Pureppu Devotion ③ The house of prayer breaks the horns

Zechariah 1:18-21:

“When I lifted up my eyes and looked, behold, there were four horns. So I said to the angel who was speaking with me, ‘What are these?’ And he answered me, ‘These are the horns that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.’ Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen. And I said, ‘What are these coming to do?’ He said, ‘These are the horns that have scattered Judah so that no man lifts up his head, but these craftsmen have come to terrify them, to throw down the horns of the nations who have lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter it.'”

Through the PREPPU platform, I am grateful to share a message for the third time today.

In the first message, we discussed a story from the Book of Jonah, emphasizing that God cares for the souls of those returning to Japan.

In the second message, we explored the question, “What can we do for returnees?” Drawing from Luke 11, we learned that even if we cannot provide the necessary bread for the traveler, we can ask a friend for bread, highlighting the power of intercessory prayer.

Today’s third message is titled “The House of Prayer Breaks the Horns.” In the Bible, the term “horns” symbolizes power. For many saved Japanese returning home, the challenge is not just the lack of necessities but the various difficulties they face upon return. Sinister forces work to prevent them from leading a life of faith, causing many to drift away from the church.

So, what can we do? Today, let’s turn to the book of Zechariah for guidance.

Israel, once held captive in Babylon due to their departure from God, repented in Babylon and turned back to faith. Through God’s miraculous guidance, they were able to return to Israel. Joyfully arriving in Jerusalem, they began reconstructing the temple, intending to center their lives around worship.

However, obstacles arose. The Samaritans, neighboring Israel, envied their new beginning and sought to hinder the reconstruction. Through threats and deceit, they tried to obstruct the rebuilding of the temple.

As a result, the people’s spirits waned, and the flame that should have burned bright dwindled. Facing difficulties upon their return, they were unable to engage in worship. To encourage the desolate Israel, God sent the prophet Zechariah, who presented visions.

One of these visions, the one opened today, depicts the scene of four horns, representing the threatening powers of Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, and Persia—the nations that posed a threat to Israel. The horns symbolize various forces that surrounded Israel, posing a threat to God’s people.

When we think of animals with horns, we may imagine deer, rhinos, or goats. When these animals fight, what do they use? Their “horns.” Thus, in the Bible, the term “horns” is used to symbolize a formidable power.

As those rebuilding the temple faced hindrances, horns approached from the north, south, west, and east. Forces opposed to the temple construction exerted pressure on those starting the work.

Similarly, in the journey of faith in Japan, various forces often hinder progress through worries, temptations, trials, and persecutions. In such times, what should one do? Should they rely on military strength, as Israel did in the past? Or should they seek help from a reliable kingdom?

No, that’s not the solution. God showed Zechariah a vision of four craftsmen breaking the horns in a way that was not accomplished by warriors or kings but by craftsmen.

It was the hammer wielded by these craftsmen that could break the horns. Upon waking from the dream, Zechariah likely heard the sounds of construction continuing outside his window. Quietly, the voice of God may have reassured him: “Do not be afraid; just build the temple.” Above all, build the “house of prayer.” This is the key to breaking every horn. God, through the vision, had already shown the victory.

In Israel, there were craftsmen building the temple to break every opposing horn. Therefore, prayer could be offered.

For EC, who are the builders of the “house of prayer”? It is us, isn’t it? So, let us, as God’s craftsmen, pray for the scattering of the souls returning to Japan, breaking every horn that seeks to hinder them.

[ec23] Pureppu Devotion ② Bread is needed for the traveler.

Last time, I shared a message from the Book of Jonah, “God, too, has concerned.”

Just as Jonah regretted and lamented when the gourd withered, we too, when we lose something, realize how precious it was and mourn. However, the purpose of that experience was for us to understand that God also regrets for the people of Nineveh and the souls of the Japanese, to the point that God is distressed by the reality that those returning to Japan may drift away from the church. God wants us to stand in that gap.

That was the message from the last time. Indeed, God is inviting us to serve for the sake of those departing for Japan. Now that we understand this, the question arises: What can we do?

…What can we do? …Many believers who have encountered the Gospel, known Jesus, and received faith in the love of the cross, which is not present in Japan. They, as travelers, encounter various gaps upon returning and end up drifting away from the church. God regrets such events, and we have come to understand that feeling. But what can we do? What are we capable of doing?

In today’s reading, there is a portrayal of someone unable to provide the necessary bread for a traveler. Although this person cannot do anything for the traveler who needs bread, they go to seek help from a certain person. That person is a reliable friend, probably affluent and possessing abundant wealth.

He asks this friend to lend him three loaves of bread. He clings to the idea that if it’s that friend, he will give it to him. He thought, “I cannot do anything for the travelers, but I can ask that friend to provide the bread needed for the travelers.”

Think about it, everyone. How many friends can you ring the doorbell at midnight? Such a thing is possible only with the closest and most intimate friend.

This parable is told after the disciples asked Jesus to teach them about prayer, following the teaching of the Lord’s Prayer. In this parable, Jesus is teaching us that He is the rich, reliable, only friend we can always seek help from.

In today’s scripture, it is mentioned to ask that friend for the bread necessary for the traveler.

Such prayers are called “intercessory prayers.” It is a prayer offered by someone who knows their own powerlessness.

And this scripture also teaches that such prayers should be offered fervently. Be persistent in prayer.

Why does Jesus ask for persistent prayer? The Greek word translated as “persistence” is ἀν•αιδεια (anaideia). Interestingly, the first part of the word, “ἀν” (an), conveys a sense of negation. For example, the English word “unbelievable” means “not believable.” The word ἀν•αιδεια (anaideia) translated as “persistence” means “not being shameless.”

Because it’s just three loaves of bread. It’s ringing the doorbell loudly at midnight. Jesus is teaching us to be bold in prayer and become skilled at asking. If you are interested in what skillful asking in prayer looks like, please learn from the prayers of Abraham and Moses in Genesis 18 and Exodus 33.

Surprisingly, this friend initially refuses, saying, “I want to sleep, so don’t bother me.” This is a parable, and we know that Jesus does not have such a character. So, what does He want to teach with this initial refusal?

I think Jesus wants to convey that He delights in our attitude of not giving up, continuing to believe, and waiting for the answer to prayer. Why? Because the relationship where we ask and the Lord gives is the bond between us and God.

For the men here, when a woman asks for something, when a favor is requested, when you’re begged for something, you’ve probably answered like this: “Hmm, what should I do?” Any experiences like that? No, there must be. (LOL)

It’s not a feeling of wanting to be mean; it comes from the desire to deepen the relationship between the two. Yes, Jesus is inviting us to become more fervent in prayer to deepen our faith and trust in Him.

So, what happens? What did this reliable friend give? Three loaves of bread? No, far beyond what we desire and think, this friend gives “anything needed.” This illustrates the need for us to realize our powerlessness when we cannot do anything for the travelers. When we realize that, we can be transformed into those who rely on this friend, who can provide everything needed, through prayer.

Now, let’s serve as intercessors for the returee ministry.

What’s Saving My Life Right Now

Hello! I’m Yuko Ozeki, the North America JCFN Staff. The in-person EC planning  meeting has concluded, and now it’s the season to sprint through the end of the year at full speed!

Amidst the stress-filled days, I’ve made a list of things that help me walk through life more humanely 😆:

1. Morning and Evening Dog Walks
No matter how busy, taking a break in the morning and evening to go outside with the dog is incredibly refreshing.


2. Podcasts
I listen to various podcasts while running in the morning, cleaning, or doing non-mentally taxing tasks. My current favorites are Timothy Keller’s Gospel  in Life.Recently, I’ve started listening to Language of God, an integration of science and faith, which is quite interesting. I’ve been a long-time listener of What’s the Pastors andNext Right Thing.


3. Evening Yoga
I’ve been doing morning yoga since the pandemic, and starting evening yoga before bed ensures a sound sleep. Waking up without my body complaining—this is good 😆.


4.🐼Panda Express🐼
Once a month, a guilt-free day without cooking dinner!! Yay!! 😍😍
28% of the sales contribute to the Equipper Conference scholarship, a fantastic initiative. To everyone in North America, please support this cause.


5. Grocery Outlet
A recently opened grocery store near my home. Despite the staggering inflation in the U.S., this store has hidden gems and is fun and affordable. My recent find is 50-cent energy drinks. Planning a bulk purchase for everyone during the EC.

That’s it! 😆 How about everyone else’s lives? As we head towards the busy year-end, I hope you can find things that bring relief and help you reclaim yourself, even if just a little!


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