Day 89: Revelation 16-18 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Revelation 16-18 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

The reading today is filled with a lot of imagery that many others have attempted to interpret so I won’t add anything there. What I’d like to notice is the wrath of God, especially as it concerns the persecution of the saints. God cannot be loving without being wrathful. Those two attributes go together. Indeed, because God is loving that He is wrathful. God loves the martyrs so he avenges them by pouring out his wrath. Notice that God’s wrath isn’t like ours. He makes no mistakes in judgement. It isn’t undeserved, if anything God has been patient with mankind by not pouring out his wrath sooner.

Notice also how this wrath serves to harden the hearts of those who hate God. They continue to curse him and blaspheme rather than repent and come to God on his terms. The fact that the wrath comes in waves serves to demonstrate that there is time and opportunity for repentance, but people continue to harden their heart. They would rather shake their finite fist at the Creator than repent of sin and turn to Him…. They are broken beyond repair. They will not turn from their sin.

I think this passage should cause a real sobriety among God’s people. We should recognize that God is in control, he will bring justice in his own time and at the exact right time. We should be quick to repent knowing that God offers all sorts of opportunities along the way to seek repentance. We should also be scared to ever harden our heart against God.

FATHER, I pray that we have tender hearts today. I ask that we would be ready to receive your word. We stand in awe of your greatness and your sovereignty. We are thankful for your patience and we rejoice in your justice. We pray that we would always be quick to repent when we find ourselves in sin. Thank you for the grace of leading your flock. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

Find out about New Testament 90 – Here

new-in-90-sheet

Day 87: Revelation 10-12 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Revelation 10-12 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

I will confess that there is much about this part of Revelation that still remains a mystery to me. That being said, there are several things that stick out to me. In 10:8-11, where John is given a scroll to eat is reminiscent of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 15:16) and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2-3). The big difference between these prophets and the instruction given to John, here in Revelation, is to many peoples, tongues, and nations, whereas the other prophets seem to have a call specifically to the Nation of Israel.

Speaking of Israel, the woman mentioned in chapter twelve seems to be a pretty clear reference to the covenant people of God, known as the Nation of Israel. The sun, moon, and twelves stars motif (12:1) first appears in Josephs dream (Genesis 37:9-10) about the sun, moon, and eleven stars who bow down to him. His father understands the dream to refer to all of Joseph’s family (the very beginning of the Nation of Israel). Also the woman giving birth to a child is a symbol used in Isaiah (Isaiah 26:17, 66:6-9). In those references the woman is understood to be God’s covenant people, Israel.

I don’t have a ton of clarity on the other figures that are beginning to appear here other than to note that the members of the Satanic or Unholy Trinity are beginning to make their appearance. This false trinity consists of the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet. We will see a fuller picture in the reading ahead.

My biggest take away from reading this portion of scripture is simply this. There is a lot that I do not understand. There are symbols that I can’t figure out. There are characters that I don’t know where they fit… but I do know that in the book of Revelation, God is still on his throne. He isn’t surprised. He knows future events and while there is a lot of mystery to the details of how things will unfold, there is no mystery to the fact that God is in control and bringing everything, even rebellious creatures to submission. And for that insight I am grateful.

FATHER, We rejoice in your sovereignty. I confess I don’t know what a lot of these things symbolize, but I rejoice to know that when events unfold, you are not caught off guard. We rejoice that all of world history is coming to completion in you. We pray for your guidance and grace in our hour, especially in the days of uncertainty in which we now live. Direct our path for your glory. Thank you for the incredible grace of watching over your flock. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

Find out about New Testament 90 – Here

new-in-90-sheet

Day 85: Revelation 4-6 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Revelation 4-6 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

In Revelation chapter four, the Apostle John gets invited into the throne room of heaven. He witnesses a series of events from a heavenly perspective. Because John received this “revelation” in a vision (1:9-10) there are many things that appear as symbolic.

In chapter four we also see the angels around the throne of God utter the Trisagion (the word holy 3 times in a row). Some suppose the reason for the word “holy” being uttered three times is representative of the trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). When something is mentioned three times in a row it also is considered to have a multiplying effect and so it is understood that the praise of God uttered hear is continually compounded. In essence, God is infinitely holy.

The new Song in Revelation 5:9. We like to sing old songs, they are familiar and remind us of the character of God. New songs are written or sung in the scripture when God has delivered his people. Miriam sings a song after Israel escapes through the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army is drowned, etc. This new song will be for the Jesus’s ability to reconcile us to God. 

The number seven is used repeatedly through out the book of Revelation. Typically in biblical literature the number seven means perfection and/or completeness. The world was created in six days and God rested on the seventh day, hence the world was complete and it was perfect in the way that God created it.

The 5th seal is interesting (6:9 -11). Those who have suffered for the cause of Christ will have a special place in the presence of God. They are given white robes, which symbolize purity. White was given to the members of the church at Sardis who did not spoil their garments with unrighteous deeds and were promised to walk with Jesus (3:4-5). We also fast forward to Revelation 19:8 where white garments represent the righteous acts of the saints.  It is also worth noting that the Lord provided garments for Adam and Eve after they sinned and he provided the garments here too.

FATHER, Thank you so much for the brilliance of your word. We look forward to the day when we will see you in all your glory. We are grateful that Jesus is worthy of all glory and honor and He is able to bridge Heaven and Earth. Give us grace to live holy lives that are pleasing to you. If we are ever granted to suffer I pray that we would honor you. Thank you for the grace to shepherd your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

Find out about New Testament 90 – Here

new-in-90-sheet

Day 79: 1 Peter 4-5 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 1 Peter 4-5 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

We are certainly living in a day and age where there is plenty of worry. I am grateful for the word we find here near the end of 1 Peter that reminds us to cast all our cares on the LORD (5:7). Sometimes we hold on to our burdens, worries, and anxieties and that is not good for us. Like bread rising in the oven our anxiety multiplies and compounds upon itself and before we know it we are overcome. We need a place to go. What grace that we can take our burdens to the Lord.

We can take our burdens to the Lord because he cares for us. I am amazed that the sovereign LORD, creator God would condescend to care for us. I am well aware of the abundant love and mercy that is available from his pouring our. Caring for us means that he is actively at work in our lives providing the things we need. We can cast our anxieties on the LORD, because he is able to take our anxieties and fears. He meets us at the point of our greatest need!

The only problem is that I like to hold on to my anxieties for too long. Like holding on to a matchstick while it is burning down. We know that we should let go sooner rather than later, but still we wait until we are burnt to let them go. We shouldn’t let our anxieties consume us before we give them to the Lord. We should give them right away. We should “cast” them on the LORD. That is we fling them and let go, letting them fly into the LORD’s hands. He’s got them, he can be trusted. We just have to humble ourselves and let go of our pride and trust him.

FATHER, We thank you for your grace. We are grateful that you care for us. We rejoice to know that we can cast all our cares on you. We pray that you would give us humility to do just that. I pray that we would trust you in every moment of life. When anxiety rises in our hearts, remind us of this promise that we might be quick to remember and quick to cast our cares on you. Thank you for the immeasurable grace of leading your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

Find out about New Testament 90 – Here

new-in-90-sheet

Day 74: Hebrews 6-8 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Hebrews 6-8 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

In Hebrews 6 the biblical author charges his hearers to persevere in their faith, noting that if they were to fall back, they would be making it evident that their faith was not genuine. The first few verses of chapter six can be confusing, but note the metaphor of rain in verses 7-8, that help us understand the intention of the author. The same rain falls, but different plants grow. What shows up is evidence of what was planted.  Some plants are useful herbs, others are thorns and thistles. The rain doesn’t determine the plant, but as the plant grows it reveals itself as either good or bad. In the same way, persecution doesn’t make someone a believer, but it helps reveal genuine faith by what it brings out.

Some have taken this passage to teach that you can lose your salvation. If you follow that hermetical approach, you would also need to note that the passage clearly does teach that you can’t be saved a second time (6:4-6).  Which is somewhat the point.  Salvation isn’t something that can be picked up, put down, and picked up again. You are either saved or you aren’t. You have either experienced the things of God or you didn’t. If you did, you will not fall away (6:9-10). 

Chapters seven and eight go on to detail the need for a new high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek was a mysterious priest who showed up in the time of Abraham. His origins weren’t known. Some even suppose that he was the pre-incarnate Christ. It was supposed that he lived forever. The high priests that Israel had according to the tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron died and a new high priest would be appointed, but Jesus was a better high priest who could not be defeated by death and therefore offered a better covenant (7:22).

FATHER, We pray that we would be those who have a persevering faith. We pray that our hearts affection never grows cold. We ask that we would stand firm against any temptation that would come our way. Give us grace when we understand a passage in a different way than some of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Bring us all to maturity in Christ. We rejoice in Jesus who is the better priest who makes intercession for his people. Thank you for the joy of leading your people. Protect us from enemies seen and unseen. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

Find out about New Testament 90 – Here

new-in-90-sheet

Day 72: Hebrews 1-2 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Hebrews 1-2 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

The first recipients of the book of Hebrews were likely members of a house church made up of Jewish converts to Christianity (hence the name Hebrews). They were facing persecution (I have another article about that here) and were now being tempted to leave behind their faith in Christ to re-embrace Judaism, where the persecution wouldn’t be so severe.

The theme of Hebrews could easily be understood as “Jesus is better.” The Author relates how God has spoken throughout history but ultimately and fully revealed himself in Jesus (1:1-3). He is even superior to things like angels (1:4), which would have been highly revered in Jewish culture and tradition.

The first several chapters start out with a strong and compelling charge to keep the faith and remind the readers that there is nothing to go back too, in Judaism. In chapter two the author challenges the readers to pay close attention to what they have heard about Jesus so they don’t drift.

Drifting away from the truth is easy. It doesn’t require diligence, effort, or work. It just happens by neglect. If something is valuable we don’t neglect it. We pay attention to it. We are therefore, to pay attention to our faith.

The lack of attention to the scriptures can soften the effect of the gospel upon your life. You will generalize, moralize, and rationalize your thoughts on scripture until you pull the punches that are present in the gospel.  The writer here is challenging us to examine the truth. To go back to the genuine article and make sure that we do not drift from the truth.

FATHER, thank you for Jesus. We are grateful that he is far better than anything we could think or imagine. We rejoice in the power of the gospel to transform our lives and give us hope in you. We pray that we wouldn’t drift, but that we would be anchored to your truth. Hold us fast as we hold fast you you. Thank you for the calling if leading your people to faith in you. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

Find out about New Testament 90 – Here

new-in-90-sheet

Day 68: 1 Timothy 4-6 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 1 Timothy 4-6 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

The Apostle Paul writes, in chapter four, about those who will depart from the faith and follow deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (4:1). This is a stern warning to us today to test the spirits and keep our doctrine pure. Indeed Paul charges Timothy to make sure that he continues to teach sound doctrine (4:13) and continue in the doctrine that Paul taught (4:16).

When I was studying for the ministry at a Christian college, some of the students wanted to steer clear of any sort of doctrinal discussion.  They would say something like, “we have no creed but Jesus.” The problem I had with them is that is seemed like they wanted to avoid ALL doctrine. Don’t get me wrong, there are SOME doctrinal debates that are worthless (one only needs to read yesterday’s post for more on that point). But when we avoid all doctrine together, we really create our own doctrine or set of beliefs, a false doctrine. The doctrine or teaching that Paul shared with Timothy was good, sound doctrine and it was profitable for Timothy’s growth and the growth of the local church.

The first few verses of Chapter five are instrumental in figuring out how we should treat one another. Because of age and generational differences it can be easy to perceive things differently than others in the church. As a pastor it is crucial that I communicate in ways that are respectful and appropriate. Recognizing these differences and approaching members, who may be in error, in the way that I would approach respected members of my own family, can be a helpful. 

Paul writes, that believers are to take care of their own household (5:3). The burden for caring for elderly relatives, who cannot care for themselves,  should fall back to the family, not to the church (or the government).  The church had an elaborate system of taking care of widows, but only those who had legitimate need. There is wisdom in placing the care of our loved ones back in our hands and there is grace in taking care of the needs of those who have no other means.

FATHER, I pray that you would keep us from error and that we would be intent upon studying and teaching your word. I pray that our lives would exhibit the doctrine we hold to in your word. Keep us from idle chatter, but focused on the truth of the gospel. Give us grace in relating to one another who are of differing ages. Help us to treat one another with respect, even when a difficult discussion is in order. Thank you for the privilege we have of caring for one another and being united in caring for those who have no one else to care for them. We are grateful for your Word. Thank you for the great grace you have given me in shepherding your flock. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

Find out about New Testament 90 – Here

new-in-90-sheet