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.
Are you a leader in any arena? If so, you’ll notice that leadership comes with responsibility. If you’re a leader, that means you have followers and that ultimately means that you are, at least in part, responsible for those who follow you. In today’s Ezekiel reading we see examples of good and bad leadership. Ezekiel heeded the call of leadership and shared God’s message with the people. At the same time, many religious leaders led people away from God and towards other gods. Leadership should always be taken seriously.
- 1-9 – Ezekiel was tasked with sharing God’s messages of repentance to Israel. If he did so and the Israelites did not turn away from their sins, their destruction was on their own heads. If Ezekiel didn’t share the message, their destruction was on him.
- 10-20 – God does not and did not delight in destroying people. He gave them every opportunity to turn around, but they continued to choose not to.
- 2 – This is not referring to shepherds of white fluffy animals, but the leaders of the Israelites who were supposed to be leading them towards God.
- 7-10 – God was not pleased with the leaders’ negligence towards the people, so God committed to rescuing the people.
- 20-24 – God is referring to Jesus here when he talks about bringing all his people together under one. Jesus was in the line of David.
- 1-2 – This reminds us to be kind and caring to everyone in our midst.
- 4-5 – The things believers should and shouldn’t do stay pretty consistent throughout the New Testament.
- 15-16 – To be faithful we need to praise God and serve others.
- 1-8 – A great deal of the Bible is focused on who we should focus on and worship. Too often we get distracted and choose to offer our affections elsewhere.
- These tools and metals are referring to a purifying process. This is to suggest that a fool cannot be separated from his folly.
Bitterness, when allowed to fester and build, will slowly destroy us. Bitterness forms when anger and resentment are not dealt with. Today’s Hebrews reading warns us of this. We must process and deal with these feelings because it ultimately harms us more than anyone we’re angry with.
- 1-18 – Egypt once grew to great prominence, particularly when Joseph was there and stored and sold grain during a 7-year famine. Because of its prominence, Egypt became prideful and turned from God. Because of this, Pharaoh was doomed to death.
- 1-15 – The lament over Egypt in yesterday’s reading had a similar conclusion, “then they will know that I am the Lord.”
- 15 – “Roots of bitterness” are formed when we allow anger and resentment to build up in our hearts. These are often formed when we feel someone else is getting away with sin and when we are punished for our own sins.
- 25-29 – Hebrews is warning us of the importance of listening for, obeying, and accepting God. God is described here as a consuming fire.
- Our God is worthy of praise and there are none beside him. Nothing else we could worship or revere compares to the greatness of God.
- 18 – The one who works at something, gains the reward.
You know when you watch someone succeed from dishonest gain and it seems so unfair? Babylon was a lot like that. They were committed to idolatry, took on a lot of unfortunate practices, and still seemed to win a lot of battles and gain a lot of ground. But in today’s Jeremiah reading, God offers great imagery explaining how their success will be short-lived.
- 2 – Winnowing was part of harvesting wheat. Winnowers would throw the wheat and chaff (trash) in the air. The wheat would settle into the container while the chaff would blow away. This reference is to say that Babylon is about to be blown away like chaff.
- 7-10 – Though Babylon had seen a lot of success, it’s end was coming. God proclaimed destruction on them.
- 17-19 – The comparison between worshipping God and worshipping manmade idols continues. It is laughable to worship something you can make yourself.
- 34-44 – Babylon’s glory would soon fade. What was once revered would now be a desolate laughing stock.
- 1-8 – Paul’s rules of how various people should act and live were not simply to have rules, but in order to assure no one could have anything to say against the believers.
- 11-14 – God’s grace is given to us for a purpose. It is to cause us to get rid of sinful acts and in order to redeem us and set us up for good works that will bless others.
- 9 – These kinds of verses remind us that we aren’t worshipping just to check a box or because God needs us. God’s holiness is so incredible that it causes us to need to worship.
- When we step into minor quibbles that are not our business it is ultimately harmful and unnecessary.
Today we start Philippians. Like Ephesians and Galatians, this is a letter Paul wrote to a church he had interest in. If you ever talk to someone who wants to grow deeper in their faith and isn’t sure where to start in the Bible, Philippians is a great place to send them. It is short, simple, and to the point.
- 1-14 – The Lord makes it clear what kinds of worship he prefers. True worship is never routine and meaningless. He asks for us to care for those in need as an act of worship.
- 1-19 – God will not tolerate injustice and he is clear that he will punish those who oppress others.
- 17 – Note the similarity to the Armor of God from Ephesians.
- 21 – God makes a new covenant with the new Israel. Though this is not the covenant of Christ yet, it is a new way for God to connect with his people.
- 1-6 – Paul begins most of his letters with a warm greeting and encouragement on how thankful he is that the recipients of the letter are partnering with him in living out and spreading the gospel of Christ.
- 12-14 – Though other believers may have been concerned about facing similar persecution as Paul, he assures them that it has been worth it because of how it has advanced the gospel.
- 21 – Paul offers several poetic yet slightly cryptic sayings like this throughout his letters. Paul basically means that if he’s alive, he’s going to be serving Christ. When he dies, he’ll get to be with Christ.
- 1-16 – The psalmist is confident in the Lord’s ability to save him from his enemies because he is able to reflect on other times God has taken care of him.
- 17-24 – The psalmist praises God in advance for taking care of him and even promises to tell others of God’s great deeds.
- 10 – This verse calls out all those who feel strong in their faith or otherwise who then topple over when difficulties come. The strength of our faith is determined when tested.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good!” “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one.” “I once was blind but now I see.” God gave us five incredible senses. Today’s Proverb reminds us that we don’t just have these senses because they’re neat. We have them because they are just some of the ways that we get to experience God. Think about that the next time you see a beautiful landscape or hear a baby coo.
2 Chronicles 29:1-36:
- 5-11 – King Hezekiah was faithful and brought the Levites back to faithfulness as well.
- 24 – Israel had strayed for a long time from faithfulness. The Levites were cleansing everything completely so it could return to use in the worship of the Lord.
- 25-30 – This seems like a pretty spectacular worship service.
- 1-4 – There are times when we are called to rebuke others for their sins and bring them back. At this point, Jesus had deemed all food clean so eating certain things was no longer sinful. It was just a matter of point of view.
- 5-6 – Often we get angry with people who don’t hold to the same morals as us. Often it is more about us only upholding certain morals because of pride instead of doing so because of faithfulness to God.
- 20-21 – This is reason to abstain from certain things for the sake of others. Even though you don’t have a problem with alcohol or graphic movies, etc. if you know someone else does, you abstain for their sake.
- 3-4 – These are beautiful verses of what we should strive for so we can enter the presence of the Lord with confidence.
- 7-10 – A cool exchange asking questions of who it is that is worthy of such respect. It is our God, the God of Jacob.
- The Lord gives us our senses – these are just some of the ways he’s given us to experience him.
Leaders are leaders for a reason. They have influence and people choose to follow them whether they recognize their choice or not. The Bible is full of good and bad leaders and their quality tends to define the quality of their constituents – particularly in the arena of faithfulness. In today’s 2 Chronicles reading, we see examples of both, but note that King Jehoshaphat takes it further than most. He not only leads his people towards faithfulness, but extends his reach to those surrounding him. I wonder your reach could extend?
2 Chronicles 17:1-18:34:
- 6 – Taking down the high places, where false god worship often occurred, seemed to be the final act of faithfulness that even most of the faithful kings failed to complete.
- 7-10 – Throughout 1&2 Kings we see the faithfulness of the people closely follow the faithfulness of the king. Hear King Jehoshaphat takes it a step further and has his officials teach those in the surrounding lands about God.
- 1-3 – It was unusual for Israel and Judah to work together during their split. There were reasons they split.
- 16 – This phrase “sheep without a shepherd” is used often when people don’t have anyone to follow. Jesus called the Jews that when he started his ministry. The Israelites were often called this when they were not following God.
- 11-22 – Ahab’s prophets guaranteed he would have victory at Ramoth-gilead, but Micaiah explains that they all have a lying spirit and that, due to Ahab’s unfaithfulness, God intends for Ahab to fail. Ahab didn’t really believe Micaiah because he hadn’t liked previous prophesies he’d given.
- 29-34 – Ahab did everything he could to avoid his fate, but what God speaks is true.
- 25-26 – Hosea is a prophet and a book of the Bible. Hosea was called to marry a promiscuous woman so his life could serve as a microcosm of God’s faithfulness to an unfaithful Israel.
- 30-33 – Most human sin points back to our desire to rely on ourselves instead of relying on God.
- 9-13 – This is a quick summary of salvation.
- Most of David’s Psalms are focused on his own troubles, needs, and praises. This one is clearly meant for the whole group.
- 7 – A powerful declaration. Might be something nice to hang above your door frame.
- 3 – Avoiding unnecessary conflict is wise. Fools tend to rush into it.
There have been a number of famous declarations throughout human history, a personal favorite is the Declaration of Independence, which our forefathers signed in 1776. But in today’s Luke reading, we find a declaration far more significant in the life of one man as well as human history. Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, is the first of his followers to recognize and vocalize that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah the people were expecting. Each of us, in our own ways, must also make this declaration confessing Jesus as the Christ and as our Savior. If you want to talk about that, let me know.
- 5-6 – Eventually God will choose Jerusalem as the place where the Israelites were to offer Passover sacrifices.
- 21 – Asherah poles were built in homage to another god.
- 2-5 – Keeping the Israelites worship pure was a high priority and taken very seriously.
- Later, when the Israelites actually ask for a king, God says it is because they are rejecting him. They want to be like the other countries around them when God has set them apart to be different.
- 10-17 – This story is also found in Matthew and Mark. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the synoptic gospels. The writers most likely worked from each others accounts to help create their gospels.
- 18-20 – Peter is the first of Jesus’ followers to declare him as the Messiah.
- 23-24 – A powerful image of following after Christ even to the greatest of lengths. It does us no good ultimately to live a good life but never know or follow Christ.
- Solomon was the son of David who took over as king after him. He was known for his wisdom.
- 1-7 – A prayer all leaders should pray.
It’s easy to forget that Jesus was a man with feelings. It’s also easy to forget that the disciples were his friends – those he had spent all his time with teaching and training them. And one of them turns him over to be killed. Can you imagine the hurt you would feel if you were Jesus?
- At this time the priesthood was passed down generation to generation. Priests came from the tribe of Levi.
- We are in the middle of a series of very detailed descriptions. These are actually great blessings because we want to be able to worship God in a way that is honoring and pleasing to him. Detailed instructions make that much more likely.
- 1-10 – God begins to instruct the priests on how they should intercede for the people and lead worship and sacrifices.
- It’s sad that Judas wasn’t coerced or forced into betraying Jesus. He sought the opportunity out himself.
- 20 – People literally reclined for meals. The original Passover was in a rush and people were not to recline or get comfortable as normal.
- 26-28 – Our practice of communion relates back to the last supper, which relates back to Passover.
- 39 – People often wonder how to pray for the things they want. We can ask for anything we want or need, but it is healthiest when we pray for these things while surrendering to God’s will first.
All those details, measurements, and specifications! The 2nd half of the Book of Exodus is long on detail and short on drama. But, the details are actually really interesting, if you can draw back and see the whole picture.
The 2nd half of Exodus is God telling the Israelites how to properly worship, while they are still roaming in the desert. It’s important that they get the details right, since the Living God is not someone you carelessly approach. All these details are meant to help the Israelites understand who this God is who brought them out of slavery.