain on them. 18 And if the clan of Egypt will not go up and come in, on them will be that plague Yahweh inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. 19 This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.

20 On that day there will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “Holy to Yahweh.” And the cooking pots in the house of Yahweh will be holy like the sacrificial basins before the altar. 21 And every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to Yahweh of hosts, and all those who sacrifice will come and will take from them, and will cook in them, and there will be no longer a trader in the house of Yahweh of hosts on that day.

Acts 26:1–32 (LEB)

Paul Makes His Defense Before King Agrippa

26 So Agrippa said to Paul, “It is permitted for you to speak for yourself.” Then Paul extended his​ hand and​ began to defend himself:​

“Concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate that before you I am about to defend myself today, because​ you are especially acquainted with both all the customs and controversial questions with respect to the Jews. Therefore I beg you​ to listen to me with patience.

“Now all the Jews know my manner of life from my youth, that had taken place from the beginning among my own people and in Jerusalem, having known me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that in accordance with the strictest party of our religion I lived as a Pharisee. And now I stand here on trial on the basis of hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, to which our twelve tribes hope to attain as they earnestly serve him​ night and day. Concerning this hope I am being accused by the Jews, O king! Why is it thought incredible by you people​ that God raises the dead? Indeed, I myself thought it was necessary to do many things opposed to the name of Jesus the Nazarene, 10 which I also did in Jerusalem, and not only did I lock up many of the saints in prison, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when​ they were being executed, I cast my vote against them.​ 11 And throughout all the synagogues I punished them often and​ tried to force​ them​ to blaspheme, and because I​ was enraged at them beyond measure, I was pursuing them​ even as far as to foreign cities. 12 In this activity I was traveling to Damascus with the authority and full power of the chief priests. 13 In the middle of the day along the road, O king, I saw a light from heaven, more than the brightness of the sun, shining around me and those who were traveling with me. 14 And when​ we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Aramaic language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads!’ 15 So I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But get up and stand on your feet, because for this reason I have appeared to you, to appoint you a servant and witness both to the things in which you saw me and to the things in which I will appear to you, 17 rescuing you from the people and from the Gentiles to whom I am sending you, 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but to those in Damascus first, and in Jerusalem and all the region of Judea and to the Gentiles, I proclaimed that they should repent and turn to God, doing deeds worthy of repentance. 21 On account of these things the Jews seized me in the temple courtsand​ were attempting to kill me.​ 22 Therefore I have experienced help from God until this day, and​ I stand here testifying to both small and great, saying nothing except what both the prophets and Moses have said were going to happen, 23 that the Christ was to suffer and that as the first of the resurrection from the dead, he was going to proclaim light both to the people and to the Gentiles.”

24 And as​ he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “You are out of your mind, Paul! Your​ great learning is driving you insane!” 25 But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but am speaking words of truth and rationality. 26 For the king knows about these things, to whom also I am speaking freely, for I am not convinced that these things in any way have escaped his notice, because this was not done in a corner. 27 Do you believe the prophets, King Agrippa? I know that you believe.” 28 But Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time are you persuading me to become a Christian?” 29 And Paul replied, “I pray to God, whether in a short time or in a long time, not only you but also all those who are listening to me today may become such people as I also am, except for these bonds!”

30 Both the king and the governor got up, and Bernice and those who were sitting with them. 31 And as they​ were going out, they were talking to one another, saying, “This man is not doing anything deserving death or imprisonment.” 32 And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been released if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

Job 31:1–8 (LEB)

Job’s Final Defense Continued

31 “I made a covenant with my eyes,

so how could I look closely upon a virgin?

And what is the portion of God from above

or the heritage of Shaddai from on high?

Is not disaster for the evil one

and ruin for the workers of mischief?

Does he not see my ways

and count all my steps?

“If I have walked with falseness,

and my foot has hastened to deceit,

let him weigh me in the balance of justice,

and let God know my blamelessness.

If my steps have turned aside from the way,

and my heart has walked after my eyes,

and my hand has clung to a spot,

let me sow, and let another eat,

and let my crops be rooted out.

September 27

When leaders latch onto power, considering it their right, it’s destructive. God holds leaders to a higher standard because their words and actions cause others to rise or fall. When leaders of corporations, churches, or other organizations take their authority for granted, entire communities may end up fighting against God rather than with Him. Such was the case for the Israelites in Zechariah’s lifetime.

The context suggests the people were mistakenly relying on Baal (the storm god) rather than Yahweh. Yahweh responded by reminding them and their leaders that He is the one who sends rain: “Ask rain from Yahweh in the season of the spring rain—Yahweh, who makes storm clouds, and he gives showers of rain to them, to everyone the vegetation in the field. Because the household gods speak deceit, and those who practice divination see a lie, and the dreamers of vanity speak in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep; they are afflicted because there is no shepherd” (Zech 10:1–2). Based on what happened next, it appears that the leaders were the ones suggesting that Israel should rely on household gods.

Although Yahweh was upset with His people, He directed the main force of His anger against those in charge: “My anger burns against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders, because Yahweh of hosts watches over his flock, the house of Judah; and he will make them like his majestic horse in war. From them the cornerstone will go out, from them the tent peg, from them the battle bow, from them every ruler, all together” (Zech 10:3–4). Israel’s leaders had to change their ways first—the horrific behavior (the battle bow) came from them.

How many professing Christian leaders lean on themselves—their unearned “battle bows”—instead of being the kind of leaders Yahweh has called them to be? Even Christian leaders tend to locate the source of their power in themselves or in this world rather than Yahweh. These misguided shepherds may achieve a temporary victory, but their work will eventually bring suffering to themselves and those in their care.

How should you lead? What aspects of your leadership should you change?

John D. Barry is the publisher of Lexham Press, general editor of Faithlife Study Bible and Lexham Bible Dictionary, and the previous editor-in-chief of Bible Study Magazine. He is the author of The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah, Cutting Ties with Darkness, and Letters to a Christian, as well as the coauthor of Mary: Devoted to God's Plan. John is also the author of Not Your Average Bible Study volumes on Malachi, Colossians, Hebrews, James, and 1 Peter, and the coauthor of a study on 2 Peter–Jude.

Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional

Author: John D. Barry & Rebecca Van Noord

Publisher: Lexham Press

Publication Date: 2012

This 365-day devotional walks you through the Bible in a year, following a custom reading plan that delves into the stories of the Bible from five unique perspectives.