Saturday, December 16, 2017

December 16: Micah 5 – 7; Psalm 135:11-21; Proverbs 30:5-6; Revelation 7



Overview

            Micah: In a future battle, Israel will be struck. But from Bethlehem, the ruler of Israel will come. He is from before time. Israel will be beaten by her enemies for a time. After his birth and Israel returns, he will shepherd the people in the name of the Lord. They will be secure and he will rule the earth. He will deliver from Assyria then seven shepherds and eight princes will rule Assyria.
            The remnant of Israel will spread out all over the earth like dew and rule them like a lion over sheep. All enemies will be defeated. The Lord will destroy all the enemy nations and remove their sorceries, fortune tellers, and idols. He will execute vengeance on nations that did not obey.
            The Lord calls on Israel to reply to his indictment against them by speaking to the mountains. He asks how he has wronged them. He brought them from Egypt and slavery. They are to remember the times he saved them. Micah answers and asks how to approach the Lord. Should he bow or bring thousands of offerings and sacrifices? The Lord answers that he has been told to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.
            It is wise to fear the Lord. He will not forget stored up evil of all kinds. Therefore, he will make them desolate because of their sins. They will not have enough to eat and supplies will be given to the enemy. The have followed the ways of the kings of Israel.
            The godly of the land are gone like fruit after the gleaners have taken it all. The evil people are good at being evil. The best of them is like a thorn or hedge of thorns. Their punishment is at hand. They can’t trust anyone, even their spouses or children.
            Micah will look to the Lord and wait for him. Those who persecute him should not rejoice because he will be vindicated by the Lord. But the earth will be desolate. He asks the Lord to shepherd his people like he did when they came out of Egypt. Then the nations will turn to the Lord and fear him.
            Who is like the Lord who forgives and leaves a remnant? He isn’t angry forever but delights in love. He will have compassion on Israel again. Their sins will be cast into the sea and he will be faithful to Abraham’s descendants.
            Psalm: We are to praise the Lord for his feats in history. He struck down Sihon, Og, and the Canaanite kings. He gave the lands to Israel.
            God’s name endures forever and his fame will be known forever. The Lord takes care of his servants. The gods of the other nations are nothing, they can’t speak, hear, and have no breath. Those who worship them will be like them.
            Israel, the house of Aaron and Levi, and all people who fear the Lord are to praise the Lord who dwells in Jerusalem.
            Proverbs: Everything God says is true and he shields those who trust him. So, don’t add to what he’s said or he will he will correct you and show that you are a liar.
            Revelation: Next, John saw four angels at the corners of the earth holding back the winds of the earth. Another angel came from the east with God’s seal. He told the four angels not to harm the things of the earth with the winds until the servants of God have been sealed on their foreheads. 144,000 were sealed, 12,000 from each tribe of Israel. (Dan isn’t listed and Ephraim would be include in Joseph but Manasseh is listed instead of included in Joseph.)
            Next, John saw an innumerable crowd of people from every nation, tribe, people, and language before the throne clothed in white. They shouted that salvation belongs to God on the throne and the Lamb. All the angels, elders, and 4 living creatures fell down and worshiped God. They agreed and said that blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might belong to God forever.
            An elder asked John who the people were. John didn’t know so the elder told him they are the ones that come out of the great tribulation. They washed their robes in the Lamb’s blood. They will serve God before his throne day and night. God will shelter them and they will no longer have hardships. The Lamb will shepherd them and lead them to living water and comfort them.

What Stood Out

            Micah: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days” (Mic 5:2).
            Psalm: “Those who make them [idols] become like them, so do all who trust in them!” (Ps 135:18).
            Proverbs: “Every word of God proves true … Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar” (Prov 30:5-6).
            Revelation: “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 7:14).

Insight

            Micah: Micah was blessed with the privilege of forecasting the birthplace of the Messiah (Mic 5:2). There is no doubt that about this prophecy. The description of the ruler who will come cannot be understood to mean anything other than God in the flesh. He comes forth from God but his origin is the same as God’s. He is from ancient days. In other words, he has always existed. He comes froth not as a created being, but he is presented by the Father to the world. His delay in taking the kingdom on earth is revealed in Micah 5:3. His second coming will be after Israel has been regathered. When he rules on earth people will dwell securely.
            There should be no doubt in our minds that Jesus is the Messiah and that he is both man by reason of his birth and God by reason of his preexistence. Since the prophecy of his birth has come true as well as many other prophecies, we should consider the prophecies of his second coming as well. Just as Micah told of the punishment of Israel, we also have warning about our lives. We should understand that we can’t do good without Jesus. Only when we have Jesus can we do good, do justice, love kindness (mercy), and walk humbly with our God (Mic 6:8).
            Psalm: We have many reasons to praise the Lord. The Psalmist looks back at some of Israel’s history to find reason. God saved them out of Egypt and gave them a land. We can look back and ponder the most incredible salvation of all when Jesus died for our sins and recued us for eternity. The other nations worshiped idols and they will all face an eternity that is as impotent as the idols they worshiped. We trust in the Lord and can face a powerful eternity of blessing with our Lord. We who fear the Lord have that trust in Jesus and we will be blessed as we praise him.
            Proverbs: How do you respond when someone says the Lord told him something very specific? I generally say nothing or something passive like, “That’s interesting.” If they say something that is contrary to the Bible, I’ll confront them about it. But things like, “The Lord told me I would be healed in three days,” I just wait and see. I know one person who said that to me but he added, “That was four days ago, so I guess I didn’t hear correctly.” He died two weeks later. He was right on the second part. It was wise of him to admit it.
            Prov 30:5-6 is a strong statement in Scripture for us to be careful when we hear something from the Lord. Nothing we hear from him can be equated to the authority of the Bible. He may give us some personal insight or direction, but we should be very careful when we talk about it. It is one thing to be prompted in our spirit to do something we believe the Lord wants us to do. But, it is something else to say he spoke a prophecy of the future and then to have to admit we either didn’t hear him correctly or we are liars when it doesn’t happen. If he does tell us to do something specific, it better not contradict what God has already said, and if it is him, then we better obey.
            Revelation: There are some things in the book of Revelations that we will never have  perfect answers for until we are all in heaven. The first one in this chapter is the 144,000 Jews who were sealed. We know they are Jews because they come from the tribes of Israel. We know that the Lord holds back some of the destruction of the earth until they are sealed. We find them again in chapter 14 standing on Mount Zion with Jesus. Because of this, they are more likely symbolic rather than literally 144,000 Jews. The primary reason is that chapter 14 is long before Jesus returns to the Mount of Olives. We’ve been told that Jesus will return there when he comes back. If he is standing on Mount Zion, then this must be figurative and not literal. That would make the 144,000 Jews figurative as well, especially when we see their uncharacteristic purity (Rev 14:4).
            We also have questions as to why the tribe of Dan is missing and Ephraim is not mentioned but implied in Joseph while Manasseh is mentioned. Regarding Dan, many people speculate they are missing because they were the first to introduce idolatry in Israel and persisted until the captivity as mentioned in Judges 18:30 (Barnes' Notes). However, Barnes also notes that because the listing of the tribes in other places substitute one tribe for another doesn’t make this substitution significant. I would mention that if these men are all following Jesus, then they would have to be Christians. They couldn’t be selected simply based on their tribe. If this is the case, then there is no reason to have Dan omitted because of their familial sins. If that were true, then none of us should be saved, or any of the tribes of Israel either.
            The next point of this chapter that is difficult is the number of people saved out of the great tribulation. Different versions translate this slightly differently with three meanings. They 1 –  are coming out (ESV), 2 – have come out (NIV), come out (NASU NKJV), or 3 – came out (KJV) of the great tribulation. Is the tribulation going on during chapter 7 (option 1)? Is the tribulation next (option 2)? Is the tribulation over (option 3 and possibly 2)? The answer affects how we view the rest of Revelation? You see why this can be confusing. I would think it is a preview of the end after the tribulation is over.
            Whenever the great tribulation ends, these are the ones saved during that time. The great thing to understand from this is that salvations continue to come even if the rapture has occurred or not. It is never too late to call on Jesus for salvation, Jew or Gentile.

Application

             I’m not going to claim I have the best answers or insights into God’s word. I don’t want to be one of those who thinks God has told me something and I have an inside track. That’s why I recommend we always study the word to make sure that even our best teachers are accurate. We want to verify it from God’s word and not be led astray.

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