~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Nahum 1:1-3:19 ~ Revelation 8:1-13
Psalm 136:1-26 ~ Proverbs 30:7-9
Old Testament - Today we start and finish the book of the prophet Nahum! Nahum prophesied against Nineveh, about 100 years after Jonah prophesied against Nineveh. Nahum was prophesying between 663 and 612 B.C., when Nineveh was at the height of its power. Nineveh was capital of the Assyrian empire and it had control of the Fertile Crescent area. Assyria had recently conquered Israel, the northern kingdom, and was threatening and causing much suffering to Judah. Nineveh was eventually conquered by Babylon in 612 B.C., as Nahum prophesied. A good overview of the book of Nahum is at bible.org at this link. Below is an image of Nahum being called by God from a 14th century illuminated Bible -
Chapter 1 verse 7 stood out to me in today's reading - "The LORD is good. When trouble comes, he is a strong refuge. And he knows everyone who trusts in him." This is a comforting verse. Do you seek God when trouble comes? Do you realize that he is a strong refuge - if you will seek him and let him be a strong refuge for you? Do you know that God is good? Do you trust in him?
Chapter 3 verse 18 jumped out at me for some reason today - "O Assyrian king, your princes lie dead in the dust. Your people are scattered across the mountains. There is no longer a shepherd to gather them together." For some reason this verse made me very thankful that we do indeed have a shepherd to gather us together today. The shepherd whose birth we will be celebrating in about a week. A shepherd who was born in a stable in a little town called Bethlehem. Will you allow Jesus be your shepherd this Christmas season? Will you allow Jesus to gather you together with others to celebrate his birth?
New Testament - Revelation chapter 8 transitions from the breaking of the seals on the scroll to the trumpets. In Old Testament times trumpets represented the announcement of important events or times of war. Here we will see plagues that are more devastating than the seals, but not as devastating as the bowls to come in Revelation chapter 16. The eagle in this chapter represents swiftness and destruction. When the eagle speaks of "all who belong to this world" in verse 13, it is referring to people who are not in relationship with God.
Verses 3 & 4 in this chapter today are beautiful - "Then another angel with a gold incense burner came and stood at the altar. And a great quantity of incense was given to him to mix with the prayers of God's people, to be offered on the gold altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of the saints, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out." I love that analogy of the incense mixing with the prayers of the saints. Do you believe that your prayers reach God's altar in heaven?
Psalms - Psalm 136 is a liturgy of Praise to God as Creator and Redeemer. A Levitical priest singer likely led the recital, while either worshippers or a Levitical choir responded with the refrain. Cool Bible factoid here - the response "His love endures forever" is repeated 26 times in this Psalm, which is the numerical value of God's name "Yahweh" - back when Hebrew letters were also used as numbers. A lot of intricacies went into the Psalms... some of which do get lost in translation from Hebrew to English. Below is an image of the Hebrew letters yud, hey, vav, hey -- often depicted in English as YHWH or Yahweh -- spelling the name of God.
Psalm 136 is also a Michael W. Smith song! :) C'mon, you know the one - verse 1 - "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever." (and Smitty carries on - "for he is good, he is above all things, his love endures forever. Sing praise. Sing Praise! Forever God is faithful, forever God is strong... ") Okay - is it a bad thing if I start reading a Psalm and a Michael W. Smith song pops into my mind? I don't think so.... but I could be wrong. :) I gotta say, I really like the 2 Michael W. Smith Worship CD's. They are good stuff...
Proverbs - Proverbs 30 verses 8 & 9 are two of my favorite Proverbs verses! "Give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, "Who is the LORD?" And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God's holy name." Wow. Think there is some truth in this Proverb? Do you pray that God will give you neither poverty nor riches? Below is an image of what looks to be a very interesting book on this subject. I've actually heard Craig Blomberg speak before. He's brilliant. I hope someday to read his book "Neither Poverty nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Material Possessions."
What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!