This is day 348, 2021. Only 17 days left before 2022 begins. More importantly, there are just 11 days till Christmas! Advent is marching on. During this 3rd Week of Advent we leave Amos, about 750BCE, and go to 520BCE when Zechariah began his prophetic ministry. A lot happened between these two prophets. Just as Amos had forewarned the Northern Kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians in 722BCE. The Southern Kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians in 568BCE, and the people were taken into captivity. Three decades later God acted to rescue the captives and in 539BCE Babylon fell to Cyrus of Persia. In 538BCE Cyrus issued a declaration giving Jewish captives who wanted to return to their homeland permission to do so. The first group of Jewish captives left with the intention of rebuilding Jerusalem, especially the Temple so that daily sacrifices to the Lord could begin. But work on the Temple stopped in 530BCE while the people focussed on building their houses.

In 520BCE God sent the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to encourage the people to get their priorities right, put God first. The people listened and by 516BCE the Temple was complete.

The Old Testament readings this week are from Zechariah. Bible Reading: Zechariah 2:1-13