Monday, May 25th, 2009
"I shall make the sheiks of Judah like a firepot among trees." (Zechariah 12:6)
*Since today's text is one of those prophetic scriptures that really requires extra research in order to fully grasp, I'm just gonna post 'the main' part, so that I can finish up the summary with some additional info that I researched which gave me a deeper understanding of this particular verse.
"The sheiks of Judah" refer to those having oversight among God's people. Jehovah fills these with a fiery zeal in behalf of the earthly interests of his Kingdom. On one occasion, Jesus told his disciples: "I came to start a fire on the earth." (Luke 12:49) Jesus made God's Kingdom the paramount issue before the people. This sparked heated controversy throughout that Jewish nation. (Matthew 4:17, 25; 10:5-7, 17-20) Similarly, "like a firepot among trees and like a fiery torch in a row of newly cut grain," footstep followers of Christ in our day set things aflame in a spiritual way... moving many people to take their stand either for or against God's Kingdom."
(Watchtower issue: 12/15/07, 3:12)
"The Hebrew word ’al·luph′, when translated “sheikh,” means “leader of a thousand” (or, “chiliarch”). It was a very high position. The early nation of Edom apparently had only 13 sheikhs. (Genesis 36:15-19) The word “sheikh” is not often used when speaking of Israel, but the expression “head (or, chief) of a thousand” appears frequently. When Moses summoned representatives of the nation of Israel, he called on “the heads of the thousands of Israel.” There were 12 of these, evidently subordinate only to Moses. (Numbers 1:4-16) Similarly, in the organization of the army, chiefs of thousands were second only to the general or the king.
—2 Samuel 18:1, 2; 2 Chronicles 25:5." (WA 07/01/95)
Which makes you wonder then what could be meant at Zechariah 9:6,7? Because it says that 'the Philistine' would be like a sheikh in Judah, and everyone knows that the Philistines were sworn enemies of the Israelites. Ok, so here's the interesting part which ties in with today's text... According to Zechariah, some Philistines had a change of heart, which foreshadowed that some persecutors or haters of God's people today would also. Just like the Jebusites (who are mentioned in the same acct) gave up their former bad practices and began worshipping right along with the Israelites, some people in our day would have a similar change of heart and cease any former bad practices or false worship with idolatry, and be cleansed in Jehovah’s eyes.
You can actually see evidence of this when you read stories of the former prison guards or soldiers who initially persecuted Christians (like in some of the Yearbook experiences), and then later reformed and became Christians themselves.
Further - This shows how God is giving everyone the opportunity to expose their true motives and heart condition ... by the way they treat his followers. Its similar to the division spoken about in the illustration of the sheep and the goats at Matthew 25:31-33:
"When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left."
-Because the "criteria" for judging who Jesus will consider to be "a goat" is mentioned a few verses down in 42-46: "For I became hungry, but you gave me nothing to eat, and I got thirsty, but you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger, but you did not receive me hospitably; naked, but you did not clothe me; sick and in prison, but you did not look after me.’ Then they also will answer with the words, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to you?’
and here's the key...
"Then he will answer them with the words, ‘Truly I say to you, To the extent that you did not do it to one of these least ones (of these my brothers), you did not do it to me.’ And these will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life."
So anyway, thats what I personally gleaned from today's daily text -especially when considering all the persecution and terrible treatment that our brothers & sisters in Europe endured, who've joined the ranks of all the other Christians over the centuries who were imprisoned, tortured, & martyred for their faith & uncompromising loyalty also.