Simple Bible Reading Guide
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"The revelation of Your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple." —Psalms 119:130
God's word is intended for all people. For thousands of years God has communicated to millions of simple people through His word. In fact, many things are hidden from the learned and clever but revealed to the merest children (Lk 10:21). Of course, God's word is sometimes so difficult to interpret that we need the Church to teach us. Therefore, highly academic Bible study has its place, but it is not the principal approach to God's word. The word is not primarily for an educated elite but for everyday people praying and reading by the power of the Spirit.
Nevertheless, not many books about the Bible are written to help the average person. What most people need is something short, simple, and practical that encourages, motivates and guides. We need something that will help us read the Biblical texts and not just about the text. This is the purpose of this simple Bible reading guide. "We have aimed to please those who prefer simple reading, as well as to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all (2 Mc 2:25).
Note: The breakdown of the Bible into chapters (although not always adequate) has served God's people for centuries. So in general we will use a chapter-by-chapter structure for our comments.
Be sure to read each chapter of the Bible along with the introductory comments.
P.S. We have prayed before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament about our choice of the verses in this reading guide. We hope the Scriptures will have a prophetic, life-changing power for you.
Zech 1 — MANY HAPPY RETURNS
"Return to Me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you." Zechariah 1:3
Zechariah had a vision of four horsemen and a "man who was standing among the myrtle trees" (1:10). Zechariah conversed with an angel about this vision. In the course of the conversation, the angel prophesied: "Therefore, says the Lord: I will turn to Jerusalem in mercy; My house shall be built in it, says the Lord of hosts" (1:16). The only condition for the fulfillment of this prophecy was that the people return to the Lord.
Prayer: Father, I repent and draw close to You, and You will draw close to me (Jas 4:8).
Promise: "My cities shall again overflow with prosperity; the Lord will again comfort Zion, and again choose Jerusalem." 1:17
Zech 2 — THE NEW JERUSALEM
"The Lord will possess Judah as His portion of the holy land, and He will again choose Jerusalem. Silence, all mankind, in the presence of the Lord! for He stirs forth from His holy dwelling." Zechariah 2:16-17
The nations that scattered Judah will be cast down, and the Lord will build a new Jerusalem. "Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! See, I am coming to dwell among you" (2:14).
Prayer: Father, rattle the dry bones of Your Church (Ez 37:7) and renew her.
Promise: "I will be for her an encircling Wall of fire, says the Lord, and I will be the Glory in her midst." 2:9
Zech 3 — PURE PRIESTS
"I will engrave its inscription, says the Lord of hosts, and I will take away the guilt of the land in one day." Zechariah 3:9
The angel of the Lord rebuked Satan, who was accusing the high priest Joshua. Then the angel removed the guilt from the priesthood. A renewed and purified priesthood precedes a renewed people.
Prayer: "May the Lord rebuke you, Satan; may the Lord Who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you!" (3:2)
Promise: "If you walk in My ways and heed My charge, you shall judge My house and keep My courts." 3:7
Zech 4 — "BY MY SPIRIT"
"For even they who were scornful on that day of small beginnings shall rejoice to see the select stone in the hands of Zerubbabel." Zechariah 4:10
Zerubbabel the king and Joshua the priest were anointed by God to rebuild the Temple. Despite "small beginnings" and a great mountain of opposition, they were successful by the power of the Spirit.
Prayer: Father, stir up the Spirit in my life (2 Tm 1:6) so that I can build Your kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
Promise: "Not by an army, nor by might, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts." 4:6
Zech 5 — FREQUENT FLIERS?
"Then I raised my eyes again and saw a scroll flying." Zechariah 5:1
Egad! Here comes a flying scroll to convict us of sin, and a flying bushel basket to remove our wickedness.
Prayer: Father, may I repent before a thirty-foot Bible hits me and a supernatural garbage truck picks me up.
Zech 6 — SHOOT!
"Yes, he shall build the temple of the Lord, and taking up the royal insignia, he shall sit as ruler upon his throne. The priest shall be put at his right hand, and between the two of them there shall be friendly understanding." Zechariah 6:13
The Lord came against Babylon and instructed Zechariah to crown Zerubbabel as king "and say to him: Thus says the Lord of hosts: Here is a man whose name is Shoot, and where he is he shall sprout, and he shall build the temple of the Lord" (6:12; see 3:8).
Prayer: Father, thank You for crowning us a "royal priesthood" (1 Pt 2:9).
Promise: "They who are from afar shall come and build the temple of the Lord, and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you." 6:15
Zech 7 — DAY OF OBLIGATION
"Say to all the people of the land and to the priests: When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and in the seventh month these seventy years, was it really for Me that you fasted?" Zechariah 7:5
The Jews fasted on the anniversaries of four major catastrophes. Some asked if they could dispense with one fast day now that they had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon and had begun to rebuild the Temple. Zechariah prophesied that they needed to continue fasting since they had never entered into the true spirit of fasting. Their selfishness and injustices made this obvious.
Prayer: Father, may my fast day be acceptable to You (Is 58:5).
Zech 8 — "O HAPPY DAYS"
"Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men of every nationality, speaking different tongues, shall take hold, yes, take hold of every Jew by the edge of his garment and say, 'Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.' " Zechariah 8:23
Zechariah concludes the first half of his book by painting a picture of the perfect Jerusalem. This prophecy began to be fulfilled with the coming of Jesus the Messiah; it will be completely fulfilled in the heavenly Jerusalem.
Prayer: Father, make me excited about the future, no matter what the present.
Promise: "Even if this should seem impossible in the eyes of the remnant of this people, shall it in those days be impossible in My eyes also, says the Lord of hosts?" 8:6
Zech 9 — NON-VIOLENT MILITANCY
"Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem!" Zechariah 9:9
The second part of Zechariah begins with a bang. The Lord will invade the enemies of Judah and destroy them. However, He will not invade as the kings of this world do. Zechariah prophesied: "See, your King shall come to you; a just Savior is He, meek, and riding on an ass" (9:9; see Mt 21:5).
Prayer: Gentle Jesus, all-powerful Warrior, I will fight in Your army.
Promise: "The Lord, their God, shall save them on that day, His people, like a flock. For they are the jewels in a crown raised aloft over His land." 9:16
Zech 10 — WORLD WAR
"They shall all be warriors, trampling the mire of the streets in battle; they shall wage war because the Lord is with them, and shall put the horsemen to rout." Zechariah 10:5
The Lord is rallying a mighty army to attack the gates of hell (Mt 16:18) and put all His enemies beneath His feet (Heb 10:13). Repent! Enlist! Fight!
Prayer: Jesus, may I quickly crush Satan under my feet (Rm 16:20) and bring down his strongholds (2 Cor 10:4).
Promise: "I will strengthen the house of Judah, the house of Joseph I will save; I will bring them back, because I have mercy on them." 10:6
Zech 11 — SELLING JESUS CHEAP
"They counted out my wages, thirty pieces of silver." Zechariah 11:12
The good shepherd was given as a wage thirty pieces of silver. In obedience to the Lord, he "took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the treasury in the house of the Lord" (11:13). This prophecy was fulfilled when Judas sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver (Mt 26:15). It echoes over the centuries.
Prayer: Father, may I never sell Jesus by choosing pleasure over Him.
Zech 12 — THE SUFFERING SERVANT
"I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and petition; and they shall look on Him Whom they have thrust through, and they shall mourn for Him as one mourns for an only son, and they shall grieve over Him as one grieves over a first-born." Zechariah 12:10
Jerusalem will have total victory over her enemies through the intervention of Someone "Whom they have thrust through" (12:10). This is the prophecy of the suffering Servant (see Is 52:13ff), which was fulfilled in Jerusalem on Calvary.
Prayer: Father, pour out on us "a spirit of grace and petition."
Promise: "On that day, the Lord will shield the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the weakling among them shall be like David on that day, and the house of David godlike, like an angel of the Lord before them. On that day I will seek the destruction of all nations that come against Jerusalem." 12:8-9
Zech 13 — THE GOOD SHEPHERD
"Strike the shepherd that the sheep may be dispersed." Zechariah 13:7
This is the fourth prophecy (see 9:9; 11:12-13; 12:10) of Jesus' Passion (see Mt 26:31) in this second part of Zechariah. These last chapters of Zechariah and of the Old Testament are among the greatest revelations of all time. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you the depth of their meaning.
Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit! Teach me things beyond imagining (Jer 33:3).
Promise: "On that day there shall be open to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, a fountain to purify from sin and unclean ness." 13:1
Zech 14 — GETHSEMANI
"Then the Lord shall go forth and fight against those nations, fighting as on a day of battle. That day His feet shall rest upon the Mount of Olives, which is opposite Jerusalem to the east." Zechariah 14:3-4
A fifth prophecy relating to Jesus' Passion (see Lk 22:39) concludes the book of Zechariah. After Jerusalem is taken, the Lord will win a great victory on the Mount of Olives. "The Lord shall become King over the whole earth; on that day the Lord shall be the only One, and His name the only one" (14:9).
Prayer: Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!
Promise: "Then the Lord, my God, shall come, and all His holy ones with Him." 14:5
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, April 3, 1997
Imprimatur: Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 8, 1997
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