Friday, December 15, 2017

December 15: Micah 1 – 4; Psalm 135:1-10; Proverbs 30:1-4; Revelation 6



Overview

            Micah: The Lord’s words to Micah during the reigns of Judah’s kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. The Lord declares he will come down and walk on the earth melting it like wax. It will be because of the sins of Jacob and Israel. The high places of these sins are in Samaria and Jerusalem. The idols in Samaria will be demolished when he destroys the city and farmland. The mourning will be intense and their sins incurable. The sins have even come to Jerusalem. The disaster will affect many cities in the land and will start with Lachish because that is where it started in Judah. They will all mourn.
            Woe to those who think about evil during the night then do it the next day. They steal land and houses as they oppress people. They will face God’s disaster. Their pride will come against them and others will get their fields.
            They don’t want the prophets to mention this but the Lord will do good to the good, but his people are an enemy as they devour their own people dispossessing women and children. All they want to hear is forecasts of good times and parties.
            In the future the Lord will gather the remnant into one country and their king will go before them.
            The rulers of Jacob and Israel don’t exercise justice. It is like they were butchering people. The Lord will not answer these rulers. The prophets are no better because they predict peace when war is coming. He will disgrace them all when they have no visions or things to say from the Lord. But Micah is filled with the Spirit and power to expose Jacob’s sins. The rulers who hate justice, shed blood in Jerusalem, take bribes, teach and prophecy for money think the Lord is among them and no disaster will overtake them. Zion will be plowed and Jerusalem destroyed.
            In the end times, the temple will be established on the highest mountain. People will come from all nations to be taught the Lord’s ways. The law and word of God will come from Jerusalem. He will judge nations. Everyone will be at peace with plenty. They will walk in the name of the Lord forever.
            All the lame and outcast will become a strong nation. The kingship will come to Jerusalem. But now, you will mourn and writhe in agony because you will be exiled to Babylon. You will be rescued from there. Now, nations come against Zion, but they don’t know or understand God’s plan. It will happen that Zion will raise up and destroy these nations.
            Psalm: We servants of the Lord are to praise the Lord. We praise him in his house and his courts. We praise him because he is good and his name is pleasant and he chose Israel as his own. He is above all other gods. He does what he wants in all parts of the earth. He raises clouds, makes lightening, rain, and wind. He killed the firstborn of Egypt and also performed other miracles there. He wiped out nations and their kings.
            Proverbs: We have God’s oracle to Agur, son of Jakeh. Men cry to God that they are too weary to keep going. They complain they don’t know enough or are stupid. They think they don’t have enough wisdom or knowledge of God. Only God has been in heaven and came down. He is he one who controls the wind and rain as well as everything in all parts of the earth. What’s his name or his son’s name? Only God knows.
            Revelation: The Lamb opens the first four seals of the scroll and one of the living creature says “Come” as each is opened. A horse appears as each is opened. The first is a white horse and the rider comes conquering. The second horse is bright red and the rider takes peace from the earth. The third is a black horse and the John hears that food will be expensive but not wine and oil. The fourth horse is pale and is ridden by Death with Hades following. They kill 1/4th of the people on the earth by war, famine, pestilence, and wild animals.
            The fifth seal is opened and John sees the souls of those who have been martyred for witnessing about God’s word. They are under the altar. They ask how long it will be until the Sovereign Lord avenges their death. They were given white robes and told to rest until the complete number of martyrs is finished.
            A great earthquake occurred when the Lamb opened the sixth seal. The sun became black, the moon red and stars fell to the earth. The sky disappeared like a scroll being rolled up. Mountains and islands were moved. Everyone from kings to slaves hid in caves and called to the mountains to fall on them and hide them from the face of the Lord and from the wrath of the Lamb. The great day of their wrath has come.

What Stood Out

            Micah: “If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, ‘I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,’ he would be the preacher for this people!” (Mic 2:11).
            Psalm: “I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods” (Ps 135:5).
            Proverbs: “Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up 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? Surely you know!” (Prov 30:4).
            Revelation: “[People hiding in caves were] calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev 6:16).

Insight

            Micah: Micah was one of the few prophets of his time who was actually speaking the words of God (Jer 26:18). Israel was particularly bad because the sins of Jeroboam continued long after he set up images and temples to replace the worship in Jerusalem. These were also introduced into Judah by the people of Lachish (Mic 1:13). The priest of Israel were not Levitical priests but those appointed by the king from any tribe. Naturally, those appointments offered power to the ones in office and therefore bribes were offered to have them. So priest became priests only for the money. They had no interest in serving the Lord. The prophets in Judah were doing the same thing. They were no better than modern-day fortune tellers. They would tell people exactly what they wanted to hear. Soon after spiritual decline occurred, injustice, oppression, and outright bloodshed followed.
            Paul predicted the same thing will occur in our end-times. The descriptions of people during Micah’s days are summarized in 2 Timothy 3:1 for our future and perhaps even now. They will not love good or people but love money and evils. They will pretend to be godly but will deny that God has any power (2 Tim 3:1-5). People will only want preachers who tell them what they want to hear (2 Tim 4:3). We already see this with many churches preaching that homosexuality is good and blessed by God as well as other destructive heresies.
            The problem is that we are all sinners and this is what we do when we don’t want God to tell us what to do. This is what it means to be an enemy of God. We’ll do what we want to get what we want and if that means oppressing others in any way, we’ll do it. The only solution to this is salvation through Jesus Christ. Jesus can turn the worst of us into godly people. We can’t do it on our own, it has to come from God. Those wants for ourselves will not turn into wants to do God’s will until we get a new heart from Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. “A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps 51:17).
            Psalm: What do you think about when the Psalmist says God is great? That word great doesn’t do justice to who God is. It is just the tip of the iceberg. The Psalmist will go on for some time telling just what it is to be great. Only a great God could plan all of history from the beginning of creation to the culmination of history in the new heaven and earth when we enter eternity with him. Think of all that has happened and will happen between these two times. Only a great God could make it happen that Jesus would come at the right time to save us from our sins. Only a great God would allow Adam and Eve to sin knowing it would cost his death on the cross to save us. Only a Great God can be trusted to save some of us and allow some of us to continue to rebel against him. It is beyond my understand just how great he is.
            Proverbs: Back when Agur received this prophecy from the Lord, no one knew the name of Jesus. Agur probably wasn’t thinking about the incarnation. He was probably expressing the thought that we can’t go up to heaven and find out what God is like and then bring that knowledge back. He may have been simply echoing what the Lord told Moses in Deuteronomy 30:12 when he said that God is not far off. But we know that Jesus is the answer to all the questions. Because he has come down and returned, no one needs to become weary trying to understand God. No one is too stupid to learn wisdom from the Lord Jesus. However, we must admit we hadn’t acknowledged Jesus before we can know him. That simply means confessing our sins of rebellion against him and asking him to take over our weary, stupid, rebellious lives. Then we will know him because, “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you” (Ps 9:10 NIV).
            Revelation: This chapter in Revelation is a preview of the following chapters. The four horses show a glimpse of what will happen later in the book. The first rider has minimal weapons and yet conquers much. He appears to be the one who makes a covenant with many for seven years and uses cunning to accomplish his goal (Dan 8:23, 25; 9:27).
            The second rider is the same person. He takes peace from the land and fulfills Daniel 8:24 and 9:27 when he breaks the covenant in the middle of the seven years. The next two horses show the destruction and human misery that will occur during this time.
            The fifth seal illustrates the fact that from the beginning of time, people have been killed and will continue to be killed because of the word of God. When the tribulation comes, there will still be Christians who are being killed as the following chapters will detail. It won’t be over until the last person who is destined to die for Christ does.
            This last seal is the one that causes confusion among people. You have two choice if you believe in literal biblical interpretation and this isn’t symbolic or has already happened. 1) If you don’t believe this chapter is a preview of the coming tribulation, then the wrath of God has come during this chapter and therefore, the rapture must have occurred already (1 Thes 5:9). 2) This is a preview and we will see God’s wrath later. I believe the send option is correct.
            Does it make a difference? Yes, because the first option leads us to believe that much of the book of Revelation is not applicable to any of us today because we won’t see it, as the rapture has already occurred. The second option allows us to put presuppositions about the timing of the rapture away and look to the word to inform us when it comes. It means that we must be prepared for tribulation whether it is “regular” or “great.” We may indeed see some of the horrors described in the following chapters.

Application

             While much of Revelation and what Paul wrote points to a worsening spiritual climate and increased persecution of Christians, I will remain steadfast that our God is great. How much we will see in our future of this worsening is unknown to us. But we don’t have to worry because God is Great. He will keep us faithful to the end.

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