~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Malachi 1:1-2:17 ~ Revelation 21:1-27
Psalm 149:1-9 ~ Proverbs 31:10-24
Old Testament - Today we start the very last book of the Old Testament by the likely last prophet of the Old Testament era, Malachi! (some say Joel was the last prophet, but most think Malachi) There is some great stuff in this short book... particularly when we get to tomorrow's readings. The name Malachi means "my messenger." Malachi was written in approximately 430 B.C. and he was likely a contemporary of Nehemiah. Malachi was written to the returned exiles in Jerusalem well after the temple had been rebuilt under the governor Zerubbabel in 516 B.C. By 430 B.C. there was a spiritual malaise in the land. It is speculated that this is in part because Jerusalem was now a small province in the large Persian empire. But, the big reason is probably because the glorious future and God sending his Messiah, Jesus, as pronounced by Isaiah, Haggai and Zechariah and others had not yet come to fruition. A good overview of Malachi is online at bible.org at this link. Below is an icon from the Orthodox church of the prophet Malachi -
Chapter 1 verse 2 stood out to me in today's readings - "I have loved you deeply," says the LORD." I guess this really resonated with me since we are now reading the last book of the Old Testament. As I look back on our readings earlier this year - all of the books of the Old Testament that we have read and all of the interaction between God and his covenant people, I have to absolutely nod my head in agreement with these words from God in verse 2. God loved deeply in the Old Testament. And the New Testament. And God loves us deeply today. Do you believe that God loves you deeply? And do you believe that he always will? Do you in turn love God deeply? Will you reach out and jump in to the deep end of the pool of God's love?
Verse 7 also jumped out at me - "You have despised my name by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar." The chapter goes on to describe how blind, crippled, and diseased animals were sacrificed to God - which were unacceptable holy sacrifices to God per his commands in Leviticus 1:3 and Deuteronomy 15:21. We are no longer under the law of these sacrifices, as Jesus was the final sacrifice once and for all on the cross. However - I wondered to myself as I read this verse, do we still offer "defiled sacrifices" to God in some ways today in our lives? Do we give God maybe the left-overs of our life? Our left-over time, finances, energy, prayers, love, etc.? Should we instead be giving God our best sacrifices - our firstfruits, our early morning energy, our prayers, our love? Indeed, as Oswald Chambers puts it, are we giving God our very Utmost for His Highest? Are you giving God the very best of who you are? Every day?
Did anyone else catch a couple of Delirious? (Christian worship band) lyrics from their song "Lead Me" in Malachi's readings today? :) How about chapter 7 verse 17 - "You have wearied the LORD with your words." What a sad statement to think about - we can weary God with our words... do you suppose this is still possible today? Have we wearied God with our words? And then another Delirious lyric in verse 13 - "You cover the LORD's altar with tears." What does it mean to flood God's altar with our tears? When would this be good? When would this be not so good...? As Delirious continues to sing in "Lead Me" - "Great God, our promises we've broken. Oh Lord, forgive me... " Beautiful tune.
New Testament - Revelation chapter 21 is definitely one of my favorite chapters in the Bible! It is what our very hearts long for! Today we read a wonderful glimpse of the New Jerusalem, the dwelling place of God.
Certainly verses 3 and 4 are powerful for us to reflect upon - "I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, "Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever." Are you looking forward to that day when God will be among his people? When he will remove all sorrows and pains?
And verses 23-25 are so beautiful to meditate upon - "And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. The nations of the earth will walk in its light, and the rulers of the world will come and bring their glory to it. Its gates never close at the end of day because there is no night." Are you looking forward to this everlasting light? The light that can come only from God and Jesus, the Lamb?
Psalms - Psalm 149 is a beautiful song of praise today! Verse 3 I love - "Praise his name with dancing, accompanied by tambourine and harp." Do you praise God's name with dancing and music? Yes, I confess, I am a huge fan of the praise and worship thing going on in churches and with CCM artists and their concerts these days. I know this is not the only way to praise or worship God by any means. Are you praising God's name each day with the very "dance" of your life?
Proverbs - Proverbs 31:10-24 is a great reflection upon a godly wife. I read a commentary that said such a wife is almost a personification of wisdom. I like that thought! And certainly it makes sense that a women / wife would be a personification of wisdom rather than a man / husband... :) Just kidding! I'm a guy, so I can make this kind of joke right? In all seriousness, how about that thought for each of our lives - male or female - would it be a godly thing to move toward being a personification of wisdom? Obviously I'd say that Jesus was the only human this side of heaven that will walk this earth as a pure personification of wisdom. But let us seek wisdom in how we live our lives each and every day. Let us seek God's Wisdom that is worth far more than rubies...
What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!