Last few days of 2016. The last few days have been, as most holidays are, stressful for us and not exactly the stuff of Hallmark cards or the movies on their TV channel. Being estranged from our daughters, and distant from most of the friends we've made over the last 25+ years has added to the mix. Finances for which the term "tight" barely touches add to that. And Dear Wife's continuing health problems and all that comes with that even more so. Yet we acknowledge that we have been blessed beyond measure, both directly by the hand of God, and also by the kindnesses of His people, kindnesses beyond count. And we recognize that, even if we can not yet see it, there is a purpose to all of this. Knowing that and being confident in Him, we press on. Not much else we can do, and just lying down in defeat is, while often tempting, not going to happen.
We have, both of us, been in worse situations. I have myself been homeless, destitute, hungry, and a reproach to the Respectable. He brought me out. When I met Dear Wife, she was living in a tiny house without running water or central heat (a heater in the main room provided it all, and she carried water in buckets from the fire station next door), without a car, working two jobs to support herself and her daughter, and always alert for an assassination attempt (threatened and attempts made) by her ex-husband who was in cahoots with various corrupt public officials including a corrupt local judge. We came out of that, but we kept a sharp eye for many years, and loaded weapons close to hand. Those realities were part of why we left the area when we did. Which exile led to many good things, including being in places where our daughters met their husbands and developed in ways that would have been impossible had we remained in the area.
God is not done with us yet. And His promises are true.
Our New Testament reading is chapters 4, 5, and 6 from Zechariah.
There are frequent references here to Zerubbabel. Per Wikipedia, "according to the Book of Ezra, Zerubbabel is the governor of Judah and he laid the foundation for the Temple. He was given sanction to rebuild the Temple and return the sacred Temple vessels that Nebuchadnezzar II had preserved after the conquest of Babylon.". Bear in mind that Zechariah's prophecies take place during the captivity and after the fall of Israel and Judah, and the destruction of Jerusalem and the first Temple. The prophecies gave a confidence that the Exile would end, and the Temple be rebuilt, both of which did occur.
The New Testament reading is chapter 18 of the Revelation.
There are many references here to Babylon. The great city and nation-state of Babylon is long gone. So there have been speculations for many years about what the term means here. Does it mean that the ancient city is rebuilt and re-established, then to be destroyed again? Or does it mean, as many believe, that it refers to a nation or culture in the future (future to John) that acts in much the same way? And, if so, which? The behaviors ascribed here and elsewhere to Babylon could mean any of a number of national or cultural capitals, like New York, Washington, Moscow, London, Brussels, Paris, Riyadh, Mecca, Cairo, or others. Or it could refer to a system, like the "one-world government" that the United Nations or its offshoots (like the WTO, the EU, or others) seek to establish. Or something else. Good arguments for all of this.