Watching Daily At My Gates

March 13  Read Zephaniah 1

Zephaniah is the last of the minor  prophets before the exile into Babylon. We see in verse 1 that he is at work during the time of Josiah, who reigned soon after the reign of wicked Manasseh. In this first chapter he pronounces extreme judgment upon Judah and its inhabitants. The charge is idolatry and a false worship of God. God will tolerate neither kind of worship, as we see from the first and second commandments. God is God and there is no other. Once again we must be instructed to examine our concept and worship of God. What judgment will God make upon us as the great day of the Lord comes? Sing Psalter 251.


March 14  Read Zephaniah 2

Out of the judgments in chapter one comes a ray of hope in chapter 2. The faithful in Judah are called to repent and are called to draw nigh unto God. Then the prophet goes on in the rest of the chapter to pronounce judgment on those nations round about God’s people who have afflicted them. We too are called to repentance. As we hear God’s word preached each Sabbath day we must hear that call. As we daily read and meditate upon that word, we must hear the call to repentance. That word makes us fall to our knees and ask for forgiveness for our sins against the thrice holy God. Let us always remember to confess our sins in our prayers and seek forgiveness from the only one who can and will forgive through the blood of his own beloved Son. Sing Psalter 334.


March 15  Read Zephaniah 3

In this chapter we see the three divisions of the beloved Heidelberg Catechism. In the first part of the chapter we see the great misery that can afflict the church of all ages. Then we see the redemption that is only by sovereign, particular grace. Finally we see that the redeemed break into thanksgiving because of their deliverance from the great misery. While Zephaniah prophesied to the church of a particular age, his prophesy is timeless. Let us read this chapter and know that our God will redeem us and bring us into a better place. Sing Psalter 307.


March 16  Read Haggai 1

In this post-exilic prophesy we see a call to arms—not military arms, but spiritual arms. After the return from Babylon, the people dragged their feet in rebuilding. Not all rebuilding: they had nice houses in which to live. But they had not rebuilt God’s house. Today most of us attend a church that is in good physical condition. Some are more elaborate than others, but they are still serviceable as places of worship. What can be said about the spiritual condition of those places?  Are the means of grace neglected? Do the causes of the kingdom go wanting? We need this call to arms because our nature is no different from that of Israel. Let us heed the call to build up the house of God. Sing Psalter 367.


March 17  Read Haggai 2

Commentators divide this chapter into three words or sermons to the people of Jerusalem. In the first they are encouraged in their temple building. While this temple might not be as grand as Solomon’s, God promises to them an event that would make it more grand. He then reproves them for sins that had tainted especially the priesthood and had hindered them in their work. Finally he makes a promise of further encouragement. In this chapter we see a prophecy of both the first and second comings of Christ. While our work in the kingdom does not bring about the kingdom, we are required to work and to serve as we await the day when the world will be shaken. Are we working? Are we watching? Are we praying? Sing Psalter 349.


March 18  Read Zechariah 1

Along with Haggai, Zechariah is another of the post-exilic prophets. We see him reprimanding Judah for their continued sins, as well as encouraging them to walk in the world as God’s people. Some of Judah had slipped back into the sins that led them into captivity. For this they are chastised. But Judah is also encouraged by the visions of the horses, the prayer of the angel, and the sign of the carpenters scattering the horns. We, as another people waiting for Christ, can draw much instruction from this book. We must live in a right way as we wait for our redeemer to return. Sing Psalter 273.


March 19  Read Zechariah 2

Zechariah is given a vision for him to use to encourage God’s faithful people. It was to be used, first, to encourage those who had returned from Babylon not to give up hope, for Jehovah would build his church, and none would prevail against it. Second, it was to be used for those who still remained in Babylon to encourage them to return to the city of God. It should also be an encouragement for us that as we await the fulfillment of the New Jerusalem we faint not, but that we are ever watching and praying. Sing Psalter 237.


March 20  Read Zechariah 3

Here we have an expression of the struggle between God and Satan. We do not look at this as a dualistic struggle in which the outcome is in doubt, but we see Satan clinging to some hope that he can overcome the curse that has been placed upon him. Satan is stating that Israel is not worthy to be God’s people because of their sin. But Israel has a redeemer. That redeemer is Christ, who is pictured as the branch and a cornerstone. This chapter served as Israel’s hope even as the enemy nations around them tried to cause them to fall. It can serve as our hope even as Satan wants us to fall in God’s sight. But that branch and stone is for us as well and is our hope even as we face the stormy future. Sing Psalter 318.


March 21  Read Zechariah 4

In this chapter we have not only a beautiful vision of how the temple of Zerubbabel’s time would be rebuilt, but also a beautiful depiction of how the church in the new dispensation will be rebuilt. Zerubbabel sometimes despaired of the lack of zeal shown by the people for the rebuilding of the temple. God had to show him that that work was not by man’s might, but by the power of God. God does not despise a small work, and neither should we in this age. God will use his anointed ones to bring forth a church that will be glorious in the new heavens and the new earth. For this we must look. Sing Psalter 368.


March 22  Read Zechariah 5

Zechariah was not only shown visions that depicted the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the comfort and peace that this would bring to the faith, but he was also shown visions thyat show God’s wrath upon the unbelievers in their midst. The church was not completely pure when it returned from Babylon, just as no church is completely pure today. There are those whose sins must be pointed out and who must be dealt with in the church of God. That final purification will not come until Christ returns upon the clouds of heaven. Even today we must suffer with those who are not obedient to God’s law. We must deal with them as God himself has commanded us in his word, even as Ezra and Nehemiah dealt with the wicked within the church of Zechariah’s day. Sing Psalter 227.


March 23 Read Zechariah 6

In this chapter we have a prophecy that looks forward not only to Christ’s first coming, but also past that to his final return. The four horses in the first part of the chapter parallel the horses of Revelation. These horses show that God rules over all parts of the world, and that all things must be fulfilled before the culmination of the new heavens and the new earth. There is also another reference to the righteous branch who is the Christ. Finally we see that the church, prefigured in the temple of that day, would not be made up only of Jews, but also of Gentiles from all nations. Are we building in that temple today? Sing Psalter 236.


March 24  Read Zechariah 7

In this and the following chapters the prophet speaks of the daily life of the returned captives. There was a question about the fasts that they had been holding even through the seventy years of the captivity. These fasts were a form of worship. They had not been carrying them out properly, and they are reproved for that lack. The prophet continues and reproves them for their lack of a walk of sanctification. He makes the connection between a right worship and a right walk. We must worship properly; of that there is no doubt. But we must also live out of that worship in a proper way. Either we keep both tables of the law or we keep neither. Sing Psalter 222.


March 25  Read Zechariah 8

This chapter is a continuation of the last one. After reproving Judah for their wrong manner of worship, the prophet now encourages them. He has the greatest message of encouragement for them. God is with them and will do great things for them. The prophet also encourages the people to continue the work of rebuilding the temple. This will be a source of blessing for them and for the Gentiles, who will come and join with them as the complete church of God. We need this encouragement as well. God has done great things for us. We need to respond with a right manner of worship and a zeal for the work of the kingdom. Most of us are those Gentiles who have been drawn to the church by sovereign, particular grace. Thanks be to God! Sing Psalter 357.


March 26  Read Zechariah 9

The chapter opens with God’s promising vengeance upon Israel’s enemies of old. He will do this by the coming of a king. This king, however, will come in a lowly manner. He will ride victoriously on the colt of an ass. This king is none other than Christ. This king will not bring a physical victory to God’s people, but the salvation that he brings is spiritual. This salvation will bring with it a peace and prosperity that has never been seen before. This will be a peace and prosperity of the soul. Let us behold our king and let us bow the knee to him in worship not just on the Lord’s Day, but on every day of the week in our homes, in our schools, and wherever we are. Sing Psalter 318.


March 27  Read Zechariah 10

Rain to the inhabitants of Israel was necessary. The farmer looked for a rain both at the beginning of the season to give the crops a good start, and the latter rain to make the increase abundant. Rain was a picture of the blessings that God gave to his people. Even through the seventy years of captivity, God blessed his people. Do we seek his blessing on our daily labors? Do we make this a part of our early morning prayers? And then do we live in a way that shows our dependence upon God for all things physical and spiritual? Let us pray with out ceasing, knowing that prayer is the chief means of thankfulness for the child of God. Sing Psalter 171.


March 28  Read Zechariah 11

The returned captives would not build a glorious, earthly kingdom. God’s kingdom is not of this world. In fact, the descendants of these returned captives would take a betrayed Jesus and put him to death. The chapter even looks farther than the work of Christ on the earth. It speaks of a shepherd who will not shepherd the people of God. This shepherd is the antichrist. This man will be used to usher in the culmination of God’s kingdom that will not be of this earth, but will be a spiritual and glorious kingdom. It is for that kingdom that we must look. We will not bring that kingdom to this earth, because it is not of this earth. Sing Psalter 221.


March 29  Read Zechariah 12

The church of all ages has had to undergo attacks from the world around her. The nations around Jerusalem were ever trying to attack and conquer her. The world at large today does not want the church of God to succeed. There are times, such as in the time of the kings, when God used these attacks to chastise his people for their sins. Even now God brings chastisement upon his church by means of the wicked world. But Jehovah God is gracious. He will work repentance upon his people and will gather them to him. For this we must hope; for this we must pray. Sing Psalter 386.


March 30  Read Zechariah 13

In this chapter we have a clear picture of what will happen within the church of God. We see that the idolatry that was prevalent would be removed. False prophets will be silenced. The Messiah will come, and the faithful will be tried and will be brought out of that trial as pure gold. As the church of the new dispensation we must see that we must go through those trials. We will be given grace, not of ourselves, to withstand those trials, and we will appear before the almighty judge as those cleansed by the blood of Christ. We must live our lives in this knowledge and live them in the hope of the new heavens and the new earth. Sing Psalter 174.


March 31  Read Zechariah 14

There are those who say that this chapter describes the final destruction of the Jewish nation and the installation of the Gentiles. Others say that the chapter looks forward to the final return of Christ and the final gathering of his church. Both seem to be true. The people of Zechariah’s day needed to know that the Jewish nation was not the end of God’s plan for his people. We need to know that the world as we know it is also not that end. There is a coming judgment and a coming realization of a glorious kingdom of God. All the manifestations of God’s kingdom have the calling to be holy even as God is holy. May we live a sanctified life ever seeking to be holy as we have been commanded. Sing Psalter 132.


April 1  Read Malachi 1

The final book of the Old Testament serves as a bridge between the old and the new. Some say Malachi is not a man’s name, but  an office. Its meaning seems to be “my messenger”, which is appropriate. Malachi brings a final message about who Israel is: they are the ones God loves. What must they do? They must repent from their evil ways and walk in God’s ways. For whom must they seek? They must seek the Son of righteousness. As we read through the book, we must also take heed as we wait for Christ to return upon the clouds of heaven. Let us walk and worship in a way that is pleasing to our covenant God. Sing Psalter 132.


April 2  Read Malachi 2

While this chapter pointedly speaks of the situation in Judah after the captivity, its message is for the church of all ages. When Judah returned from captivity, the office of king no longer functioned as it did before they were carried away to Babylon. The priests were the supposed leaders. They corrupted their office in many ways, especially in the way of worship. They also influenced the people so that the ordinance of marriage was despised. People married unbelievers and divorced faithful spouses at will. The church today needs to hear and heed these words as well. Worship and marriage are carried out according to man’s desires and not according to the ordinance of God. Let us listen to the prophet and let us heed God’s ways. Sing Psalter 265.


April 3  Read Malachi 3

After prophesying of the coming of Christ and his messenger, Malachi continues his scolding of Judah for a wrong manner of worship. They were offering sacrifices that were not fit for the Righteous One. God would send his own sacrifice who would reprove the wicked priests and offer himself for the covenant people. The chapter closes with a beautiful blessing upon the faithful people of God. They would embrace Christ and would be gathered as a rich man gathers jewels and keeps them safe from all harm. Are we spending time speaking together of the wonderful things of God? Are we jewels worthy to be gathered? Sing Psalter 322.


April 4  Read Malachi 4

The last chapter of the canon of the Old Testament sets before the Jews of that day several things. First, the wicked are warned of the destruction to come. Second, the blessedness of the righteous is described through the coming of the Messiah. Third, an admonition to follow the law is given. Finally, Malachi describes the forerunner who will herald the coming Messiah. We, the church of the New Testament, need to pay heed to these words. All of them will come about at the Messiah’s final manifestation on this present earth. Let us watch and wait for him. Sing Psalter 69.


April 5  Read Matthew 1

The book opens with Christ’s legal right to be the Messiah. He is the son of David as evidenced by this genealogy. He is also the Son of God, as shown in the second part of the chapter. Finally, by name he is our savior as depicted by his name Jesus or Jehovah salvation. He who is Emmanuel has come to this earth and by his death on the cross has truly saved his people from their sins. When we read the Christmas story, we must never leave the Christ child in the manager. We must see that he willingly weny to the cross and died the accursed death for those whom the Father had giving him. Thanks be to God! Sing Psalter 198.


April 6  Read Matthew 2

“That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets” is a phrase seen often in the gospel according to Matthew. One of the aims of this gospel is to show to the Jews and to the church of today is that Jesus is truly the messiah spoken of in the Old Testament. The whole of scripture is one. We cannot separate the testaments or take one without the other. There is ample proof of that in Matthew. We also see that Christ came to save people from every race. The wise men came from a far country. They worshiped the Christ for what he was and what he is today. We too must bow and worship our savior, not just as a baby, but as the one who died on the cross for our salvation. Sing Psalter 124.


April 7  Read Matthew 3

A forerunner arrives on the scene, announces his task, and leaves, having opened the way for what or whom he has announced. That was John the Baptist, the Elijah of Malachi 4. With seemingly little warning John begins preaching a different doctrine from what had been heard in Judea. Those who were supposed to be preaching the correct doctrine confronted him and were rebuffed. Then John baptized the one whom he announced. There will be signs before Christ’s second coming. Do we know them? Are we looking for them? Are we paying them heed? Sing Psalter 253.


April 8  Read Matthew 4

Part of Jesus’ becoming sin for us involves being tempted like us. The difference is that Jesus was sinless. This is the writer to the Hebrews’ commentary on this chapter. Christ had to undergo all sorts of temptations. His forty days in the wilderness was just the start of his three and a half years of public ministry.  As disciples of Jesus we must follow his lead in facing Satan’s temptations. What must we do? We must say, “It is written…” There is only one way that we can use that phrase. We must know the word, which means we must dedicate ourselves to learning it. People of God of all ages must take time with that word so that we can say with confidence, “It is written.” Sing Psalter 333.


April 9  Read Matthew 5

Those who have been called to be disciples are called to become citizens of a kingdom. This is not an earthly kingdom; this kingdom is heavenly. This is not a kingdom in which outward deeds merit, but inward spiritual deeds are needed. These are deeds that require obedience to the law of God. Early in his ministry Jesus lays out for the twelve disciples, for the people of Judea and Galilee, and for the church of all ages what is required of those who would follow them. Those citizens will be the happy ones—those who are truly blessed. As we read through this sermon let us seek to walk according to its teaching, looking for the end, which is blessed life with God. Sing Psalter 1.


April 10  Read Matthew 6

The next section of Christ’s sermon on the kingdom of heaven details some of the activities of the citizens of that kingdom. One of the activities of those citizens is prayer. In the sermon Christ details parts of the prayers that we must bring to the throne of grace. Prayer should not be a once in awhile activity. As Paul says, we must “pray without ceasing.” In the model prayer we are taught to adore our Father, we are taught to bring certain petitions to him, and we are taught that the reason for praying is that all belongs to God. To sum up the duties of the citizens, we can turn to the last part of the chapter , in which we are commanded to seek the things of the kingdom above all else. Let us pray and let us seek. Sing Psalter 434.


April 11  Read Matthew 7

After some final practical injunctions, Christ turns to the goal of those who are citizens of the kingdom. We find that the kingdom of which Christ speaks is not an earthly kingdom. The Jews of Christ’s day were not going to find it in Jerusalem. It would not be David and Solomon’s glorious kingdom renewed, for the Christians of the new dispensation that kingdom will not be found on this present earth. No amount of renewing will make this earth that kingdom. Christ’s kingdom will be ushered in by him and by him alone. That kingdom will be established in the new heavens and the new earth, which will be a re-creation after this sinful world is destroyed. Look above, people of God, and seek the kingdom of God. Sing Psalter 4.