The Israelites who returned from exile had high hopes on them. But…they failed miserably. Here’s how:
Like the three days Jesus was in the grave, in Revelation, there is a time when evil is winning. We know that it doesn’t win ultimately, but take a minute to think about the chaos, pain, and sorrow that would be associated with evil winning. Now take a minute to praise God that he wins.
- 6-12 – God declares to those who were taken into exile and have been in Babylon, that he will restore Jerusalem and that even others will turn to God because of God’s restoration of Israel.
- 1-10 – Part of restoring Jerusalem and the temple was restoring the priests. Joshua’s clean garments are symbolic of his return to God.
- 1-4 – The people should not be worshipping the beast or the dragon. They are not God. They are some of the many other entities that the world chooses to follow other than God.
- 5-10 – For a time, evil is allowed to prevail. Those who were not already saved began to follow the evil ruler. Because the saints were temporarily defeated, this was a test of their faithfulness and patient endurance.
- 11-18 – Like the people of the Lord were marked and sealed for Christ, now those who follow the beast are marked for him.
- 1-4 – So often our requests of God are to benefit just us. David’s request asks for God’s help to remain faithful.
- 8-10 – David also asks for safety from his enemies.
You need to turn back to God. Zechariah said so.
From our finite point of view, we often have the question, like Habakkuk, “God, where are you?!?” When we or someone we love faces suffering or loss, we wonder where God is and why we’re not feeling his mercy. It’s difficult, at times, to understand. But like we learned in Job, God is always active. We may not see it or feel it, but he is in control and, as we’re learning in Revelation, God ultimately wins.
- 1- No background is given regarding who Habakkuk is or what the purpose of the book is.
- 1-17 – Habakkuk asks God a question many of us have asked or would like to ask: God, where are you when all these things are going wrong? Habakkuk asks God why he allows his people to suffer.
- 6-20 – God responds with a series of promises of destruction and devastation for those who have harmed others, particularly his people, and disobeyed him. He assures Habakkuk that he will not remain silent.
- 1-19 – Habakkuk’s last chapter is a prayer/psalm to God. Notice the word “selah” throughout it and how it ends with instructions on how it should be sung. Habakkuk recalls the work he’s seen God do as well as what he’s heard of God’s work. He ends with confidence that God will fulfill what he’s said he will do.
- 1-6 – Well, this sounds pretty awful. Like during the first Passover, it was important to have the sign of God in order to avoid punishment. All those who God has not sealed got the locusts.
- 20-21 – It’s important to remember that people are given chance after chance to repent and turn towards God, but they continually choose not to.
- 1-9 – This psalm expresses the emotions of someone carried off to Babylon. This was clearly a devastating event.
- 10 – Though an explanation is not given, this verse seems to suggest simply to stay out of other peoples’ affairs.
Are you more or less likely to live faithfully when in difficult situations? If we’re honest, most of us are less likely to live faithfully. We tend to grasp at anything that may be a way out of our current situation. But now that we’re reading Daniel, we have an excellent example of what it looks like to live faithfully in the worst of circumstances. We can learn a lot from this book.
- 1-2 – This is to set the scene that this story will happen while the Israelites are in exile.
- 8-16 – Like in many other stories in Scripture, it is important to trust in God for provision and not to rely on others in any way. Eating the king’s food and drinking his wine would have been a way of relying on and trusting in the Babylonians.
- 8-9 – The king asks the wise men to tell him what his dream means, but he refuses to tell them the dream.
- 20-23 – Daniel’s prayer is one of humility and seeking God’s wisdom and provision.
1 Peter 3:8-4:6:
- 13-15 – The way we live our lives is a big part of our witness. We must live righteously so people don’t have anything to question, but if they do anyway, we must be ready to share the gospel.
- 1-6 – As believers, we are called to live like Christ and leave behind our old ways.
- 67 – When we encounter God, it should show through a change in our lives.
- We harden our hearts through perpetually choosing sin over faithfulness. Perpetually choosing sin is guaranteed to destroy us.
We all hate admitting when we’re wrong. People might think we’re dumb or think we’re often wrong if they don’t have a good sample size. We want to seem competent and with it and we like to prove why we’re better than others. Today’s proverb reminds us, though, that the humility of admitting fault can free us and others in so many ways.
- 1-12 – Clearly this imagery is meant to be a metaphor for something else. Leading Ezekiel through the water of increasing depths may represent God leading us through deeper and deeper depths of trust. The good fruit growing out of the temple’s waters could represent God providing good things for the people.
- 13-23 – The land had to be re-divided between the Israelite tribes now that Israel is back from exile.
- 10 – The temple, though the original one was destroyed, was still designed to be the center of the Israelites’ existence.
- 35 – The Lord is There is one of the many names God is given throughout Scripture to describe something he has done for his people.
1 Peter 2:11-3:7:
- 11-12 – We know God doesn’t want us to fall to temptation and sin, but we rarely think of how negatively it affects us and we often fail to see the benefits of living faithfully.
- 18-25 – It seems ludicrous and completely unjust for us to endure punishment or suffering for something we’re not guilty of, but that’s what Christ did and sometimes we are called to endure as well. (These types of verses have also been used to justify things like domestic abuse. That is not what is intended by this passage.)
- 1-2 – Our kindness and goodness can often draw others to Christ.
- 3-6 – Outward beauty is fleeting, but inward beauty will always be beneficial.
- 54-56 – This speaks of a time when God’s word was a comfort when the psalmist was out of his element. God’s word can do the same for us.
- 13 – It is so hard to admit where we are wrong, but it brings freedom for us and others.
God thought up so many different ways to share messages with us so we could, if at all willing, understand them. We have the Bible and the Holy Spirit. Within the Bible we see parables, prophecies, various statues of remembrance, etc. One of the really effective means of communication he used, we see in today’s Ezekiel reading. God would ask prophets to become a small embodiment of what he was about to do to/for a larger group. Read how Ezekiel helps share God’s message.
- 1-6 – It was not unusual for God to ask prophets to act as a microcosm of what was going to happen to Israel. Here God is showing the Israelites, through Ezekiel, that they would be exiled.
- 17-20 – They ate and drank with anxiety because at any time they could be taken over and sent into exile. That would be a very precarious feeling.
- 27-28 – The Israelites comforted themselves by saying that their punishment wouldn’t come for a while, but God corrects that and lets them know it’s coming soon.
- 8-16 – God condemns the false prophets for misleading the Israelites to believe that no punishment was coming. When God speaks of “whitewashing” the wall that is to say that they cover up the bad with a false sense of peace.
- 1-3 – Melchizedek was a special priest believed to have Christ-like qualities.
- 11-17 – Melchizedek and the Levites were both unable to offer salvation as Christ did because their laws were not sufficient to offer salvation to all people.
- 39-45 – The psalmist recalls the provisions of God for the Israelites in the desert in order to bring hope in his provisions in the future.
- It is hard to resist the provoking of a fool.
Do you remember learning, in elementary school, that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile? It is kind of surprising that we have to make special effort to frown. This is kind of like when we think about what Hebrews tells us today – it is easier to stray from God’s path than to remain faithful. Shouldn’t it be easier to remain faithful? Unfortunately, there are a lot of outside forces pulling us away from faithfulness. This is why we need to surround ourselves with other faithful folks to help bounce us back on the righteous path.
- 1-3 – This gives the context of Ezekiel’s visions from God, which he is now prophesying.
- 4-28 – This sets the scene of what Ezekiel sees as he receives his visions. The creatures, wheels, and dome, all play a part in showing God’s majesty as he speaks to Ezekiel.
- 2 – Ezekiel, more than any other prophet, makes the Spirit an emphasis.
- 2:8-3:3 – Ezekiel is twice instructed to eat a scroll. This is, in effect, asking him to fill himself with the word of God.
- 12-15 – God’s wind takes Ezekiel from the sweetness of ingesting God’s scrolls back to the stark contrast of the harsh reality of the exiles. Ezekiel becomes bitter.
- 1-6 – Moses, like David and Elijah, was highly revered for his acts of faithfulness by Jewish people. The author, here, is explaining that as great Moses was, Jesus is higher.
- 12-15 – It is harder to live faithfully than it is to fall away because temptation and complacency are constantly pulling us away from faithfulness. This encourages us to help each other stay faithful.
- 16-19 – The author encourages the believers to learn from the Israelites wandering in the desert’s mistakes.
- This psalm offers a series of the many ways God provides for his creation. Each is so thoughtful and intricate.
- 24-26 – Hate in our heart can be masked by kind sounding words, but will eventually shine through.
How long does God expect us to wait on him? The Israelites, during exile, were definitely wondering something along those lines. They thought he would rescue them but then decades passed. Many of us could ask the same question too. How long do I have to wait until God heals my marriage? Heals my disease? Gives me a job? Brings me a spouse? The answer to all of these questions is, we don’t know, but God is asking you to wait faithfully. He does come through – sometimes beyond the grave – but he does come through.
- 1-20 – This is all a lament based on the suffering endured in exile. The people have been scattered and feel completely forsaken.
- 21-22 – Zion represents the Israelites while Edom was the name given to Esau’s descendants.
- 1-22 – Though the author is aware that their sins have caused their suffering, he is desperate for God to rescue and restore them. After a while they begin to wonder if God will ever do so.
- 5-18 – Much of the reason Christ was able to initiate and offer us salvation is because he lowered himself to our level and made himself like us. He suffered through similar difficulties and experienced similar challenges.
- 1-14 – David’s relationship with God was so personal. This is clear from the way he speaks about God’s care for humanity. God is compassionate, caring, and forgiving – these are all worth mentioning.
- The glaze is used to make a simple pot look fancier and more appealing. Like this, speech pretending to have love also attempts to cover up the evil in one’s heart.
It’s ok to feel sorrow. It’s ok to ask questions. It’s ok to wonder where God is when you suffer. Lamentations proves it.