How anyone is able to call God cruel or unloving, I can’t understand. Even in reading the widespread wrath of God in Revelation, we see mercy smeared all over it. Even as plagues of destruction are looming, Jesus is calling out for people to repent so he can offer salvation instead of destruction.
- 1-8 – God promises to restore Jerusalem and paints a desirable picture of the state to which it will return.
- 14-17 – God reminds the Israelites of why he brought destruction on their ancestors and explains how he would like for them to live so he can fully prosper them.
- 1-21 – This describes a series of seven plagues poured out on the unrighteous of the earth.
- 15 – Here we hear Jesus’ voice inserted in the series of plagues. Jesus is breaking in to give yet another plea for people to repent. The people are hearing what is to come and his hope is to save as many as will turn.
- 3-8 – David admits humanity’s insignificance in comparison to God and understands that it is a privilege to even be able to request of God. Then he continues to ask for God to reach out to him.
I’ve heard a number of people say they wish God would just give them specific instructions. Do this. Don’t do this. Then it would be far easier to follow them. We see in today’s Zechariah reading, and we’ve seen it so many times before in Scripture, that there are some specific instructions. With these, you can’t go wrong. Be kind. Show mercy. Help the poor. Hopefully that helps.
- 1-8 – The horses and chariots seem to represent God’s power returning to Judah and Israel.
- 9-14 – Zerubbabel and Joshua were to work together to rebuild the temple.
- 8-10 – God tells the Israelites, through Zechariah, exactly how he wants them to live. He is looking for kindness, mercy, and help for the poor.
- 11-14 – The Israelites didn’t listen but hardened their hearts.
- 1 – Though “plague” is never an enjoyable thing, it is good that the wrath of God will soon be over.
- 1-4 – David admits his past sins and repents. He knows that no one can stand before God’s righteousness.
- 9-12 – David not only looks to God for forgiveness, but also for protection from enemies.
- These are fascinating examples of creatures who have been given little but make the most of it. Presumably, we could learn a lot from them.
Today’s psalm is beautiful. If you’ve ever felt abandoned, unwanted, unworthy, or unloved, read this psalm. God so intricately knit you together. Allow yourself to be amazed by the care God took to make you. He took that same care to make each of us. You are loved. You were made on purpose. You are wanted and known by the one true God.
- 1-6 – Haggai is given the message to rebuild the temple. He was a contemporary of Zerubbabel, who we read about in Ezra. Haggai supported Zerubbabel as he led the effort to rebuild the temple.
- 1-9 – Haggai is called to spur on Zerubbabel and Joshua to rebuild the temple even though they weren’t familiar with the glory of the first one.
- 12-19 – Though confusing to interpret, this passage seems to make it clear that though impurity is easily spread, purity is not. God is displeased that the Israelites have returned and built their own houses and begun to farm but have not focused on his house. He reminds them that he controls what they have no matter how much effort they put in.
- 23 – Zerubbabel is in the line of David. The signet ring would be a sign that God had placed his favor on him and would be the sign that David’s line had, as God said it would, returned to the throne.
- 1-14 – The two witnesses were witnesses for God. The people of the earth end up killing them and then a large portion of the city and its inhabitants are killed. Those who remain see what happened and repent and give glory to God.
- 15-19 – This seems like it could be the ending. God’s kingdom officially comes to earth with the blowing of the 7th trumpet. Wrath is poured out on the evil people and joy and celebration is amongst the faithful.
- In one of the most beautiful and poetic psalms, David recounts all the ways God’s knowledge of humanity and him specifically are vast and complete. He recognizes that God was there as he was formed and God knows every bit of his innermost being.
- 15-16 – These verses explore the depth of greed out there. No one is specifically identified as possessing these qualities, but the qualities are made clear.
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.
This is our second to last week of a year’s worth of Bible readings. That’s pretty incredible! Finish strong, my friends!!
As you’re well aware by now, we’re well into Revelation. Revelation gets a bad reputation for being very doomsday. Honestly, this week’s reading is a big reason why. The seventh seal is broken wreaking havoc on the world. There’s something like a second Passover where those who are not correctly marked are killed. Overall, it’s not a good scene.
But just like we have to remember that this world is not all there is for us, we have to remember that this week’s reading is not the last. There is hope. I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, but God wins. Because we are in God’s family, we win.
So yes, read Revelation and let yourself feel the discomfort as you read about God’s wrath. But read, understanding God’s wrath should only serve to spur us on towards bringing more people to him.
Forgiveness is real and available to us. In today’s Revelation reading we see those who have previously sinned now welcomed in to praise God. They’re welcomed because they’ve repented and been forgiven. Our sins don’t have to define us or define our outcome. Our job is to repent. God is faithful to forgive.
- 1-5 – This establishes that the Messiah will come from Bethlehem and will bring peace.
- 6-8 – Here God makes it clear what he’s asking of his people. He’s asking them to seek justice and offer love and kindness. He is not interested in empty sacrifices.
- 9-16 – Here God explains the punishment that is to come for those who have not obeyed him.
- 1-8 – The angels assure that the faithful people of the earth are protected before the destruction begins.
- 13-17 – Here a series of people who have sinned, repented, and been forgiven are welcomed in to praise God.
- 1-12 – These verses recount a number of examples of God’s power, greatness, and faithfulness. Like in most of these accounts, the parting of the Red Sea is mentioned.
- 15-18 – Once again, the worship of idols is proven to be worthless.
- 5-6 – God’s words are good, true, and helpful. We tend to want to change them up to better suit us, but this is wrong.
Micah’s warnings address a number of actions of the people where they’ve twisted the intent of God. At times, it’s easy to do. See how it works out:
In VBS we make Jonah a great guy, but he wasn’t. He was grumpy and disobedient pretty much from beginning to end, but God uses him anyway. Here’s how:
You most likely heard the story of Jonah as a child. It’s a neat story of making a poor decision, getting swallowed by a whale, and then making the right decision. Well, that’s not all of it. Pay close attention to the end. Jonah has decided for himself who should and shouldn’t receive God’s mercy and grace. Have you done the same? Are their people you feel are not deserving of God’s grace? Be honest.
- 1-3 – This is a crucial mistake by Jonah. God calls him to do one thing; instead, he chooses to do another. We cannot hide from God.
- 17 – One of the most famous verses in Scripture, but note, it was a fish, not a whale.
- 1-10 – Jonah prays for mercy and believes God will rescue him. God does.
- 4-5 – This is what God wants! When we are called out for our sins, we repent and turn back to him.
- 1-3 – Jonah was angry that God extended salvation to the Ninevites because they were gentiles. Jonah was a Jew and didn’t want God’s grace to extend to gentiles. He hates that the Ninevites are saved.
- 5-11 – Jonah chooses to pout. God’s little object lesson with the plant shows Jonah that Jonah wants God to play by his rules, but that God has better plans.
- 1-5 – Jesus is the fulfillment of so many things people were waiting on. He is the only one who is the Messiah they had waited on and he was the only one able to break the seals on the scroll.
- 6-14 – The creatures, angels, and elders all confirm and celebrate the recognition of the Messiah.
- 1-3 – We should continually seek unity among believers because it is a blessing to all and leads to eternal life.
- 27 – This is an interesting thing to think about. The lifestyle of a righteous man is equally as detestable to a wicked man as the opposite.
In today’s Amos reading, we find a sentiment repeated numerous times in Scripture and it’s one we could still stand to hear today. Our rituals and meaningless checkmarks do not please God. God doesn’t care how the package is wrapped, he cares what’s in the package. In other words, he wants our hearts to be devoted to him. That is how faithfulness is determined, not by how many faithfulness boxes we check.
- 4-13 – The prophet lists all the ways God attempted to get the Israelites’ attention and draw them back to him that failed. He follows that with an ominous statement of “prepare to meet your God” and it doesn’t sound like he means in a good way.
- 21-27 – This sentiment is repeated several times in Scripture. God doesn’t care about our rituals and us fulfilling our obligations if our heart is not following him. He wants the rituals and offering to be given out of love and devotion for him.
- 20-23 – Some of the church of Thyatira had begun to engage in sins such as adultery and eating foods offered to idols.
- 24-29 – The vision makes for an allotment for people in the church who had not yet fallen into deep sin. There seems to be great hope for these folks.
- 1-6 – It is clear that God will not condemn whole people groups when there are still faithful people in the midst. Instead he is separating the faithful from the unfaithful while still giving the unfaithful opportunities to repent.
- 1-4 – This is another one of the psalms associated with pilgrimages to Jerusalem. It seems important that those Israelites knew that they could be forgiven if they sought God’s forgiveness.