2:6 Up! Up! Flee from the land of the north, declares the Lord. For I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heavens, declares the Lord. 7 Up! Escape to Zion, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon. 8 For thus said the Lord of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye: 9 “Behold, I will shake my hand over them, and they shall become plunder for those who served them. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me. 10 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the Lord. 11 And many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. 12 And the Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.” 13 Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.
– Zechariah 2:6-13
Here, near the very end of the Old Testament, the prophet Zechariah speak to the Israelites who have been in exile. This particular passage records the third of eight visions received by the prophet (vv. 1-5), which describes the unlimited size of the restored city of Jerusalem (cf. Isaiah 49:19-21) assuring the people that God’s glory will be there (cf. Ezekiel 43:1-5; Haggai 2:9) and He will protect them like in the past (Exodus 13:21). The passage then continues with a section where the Lord calls His people in exile to return to the city where He is about to dwell and all nations will come (verses 6-13). For the Israelites, this Zecharian prophecy was a beacon of hope! “I come and will dwell in your midst!” Little did they know that in roughly 500 years, the Lord would come to dwell with them in the flesh as God became man (John 1:14). The Lord is coming soon!
There is hope for us, too, because the prophecy from Zechariah notes that “many nations shall join themselves to the Lord,” and He will dwell with them and call them His people, as well. Zechariah’s purpose is both theological and pastoral. His main emphasis throughout the book is that God is at work and all His good deeds — including the construction of the Second Temple — are accomplished “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit” (4:6). Ultimately, Yhwh plans to live again with His people in Jerusalem. He will save them from their enemies and cleanse them from sin, however, God requires repentance — a turning away from sin towards faith in Him.
Just like many of our passages during the Advent season, these ones are about the first coming of the Messiah, but it is also a reminder to us about His second coming. In Matthew, Jesus tells a parable to exhort His followers to be ready for His return, and to steward well His creation and the authority He has given them. In Revelation, we hear the Lord speak to the church in Laodicea, who have become complacent and “lukewarm” in their faithfulness; perhaps they began to mirror the world around them once more, instead of Kingdom of God and His righteousness, or perhaps they had become too comfortable and forgot that following Christ would result in a life of sacrifice and suffering. Soon after, Jesus gives another exhortation, “Behold, I stand at the door at knock!” In both passages, we are reminded once more: The Lord is coming soon!
There is hope once more, however. Zechariah 2 speaks as much to us today as it did for the Israelites all those years ago. We, too, are in exile — surrounded by a culture that looks more like Babylon than Jerusalem. The Lord calls us home, to Himself. For those of us who know and walk with Jesus, this is a moment of celebration and joy! Mirroring Zechariah, in the final passages of the New Testament, John prophesies in Revelation: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (21:3). The Lord is coming soon!
Prayer: “You have been gracious to your land, O Lord; you have restored the good fortune of Jacob. You have forgiven the iniquity of your people and blotted out all their sins. You have withdrawn all your fury and turned yourself from your wrathful indignation. Restore us then, O God our Savior; let your anger depart from us. Will you be displeased with us forever? Will you prolong your anger from age to age? Will you not give us life again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your mercy, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. Amen” (Psalm 85:1-7).
Advent Action: Like Zechariah, John of the Cross, whom we commemorate today, was a prophet in his time who called the church out of lukewarmness and into renewal. Consider meditating on (1) the state of the Church in the world — whether global or in your own community, and (2) the Church’s call to cruciformity — the “cross-shaped” way of repentance and grace following the footsteps of Jesus. Perhaps use Psalm 85 as a starting place to pray for the Lord to come and renew and heal His people. If you have extra time, read some of John of the Cross’ Spiritual Canticle or Dark Night of the Soul to understand why he asked the question, “What shall I give you, Lord, for all you have done and suffered for me?” and believed the answer was a renewed life where the Christian “suffer[s] and [is] despised for [Him].”
Devotion written by the Rev. Andrew Ames Fuller
Watch a video recording of the devotional daily: facebook.com/thenalc
Genesis 1:1 (Listen)
The Creation of the World
1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Revelation 3:14–22 (Listen)
To the Church in Laodicea
14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.
15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
Matthew 24:45–51 (Listen)
45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Psalm 33 (Listen)
The Steadfast Love of the Lord
33:1 Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
2 Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
4 For the word of the LORD is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
5 He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;
he puts the deeps in storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
10 The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!
13 The LORD looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
16 The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.
18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.
20 Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.
Psalm 146 (Listen)
Put Not Your Trust in Princes
146:1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
3 Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.
5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 85 (Listen)
Revive Us Again
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
85:1 LORD, you were favorable to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
2 You forgave the iniquity of your people;
you covered all their sin. Selah
3 You withdrew all your wrath;
you turned from your hot anger.
4 Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
and put away your indignation toward us!
5 Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
6 Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?
7 Show us your steadfast love, O LORD,
and grant us your salvation.
8 Let me hear what God the LORD will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;
but let them not turn back to folly.
9 Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that glory may dwell in our land.
10 Steadfast love and faithfulness meet;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness springs up from the ground,
and righteousness looks down from the sky.
12 Yes, the LORD will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
13 Righteousness will go before him
and make his footsteps a way.
Psalm 94 (Listen)
The Lord Will Not Forsake His People
94:1 O LORD, God of vengeance,
O God of vengeance, shine forth!
2 Rise up, O judge of the earth;
repay to the proud what they deserve!
3 O LORD, how long shall the wicked,
how long shall the wicked exult?
4 They pour out their arrogant words;
all the evildoers boast.
5 They crush your people, O LORD,
and afflict your heritage.
6 They kill the widow and the sojourner,
and murder the fatherless;
7 and they say, “The LORD does not see;
the God of Jacob does not perceive.”
8 Understand, O dullest of the people!
Fools, when will you be wise?
9 He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
He who formed the eye, does he not see?
10 He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke?
He who teaches man knowledge—
11 the LORD—knows the thoughts of man,
that they are but a breath.
12 Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD,
and whom you teach out of your law,
13 to give him rest from days of trouble,
until a pit is dug for the wicked.
14 For the LORD will not forsake his people;
he will not abandon his heritage;
15 for justice will return to the righteous,
and all the upright in heart will follow it.
16 Who rises up for me against the wicked?
Who stands up for me against evildoers?
17 If the LORD had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
18 When I thought, “My foot slips,”
your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up.
19 When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.
20 Can wicked rulers be allied with you,
those who frame injustice by statute?
21 They band together against the life of the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
22 But the LORD has become my stronghold,
and my God the rock of my refuge.
23 He will bring back on them their iniquity
and wipe them out for their wickedness;
the LORD our God will wipe them out.
This daily prayer and Bible reading guide, Devoted to Prayer (based on Acts 2:42), was conceived and prepared by the Rev. Andrew S. Ames Fuller, director of communications for the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). After a challenging year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been provided with a unique opportunity to revitalize the ancient practice of daily prayer and Scripture reading in our homes. While the Reading the Word of God three-year lectionary provided a much-needed and refreshing calendar for our congregations to engage in Scripture reading, this calendar includes a missing component of daily devotion: prayer. This guide is to provide the average layperson and pastor with the simple tools for sorting through the busyness of their lives and reclaiming an act of daily discipleship with their Lord. The daily readings follow the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year daily lectionary, which reflect the church calendar closely. The commemorations are adapted from Philip H. Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals and Commemorations, a proposed common calendar of the saints that builds from the Lutheran Book of Worship, but includes saints from many of those churches in ecumenical conversation with the NALC. The introductory portion is adapted from Christ Church (Plano)’s Pray Daily. Our hope is that this calendar and guide will provide new life for congregations learning and re-learning to pray in the midst of a difficult and changing world.