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Malachi 1:1-2:17 ~ Revelation 21:1-27 ~ Psalm 149:1-9 ~ Proverbs 31:10-24
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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 commentaries suggest 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 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 then just a small province in the large Persian empire. But, the big reason is probably because the glorious future of God sending his Messiah, Jesus - as pronounced by Isaiah, Haggai and Zechariah and other prophets - 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 God loved deeply 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? Today will you reach out and jump in to the deep end of the pool of God's love?
Verse 7 also stood out to 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 laws 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 constant prayers, our deepest 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? Or is God typically just getting your leftovers?
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 2 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.
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Malachi titled "God's Faithful Covenant Love" is at this link, "Worship That God Rejects" is at this link, "Faithful Teaching of God's Word" is at this link, and "Profaning the Marriage Covenant" is at this link.
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?
Below are artist Pat Marvenko Smith's two great images of the heavenly Jerusalem from today's readings titled "The City Four-Square: New Jerusalem" and "The Foundations of the City", which verses 18 through 20 capture very well: "The wall was made of jasper, and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass. The wall of the city was built on foundation stones inlaid with twelve precious stones: the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst."
Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit her "Revelation Illustrated" site.
Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit her "Revelation Illustrated" site.
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Revelation chapter 21 titled "The Eternal State" is at this link and "It Just Doesn't Get Any Better Than This!" is at this link.
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...
And to close this blog posting out today with a little Proverbs 31 humor... while searching for an image for Proverbs 31 I came across this photo below. The person who took this photo said "we call her the Proverbs 31 Doggie." Cute! :)
YouTube - Today's readings in Revelation Chapter 21 remind me of the beautiful MercyMe song "I can Only Imagine:"
Can you imagine meeting Jesus in heaven? Click here and make your imagination real!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on two verses of Scripture today: "The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it." Revelation 21:23-24 (NIV)
Prayer Point: Pray that you will one day see this heavenly city, where the glory of God gives it light! Pray that you will walk in this glorious light through your saving faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
Comments from you: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
This morning I wish to share a personal experience with you regarding Revelation 21. I know this chapter by heart but I can’t read it because of my tears. My Dad’s brother had 8 kids, 6 boys and 2 girls, and I was so close to them that I even had my own place at their kitchen table. One of the boys had been killed in Vietnam. The oldest boy J. C. had died from bone cancer and the same terminal bone cancer was taking the life of Harold, the next to youngest boy. Harold was just getting his life in order. He had gone to college late and at age 30 had just graduated with honors and a degree in Accounting and had met Donna, the girl of his dreams, when the cancer struck.
I had been to see Harold many times during his illness but we had never talked about God even though I knew he was a Christian. One night John, the youngest of the 8, showed up at my door and told me Harold was asking for me. John gave me explicit orders that I was not to talk to Harold about dying because they only wanted people to talk about him beating this disease and living. On the way out the door I reached down and picked up my Bible. Harold owned a home out of town but the family had rented an apartment close to my Aunt’s house were Harold stayed because he wanted to die at home but not in the home of any of his family. When we got to the apartment John told me to leave the Bible in the car and only talk to Harold about getting well.
By this time Harold was so weak it was hard for him to speak. He managed to say “Patsy Ray, Heaven” and I asked him if he wanted to hear about what Heaven would be like and he nodded his head yes. I went to the car and got my Bible and I read Revelation 21 to him while John stood there glaring at me. When I finished reading it Harold managed to say, “Yes, yes, again” and the tears were rolling down his face. I read and reread that chapter to him for over an hour until he finally fell asleep. By that that time Johnny was quietly sobbing. He walked me to the door and gave me a big hug. I told John that Christ was letting us know that it was time for us to talk to Harold about really living – living eternally with Christ because Christ was making ready to receive Harold. After that I went every day, sometimes twice a day, and each time I read Revelation 21 to Harold and he would always say “Again” until he drifted off.
Exactly a week later Donna and Becky, the youngest girl, were with Harold and all of the rest of us were gathered around my Aunt’s table eating a sandwich and making out a schedule for when everyone would stay with Harold as two were always with him so he would never left alone. All of a sudden I got an overwhelming urge to get to Harold immediately and got up and walked out of the house. By this time Harold was too weak to speak but he looked up at me and his eyes filled with tears. I bent down and kissed him on the forehead and told him it was okay now to let go because Christ was standing there ready to take his hand. I walked in the kitchen to pray and in less than a minute Becky came in a told me it was over – Harold was gone.
I can no longer read Revelation 21 because I can’t see the words through my tears but I carry Revelation 21 in my heart, and I know when it is time for me to meet Christ that Harold will be there with Christ to welcome me.
Posted by: Pat | December 30, 2012 at 12:12 AM
I have done a bit of calculation on the New Jerusalem: it will be 2,200 Km in length x 2,200 Km in width. So it will be 4,840,000 Km square in area. I have also searched the wikipedia, the total area of China is about 9,630,960 Km square. That means the New Jerusalem will be half the size of China!
Please feel free to comment on my calculation and share your ideas about this.
Posted by: Frederick Y | December 30, 2012 at 01:34 AM
What an inspiration Pat. I felt the same joy reading about the new earth, the new heaven where God will be with us where there is no pain nor suffering but joy. Thank you for sharing.
God bless you.
Posted by: Lily | December 30, 2012 at 03:51 PM