Category Archives: 1-Year Bible

December 21, 2021

Zechariah 1:1-21

Zechariah’s name means, “Yahweh remembers.” Writing to the Jews who had returned from captivity, Zechariah reminds the people that God has not forgotten them. Zechariah who was both a priest and a prophet calls the people back to God, and encourages them to finish the Temple. He’s a contemporary of Haggai, but his book is not as simple and straightforward – Zechariah is filled with heavenly visions and prophecies not only about Israel, but about their Coming King.

He opens with an invitation to return:

Zechariah 1:2–3 (NLT) “I, the LORD, was very angry with your ancestors. 3 Therefore, say to the people, ‘This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.’”

It’s not complicated or sophisticated, it’s a simple message…simply return to God. Is He first in my life? Am I seeking Him? If we have that heart, God promises to return to us…He will bless our lives for good.

Unfortunately most people DON’T return – such was the case for the majority of Jews AND Gentiles.

Zechariah has a vision of angels on horses whose responsibility it was to patrol the earth (Zechariah 1:7-11). This may be Jesus whom Zechariah is speaking with in this section.

As the Father and Son have a discussion about Israel in the hearing of Zechariah, the words of her future are good and comforting. The LORD was zealous for Jerusalem and Zion (heavenly Jerusalem)…and their Temple would be rebuilt, fellowship would be restored.

Zechariah 1:16 (NKJV) “Therefore thus says the LORD: ‘I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy; My house shall be built in it,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘And a surveyor’s line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem.’”

God was angry and would therefore judge the nations who had scattered Israel (those nations are the 4 horns in Zechariah 1:18-21). 

Bible Knowledge Commentary, “Some writers understand these four horns to be the four Gentile empires envisioned in Daniel 2 and 7 (Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome).”

Others point to Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, and Medo-Persia, while there are those who simply see the number 4 as a number pointing to the entirety of the earth (north, south, east, and west).

Regardless of what view we take on these 4 horns, one thing we know, it is not wise to oppose Israel. It’s all rooted in and returns to Genesis 12:3.

Revelation 12:1-17

The first sign John sees at this point is the woman – who is representative of the nation of Israel. Some would say that the woman is the church, or even worse, that’s it’s Mary the mother of Jesus, but this is one of those cases where the best commentary on the Bible is the Bible, and back in:

Genesis 37:9-10, we read of Joseph’s dreams, “Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, ‘Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.’ So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, ‘What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?’”

Jacob, interpreted Joseph’s dream of the sun, the moon, and the stars to be his family, the nation of Israel. Here we see she’s pregnant and ready to give birth – the child is Jesus, the Messiah would come through Israel.

The second sign John sees at this point is Satan, this fiery red dragon with many crowns and horns, speaking of his political and spiritual power on earth. We read in Revelation 12:4 that his tail drew a third of the stars of heaven to earth. This is in reference to the fact that when Satan fell from heaven, he drew 1/3 of the angels with him – these angels are now demons.

This chapter speaks of the fact that Satan opposes the woman who represents Israel – but God protects her; God protects Israel to give birth to the Messiah, and we see in Revelation 12:5 that Jesus finished His work, ascended into heaven, and that Jesus will one day rule the world with a rod of iron.

Revelation 12:7 describes a war in heaven between the good angels, led by Michael, and the bad angels (demons) wherein Satan is completely kicked out of heaven and no longer has any type of access to God. Up to this point, Satan somehow is able to present himself before the Lord to oppose and accuse the brethren (see Job 1:6; Zechariah 3:1). Not anymore. The end is near – we’re starting to hear it more and more as we read through the Revelation, “…salvation and strength, and the kingdom of God, and the power of His Christ have come…” (Revelation 12:10). The accuser has been cast down.

Just as a quick side-note, the enemy doesn’t just accuse us to God, he lies and accuses us in our own minds, or to others, it’s his task and title. He’s the king of condemnation. But the Bible tells us there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Don’t allow the accuser to condemn you as a Christian, thank God for His grace and His blood that really does wash away all of our sins (Romans 5:20; Revelation 1:5).

It’s important for us to understand that the devil knows his time is short, so he will persecute us with a passion if we endeavor to keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Christ. We read in this chapter of God’s supernatural protection of the children of Israel, and the same is true for us (Psalm 91:1). God will do His part, but I also need to do my part. I love what we read in:

Revelation 12:11 (NKJV) “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” 

Revelation 2-3 speaks of overcomers in the church – how? Of course it all starts with the blood of Jesus and our salvation. But then it’s an issue of the words we speak – the witness – if it’s in our hearts it will be on our lips and we will share with others. And then our love. Do I love God more than my own life? This is the only way to overcome.

The enemy continues to attack God’s people, but now with even MORE intensity.

Warren Wiersbe, “The war may be over in heaven, but it it getting more intense here on earth. Satan is angry and seeks to destroy the Jews and make war with anyone who trusts the Lord.”

Psalm 140:1-13

David once again, prays for God to protect him from those (there were many) who rose up against him; they were evil men, violent men, men who planned evil things in their hearts. They apparently spoke the language of Lucifer – lies!

Many wars start and are waged with words, aren’t they? It’s demonic and does so much damage!

Psalm 140:3 (NKJV) “They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; the poison of asps is under their lips.”

So David prayed:

Psalm 140:6-8 (NKJV) “I said to the LORD: ‘You are my God; hear the voice of my supplications, O LORD. 7 O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle. 8 Do not grant, O LORD, the desires of the wicked; do not further his wicked scheme, lest they be exalted.’”

There were many who wanted to kill David because of the lies that were spoken about him. Under the leadership of King Saul there was an entire army hunting David down – but David prayed – and God protected him.

We need to do the same thing. One of the most difficult realities of life (even as a Christian) is people will “talk.” They want us to worry, or get enter into the mud-sling ring. Don’t even go there. Go to God. Notice what we read in:

Psalms 109:4 (NKJV) “In return for my love they are my accusers, but I give myself to prayer.”

Let’s give ourselves to prayer. Let’s trust the Lord. It can be “dangerous” as a true disciple of Christ, but as we pray and trust – we can know that God will maintain our cause; we will thank Him and dwell in His presence forever!

Psalm 140:12–13 (NKJV) “I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor. 13 Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your name; the upright shall dwell in Your presence.”

Proverbs 30:17

Proverbs 30:17 (NKJV) “The eye that mocks his father, and scorns obedience to his mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it.”

Here we have another Proverbs emphasizing the importance of children honoring their parents. Keep in mind this is a commandment with promise – a long life. It may mean God will punish a scornful and disobedient child, but it also carries the idea that not heeding the loving wisdom of one’s parents, often leads to premature and violent death.

NET Notes, “The “eye” as the organ that exhibits the inner feelings most clearly, here represents a look of scorn or disdain that speaks volumes (a metonymy of cause or of adjunct). It is comparable to the “evil eye” which is stinginess (28:22).”

Bible Knowledge Commentary, “This saying may have been placed here to point to the fact that disrespect for one’s parents is as bad as the insatiable greed mentioned in verses 15–16. An arrogant child who scorns (bûz, “to hold in contempt or ridicule”; see comments on 1:7) his or her parents (cf. v. 11) will die, and his corpse will remain unburied and be food for the birds of prey.”

December 20, 2021

Haggai 1:1–2:23

Haggai now takes us to the final stretch of the Old Testament. He is a post-exilic prophet used by God to challenge the people to complete the rebuilding of the Temple.

I appreciate the way Warren Wiersbe summarized the book:

“In 538 B.C., about fifty thousand Jews left Babylon and returned to their homeland to rebuild the temple and restore the nation. In 536, they laid the foundation of the temple; but the work was stopped by their enemies and was not resumed until 520 under the preaching of Haggai and Zechariah. (Review Ezra 1–6.) The book is comprised of four messages that Haggai gave during a period of four months. His purpose was to get the workers back on the job and to keep them working until the temple was completed. His first message called them to be honest (Haggai 1:1–15) and put God’s house ahead of their own houses. Then he appealed to them to be strong (Haggai 2:1–9), be clean (Haggai 2:10–19), and be encouraged (Haggai 2:20–23). Whenever God’s work is being neglected, the preaching of the Word gets things going again.”

“The test of a preacher is that his congregation goes away saying, not ‘What a lovely sermon!’ but, ‘I will do something!’” – Francis de Sales

Twice Haggai challenges the people to consider their ways (Haggai 1:5, 7). A good thing to do in every area of our lives, including the ways of our wealth. Are we giving to God what belongs to God? Are we obedient in tithes and offerings? Or are we spending it all on ourselves? That’s what the Jews of that day were doing – living in fancy paneled houses. God rebuked them through Haggai, but also stirred them up. The governor, the priest, and the remnant of the people were stirred up to be strong…to give, and to work.

If put side-by-side with the Temple of Solomon, there was no  comparison, but they were not to be discouraged. The LORD was with them (Haggai 2:4) and that’s all that matters? Not only that, one day this temple would be greater than Solomon’s because one day Jesus would be there. This temple would be expanded by Herod the Great to a glorious “house.” May we never despise the days of “small things.” (Zechariah 4:10)

Haggai was not afraid to faithfully deliver God’s message – even the indicting ones. In Haggai 2:10-14 he informs and warns the people that they were unclean. What good is the work, the worship, the sacrifice, and service if it’s unacceptable to God? I thought of Paul’s words to Timothy:

2 Timothy 2:21 (NKJV) “Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”

In Haggai 2:15 he transitions into a prophecy that has to do with a promised future blessing. If they carefully considered the way they did not prosper because of their mismanagement of God’s resources, pouring everything into themselves; if they carefully considered God’s chastening to bring them back to Him, how they didn’t return, but if they now returned, they were to “Consider from this day forward,” God’s blessing upon their lives because of a discovery of their priorities. It would now be God, first…notice the promise:

Haggai 2:19b (NKJV) “…but from this day I will bless you.’ ”

Haggai speaks of the blessings upon the people and the blessing upon Zerubbabel – the way God would used him in mighty ways, some teachers even saying that this final prophecy has to do with he Messiah-conquering King who would come as a descendant of Zerubbabel. Haggai’s contemporary, Zechariah, used the messianic title “Branch” to refer to Zerubbabel (Zechariah 3:8; 6:12).

Revelation 11:1-19

John was instructed to measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. This reveals a few things to us. For one, “ownership” – any time something is measured in a context like this, it is an indication of ownership. Secondly, the temple will be rebuilt.

In Israel today there is a great push for the rebuilding of the temple – we have all the articles, furnishings, and even the clothing necessary; the red heifer, the crimson dye for the garments, and even the necessary training is taking place. The following words from an interesting article in the Jewish Voice, explain:

“The Sanhedrin and the Temple Movement also hold reenactments of Temple ceremonies for the training of those who are from the priestly class known as Kohanim. This training involves special schooling on the duties of the priests, and the use of ritual vessels created for use in the Third Temple…” 

More information on the rebuilding of the temple can be found at

The third thing we notice in the measuring of the temple is that John was instructed not to measure the court which is outside that has been given to the Gentiles. On the Temple Mount today there is the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, both considered to be sacred Muslim sites. We believe that the Antichrist will be able to make some sort of covenant to rebuild the temple, and the location may be just north of the Dome of the Rock. For that reason, John is instructed to leave that out of the measurement.

There may be some sort of connection with the two witnesses and the new temple. Eventually as these two witnesses prophesy, they will need to defend themselves and are instruments of God’s judgment as fire proceeds from their mouth, they shut the heavens to withhold rain, turn water to blood, and strike the earth with plagues at will. I believe that the two witnesses will be Moses and Elijah. A strong case can be made for Elijah by the simple fact that he never died and there are two prophecies of his return in the last of the last days (Malachi 4:5; Matthew 17:11). From there we remember that it was Moses and Elijah who appeared to Jesus in the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:3). Moses represents the law, and Elijah the prophets; and when we look at the nature of these miracles for ministry, it seems to fit the wonders done through the hands of Moses and Elijah.

Just as these men will be invincible – until they finish their testimony (Revelation 11:7) so are we. But then the Antichrist will be allowed to defeat them and the world will rejoice as their bodies lay in Jerusalem, which by this time has been reduced to a spiritual Sodom and Egypt (Sodom is known for homosexuality and Egypt is a “type” of the world).

As their dead bodies are on display for all the world to see through satellite television, after 3 ½ days God will raise them up and they will ascend (bodily) all the way to heaven. This will be followed by an earthquake; 7,000 people will die in Jerusalem and the others will be shaken up.

We’re getting closer. All the believers in heaven at this point will worship as we see the day drawing near, judgment and justice…King Jesus will reign forever and ever. What an answer to prayer! Revelation 11:19 mentions again the lightnings and thunder, similar to what we saw back in Revelation 8:1-5 – as prayer answered. Keep praying friend, it’s not in vain!

Psalm 139:1-24

This is one of most amazing Psalms of all! I almost feel bad trying to summarize it.

In this Psalm we see the Omniscience of God (He knows everything). He knows everything about us, individually, and personally. We read of God knowing my sitting down and rising up – in Hebrew poetry this is called a “merism.” It’s when the poet uses two extremes or opposites with the intention to include everything in between.

We also see God’s Omnipresence. There is nowhere we can go to escape the presence of God, even if we traveled the speed of light, and took the wings of the morning (186,000 miles per second), God would be right there – with us.

If I had to neatly outline this Psalm I would say it this way:

I. God knows you Perfectly

II. God’s with you Constantly

III. God made you Purposely

And that latter point is what we see in verses 13-18. God knit us together in our mother’s womb for a life He planned out for us even before we were born.

Psalm 139:16 (NKJV) “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”

I wish the world could see this truth – that life begins at the moment of conception. That God Himself makes us all uniquely (there are no mistakes on His part). There are purposes for every child conceived and their lives should not be taken from them.

I’m in awe of the way that God loves us so much, that His thoughts toward us, are as the sand of the sea.

Apparently David (the writer of this Psalm) is going through some hard times, some fierce opposition. With all this understanding He prays for God’s intervention. He also prays for God to search his own heart. It’s a good prayer to pray, “Lord, if there’s anything wrong in me that I can’t see – please reveal it, that I might forsake it…and lead me in life.”

David also prayed for God to help him with his anxiety.

Psalm 139:23–24 (NKJV) “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

This is such a beautiful Psalm, making clear, God is near…working out this amazing plan for our lives.

Proverbs 30:15-16

Proverbs 30:15a (NKJV) “The leech has two daughters— Give and Give!”

Although leeches are very fascinating in nature, they are mostly known for being blood-sucking, selfish, takers.

They say a leech’s body is composed of 34 segments. They all have an anterior, or oral sucker attached to 6 other segments of their body which is used to connect a host for feeding, and also to release an anesthetic to prevent the host from feeling the leech. They use a combination of mucus and suction, caused by the concentration of those 6 segments, to stay attached and secrete an anti-clotting enzyme into the host’s blood stream.

In other words, they are equipped to selfishly get! Once the process begins an average leech would drink blood weighing as much as itself in as little as 15 minutes.

Tragically some people are like that, and so are their children – their prodigies are tragedies.

Proverbs 30:15b-16 (NKJV) “There are three things that are never satisfied, four never say, “Enough!”: 16 The grave, the barren womb, the earth that is not satisfied with water— and the fire never says, “Enough!”

Four things that are never satisified:

1. The grave (Hebrew = sheol) refers to the underworld, hell, the abode of the dead. (we read the same truth in Proverbs 27:20)

2. The barren womb. In those days barrenness was seen as a curse from God. This made Sarah sin and Hannah weep. Nothing else on earth will satisfy (not Abraham, or Elkanah).

It can still be tough today, the barren womb, even with New Testament light that reveals more clearly that the righteous don’t always experience health, wealth, and prosperity; that the blessings are often invisible and more eternal. Contentment is challenging in such a place.

3. The 3rd thing mentioned is the earth, with it’s never ending water cycle.

4. The 4th thing mentioned is the fire – it never says no, it never says enough. Left to itself it will continue to burn as long as there’s fuel for the taking.

December 19, 2021

Zephaniah 1:1–3:20

Zephaniah was the great-grandson of Hezekiah and is the last of what we would call the “pre-exilic prophets.” He prophesied to the southern kingdom of Judah, during the days of Josiah. Some say he may have been instrumental in bringing about the revival at that time, but tragically it was a revival that was short-lived.

Judah would be consumed, God would cut off the Israelites from the face of the land. His people needed to be purified from the Baals and other idols such as Milcom who was an Ammonite god. The people were deceived into thinking they could serve the LORD AND other gods – they were wrong. The people had turned away from following the LORD, from seeking or inquiring of Him. It didn’t matter if they were princes or money-handlers – judgment was looming. 

Zephaniah 1:12 (NKJV) “And it shall come to pass at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men who are settled in complacency, who say in their heart, ‘The LORD will not do good, Nor will He do evil.’”

Beware of complacency. Beware of thinking that God is indifferent, that God won’t get involved, that God doesn’t reward or judge – indeed, He does both. The Day of the Lord, the day God would judge was near.

In Zephaniah 2:3 the prophet invites the people to seek the LORD…perhaps God would show mercy, relent, or at least delay.

But it wasn’t just Judah who was in trouble. We see in Zephaniah 2 that God was also warning the Philistines, the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Ethiopians, and Assyrians. These nations felt secure in their sin…when they shouldn’t have.

Zephaniah 2:15 (NLT) “This is the boisterous city, once so secure. ‘I am the greatest!’ it boasted. ‘No other city can compare with me!’ But now, look how it has become an utter ruin, a haven for wild animals. Everyone passing by will laugh in derision and shake a defiant fist.”

It’s so sad to see the opening indictments against Jerusalem in Zephaniah 3, especially the fact that, “She has not drawn near to her God.” The leaders in prominent places were like roaring lions and wolves. The same was true for priests and prophets who did violence to the law (they didn’t heed it or teach it accurately).

God would judge Jerusalem…but as we’ve seen time and time again, God would show mercy.

There’s always a remnant of Israel, now and in the future. Today God has restored the Hebrew language, something that had been previously lost (Zephaniah 3:9). Eventually the day will come when Israel will be completely restored – in the Millennial Kingdom, King Jesus will rule from Jerusalem. Notice how beautifully it’s expressed:

Zephaniah 3:14–15 (NKJV) “Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! 15 The LORD has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; You shall see disaster no more.”

Can you imagine the day that God SINGS over His people?

Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV) “The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

All this is ultimately fulfilled in the Kingdom age.

Zephaniah 3:20 (NLT) “On that day I will gather you together and bring you home again. I will give you a good name, a name of distinction, among all the nations of the earth, as I restore your fortunes before their very eyes. I, the LORD, have spoken!”

Revelation 10:1-11

You may have noticed a pattern by now. 7 seals and then an interlude; 7 trumpets and then this interlude. We’ll see it again later, after the 7 bowls of judgment, an interlude.

In the Greek language the words “mighty angel” are literally “strong messenger.” I believe that this messenger is none other than Jesus Christ. Now, we must remember that Jesus is not an angel in our classic sense of the word, He is God the Son, second Person of the Trinity; but Jesus is a messenger, He’s the Divine Angel of the Lord.

Notice His clothing – He’s clothed with a cloud. Clouds are often connected with the glory of God. We read in:

Exodus 16:10, (NKJV) “Now it came to pass, as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.” 

It’s interesting, when Lucifer fell in his foolish pride, we read his words in:

Isaiah 14:14, (NKJV) “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.”

Not only does He have the clothes of God, He has the crown of God, that of the rainbow, taking us back to John’s first vision of God and His throne in Revelation 4:3. His face like the sun, is similar to the description of Jesus in Revelation 1:16, and his feet take us back to Revelation 1:15. Most commentators believe the book He has in His hand is most likely the title deed to the earth, for this is a picture of Jesus’ literal, actual return to claim His property (He redeemed the world) which was purchased on Calvary.

Imagine the day when there’s no more delay.

The book is also somehow connected to the Scriptures, to prophecy, and even the book of Revelation itself, for John is commanded to take and eat the book. The voice from heaven tells him that the book will be bitter-sweet. So John took the book, ate it, and sure enough, it was bitter-sweet.

As John prophesied, he needed to take in the Word before he could distribute it; in many ways the message is bitter-sweet.

Warren Wiersbe put it this way, “…to share God’s message, we must take the Word, receive it inwardly like food, and let it become part of us (Jer. 15:16; Ezek. 3:1–11; 1 Thess. 2:13). The Word is sweet when you read it (Ps. 119:103) but bitter when it goes deeper and you digest it.”

On this side of time it’s hard to digest. We long for Jesus to come and claim His rightful throne, to reign from Jerusalem, to eradicate and end all evil. But many souls will suffer and perish forever and ever. On the other side of time we will have a better grasp of it all, and even now we know that God doesn’t take pleasure in the death of the wicked. We read in:

Ezekiel 33:11 (NKJV) “Say to them: ‘AsI live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’”

It’s bitter-sweet, there’s no way around it, but all of God’s messengers are required to eat and share God’s Word.

Psalm 138:1-8

This brief Psalm of David is packed with powerful truths to contemplate.

Do I praise God with my WHOLE HEART? (Psalm 138:1)

Do I praise Him for His love and truth?

Speaking of truth – do I realize that God has magnified His Word above His name? That speaks volumes! The Jews venerated the name of the LORD so much, that we don’t really know how to pronounce it because they were afraid to speak it, or even write it, and violate the third commandment which forbids us to take His name in vain. But here we read that God’s Word has been elevated above His name! Do I praise God for the Bible?

David shares how God answers prayer (Psalm 138:3) and David knows that one day every knee will bow, even the kings of the earth…to the King of kings.

Psalm 138:6 (NKJV) “Though the LORD is on high, yet He regards the lowly; but the proud He knows from afar.”

Let’s humble ourselves. Let’s encourage ourselves in that God regards us, loves us, thinks of us, and is working out a wonderful plan for all of our lives. That’s what we read in v. 8

Psalm 138:8 (NKJV) “The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands.”

The Lord will finish what He’s started in all our lives. In His mercy He will not forsake us, the work of His hands…we know that and it’s just good to pray that…pray Bible.

Proverbs 30:11-14

Proverbs 30:11 (NKJV) “There is a generation that curses its father, and does not bless its mother.”

It is important to honor our parents. This is the 5th commandment of the 10, and it’s the first with promise.

Exodus 20:12 (NKJV) “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

Ephesians 6:1–3 (NKJV) “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

This is so important to God that it carried the death penalty in Israel’s civil law!

Exodus 21:17 (NKJV) “And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.”

Proverbs 30:12 (NKJV) “There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness.”

Often we’re blinded to our own sins because we’re looking at ourselves through the lenses of this “lower” land. This “generation” might be moral, stable citizens, educated, sophisticated, and dedicated to their cause, but if they have refused God and His provision for pardon, they are NOT washed from their filthiness. Everyone needs Jesus (Revelation 1:5)

Proverbs 30:13 (NKJV) “There is a generation—oh, how lofty are their eyes! And their eyelids are lifted up.”

In Proverbs 6:16-17 we have a list of 7 things God hates, things that are an abomination to Him – the first on the list is a “Proud look.” That’s what lofty eyes are.

Isaiah 2:11–12 (NKJV) “The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. 12 For the day of the Lord of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up—and it shall be brought low.”

David prayed on this:

Psalm 131:1 (NKJV) “Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me.”

Proverbs 30:14 (NKJV) “There is a generation whose teeth are like swords, and whose fangs are like knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.”

According to the Scriptures, “cannibalism” is common, there is a generation that’ll eat you alive, that devours the poor.

We see it frequently in society, how the poor are swallowed up, treated like a piece of property , they’re denied justice, defrauded, undermined, and overtaxed.

December 18, 2021

Habakkuk 1:1–3:19

Habakkuk was an early contemporary of Jeremiah the prophet who ministered in the Southern Kingdom. Habakkuk was struggling with the sins of the people of Judah. He wondered how long God would sit idly by and allow His people to commit such wickedness. Habakkuk prayed for God to work, “How about a revival Lord?” (Habakkuk 1:1-4).

God responded by letting Habakkuk know, that judgment was on its way, and it would take place at the hands of the Babylonians. It was an astonishing response – – unbelievable! The Babylonians were a wicked nation fierce and violent, terrible and dreadful, “…ascribing power to his god.”

The prophet didn’t like God’s response. Habakkuk called a time-out. Wait, God, how can You allow this?

Habakkuk 1:13 (NKJV) “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, and hold Your tongue when the wicked devours a person more righteous than he?”

Habakkuk didn’t understand. In his eyes, the Jews were bad, but not as bad as the Babylonians! How could a holy God, who cannot look upon evil, allow such sinners to do such damage to people more righteous than they?

Again…the prophet waited for God’s answer, which came in Habakkuk 2:2-4. Habakkuk was to write it down, and messengers were to run and read it – judgment was coming, surely it was coming, but although physical suffering and death was probable, spiritual life and prosperity was possible; humble yourselves and place your faith in God and His provision of forgiveness. That’s where it starts. And then, let the just (the saved) trust God, keep the faith no matter what the circumstances may be, and no matter how deeply we don’t understand.

Habakkuk 2:4 (NKJV) “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.”

This passage is such an important passage that it’s quoted three times in the New Testament, in very doctrinal books: Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; and Hebrews 10:38. It took three letters to describe one Old Testament passage. In Romans we learn about the just and justification. In Galatians we learn how the just LIVE, and in the book of Hebrews we learn about faith.

Habakkuk 2 goes on to elaborate on how GOD is a just God, we read 5 woes to the wicked. God was/is completely aware of the sins of the people, whether it be Judah or Babylon, and He will deal with them at the perfect time – and in the perfect way. God would chasten His people for change, and God will judge all those who refuse Him – forever.

One day the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD (Habakkuk 2:14), and the futility of idolatry will be exposed (Habakkuk 2:18). 

Although this book is directed primarily to Judah, and applies to Babylon, it is definitely written that the whole world may know, and especially Habakkuk. Notice God’s Word to the prophet:

Habakkuk 2:20 (NKJV) “But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.”

Bible Knowledge Commentary, “For Habakkuk, the message was clear. Stop complaining! Stop doubting! God is not indifferent to sin. He is not insensitive to suffering. The Lord is neither inactive nor impervious. He is in control. In His perfect time Yahweh will accomplish His divine purpose. Habakkuk was to stand in humble silence, a hushed expectancy of God’s intervention. The closing verse of this woeful dirge recorded by Habakkuk serves as a link to the song of worship that follows in Habakkuk 3.”

So Habakuk sings, the prophet prays. He longs for revival, but he now knows, that often times chastening is required for change, that a severe sentence and times of suffering are necessary for God’s people to surrender to Him. Habakkuk now knows what God is doing and He prays along those lines. Wrath was coming, but in that wrath he prayed for mercy. 

Habakkuk 3:2 (NLT) “I have heard all about You, LORD. I am filled with awe by Your amazing works. In this time of our deep need, help us again as You did in years gone by. And in Your anger, remember your mercy.”

Warren Wiersbe comments on Habakkuk 3:3-15, “Habakkuk reviewed God’s work in the past and recalled His greatness and power. In every era of Jewish history, God was there to work for His people; He would not fail them now. The Babylonian invasion and captivity would be painful experiences, but God would use them for His glory and the good of His people (Romans 8:28).”

Habakuk journeyed from the valley, to the watchtower, and now finds himself on the mountain top. “Faith always lifts us higher and makes us happier.” – Warren Wiersbe.

Habakkuk was comforted in knowing that God never forsakes His people. God will deal with us in order to bring us back to our first love. There would be much suffering for many seasons – but in the end there would be salvation for his people. 

Habakkuk 3:17-19 is an awesome expression of faith! No matter what things look like from our puny human perspective, no mater what the circumstances, we can certainly trust our Provider, rejoice in the LORD, and have joy in the God of our salvation!

Habakkuk 3:19 resembles Philippians 4:13, may we take it to heart!

Habakkuk 3:19a (NKJV) “The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.”

Revelation 9:1-21

When the 5th trumpet is blown all hell breaks loose on planet earth. An angel is sent down with the key to the Abyss (bottomless pit) he opens it up and out come creatures whose sole calling is to torment the inhabitants of the earth for 5 months. Imagine wanting to die, trying to die but being unable to escape the prison of pain. The description of these creatures is fascinating, a combination of locusts, scorpions, horses, faces of men, hair like women, the teeth of lions, breastplates of iron, wings whose motion musters up the sound of chariots running into battle. The only ones they are unable to torment are those who were sealed with God’s mark – everyone else is open game.

Revelation 9:11 informs us that their general is none other than the Devil himself. When you translate his name into any language, or tongue, it always leads to his ultimate agenda, he is Abaddon and Apollyon, in Hebrew and Greek, in English he is the “Destroyer.”

Jesus said in: 

John 10:10 (NKJV) “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

The Devil wants to steal us from God, kill us, and destroy us forever in the Lake of Fire – that’s his agenda as “Destroyer.”

When the 6th angel sounds the 6th trumpet, 4 angels are released (more than likely these are fallen angels – demons) who had been bound at the great River Euphrates. They’ve been prepared for this very “hour” (some say it all happens in 1 literal hour) and 1/3 of the world’s population is massacred by this army of 200 million. This means that at this point in the Tribulation Period half of the world’s population has perished. Again, these are horrific creatures, the heads of the horses were as lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone – but that’s not it. They have tails which end in serpent’s heads.

There will be death everywhere. But there will also be the offer of eternal life. The 144,000 will have been preaching the gospel, explaining to everyone that this is the end of the world, this is the wrath, justice, and judgment of God. No doubt there will be others who knew the Christian Word intellectually but weren’t saved and were left behind at the Rapture, who get saved during this time. They will be spreading the Word as well. 

One would figure that all this would bring everyone left to their knees – to real and radical repentance. But John tells us that – still – generally speaking, the world refuses to turn to God. They love their sin, their idols, their gold, silver, brass, stone and wood possessions; they hold to their hate, fury, and murder; they delight in their drugs (sorceries) and of course, their sexual immoralities.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The reason for the woe, woe, woe of God’s judgment, is because of the holy, holy, holiness of God Himself (see Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8). The only way to avoid God’s just judgment is to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Jesus paid the price of judgment we could never pay – as we saw in the beginning of this book – thank Your Lord. 

Revelation 1:5 (NKJV) “and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,”

Psalm 137:1-9

Imagine being taken away to a foreign land, there in captivity because of your sin. It’s understandable that Israel wept, that they missed Zion (Jerusalem), but they should have also wept over their sins.

The Babylonians asked the Jews to sing one of their Psalms, they were known for their joyful hymns…but how could they…while captive, in a foreign land?

I get mixed emotions on this. Some point to the fact that Paul and Silas were able to sing praises at midnight, but keep in mind, they were imprisoned for doing right. It’s much more challenging to praise God when we’ve done wrong and we’re suffering the consequences.

Psalms 137:4 (NKJV) “How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land?”

If we ever find ourselves there, “in a foreign land,” due to our sin, let us begin with songs of repentance.

It’s of utmost importance that the Jews (and us) never lose that heart for Jerusalem.

Psalms 137:5-6 (NKJV) “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! If I do not remember you, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth—if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy.”

Jerusalem is God’s promise, both now and forever. May we never forget His promise of the city that we all as God’s people, will one day inhabit.

The Jews knew the prophecy, that Babylon would be defeated. Their imprecatory prayers, however, are without the full counsel of God (Matthew 5:44).

Proverbs 30:10

Proverbs 30:10 (NKJV) “Do not malign a servant to his master, lest he curse you, and you be found guilty.”

To “malign” means to criticize someone in a spiteful, false, and misleading way. The KJV uses the word “accuse,” most other translations use the word “slander” – the act or offense of saying something malicious that would damage another’s reputation.

We’re not talking about valid communication that needs to take place, we’re talking about the dialogue of the devil. We’re not to do it! You malign your coworker – out of spite, or you think it’ll lead to a promotion, but it only ends in a demotion. As God’s people we now know better!

December 17, 2021

Nahum 1:1–3:19

We don’t know much about the prophet Nahum other than the fact that he prophesied against Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria. He was from the city of Elkosh. Since there were several cities with that name, we’re not sure as to which one it was, but it is quite possible, he was from the Elkosh located IN Assyria, meaning that Nahum had been carried away captive from Israel. Another theory is that Nahum was from the area of Capernaum in Galilee for Capernaum means, “city of Nahum.”

150 years earlier Jonah was sent to Nineveh, and the city repented at his preaching. But that moral “revival” didn’t last long – the Assyrians were a cruel and vicious people. They would maim those they carried away captive. They would impale the leaders, behead the people and lay those heads in mounds in front of the city gates. The Assyrians had carried Israel away captive in 722 B.C., and it was now time for them to pay for their cruelties.

Nahum 1:2 (NKJV) “God is jealous, and the LORD avenges; the LORD avenges and is furious. The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies.”

God is not only gentle, He is just. The Lord has His way in the whirlwind, He rebukes the sea, the mountains melt, the earth burns, what nation can stand before His indignation? Who can endure the fierceness of His anger, Nahum asks (Nahum 1:6).

Nahum presents to us the Biblical balance of our glorious God:

Nahum 1:7–8 (NKJV) “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him. 8 But with an overflowing flood He will make an utter end of its place, and darkness will pursue His enemies.”

For those who trust the LORD, He is working everything out for good (Romans 8:28) (that would be Israel) and prayerfully that’s us! Trust Him my friend, trust Him in the day of trouble, He will make it a day of Triumph!

But to His enemies, those who refuse to yield to God and His grace – justice will be served and rather than having Him as Savior, they will face Him as Judge. This was the case with Nineveh and the entire nation of Assyria.

Not only would God judge Assyria, He would restore Jacob (Nahum 1:15; 2:2).

Nahum 2:2 (NLT) “Even though the destroyer has destroyed Judah, the LORD will restore its honor. Israel’s vine has been stripped of branches, but he will restore its splendor.”

The Babylonians would conquer Ninevah to such an extent that many critics of the Bible questioned the very existence of this city. It wasn’t until ruins were uncovered by British Archaeologist Sir Austen Henry Layard, that its existence was confirmed outside the Bible. It WAS at one time a great city, but it suffered great judgment!

Her valiant men would die, her nobles would be no more, the palace dissolved, it was now her turn to be led away captive. All her treasures would be taken, hearts would melt, knees would shake in immeasurable fear – the pain would pierce on every side.

I don’t understand why anyone would fight God, for who can win if God is against them, if God is their enemy? The Assyrians actually plotted evil agains the LORD (Nahum 1:11) and therefore had Him as their enemy!

Nahum 2:13 (NLT) “I am your enemy!” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “Your chariots will soon go up in smoke. Your young men will be killed in battle. Never again will you plunder conquered nations. The voices of your proud messengers will be heard no more.”

The city would be filled with blood (Nahum 3:1) the noise of whips, galloping horses, clattering chariots – so many dead bodies they would stumble over the corpses. A complete collapse of Assyria who at one time was so dominant and powerful, that they actually sold families and nations (Nahum 3:4).

Every world power is deceived into thinking they’re different, that they’ll never be overthrown, but just like every other world power before her, Assyria’s day would come. The description of her judgment at the hands of the Babylonians is heartbreaking, but it resembles the very things Assyria would do whenever they conquered cities and nations. Children dashed to pieces, women’s skirts lifted and ravished, men killed, sold, and so fearful that it was as if there were only women left (Nahum 3:13).

In the end, this once brave and powerful nation was reduced to the status of grasshoppers who hopped away in hiding, not to be found. It was a fatal blow, and all the people who had been tortured by the Assyrians rejoiced at their judgment.

Nahum 3:19 (NLT) “There is no healing for your wound; your injury is fatal. All who hear of your destruction will clap their hands for joy. Where can anyone be found who has not suffered from your continual cruelty?”

Revelation 8:1-13

The judgments described during the Tribulation Period will increase in frequency and intensity. We’ve seen the 7 seal judgments, next is the 7 trumpet judgments which give way to the 7 bowl judgments. When He opened the 7th seal, there was silence in heaven for a half an hour (this is significant – see Psalm 78:6-8; Habakkuk 2:20; Zephaniah 1:7; 2:13). 

Warren Wiersbe comments, “The silence in heaven is the lull before the storm. Even the heavenly hosts stop their worship as they contemplate the awesome judgments about to fall.”

I’ve always been fascinated by the picture of prayer that is painted in Revelation 8:3-5. We visualize the prayers rising as incense before God, He takes every single one of them in. This is something seen in the tabernacle and later the temple at the altar of incense located in the Holy Place. Here we see the answer to prayer as fire from the altar thrown down to the earth from heaven…and there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. You might remember John’s first glimpse of God’s throne in:

Revelation 4:5a, (NKJV) “And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices.” 

God is about to answer one of the prayers we’ve been praying since Jesus gave us the model prayer, “…Thy Kingdom come…”

Some might look at these judgments and see them symbolically, but I think that for the most part, all this will happen literally. It’s interesting to note that five of these catastrophes were part of the plagues used by God to set Israel free in the great Exodus. In Exodus the water was turned to blood, and here, after the first angel sounded, the hail, is mixed and mingled with blood.

1/3 of the trees and all of the grass is gone; 1/3 perish in the ocean, of both man and sea creatures; 1/3 of the fresh water deposits are struck – many more die; then the sun, the moon, and the stars are struck, giving way to more and more darkness. Taken literally these appear to be some sort of meteor showers – that we might describe as heavenly “smart bombs.” Scientists tell us that meteors typically travel at 11,000 MPH and explode upon impact due to the fact that they carry kinetic energy equivalent to its mass in TNT. We have the prophecy of: 

Joel 2:30–31 (NKJV) “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.”

During this time God will be wooing people to Himself and warning them of the judgment to come. We even read of angels flying throughout the first heaven (earth’s atmosphere), crying out for all to hear, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth.” There are only two times a word is “tri-peated” in the Bible, holy, holy, holy, and woe, woe, woe. This is a heavy, heavy, heavy warning! The book of Isaiah has an interesting prophecy about this time, and how God would protect His people during this period. We read in: 

Isaiah 26:20–21 (NKJV) “Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past. 21For behold, the Lord comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth will also disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain.”

Psalm 136:1-26

Gratitude and Mercy flow through this Psalm.

“Oh give thanks…” how we are to forever and always be grateful to God!

Grateful that His mercy endures forever. Grateful that He doesn’t give me what I deserve. I deserve Hell. I deserve death. I deserve punishment. I deserve the loss of all that is good, but – His mercy endures forever.

As we read through this Psalm, the history of the world, and the history of Israel – 4 things stand out. We should be grateful to God for His:

1. Creation

2. Redemption

3. Provision

4. Salvation

Psalms 136:23-24 (NKJV) “Who remembered us in our lowly state, for His mercy endures forever; and rescued us from our enemies, for His mercy endures forever.”

He remembered me in my lowly state, and saved me from my enemies (the world, the flesh, the devil – from the power and penalty of sin).

My life will forever therefore be summarized as a life of gratitude…why? His mercy endures forever.

Proverbs 30:7-9

Proverbs 30:7-9 (NKJV) “Two things I request of You (deprive me not before I die): 8 Remove falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches—feed me with the food allotted to me; 9 Lest I be full and deny You, and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God.”

Apparently these are prayer requests from Agur to God.

#1 That he would be distanced from deception; that any and all lies would be far, far away from finding a home in his heart. We’ve discussed many times how lies are the language of Lucifer, the dialect of the Devil, it’s all Satan has to say.

Jesus’ words to the bulk of the religious leaders highlight this truth about the devil’s lies:

John 8:44 (NKJV) “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

Agur words it in such a way, “Father, free me of falsehood before I die.” It tells me that he’s desperate, that’s he’s struggled with it, as we all do, that lies frequently, easily find their way into our minds and a home in our hearts – it’s a huge issue that the enemy uses to control our culture, to even rob Christians of our joy for the journey.

May God set us free from the Enemies’ web of lies!

#2 The second request of Agur, knowing all too well his own weakness and wickedness, was asking that he be neither poor nor rich. He gives noble reasons for his request in v. 9.

Agur knew the truth Jesus spoke in: 

Matthew 19:23 (NKJV) “Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.’”

Agur knew the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches could choke the word and waste his life (Matthew 13:22). It’s fairly easy to forget God when you have everything else going for you. You might want to consider that before you buy your next lottery ticket or notice how green the grass is on the other side of the fence.

And don’t you also love the honesty of Agur? How he knew his own weakness/wickedness that if he couldn’t make ends meet, that if he didn’t have a job to put food on the table, he might end up stealing and dealing in dishonest ways? What a dishonor this would be to God considering the fact that everyone knew he was a believer.

“Isn’t that guy a Christian? Look at what he’s doing, what a shame, I knew there wasn’t any power in that name.”

Very practical wisdom for all of us! Great prayer requests!

December 16, 2021

Micah 5:1–7:20

Micah continues his word to the nation of Israel, but in the midst of it, He also prophecies of the coming of Christ, and mingles in messages to the whole wide world. 

The siege in Micah 5:1 is most likely a continuance of the Babylonian invasion, but it begins to morph into one of the clearest Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah. Micah identifies WHERE the Messiah would be born. 

Micah 5:2 (NKJV) “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”

Bethlehem wasn’t a big city, but it WAS the city of David. It would therefore be the ideal birthplace for Messiah-King whose rule would bring perfect and permanent peace. The ONLY one who could possibly bring this type of peace on earth would have to be the Maker of heaven and earth and it turns out to be true. He goes all the way back to the days of eternity. 

It’s not random that Bethlehem means “House of Bread,” for Jesus is the Bread of Life (John 6:35, 48), He’s the manna from heaven (John 6:31-33). He’s the only one who can satisfy our spiritual appetite and sustain us in the “wilderness.”

The prophecy of Christ speaks not only of His first coming but His Second Coming in verses 3-5a.

Bible Knowledge Commentary, “As Micah had written earlier (Micah 4:9), Israel’s spiritual pain in being dispersed (abandoned) was like a woman’s physical pain in labor. But the time will come when the labor will end and birth will come. This refers not to Mary’s giving birth to Jesus, but to Israel’s national regathering (Micah 2:12; 4:6–7), likened here to a childbirth when His brothers (fellow Israelites; cf. Deuteronomy 17:15) will return and join other Israelites. Christ will be one of them. Micah 5:2–3 puts together the two Advents of Christ, much as is done in Isaiah 9:6–7; 61:1–2.”

Micah 5:5b-15 speak of the defeat of Assyria, the rise of Israel, and God’s judgment upon the nations of the world.

Micah 5:15 (NLT) “I will pour out my vengeance on all the nations that refuse to obey me.”

In Micah 6 God reasons and pleads with His people to get right in their relationship with Him, but their refusal to repent, led to the judgment of God.

When we look back at all God has done for us, the way He’s saved and sustained us, shouldn’t it bring us to love and obedience? Tragically that wasn’t the case for Israel. Although God had redeemed them from slavery in Egypt, protected them from the curses of Balaam and Moab they still refused to walk with God. I wonder if we’ve finally realized that it’s not about superficial sacrifice and routine religion, it’s all about walking with-and-like God.

Micah 6:8 (NKJV) “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Such a beautiful passage we would do well to memorize…and of course take to heart, and live out loud. Tragically the Israelites did not do what God had vividly shown them to do – they continued to practice abominable injustices and idolatry – the worship of Baal – which led to their downfall.

Times would get so bad, that the faithful men and women would be obsolete (Micah 7:2). It wouldn’t even matter if you were related, you’d be hunted down, turned in to the authorities, betrayed even by “friends.” This was no-doubt the case in the days of Israel’s Assyrian captivity, but it is also a prophecy of what would happen to the followers of Christ. Jesus quoted this passage in Matthew 10:35-36.

In closing the book we are once again reminded that God gets the last word, and over the centuries the nations may come against God’s people, but His mercy towards those who have placed their faith in Him prevails. Israel will be exalted and all believers will be forgiven.

There really is no one like our God!

Micah 7:18–19 (NKJV) “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. 19 He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea.”

Revelation 7:1-17

The next vision John had, was four angels standing at the four corners of the earth (North, South, East, and West) and they were holding the “winds” – speaking of the way the invisible God was working visibly on planet earth, in this case, judging the world. There’s now a pause, judgment is held back for a bit, in order for the angels of God to “seal” 144,000 Jewish servants.

I thought it was interesting how John is writing about the “seals” of judgment, and here God “seals” His servants. It shows us that even in times of Great Tribulation, there is opportunity for great service and salvation. 

Warren Wiersbe wrote along the same lines, “The day of the Lord will bring judgment and destruction, and it will also result in the saving of people. In wrath, God remembers mercy (Habakkuk 3:2). When you experience trials, ask God to use you to win others to the Savior even in the midst of troubles.”

Why did they seal them? David Jeremiah explains, “It was common in John’s day for masters to seal or brand their slaves on the forehead or hand to declare ownership. This mark also granted protection from those who would steal or misuse them.” Ephesians 1:13 speaks of the fact that all Christians are sealed with the Person of the Holy Spirit.

It’s puzzling how some people get confused as to who the 144,000 are! The Jehovah Witnesses even claim this as an elite group amongst themselves, but the Bible clearly states that these people are the children of Israel, and God gets even more specific by stating there would be 12,000 from each tribe. It’s important for us to remember that during this time, God will be dealing with, and drawing the nation of Israel back to Himself; He is not done with the Jews (Daniel 9:24-27; Romans 11).

You may have noticed that the tribes of Dan and Ephraim are not mentioned in this list. That doesn’t mean that descendants of these tribes won’t be saved, it just might mean that they won’t serve in the same sense during this period. Keep in mind that Ephraim was Joseph’s son and Dan is mentioned in the Millennial Kingdom in Ezekiel 48:32, which takes place after the Tribulation Period…so they’re still around.

In this chapter there is mention of those who are protected from harm (Revelation 7:1-8) and those who are martyred for their faith (Revelation 7:9-17). God in His perfect wisdom knows what’s best for everyone, and even in a Christian’s death, there is blessing beyond our wildest imagination!

I believe that these 144,000 Jews will be like 144,000 Paul the Apostles and people from every nation will be saved as a result of their witness. Here they are from all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues in the wonderful worship of God and thanksgiving for their salvation. The angel identified them as Tribulation Saints who will forever serve God day and night. 

B. F. Westcott said, “We make a great mistake if we connect with our conception of heaven the thought of rest from work. Rest from toil, from weariness, from exhaustion—yes; but rest from work, from productiveness, from service—no. ‘They serve God day and night.’”

Being a tribulation saint meant much suffering on earth, hunger, thirst, unimaginable horror as the elements of the earth erode and the rule of the antichrist prevailed, but now they were led and comforted by Jesus Himself…forever.

Psalm 135:1-21

Hallelujah means “Praise the LORD,” and that is the thrust of this Psalm. Praise Him and sing to Him. When we gather together assembled as a congregation we should come ready to worship – for He is good!

We have reason to praise.

We’ve been chosen by God, we’re His special treasure (Matthew 13:44) – created and redeemed – those are some of the reasons the Psalmist calls us to praise the LORD.

Creation, Redemption, and then there’s Provision. He’s taken care of me all my life. All this has come from the hand of the LORD Himself. Unlike the statues and wanna-be gods that the world puts their trust in and prays to, our God is the living God, who speaks, and sees, and hears. 

Psalm 135:15–17 (NKJV) “The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. 16 They have mouths, but they do not speak; eyes they have, but they do not see; 17 They have ears, but they do not hear; nor is there any breath in their mouths.”

The Psalmist reveals the fact that we become like whatever it is we worship. In this case all who worship lifeless idols, are spiritually lifeless!

Psalm 135:18 (NKJV) “Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them.”

Bless the LORD – Israel, Aaron (the high priest), Levi, and all who fear Him (Gentiles). All of God’s people have ample reaons to praise.

I believe this Psalm emphasizes that part of our lives where we SING praises to God. May we all cultivate that vital part of the celebration of salvation.

Proverbs 30:5-6

Proverbs 30:5-6 “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. 6 Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.”

We are blessed by the Word of God…and according to this Proverb, every single Word of God is pure – it’s tried, true, and tested!

Psalm 12:6 (NKJV) “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.”

Psalm 19:8 (NKJV) “The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.”

Psalm 119:140 (NKJV) “Your word is very pure; therefore Your servant loves it.”

Trust in God and His Word, provide power and protection, He Himself will surely be our shield.

Psalm 18:30 (NKJV) “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.”

They say Captain America has a pretty cool shield, but I have a hunch that ours is a bit better. What do you think?

Genesis 15:1 (NKJV) “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’”

God is our shield! This truth should eliminate our fears, knowing that nothing touches us unless God gives the green light. It should make us HAPPY!

Deuteronomy 33:29 (NKJV) “Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help and the sword of your majesty! Your enemies shall submit to you, and you shall tread down their high places.”

The latter portion of verse 6 reminds us that we should never add, take away, or alter God’s Word in any way! Another warning is issued at the end of the Bible.

Revelation 22:18–19 (NKJV) “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

Modern liberalism takes away portions of God’s Word. The serpent in the Garden of Eden added to the Word. Beware of either or.

December 15, 2021

Micah 1:1–4:13

Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah, Hosea, and Amos, who was given a message to deliver to both Israel and Judah.  If you’ve been reading through the prophets I’m sure you’ve noticed that the message doesn’t change too much. God’s people had sinned persistently and defiantly. BECAUSE they’re God’s children He must chasten them, but He will not fail to change them in the process…and in the end, they will be restored – even exalted in the kingdom to come.

Micah warns that God was on His way, coming out of His place to tread down the high places of the earth.

Micah 1:5 (NLT) “And why is this happening? Because of the rebellion of Israel— yes, the sins of the whole nation. Who is to blame for Israel’s rebellion? Samaria, its capital city! Where is the center of idolatry in Judah? In Jerusalem, its capital!”

Micah loves the people and therefore mourns their judgment (Micah 1:8). He clearly prophecies the calamity of their captivity.

In Micah 2 he begins by describing people who actually plan out their wickedness. It’s one thing to stumble into sin, it’s quite another to strategize it. They seized lands, houses, and inheritances. Imagine the heartache, the injustice! 

And they wouldn’t listen to God who spoke through His prophets.

Micah 2:6 (NLT) “Don’t say such things,” the people respond. “Don’t prophesy like that. Such disasters will never come our way!”

Micah 2:7 (NLT) “Should you talk that way, O family of Israel? Will the LORD’s Spirit have patience with such behavior? If you would do what is right, you would find my words comforting.”

The people wouldn’t listen to the true prophets, and were ripped-off by the false prophets – who took their robes, their garments, even evicting them from their homes. There was no other option but for God to judge, for the people were lobbying for their own message.

Micah 2:11 (NLT) “Suppose a prophet full of lies would say to you, ‘I’ll preach to you the joys of wine and alcohol!’ That’s just the kind of prophet you would like!”

And yet…in spite of all this, God promised to regather and restore Israel (Micah 2:12-13). Yes, the day will come when King Jesus rules from Jerusalem.

We discover in Micah 3 that the rulers were rotten. After the nation was divided, the northern kingdom never had a good ruler; the southern kingdom  DID have good rulers at times, but the people vacillated. Society, like today had reached a point to where they actually hated good and loved evil (Micah 2:2). They were ripe for judgment.

The overall message of the prophets and priests was peace – “No need to listen to the likes of Micah – judgment is not on the horizon they said.” The people preferred the message of the false prophets, and the false prophets knew it, which is why they spoke it,  it was prophets for profit, a message for money – how tragic that ministries are sometimes run that way, “It’s all about the money.”

In Micah 3 he informs the people that in light of their sins, God would not hear their prayers, and He would not respond.

Micah 3:4 (NKJV) “Then they will cry to the LORD, but He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time, because they have been evil in their deeds.”

Micah 3:7b (NKJV)  “…for there is no answer from God.”

But…even in wrath, God remembers mercy and we read in Micah 4 about the Lord’s reign in Zion. This is a prophecy regarding the Millennial Kingdom.

How we long for the day when the nations flock  to the mountain of the LORD to hear His ways. How we long for the days when swords are turned into plowshares, weapons and training for war are no longer necessary, there will be peace on earth when Jesus reigns.

God will gather His people, the remnant of Israel and lift her up for all people to see, and Jerusalem will be the capital of the world – the place where King Jesus sets up His throne.

Until that day there will be excruciating pain for Israel, like a woman in birth pangs. Micah prophecies not only the judgment of Israel, but the judgment of Judah, carried away captive  to Babylon – but God would redeem them (Micah 4:10).

In the last of the last days many nations will come against Israel, but these nation are greatly mistaken, now knowing the plans of God, nor the love that God has for His people. He will gather the enemies of Israel together to be beaten and trampled like sheaves of grain on a threshing floor (Micah 4:12).

May we never forget Genesis 12:3.

Revelation 6:1-17

Back in Revelation 5, no one was worthy to open or look at the seals with the exception of Jesus Christ, who prevailed and proved Himself worthy through His incarnation and redemption of mankind (John 5:27).

The seals are now opened in chapter 6.

When the first seal was opened the first of four horsemen were unleashed upon the earth. The first horse is white, and some might mistake the one riding the horse as Jesus, who at the end of the Tribulation Period returns on a white horse (Revelation 19:11), but this is actually the antichrist. He “conquers” the world, through a pseudo-peace. 

Warren Wiersbe summarizes it this way, “The world ruler (Antichrist) begins his conquest of the nations by peacefully taking control (Revelation 6:1–2). He has a weapon but no ammunition; and men are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ (1 Thessalonians 5:1–3). Satan usually declares peace before he declares war, so beware his offers.”

When the second seal is opened, the true colors of the antichrist come out – this horse is no longer white, but fiery red, and peace is taken from the earth, a world-wide-war begins, the enemy starts swinging a “great” sword.

When the third seal is opened, scarcity and famine hit hard at the arrival of a black horse, the scales are scandalous! Imagine paying a day’s wages for only one quart of wheat, or three quarts of barley – (barley was the poor man’s food). It’s interesting also how a declaration is made during this time, “…do not harm the oil and the wine.” This may be in reference to the luxuries still enjoyed by the rich.

When the fourth seal is opened, judgment arrives on a pale horse and the rider’s name is Death, followed by another rider named Hades. This is the agenda of the enemy, to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) – his goal is not simply death physically, but death spiritually, home in Hades which will eventually be thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14). The sentence of this seal allows death in many forms, through famine, violence, and even by the beast. One-fourth of the world perishes at this point.

The fifth seal reveals those who have been martyred for Christ, most likely during the tribulation period, and theirs is a cry for justice. Much like us today, we long for the time when evil will end, and justice is served, but we must “rest a little while longer” until all those who will be martyred and saved is completed.

The sixth seal brings many cosmic disturbances – the black sun, and red moon may refer to atmospheric changes that distort our view, but there’s no mistaking the “stars” that fall on the earth as meteor showers; the earthquakes begin to level mountains and cover islands. It doesn’t matter if one is rich or if one rules, they can run but they cannot hide, the wrath of the Lamb has arrived. The wrath of the Lamb sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it? Jesus offers His love but cannot violate His holiness. How do you want to face Jesus? As the Lamb, or as the Lion? As your Savior or as your Judge?

Psalm 134:1-3

This is the final Psalm of Ascents (pilgrim Psalms).

Here we have the pilgrim encourage the priests and Levites who kept watch at the Temple, to bless the LORD, to lift their hands to God.

As we lift our hands to the Lord we worship.

As we lift our hands to the Lord we surrender.

As we lift our hands to the Lord, we’re like children ready to receive from our Father, which is the final prayer of the pilgrim for the priests.

Psalm 134:3 (NKJV) “The LORD who made heaven and earth bless you from Zion!”

Proverbs 30:1-4

Proverbs 30:1 (NKJV) “The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, his utterance. This man declared to Ithiel—to Ithiel and Ucal:”

The identity of Agur is unknown. All we know is his name literally means “gathered.” He’s the son of Jakeh, whose name means blameless, if that has any significance. Most would simply identify Agur as a man moved by the Holy Spirit to give us a great word of wisdom here in Proverbs 30…but that wisdom wasn’t of himself.

Proverbs 30:2 (NKJV) “Surely I am more stupid than any man, and do not have the understanding of a man. 3 I neither learned wisdom nor have knowledge of the Holy One.”

Now, in all honesty this s-word (stupid) is not a word we use in our home…but, I must admit, apart from God, this is great description of what I am.

Apparently I’m in pretty good company, Agur, one of the authors in the Bible believes it about himself as well. This is all of us in our natural/fallen state.

He’s not talking academically, he’s speaking spiritually, honestly. Interestingly. Agur is not the only Bible author who saw himself like this. Asaph said the same thing in: 

Psalm 73:22 (NKJV) “I was so foolish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You.”

I believe this type of honest humility is a precedent to any type of spiritual maturity. If you’re a “know it all,” who’s arrived, why would you strive for more wisdom?

I have not mastered wisdom, nor do I know all there is to know about God. As a matter of fact, have you discovered that the more you know, the more you realize how much you DON’T know?

Agur had an awesome question about a certain Someone:

Proverbs 30:4 (NKJV) “Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, if you know?”

This has always been an absolutely amazing section of Scripture to me. Who…descended from heaven? Who…ascended to heaven? Who made and holds the wind? Who sets all walls for the waters? Who made and established this earth we live on? What’s His name? What’s His SON’S name? 

How did Agur know He even had a Son? 

Here we have clear implications of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and agent of Creation. the Bible says this about Him in:

John 1:3 (NKJV) “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”

The answer is Yahweh. His son’s name is Jesus.

December 14, 2021

Jonah 1:1–4:11

Jonah is not really a prophetic book about the future, it’s actually a book about a struggling prophet and our amazing God, who is abundant in lovingkindness and relents from doing harm (Jonah 4:2).

God commanded Jonah to go Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, called “great” because of its many inhabitants, and warn them for their wickedness. But Jonah refused to obey. He fled the presence of the LORD and sailed towards Tarshish, away from Assyria in attempt to flee from the presence of the LORD and His call upon his life.

Aren’t you grateful, however, that it is impossible to escape the presence of the LORD? We read in:

Psalm 139:7–10 (NKJV) “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.”

It wouldn’t matter where I was or how fast I ran (the wings of the morning – light speed is 186,000 miles per second) I can’t escape the presence of God and His gracious guidance. Jonah would soon discover this.

As Jonah sailed, God went after him in an interesting fashion. God sent a storm so strong, that the experienced and rugged sailors were afraid. They lightened the cargo, prayed to their gods, nothing changed, the storm only got worse. They finally cornered Jonah who spilled the beans. It was his fault, he had “fled from the presence of the LORD” (Jonah 1:10). Jonah informed them that if they threw him into the sea the storm would cease. Initially they refused to do so, but eventually they did, and Jonah was right.

One good thing about all this is that the sailors were converted right there on the spot, they witnessed the stilling of the storm.

Jonah 1:15–16 (NKJV) “So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the LORD and took vows.”

It breaks our heart to see that Jonah was so down and depressed, that he wanted to die. Many people struggle in this way even to the point of suicidal thoughts. If that’s you or someone you know, I pray the account of Jonah would be used by God as a Word of encouragement. There’s still a great future for you, filled and flooded with good. Next thing you know God uses your story of struggle and imperfection to help others going through the same thing. Please, don’t lose heart.

Throughout the narrative of Jonah we see the LORD engaged in nature – starting the storm, stilling the storm, even preparing a great fish to swallow Jonah (Jonah 1:17). Some people have a hard time believing that Jonah could actually be transported by a whale, but if Jesus believed and confirmed it, than that settles it (Matthew 12:39-41; Luke 11:29-32). Not only that, there have been accounts over the years of individuals in the mouths of whales, below is a link to one of the latest:

While in the fish’s belly, Jonah prayed and cried out to the LORD. Jonah had reached “rock-bottom.” You may have noticed the descent of Jonah. “He went DOWN to Joppa,” he went “DOWN to the lowest parts of the ship, and laid “DOWN,” he went “DOWN to the moorings of the mountains (Jonah 1:3, 5; 2:6). It’s as if he died and went down to Sheol but rose again. He  didn’t die, but he does become a typology of Christ. Jesus said in:

Matthew 12:40 (NKJV) “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

Jonah’s prayer in chapter 2 is a deep expression of personal pain and struggle brought to God and therefore saved by Him. It really is true, “Whoever calls on the Name of the LORD, shall be saved.”

The fish vomited Jonah on dry land who this time goes where God sends him, and preaches the Word of warning, without any  woo whatsoever. “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” We’re not sure why the Assyrians responded the way they did, even reaching the echelon of the king, but they repented, in fasting and sackcloth. A decree went out from the king, who said among other things:

Jonah 3:8–9 (NKJV) “But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?

And that’s exactly what God did, he turned from His fierce anger.

This grace shown to such wicked people infuriated Jonah, it was his greatest fear, it was the reason he didn’t want to warn Assyria in the first place. Jonah set up a seat, hoping to see the fireworks fall on Nineveh, but there would be no show to show.

God loved the Assyrians – there were many of them who didn’t even know their right hand from their left (in reference to children, or people who didn’t know any better).

God also loved Jonah. God taught him, in preparing a plant for shade, preparing a worm who would eat the plant and take away the shade…this is the world we live in…so many ups and downs in life. Days of shade and comfort and days of heat and pain. May we be faithful to function in this broken world and never give up – just look up to this God who pursues us with a love we’ll never understand.

Revelation 5:1-14

Revelation 5 is one of the most glorious scenes in all of eternity – one day, as believers, we’ll be there.

Can you see the scroll there in the right hand of the Father? It represents the title deed to the earth. This title deed had been given to Adam but then forfeited to the devil at the fall of man. Satan offered it to Jesus for one act of worship (Luke 4:5-7) but of course, Jesus refused. Jesus did it the right way, the hard way, as a Kinsman Redeemer He bought the title deed back – with His own blood. Technically, Jesus owns the earth, but practically He has not yet taken complete possession of what belongs to Him…there’s still souls to save.

When John saw this whole scene unfold, it was clearly communicated to him that no one was worthy to unseal the scroll – or even look at it. He wept much. What a horrible feeling that is, that feeling of hopelessness. Imagine if the whole wide world, if all the people of all time who are represented in this scene, were lost and defeated by the Devil. John felt that feeling of forever failure – and he was emotionally devastated.

But then…one of the elders (maybe a church representative?) spoke to him, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”

And then John saw Jesus.

It’s fascinating the way He is described – both location and description. He’s in the “midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders…”How can He be in the “midst” of the throne, unless He’s God? And how can He be in the midst of the elders unless He’s man? Keep in mind, the four living creatures most likely represent Jesus as He’s presented in the four Gospels.

Not only where He is, but how He’s looks, as “…a Lamb as though it had been slain.” Isaiah tells us that when Jesus died on the cross for us, He was marred more than any man – He was a bloody mess. This is why John described Jesus the way he did in Revelation 1:5, “…to Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” This is why John the Baptist described Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. That was the price for the title-deed to the earth, to undo what Adam did, the second Adam laid down His life as the perfect and eternal sacrifice for all of our sins.

In the Bible, horns represent power, strength, and the authority to rule. Since 7 is the number of completion and perfection, Jesus has 7 horns. He did it, He prevailed!

Can you see Jesus taking the scroll from the right hand of the Father? It’s time to claim His land!

The rest of the chapter records the appropriate response – worship. We worship with our lips and we worship with our lives (Romans 12:1-2). He is worthy (this is the root of the word worship) for He has redeemed us (bought us back to God with His blood). If you’re a Christian, you’ll be there that day. This is us, after the rapture of the church, worshipping God for who He is, and what He’s done, and what He’s about to do.

Psalm 133:1-3

This Psalm speaks of the blessing of unity, and even the fact that it’s  “pleasant” for brethren to dwell together in unity. Pleasant is defined as, “Giving the sense of happy satisfaction or enjoyment.” When we’re not in it for ourselves, there’s no “I” in team, when we love one another, esteem others better than ourselves, when we know the flow of a family, the organization, or even a church, it’s an atmosphere of joy…it’s pleasant.

David describes this unity as poured out oil on Aaron the priest, and dew descending on Mount Hermon. Clearly these are indications of the anointing of the Holy Spirit, of blessings from above. 

May we all have that heart to be one, especially among the brethren (the church) (John 17:11, 21-22).

Proverbs 29:26-27

Proverbs 29:26 (NKJV) “Many seek the ruler’s favor, but justice for man comes from the Lord.”

The word favor can translate “face,” or “audience.” Not just some, but many seek the personal notice or audience of the man who supposedly makes the decisions, when in all reality, everything comes from God.

Wouldn’t it be better to seek God’s face? For justice comes from Him!

Proverbs 29:27 (NKJV) “An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, and he who is upright in the way is an abomination to the wicked.”

Abomination is a strong word, but it is disgusting to hear and see the things people do who defy God’s Word to the point of violating their conscience.

Men with men; women with women. Parents raising their boys as girls, or girls as boys. The murder of children within the warm of their mother’s womb. Murder all across the board, rape, incest, injustice, rewarding the lazy who don’t want to work. Don’t misunderstand we love the people, but ways that contradict the heart of our Creator are an abomination to us.

But then, if they’re honest, they’d admit, our ways of righteousness are an abomination to them.

December 13, 2021

Obadiah 1:1-21

The book of Obadiah is unique in the fact that it is the only book of the Bible written solely and specifically to a nation other than Israel. The Edomites were the descendants of Jacob’s brother Esau (Genesis 36:9).

Over the years the Edomites were guilty of mistreating the Israelites numerous times. When Israel was trudging to the promised-land, the Edomites refused passage to them, even threatening by force (Numbers 20:14-20). At that time Moses referred to Israel as Edom’s “brother.”

Edom was under the impression that they couldn’t be conquered due to their fortresses carved out of the rocks, their high habitation. But God promised them:

Obadiah 4 (NKJV) “‘Though you ascend as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,’ says the LORD.”

Apparently the Edomites rejoiced when the the Israelites were conquered. We’re not 100% sure, but most likely this is reference to the conquering of Judah in 586 B.C. by the Babylonians. The Edomites just sat there enjoying the view of their brothers’ destruction. They rejoiced, they plundered, they even entered in to the land to steal any spoil that may have remained. If there were any Jewish refugees fleeing for the lives, they didn’t help them, there was no mercy, on the contrary they caught them and delivered them to the Babylonians.

Pastor Chuck Smith, “It’s terrible when we fail to help when someones is oppressed. It’s even worse to watch with pride and derision and profit from their demise. But what makes it worse still is when the object of our derision is our brother. How do we respond when we see a brother fall? Do we help? Do we gloat? Do we profit?”

Obadiah goes on to make it clear that Israel will rise from the ashes and be raised to glory…but not Edom.

It is never wise to oppose Israel, she is the apple of God’s eye.

Zechariah 2:8 (NKJV) “For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.’”

We should never oppose the Jews, not personally, or nationally. May we never forget that word back in the beginning, spoken in reference to the nation of Israel:

Genesis 12:3 (NKJV) “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Revelation 4:1-11

“After these things” means after the church age. I believe that when John is called to “Come up here,” it is a picture of the rapture of the church. From this point on in the book of Revelation, we will see the church only in heaven.

What will be the first thing we see when we get to heaven? Some say (based on Revelation 4:2) that our first sight will be God on His throne (makes sense to me).

I like what Sandy Adams said regarding John’s vision at this point, “Perhaps you have thought of heaven as a series of cumulus clouds. Or that the halls of heaven were hospital white and God appears in sterile scrubs. Discard those mythical notions. Heaven is adorned with a kaleidoscope of color. God is dressed in ruby red garments that sparkle like diamonds. Lightning bolts dart from His emerald green throne. A rainbow stretches overhead…colors on earth look pale when compared to the brilliance of heavenly hues.”

I’m not sure if God is clothed in red, but John saw God as these brilliant and dazzling stones in appearance; and the rainbow is not simply an arc, it encircles the throne, a perfect picture of grace (Genesis 9:11-17).

We’re not sure who the 24 elders are – if I HAD to guess, I would say that these are the 12 Patriarchs of the Old Testament and the 12 Apostles of the New Testament. Others say they are symbolic of the church.

The lightning, thunder, and voices that proceed from the throne may be symbolic of God’s sovereign rule and even the way He answers prayer (see Revelation 8:3-5).

Once again, we see the Holy Spirit symbolized in the number 7 (see also Isaiah 11:2; Revelation 1:4) and emphasized with fire (see Acts 2:3-4).

The four living creatures may be living witnesses to the nature of Christ who came as a Lion (King), a Calf (Servant), a Man, and an Eagle (Deity). I also see them as worship leaders, for whenever they worship God, the 24 elders join in to do the same.

They worship God for His holiness (holy, holy, holy), His power (God Almighty), His eternal and self-sufficient existence (Who was and is and is to come) and they worshipped God for the simple fact that He is worthy – as the Creator of all things. This gives us a glimpse of what we will be doing in heaven – so every time we worship, we are preparing ourselves for that time. And every time we serve the Lord in love and proper motives, we are laying up treasures in heaven – “crowns” – that we can cast before God’s throne, giving Him all the glory for making us and redeeming us – it’s worship for who He is and what He’s done!

Psalm 132:1-18

What an amazing Psalm, not just about the Temple, and how David wanted to build a house for God, but this is also about the “house” that God would build for David. There was this promise to David regarding his descendants, culminating in the Messiah, who would one day, rule from Jerusalem – forever!

Zion eventually became another name for heaven…and this Psalm definitely has heavenly hues.

There in heaven will be the “temple” of God – not literally for John the Beloved wrote this about heaven:

Revelation 21:22 (NKJV) “But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”

But, there will be the tabernacle of God in the sense that we will dwell with Him (Revelation 21:3). There in heaven will be the throne of God, the saints of God, the bread of God, the priests of God – clothed with salvation, “…and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.” (can you imagine the joy in heaven?)

Jesus, the Anointed One will have the “horn” of all power. His enemies will be judged – and His crown will flourish, forever and ever. What a wonderful truth!

May we never forget our future home, we should consider it frequently. Heaven is not just a destination, it’s a motivation.

Proverbs 29:24-25

Proverbs 29:24 (NKJV) “Whoever is a partner with a thief hates his own life; he swears to tell the truth, but reveals nothing.”

The New International Version puts it this way:

Proverbs 29:24 (NIV) “The accomplices of thieves are their own enemies; they are put under oath and dare not testify.”

They might say, “I was just the driver, I did nothing wrong.” But such people are just as guilty as the one who used the gun to rob, or pulled the trigger to kill.

Proverbs 29:25 (NKJV) “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.”

We are not to fear what man can do to us. If we fear men, they control us. Let’s not fear what they think about us, what they might say about us, or even what they can do to us. Not that we don’t care about people, it’s just we must not fear people, for if we do, we’ll be trapped in the snare of our enemies.

Jesus spoke clearly on this:

Luke 12:4–5 (NKJV) “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!”

How sad to read about the way the rulers in Jesus’ day feared men; it cost them their salvation.

John 12:42–43 (NKJV) “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

Proverbs 29:25b (NKJV) “…but whoever trust in the LORD shall be safe,” set on high; out of the reach of man

December 12, 2021

Amos 7:1–9:15

Amos 7 begins with 3 visions the prophet has.

The first is a vision of locust swarming at the beginning of the late crop and consuming everything – so Amos prays. BECAUSE of his prayer, God relents.

Amos 7:2–3 (NKJV) “And so it was, when they had finished eating the grass of the land, that I said: ‘O Lord GOD, forgive, I pray! Oh, that Jacob may stand, for he is small!’ 3 So the LORD relented concerning this. ‘It shall not be,’ said the LORD.”

Yes, prayer makes a difference!

The second vision was of a consuming fire which devoured Israelite territory – so Amos prays, and BECAUSE of his prayer, God relents.

The third vision is of a plumb-line, and tool by which one can check a wall and its framing to make sure it’s straight. Apparently Israel didn’t measure up, even after all the grace that God had lavished upon them, so we read:

Amos 7:8 (NKJV) “…then the Lord said: ‘Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel; I will not pass by them anymore.’” 

Or as the NLT puts it, “I will no longer ignore their sins.” God was about to judge. It’s a lesson for me, grace is not a license to sin, it’s should be a motivation not to. Grace not only forgives my sin, it helps me overcome my sin.

At this time Amaziah the Israeli priest of Bethel complained about the doom-and-gloom prophecies of Amos. He told him to leave, to  go south to Judah, he didn’t want him to ever prophecy in Bethel again – it was the king’s “sanctuary,” he said. But Amos explained the fact that he was called by God. Prior to being a prophet Amos was a simple farmer and shepherd – but the LORD God Himself commanded him to “Prophecy to My people Israel.” Amos HAD to speak, and he had another prophecy, this time for Amaziah:

Amos 7:17 (NKJV) “Therefore thus says the LORD: ‘Your wife shall be a harlot in the city; your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword; your land shall be divided by survey line; you shall die in a defiled land; and Israel shall surely be led away captive from his own land.’”

Amaziah brought devastation upon his family because he openly opposed the Lord.

In Amos 8 he has another vision, this time of summer fruit…indicating that just as the fruit was ripe to pick and eat, so Israel was now ripe for harvest. The NLT translates Amos 8:1b, “I will not delay their punishment again.”

Their songs would turn to wailing, their feasts to mourning, there would be dead bodies everywhere. They didn’t honestly honor the Sabbath, in all reality they couldn’t wait for it to be over, for them it was all about the money. They not only exploited the poor, they sold the poor…for a pair of sandals! One of God’s greatest judgments was a famine for His people – not of food – but a famine of the Word of God!

Amos 8:11–12 (NKJV) “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. 12 They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, but shall not find it.”

Earlier they said they didn’t want the prophet to prophesy (Amos 7:12-13), so God gives them their way. What a tragedy…no fresh message from God’s heart to men! How horribly sad it would be when the Spirit went silent!

In Amos 9 we read about the devastation that would fall upon the people of Israel…and my, how this has proven to be so true! There was no hiding from God’s judgment. It didn’t matter if they dug down to hell, or rose up to the “heavens,” God would find them, and bring them to justice. To whom much is given, much more is required (Luke 12:48).

And yet – – in all this – – Amos declares it loud and clear that Israel will not be utterly destroyed.

Amos 9:8–9 (NKJV) “Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth; yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,” says the LORD. 9 “For surely I will command, and will sift the house of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve; yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.”

God would scatter His people, but regather them, time and time again, until the last of the last days, when the “tabernacle” of David is established (this is a Prophecy of Christ as King).  And there will be peace on earth, blessings beyond measure. In that day Israel will finally find their forever rest.

Amos 9:15 (NKJV) “I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them,” says the LORD your God.

Revelation 3:7-22

If there was one church we’d choose to identify with, it would most likely be the church of Philadelphia, which literally means, “brotherly love.” This church is not a denomination but represents the church as a whole who has been faithful to God’s Word, preaching the Name of Jesus, and although weak in-and-of ourselves, finds herself drawing her strength from God (see 2 Corinthians 12:10). This is the church with ministry opportunities (open doors) and sovereign guidance from God (closed doors). This is the church that Jesus says will be kept from the trial which shall come upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth. That means that this church will be raptured out, before the Tribulation Period begins, for God has not appointed us to wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

The luke-warm Laodiceans probably represents most of the church today (at least in the United States of America). Neither hot nor cold, and that’s not good for coffee or coke, which is why Jesus shares a heavy warning, that such people will be vomited out of His mouth (doesn’t sound good to me).

This is a church with a lot of money, and maybe even many members; they appear to be successful in human eyes, but Jesus reveals their true state in that they’re wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. Wow! I was thinking, how many times we focus and try so hard to look good to those who are watching, it’s all about appearance, at the expense of reality. Jesus counseled the Laodiceans to get right, to do whatever they needed to do; to buy the gold that God offers, to be clothed in the right-white clothing; and anoint their eyes with the eye salve Laodicea was known for. They needed to see everything from a Spiritual perspective.

Revelation 3:19 reminds us that God’s rebuke and chastening are all motivated by love.

The letter to the Laodiceans contains that classic visual of Jesus standing at the door, knocking. Somehow, someway over time Jesus ended up on the outside of His church. Lord is that me/us? God help us to open the doors of our hearts and let Jesus in…where He belongs, to dine with Him and fellowship forever and ever.

I realize we don’t know what Jesus actually looked like, and we should never bow down to any image of God, but I’ve always been touched by the painting of Jesus knocking on the door. You’ll notice there’s no door knob on the outside…it’s up to us, to open that “door” on the inside of our hearts.

Psalm 131:1-3

A short but beautiful Psalm about growing up and living a simple life of trust in God.

There will be MANY things in life that we will not be able to understand (things much too profound for us). But our peace is not planted or rooted there! Christians actually possess a peace that PASSES understanding and it’s a great guard for us.

Philippians 4:7 (NKJV) “…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Whenever we come across things that we don’t understand, we fall back on what we do understand – that God loves us, and has our best interest in mind. When we grow as Christians and move on from milk to meat, from being bottle-fed to studying God’s Word for ourselves, we learn to live on promises – not explanations. What a blessing it is to be weaned!

Proverbs 29:23

Proverbs 29:23 (NKJV) “A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.”

Another one of those clear contrasts between pride and humility. God resists the prideful, but gives grace to the humble.

“A life wrapped up in itself makes a very small package.”

Bible Knowledge Commentary, “The reverse effects of pride and humility warn against the one and encourage the other. Ironically pride, by which a person seeks to elevate himself, actually results in his being brought low, whereas one who is of lowly spirit is elevated by others to a position of honor.”

Consider the contrast between Absalom and David.

As a matter of fact, God hates pride  (see Proverbs 6:16-17)

C.H. Spurgeon warned that we are not be proud of face, place, race, or even grace.

A minister, a Boy Scout, and a computer expert were the only passengers on a small plane. The pilot came back to the cabin and said that the plane was going down but there were only three parachutes and four people. The pilot added, “I should have one of the parachutes because I have a wife and three small children.” So he took one and jumped. The computer whiz said, “I should have one of the parachutes because I am the smartest man in the world and everyone needs me.” So he took one and jumped. The minister turned to the Boy Scout and with a sad smile said, “You are young and I have lived a rich life, so you take the remaining parachute, and I’ll go down with the plane.” The Boy Scout said, “Relax, Reverend, the smartest man in the world just picked up my knapsack and jumped out!”