Genesis 1:1-2:17; Matthew 1:1-25; Psalm 1:1-6
Genesis speaks of the beginning. Matthew speaks of a new beginning. The God who created us is the God who has provided for our salvation. If we are to enjoy God’s salvation, we must learn to follow the wisdom of Psalm 1:1-2 – “Blessed is the one … whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night.”
Genesis 2:18-4:16; Matthew 2:1-18; Psalm 2:1-12
If there is to be delight in God’s Word, we must overcome doubt. Satan is always saying, “Did God really say …?” (Genesis 3:1). We must learn to say, “God did say” (Genesis 3:3). We must stand by this confession of faith in God and His Word. Satan will not give in easily. He will try to talk us out of believing God’s Word. Satan will try to confuse us by speaking in a “spiritual” way. We must, however, be clear about Satan’s purpose. He is seeking to undermine God’s purpose. If he thinks he can achieve this purpose, he will speak about “God” (Genesis 3:5). It will seem that he is interpreting God’s Word. He is seeking to lead us away from God. He’s seeking to undermine our faith and obedience so that we will go “out from the presence of the Lord” (Genesis 4:16).
There is a better way. It’s the way of the wise men – “We … have come to worship Him” (Matthew 2:2). Worshipping the Lord, we are to delight in His Word. True wisdom is grounded in God’s Word (Matthew 2:5-6). Satan seeks to undermine our faith in the Lord’s Word. Speaking through Herod, he expresses this desire to “worship Christ” (Matthew 2:8). Satan is a liar. However much he may speak about God, he has no intention of worshipping Him. The truth about Satan is this: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” It is Jesus who gives “abundant life” (John 10:10). Satan’s purpose of death is seen in Herod’s plan “to search for the child to kill Him” (Matthew 2:13). God’s purpose was not thwarted. God’s purpose is life. This life is in Christ.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the One concerning whom God says, “You are My Son” (Psalm 2:7). He is the One to whom God says, “I will make the nations Your inheritance, the ends of the earth Your possession” (Psalm 2:8). God speaks to us concerning His Son – “Kiss His Son, or He will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for His wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him” (Psalm 2:12). To go the way of the Son is to go the way of life. To reject Him is to go the way of death. Go the way of the Son. Take delight in Him – “Kiss the Son.” Those who delight in the Son of God will also delight in the Word of God. The written Word of God – Scripture – leads us to the living Word of God – our Lord Jesus Christ.
Genesis 4:17-6:22; Matthew 2:19-3:17; Psalm 3:1-8
Among many names and life-spans, there is this remarkable statement: “Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Genesis 5:24). This closeness to God develops as we learn to delight in the Word of God. Together with “Noah” who “found favour in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8), Enoch stands in stark contrast to the general tenor of human life at the time – “how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth … every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5). The story of good and evil, God and the devil, is highlighted in the story of Jesus and Herod. Concerning Herod, we read this – “those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead” (Matthew 2:20). Herod is dead. God remains the living God. The human situation is described in Psalm 3:1 – “Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!” There is, however, something else we must never forget – “From the Lord comes deliverance” (Psalm 3:8).
Genesis 7:1-9:17; Matthew 4:1-22; Proverbs 1:1-17
In the story of the flood, we read of the covenant made with Noah. As we move into the story of Jesus, we come into the realm of the new covenant. God was doing a new thing, something greater than anything that ever happened under the old covenant. At the outset of Jesus’ ministry, the devil made another attempt to undermine the work of God. He tried to distract Jesus from His mission. His methods bear a striking similarity to those used in the Garden of Eden. He tries to sow seeds of doubt – “If you are the Son of God …” (Matthew 4:3,6). Quoting Scripture (Matthew 4:6), he gives the appearance of spirituality. Satan’s goal becomes clear in the third temptation. He wants Jesus to “bow down and worship” him (Matthew 4:9). Satan is defeated. Jesus is victorious. This victory can be ours as we grasp the truth: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7), as we learn, when tempted by Satan, to say, with Jesus, “It is written” (Matthew 4:4,7,10).
Genesis 9:8-11:9; Matthew 4:23-5:20; Psalm 4:1-8
God made a new beginning with Noah and his family. It doesn’t take us long to spoil God’s good work, With no concern for God’s glory, we say, “let us … make a name for ourselves” (Genesis 11:4). God’s response to this situation was Jesus Christ. He is the Man who sought only to give glory to God. Christ was God’s response to our sin – “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). He was also God’s response to the prayers of believing people who longed for a Saviour. In Psalm 4:1, the Psalmist prays, “Answer me when I call to You, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.” Jesus Christ is God’s Answer to this prayer. Christ brings relief (salvation). This salvation arises from the mercy of God. In this salvation, we have a “joy” and “peace” (Psalm 4:7-8) which the world cannot give. Only God can give this joy and peace to us.
Genesis 11:10-13:18; Matthew 5:21-42; Psalm 5:1-12
God is doing a work of grace. This becomes clear in the promise given to Abram (Genesis 12:1-3). Satan is still very active in the world – “Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord” (Genesis 13:13). This is a situation which causes great distress to the people of God – “Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament. Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to You I pray” (Psalm 5:1-2). When the Bible speaks about sin, we’re not to point the finger at other people. This is about us. We’re all sinners (Romans 3:23). The standards of God’s holiness are beyond us – “You are not a God who is pleased with wickedness: evil shall not dwell with You” (Psalm 5:4). When we read the deeply challenging analysis of God’s law, given by Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount, we become deeply conscious of our sin. Thank God – His Word does not only speak of His perfect holiness. It also speaks of His great love – “I, by Your great love, can come into Your house” (Psalm 5:7).
Genesis 14:1-16:16; Matthew 5:43-6:24; Psalm 6:1-10
In Genesis 14:18-20, we read about the remarkable appearance of the mysterious figure, Melchizedek. Here, we have the first suggestion of tithing – “Then Abram gave Him a tenth of everything” (Genesis 14:20). This is not a legalistic practice. It is set in the context of grace and worship. Abram’s tithing follows on from this: “Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine” (Genesis 14:18). In view of what we read, in Hebrews 7, about Melchizedek and our Lord Jesus Christ, it is appropriate that we should think about tithing in the context of our response to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose body was broken for us and blood was shed for us. Tithing is set within the context of worship. It is a part of our worship. In this act of worship, we are saying, “blessed be God Most High” (Genesis 14:20). Within this context of worship, there is blessing – “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth” (Genesis 14:19). Those who have been blessed by the Lord consider it their privilege to bring their tithes to the Lord. The blessing of God upon Abram is to increase greatly. The promise reaches its fulfilment in Jesus Christ – “Count the stars—if indeed you can count them … So shall your offspring be” (Genesis 15:5). Through Jesus Christ, there is salvation for “a great multitude, which no man could number” (Revelation 7:9).
Abram “believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6) – This is faith, receiving salvation as God’s gift. Unfortunately, Abram’s faith was not constant. He listened to Sarai’s suggestion: “Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her” (Genesis 16:2). This led to the birth of Ishmael. It also led to thirteen years of silence from God’s side: “Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael. When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him” (Genesis 16:16-17:1).
In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, we have teaching which links up well with the teaching regarding tithing in Genesis 14: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth … store up for yourselves treasures in heaven … You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:19-20,24). Tithing is not merely a mechanical thing. It’s part of a lifestyle, governed by heavenly priorities. If we are to make sense of life in this world, we must keep heaven in view. No matter what our circumstances may be, we must believe that the wise man builds on Christ – “The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer” – and the way of the fool will come to nothing – “All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish; they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame” (Psalm 6:9-10).
Genesis 17:1-18:33; Matthew 6:25-7:23; Proverbs 1:8-19
Following Abram’s rash action of fathering a child, Ishmael, by his maidservant, Hagar, we see, in Genesis 17, God’s determination to bless him and to make him a blessing to many people. God will not be put off by our objections (Genesis 17:15-19). To such objections, He gives this answer: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14). Despite God’s plan to send blessing, there are still many hindrances: the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were such hindrances to God’s purpose: “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous” (Genesis 18:20). Time and again, God held back His judgment. Still, the sin continued, and the judgment was coming. Even in the face of judgment, we must take great encouragement from the patience of God – “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it” (Genesis 18:32). God is looking for the remnant of faith. Out of such small beginnings, great blessing can come. Only a few were found faithful. They did not seem to be very significant. It was through this small band of faithful people that God carried forward His plan of salvation.
God’s plan of salvation reaches its fulfilment in our Saviour, Jesus Christ. In His teaching, as in the teaching of Genesis 17-18, there is both salvation and judgment. Some will be saved. Many will be lost (Matthew 7:13-14,21-23). If we are to be saved, we must follow the wisdom of the Proverbs – “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching” (Proverbs 1:8). Above all, we must follow the “Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing”, the living Word – our Lord Jesus Christ. Satan is seeking to destroy us – “let’s swallow them alive, like the grave” (Proverbs 1:12). To “go along with” those who do not honour the Lord Jesus Christ is to “rush into sin” (Proverbs 1:15-16). To live by faith in Christ is “to be kept by the power of God for full salvation” (1 Peter 1:5).
Genesis 19:1-20:18; Matthew 7:24-8:22; Psalm 7:1-9
Genesis 19 is a chapter that’s full of the darkness of sin. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is followed by the sordid episode with Lot and his daughters. Sin leads to judgment. That’s the lesson of Sodom and Gomorrah. sin leads to judgment. we see this in the birth of these two illicitly conceived children – “the father of the Moabites” and “the father of the Ammonites” (Genesis 19:37-38). To follow the pathway of sin is to walk in the way of the fool. It’s to build on sand. It’s better to build on the Rock, which is Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:24-27).
As we read of Jesus’ teaching along with the stories of Genesis, we see the continuity of God’s work of salvation. This is summed up in the words of Jesus: “many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11). In Genesis, there’s a message of judgment. We see this also in Jesus’ teaching – “the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12).
There is judgment – “Arise, Lord, in Your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies” (Psalm 7:6). Thank God – there is also salvation – we cry to “the righteous God”, “Make the righteous secure.” He hears and answers our prayer. He gives us this great testimony: “My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart” (Psalm 7:10).
Genesis 21:1-23:20; Matthew 8:23-9:13; Psalm 7:10-17
As we read of the testing of Abraham in regard to God’s call for Isaac to be sacrificed, we have a hint of God’s provision of Jesus Christ as the Saviour who was sacrificed for the sins of the world. By faith, Abraham says, “God himself will provide the lamb … ” (Genesis 2:8). “Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided” (Genesis 22:14). The events on Mount Moriah point forward to the greater Event on Mount Calvary – the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, who died not for the sins of Abraham only “but for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
As Matthew speaks of Jesus Christ, he gives his personal testimony. He doesn’t draw attention to himself. He simply tells us that Jesus said, “Follow Me … and Matthew got up and followed Him” (Matthew 9:9). As we consider the Saviour whom God has given to us, our Lord Jesus Christ who calls us to follow Him, may we learn to say, with the Psalmist – “I will give thanks to the Lord because of His righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High” (Psalm 7:17).
Genesis 24:1-67; Matthew 9:14-38; Psalm 8:1-9
In Genesis 24, we see the progress of the promise given to Abraham. From generation to generation, God is fulfilling His purpose. Once Rebekkah had agreed to marry Isaac, she received this blessing: “Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the cities of their enemies” (Genesis 24:60). This is clearly referring to the long-term fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham. It was fitting that God’s purpose should be carried forward through Isaac. He was a godly man – “He went out to the field one evening to meditate” (Genesis 24:63). If we want to live a godly life, we must learn to spend time with God.
Following on from the love story of Isaac and Rebekkah, we find Jesus, in Matthew 9:15, speaking of Himself as “the bridegroom” who has come to find a bride for Himself. From a story of human love to the Story of “love divine, all loves excelling, joy of heaven to earth come down”, we turn our hearts to worship – “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:9).
Genesis 25:1-26:35; Matthew 10:1-31; Proverbs 1:20-33
The purpose of God moves on with the birth of Jacob and Esau. We are told that “the older (Esau) will serve the younger (Jacob)” (Genesis 25:23). The purpose of God reaches its fulfilment in the coming of Jesus Christ. In Christ, God’s purpose is fulfilled. The work of God continues as Christ’s apostles carry forward the Gospel’s advance in the world.
Matthew 10 tells of the disciples’ being trained for their later work of being Christ’s witnesses in the world (Acts 1:8).
Proverbs 1:20-21 – “Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech.” The Gospel is not to be kept to ourselves. Christ is to be proclaimed.
Proverbs 1:33 – “whoever listens to me will live in safety.” Romans 10:13 – “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Genesis 27:1-28:32; Matthew 10:32-11:5; Psalm 9:1-6
As we see the progress of the divine promise through the line of Jacob, we also see that Esau married into Ishmael’s side of the family (Genesis 28:8-9). The tremendous experience, given by God to Jacob (Genesis 28:10-22) was one of the great turning-points in Jacob’s life (see also Genesis 32:22-23). It was on that night that he became a new man. The story of Jacob became a story of blessing, a story of a man being led by the Lord Himself on “a stairway … reaching to heaven” (Genesis 28:12).
Jesus said, “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of Me” (Matthew 11:6). The story of Esau became a story of an increasing falling away from the Lord. The story of God’s enemies is summed up in Psalm 9:3 – “My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before You.”
The testimony of the saved is summed up in Psalm 9:1-2 – “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing the praises of Your name, O Most High.”
Genesis 29:1-30:43; Matthew 11:16-30; Psalm 9:7-12
In Genesis 29-30, we read of many births. The significant birth, in terms of God’s purpose of redemption, is the birth of Joseph (Genesis 30:22-24). There is, of course, another Joseph in Scripture – Joseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The birth of Jesus was a mighty miracle. Jesus was the Son of God. He had a special relationship to God the Father – “no one knows the Father except the Son” (Matthew 11:27). To whom does the Son choose to reveal the Father? – He reveals the Father to those who respond to His gracious invitation – “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). To those who come to Jesus Christ, God’s promise is given: “Those who know Your name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You” (Psalm 9:10).
Genesis 31:1-55; Matthew 12:1-21; Psalm 9:13-20
Criticism of Jacob by Laban (Genesis 31), criticism of Jesus by the Pharisees (the criticism of the disciples is implicitly a criticism of Jesus – Matthew 12:1-2), criticism of the Psalmist (“O Lord, see how my enemies persecute me!” – Psalm 9:13) – criticism is directed against the Lord’s people in every generation. Whatever criticism there may be, we must learn to hear, with faith, the Word of the Lord – “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight” (Matthew 12:18). These words are, supremely, true of Jesus. Nevertheless, they are also true of Jacob who took his place in the ongoing purpose of God, David who “declared God’s praises … and rejoiced in His salvation” (Psalm 9:14) and ourselves who have been saved by His grace. In our conflict with evil, we must take our problem to the Lord, praying, with the Psalmist – “Arise, O Lord, let not man triumph” (Psalm 9:19).
Genesis 32:1-33:20; Matthew 12:22-45; Proverbs 2:1-11
In Genesis 28:10-22, we read about a turning-point in Jacob’s life. Here, in Genesis 32:22-32, we have another turning-point. It’s summed up in Genesis 32:28 – “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Jacob may “have overcome”, but there is no-one who has overcome so mightily as our Lord Jesus Christ. He “drove out demons by the Spirit of God” and, in Him, we are overcomers – “They triumphed over him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11). Victory comes from the Lord – “He holds victory in store for the upright” (Proverbs 2:7). He is our “shield”; He “guards” and “protects” us in the heat of the battle (Proverbs 2:7-8). As we walk in the pathway of victory, we are led in “every good path” (Proverbs 2:9). We are led in a way which, the Lord says, “will be pleasant to your soul” (Proverbs 2:10).
Genesis 34:1-35:29; Matthew 12:46-13:17; Psalm 10:1-11
We have read about two times of blessing in Jacob’s life (Genesis 28:10-22; Genesis 32:22-32). Here’s a third time when the Lord blessed him (Genesis 35:9-12). The Lord’s blessing doesn’t come only once. He blesses His people again and again. He leads us on to a closer walk with Himself. The blessing of God doesn’t pass automatically from one generation to another. Isaac had been blessed by God. Esau turned away from God. He missed out on God’s blessing. The blessing of God is not to be taken for granted.
Genesis 36:1-37:36; Matthew 13:18-35; Psalm 10:12-18
When Joseph spoke of his dream, “his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind” (Genesis 37:11). Jacob was becoming aware that Joseph was the man whom God had chosen to carry the purpose of God forward into the next generation. Joseph’s dreams had been given to him by the Lord. God was indicating to him the “new thing” (Isaiah 43:19) that He was about to do. God spoke to Joseph through dreams. God spoke through Jesus in parables (Matthew 13). Whether we’re reading about Joseph’s dream concerning God’s continuing purpose or Jesus’ parables of the Kingdom, we must remember this: “The Lord is King for ever and ever” (Psalm 10:16).
Jacob “struggled with God” before he was “blessed” by God (Genesis 32:28-29). The blessing of God comes to us as we live in obedience to Him – “whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50). When the Word of God comes to us, Jesus says to us, “He who has ears, let him hear” (Matthew 13:10). As we receive God’s Word in obedient faith, our knowledge of God increases. As we get to know Him better, we desire to Him in even greater depth – “Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance” (Matthew 13:12). There is, however, also a warning – “Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him” (Matthew 13:12). To despise the blessing of God, like Esau did, is to become like “the wicked man”, described in Psalm 10:1-11.
Genesis 38:1-39:23; Matthew 13:36-58; Psalm 11:1-7
What a contrast there is between the unrestrained lust of Judah (Genesis 38) and the sexual restraint of Joseph – “How then can I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9). Joseph was unjustly treated, and put in prison. Nevertheless, God’s purpose was not hindered – “the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did” (Genesis 39:23). When we read of Joseph, being thrown into slavery and, later on, into prison, we see the similarity to Jesus – “Only in his home town and in his own house is a prophet without honour” (Matthew 13:57). Whenever things are going badly (Joseph in prison, Jesus – “a prophet without honour”), we must remember – “The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord is on His heavenly throne” (Psalm 11:4). We must learn to say, “In the Lord, I take refuge” (Psalm 11:1). We must rest in this assurance: “upright men will see His face” (Psalm 11:7).
Genesis 40:1-41:40; Matthew 14:1-21; Proverbs 2:12-22
Joseph was the forgotten man. He asked the chief cup bearer to remember him (Genesis 40:14). The chief cup bearer forgot Joseph (Genesis 40:23). He wasn’t remembered until “two full years had passed” (Genesis 41:1). As he languished in prison, these two years must have seemed a very long time. Nevertheless, Joseph kept close to God, and when the time came for him to speak for God, he was ready. Joseph didn’t seek glory for himself – “I cannot do it.” He gave all the glory to God – “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires” (Genesis 41:16). John the Baptist was also imprisoned (Matthew 14:3). For John, unlike Joseph, there was to be no release. Whatever our circumstances, we must seek to honour God. The important thing is not the outcome of our adverse circumstances. It’s our faithfulness in these difficult times. Whatever is happening to us, we must remain in “the straight paths” and must not “walk in dark ways” (Proverbs 2:13).
Genesis 41:41-42:38; Matthew 14:22-15:9; Psalm 12:1-8
We may see a parallel between Joseph and “the twelve” (his eleven brothers and his father, Jacob) and Jesus and “the twelve” (His disciples). Joseph is leading them into a situation of testing. His long-term intention is to show them that He loves them. Jesus comes to “the twelve” in their time of testing. He shows them that He loves them. Joseph reveals his identity to his family brothers. Jesus reveals His identity – “those who were in the boat worshipped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God’” (Matthew 14:33). In Psalm 12:7, we have the great declaration of faith – “You, Lord, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked.” In both stories – Joseph and Jesus, we see the salvation and protection of God. In Genesis 50:20, we read of God’s purpose in the events of the Joseph story – “the saving of many lives.” In the story of “Jesus … walking on the lake”, the “terrified” disciples became worshipping disciples (Matthew 14:25-26,33). This is what God’s salvation does in our lives.
Genesis 43:1-44:34; Matthew 15:10-39; Psalm 13:1-6
We noted a parallel between Joseph and Jesus – the time of testing for Joseph’s family and Jesus’ disciples and the revelation of love coming to them from Joseph and Jesus. Here, we note another parallel between Joseph and Jesus. Joseph gives food to his own family and also to the whole land of Egypt. Jesus gives food to His own disciples and also to a great multitude – “four thousand, besides women and children” (Matthew 15:38). There is an important principle here – the Bread of Life is not only for the Church. It’s also for the world, the multitudes who are hungry for the spiritual food which only Christ can give to them. To hunger for the presence of the Lord, while feeling that He is far away, is a painful thing. This was the experience of the Psalmist in Psalm 13:1. He was facing very difficult circumstances. His enemies were saying, “I have overcome him.” His foes were rejoicing when he fell (Psalm 13:2,4). Despite all of this, he continued to trust in the Lord. He kept on rejoicing in the Lord. He kept on singing praise to the Lord,. He kept on giving thanks to God for His goodness (Psalm 13:5-6).
Genesis 45:1-47:12; Matthew 16:1-20; Psalm 14:1-7
Joseph makes himself known to his brothers: “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!” (Genesis 45:4). Jesus makes Himself known to His disciples (Matthew 16:13-17). In Joseph’s self-identification, there is a statement about why God had sent him into Egypt – “it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you … God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance” (Genesis 45:5,7). Jesus was sent by God to call out the “Church” by an even greater deliverance – deliverance from “the gates of hell” (Matthew 16:18). Joseph said, “God has made me lord of all Egypt” (Genesis 45:8). Concerning Jesus, Scripture declares that God has made Him Lord of all – He has “the keys of the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:19). The words, spoken by Joseph’s brothers to their father, Jacob, bring out another connection with Jesus. “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt” (Genesis 45:26). Jesus is alive and He rules over all. He is the risen and reigning Christ. The connection between the story of Jacob (or Israel) and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is highlighted in Psalm 14:7. The Old Testament longs for the coming of the Saviour – “Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!” It looks forward to a time of rejoicing, a time of gladness – “When the Lord restores the fortunes of His people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!”
Genesis 47:13-48:22; Matthew 16:21-17:13; Proverbs 3:1-10
In Genesis and Matthew, we see Jacob and Joseph looking to the future. It is to be a future of blessing. For both, death was near. the future, however, was life. In Jacob’s time, the expectation concerned an earthly land – “God will be with you and take you back to the land of your fathers” (Genesis 48:21). In Christ, our expectation concerns a heavenly land – “the Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what they have done” (Matthew 16:27). In Proverbs 3:1-2, we read, “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.” While earthly prosperity is a gift of God for which we must be grateful, the greatest gift of God is heavenly – “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Genesis 49:1-50:26; Matthew 17:14-18:9; Psalm 15:1-5
In Genesis 49, we read of Jacob’s blessings on his sons. In Matthew 18:1-4, we read of the disciples asking Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” Jesus replied to them, “whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.” In the Kingdom of heaven, the glory doesn’t belong to man. It belongs to the Lord. It’s not about man’s greatness. In the Kingdom of heaven, we see the greatness of God – “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise” (Psalm 145:3). Our worship is to be expressed in our lives as well as our words – ” Lord, who may dwell in Your sanctuary? … The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous … Whoever does these things will never be shaken” (Psalm 15:1-2,5).
Job 1:1-3:26; Matthew 18:10-35; Psalm 16:1-11
In the life of faith, we will face many difficulties. For Job, there was great suffering. For Jesus’ disciples, there was the pain of loss when Jesus was taken from them. For all of God’s people, there is something better still to come: “You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand” (Psalm 16:11). We must not look only at the things that are happening now. We must look also at the glory which is yet to come.
Job 4:1-7:21; Matthew 19:1-15; Psalm 17:1-5
Bereavement, hardship, divorce – the Word of God speaks of these difficulties in Job and in the words of Jesus. These things can bring on deep depression. We see this in Job’s reaction to his bereavement and hardship. In such circumstances, we must take our thoughts to the Lord, even if, as in the case of Job, the pouring out of the soul to the Lord doesn’t seem to be a very positive thing. It is to the Lord that we cry. When we do this, we keep open our lifeline to Him open. He will renew our strength. He will lift us out of our trouble. Whatever trouble we face, we must learn to say, with the Psalmist: “Hear, O Lord, my righteous plea; listen to my cry. Give ear to my prayer … ” (Psalm 17:1).
Job 8:1-10:22; Matthew 19:16-30; Proverbs 3:11-20
When we face difficult circumstances, as Job did and as the Lord’s disciples did (Matthew 19:29), we must never forget that the Lord’s purpose is good and His long-term goal is our good – “eternal life” (Matthew 19:29). What is to be our attitude to suffering? – “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in” (Proverbs 3:11-12). Whether our suffering arises from unfavourable circumstances or human hostility, we must never doubt that all of these things are under the control of God and are used by Him to make us more obedient to Him and more pleasing to Him.
Job 11:1-14:22; Matthew 20:1-19; Psalm 17:6-12
Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) teaches us that all that we have, apart from our sin, is received from God as a gift of His grace. We must remember this when, like Job, we are going through hard times. We don’t have the right to expect everything to be going great all the time. When we are enjoying the Lord’s blessing, we must never forget that this is not something we have earned. It’s the blessing of His grace, the blessing which has been given to us by the Lord. The more we come to know His blessing, the more we will have confidence to say, “I call on You, O God, for You will answer me” (Psalm 17:6).
Job 15:1-18:21; Matthew 20:20-34; Psalm 17:13-15
God doesn’t abandon us when we’re suffering. When Jesus asked His disciples, “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” (Matthew 20:22), He was teaching them that there would be suffering. There’s a great difference between the way in which worldly people and godly people react to suffering. “Men of this world whose reward is in this life” (Psalm 17:14) don’t see any eternal purpose in suffering. The believer looks beyond the suffering to the glory which is yet to come: “And I, in righteousness, I shall see Your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing Your likeness” (Psalm 17:15).
Job 19:1-21:34; Matthew 21:1-17; Psalm 18:1-6
Among Job’s many words of anguish, there are these tremendous words – “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end H will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes – I, and not another” (Job 19:25-27). We must not lose patience. Before Jesus was raised, He went to the Cross. The Psalmist had this testimony – “I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies” (Psalm 18:3). This great testimony did not come easily – “The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me” (Psalm 18:4-5). For us, as for Jesus, out of death comes resurrection.
Job 22:1-24:25; Matthew 21:18-32; Proverbs 3:21-35
Job 23:10 contains a spiritual gem – “He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Failure to bear fruit leads to judgment (Matthew 21:19; John 15:16). When we face testing and purging, we must not lose sight of the presence of God. Whatever difficulties there may be, we stand on the Lord’s promises – “you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble … the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared” (Proverbs 3:23,26).
Job 25:1-29:25; Matthew 21:33-22:14; Psalm 18:7-15
There is a judgment of God. Job’s ‘friends’ brought no comfort to him. They failed to discern the presence and purpose of God in Job’s sufferings. All the prophets of God and, above all, the Son of God, encountered persecution. There will, however, come a day when the enemies of the Lord will be brought to judgment: “The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot His arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning He routed them” (Psalm 18:13-14).
Job 30:1-32:22; Matthew 22:15-46; Psalm 18:16-24
There were hypocrites trying to condemn Job. There were “hypocrites … trying to trap” Jesus (Matthew 22:18). In both cases, they had to give up – “they had found no way to refute Job” (Job 32:3); “No-one could say a word in reply” to Jesus (Matthew 22:46). The testimony of God’s people is summed up in Psalm 18:17-18: “He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support.”
Job 33:1-34:37; Matthew 23:1-39; Psalm 18:25-36
There is a great similarity between Job’s ‘comforters’ and the Pharisees. Job’s ‘comforters’ say, “Should God then reward you on your terms, when you refuse to repent? … Job speaks without knowledge; his words lack insight … To his sin he adds rebellion … and multiplies his words against God” (Job 34:33-37). To the Pharisees, Jesus says, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the Kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to” (Matthew 23:13-14). There is, however, a better way – “You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty” (Psalm 18:27).
Job 35:1-37:24; Matthew 24:1-31; Proverbs 4:1-9
The Return of the Lord will be “with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). Even in the rather arrogant words of Elihu, in his proud rebuke of Job, there is the recognition of the power and glory of the Lord’s coming – “God comes in awesome majesty” (Job 37:22). The Lord of power, glory and majesty is also the God of grace who desires to share all of this with us – He will “present you with a crown of splendour” (Proverbs 4:9). This is a great Gospel truth – the grace of God. Sadly, it was something which didn’t really figure in Elihu’s thinking.
Job 38:1-40:2; Matthew 24:32-25:13; Psalm 18:37-42
The story of our life is only understood once we see the full picture. The book of Job is not understood by reading the words of Job and his ‘comforters’. We must also hear the Word of the Lord. The history of God’s salvation is not understood by reading only about Christ’s first coming. We must look on to His Second Coming. Concerning that Coming, we might imagine Jesus Christ speaking to the Father in the words of the Psalmist: “You armed me with strength for battle; You humbled my adversaries before me” (Psalm 18:39; see also Philippians 2:9-11 and 1 Corinthians 15:24-28).
Job 40:3-42:17; Matthew 25:14-46; Psalm 18:43-50
“The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first” (Job 42:12). “For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance” (Matthew 25:29). Both of these statements occur within the context of the call to be faithful to God. This faithfulness to God is not something in which man himself glories – “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink?” (Matthew 25:37). In view of the Lord’s blessing, His people say, “The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Saviour!” (Psalm 18:46).
Exodus 1:1-3:22; Matthew 26:1-30; Psalm 19:1-6
The mighty redemption of God in the Old Testament was focused on the Exodus. The mighty redemption in the New Testament is focused on the Cross – Jesus’ ‘exodus’ or ‘departure’. The Exodus led to “the land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:17). The Cross leads to the “Father’s Kingdom” (Matthew 26:29). As we concentrate on these mighty once-for-all events of redemption, we must never forget the ongoing activity of divine revelation: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech” (Psalm 19:1-2).
Exodus 4:1-6:12; Matthew 26:31-46; Proverbs 4:10-19
Moses was not eloquent. God made him a mighty man of faith. Peter denied his Lord. God restored him and established him in Christ. We are inadequate and unworthy. God can do great things in us and through us. The Lord is leading His people on to better things: “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day” (Proverbs 4:18).
Exodus 6:13-8:32; Matthew 26:47-68; Psalm 19:7-14
There is a clear similarity between Pharaoh and Judas. Pharaoh said, “I will let you go …” (Exodus 8:28). He didn’t keep his promise. “Judas said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed Jesus” (Matthew 26:49). He betrayed Jesus. How are we to avoid this hypocrisy, this marked discrepancy between our words and our actions? Psalm 19:7 points the way – “The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.”
Exodus 9:1-10:29; Matthew 26:69-27:10; Psalm 20:1-9
The tragedies of Pharaoh and Judas continue – “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart … Moses replied … I will never appear before you again” (Exodus 10:27-28). Judas “went away and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:5). This is the tragedy of those whose hearts are hardened against the Lord. The opportunity of grace comes. It is missed. It is never so near again. This is the tragedy of spiritual suicide. The contrast between Pharaoh and Israel is clear: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the Name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm” (Psalm 20:7-8). The contrast between Judas and Jesus is clear: “I know that the Lord gives victory to His anointed (Christ). He answers him from His heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of His right hand” (Psalm 20:6). The Resurrection is God’s answer to prayer of the Christ: “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).
Exodus 11:1-12:51; Matthew 27:11-44; Psalm 21:1-7
In Exodus 12:13, we read of the Passover – “when I see the blood, I will pass over you.” In the story of Christ’s crucifixion, we have the message of His blood being shed for sinners. This is illustrated in the events of Jesus being crucified and Barabbas being set free. the chief priests and the teachers of the law did not understand what was really happening. God was bringing salvation to sinners through the death of Christ, the sinless Saviour. In Christ, there are “eternal blessings” (Psalm 16:6). These blessings are given to us by God.
Exodus 13:1-14:31; Matthew 27:45-66; Proverbs 4:20-27
“The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left” (Exodus 14:21-22). “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51). The dividing of the waters and the tearing of the curtain are the results of the mighty activity of God. They are signs of His great work of redemption. “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you” (Proverbs 4:25). This is what the Israelites had to do, as they were going through the Red Sea. This is what we must do, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus and saying from the heart, “Surely, He was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54).
Exodus 15:1-16:36; Matthew 28:1-20; Psalm 21:8-13
The great Old Testament events of redemption have taken place – the Exodus from Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea. Now, the Lord’s people must make their way through the wilderness. The great New Testament events of redemption have taken place – the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. To His people, the Lord says, “Surely I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). To both Israel and the Church, God gives His promise: “Though they plot evil against you and devise wicked schemes, they cannot succeed” (Psalm 21:11). The victory is the Lord’s. He gives His victory to us.
Exodus 17:1-18:27; Mark 1:1-28; Psalm 22:1-11
The life of faith is never an easy life. We have to do battle with the world, the flesh and the devil. We see the influence of the world in Exodus 17:3 – “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt… ?” We may also see this as the influence of the flesh. The world appeals to our desire for the things of the flesh. The influence of the world and the flesh is also seen in Psalm 22. We see the Psalmist’s feeling that God is far from him – “Why are You so far from saving me… ?” (Psalm 22:1). The Psalmist’s sense of abandonment is seized upon by the world – “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads” (Psalm 22:7). The ultimate origin of temptation is the devil – Jesus was “tempted by Satan” (Mark 1:13). In our conflict with the world, the flesh and the devil, we, like Jesus – “angels attended Him” (Mark 1:13) – can know the strength and victory which God gives.
Exodus 19:1-20:26; Mark 1:29-2:17; Psalm 22:12-21
Those who seek to be mighty before men must learn to be humble before God. “Moses went up to God… “, “Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak” (Exodus 19:3,7). “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed”, “He travelled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons” (Mark 1:35,39). The Psalmist was unable to speak for the Lord; “My mouth is dried up… my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth” (Psalm 22:15). What did he do? He prayed – “But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me” (Psalm 22:19).
Exodus 21:1-22:31; Mark 2:18-3:30; Proverbs 5:1-14
There is a world of difference between legal obedience and Gospel obedience. It is the difference between “old wine” and “new wine” (Mark 2:21-22). The religion of the Pharisees was legalistic. The obedience of Jesus was truly spiritual. These men could not stand Jesus – “the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus” (Mark 3:6). Forget the mighty redemption of God (Exodus 20:1), and you are left with a whole lot of rules and regulations” (Exodus 21-22). If you become obsessed with the rules and regulations, you will have no real love for the Redeemer and His redemption. If our lives are to have real spiritual depth and not mere religious observance, we need to “pay attention to (God’s) wisdom” and “listen well to (His) words of insight” (Proverbs 5:1).
Exodus 23:1-24:18; Mark 3:31-4:29; Psalm 22:22-31
The people of Israel were called by God to celebrate His goodness: “Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field” (Exodus 23:16). A good harvest is used by Jesus as a symbol of a rich, spiritual harvest – “Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown” (Mark 4:20). The linking of the physical and the spiritual is found in Psalm 22:26 – “The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise Him.”
Exodus 25:1-26:37; Mark 4:30-5:20; Psalm 23:1-6
The Lord’s people were in the wilderness. Nevertheless, the Lord’s presence, symbolized by the tabernacle, was with them (Exodus 25-26). Jesus’ disciples were caught in the storm. Nevertheless, the Lord was with them, and He brought peace (Mark 4:35-41). The greatest wilderness, the greatest storm is death itself. Through faith, we can say, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me” (Psalm 23:4).
Exodus 27:1-28:43; Mark 5:21-6:6a; Psalm 24:1-10
“Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart” (Exodus 28:29). This bearing of the names on the heart is seen supremely in Jesus. He was not prepared to let the woman, who had touched the hem of His garment, slip away unnoticed. Jesus wanted to her personally – “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5:34). He bore her name on His heart of love. The Lord, who bears us on His heart, is the God of perfect holiness: “Make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it as on a seal: HOLY TO THE LORD” (Exodus 28:36). “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:3-4). There is only One who meets these requirements – our Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel proclaims that this Saviour, perfect in holiness and perfect in love, shares the blessing with us.
Exodus 29:1-30:38; Mark 6:6b-29; Proverbs 5:15-23
Some people thought that Jesus was “a prophet like one of the prophets of long ago” (Mark 6:15). He was more than a prophet. He was also greater than the priests of whom we read in Exodus 29. When we look at an evil king such as Herod, it is encouraging to know that, in face of such tyranny, there is a greater King, the King of kings, our Lord Jesus Christ. To know Jesus as Prophet, Priest and King is to have no need to run to anyone else – “None but Christ can satisfy” (Read Proverbs 5:18-20 and move beyond this to the true, spiritual satisfaction which Christ alone can bring to us.)
Exodus 31:1-33:6; Mark 6:30-56; Psalm 25:1-7
Moses calls to the people, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me” (Exodus 33:26). Jesus also invites His apostles to “come” – “Come with Me … to a quiet place” (Mark 6:31). To come with Jesus to a quiet place is not to discover a place of permanent tranquility. Jesus and His apostles were soon surrounded by “a large crowd” – “The number of the man … was five thousand” (Mark 6:34,44). Jesus takes us to “the quiet place” so that we may receive strength for the task of bringing the Bread of Life to those who are learning to pray the prayer of the Psalmist: “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Saviour” (Psalm 25:4-5).
Exodus 33:7-34:35; Mark 7:1-30; Psalm 25:8-15
What a difference there is between Moses, coming down from Mount Sinai, and the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. Moses had “the two tablets of the testimony in his hands” and “his face was radiant” (Exodus 24:29-30). Concerning the Pharisees, Jesus, quoting Isaiah 29:13, said, “These people honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me” (Mark 7:6). How can we be radiant, like Moses, and not hypocritical, like the Pharisees? – “My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only He will release my feet from the snare” (Psalm 25:15).
Exodus 35:1-36:38; Mark 7:31-8:13; Psalm 25:16-22
“The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done” (Exodus 36:5). “The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over” (Mark 8:8). Jesus always has more to give than we are able to receive. Our response is to be an increased generosity in our giving to Him. We face the multiplying of troubles – “The troubles of my heart have multiplied” – and the increase of opposition – “See how my enemies have increased” (Psalm 25:17,19). In this deeply distressing situation, the multiplying of God’s saving grace and the increase of His keeping power – “May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in You. Deliver Israel, O God, from all their troubles!” (Psalm 25:21-22).
Exodus 37:1-38:31; Mark 8:14-9:1; Proverbs 6:1-11
Jesus warns His disciples against the godless influence of the Pharisees. Their influence on people is classed along with the evil influence of Herod (Matthew 8:15). The Pharisees had become obsessed with the externals of religion but they had lost the awareness of God’s glory. They conformed to the details (the kind of thing we find in Exodus 37-38), but they had missed the real meaning of worship – giving glory to God. To those who bound by an evil legalism, God’s Word says, “Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler” (Proverbs 6:5). The freedom which Christ gives is not freedom without discipline. Scripture says, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!” (Proverbs 6:6).
Exodus 39:1-40:38; Mark 9:2-32; Psalm 26:1-12
“The glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34-35). There is, however, an even greater demonstration of God’s glory – in Christ. Concerning Christ, God says, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!” (Mark 9:7). The glory of God, revealed through the ministries of Moses and Elijah (the law and the prophets), was nothing compared with the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 8:8). The Psalmist says, “Lord, I love the house where You live, the place where Your glory dwells” (Psalm 26:8). Why do we go to the House of the Lord? – “in the great assembly I will praise the Lord” (Psalm 26:12).
Leviticus 1:1-3:17; Mark 9:33-10:12; Psalm 27:1-6
The offerings were to be “made to the Lord”. They were to be “pleasing to the Lord.” These recurring phrases emphasize the importance of keeping the Lord at the centre of all that we do. We are not to argue about who is the greatest (Mark 9:34). There is one Name that is above every name. It is the Name of Jesus. Our sacrifice is to be the sacrifice of joy. Let us, with gladness, bring our sacrifice of joy to the Lord – “at His tabernacle I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord” (Psalm 27:6).
Leviticus 4:1-5:13; Mark 10:13-31; Psalm 27:7-14
The most important thing of all is to be in a right relationship with God. This is the point which is emphasized in Israel’s sacrificial system. All other relationships are secondary to our relationship with God. Jesus makes this point in Mark 10:29-30. Leave all your loved ones for Him and the Gospel and you will “receive a hundred times as much in this present age … and in the age to come eternal life.” The Psalmist affirms that his relationship with God is more important than anything else: “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me” (Psalm 27:10).
Leviticus 5:14-7:10; Mark 10:32-52; Proverbs 6:12-19
“The sin offering is to be slaughtered before the Lord … it is most holy” (Leviticus 6:25). Concerning the death of Jesus, the human story is this: “the chief priests and the teachers of the law will condemn Him to death” (Mark 10:33-340. There is , however, also the divine side of His Story. Jesus is the Priest who makes atonement for sin by becoming the sin offering. He came “to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Those who have been redeemed by the Lord are to live as those who are being sanctified by Him. Scripture teaches us about sanctification by showing us what we are not to be (Proverbs 6:12-19) as well as what we are to be.
Leviticus 7:11-8:36; Mark 11:1-25; Psalm 28:1-9
The priest entered the holy place on behalf of the people. Jesus entered the holy city, Jerusalem, on behalf of the people. The priest entered with a sacrifice. Jesus Himself became the Sacrifice. Through Jesus Christ, the perfect Sacrifice for our sins, we are able to come to God and know that our prayer is heard and answered: “Hear my cry for mercy as I call to You for help, as I lift up my hands toward Your Most Holy Place” (Psalm 28:2).
Leviticus 9:1-10:20; Mark 11:27-12:12; Psalm 29:1-11
In the sacrificial system, everything was to be done “as the Lord has commanded” (Leviticus 9:7; Leviticus 10:15). This was the foundation of Jesus’ authority. He lived His whole life in perfect obedience to the Father’s will. Only those who, through faith, are in union with Him, will recognize the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who refuse Christ, seeking to take salvation into their own hands (Mark 12:6-8), show that they do not understand that Christ alone has the authority to be the foundation of our salvation. When we consider the greatness of God’s salvation, we give glory to Him (Psalm 29:2,9) and the glory appears among us (Leviticus 9:23).
Leviticus 11:1-12:8; Mark 12:13-27; Psalm 30:1-7
The Psalmist says, “I will exalt You, O Lord, for You lifted me out of the depths” (Psalm 30:10. In Leviticus 11-12, there is a great emphasis on the need for cleansing. In Christ, we have been cleansed. We exalt Him because He has lifted us out of the darkness of our sin. The Psalmist says, “O Lord, You brought me up from the grave” (Psalm 30:3). Jesus speaks of “the resurrection” (Mark 12:23). He is looking beyond His resurrection. He is speaking of our resurrection. We will be raised in Him. We will be raised to eternal life.
Leviticus 13:1-59; Mark 12:28-44; Proverbs 6:20-29
Leviticus 13 continues to emphasize the importance of being clean. the clean life is a life characterized by love for God and love for our neighbour (Mark 12:29-31). This is “more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Mark 12:33). The clean life is the life which is lived in the light of God’s holy Word: “these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light” (Proverbs 6:23).
Leviticus 14:1-57; Mark 13:1-31; Psalm 30:8-12
We are cleansed by the sacrifice of “the sin offering” which “makes atonement” for us “before the Lord” (Leviticus 14:18). Only those who have received cleansing from their sins through faith in Christ will enjoy the glory of heaven when the Lord returns (Mark 13:27). Psalm 30:8-12 gives an account of faith in the Lord. Realizing the danger of judgment (Psalm 30:9), the Psalmist calls upon the Lord, crying to Him for mercy (Psalm 30:8). God answers the prayer, turning the Psalmist’s “wailing into dancing” and clothing him with joy (Psalm 30:11). The Psalmist sings to the Lord from his heart – “O Lord my God, I will give You thanks for ever” (Psalm 30:12).
Leviticus 15:1-16:34; Mark 13:32-14:16; Psalm 31:1-8
At the heart of the book of Leviticus, with all its meticulous detail, there is this great statement regarding the spiritual purpose of it all: “atonement will be made for you, to cleans you. Then, before the Lord, you will be clean from all your sins” (Leviticus 16:30). When we come to the New Testament, we find Jesus Christ, not only celebrating the Passover but fulfilling the Passover. He is the Passover Lamb. In Psalm 31:5, we read the words spoken by Christ on the Cross: “Into Your hands, I commit My spirit.” These words are followed by the prayer: “redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth.” God’s answer to prayer was, in the case of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Resurrection. The risen Christ might truly echo the words of the Psalmist: “I will be glad and rejoice in Your love, for You saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place” (Psalm 31:7-8).
Leviticus 17:1-18:30; Mark 14:17-42; Psalm 31:9-18
“For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar, it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life” (Leviticus 17:11). The Old Testament principle, cited in Hebrews – “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins” finds its fulfilment in the death of Christ – “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He says to His disciples, “This is My blood of the covenant which is poured out for many” (Mark 14:24). Psalm 31:9-13 sounds very much like a description of Christ’s suffering on the Cross. This is followed by these great words: “But I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God'” (Psalm 31:14). The Psalmist goes on to say that “the wicked” will “lie silent in the grave” (Psalm 31:17). This is in contrast to Christ who rose from the grave.
Leviticus 19:1-20:27; Mark 14:43-72; Proverbs 6:30-35
Central to the teaching of Leviticus is its emphasis on the holiness of God and His purpose of making His people holy: “Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. Keep My decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy … You are to be holy to Me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be My own” (Leviticus 20:7-8, 26). We are commanded to “be holy.” We have the Lord’s promise that He will make us holy – holy to the Lord, different from those who live according to worldly standards. Jesus was perfectly holy, yet He did not defend Himself when He was falsely accused by evil men (Mark 14:55-61). He “confessed our sin”, took our place, bearing the punishment for our sins. We must not be ashamed to confess Him – “Yes, I am with Jesus. Yes, I am His disciple” (contrast Peter’s denial in Mark 14:66-72). there is judgment for those who destroy themselves by going the world’s way rather than the Lord’s way (Proverbs 6:32-33).
Leviticus 21:1-22:33; Mark 15:1-32; Psalm 31:19-24
An offering of sacrifice to the Lord “must be without defect pr blemish to be acceptable” (Leviticus 22:21). In Mark 15:15, we have the great statement concerning the sinless Son of God taking the sinner’s place – “Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged and handed Him over to be crucified.” “Praise be to the Lord, for He showed His wonderful love to me when I was in a beseiged city” (Psalm 31:21). The Cross was, for Jesus, a beseiged city. When He cried out to God, it was like the prayer of the Psalmist – “In my alarm I said, ‘I am cut off from Your sight!'” God answered the Psalmist’s prayer – “Yet You heard my cry for mercy when I called to You for help” (Psalm 31:22). God answered Jesus’ prayer when He raised Him from the dead. To those who believe in the crucified and risen Christ, God says, “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:24).
Leviticus 23:1-24:23; Mark 15:33-47; Psalm 32:1-11
Leviticus 23 gives a description of “the appointed feasts of the Lord” (Leviticus 23:2, 44). At the heart of this chapter lies “the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord” (Leviticus 23:28). Each of the festivals had their place in keeping the people in a right relationship with God. In the death of Jesus Christ, there is atonement. He died to bring us into a right relationship with God. He bore the divine sentence of judgment upon Himself – “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34) – so that we might know the blessing of which the Psalmist speaks: “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven” (Psalm 32:1).
Leviticus 25:1-26:13; Mark 16:1-20; Psalm 33:1-11
Leviticus 25 speaks of “the Year of Jubilee.” Mark 16 tells us about the Day of Jubilation, the Day when Jesus Christ was raised from the dead – “Jesus Christ is risen today, Hallelujah!” The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: This is cause for much rejoicing – “Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous … sing to Him a new song, play skilfully, and shout for joy” (Psalm 33:1,3).
Leviticus 26:14-27:34; Luke 1:1-25; Proverbs 7:1-5
In Leviticus, there are many commands given by the Lord so that the people of God, walking in obedience to His Word, might enjoy His blessing. This principle is taught throughout the Word of God – the way of obedience is the way of life: “Keep My commands and you will live” (Proverbs 7:2). This is not a shallow legalism. It is the result of the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives (Luke 1:15-17).
Numbers 1:1-2:9; Luke 1:26-38; Psalm 33:12-22
“The Israelites did all this just as the Lord commanded Moses” (Numbers 1:54). “‘I am the Lord’s servant’, Mary answered, ‘May it be to me as You have said'” (Luke 1:38). Obedience to the Lord’s Word – this is emphasized throughout Scripture: “the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope in His unfailing love” (Psalm 33:18). Obedience to God is set within the context of both fearing the Lord and knowing the reality of His love.
Numbers 2:10-3:51; Luke 1:39-56; Psalm 34:1-10
The detailed instructions given in the early chapters of Numbers arise out of Moses’ communion with God – “the Lord talked with Moses on Mount Sinai” (Numbers 3:1). God speaks to us, and we – in response to His Word – speak to Him. ‘Mary’s song’, in Luke 1:46-55, is a great example of a soul, touched by the Lord, responding to Him in worship: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour” (Luke 1:46-47). Mary echoes the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 34:1 – “I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.”
Numbers 4:1-5:10; Luke 1:57-80; Psalm 34:11-22
Numbers 4 speaks about the work which the various tribes were to do in the Tent of Meeting. Above all, the work we are called to do is worship. We are to say from our hearts, “Praise be to the Lord” (Luke 1:68). Part of this worship will be the proclamation of God’s Word – the Word through which we receive salvation (Luke 1:76-77). As the Word of God comes to us, God Himself says, “Come, My children, listen to Me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (Psalm 34:11).
Numbers 5:11-6:27; Luke 2:1-20; Proverbs 7:6-20
“The Lord bless you …” (Numbers 6:24). The Lord’s blessing comes to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. In Him, there is “good news of great joy … for all the people.” He is the “Saviour”; “Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). “The Lord … keep you” (Numbers 6:24). In Christ, we are kept in the face of the kind of temptations described in Proverbs 7:6-20.
Numbers 7:1-65; Luke 2:21-40; Psalm 35:1-10
In Numbers 7, we read of the various offerings which were brought to the Lord at the dedication of the Tabernacle. In Luke 2, we read of Joseph and Mary taking Jesus “to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord” (Luke 2:22). All that the people brought to the Lord had first been given to them by the Lord. Jesus has been to us by the Lord. All that we give to the Lord is given as our response to His great gift of Jesus. As we consider Jesus Christ who has tabernacled Himself among us (“the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”), we will say, with the Psalmist, “my soul will rejoice in the Lord and delight in His salvation” (Psalm 35:9).
Numbers 7:66-9:14; Luke 2:41-52; Psalm 35:11-18
At the time of the book of Numbers, worship took place in the Tent of Meeting. By the time of Jesus, worship took place in the Temple. The Passover was being celebrated in the Desert of Sinai in the days of Moses. The Passover was being celebrated in Jerusalem in the days of Jesus. The important thing is not the place where we worship. It is the Person whom we worship. In Luke 2:49, Jesus says, “Didn’t you know that I had to be in My Father’s House (or about My Father’s business)?” The important thing is being in the centre of the Father’s will. Many are in the Father’s House, but they are not about the Father’s business. We need both – in the Father’s House and about the Father’s business. When we say, with the Psalmist, “I will give thanks in the great assembly; among throngs of people I will praise You” (Psalm 35:18), it must not be mere words, being in the place of worship without being in the spirit of worship, uttering the words of worship yet missing the power of worship. True worship is always more than just words. It is an offering of ourselves to the Lord.
Numbers 9:15-11:3; Luke 3:1-22; Psalm 35:19-28
From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire” (Numbers 9:15). Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp” (Numbers 11:1). “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand to clear the threshing floor and to gather the wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Luke 3:16-17). Fire is a symbol of God’s working among His people. In both Numbers and Luke, there are two aspects of God’s work in us; burning away the sin and brightening our lives with the presence of God, with the power of the Holy Spirit. Those who have been blessed by the Lord in this way must surely say of Him: “My tongue will speak of Your righteousness and of Your praises all day long” (Psalm 35:28).
Numbers 11:4-13:25; Luke 3:23-4:13; Proverbs 7:21-27
We must contend with the world, the flesh and the devil. In Numbers 11:4-6, we read about the pull of the flesh. This becomes the lure of the world, as men, living in the flesh, speak to Moses as men of the world (Numbers 11:10-15). In Luke 4, we see the ultimate origin of evil – “the devil” (Luke 4:2). We must never imagine that we wrestle only against flesh and blood. The influence of the world is seductive. It is attractive to the flesh. In this situation, we must hear the words of Proverbs 7:24-27 as a warning against the devil, an exposure of him: “Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say. Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.” The enemy is real. The warning is strong. The Saviour is stronger. In Him, we have the victory. The world will not prevail over us. The flesh will not prevail over us. The devil will not prevail over us. Jesus is Victor!
Numbers 13:26-14:45; Luke 4:14-37; Psalm 36:1-12
In Numbers, there were those who grumbled against the Lord and those who pressed on to know the blessing of the Lord. In Jesus’ time, there were those who despised the Him and those who received the “good news” with gladness. What a difference there is between there is between the two: “See how the evildoers lie fallen – thrown down, not able to rise!” (Psalm 36:12); “Continue Your love to those who know You” (Psalm 36:10).
Numbers 15:1-16:35; Luke 4:38-5:16; Psalm 37:1-9
In Numbers, we read much of the way of opposition to the Lord and His Word. It is a way that leads to judgment. There is, however, a better way. It is the way of “listening to the Word of God” (Luke 5:1). Which way are we to choose? – “Commit your way to the Lord” (Psalm 37:5).
Numbers 16:36-18:32; Luke 5:17-32; Psalm 37:10-20
The Levites had an important part to play in the life of Israel. A man called Levi (Matthew, the writer of the first Gospel) had an important part to play in the life of the early Church. We are told, in Psalm 37:17, that “the Lord upholds the righteous” – “The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever” (Psalm 37:18). This is a tremendous declaration of the saving purpose of the eternal God. We, who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, are part of the inheritance of Israel and of Jesus’ first disciples. We have come to share in their inheritance through reading, with faith, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, the Scriptures which declare to us God’s preparation for Christ and God’s proclamation of Christ. Through Christ, we have entered into an eternal inheritance: “eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Numbers 19:1-21:3; Luke 5:33-6:11; Proverbs 8:1-11
The wilderness years were not easy. The pathway from Egypt (the land of oppression) to Canaan (the land of promise) was not an easy pathway. For Jesus, the pathway between Bethlehem and Calvary was not easy. Jesus’ suffering did not begin at Calvary. There was suffering from the very beginning of His life. Herod tried to kill Him when He was still a baby. Early on in His ministry, Jesus faced opposition from “the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. They “were looking for a way to accuse” Him. They “began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus” (Luke 6:7,11). Life, for the believer, may not be paved with the gold of this world, but we are learning to live in the light of heaven’s values: “Choose My instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 8:10-11).
Numbers 21:4-22:20; Luke 6:12-36; Psalm 37:21-31
The people of Israel had been “blessed” by the Lord (Numbers 22:12). Jesus also speaks of the way of blessing (Luke 6:20-22). Psalm 37:2 tells us that “those the Lord blesses will inherit the land.” Psalm 37:25-26 reminds us of how much blessing we have received from the Lord: “I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging for bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed.” Here’s something we must never forget: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Numbers 22:21-23:26; Luke 6:37-7:10; Psalm 37:32-40
“God is not a man, that He should lie” (Numbers 23:19). God’s Word is truth. To build on the foundation of God’s Word is to build on a rock-solid foundation (Luke 6:47-48). To build on this rock-solid foundation is to be safe in the stronghold of God’s salvation: “The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; He is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him” (Psalm 37:39-40).
Numbers 23:27-26:11; Luke 7:11-35; Psalm 38:1-12
There is, in Numbers 24:17,19, a prophecy concerning the Lord Jesus Christ: “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a sceptre will rise out of Israel … A ruler will come out of Jacob.” Centuries later, John the Baptist was sent by God as a messenger. He prepared the way of the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 7:27). Psalm 38 speaks of a very difficult time in the Psalmist’s life. Significantly, this Psalm begins with the words, “O Lord.” This is what we must do. We must in all our need to the only One who can meet our need fully – the Lord. He is not only the fulfilment of prophecy. He is the One in whom we find fulfilment.
Numbers 26:12-27:11; Luke 7:36-50; Proverbs 8:12-21
Our God is the Lord of hosts – “The total number of the men of Israel was 601,730” (Numbers 26:51). He is also the God of the individual – “Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace'” (Luke 7:50). He is the God of kings – “By Me the kings reign” (Proverbs 8:16). He is also the God of all who love Him – “I love those who love Me, and those who seek Me will find Me” (Proverbs 8:17).
Numbers 27:12-29:11; Luke 8:1-18; Psalm 38:13-22
In the parable of the sower, Jesus speaks of the seed and the fruit. In Numbers, we read of Moses and Joshua. The seed had been sown by Moses. The fruit would be given to Joshua. The important thing is this: It is not the sower or the reaper who gives the increase. It is God who gives the increase. As we look to God to give the increase, we say to Him, “I wait for You, O Lord; you will answer, O Lord my God” (Psalm 38:15).
Numbers 29:12-31:24; Luke 8:19-39; Psalm 39:1-13
Numbers 31:22-24 emphasizes the importance of cleansing. The healing of the demon-possessed man, in Luke 8, emphasizes the power of Christ to cleanse even the most sinful of people. To be cleansed from sin involves an act of the will on our part – “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin” (Psalm 39:1). The Psalmist does not only speak of being kept from sin. He also speaks about being on fire for the Lord: “My heart grew hot within me; and as I meditated, the fire burned, then I spoke with my tongue” (Psalm 39:3).
Numbers 31:25; Luke 8:40-9:9; Psalm 40:1-8
In Moses’ time, the people of God were to “arm themselves before the Lord for battle” (Numbers 32:20). In Jesus’ time, His disciples were given “power and authority to drive out all demons …” (Luke 9:1). In every generation, the Lord’s people are to sing “a new song … a hymn of praise to our God” so that “many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:3).
Numbers 33:1-34:29; Luke 9:10-27; Proverbs 8:22-31
The sheer dimensions of what God was doing with His people, Israel, are most impressive. This was no small thing. This was a mighty work of God. The feeding of the 5,000 was a mighty miracle. It was impressive because of the sheer numbers involved in it. When we think of such mighty miracles, we know that their origin lies in God the Creator. He created the world out of nothing, His mighty work of creation is described in Proverbs 8:27-29.
Numbers 35:1-36:13; Luke 9:28-56; Psalm 40:9-17
To come to the end of the book of Numbers is to sense the great significance of the man, Moses. To read the transfiguration of Jesus is to realize that the glory of “Moses and Elijah … in glorious splendour” is nothing compared with the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Of Christ alone, the Father says, “This is My Son, whom I have chosen; listen to Him” (Luke 9:35). We give thanks for men of faith who have played an important part in carrying forward God’s purpose of salvation. It is concerning the Lord alone that Scripture says, “may those who love Your salvation always say, ‘The Lord be exalted'” (Psalm 40:16).
Deuteronomy 1:1-2:23; Luke 9:57-10:24; Psalm 41:1-6
We are to make progress in the life of faith. There can be no looking back. In Deuteronomy 1:6-8, the Lord calls His people to press on. In Luke 9:62, the Lord Jesus emphasizes that we must keep going forward. It will not be easy. There will be opposition. Nevertheless, the Lord gives His promise of blessing (Psalm 41:2).
Deuteronomy 2:24-4:14; Luke 10:25-11:4; Psalm 41:7-13
When the people of Israel were brought to the promised land, this was a great fulfilment of God’s purpose. When Jesus teaches us to pray, “Father … Your Kingdom come”, He is teaching us to pray for an even greater fulfilment of God’s purpose. The Lord sets us in His presence for ever (Psalm 41:12). The song of the redeemed will be “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen” (Psalm 41:13).
Deuteronomy 4:15-5:33; Luke 11:5-32; Proverbs 8:32-36
In Deuteronomy 5, we have the Ten Commandments. In Luke 11:28, we have Jesus’ words: “Blessed … are those who have the Word of God and obey it.” “Blessed are those who keep My ways” (Proverbs 8:32). There is no blessing apart from obedience, and there is no obedience apart from Christ. He says to us, “Whoever finds Me finds life” (Proverbs 8:35).
Deuteronomy 6:1-8:20; Luke 11:33-54; Psalm 42:1-6a
God’s people were called to enter the promised land. They were called to live in obedience to the Lord who had brought them into the promised land. To those who refuse to enter into God’s land of blessing, God says, “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering” (Luke 11:52). There is a better way – “My soul thirsts for God, the living God” (Psalm 42:2).
Deuteronomy 9:1-10:22; Luke 12:1-34; Psalm 42:6b-11
As they entered the promised land, the people of God received this reminder of the undeserved grace of God – “It is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this land to possess” (Deuteronomy 9:6). In His free grace, God gave the land to Israel. To us, He has graciously given the Kingdom – “Your Father has been pleased to give you the Kingdom” (Luke 12:32). To Israel, the Psalmist says, “Put your hope in God” (Psalm 42:11). To us also, this comes as a Word from the Lord and, with the Psalmist, we make our declaration, “I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God” (Psalm 42:11).
Deuteronomy 11:1-12:32; Luke 12:35-59; Psalm 43:1-5
The people of God lived in a situation where there was much idolatry. For them, there could be no compromise. We are to be watchful as the Lord’s Return draws near. We dare not live as the world does. We are to live in the Lord’s way. In the midst of “an ungodly nation”, we are to pray, “Send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You dwell” (Psalm 43:3). As we look at this “ungodly nation”, it is easy to become “downcast.” We must learn to say to ourselves, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God” (Psalm 43:5).
Deuteronomy 13:1-14:29; Luke 13:1-30; Proverbs 9:1-12
In our day, there are many who say, “Let us follow other gods.” God says, “You must not listen” to such people (Deuteronomy 13:2-3). To follow the Lord’s instruction is not popular. Nevertheless, this is what we must do: “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door” (Luke 13:24). Whatever the world may say, we must stand by the truth of God’s Word: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).
Deuteronomy 15:1-16:20; Luke 13:31-14:14; Psalm 44:1-12
The people of God had been blessed by God. They had much to celebrate. The Lord had brought them out of the land of bondage. He was about to bring them into the land of promise. As we celebrate the love of God, we give the place of highest honour to Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord. Why did God give Israel the promised land? It was because He “loved them” (Psalm 44:3). We know the love of God in Christ. Concerning Christ, we say, with thanksgiving, “You give us victory over our enemies” (Psalm 44:7). In Him, we rejoice – “In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise Your Name for ever” (Psalm 44:8).
Deuteronomy 16:21-18:22; Luke 14:15-35; Psalm 44:13-26
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet …” (Deuteronomy 18:15). This prophecy has its greatest fulfilment in Christ. Jesus is more than a prophet. He is the substance of the prophecy concerning God’s Kingdom. The coming of God’s Kingdom is the coming of Christ – both His first coming (our foretaste of heavenly glory) and His second coming (the fullness of heavenly glory). In Christ, there is redemption – a redemption we have begun to know, a redemption which we will enjoy in its fullness when Christ returns. Then, we will know the full answer to the prayer of Psalm 44:26 – “redeem us because of Your unfailing love.”
Deuteronomy 19:1-20:20; Luke 15:1-32; Psalm 45:1-9
Above all men, it can be said of Christ: “You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever” (Psalm 45:2). When we read the parable of the prodigal son, we are reading the words spoken by the perfect Son. His lips were “anointed with grace.” In this parable, He points us to the heavenly welcome which is ours through returning to the Father. With the perfect Son of God, we will share the blessing: “God has blessed you for ever.” Blessed by Him, we are to fight for Him without fear and with the assurance of His victorious presence (Deuteronomy 20:1).
Deuteronomy 21:1-22:30; Luke 16:1-18; Proverbs 9:13-18
Holiness and honesty are two qualities which are to characterize the life of the Christian. The ‘laws’ in Deuteronomy stress the importance of holiness. Jesus, in His parable of the shrewd manager, emphasizes the importance of honesty – “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” (Luke 16:10). We are not to put on a facade of holiness. We are to be honest in our seeking holiness. If we despise the way of honesty and holiness, we will go the way of folly against which we are warned in Proverbs 9:13-18.
Deuteronomy 23:1-25:19; Luke 16:19-17:10; Psalm 45:10-17
Scripture speaks of both salvation and judgment. The Israelites were given “the land … as an inheritance.” The Amalekites were to be “blotted out” (Deuteronomy 25:19). Lazarus received salvation – “carried … to Abraham’s side.” The rich man received judgment “in hell” (Luke 16:22-23). We must seek to honour Jesus Christ our Lord (Psalm 45:11). This is salvation – confessing Christ as Lord with the mouth and trusting Him with the heart (Romans 10:9).
Deuteronomy 26:1-28:14; Luke 17:11-37; Psalm 46:1-11
The Lord blesses an obedient people (Deuteronomy 28:2). Our obedience to God arises from our thankfulness to Him (Luke 17:16). With grateful hearts, we make confession of our faith: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). To His people, God says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations” (Psalm 46:10). God is exalted among the nations when His people are obedient people (Deuteronomy 28:9-10).
Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Luke 18:1-30; Psalm 47:1-9
Sadly, it is possible to be living in the promised land yet living in disobedience and thus losing out on the promised blessing. The Pharisee, in Jesus’ parable, lived and worshipped within the tradition which remembered God’s mighty act of redemption. Nevertheless, his heart was far from God. He considered himself superior, He was not justified, and he would not be exalted (glorified). Those who are justified, who will be glorified, rejoice in the Lord with much gladness: “Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises” (Psalm 47:6).
Deuteronomy 29:1-30:10; Luke 18:31-19:10; Proverbs 10:1-10
The Lord is looking for His people to stand up and be counted as His faithful servants. There is a commitment to be made, a commitment to be maintained. It is not only beginning with Christ. It is going on with Him. This is illustrated in the story of Zacchaeus. We are to walk securely as men of integrity (Proverbs 10:9).
Deuteronomy 30:11-31:29; Luke 19:11-44; Psalm 48:1-8
A comparison may be made between Israel’s entry into the promised land and Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Ahead of both, there lay conflict, but beyond the conflict, there was triumph. Their triumph is the triumph of God – “As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord Almighty, in the city of our God: God makes her secure for ever” (Psalm 48:8).
Deuteronomy 31:30-32:52; Luke 19:45-20:26; Psalm 48:9-14
Moses was God’s servant. Joshua was God’s servant. The prophets were God’s servants. Jesus is God’s Son. He is the Cornerstone of our salvation. Without Him, there is no salvation. With Him, there is full salvation. Concerning Him, the Word of God says, “This God is our God for ever and ever” (Psalm 48:14). He loves us with an “unfailing love” and His “praise reaches to the ends of the earth” (Psalm 48:9-10).
Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12; Luke 20:27-21:4; Psalm 49:1-20
The contrast between Moses and Jesus continues. Moses died. Jesus is the Lord: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet” (Luke 20:42-43). In Him, we have the promise of eternal life: “God will redeem my life from the grave; He will surely take me to Himself” (Psalm 49:15).
Joshua 1:1-2:24; Luke 2:5-38; Proverbs 10:11-20
Israel’s entry into the promised land was a highly significant event in the history of God’s redemption. ‘The momentous event’ is the Return of our Lord Jesus Christ: “The Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27). We must be ready for His Return, for there is a great difference between the righteous and the wicked (Proverbs 10:16).
Joshua 3:1-5:12; Luke 22:1-38; Psalm 50:1-15
“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you” (Joshua 3:5). Jesus shared the Passover with His disciples, while teaching them that something greater than the Passover was about to take place – redemption through the shedding of His precious blood. God says, “Gather to Me My consecrated ones, who made a covenant with Me by sacrifice … Sacrifice thank offerings to God … ” (Psalm 50:5,14-15).
Joshua 5:13-7:26; Luke 22:39-62; Psalm 50:16-23
Achan suffered death because of his own sinful disobedience. Achan died, and the judgment of God did not come on the whole people of God. Jesus suffered death as the sinless Son of God, who bore the sins of many that we might be saved through faith in Him. Achan died because he disobeyed the will of God. Jesus died in obedience to God’s will: “not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). As we look on what Jesus has done for us, we are to “sacrifice thank-offerings” to God that He might “show us the salvation of God” (Psalm 50:23).
Joshua 8:1-9:15; Luke 22:63-23:25; Psalm 51:1-9
In their opposition to Christ, “Herod and Pilate became friends – before they had been enemies” (Luke 23:12). The people of Israel had to battle against many nations – different from each other, yet having one thing in common: their opposition to the Lord. Everything which is displeasing to the Lord must be resisted, as we pray, “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:2).
Joshua 9:16-10:43; Luke 23:26-56; Proverbs 10:21-30
The Lord gave victory to His people, and the defeated enemies were hung upon trees (Joshua 10:25-26). When Jesus was hung upon a tree, this was not defeat. It was victory. Concerning Jesus, it was said, “Surely, this was a righteous man” (Luke 23:47). Proverbs 10:25 tells us that “the righteous stand firm for ever.” This truth was mightily declared in Jesus’ resurrection, which demonstrated Him to be more than a righteous man. He is the Son of God.
Joshua 11:1-12:24; Luke 24:1-35; Psalm 51:10-19
Israel’s victory over the heathen nations was given to them by the Lord. The spiritual dimension in this military situation must not be overlooked, if we are to learn the lessons God is teaching us from His Word. God has much to teach us from His Word. Those who listen to Him will always have this testimony: “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us” (Luke 24:32). Why does the Lord’s Word burn in our hearts? – so that we might pray to the Lord, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
Joshua 13:1-14:15; Luke 24:36-53; Psalm 52:1-9
Although many victories had been won, there was still “the land that remains” (Joshua 13:2). The land which had been taken was shared among God’s people. There is strength in sharing. Some are called to leadership, e.g. Caleb (Joshua 14), but their leadership is not for their own satisfaction and benefit. It is for the blessing of the whole people of God. Those who had witnessed the appearance of the risen Lord were sent out to preach the Gospel (Luke 24:46-49). The testimony of the Lord’s people is to be: “I will praise You for ever for what You have done” (Psalm 52:9).
Joshua 15:1-16:10; John 1:1-28; Psalm 53:1-6
Each tribe had its limited allotment of land. Jesus Christ, “the Word” who “was God”, “became flesh” (John 1:1,14). He accepted the limitations of being human. He was human, yet without sin. “There is no one who does good, not even one” (Psalm 53:1,3). This is true of every human being except Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God. In Him alone, there is “salvation” (Psalm 53:6).
Joshua 17:1-18:28; John 1:29-51; Proverbs 10:31-11:8
Each of the tribes had their part in the promised land. Each of Jesus’ disciples, whom He called to Himself at the outset of His ministry, had his part in the work of the Lord. What God did with Israel and with Jesus’ first disciples will be surpassed when Christ comes in glory: “You shall see greater things … You shall see the heavens open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:50-51). On that Day, there will be both salvation and judgment: “The righteous man is rescued from trouble, and it comes on the wicked instead” (Proverbs 11:8).
Joshua 19:1-21:19; John 2:1-25; Psalm 54:1-7
What God did for His people, Israel, was very great. There is a striking contrast between their slavery in Egypt and their abundance in the promised land. God had multiplied His blessing upon them, just as Jesus did when He turned water into wine (John 2:1-11). If the blessing is to be maintained and increased, we must honour the Lord. We must cry to Him for blessing: “Hear my prayer, O God, listen to the words of my mouth.” We must call upon Him with faith: “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the One who sustains me” (Psalm 54:2,4).
Joshua 21:20-22:34; John 3:1-21; Psalm 55:1-11
In all the social details of the division of the land, we must not lose sight of its spiritual basis (Joshua 21:43-45). The important thing is that God, and not man, receives the glory: “Do not rebel against the Lord or against us by building an altar for yourselves, other than the altar of the Lord your God” (Joshua 22:19). If God, and not man, is to be exalted, there must be new birth (John 3:3,5-7). To the man who is obsessed with his own problems – “My heart is in anguish within me …” (Psalm 55:4-5), God gives us “the wings of a dove” (Psalm 55:6) – to rise to higher things.
Joshua 23:1-24:33; John 3:22-36; Psalm 55:12-23
The concluding message, preached by Joshua, is a call for the people to exalt the Lord. They make a definite and public commitment to the Lord. The Christ-centredness of real commitment to the Lord is summed up in the words of John the Baptist: “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). We must confess Christ and honour Him – “The One who comes from heaven is above all” (John 3:31). We must listen to what He says to us – “The One whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit” (John 3:34). It will not be easy to live a life of true commitment to Christ. Nevertheless, we have God’s promise: “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22).
Judges 1:1-2:5; John 4:1-26; Proverbs 11:9-18
In John 4, we read about the overcoming of our enemies through the Gospel. “Jews do not associate with the Samaritans” (John 4:9). Jesus did associate with the Samaritan woman. The woman believed in Jesus. Many others believed in Him. By breaking down the barrier between Jews and Samaritans, Jesus was not minimizing the difference between the godly and the ungodly. He was emphasizing that “he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward” (Proverbs 11:18). As He spoke the Word of God’s love, many were brought to faith in Him (John 4:39). When the Gospel of God’s love reaches our hearts, we do not continue in sin, going our own way rather than the Lord’s way. We come in our sin to the Saviour. We receive His forgiveness. We begin a new life – “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
Judges 2:6-3:31; John 4:27-42; Psalm 56:1-13
“The Lord raised up judges who saved them out of the hands of these raiders” (Judges 2:16). “This man really is the Saviour of the world” (John 4:42). God sends His servants to revive His people. God sent His Son to redeem His people. Revival comes “by the Spirit of the Lord” (Judges 3:10). Redemption comes through the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. As we look to God for both redemption and revival, we say, “In God, I trust, I will not be afraid” (Psalm 56:4,11).
Judges 4:1-5:31; John 4:43-5:15; Psalm 57:1-6
“God sends His love and faithfulness” (Psalm 57:3).
When we’re reading a book like Judges, we must remember the faithful love of God. When we remember God’s faithful love, we will look beyond the events recorded in Judges. We will catch a glimpse of God’s presence and purpose. Whatever may be happening in our lives, let’s remember this: God is there, and He is fulfilling His purpose of “love and faithfulness.” In Jesus Christ, the love and faithfulness of God are seen more clearly than anywhere else. In His healing, we see Him declaring the “love and faithfulness” of God. Rejoicing in God’s faithful love, let us say, from our hearts, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth” (Psalm 57:5).
Judges 6:1-7:8a; John 5:16-30; Psalm 57:7-11
The source of Gideon’s spiritual strength lay in the Lord – “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior” (Judges 6:12). The source of Jesus’ strength lay in God the Father – “the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can only do what He sees the Father doing” (John 5:19). When we realize the source of our spiritual strength, we are able to say, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast” (Psalm 57:7).
Judges 7:8b-8:35; John 5:31-47; Proverbs 11:19-28
“No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals” (Judges 8:33). “John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light” (John 5:35) – “For a time”, but note their response to Jesus -”I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not accept Me” (John 5:43). “The Lord detests those whose hearts are perverse, but He delights in those whose ways are blameless” (Proverbs 11:20). How important it is not to settle for a superficial religion, which can be easily overthrown when Satan comes in with an unbelieving alternative which does not honour the Lord Jesus Christ. True faith honours Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
Judges 9:1-57; John 6:1-24; Psalm 58:1-11
“Surely there is a God who judges the earth” (Psalm 58:11). “God repaid the wickedness …” (Judges 9:54).
The Holy God speaks to us of His judgment upon sinners. He speaks to us His Word of warning, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). In love, He is calling us to return to Him. He pleads with us, “See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks” (Hebrews 12:25). God’s Word of warning comes to us as part of His call to receive His gift of salvation through faith in Christ – “How shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3).
Two ways are set before us – the way of “those who shrink back and are destroyed” and the way of “those who have faith and are saved” (Hebrews 10:39). What does it mean to have faith in Christ and be saved by Him? To gain a clearer understanding of what faith in Christ as Saviour is, it may be helpful to note what it is not.
In John 6:14-15, we see two inadequate responses to Jesus Christ – “After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make Him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by Himself.”
* First, He’s described as “the Prophet.” A prophet is someone who brings a message from God. The prophets preach God’s Word. Is Jesus just the greatest of the prophets? – No! He’s much more than that. He doesn’t only preach God’s Word. He is God’s Word. He doesn’t only pass on God’s message to us. He is God’s Message. If Jesus was no more than the greatest prophet, He would still be leaving salvation in our own hands – “Here’s the way you should live. Do your best to follow my teaching.” That’s not Good News for sinners who need to receive forgiveness. That just reminds us of our failure to live up to the message that is preached to us. Thank God – Jesus is more than the greatest preacher who ever lived. He is God’s only Son. He’s our perfect Saviour.
* Second, He’s described as a “king.” Throughout history, there have been many kings. Some of them have been great kings. There have also been some terrible kings. Is Jesus just one of the kings – even the best king there’s ever been? If that’s all that He is, we’re again left with a problem. A king is someone we should look up to – some deserve more respect than others. We need more than someone to look up to. We need Someone who has come down to our level. An old hymn asks the question, “Who came down to earth from heaven?” It gives the Gospel answer – “Jesus Christ our Saviour.”
There have been many prophets. There have been many kings. There’s only one Saviour – “the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). There is only one Man concerning whom God’s Word says, ‘Believe in Him and you will be saved” – it’s the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31). If we want to be saved, we don’t go to the “prophets” and “kings” and say, “What can you do for me?” They can do nothing for us. Like us, they must look away from themselves to Jesus. Like us, they must pray, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). Like us, they must come in faith to Jesus and receive salvation as God’s “free gift” (Romans 3:23-24; 6:23).
Judges 10:1-11:40; John 6:25-29; Psalm 59:1-8
“Deliver me from my enemies” (Psalm 59:1).
The Psalmist had enemies. The people of Israel had enemies. Jesus had enemies. We have enemies. There will, however, be a Day of God’s judgment. There will be deliverance for the Lord’s people. No mercy will be shown to wicked traitors. The Lord will “laugh at them.” He will “scoff at all those nations” (Psalm 59:5,8).
Judges 12:1-13:25; John 6:60-7:13; Psalm 59:9-17
Judges tells us of Samson, a man of great strength. The Psalmist teaches us that true strength comes from the Lord. Samson’s true strength was God-given. Our true strength is God-given. True strength is more than physical strength. It’s spiritual strength. The Psalmist says to God, “O my Strength, I watch for You … I will sing of your strength … O my Strength, I sing praise to You” (Psalm 59:9,16-17). We receive this strength as we read the Word of the Lord. When Jesus asked His disciples if they were about to draw back from following Him, Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
Judges 14:1-15:20; John 7:14-44; Proverbs 11:29-12:7
True strength comes from the Spirit of the Lord – “the Spirit of the Lord came upon him (Samson) in power” (Judges 14:19); “Whoever believes in Me (Jesus), as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within him. By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive” (John 7:38-39). This strength is not only inner strength. It’s strength that’s to be used to benefit others – “he who wins souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30).
Judges 16:1-17:13; John 7:45-8:11; Psalm 60:1-4
Samson “killed many more when he died than while he lived” (Judges 16:30). The chief priests and Pharisees were anxious to bring Jesus in – to destroy Him. Little did they realize that His death was to be His greatest victory. Even when His people are at a very low ebb, God does not abandon them. His purpose is restoration – “for those who fear You, You have raised a banner” (Psalm 60:4). Jesus was brought low. He was raised again. We may be brought low. We will be raised again.
Judges 18:1-19:30; John 8:12-30; Psalm 60:5-12
In Judges, we read of idolatry and adultery. Into this kind of situation comes the Lord’s warning – “if you do not believe that I am He, you will indeed die in your sins” (John 8:24). There is much resistance to the Gospel. There will, however, be those who believe – “Even as He spoke, many believed in Him” (John 8:30). In a situation full of many temptations, we must learn to say, with the Psalmist, “Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and He will trample down our enemies” (Psalm 60:11-12). The problems are great. The Lord is greater. There are many difficulties. With the Lord on our side, we will be victorious – victors in Christ.
Judges 20:1-21:25; John 8:31-59; Psalm 61:1-8
The Book of Judges ends on a very sad note: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit (or “everyone did what was right in his own eyes”)” (Judges 21:25). The sadness doesn’t come from the political situation – “no king”. It comes from the moral and spiritual situation – people doing as they pleased with respect for the authority of God and His Word. In Jesus’ day, the religious leaders refused to crown Jesus as King of their lives. When He spoke to them of the truth which could set them free, they said that they didn’t need to be set free (John 8:32-33). Persisting in their unbelief, they confronted Jesus: “Who do you think you are?” (John 8:53). Israel had times when there was “no king”. They had times when there was a king. We now have a King who is greater than all Israel’s kings. Jesus is the King of kings. He is “enthroned in God’s presence for ever” (Psalm 61:7).
Ruth 1:1-2:23; John 9:1-34; Proverbs 12:8-17
Difficult situations can be turned around to glorify God (John 9:3). The story of Ruth is the story of mourning turned to rejoicing. In John 9, we have darkness turned into light, blindness to sight. This is the story of “amazing grace” – “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see” (John 9:25). The story of Ruth is a story of blessing – “He who works his land will have abundant food” (Proverbs 12:11). The story of the blind man is the story of “a truthful witness giving honest testimony” (Proverbs 12:17).
Ruth 3:1-4:22; John 9:35-10:21; Psalm 62:1-12
The book of Ruth ends by locating Ruth within the family tree of David, the shepherd-king. He, in his turn, forms part of the family tree of Christ, “the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11), the “King of kings” (Revelation 19:16). David, the shepherd of Israel, pointed away from himself to Christ, “the Good Shepherd” who “lays down His life for the sheep … only to take it up again” (John 10:11,17). The words of David point us to Christ – “He alone is my Rock and my Salvation” (Psalm 62:2).
1 Samuel 1:1-2:26; John 10:22-42; Psalm 63:1-11
“Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:13). They “sinned against the Lord” – “they did not listen to their father’s rebuke” (1 Samuel 2:25). God is calling us back from this way of living. He is showing us the better way – “the boy Samuel continued to grow … in favour with the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:26). It’s the way of listening to the Lord – “Speak, for Your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10). In Proverbs 29:1, there’s a very challenging word of warning: “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” Such words of warning are also found in the New Testament. Jesus said, “whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 2:29). Our response to such words is not to attempt to give ‘the perfect answer’ to the question, “What is the blasphemy against the Spirit”? We are to “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16). John the Baptist warned his hearers to “flee from the coming wrath” (Luke 3:7). Once again, the goal is not to gain “a perfect understanding” of “the coming wrath.” We are to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8). Hebrews 2:3 says “How shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?” Here, the emphasis is on God’s great salvation. This is what changes us – “The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message” (Acts 16:14). Are there people who have hardened their hearts so much and so often that they have committed the sin of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit? The Word of God says that this can happen to any of us. It also says that there’s a better way of living. God’s way is beautifully summed up in the words of the chorus: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” We can harden our hearts when we persist in sinning against the Lord. We cannot soften our own hearts. We can only pray, “Soften my heart, Lord.” It’s His love which changes us. In Jesus’ day, there were people who refused to listen to Him – “the Jews picked up stones to stone Him” (John 10:31). Jesus shows us a better way -”My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27-28). In Psalm 63: 11, there’s a word of warning – “the mouths of liars will be silenced.” Once again, there’s a better way – “rejoice in God.” Romans 3:4 says, “Let God be true, and every human being a liar.” What’s God saying to us here? – Don’t believe the devil’s lie. He tells us that we can live any way we like. That’s the way of book of Judges ends – “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). How can we be delivered from a life of “ungodliness and unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18)? – Paul gives us this great answer – “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).
1 Samuel 2:27-4:22; John 11:1-44; Psalm 64:1-10
In the days of Samuel’s youth, “the word of the Lord was rare” (1 Samuel 3:1). Nevertheless, “the lamp of God had not yet gone out” (1 Samuel 3:3). God began to do a new work, with Samuel at the very heart of it. This new work was like a “resurrection”, out of the ashes came life – “Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out” (John 11:43-44). This is the kind of thing that God was doing in Samuel’s day: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle” (1 Samuel 3:11). The results of such a mighty work of God are described in Psalm 64:9-10: “All people will fear; they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what He has done. The righteous will rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in Him; all the upright in heart will glory in Him!”
1 Samuel 5:1-7:17; John 11:45-12:11; Proverbs 12:18-27
In Samuel’s day, there was conflict between the god of the Philistines (Dagon) and the God of Israel. It was no contest – “there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord!” (1 Samuel 5:3-4). In Jesus’ day, there was conflict between the religion of the Jews and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Jewish religious leaders were concerned about their place and their nation. They didn’t see the most important thing – the glory of God. God was being glorified in the ministry of Jesus (John 11:47-48). “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment” (Proverbs 12:19) – when the Philistines and the Pharisees have been silenced, “every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11).
1 Samuel 8:1-10:8; John 12:12-36; Psalm 65:1-13
Saul was an unworthy king. Jesus is the King who is altogether worthy – “Blessed is the King of Israel” (John 12:13). We are to bring “praise” to “God our Saviour”. We are to “shout for joy and sing” (Psalm 65:1,5,13). He is worthy of all praise, glory and honour. There is no other who can compare with Jesus, the King of kings.
1 Samuel 10:9-12:25; John 12:37-13:17; Psalm 66:1-12
Jesus washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:5). Samuel prayed for the people (1 Samuel 12:23). Those who truly love will, like Jesus and Samuel, live to serve others. This life of service is to be combined with a life of worship. We are to “shout with joy to God.” We are to “sing the glory of His Name.” We are to “make His praise glorious” (Psalm 66:1-2). The two aspects of the godly life, the life which glorifies God, are summed up in the twofold commandment – love God and love your neighbour.
1 Samuel 13:1-14:23; John 13:18-38; Psalm 66:13-20
We must never be proud, taking the grace and power of God for granted. We must learn from those who fell from the Lord: (a) Saul did “a foolish thing” – he did not keep the command which had been given to him by the Lord his God (1 Samuel 13:13); (b) Judas betrayed the Lord; (c) Peter denied the Lord. We must dedicate ourselves to the Lord – “I will … fulfil my vows to you — vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke” (Psalm 66:13-14).
1 Samuel 14:24-15:35; John 14:1-31; Proverbs 12:28-13:9
“To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22). “Whoever has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me … Anyone who loves Me will obey My teaching” (John 14:21,23). “In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality” (Proverbs 12:28). God is looking for an obedient people. This is the way of blessing – “The light of the righteous shines brightly” (Proverbs 13:9).
1 Samuel 16:1-17:37; John 15:1-16:4; Psalm 67:1-7
David was able to face Goliath with confidence in God – “The Lord will deliver me” (1 Samuel 17:37). Saul, then, said to him, “Go, and the Lord be with you” (1 Samuel 17:38). Jesus’ disciples were able to go forward in their mission with confidence in God, since Jesus had said to them, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (John 15:16). With the Psalmist, we must learn to affirm our faith in God as the One who will give the blessing both to us and through us: “God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear Him” (Psalm 67:7). However great the task may be, God is greater. There is no ‘Goliath’ too strong for the Lord, as He makes His “salvation known among all nations” (Psalm 67:2).
1 Samuel 17:38-18:30; John 16:5-17:5; Psalm 68:1-6
At the heart of David’s triumph over Goliath, there is this great testimony: “it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:47). When we face ‘Goliaths’ in our own experience, Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). “May God arise, may His enemies be scattered … may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God” (Psalm 68:1,3).
1 Samuel 19:1-20:42; John 17:6-26; Psalm 68:7-14
In the story of David and Jonathan, we have a great picture of human friendship. In Jesus’ prayer (John 17), we learn so much about our friendship with God. When we have been with God in the place of prayer, as Jesus was, we are empowered for service: “The Lord announced the Word, and great was the company of those who proclaimed it” (Psalm 68:11).
1 Samuel 21:1-23:29; John 18:1-24; Proverbs 13:10-19
David was delivered from his pursuer, Saul. David became the king of Israel. Jesus was delivered into the hands of His enemies. Following His resurrection, Jesus was declared to be the King of kings. “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death” (Proverbs 13:14). There is a way that leads from death to life. Jesus leads us in this way. He went to death for us. He rose to life for us.
1 Samuel 24:1-25:44; John 18:25-40; Psalm 68:15-20
“The Lord … has appointed David leader over Israel” (1 Samuel 25:30). Christ’s Kingship is far greater than David’s – “My Kingdom is not of this world … My Kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36). Our God reigns (Psalm 68:16). His reign is seen in His work of salvation: “Praise be to the Lord our God … Our God is a God who saves …” (Psalm 68:19-20).
1 Samuel 26:1-28:25; John 19:1-27; Psalm 68:21-27
To be “the King of the Jews” was a great honour. David recognized this when he said, “But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed” (1 Samuel 26:11). Pilate didn’t. He sent Jesus “to the cross” with this “notice … Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews” (John 19:19). Psalm 68:24 speaks of “the procession of our God and king into the sanctuary.” When we understand the divine Kingship in the light of the Cross, we see Jesus, “carrying His own cross, He went out to the place of the Skull …” (John 19:17). This is the inner sanctuary, the Holy of holies – Jesus Christ, “the King of the Jews”, going to the Cross for a world of lost sinners.
1 Samuel 29:1-31:13; John 19:28-20:9; Psalm 68:28-35
The contrast between the death of Saul, the first king of the Jews, and Jesus, the true King of the Jews, is striking. Saul’s death was a tragedy. Jesus’ death was a triumph. The contrast is the difference between a man who said, “it is enough” (Saul had had enough of life, and he wanted to live no longer) and the Man who said, “It is finished” (Jesus completed all that the Father had given Him to do). 1 Samuel ends with a burial (1 Samuel 31:13). John’s Gospel goes beyond a burial to a resurrection. Psalm 68:35 – “You, God, are awesome in Your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to His people.” Those who meet God at the inner sanctuary – the Cross of Jesus Christ – discover the power and strength of the Christ who is no longer dead, the Christ who has risen from the dead.
2 Samuel 1:1-2:7; John 20:10-31; Proverbs 13:20-14:4
David was “anointed … king over the house of Judah” (2 Samuel 2:4). Jesus was given a higher honour: “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22). The greatest inheritance we can leave to the rising generations is the spiritual inheritance of faith in Jesus Christ – “that they may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name” (John 20:31).
2 Samuel 2:8-3:21; John 21:1-25; Psalm 69:1-12
God gave His own gracious promise concerning the reign of David: “For the Lord promised David, By My servant David I will rescue my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and from the hand of all their enemies” (2 Samuel 3:18). Jesus indicated to His disciples, notably Peter, what He was going to do through them: “the net … was full of large fish” (John 21:11). Note also Jesus’ purpose for His disciples – “I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Those who long for much blessing to come, in our day, upon the Church of Christ, say, with the Psalmist, “Zeal for Your House consumes me” (Psalm 69:9).
2 Samuel 3:22-5:5; Acts 1:1-22; Psalms 69:13-28
David ascended to the throne of Israel – “they anointed David king over Israel” (2 Samuel 5:3). “He reigned for forty years” (2 Samuel 5:4). Jesus ascended “into heaven” (Acts 1:11), to the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. There, He reigns forever and ever. As we look to this mighty Saviour, we find “sure salvation” (Psalm 69:13).
2 Samuel 5:6-6:23; Acts 1:23-2:21; Psalms 69:29-36
The world cannot understand the working of the Holy Spirit – “when Michal, daughter of Saul, saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart” (2 Samuel 6:16). She didn’t understand what David was doing – “I will celebrate before the Lord” (2 Samuel 6:21). “Some … made fun of them and said, ‘They have had too much wine’” (Acts 2:13). They didn’t understand what God was doing – “I will pour out My Spirit on all people …” (Acts 2:17). Whatever the world may think, God’s people must always say, “I will praise God’s Name in song and glorify Him in thanksgiving” (Psalm 69:30).
2 Samuel 7:1-8:18; Acts 2:22-47; Proverbs 14:5-14
“The Lord gave David victory wherever he went” (2 Samuel 8:14). The victory, given to Jesus, was a greater victory than any victory given by God to David. Concerning David, Scripture says, “David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day” (Acts 2:29). Concerning Jesus, Scripture says, “God raised Him from the dead …” (Acts 2:24). How important it is that we have faith in Christ if we are to be raised, with Him, to eternal life: “The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish” (Proverbs 14:11).
2 Samuel 9:1-10:19; Acts 3:1-26; Psalm 70:1-5
The kindness of God is shown in different ways. We read of “God’s kindness” being shown to Mephibosheth – “he always ate at the king’s house” (2 Samuel 9:3,7). Nevertheless, we are also told, at the end of the chapter, that “he was crippled in both feet” (2 Samuel 9:13). We read also of a man who did not receive worldly goods – “Silver or gold I do not have”, but he did receive healing – “In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” We see him, “walking and jumping and praising God” (Acts 3:6,9). We should not demand that the kindness of God must always be shown in the same way. We do, however, have every encouragement to join with the Psalmist in praying, “I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; Lord, do not delay” (Psalm 70:5).
2 Samuel 11:1-12:31; Acts 4:1-22; Psalm 71:1-8
“David pleaded with God for the child”, born of his adultery with Bathsheba, but “the child died” (2 Samuel 12:18). David prayed that “the Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live” (2 Samuel 12:22). The child died, but the love of God did not cease (2 Samuel 2:24). In Acts 4, the apostles are “called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed” (Acts 4:9). They do not speak only of the healing. They speak also of salvation (Acts 4:10-12). The Name of Jesus Christ is the Name of our salvation. The Name of Jesus is the Name which declares that the love of God never ceases. Whatever our outward circumstances may be, God’s salvation remains constant. In His salvation, we rejoice. As we read of God’s salvation, we may come to Him and pray, with the Psalmist: “Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress” (Psalm 71:3).
2 Samuel 13:1-39; Acts 4:23-5:11; Psalm 71:9-18
There are things happening which bring great distress to the Lord’s people. “When King David heard all this, he was furious … Ammon … had disgraced his sister Tamar” (2 Samuel 13:21-22). “Why do the nations rage … against the Lord and against His Anointed One” (Acts 4:25-26). “My enemies speak against me” (Psalm 71:10). How is all this to affect us? – “As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more. My mouth will tell of Your righteous deeds, of Your saving acts all day long — though I do not know how to relate them all” (Psalm 71:14-15).
2 Samuel 14:1-15:12; Acts 5:12-42; Proverbs 14:15-24
There’s a difference between human popularity – “Absalom’s following kept on increasing” (2 Samuel 15:12) – and divine approval – “more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number” (Acts 5:14). A man can gain popularity because the people are gullible – “A simple man believes anything”. A wise man seeks divine approval – “a prudent man gives thought to his steps” (Proverbs 14:15).
2 Samuel 15:13-16:14; Acts 6:1-7:19; Psalm 71:19-24
The Bible contains many stories. The readings in 2 Samuel and Acts tell us about events that took place a long time ago. Stephen’s message, in Acts, stresses that all of the stories are part one Story – the Story of God in action. Take away God, and what do you have left? – You have a human story, but you don’t have God’s Story which needs to be told by each generation to the next generation. God’s Story is the greatest story ever told. It’s the Story of “the God of glory.” God gives His promise. God fulfils His promise (Acts 7:2-3,17). We look at the “great things” God has done, and we say, “Who, O God, is like You?” (Psalm 71:19).
2 Samuel 16:15-18:18; Acts 7:20-43; Psalm 72:1-20
How are we to die? This is an important question. There’s a difference between dying in shame and dying in glory. The death of Absalom (2 Samuel 18) is a shameful death. The death of Stephen (Acts 7) is a glorious triumph. Stephen’s death is preceded by a mighty proclamation of God’s Word. Stephen affirms God’s faithfulness to His people down through the generations. We might sum up Stephen’s great message in the words of Psalm 72:18-19 – “Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvellous deeds. Praise be to His glorious Name for ever; May the whole earth be filled with His glory.” Stephen’s message is full of thanksgiving for the past. His death proclaims hope for the future.
2 Samuel 18:19-19:43; Acts 7:44-8:3; Psalm 73:1-14
King David was held in extremely high regard in his day: “My lord the king is like an angel” (2 Samuel 19:27). We must remember that he was no more than a man who was seeking to “provide a dwelling-place for the God of Jacob” (Acts 7:56). Think of all that God has done for Israel. Think of all that He has done in Christ. Say, with the Psalmist, “God is good” (Psalm 73:1).
2 Samuel 20:1-21:22; Acts 8:1-40; Proverbs 14:25-35
“God answered prayer on behalf of the land” (2 Samuel 21:14). At the heart of all the confusion of many events involving the nations, there is God – the God who hears and answers prayer. What happens when God hears and answers prayer? – People hear and believe “the Good News about Jesus” (Acts 8:35). As we consider the events involving the nations, we must never forget the teaching of God’s Word – “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
2 Samuel 22:1-23:7; Acts 9:1-31; Psalm 73:15-28
2 Samuel 22 begins with a tremendous declaration of who is and a marvellous expression of trust in Him – “The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress and my Deliverer … my Rock … my Shield and the Horn of my Salvation … my Stronghold, my Refuge and my Saviour” (2 Samuel 22:2-3). A similar testimony is found towards the end of Psalm 73 – “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26). Such was the testimony of David, in the Old Testament, and Paul, in the New Testament. Paul “spoke boldly in the Name of the Lord” and “the Church … was strengthened and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord” (Acts 9:28,31).
2 Samuel 23:8-24:25; Acts 9:32-10:23a; Psalm 74:1-9
“His mercy is great” (2 Samuel 24:14). These words of David are powerfully demonstrated in the call to Peter to take the Gospel to Cornelius, the Gentile. God’s mercy is not only for the Jewish nation. It’s also for the Gentiles. Now, the Gentiles belong to the people whom God has “purchased”, the people whom He has “redeemed” (Psalm 74:2).
1 Kings 1:1-2:12; Acts 10:23b-11:18; Psalm 74:10-17
God’s purpose does not stand still. It moves forward. “So Solomon sat on the throne of his father, David, and his rule was firmly established” (1 Kings 2:12). “The circumcised believers … were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles” (Acts 10:45). Israel’s true King – the Lord Himself – is the God of salvation for both Jews and Gentiles: “But, You, O God, are my King from of old; You bring salvation upon the earth” (Psalm 74:12).
1 Kings 2:13-3:15; Acts 11:19-12:19a; Proverbs 15:1-10
Solomon asked for wisdom – “a discerning heart to govern Your people and to distinguish between right and wrong” (1 Kings 3:9). “The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this” (1 Kings 3:10). In Acts 11:24, Barnabas is described as “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.” It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the power to live, by faith, as good people who are learning to distinguish between right and wrong. He gives us the power to choose right rather than wrong. In Proverbs 15:8, we read that “the prayer of the upright pleases the Lord.” True wisdom involves calling upon the Lord in prayer, receiving strength from the Lord, doing His will and pleasing Him. The prayer of the upright leads to the pursuit of righteousness. It’s the way of living which is loved by the Lord – “the Lord loves those who pursue righteousness” (Proverbs 15:9). The pursuit of righteousness is not to be half-hearted. It’s to be a whole-hearted pursuit of God Himself.
1 Kings 3:16-5:18; Acts 12:19b-13:12; Psalm 74:18-23
“God gave Solomon wisdom” (1 Kings 4:29). When wisdom is recognized as God-given, the people of God say, “Praise be to the Lord today” (1 Kings 5:7). True ministry, which promotes “wisdom unto salvation”, is based on the prompting of the Spirit and leads to the proclamation of the Word (Acts 13:4-5). The work of the Lord is to be done by those who are controlled by the Lord. “Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts” (Psalm 74:19). The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The beast is a symbol of evil. This is a prayer that we may be led by the Holy Spirit. It’s a prayer that we will be delivered from evil.
1 Kings 6:1-7:22; Acts 13:13-41; Psalm 75:1-10
In the reign of Solomon, God fulfilled His promise to David (1 Kings 6:11-13). There is, however, a greater fulfilment: “From David’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Saviour Jesus, as He promised” (Acts 13:23). When we consider what God has done, we say, with the Psalmist, “We praise You, God, we praise You, for Your Name is near; people tell of Your wonderful deeds” (Psalm 75:1).
1 Kings 7:23-8:21; Acts 13:42-14:7; Psalm 76:1-12
The Temple is built. The glory goes to God: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel” (1 Kings 8:15). God’s purpose was not, however, to be limited to Israel: “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth” (Acts 13:47). He is not only the God of the Jews. He is the God who calls all nations to worship Him: “You alone are to be feared” (Psalm 76:7).
1 Kings 8:22-9:9; Acts 14:8-28; Proverbs 15:11-20
The majesty of the Temple was not merely human. The glory belonged to the Lord. His glory would be among His people, as they honoured Him by doing His will. The servants of the Lord must always say, “we are only men … We are bringing you Good News, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God” (Acts 14:15). The most important thing is this: “the fear of the Lord.” “Great wealth” is nothing without it (Proverbs 15:16).
1 Kings 9:10-11:13; Acts 15:1-21; Psalm 77:1-9
“We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved” (Acts 15:11). Once we have been saved, we are to live a godly life (Acts 15:20). This is the way in which God’s blessing is to remain and increase in our lives (1 Kings 11:9-11). There are difficult times in the life of faith, times when we can only ask questions (Psalm 77:7-9). These are not the questions of unbelief. These are the questions of faith seeking understanding.
1 Kings 11:14-12:24; Acts 15:22-41; Psalm 77:10-20
“They obeyed the Word of the Lord” (1 Kings 12:24). They were “commended … to the grace of the Lord” (Acts 15:40). Obedience to the Word of the Lord and being commended to the grace of God – these two things belong together. We can only promise obedience to God “in dependence on divine grace.” If we do not feed our faith on “the deeds of the Lord” (Psalm 77:11), our obedience will waver. “I will consider all Your works and meditate on all Your mighty deeds” (Psalm 77:12). This is the way of strengthening faith and obedience.
1 Kings 12:25-14:20; Acts 16:1-15; Psalm 78:1-8
“The Lord will raise up for Himself a king over Israel” (1 Kings 14:14). There was much “sin” among God’s people (1 Kings 13:33-34). God did not abandon His purpose of salvation. His saving purpose finds its fulfilment in Christ. He is the Gospel (“Good News”) which God has called us to preach (Acts 16:10). When Christ is preached, the Lord opens the hearts of men and women to respond to Him (Acts 16:14). Christ is the message which we must “not hide … from our children”. We must “tell the next generation” of Him (Psalm 78:4).
1 Kings 14:21-16:7; Acts 16:16-40; Proverbs 15:21-30
The history of the kings was, for the most part, a history of rebellion against God. So few were asking the question: “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). God has given His answer to this question: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). “The path of life leads upward for the wise” (Proverbs 15:24). This is the wisdom which leads to salvation, eternal life, heaven. It’s the wisdom which is faith in Christ.
1 Kings 16:8-18:15; Acts 17:1-21; Psalm 78:9-16
Elijah confronted King Ahab in the Name of the living God (1 Kings 18:15). The apostles confronted Caesar in the Name of “another King … Jesus” (Acts 17:7). It was in the Name of the Lord that the authority of Egypt was brought to nothing: “He did miracles in the sight of their fathers in the land of Egypt” (Psalm 78:12).
1 Kings 18:16-19:21; Acts 17:22-18:8; Psalm 78:17-31
In the relationship between God and the gods, we see (a) the conflict between good and evil (1 Kings 18); (b) God’s way of salvation – He leads people out of the darkness of ignorance and into the light of knowledge (Acts 17:23); (c) God’s word of warning – Where people choose error and darkness rather than truth and light, there is judgment (Psalm 78:17,31).
1 Kings 20:1-21:29; Acts 18:9-19:13; Psalm 78:32-39
As a prophet of God, Elijah brought this message to the people: “This is what the Lord says” (1 Kings 21:19). This was Paul’s ministry: “teaching them the Word of God” (Acts 18:11). Elijah’s ministry was the denunciation of the evil king, Ahab. Paul’s ministry was the proclamation of “the Kingdom of God” (Acts 19:8). In our proclamation of God’s Kingdom, we must remember that God is our Rock and our Redeemer (Psalm 78:35).
1 Kings 22:1-53; Acts 19:14-41; Proverbs 15:31-16:7
Here’s a spiritual principle for everyone who seeks to be faithful to God: “As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what the Lord tells me” (1 Kings 22:14). In Ephesus, there was a riot. The crowds shouted, “Great is Artemis (“Diana” in the King James Version: Artemis is the Greek name for the Roman goddess, Diana) of the Ephesians” (Acts 19:28,34). In the present day, in our preaching of God’s Word, we must remind people of this – “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). We must be clear in our message concerning Jesus Christ: “There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). In Christ, we enjoy salvation. Living in the strength of His salvation, our “ways are pleasing to the Lord” (Proverbs 16:7).
2 Kings 1:1-2:25; Acts 20:1-38; Psalm 78:40-55
“Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” (2 Kings 2:14). With each succeeding generation, God is looking for those who will commit themselves to the task of testifying to the Gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24). “He brought His people out like a flock; He led them like sheep through the desert” (Psalm 78:52). How does God do this in this generation? – He works through those who give faithful testimony to the Gospel of His grace. He works through those do not hesitate “to proclaim … the whole will of God” (Acts 20:27). He works through those who call on men and women to “turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21).
2 Kings 3:1-4:37; Acts 21:1-26; Psalm 78:56-72
“Then the Lord awoke from sleep” (Psalm 78:65). When the Lord awakes from sleep, there is awakening. In 2 Kings 4:32-35, we see an example of such awakening – resurrection from the dead. How does such awakening come? It comes when the Lord’s people pray earnestly, with actions as well as words, “The Lord’s will be done” (Acts 21:14). To say this and mean it will be costly: “I am ready … to die … for the Name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).
2 Kings 4:38-6:23; Acts 21:27-22:21; Psalm 79:1-13
Elisha was known as “the man of God” (2 Kings 4:40,42; 2 Kings 5:8,14-15,20; 2 Kings 6:9,15). What a marvellous description – “the man of God.” To Paul, the call of God came – “You will be His witness” (Acts 22:15). Called to be a “man of God”, called to be “His witness” – what a high calling this is! Being a “man of God, being “His witness”, involves calling on the Lord: “How long, O Lord? Will You be angry for ever? … Help us, O God our Saviour, for the glory of Your Name” (Psalm 79:5,9).
2 Kings 6:24-8:15; Acts 22:22-23:11; Proverbs 16:8-17
“Go to meet the man of God. Consult the Lord through him” (2 Kings 8:8). The servants of the Lord were appointed to serve the people in the Name of the Lord. God’s servants are to lead the people to a deeper knowledge of God. The Lord said to Paul, “Take courage! As you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” (Acts 23:11). God gives a ministry to His servants. He gives them courage to fulfil this ministry. “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
2 Kings 8:16-9:37; Acts 23:12-35; Psalm 80:1-7
The Word of God speaks of judgment. The judgment upon Jezebel was an awesome judgment (2 Kings 9:36-37). God’s Word also speaks of salvation. This is not simply the safety spoken of in Acts 23:24. It’s the eternal salvation, which is suggested to us in the Psalmist’s prayer: “Restore us, O God, make Your face shine upon us, that we may be saved” (Psalm 80:37).
2 Kings 10:1-11:21; Acts 24:1-27; Psalm 80:8-19
How important it is to make a covenant to be the Lord’s people (2 Kings 11:17). In our faithfulness to God, we “believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets” (Acts 24:14). We do, however, move beyond this to the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets. We speak “about faith in Christ Jesus” (Acts 24:24). When we pray, “Restore us, O Lord God Almighty; make Your face shine upon us that we may be saved” (Psalm 80:19), we are asking God to turn towards us in speaking His Word to us, the Word which leads to the renewal of the covenant of salvation.
2 Kings 12:1-14:22; Acts 25:1-22; Psalm 81:1-7
The kings were compared with earlier kings – the evil king, Jeroboam (2 Kings 13:11), the good king, David (2 Kings 14:3). We may learn from this one and that one but, above all, our faith centres upon Jesus (Acts 25:19). Even the best of kings can never begin to compare with Him. He is the King of kings. He is the Lord of lords.
2 Kings 14:23-15:38; Acts 25:23-26:23; Proverbs 16:18-27
Here, we have the record of seven reigns – five in Israel, two in Judah. The five in Israel “did evil in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Kings 14:24; 2 Kings 15:9,18,24,28). The two in Judah “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Kings 15:3,34). There is, however, one criticism of these two kings of Judah: “The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there” (2 Kings 15:4 ,35). “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall … blessed is he who trusts in the Lord” (Proverbs 16:18,20). There is a choice to be made – Do “evil in the eyes of the Lord” or do “right in the eyes of the Lord.” When we read Paul’s testimony, in Acts 26, we learn that there is a great difference between religious pride which brought him “to the ground” (Acts 26:14) and trust in the Lord who says, “I am Jesus … get up and stand on your feet” (Acts 26:15-16).
2 Kings 16:1-17:41; Acts 26:24-27:12; Psalm 81:8-16
“They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless” (2 Kings 17:15). There is no god who can compare with the Lord (Psalm 81:9-10). He alone is worthy of praise. He alone gives value to our lives by bringing fulfilment to them: “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10). When we give our Christian testimony, we offer this fulfilment, in Christ (Acts 26:28-29), to our hearers.
2 Kings 18:1-19:13; Acts 27:13-44; Psalm 82:1-8
“Do not let the god you depend on deceive you” (2 Kings 19:10). The Lord alone is worthy of our trust. He alone will prove trustworthy. There is no god like the Lord – “God presides in the great assembly: He gives judgment among the gods” (Psalm 82:1). God will not fail us. He alone is Lord. With gladness, we confess our faith in Him: “I have faith in God” (Acts 27:25).
2 Kings 19:14-20:21; Acts 28:1-16; Psalm 83:1-18
“Now, O Lord our God, deliver from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that You alone, O Lord, are God” (2 Kings 19:19). Here and now, we have begun to experience our deliverance from Satan’s power. When Christ returns in the fullness of His power and glory, we will know the fullness of our deliverance from Satan’s power. On the island of Malta, Paul was delivered from the poison of “the snake” (Acts 28:4-5). The snake is a symbol of the cunning devil – Satan – who opposes God (Psalm 833:2-3). God will let His enemies know that He “is the Lord … the Most High over all the earth” (Psalm 83:18).
2 Kings 21:1-22:20; Acts 28:17-31; Proverbs 16:28-17:4
The rediscovery of the Book of the Law (2 Kings 22) revealed the standard from which Israel had fallen, the standard to which Israel was called. The apostolic preaching had the same twofold effect, speaking of both sin (Acts 28:26-27) and salvation (Acts 26:28). “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife” (Proverbs 17:1). God’s Word reveals to us the inadequacy of a worldly way of living and the better way of resting in the Lord and His Word.
2 Kings 23:1-24:7; Romans 1:1-17; Psalm 84:1-7
“Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did …” (2 Kings 23:25). Like Josiah, Paul was a man who was unashamed of his Lord; ” I am not ashamed of the Gospel …” (Romans 1:16). Where does this strength come from? It comes from “the living God.” It is given to those who say from the heart: “My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” (Psalm 84:2).
2 Kings 24:8-25:30; Romans 1:18-32; Psalm 84:8-12
Babylonian captivity – The words are full of symbolic significance regarding the power of evil at work in every generation. Romans 1:18-32 describes the ’cause and effect’ of ‘Babylonian captivity’: They did not glorify God and “God gave them over to the sinful desires of their hearts” (Romans 1:21,24). In the midst of ‘Babylonian captivity’, God remains faithful to His promises: “O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in You” (Psalm 84:12).
Jonah 1:1-4:11; Romans 2:1-16; Psalm 85:1-7
In Nineveh, God works in mighty power. “Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry” (Jonah 3:10-4:1). To this proud attitude, God says, “You … have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else” (Romans 2:1). He calls for a change of attitude: “Do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness … ?” (Romans 2:4). Rather than complaining about God’s goodness – ‘What right has He to bless these people, of all people?’, we are to cry to God that we ourselves may also be revived: “Restore us again … Will you not revive us again … ?” (Psalm 85:4,6).
Amos 1:1-2:16; Romans 2:17-3:8; Proverbs 17:5-14
God is perfectly holy. He cannot stand sin. This is clear in both Amos and Romans. It is stressed in Proverbs, which emphasizes that sin is not so much sin against man but “contempt for their Maker” (17:5). Proverbs 17:9 tells us that we are to “promote love.” This love is to be modelled on the love of God. He is always the One who is sinned against. He is never the One who has done the sinning. Nevertheless, His love remains constant. It is the divine pattern for our living in love.
Amos 3:1-4:13; Romans 3:9-31; Psalm 85:8-13
Scripture speaks honestly about sin – “You have not returned to Me” (Amos 4:6,8,9,10,11); “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). God’s reply to sin is salvation – “Surely His salvation is near those who fear Him, that His glory may dwell in our land” (Psalm 85:9).
Amos 5:1-27; Romans 4:1-15; Psalm 86:1-10
Religion is not salvation. “Sacrifices and offerings” (Amos 5:25), circumcision (Romans 4:9-12) – All of this can be “works” which are given to God as a means of earning His favour. The Gospel shows us another way – “righteousness apart from works” (Romans 4:6). This is the way of which the Psalmist speaks: “You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to You” (Psalm 86:5).
Amos 6:1-7:17; Romans 4:16-5:11; Psalm 86:11-17
Amos was commissioned by the Lord – “Go, prophesy to My people Israel” (Amos 7:15). The purpose of such prophecy, in our generation, is to declare the Gospel: “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). If this message of love is to be brought to the people, the preacher must pray: “Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth …” (Psalm 86:11).
Amos 8:1-9:15; Romans 5:12-21; Proverbs 17:15-24
Christ restored what Adam lost (Romans 5:15). The Garden of Eden was devastated, but God promises to restore the garden (Amos 9:13-15). This is a prophecy – “The days are coming … ” (Amos 9:13). It is fulfilled in Christ, through whom we receive eternal life (Romans 5:21). In Christ, there is the great blessing of forgiveness – “acquitting the guilty”, but there is also the warning to those who imagine themselves to be innocent – “condemning the innocent” (Proverbs 17:15). There is no innocence in ourselves. Guilt can only be removed by Jesus Christ.
Hosea 1:1-2:23; Romans 6:1-14; Psalm 87:1-7
The grace of God is amazing – “I will show My love to the one I called ‘Not My loved one …'” (Hosea 2:23). We are now to live as those who have received grace (Romans 6:1-2). We put the past, with its sin, behind us. We look to the future – the fullness of God’s salvation (Psalm 87:3).
Hosea 3:1-5:15; Romans 6:15-7:6; Psalm 88:1-9a
The sin of God’s people is described thus: “A spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the Lord” (Hosea 5:4). This is not God’s way – “You used to be slaves to sin … You have been set free from sin and have become slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18). Psalm 88 could be viewed as a vivid description of the way in which the “Lord, the God who saves me” (Psalm 88:1) puts to death the sinful nature so that the new nature might arise (Romans 7:4-6).
Hosea 6:1-7:16; Romans 7:7-25; Psalm 88:9b-18
God longs to redeem us (Hosea 7:13). This is the deep desire of His hearts for us. His intention is to train and strengthen us (Hosea 7:15). This great purpose of God is not easily fulfilled in our lives. There is a great conflict going on within us (Romans 7:25). What are we to do? – “I call to You, O Lord, every day” (Psalm 88:9b).
Hosea 8:1-9:17; Romans 8:1-17; Proverbs 17:25-18:6
“Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces” (Hosea 8:14). When man forgets God, he builds monuments to his own glory. There is, however, a better way which brings glory to God – “Those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires … The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:5-6). We must come often to “the fountain of wisdom” (Proverbs 18:4) if our minds are to be controlled by the Spirit. It is the Spirit’s work to lead us to Christ, the living Word, through Scripture, the written Word. Through Scripture, we are made “wise for salvation” (2 Timothy 3:15). In Christ, we find “wisdom”, true wisdom, the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:30).
Hosea 10:1-11:11; Romans 8:18-39; Psalm 89:1-8
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). God’s purpose of love will not be thwarted. Whatever trouble He may have with us – “My people are determined to turn from Me”, He will not give up on us – “How can I give you up …? … All My compassion is aroused … I am God … The Holy One among you, I will not come in wrath. They will follow the Lord” (Hosea 11:8-10). God is determined to bless us. This creates in us a response – “They will follow the Lord.” At the heart of this response, there is worship and witness (Psalm 89:1).
Hosea 11:12-14:9; Romans 9:1-21; Psalm 89:9-13
God longs for men and women to be saved (Hosea 14:1-2; Romans 9:1-5). He has “great sorrow and unceasing anguish in His heart” as He considers the sins, the waywardness of man (Romans 9:2; Hosea 14:2,4). When He saves, His people “sing for joy at His Name”, singing, “Your arm is endued with power, Your hand is strong, Your right hand exalted” (Psalm 89:12-13).
1 Chronicles 1:1-2:17; Romans 9:22-10:4; Psalm 89:14-18
So many names! We have names. We are called by name. God calls us His people, “sons of the living God” (Romans 9:25-26). He gives us His own Name. We are in Christ. We “rejoice In His Name all day long” (Psalm 89:16).
1 Chronicles 2:18-4:8; Romans 10:5-11:10; Proverbs 18:7-16
More names! It’s great to have a name – and not to be a nameless person of unknown identity. It’s even greater to have the Name of the Lord given to us for our salvation. “Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). “The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are saved” (Proverbs 18:10).
1 Chronicles 4:9-5:26; Romans 11:11-32; Psalm 89:19-29
When we speak of “Israel”, as Paul does in Romans 22, we must not think of a nameless and faceless crowd of people. Behind the word “Israel”, there are many names and many faces to whom the Lord shows His mercy (Romans 11:31-32). The best name is the Name of the Lord – “My faithful love will be with him, and through My Name his horn will be exalted” (Psalm 89:24).
1 Chronicles 6:1-81; Romans 11:33-12:21; Psalm 89:30-37
The names tell a story – the story of the historical development of the Lord’s purpose with His people. The many names, stretching over a vast expanse of time, highlight the greatness of God and the great work He is doing among His people. They draw out from us a response of heartfelt worship: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! …” (Romans 11:33). As we think of a progression over the course of many centuries, we realize the depth and dependability of God’s faithful love: “I will not take My love from him, nor will I ever betray My faithfulness” (Psalm 89:33).
1 Chronicles 7:1-9:1a; Romans 13:1-14; Psalm 89:38-45
Is there no end of names? As we read so many names, we wonder at the amazing scope of the Lord’s love – “God so loved the world … ” (John 3:16). When we consider the universal scope of the Lord’s great love, we are strengthened in our obedience to His Word: “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Romans 13:9). There are times when we find it difficult to see that God loves us (Psalm 89:38-45). In such times, we must not lose hold of Him. We must hold on to our limited awareness of His love. We must pray that a renewed sense of His love will return to us.
1 Chronicles 9:1b-10:14; Romans 14:1-18; Proverbs 18:17-19:2
1 Chronicles 10 tells of the death of Saul – “Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord …” (1 Chronicles 10:13-14). Romans 14 speaks of the strong and the weak. Physically, Saul was strong. Spiritually, he was weak. Maintaining our spiritual strength, our relationship with God, is to be the great priority of our life: “The Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). There is a physical harvest. There is also a spiritual harvest: “The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit (Proverbs 18:20-21).
1 Chronicles 11:1-12:22; Romans 14:19-15:13; Psalm 89:46-52
1 Chronicles 11 speaks of “David’s mighty men” (1 Chronicles 11:11). The focus is not, however, on either David or the “mighty men.” It is on the Lord – “The Lord brought about a great victory” (1 Chronicles 11:14). In their warfare, “the Spirit” brings this message – “… your God will help you” (1 Chronicles 12:18). What are we to say about these things from the Old Testament Scriptures? They were “written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). As we consider what God has done in the past – His “former great love”, we are encouraged to believe in His “faithfulness”, and we say, from our hearts, “Praise be to the Lord for ever! Amen and Amen” (Psalm 89:52).
1 Chronicles 12:23-14:17; Romans 15:14-33; Psalm 90:1-10
God’s purpose concerns all the nations – “The Lord made all the nations fear David” (1 Chronicles 14:17). Paul was “a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles” (Romans 15:16). God’s purpose concerns all generations – “Lord, You have been our dwelling-place throughout all generations” (Psalm 90:1).
1 Chronicles 15:1-16:36; Romans 16:1-27; Psalm 90:11-17
In a book full of so many names, David’s psalm of thanksgiving (1 Chronicles 16) stands out. It is a high-point in the midst of the commonplace. The commonplace is not insignificant in God’s purpose. It is the backcloth against which God gives to us His special high-points. In the commonplace, we long for the deeper experience of worship. From the deeper experience of worship, we return to the commonplace with renewed vigour. Romans 16 is a chapter of the many names, the names of men and women who are precious to the Lord and valued by the Lord’s people. As we think of many names, we are to pray, “May Your deeds be shown to Your servants, Your splendour to their children” (Psalm 90:16).
1 Chronicles 16:37-18:17; 1 Corinthians 1:1-17; Proverbs 19:3-12
“The Lord gave David victory everywhere he went” (1 Chronicles 18:6,13). “He will keep you strong to the end … ” (1 Corinthians 1:8). How do we grow strong in the Lord? How do we walk with Him in the way of victory? – We are strong in the Lord, walking in His victory, when we “get wisdom and “cherish understanding” (Proverbs 19:8). The wisdom of God is different from “human wisdom.” The wisdom of God is focused on and derived from “the Cross of Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:17).
1 Chronicles 19:1-22:1; 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5; Psalm 91:1-8
David – “Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for His mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men” (1 Chronicles 20:13).
Paul – “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27).
What a contrast there is between man and God! How important it is that “our faith might not rest on man’s wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:5).
“He will save you from the fowler’s snare” (Psalm 91:3). Our hope is not in man. It is in the Lord: “He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (Psalm 91:2).
1 Chronicles 22:2-23:32; 1 Corinthians 2:6-16; Psalm 91:9-16
The Temple was to be “built for the Name of the Lord”, “to praise the Lord” (1 Chronicles 22:19; 23:5). In the context of such worship – “thanking and praising the Lord” (1 Chronicles 23:30), the Word of God would be spoken “not in words taught by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:13). Together with praise and preaching, there would be prayer: “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him” (Psalm 91:15).
1 Chronicles 24:1-26:19; 1 Corinthians 3:1-23; Psalm 92:1-15
Every believer has a part in the work of God. This comes through in the lists of names in 1 Chronicles 24-26. This is also taught in 1 Corinthians 3:6 which goes on to emphasize that the real work is not done by men but by the Lord. Man is not to be exalted – only the Lord: “You, O Lord, are exalted for ever” (Psalm 92:8).
1 Chronicles 26:20-27:34; 1 Corinthians 4:1-21; Proverbs 19:13-22
The people of Israel had to do battle against their enemies. We also must wage war for God. Paul describes the hardships involved in true discipleship (1 Corinthians 4:9-12). In all of this, our intention must be to do the will of the Lord – “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).
1 Chronicles 28:1-29:30; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; Psalm 93:1-5
Our “boasting is not good” (1 Corinthians 5:6). It is better for us to boast in the Lord – “Praise be to You, O Lord …. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power … Now, our God, we give You thanks, and praise Your glorious Name … Everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your hand …. O Lord our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building You a Temple for your Holy Name, it comes from Your hand, and all of it belongs to You” (1 Chronicles 29:10-16). “The Lord reigns, He is robed in majesty; the Lord is robes in majesty and is armed with strength …. the Lord on high is mighty” (Psalm 93:1,4).
2 Chronicles 1:1-17; 1 Corinthians 6:1-20; Psalm 94:1-11
We are to place value on the most important things. God places the highest value on our salvation (1 Corinthians 6:19). Those who share God’s values will ask for “wisdom and knowledge” (2 Chronicles 1:10), and “not … for wealth, riches or honour …. ” (2 Chronicles 1:11). We are to think the thoughts of God, and not “the thoughts of man” which are “futile” (Psalm 94:11).
Ecclesiastes 1:1-3:22; 1 Corinthians 7:1-16; Psalm 94:12-23
“I know that everything God does will endure for ever” (Ecclesiastes 3:14).
In the constant flux of life in this world, here we have something which must never be forgotten. There are many circumstances in life which are confusing – “How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:16). In the face of life’s confusing circumstances, there will be times when we will say, “My foot is slipping.” In times like these, we must learn to say, “Your love, O Lord, supported me” (Psalm 94:18).
Ecclesiastes 4:1-6:12; 1 Corinthians 7:17-35; Proverbs 19:23-20:4
“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).
This is the world’s way. The Lord’s way is a better way. We are to “use the things of the world” without being “engrossed in them” (1 Corinthians 7:31). What we must remember is this: “The fear of the Lord leads to life; Then one rests content, untouched by trouble” (Proverbs 19:23). When our relationship with the Lord is the most important thing in life, we do not get unduly anxious about how things are going, in terms of material prosperity.
Ecclesiastes 7:1-9:12; 1 Corinthians 7:36-8:13; Psalm 95:1-11
“Do not be over-righteous, neither be overwise” (Ecclesiastes 7:16). This is not a protest against wisdom and righteousness. It is telling us that, in our wisdom and righteousness, we must not become proud like the Pharisees. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). Without love, everything else is nothing. We must never forget this. “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Psalm 95:7-8). Where our wisdom (or knowledge) and righteousness become centred on ourselves – ‘How wise and righteous I have become’, we have closed our hearts to God. Listen to God. Learn from Him. Live for Him. Real wisdom has nothing to do with self-centredness. It’s all about learning to be Christ-centred. Real wisdom leads to true righteousness. It’s about learning to become like Jesus. We look to Him and we learn to live for Him.
Ecclesiastes 9:13-12:14; 1 Corinthians 9:1-18; Psalm 96:1-13
“Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). There are many matters which are secondary. Living in accordance with the Gospel is the all-important thing: “We put up with anything rather than hinder the Gospel of Christ” (1 Corinthians 9:12). “For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods” (Psalm 96:4). The fear of the Lord is directly related to worshipping Him. To fear the Lord is not to cower away from Him. It is to come to Him in worship. Together with the fear of the Lord, there is rejoicing in Him (Psalm 96:11).
2 Chronicles 2:1-5:1; 1 Corinthians 9:19-10:13; Psalm 97:1-12
Worship and witness belong together. The building of the Temple speaks to us of the priority of worship. Before we can become witnesses, we must be worshippers. The ministry of Paul speaks to us of witness: “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). Both our worship and our witness are to be filled with joy: “Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise His holy Name” (Psalm 97:12).
2 Chronicles 5:2-7:10; 1 Corinthians 10:14-11:1; Proverbs 20:5-14
“The glory of the Lord filled the Temple of God” (2 Chronicles 5:14). There is glory among God’s people when He answers their prayers (2 Chronicles 6:40-42 and 2 Chronicles 7:1-3). All that we do is to be done “for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). This includes our life in the Church – our participation in the blood of Christ …. and the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:16). It also includes our life in the world – “If some unbeliever invites you to a meal …” (1 Corinthians 10:27). “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out” (Proverbs 20:5). Our hearts are searched by the Word of the Lord and through faith, which leads to understanding, we learn to glorify God.
2 Chronicles 7:11-9:31; 1 Corinthians 11:2-34; Psalm 98:1-9
Worship lies at the heart of the Christian life. If the blessing of God is to come upon His people, there must be the gathering together of the His people for worship. In calling His people to prayer, God says this: “Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place” (2 Chronicles 7:15). In worship, we gather together for proclamation – to “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). Prayer and proclamation are accompanied by praise – “Sing to the Lord a new song …” (Psalm 98:1). The community of faith grows strong as it meets together for worship – to praise God, to pray to Him, to proclaim Him.
Song of Songs 1:1-4:16; 1 Corinthians 12:1-26; Psalm 99:1-9
God uses the physical as an analogy of the spiritual. In 1 Corinthians 12, “the body” symbolizes the Church. In Song of Songs, the theme is physical love. By the Spirit of God, the physical language points beyond itself by using imagery which is suggestive of deep spiritual truth. What is happening in the heavenly realms always has great relevance to what is going on here on earth: “Great is the Lord in Zion; He is exalted over all the nations” (Psalm 99:2).
Song of Songs 5:1-8:14; 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13; Psalm 100:1-5
There is physical love (Song of Songs). There is the love spoken of in 1 Corinthians 13. There is the love of God – “For the Lord is good and His love endures for ever” (Psalm 100:5). The more we consider what the Scriptures say about love, the more we realize that ‘love is a many-splendoured thing.’ To understand love, there needs to be a response of love arising from our hearts. Touched by love, we learn to love.
2 Chronicles 13:1-15:19; 1 Corinthians 14:20-40; Psalm 101:1-18
Prayer, prophecy and praise – these are three essential ingredients of worship. Prayer – “They sought God eagerly and He was found by them” (2 Chronicles 15:15). Prophecy – “Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy” (1 Corinthians 14:39). Praise – “To You, O Lord, I will sing praise” (Psalm 101:1).
2 Chronicles 16:1-18:27; 1 Corinthians 15:1-34; Psalm 102:1-11
The people of God are to be “armed for battle” (2 Chronicles 17:18). The battle is spiritual. It can only be won through the power of the risen Christ. His purpose is the destruction of “the last enemy … death” (1 Corinthians 15:26). This has been accomplished, in principle, through Christ’s resurrection. The full reality of His victory will be seen at His return. With such a strong and victorious Lord on our side, we are encouraged to pray to the Lord, fully expecting to receive help from Him – “Hear my prayer, O Lord, let my cry for help come to You … ” (Psalm 102:1-2).
2 Chronicles 18:28-21:3; 1 Corinthians 15:35-49; Psalm 102:12-17
Those who were armed for battle received this message from the Lord: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 21:15). Now, we fight many battles. There will come a Day when these battles will be behind us and we will share in the glory of God: “And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the Man from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:4-9). The glory of the Lord will be revealed. There will be no king but the Lord – “all the kings of the earth will revere Your glory” (Psalm 102:15).
2 Chronicles 21:4-23:21; 1 Corinthians 15:50-16:4; Proverbs 20:25-21:4
The conflict between good and evil, godliness and ungodliness, may be seen throughout the Scriptures. This is particularly true in the history of the Old Testament kings. God is doing a work. Satan is doing all that he can to destroy it. We must make “a covenant … to be the Lord’s people” (2 Chronicles 23:16). We must never lose sight of the final outcome of the battle between good and evil. Satan will be “slain with the sword” (2 Chronicles 23:21). He will be “hurled down” – “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11). From our hearts, we can say, “But thanks to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). If we are to enjoy His victory, we must live in the light which shines from “the lamp of the Lord” (Proverbs 20:27).
2 Chronicles 24:1-25:28; 1 Corinthians 16:5-24; Psalm 102:18-28
During the time of the Old Testament kings, there was much “turning away from following the Lord” (2 Chronicles 25:27). In such times as these, we need to be encouraged to go on with the Lord: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love” (1 Corinthians16:13-14). The warnings from previous generations, together with the call to follow the Lord, are written for people of every generation: “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord” (Psalm 102:18).
2 Chronicles 26:1-28:27; 2 Corinthians 1:1-11; Psalm 103:1-12
“In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord” (2 Chronicles 28:22). Times of trouble can lead people towards bitterness and further rebellion against the Lord. On the other hand, times of trouble can be precisely the times when God’s purpose is most powerfully fulfilled – “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Ahaz’ rebellion against the Lord had negative effects on the whole of Israel. Scripture speaks of both “his downfall and the downfall of Israel” (2 Chronicles 28:23). We receive comfort from the Lord so that we may have a positive effect on others – “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4). As we consider what God is seeking, even in our troubles, to do in us and for us, we must learn to say, with the Psalmist, “Praise the Lord, o my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:2).
2 Chronicles 29:1-31:1; 2 Corinthians 1:12-22; Psalm 103:13-22
A revival of worship does not come from the worshippers. It comes from the God whom they worship – “what God had brought about for His people” (2 Chronicles 29:35b-36). “It is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:22). If we are live in obedience to God’s Word, we must give ourselves wholeheartedly to praising Him. This will involve more than paying lip-service to Him. We must do His will (Psalm 103:20-21).
2 Chronicles 31:2-33:20; 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:11; Proverbs 21:5-16
“With us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:8). The battle will not be easy. “Satan” is seeking to “outwit us” (2 Corinthians 2:11). Nevertheless, “we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11). In our spiritual battle for God and against Satan, we need to know both our enemy and our God who helps us and fights for us. “The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin” (Proverbs 21:12). This is what Christ has done for us. This is what we are to do in Him.
2 Chronicles 33:21-35:19; 2 Corinthians 2:12-3:16; Psalm 104:1-18
Covenant – This is vitally important in both the Old Testament and the New Testament (2 Chronicles 34:29-32; 2 Corinthians 3:6). There is the Word of God (2 Chronicles 34:30) and the Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 3:6). There is the human response (2 Chronicles 34:31-32) and renewal by the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:6). Psalm 104 speaks much of “the waters.” This makes one think of Jesus’ words concerning “rivers of living water” (John 7:37-39) – the power of the Spirit being poured into our hearts (Psalm 104:10; Romans 5:5), satisfying our spiritual thirst (Psalm 104:11,13) and bringing fruitfulness into our lives (Psalm 104:14) with a sufficiency that comes from the Lord (Psalm 104:16).
2 Chronicles 35:20-36:23; 2 Corinthians 3:7-18; Psalm 104:19-30
The glory of Israel was a fading glory. We should read the closing chapters of 2 Chronicles in the light of 2 Corinthians 3:7 – The glory was fading. God, however, has revealed His glory in greater fullness – “what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory” (2 Corinthians 3:10). The renewal of God’s glory comes through the Spirit (Psalm 104:30).
Micah 1:1-4:13; 2 Corinthians 4:1-18; Psalm 104:31-35
“All the nations may walk in the names of their gods; we will walk in the Name of the Lord our God for ever and ever” (Micah 4:5). This is the kind of commitment the Lord is looking for. We commit ourselves to Him not for our benefit but for this purpose: “so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15). As part of this thanksgiving to God, we offer our song of praise to Him: “I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live” (Psalm 104:33).
Micah 5:1-7:20; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10; Proverbs 21:17-26
God wipes out the shadow of our past – He “pardons sin” (Micah 7:18). He shines in the light of His future – “We will be “clothed with our heavenly dwelling” (2 Corinthians 5:4). From this standpoint of privilege, we are called to fulfil our responsibility: to be soldiers of Christ (Proverbs 21:22).
Isaiah 1:1-2:22; 2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2; Psalm 105:1-11
The ministry of Isaiah calls for reality, for transformed lives. this renewal of our lives can only be achieved through the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t have the power to change ourselves. It is in Christ that we become “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This great Gospel blessing gives us much reason for praising the Lord and giving thanks to Him (Psalm 105:1-2).
Isaiah 3:1-5:7; 2 Corinthians 6:3-7:1; Psalm 105:12-22
“Those who are left … will be called holy” (Isaiah 4:3). “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14). The Lord is calling His people to holiness. They are not to be in bondage to the world and its way of living. Even though the Lord’s people are “few in number”, they have this encouragement – they are protected by the Lord: “Do not touch My anointed ones, do My prophets no harm” (Psalm 105:15).
Isaiah 5:8-8:10; 2 Corinthians 7:2-16; Psalm 105:23-36
“The holy seed will be the stump in the land” (Isaiah 6:13). God preserves the faithful remnant, the remnant of faith. “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all”(Isaiah 7:9). What or who can keep us firm in the faith? – “Immanuel (God with us)” (Isaiah 7:14). In the face of much opposition, we could easily become discouraged, “But God … comforts the downcast” (2 Corinthians 7:6). To those who turn to Him, God brings His comfort. To those who turn from Him, He sends His judgment (Psalm 105:28-36).
Isaiah 8:11-10:19; 2 Corinthians 8:1-15; Proverbs 21:27-22:6
Who is Jesus Christ? What has He done for us? God’s answer to these questions is found in Isaiah 9:6 – “He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” and 2 Corinthians 8:9 – “our Lord Jesus Christ was rich, yet for your sakes, He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” We have true riches when we know God: “Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all” (Proverbs 22:2).
Isaiah 10:20-13:22; 2 Corinthians 8:16-9:5; Psalm 105:37-45
Jesus Christ was filled with “the Spirit of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2). It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that we are to live for Christ. As we give ourselves to the Lord in service, our first priority is “to honour the Lord Himself.” We do this as we “show our eagerness to help” (2 Corinthians 8:19). We, who have been so richly blessed by the Lord, are to live in obedience to Him out of joyful gratitude to Him, our Saviour (Psalm 105:42-45).
Isaiah 14:1-16:14; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15; Psalm 106:1-15
Christ came to destroy the evil one, Satan – to bring him “down to the grave, to the depths of the pit” (Isaiah 14:12-14). Satan seeks to impoverish our lives. God, however, is very different. He gives us His “surpassing grace.” This is given to us in His Son, our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s “indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:14-15). God’s gift of grace is so great that it surpasses our capacity for praising Him – “Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare His praises?” (Psalm 106:12).
Isaiah 17:1-19:25; 2 Corinthians 10:1-18; Psalm 106:16-31
Much of the “oracle concerning Egypt” (Isaiah 19:1) speaks of the negative aspects which are associated with the nation of Egypt. Nevertheless, there is a Word of hope at the end of this oracle (Isaiah 19:18-25). In 2 Corinthians 10:15-16, Paul expresses the hope that “our area of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the Gospel in the regions beyond you.” It is so important that we do not write people off, that we do not give up hope, that we continue to believe that God can turn things around for His glory and for the salvation of men and women. The story which is told in Psalm 106:16-29 is one which makes us wonder, ‘Can this situation be turned around? Is there any hope?’ In Psalm 106:30-31, we catch a glimpse of hope, it is hope “for endless generations to come.”
Isaiah 20:1-23:18; 2 Corinthians 11:1-15; Proverbs 22:7-16
The people of God live in a situation of conflict. We are at war with the enemy. Nevertheless, we need not be afraid. The enemies of the Lord will be brought to nothing: “Babylon has fallen, has fallen! All the images of its gods lie shattered on the ground!” (Isaiah 21:9). “Look at the land of the Babylonians, this people that is of no account!” (Isaiah 23:13). There will be “false apostles”, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13). We must not become discouraged. We must not say, “There is a lion outside!” or “I will be murdered in the streets!” (Proverbs 22:13). We must remember that “the Lord … frustrates the work of the unfaithful” (Proverbs 22:12).
Isaiah 24:1-26:21; 2 Corinthians 11:16-33; Psalm 106:32-39
“Lord, … all that we have accomplished You have done for us” (Isaiah 26:12). “I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised for ever … ” (2 Corinthians 11:30-31). The way of pleasing God is the God-centred way of living. The way of angering the Lord (Psalm 106:32) is the way of self-centredness. The words of Psalm 106:32-39 are full of self – “they … they … they.” It’s all about them. The only references to God are descriptions of their refusal to do God’s will (Psalm 106:32-34).
Isaiah 27:1-28:29; 2 Corinthians 12:1-10; Psalm 106:40-48
Isaiah 28:29 contains a great description of God – “The Lord Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.” Paul speaks, in 2 Corinthians 12:7, of “surpassingly great revelations.” Whenever God reveals an increased measure of His wonderful counsel and magnificent wisdom, He wants us to remain humble, resting only in His grace and power (2 Corinthians 12:9) and not in any supposed achievement or attainment of our own. He wants us always to say, from the heart, “Praise be to the Lord” (Psalm 106:48).
Isaiah 29:1-30:18; 2 Corinthians 12:11-21; Psalm 107:1-9
“In repentance and rest is your salvation” (Isaiah 30:15). Repentance is an ongoing part of our Christian experience – 2 Corinthians 12:21 emphasizes the need for continuing repentance. We have been saved. We continue to sin. We must seek, by God’s grace, to maintain our repentance. Rest is part of our redemption in Christ. To be “redeemed from the hand of the foe” (Psalm 107:2) means the beginning of rest, the beginning of deliverance from the oppressor. This does not mean that the perfect state has been reached. Still, there is “wandering in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle” (Psalm 107:4). In Christ, we have entered into our rest. Still, however, there is restlessness – a God-given restlessness – as we continue to hunger and thirst (Psalm 107:5) for “a city where they could settle” (Psalm 107:7), a heavenly city that is permanent, and not merely transient. In His faithful love, God assures us that He will lead us to this heavenly city where we can settle forevermore (Psalm 107:7), rejoicing in “His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men” (Psalm 107:8) and praising Him who satisfies our hunger and quenches our thirst.
Isaiah 30:19-32:20; 2 Corinthians 13:1-14; Proverbs 22:17-27
What a transformation there is when “the Spirit is poured upon us from on high” (Isaiah 32:14-15). The blessings which God pours upon us are well summed up in 2 Corinthians 13:14 – “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” How are these ongoing blessings communicated to us? – These blessings come to us through “true and reliable words” (Proverbs 22:21). These blessings come to us from the God of perfect wisdom. His teaching is both present and personal – “I teach you today, even you” (Proverbs 22:19).
Isaiah 33:1-35:10; Galatians 1:1-24; Psalm 107:10-22
Isaiah 35:8 speaks of “the Way of Holiness.” Isaiah 35:9 stresses that “only the redeemed will walk there.” This is also the teaching of Paul in Galatians. We must be redeemed by the Lord if we are to walk in the Way of Holiness. Any attempt yo walk in the Way of Holiness as a means of earning salvation is ” a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all”, a perversion of the Gospel of Christ (Galatians 1:6-7). Only God – and not ourselves – can break the chains of sin. “Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men, for He breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron” (Psalm 107:15-16).
Isaiah 36:1-37:38; Galatians 2:1-10; Psalm 107:23-32
“For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this” (Isaiah 37:32). In a time when many people are turning away from the Lord, God is still preserving His own people for Himself. He keeps us for Himself so that we might be used by Him to bring others to Him. In response to His revelation, we are to preach His Gospel among the Gentiles (the unbelieving world) (Galatians 2:2), so that they, with us, may “exalt Him in the assembly of the people …” (Psalm 107:32).
Isaiah 38:1-40:31; Galatians 2:11-3:9; Psalm 107:33-43
“The Lord will save me, and we will sing with stringed instruments all the days of our lives in the Temple of the Lord” (Isaiah 38:20). Saved by the Lord, we are to give ourselves to Him in worship. This worship is to be in the Spirit (Galatians 3:3). we are to be “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1:10). As we worship in the Spirit, God Himself will turn “parched ground into flowing springs” (Psalm 107:35). As His Word is sown in the hearts of men and women, it will yield “a fruitful harvest – He blessed then, and their numbers greatly increased” (Psalm 107:37-38). May the Lord look upon us in mercy. May His “fruitful harvest” be our future, and not the tragic situation described in Psalm 107:39 – “Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled by oppression, calamity and sorrow.” At the end of Psalm 107, we have this challenging exhortation: “Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord” (Psalm 107:43).
Isaiah 41:1-42:25; Galatians 3:10-25; Proverbs 22:28-23:9
The Old Testament looks forward to the coming of Christ – “Here is My Servant, whom I uphold, My Chosen One in whom I delight; I will put My Spirit on Him and He will bring justice to the nations” (Isaiah 42:1). He is the fulfilment of the Old Testament hope: “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit” (Galatians 3:14). Proverbs 22:28 says, “Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your forefathers.” Jesus Christ may be ancient, He is still the boundary stone, set not only by our forefathers but by our Heavenly Father. He is the Rock of our salvation. He is the criterion by which the boundaries are set. We are not to move the boundaries because modern man has become impatient with a faith that is based on the Bible. In this generation and every generation, we are to set our feet firmly on the Rock of ages, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, whose Gospel is old yet ever new, ancient yet constantly relevant.
Isaiah 43:1-44:23; Galatians 3:26-4:20; Psalm 108:1-5
What a majestic description of God we have in Isaiah 44:6 – “This is what the Lord says – Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty; I am the First and I am the Last; apart from Me there is no God.” This is the God to whom we pray, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let Your glory be over all the earth” (Psalm 108:5). He is exalted, but He is also the God who draws near to us; “God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father'” (Galatians 4:6).
Isaiah 44:24-46:13; Galatians 4:21-5:6; Psalm 108:6-13
“I am the Lord, and there is no other” – This truth is repeated several times over in this part of Israel (Isaiah 48:5-6,14,18,21-22; Isaiah 46:9). The contrast, in Isaiah, is between God and the gods. The contrast, in Galatians, is between Christ’s salvation and other ways of salvation (Galatians 4:25-26; Galatians 5:1). There are always contrasts between what is godly and what is ungodly, what is Christ-centred and what denies Christ. In the face of such conflict, we have God’s own promise: “With God we shall gain the victory, and He will trample down our enemies” (Psalm 108:13).
Isaiah 47:1-49:7; Galatians 5:7-26; Psalm 109:1-20
The God who says, “I am the Lord, and there is no other”, also says, “I will not yield My glory to another” (Isaiah 48:11). The uniqueness of the Lord is directly related to the glory of the Lord. God is unique, the one true God. We are to give glory to Him alone. How do we glorify God? – “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24-25). The way of the flesh brings judgment (Psalm 109:1-20). The way of the Spirit is the way of “inheriting the Kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21-24).
Isaiah 49:8-51:16; Galatians 6:1-18; Proverbs 23:10-18
“The ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away” (Isaiah 51:11). “May I never boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14). Our boast is in the Lord who has ransomed us. We rejoice in Him. He has given us a new song of joy. We no longer sing the world’s song. Now, we are singing the Lord’s song. The world’s way is always there to pull us away from the Lord. We must “always be zealous for the fear of the Lord” (Proverbs 23:17).
Isaiah 51:17-54:17; Ephesians 1:1-23; Psalm 109:21-31
“‘With everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,’ says the Lord your Redeemer” (Isaiah 54:8). “In love, He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:5). This loving kindness has its origin in the heart of the eternal God. It continues for all eternity as we are brought into our full enjoyment of “the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18). It is to this everlasting love that we make our appeal when we call upon the Name of the Lord: “Out of the goodness of Your love, deliver me … Help me, O Lord my God, save me in accordance with Your love” (Psalm 109:21,26).
Isaiah 55:1-57:13; Ephesians 2:1-22; Psalm 110:1-7
Following the promise of grace (Isaiah 55:7), we have this great declaration by the Lord, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.'” (Isaiah 55:8-9). God’s grace is so great that it will continue for all eternity (Ephesians 2:7). The God of grace will be triumphant over all His enemies (Psalm 110:2).
Isaiah 57:14-59:21; Ephesians 3:1-21; Psalm 111:1-10
“‘Here am I,’ says the Lord” (Isaiah 58:9). “Here am I”, says Isaiah (Isaiah 6:8). Our “Here am I” only has meaning within the context of God’s “Here am I.” It is because He is ‘the God who is there’ (Francis Schaeffer) that we can draw near to Him – “You did not wait for me to draw near to You …” (Mission Praise, 969). When we come to Him with the prayer, “Here am I”, we come with a commitment to service: “Send me” (Isaiah 6:8). We are sent into the battle, but we have this encouraging Word from the Lord – He has gone ahead of us to prepare the way for us. “He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on His head” (Isaiah 59:17). Through this encouraging Word, we are “strengthened in the inner being” (Ephesians 3:16). – “His power … is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). “He has shown His people the power of His works, giving them the lands of other nations” (Psalm 111:6). This is the victory of the Lord.
Isaiah 60:1-62:12; Ephesians 4:1-16; Proverbs 23:19-28
The grace of God is very great and very precious. Through His grace, we are “called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord” (Isaiah 62:12). We are “urged … to live a life worthy of this high calling” (Ephesians 4:1). Following “the right path” is always a matter of the heart. We must “keep our hearts on the right path” (Proverbs 23:19). This means giving attention to “truth … wisdom, discipline and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23).
Isaiah 63:1-65:16; Ephesians 4:17-5:7; Psalm 112:1-10
The cry of God’s people: “Oh that You would rend the heavens and come down … to make Your Name known to your enemies” (Isaiah 64:1). The promise of God’s blessing: “I revealed Myself to those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me” (Isaiah 65:1). Those who have come to know God through Christ “must no longer live as the Gentiles do” (Ephesians 4:17). The way of fearing the Lord is the way of blessing. It is the way of “no fear”, the way of triumph (Psalm 112:1,8).
Isaiah 65:17-66:24; Ephesians 5:8-33; Psalm 113:1-9
We are to “drink deeply” from the “overflowing abundance” of God (Isaiah 66:11). We are to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). This fullness of the Spirit leads to praise. “Praise the Lord” (Psalm 113:1,9). As “servants of the Lord”, we are called to praise His Name “both now and forevermore” (Psalm 113:1-2).
Nahum 1:1-3:19; Ephesians 6:1-24; Psalm 114:1-8
“Fulfil your vows” (Nahum 1:15). “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). In all the vows we have promised to keep, we must remember the strength of the Lord: “Be strong in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:10). When we are trusting Him for strength, He will turn “the hard rock into springs of water” (Psalm 114:8).
Zephaniah 1:1-3:20; Philippians 1:1-26; Proverbs 23:29-24:14
“The Lord God is with you. He is mighty to save” (Zephaniah 3:17). The God of salvation is with us, not only here-and-now but for evermore – “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the Day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). As we are led on by the God whose purpose is “to save to the uttermost all who come to Him through Christ” (Hebrews 7:25), our lives will be “filled with rare and beautiful treasures” (Proverbs 24:4).
Jeremiah 1:1-2:30; Philippians 1:27-2:11; Psalm 115:1-11
The true and living God must not be reduced to the level of man-made gods. The challenge goes out from God’s Word: “Where then are the gods you made for yourselves?” (Jeremiah 2:28). There is no comparison between God and the gods – “Our God is in heaven … But their idols are … made by the hands of men” (Psalm 115:3-4). The New Testament affirms the sovereignty of God by proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus Christ: “God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the Name that is above every name …” (Philippians 2:9-11).
Jeremiah 2:31-4:9; Philippians 2:12-30; Psalm 115:12-18
The Lord calls us back from our backsliding: “Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding” (Jeremiah 3:22). The returning people say, “Yes, we will come to You, for You are the Lord our God … surely in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel” (Jeremiah 3:22-23). As we return to the Lord, He gives us this calling: “Become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the Word of life” (Philippians 2:15-16). To those who return to the Lord and seek to live as His holy people, the Lord gives His promise of blessing – “The Lord remembers us and will bless us … He will bless those who fear the Lord – small and great alike” (Psalm 115:12-13).
Jeremiah 4:10-5:31; Philippians 3:1-4:1; Psalm 116:1-11
The Word of God is like a fire, burning up the sin of man (Jeremiah 5:14). The purpose of this fire is not, however, destructive. God’s purpose is to burn up the pride which “puts confidence in the flesh”, to burn away the “legalistic righteousness.” All of that is to be “considered rubbish” (Philippians 3:4,6,8). Once the rubbish has been burned in the fire of judgment – the judgment which was laid upon the crucified Christ for us, man is led to receive the “righteousness which is through faith in Christ” (Philippians 3:9). Once this righteousness has been received, we are to keep walking in the way of faith: “I will call upon Him as long as I live” (Psalm 116:2).
Jeremiah 6:1-7:29; Philippians 4:2-23; Proverbs 24:5-14
The false prophets say, “Peace, peace … when there is no peace” – “They dress the wound of God’s people as though it were not serious” (Jeremiah 6:14). The true prophet of God comes with a very different message. He says, “Do not say, ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!'” (Jeremiah 7:4). A faithful exercise of prophetic ministry is very demanding. Nevertheless, the Lord gives His servants the strength to say, with conviction and confidence, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). As this ministry is faithfully exercised, there is a deep satisfaction in the soul and an increased confidence in God: “Wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off” (Proverbs 24:14).
Jeremiah 7:30-9:16; Colossians 1:1-23; Psalm 116:12-19
There is a great contrast between sin – “Do not trust your brothers. For every brother is a deceiver … and no-one speaks the truth” (Jeremiah 9:4-5) – and salvation – “the holy and faithful brothers in Christ … the Words of truth, the gospel … has come to you” (Colossians 1:2,5-6). God is calling us from sin to salvation, and then on to service. Those who say, “I will lift up the cup of salvation” go on to say, “O Lord, I am Your servant” (Psalm 116:13,16). This service is offered to the Lord in gratitude for His salvation,. We acknowledge Him as Saviour, saying, “You have freed me from my chains”, and we say to Him, “I will sacrifice a thank-offering to You” (Psalm 116:17).
Jeremiah 9:17-11:17; Colossians 1:24-2:5; Psalm 117:1-2
The Lord’s people are called to a ministry of preaching the Gospel and teaching the Word (Jeremiah 11:6; Colossians 1:25,28). While this ministry is carried out by particular individuals, e.g. Jeremiah and Paul, it is a ministry which is strengthened by the support and encouragement which comes from the Lord’s people. It is not only to the preachers and teachers that God says, “Extol Him.” He says, “Extol Him all you people” (Psalm 117:1).
Jeremiah 11:18-13:27; Colossians 2:6-23; Psalm 118:1-16
The life of faith is a life of conflict. We live among “the faithless” – God is “always on their lips, but far from their hearts” (Jeremiah 12:12). We are called to maintain the faith in the face of “hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world’s rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8). There is conflict, but there is also victory – “The Lord is with me … I will look in triumph over my enemies … ” (Psalm 118:6-8).
Jeremiah 14:1-15:21; Colossians 3:1-4:1; Proverbs 24:15-22
Our spiritual warfare is both outward and inward. We have enemies coming at us from without and from within. Concerning the enemies from without, God says, “This people will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you … I will save you from the hands of the wicked and redeem you from the grasp of the cruel” (Jeremiah 15:20-21). Concerning the enemies from within, God says, “Put to death … whatever belongs to your earthly nature” (Colossians 3:5). We are not to “fret because of evil men” (Proverbs 24:19). We are to “fear the Lord” (Proverbs 24:21).
Jeremiah 16:1-17:27; Colossians 4:2-18; Psalm 118:17-29
“A glorious throne, exalted from the beginning, is the place of our sanctuary” (Jeremiah 17:12). The Lord is enthroned on the praises of His people – “Jesus, we enthrone You … We lift You up with our praise. And as we worship, build Your throne. Come, Lord Jesus, and take Your place.” When the Lord is enthroned on the praises of His people, there will also be prayer and proclamation – “Devote yourselves to prayer … that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ … clearly” (Colossians 4:2-4). The blessing of the Lord is upon those who come to His House, seeking Him: “Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord. From the House of the Lord we bless you” (Psalm 118:26).
Jeremiah 18:1-20:18; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-2:16; Psalm 119:1-8
“The Lord is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail” (Jeremiah 20:11). This is a tremendous Word of encouragement when the battle is at its fiercest. In this battle, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:5), empowered to speak for the Lord and to live for Him. He gives us the strength to battle for the glory of God, “not trying to please men but God … not looking for praise from men” (1 Thessalonians 1:4,6). This is the way of blessing – the way of doing what God wants us to do – “blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord” (Psalm 119:1).
Jeremiah 21:1-23:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:13; Psalm 119:9-16
“O land, land, land, hear the Word of the Lord” (Jeremiah 22:29). When we truly hear the Word of the Lord with attentive hearts, there will be an “increase and overflow” of “love” and a strengthening of holiness (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13). This is the teaching of Psalm 119:9 – “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word.” This is why we hear the Word of the Lord – so that we might learn to do the will of the Lord: “I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).
Jeremiah 23:9-25:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-18; Proverbs 24:23-34
How are our lives to be changed? They can be changed by God – “I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord” (Jeremiah 24:7). Knowing God makes a difference. Those who do know not Him live “in passionate lust” (1 Thessalonians 4:5). Those who do know Him “live in order to please God” (1 Thessalonians 4:1). We must not be like “the sluggard … the man who lacks judgment” (proverbs 24:30). We must apply our hearts to learning the lessons God is teaching us, lessons which will provoke us to greater spiritual alertness and increased spiritual blessing (Proverbs 24:32-33).
Jeremiah 25:15-26:24; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-28; Psalm 119:17-24
The word of judgment is not an easy word to speak, yet it must be spoken in every generation. It was spoken by the Old Testament prophets (Jeremiah 25:15). It was spoken by the New Testament apostles (1 Thessalonians 5:9). The wrath of God is part of the message which is to be proclaimed by those who are faithful to God. When God speaks of His wrath, He “rebukes the arrogant who are cursed” (Psalm 119:21). There are those who “stray from God’s commands” (Psalm 119:21), but we must commit ourselves to Him – “I will obey Your Word … Your servant will meditate on Your decrees. Your statutes are my delight; they are my counsellors” (Psalm 119:17,23-24).
Jeremiah 27:1-29:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12; Psalm 119:25-32
There was a message of hope (Jeremiah 29:11), but, first, God’s people had to suffer seventy years of captivity in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:10). There is a glorious hope – “He comes to be glorified in His holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed” (2 Thessalonians 1:10), but, first, we must endure “persecutions and trials”, suffering for “the Kingdom of God” (2 Thessalonians 1:4-5). There are difficult times – “My soul is weary with sorrow” (Psalm 119:28), but there is also strengthening – “Strengthen me according to Your Word” (Psalm 119:28). In each of these passages, there is a wholesome combination of realism and faith.
Jeremiah 29:24-31:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17; Psalm 119:33-40
In the Christian life, there is always the problem of the false or counterfeit which opposes the true or authentic. In Jeremiah 29:31, we read about the false prophet. In 2 Thessalonians 2:9, we read about “the lawless one.” There are also the promises of God’s blessing (Jeremiah 31:1-6; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17). As we consider the contrast between the false and the true, we must learn to say, “Turn my eyes from worthless things; preserve my life according to Your Word” (Psalm 119:37).
Jeremiah 31:15-32:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18; Proverbs 25:1-10
Jeremiah 32:17 tells us that nothing is too hard for the “Sovereign Lord”, the Creator of “the heavens and the earth.” He is able to deliver us “from wicked and evil men”, to “strengthen and protect us from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:2-3). We are enabled to persevere because “the Lord directs our hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance” (2 Thessalonians 3:5). As the Lord Himself leads us in His love, leading us not into temptation and delivering us from evil, He “removes the dross from the silver, and out comes material for the silversmith” (Proverbs 25:4).
Jeremiah 32:26-34:22; 1 Timothy 1:1-20; Psalm 119:41-48
The slaves were to be set free (Jeremiah 34:8-9). The setting free of slaves is a form of imagery which is used in Scripture to declare the wonder of God’s saving grace. We do not deserve to be set free, yet, in grace and mercy, the Lord saves us (see Paul’s testimony in 1 Timothy 1:12-17). Through His wonderful grace and boundless mercy, the Lord gives to His people this joyful testimony: “I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out Your precepts” (Psalm 119:45). Freedom is not only God’s gift at the beginning of the Christian life. It is His blessing throughout the Christian life, as we walk in His way.
Jeremiah 35:1-37:21; 1 Timothy 2:1-15; Psalm 119:49-56
Life was not easy for the prophet Jeremiah. The king and his attendants did not pay “any attention to the words the Lord had spoken through Jeremiah the prophet” (Jeremiah 37:1-2). We must pray for “kings and all those in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). They have so much power to do good or evil. As we consider the nation’s life, we must affirm, with the Psalmist, “I remember Your ancient laws, O Lord, and I find comfort in them” (Psalm 119:52).
Jeremiah 38:1-40:6; 1 Timothy 3:1-16; Psalm 119:57-64
The difficulties faced by Jeremiah were great – “bound in chains” (Jeremiah 40:1). They were not insurmountable – “the commander … let him go” (Jeremiah 40:5). The Psalmist says, “Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget Your law” (Psalm 119:61). Whatever difficulties we may face, we are still called to “keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience” (1 Timothy 3:9).
Jeremiah 40:7-42:22; 1 Timothy 4:1-16; Proverbs 25:11-20
“Do not go to Egypt” (Jeremiah 42:19) – Here is a Word from the Lord which is more than geographical directions. It is a Word concerning our walk with God. In Scripture, “Egypt” is not simply a particular geographical location. “Egypt” is symbolic of a proud, unbelieving hardness of heart. “Do not go to Egypt” means “Do not harden your heart against the Lord.” “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith (1 Timothy 4:1). We must not abandon the faith. In the face of much falling away, God says to His servants, “Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 4:13). The Word is to be “aptly spoken … like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:110. There is nothing more precious than the Word of the Lord.
Jeremiah 43:1-45:5; 1 Timothy 5:1-6:2; Psalm 119:65-72
Concerning Egypt, God says, “I will punish you in this place” (Jeremiah 44:29). There can be no blessing when we live in direct contradiction to His Word. What we must never forget is the existence and activity of Satan (1 Timothy 5:15). He is always there, seeking to make us “turn away from God to follow Satan.” We must learn to say to God, “I believe in Your commands … I obey Your Word …. Teach me Your decrees … I keep Your precepts with all my heart … I delight in Your law … The law from Your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold” (Psalm 119:66-70,72).
Jeremiah 46:1-47:7; 1 Timothy 6:3-21; Psalm 119:73-80
The judgment of God is upon those who set themselves against Him. This is the message which emerges from Jeremiah’s preaching regarding Egypt. The Lord sets Himself against those who teach false doctrine which “does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching” (1 Timothy 6:3). The contrast between “the arrogant” and the godly is clear – “May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause, but I will meditate on Your precepts” (Psalm 119:78).
Jeremiah 48:1-49:6; 2 Timothy 1:1-18; Psalm 119:81-88
“A curse on him who is lax in doing the Lord’s work!” (Jeremiah 48:10). We should not be lax in doing the Lord’s work, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a Spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). Through the power of the Spirit of God, we are able to say, with Paul, “I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are enabled to “obey the statutes of Your mouth” (Psalm 119:88).
Jeremiah 49:7-50:10; 2 Timothy 2:1-26; Proverbs 25:21-26:2
Jeremiah speaks of a time of judgment upon Babylon (Jeremiah 50:1-3) and a time of blessing upon the people of Israel (Jeremiah 50:4-5). If the blessing, and not the judgment, is to come in our own day, we must be faithful in the ministry of God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:15). Faithful ministry of God’s Word is “like cold water to a weary soul.” It is “good news from a distant land” (Proverbs 25:25). It is the Good News sent down from heaven, the Living Water of the Holy Spirit.
Jeremiah 50:11-51:14; 2 Timothy 3:1-17; Psalm 119:89-96
This part of Jeremiah’s prophecy is concerned with God’s judgment upon Babylon. God sets Himself against those who set themselves against Him. We live in times when “evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13). In such times, we must build upon “the Holy (God-breathed) Scriptures which are able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” and which will “thoroughly equip us for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:15-17). This Word of the Lord is “eternal”, and God’s “faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 119:89-90). To say that God’s Word is eternal does not mean that it is distant and remote from time. Rather, it is to emphasize that it is relevant. It is relevant to every generation. It is eternally relevant.
Jeremiah 51:15-64; 2 Timothy 4:1-22; Psalm 119:97-104
The Word of God is to be preached, even if it is a difficult message. In face of the judgment pronounced upon Babylon, God says to His messengers, “When you get to Babylon, see that you read all these words aloud” (Jeremiah 51:61). Paul calls on Timothy to “preach the Word” – “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His Kingdom, I give you this charge” (2 Timothy 4:1-2). Those who truly love the Lord’s Word and meditate on it all day long (Psalm 119:97) will find it their joyful privilege and their solemn responsibility to speak His Word; “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Psalm 119:103).
Jeremiah 52:1-34; Titus 1:1-16; Psalm 119:105-112
The final chapter of Jeremiah speaks of the fall of Jerusalem, followed by captivity in Babylon. Difficulties face God’s people in every generation: “There are many rebellious people … ” (Titus 1:10). The Lord’s people must not be afraid to stand up for Him (Titus 1:11). Whatever others may say and do, this is what we must say and do: “I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow Your righteous laws” (Psalm 119:106).
Habakkuk 1:1-3:19; Titus 2:1-15; Proverbs 26:3-12
“The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights” – These are the last words of Habakkuk (Habakkuk 3:19). “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age …” (Titus 2:11-12). Where does the strength come from – the strength we need for rising from the depths of ungodliness to the heights of godliness? The strength comes from the Lord, the God of grace, the God of our salvation. The Proverbs speak of wisdom. True wisdom is to know that our real strength comes not from within ourselves, but from above, from the Lord.
Lamentations 1:1-2:6; Titus 3:1-15; Psalm 119:113-120
“The Lord is righteous, yet I rebelled against His command” (Lamentations 1:18). “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). This is the story of our life without Christ, but it is not the full story. We must move on to Titus 3:4-7: a great declaration of the love of God, the salvation of God and the glory of God. This is God, working powerfully in our lives. Psalm 119:115 describes the transformation. No longer is it “I rebelled against His command.” Now, it is “Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God!” How does this transformation take place? “Uphold me, and I shall be delivered; I shall always have regard for Your decrees” (Psalm 119:117).
Lamentations 2:7-3:39; Philemon 1-25; Psalm 119:121-128
At the heart of the book of Lamentations, there is this great declaration concerning the love of God: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed” (Lamentations 3:22). His love reaches us not only directly but also through the love of His people – “Your love, dear brother, has brought me great joy and much encouragement! You have cheered the hearts of all God’s people” (Philemon 7). In difficult times, our faith is tested – “My eyes fail, looking for Your salvation, looking for Your righteous promise” (Psalm 119:123). In times such as these, we cry to God, “It is time for You to act, O Lord; Your law is being broken” (Psalm 119:126). This prayer is to be accompanied by obedience: “I love Your commands, more than gold, more than pure gold” (Psalm 119:127).
Lamentations 3:40-5:22; Hebrews 1:1-14; Psalm 119:129-136
Lamentations 4:20 contains an interesting phrase – “The Lord’s anointed, our very life breath.” Christ is the Lord’s anointed. Christ is our life. He is God’s Word to us – “in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:2). He is God’s Son – “about the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever'” (Hebrews 1:8). Psalm 119:130 says, “The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” This opening up of God’s Word is redemptive. As we read His Word, we pray, “Redeem me” (Psalm 119:134) and there arises in our hearts the joyous confession, “O Lord … You have redeemed my life” (Lamentations 3:58).
Obadiah 1-21; Hebrews 2:1-18; Proverbs 26:13-22
The last words of Obadiah are a great declaration; “the Kingdom will be the Lord’s” (Obadiah 21). When we think of God’s Kingdom, we are thinking not only of a Kingdom which belongs to solely to God, but a Kingdom which He shares with the redeemed. Christ says, “Here am I, and the children God has given Me” (Hebrews 2:13). Though there may be “a fierce lion roaming the streets (the devil)” (Proverbs 26:13), the Lord will fufil His saving purpose.
Joel 1:1-2:17; Hebrews 3:1-19; Psalm 119:137-144
“Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love” (Joel 2:13). The call to return to the Lord is an urgent call: “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 3:7-8). Those who have returned to the Lord acknowledge that His way is best – “Righteous are You, O Lord, and Your laws are right” (Psalm 119:137). They delight in doing God’s will: “Your commands are my delight” (Psalm 119:143).
Joel 2:18-3:21; Hebrews 4:1-13; Psalm 119:145-152
As in Hebrews 3, we find again, in Hebrews 4, the words, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7). The Word of God speaks of “the coming of the great and dreadful Day of the Lord” (Joel 2:31). We are called to decision – “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:14). To those who are in the valley of decision, God says, ‘Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved'” (Joel 2:32). In response to this invitation, we are to say, “I call with all my heart; answer me, O Lord, and I will obey Your decrees. I call out to You; save me and I will keep Your statutes” (Psalm 119:145-146).
Ezekiel 1:1-3:27; Hebrews 4:14-5:10; Psalm 119:153-160
“Visions of God” – This is what we have in Ezekiel. These visions are not easy to understand. Their form emphasizes that God is beyond our understanding. We see the glory of God, and we fall before Him in worship (Ezekiel 3:23). We are not, however, to content ourselves with seeing the glory of God as we worship Him. We are to share the glory of God as we witness for Him (Ezekiel 3:27). As we consider this high calling – to worship the Lord and to be His witnesses, we become conscious of our weakness. This is where Jesus helps us. He is able “to sympathize with our weaknesses.” Through Him, “we … receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16). Discovering the mercy and grace of God in Christ, we say to God, in worship, “Your compassion is great, O Lord” (Psalm 119:156).
Ezekiel 4:1-6:14; Hebrews 5:11-6:12; Proverbs 26:23-27:4
“Alas! because of all the wicked and detestable practices of the house of Israel, for they will fall by the sword, famine and plague” (Ezekiel 6:11). Alongside these words concerning Israel’s sin and fall, we place the solemn words of Hebrews 6:4-6, words which warn us of the danger of falling away, stressing the importance of pressing on in the “things that accompany salvation” (Hebrews 6:9). “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). We must not take anything for granted. Day-by-day, we are dependent on the mercy and grace of God. Without His mercy and grace, we will fall. Through His mercy and grace, we will stand.
Ezekiel 7:1-9:11; Hebrews 6:13-7:10; Psalm 119:161-168
The prophet was shown “the utterly detestable things the house of Israel is doing here (in the Temple), things that will drive Me (God) far from My sanctuary” (Ezekiel 8:6). There were, however, “those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it” (Ezekiel 9:4). There was to be judgment, but it would not fall on those who loved the Lord and His House (Ezekiel 9:6). As we read of the “sanctuary”, which was defiled, we read also, in Hebrews 6:19-20, of the sanctuary which will never be defiled: “the inner sanctuary …. where Jesus … has entered on our behalf.” How are we to respond to the defiling of the sanctuary? We are to spend more time, giving our love to Jesus, entering “the inner sanctuary” where He is – “I hate and abhor falsehood but I love Your law. Seven times a day I praise You for Your righteous laws” (Psalm 119:163-164).
Ezekiel 10:1-12:28; Hebrews 7:11-28; Psalm 119:169-176
“The glory of the Lord” (Ezekiel 11:23) – This is what the visions are about. The glory of the Lord is most fully revealed in Christ. His glory is revealed in salvation, in His power “to save completely those who come to God through Him” (Hebrews 7:25). As we read in Scripture of this great salvation, we must pray, from our hearts: “I long for Your salvation, O Lord, and Your law is my delight” (Psalm 119:174). Salvation is not a self-centred experience, all for me, no give and all take. It is a God-centred experience which leads to service, a life committed to doing His will.
Ezekiel 13:1-15:8; Hebrews 8:1-13; Psalm 120:1-7
God speaks against “those who prophesy out of their own imagination … who follow their own spirit” (Ezekiel 13:2-3). In the face of such false prophets, we must pray, “Save me, O Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues” (Psalm 120:2). How does the Lord save us from lying lips and deceitful tongues? He leads us to the One who is the Truth, our Lord Jesus Christ “who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man” (Hebrews 8:2). How does Jesus save us from lying lips and deceitful tongues? This is what He does: “I will put My laws in their minds and write them on their hearts” (Hebrews 8:10).
Ezekiel 16:1-63; Hebrews 9:1-15; Proverbs 27:5-14
The promises of God are given in Ezekiel 16 – “I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you … So I will establish My covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 16:60,62). These promises are fulfilled in “Christ … the Mediator of a new covenant.” Through Him, we “receive the promised eternal inheritance.” Through His death “as a ransom”, we are “set … free from the sins committed under the first covenant” (Hebrews 9:15). “Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger” (Proverbs 27:13) – Through faith in Christ, we receive the garment of His perfect righteousness. Trusting in Him, we are no longer strangers to God. We are secure in His salvation.
Ezekiel 17:1-18:32; Hebrews 9:16-28; Psalm 121:1-8
The Word of God calls us to repentance – “Repent and live!” (Ezekiel 18:32). This repentance does not earn salvation for us. While we are called to “repent and live”, we must understand that eternal life is God’s gift, given to us on the basis of Christ’s death as the perfect sacrifice for our sins: “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22). The foundation of our salvation is Christ’s death for our sins: “Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people.” There is an appropriate response to His saving death. We are to wait for Him – He “brings salvation to those who are waiting for Him” (Hebrews 9:28). As we wait for Him, we look forward to life “both now and for evermore” (Psalm 121:8).
Ezekiel 19:1-20:44; Hebrews 10:1-18; Psalm 122:1-9
God is gracious. Despite all the sin of Israel, described in great detail in these chapters of Ezekiel, God still says, “I will accept you as fragrant incense” (Ezekiel 20:41). He still says, “I deal with you for My Name’s sake and not according to your evil ways and your corrupt practices” (Ezekiel 20:44). How does God deal with us in mercy and grace? He does so through Jesus Christ: “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). Concerning Jerusalem, the Psalmist prays, “May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels” (Psalm 122:7). This is what we have “in Christ” – peace and security. In Him, we have been removed from the realm of our own sin and guilt. we have been placed in His peace and security.
Ezekiel 20:45-22:22; Hebrews 10:19-39; Psalm 123:1-4
Human sin and divine judgment, described in such detail in these chapters of Ezekiel – this is the backcloth against which we are called to go on with the Lord: “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God” (Hebrews 10:26-27). In the face of our sin and God’s judgment, “our eyes look to the Lord our God, till He shows us His mercy.” We pray, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us” (Psalm 123:3).
Ezekiel 22:23-23:49; Hebrews 11:1-16; Proverbs 27:15-22
The contrast between a life of sin and shame and a life of faith and blessing is highlighted in the comparison between the passages in Ezekiel and Hebrews. The contrast is between living for the things we see – “She saw men … As soon as she saw them she lusted after them” (Ezekiel 23:14-16) – and living and “longing for a better country – a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16). Proverbs 27:20 say, “Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man.” The glory of the Christian hope is that Death and Destruction will not have the last word. God has prepared a city for His people (Hebrews 11:16). Our eyes will look upon Him, and we will rejoice in Him who satisfies completely – our Creator, our Redeemer: God.
Ezekiel 24:1-25:17; Hebrews 11:17-40; Psalm 124:1-8
There is, in these passages, the continuing conflict between the life of obedient faith (Hebrews 11) and the life of disobedience (God’s judgments in Ezekiel). The Psalmist makes it clear that the life of obedient faith is not an easy life – “If the Lord had not been on our side … they would have swallowed us alive … the raging waters would have swept us away” (Psalm 124:1-5). The testimony of the Psalmist is clear: “Praise be to the Lord who has not let us be torn by their teeth” (Psalm 124:6). As we read these words, our thoughts may turn towards the Bible’s description of “the devil” as “a roaring lion who goes about seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Through Christ, we have the victory – “We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped” (Psalm 124:7).
Ezekiel 26:1-27:36; Hebrews 12:1-13; Psalm 125:1-5
To Tyre, God says, “Your wealth, merchandise and wares, your mariners, seamen and shipwrights, your merchants and all your soldiers, and everyone else on board will sink into the heart of the sea on the day of your shipwreck” (Ezekiel 27:27). Those who are overladen by their attachment to the things of this world will sink in the storms of life. The Word of God says to us, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1). Though the storms of life be very severe, the Lord’s promise remains true: “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures for ever” (Psalm 125:1).
Ezekiel 28:1-29:21; Hebrews 12:14-29; Psalm 126:1-6
Many times over, in these chapters of Ezekiel, the words are repeated, “They will know that I am the Lord.” we must view the events of history in relation to God. He is fulfilling His purpose. He is demonstrating that He is the Lord. The demonstration of His Lordship is seen in both judgment – “Egypt will become a desolate wasteland. Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 29:9) – and salvation – “On that day I will make a horn grow for the house of Israel … Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 29:21). The judgment need not be final (Ezekiel 29:13-14). The salvation is not without the reminder of past sin (Ezekiel 29:16). In both God’s judgment and His salvation, we see God’s love and His holiness. Scripture speaks of both “the grace of God” and the call to holiness – “without holiness no-one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14-15). We receive God’s Kingdom with thanksgiving, rejoicing that it “cannot be shaken.” We receive His Kingdom “with reverence and awe”, acknowledging that “our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29). We rejoice in the Lord – “The Lord has done great things for us.” We pray for renewal – “Restore our fortunes, O Lord” (Psalm 126:3-4).
Ezekiel 30:1-31:18; Hebrews 13:1-25; Proverbs 27:23-28:6
What a contrast there is between “Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Ezekiel 31:2) and “Jesus Christ” who is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Pharaoh had the appearance of “majesty”, yet he was “brought down” (Ezekiel 31:2,18). Jesus has a glory which will never be diminished. It will be “glory for ever and ever” (Hebrews 13:21). “Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a rich man whose ways are perverse” (Proverbs 28:6). Jesus didn’t have the riches of this world, but He lived in perfect obedience to His Heavenly Father. Pharaoh had this world’s riches, but he hardened his heart against the Lord. The Word of God leaves us in no doubt about which way is the better way. It’s not the way of Pharaoh. It’s the way of Jesus.
Ezekiel 32:1-33:20; James 1:1-27; Psalm 127:1-5
God’s Word must be spoken as a Word which calls for response. The prophet is to “warn the wicked man to turn from his ways” (Ezekiel 33:9). He is to declare that “the Sovereign Lord … takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.” The prophet is to say, “Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel” (Ezekiel 33:11). If God’s Word is to be received as a Word of salvation, it must be “humbly accepted.” We must “not merely listen to the Word.” We are to “do what it says” (James 1:21-22). Our “house” must be built on the Lord (Psalm 127:1). This is the way of wisdom, the way of building on the Rock, which is God Himself. When the storms of life become very testing, those who have built their lives upon the Lord will not collapse – “They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate” (Psalm 127:5). God’s Word promises blessing to those who respond to its challenge with the obedience of faith.
Ezekiel 33:21-35:15; James 2:1-26; Psalm 128:1-6
The Word of God speaks clearly about sin and judgment – “See, I Myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep” (Ezekiel 34:20), “judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful” (James 2:13). God’s Word also gives to us great promises. They are promises of mercy: “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). They are promises of blessing: “There will be showers of blessing” (Ezekiel 34:26). If we are to enjoy the Lord’s blessing, we must fear Him and walk in His ways: “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways” (Psalm 128:1).
Ezekiel 36:1-37:28; James 3:1-18; Psalm 129:1-8
The Breath of God (the Spirit of God) brings life (Ezekiel 37:9). When “the tongue … is … set on fire by hell” (James 3:6), the words which it breathes out will be “full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). How important it is that we keep on praying, “Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew.” If the Breath of God is not sweeping through our lives, we will be blown here and there by every wind of doctrine, by “restless evil” which goes from one false doctrine to another, never content to settle upon the stability of God’s Word. There is a blessing of the Lord – “The blessing of the Lord be upon you; we bless you in the Name of the Lord” (Psalm 129:8) – for those who love Him. It will not be given to those who turn away from the Lord – “May all who hate Zion be turned back in shame” (Psalm 129:5).
Ezekiel 38:1-39:29; James 4:1-17; Proverbs 28:7-17
God’s Word speaks of His judgment upon sin (Ezekiel 39:23-24). It also speaks of His great salvation from sin (Ezekiel 39:25-29). “Scripture says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble'” (James 4:6). God’s Word speaks of the choice placed before man – obedience or disobedience, blessing or judgment (Proverbs 28:13-14).
Ezekiel 40:1-49; James 5:1-20; Psalm 130:1-8
The prophecy spoken by Ezekiel has its ultimate Source in God Himself – “the hand of the Lord was upon me”, Ezekiel tells us in Ezekiel 40:1. He goes on to describe “visions of God” (Ezekiel 40:2). To speak the Word of God faithfully requires patience. there is not always evidence of great blessing. Nevertheless, we must be faithful like “the prophets who spoke in the Name of the Lord” (James 5:12). Such ministry is to be accompanied by prayer – “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). The prayer and preaching are to be directed towards bringing men and women back to the Lord from whom they have wandered away (James 5:19-20). there is blessing for those who lead others back to the Lord.
Ezekiel 41:1-42:20; 1 Peter 1:1-2:3; Psalm 131:1-3
Ezekiel emphasizes that the Temple was to be built according to God’s pattern. Our lives are to be lived according to God’s pattern – “Be holy in all you do”, “Love one another deeply, from the heart” (1 Peter 1:15,22). the instructions for the building the Temple were precise. The instructions for our living in obedience to the truth (1 Peter 1:22) are comprehensive. Holiness and love – these are the principles which are to guide us in the whole of life. Psalm 131 speaks of humility and hope. With a humble heart, we are to bow before the Lord. Like “a weaned child” trusts “its mother”, we are to trust our Heavenly Father. Such childlike faith is the essence of hope – trust in “the Word of the Lord” which stands for ever” (1 Peter 1:24).
Ezekiel 43:1-44:31; 1 Peter 2:4-24; Psalm 132:1-18
In Ezekiel, the priests are described in great detail. In 1 Peter 2:5, the Lord’s people are described as “a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” This description continues in 1 Peter 2:9 – “a royal priesthood … a people belonging to God. To His people, God gives this call – “Declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” To be “a holy priesthood … a royal priesthood” is not only privilege. It is also responsibility. Concerning this privilege and responsibility, the Psalmist writes, “May Your priests be clothed with righteousness; may Your saints sing for joy … I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints shall ever sing for joy” (Psalm 132:9,16).
Ezekiel 45:1-46:24; 1 Peter 3:1-22; Proverbs 28:18-28
In Ezekiel, we read of many sacrifices being offered to God. In the New Testament, it is emphasized that one Sacrifice is sufficient – “For Christ died for sins once for all, the Righteous for the unrighteous to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18). we are called to look to Christ for salvation. We are to trust in the Lord. This is the way of true prosperity (Proverbs 28:25). It is the way of walking in wisdom, the way of enjoying salvation. This way is contrasted with the way of trusting in oneself, the way of the fool (Proverbs 28:26).
Ezekiel 47:1-48:35; 1 Peter 4:1-19; Psalm 133:1-3
“The sanctuary will be in the centre of it … In the centre of it will be the sanctuary of the Lord … the Temple sanctuary will be in the centre of them” (Ezekiel 48:8,10,21). Here, we have the centrality of worship in the life of God’s people. First and foremost, God calls His people to worship Him. In all our service offered to God (1 Peter 4:10-11), there is to be the offering of worship – “To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:11). This worship is not simply personal worship – ‘you in your small corner and I in mine.” It is the worship offered to God by His people when they gather together to praise Him. It is God’s people responding to the call, ‘Let us worship God.’ “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1). When God’s people worship Him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), the Holy Spirit descends upon them “like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard” (Psalm 133:2). As God’s people worship Him, the blessing of the Lord will be given: “There the Lord bestows His blessing, even life for evermore” (Psalm 133:3).
Daniel 1:1-2:23; 1 Peter 5:1-14; Psalm 134:1-3
Daniel’s praise, offered to God, in Daniel 2:20-23, highlights for us the direction from which blessing comes. It comes from above. What we do not have is given to us by God – “He gives” (Daniel 2:21), “You have given me” (Daniel 2:23). Daniel’s praise is echoed in Peter’s praise: “To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:11). Again, in Psalm 134, the connection between praise and blessing is underlined: “Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord … May the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth bless you from Zion” (Psalm 134:3).
Daniel 2:24-3:12; 2 Peter 1:1-21; Psalm 135:1-12
God is sovereign. He is establishing His Kingdom which is heavenly, eternal and glorious – “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a Kingdom that will never be destroyed … it will itself endure for ever” (Daniel 2:44). Alongside the sovereignty of God, there is also the responsibility of man – “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fail, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11). There is no comparison between the kingdoms of men and the Kingdom of God – “I know that the Lord is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods … He struck down many nations and killed mighty kings … and He gave their land as an inheritance, an inheritance to His people Israel” (Psalm 135:5,10-12).
Daniel 3:13-4:18; 2 Peter 2:1-22; Proverbs 29:1-9
“The Most High is sovereign over the kingdom of men” (Daniel 4:17). It is a great comfort to know that God is sovereign. It gives strength in the midst of the conflict. It’s an unequal conflict – God’s Kingdom will prevail over the kingdom of Satan. We must not, however, doubt that Satan will provide determined opposition – “false prophets … false teachers … will bring the way of truth into disrepute” (2 Peter 2:1-2). However fierce the conflict may be, we have this assurance: “The Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the Day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:9). In the heat of the battle, we must never forget what we are fighting for and who we are fighting for – ‘To be the best that I can be for truth and righteousness and Thee.” In this battle, the Lord Himself fights with us and for us. He enables us to maintain His standard. He keeps us from dropping down to the level of the world’s standards. “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern” (Proverbs 29:7).
Daniel 4:19-5:16; 2 Peter 3:1-18; Psalm 135:13-21
Worldly men “praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone” (Daniel 5:4). They worship things – material possessions. The Lord calls His people to higher things. He tells us that “the idols of the nations are silver and gold” (Psalm 135:15). They are not to be worshipped. We are to “praise the Lord” (Psalm 135:19-21). we are to give the glory to “our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). We are to praise the Lord – “Your Name, O Lord, endures for ever, Your renown, O Lord, through all generations” (Psalm 135:13).
Daniel 5:17-6:28; 1 John 1:1-2:11; Psalm 136:1-12
“For He is the living God and He endures for ever; His Kingdom will not be destroyed, His dominion will never end” (Daniel 6:26). “His love endures for ever” (Psalm 136). God is the God of love. His Kingdom is the Kingdom of love. God is eternal. His Kingdom is eternal. The love of God is eternal in its origin. It is eternal in its outcome. The love of God has been revealed in history. Between the beginning and the end, there is the Cross of Jesus Christ: “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
Daniel 7:1-8:14; 1 John 2:12-27; Psalm 136:13-26
Daniel 7:13-14 looks forward, prophetically, to the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the future towards which history is moving, the future towards which God is working, the future of the Kingdom of God. This world is passing away, “but the man who does the will of God lives for ever” (1 John 2:17). Psalm 136 continues to emphasize, over and over again, that “His love endures for ever.” This love does not guarantee salvation to those who refuse to welcome God’s Son, Jesus Christ, as their Saviour. Responding to God’s love by doing His will, we receive, eternal life. Those who belong to the Lord, those whom He has redeemed, are His for ever. Psalm 136 contains the contrast between Israel and Egypt. Israel are brought through the midst of the Red Sea. Pharaoh and his army are swept into the Red Sea (Psalm 136:13-15). The Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ will bring the ultimate division of men and women. There are those who belong to Christ. For them, there is salvation. There are those who have refused Christ. For them, there is judgment.
Daniel 8:15-9:19; 1 John 2:28-3:10; Proverbs 29:10-18
There is real urgency about Daniel’s prayer: “O Lord, look with favour on Your desolate sanctuary … O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act!” (Daniel 9:17,19). We do need to pray with urgency. There are many who seek to lead us astray (1 John 3:7) – “Bloodthirsty men hate a man of integrity and seek to kill the upright” (Proverbs 29:10). Who can help us in this situation? – Only the Lord: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8). He alone will give us strength to “continue in Him, so that when He appears we may be confident and unashamed before Him at His Coming” (1 John 2:28).
Daniel 9:20-11:1; 1 John 3:11-4:6; Psalm 137:1-9
“When He spoke to me, I was strengthened” (Daniel 10:19). The strength we receive from the Lord is a greater strength than the temptations we face – “the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). To know that we receive such strength from the Lord is very encouraging when we are mocked by “our tormentors” (Psalm 137:3). Their scorn makes us wonder, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:4). When this question arises in our hearts, “God who is greater than our hearts” (1 John 3:20) speaks His Word, and we are strengthened with the strength which comes from Him, His strength. With His strength, we are able to sing “songs of joy” (Psalm 137:3). We have this testimony – “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” By ourselves, we are cast down with weeping (Psalm 137:1). Strengthened by the Lord, we have joy. We rejoice in Him.
Daniel 11:2-35; 1 John 4:7-21; Psalm 138:1-8
Daniel 11 is concerned with conflict. This is part of our spiritual experience as well as Israel’s military experience. There is an enemy who opposes the Lord and His people. Nevertheless, “the people who know their God will firmly resist him” (Daniel 11:32). How are we able to resist the enemy? We are strengthened by love, the love of God. We learn to love God as we learn to appreciate His love for us: “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). This love, His love, gives us the strength to firmly resist the enemy. God’s love is a faithful love – “Your love, O Lord, endures for ever” (Psalm 138:8). His love and His faithfulness belong together – “Your love and Your faithfulness” (Psalm 138:2). How do we know of the faithful love of God? – Through His Name and His Word: “You have exalted above all things Your Name and Your Word” (Psalm 138:2). As the Name of the Lord and the Word of the Lord become precious to us, so the love of the Lord becomes real to us, the strength of the Lord is given to us and the enemy is firmly resisted.
Daniel 11:36-12:13; 1 John 5:1-21; Psalm 139:1-10
Scripture speaks of “the time of wrath” (Daniel 11:36), “a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then” (Daniel 12:1). For some, this will bring “shame and everlasting contempt.” Through the grace of God, others will receive “everlasting life” (Daniel 12:20). This “everlasting life” is in Christ – “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life.” Scripture also contains the Word of warning – “He who does not have the Son does not have life” (1 John 5:12-12). As we hear Scripture speaking to us concerning eternal life, we say in our hearts, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” (Psalm 139:6). Too wonderful? Too lofty? – Yes, but, by the grace of God, it is given to us – “I write these things to you who believe in the Name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
Haggai 1:1-2:23; 2 John 1-13; Proverbs 29:19-27
God calls His people – “Be strong” (Haggai 2:4). This call comes to the “governor”, “the high priest” and “all you people of the land” (Haggai 2:2). We need spiritual strength in government, in the Church and throughout the land. This strength is needed if we are to build upon the sure foundation of truth. The Lord’s work is to be built up. This can only be done when we stand for the truth in the face of “many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh” (2 John 7). John tells us that we must take care to ensure fruitfulness in the Lord’s work – “Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully” (2 John 8). The danger we must take care to avoid is described pictorially in Haggai 1:6 – “You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” When we hear a message such as this, we must receive it with humility and not with pride – “A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honour” (Proverbs 29:23).
Zechariah 1:1-4:14; 3 John 1-14; Psalm 139:11-16
The removal of sin (Zechariah 3:4,9) and the restoration of glory: Here, we have a great description of salvation, wiping out the sin of the past, giving an anticipatory glimpse of the glory to come. The past is forgiven. The future is promised. What about the present – “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6). This life in the Spirit – lived between the forgiven sin (the past) and the glory to come (the future) – is to be a life of “working together for the truth” (3 John 4). As we live this life in the Spirit, we enjoy the “peace” of God (3 John 14). This peace arises in our hearts as we learn to praise God. we praise Him for His work of creation – “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” This praise – “Your works are wonderful” – causes us to reflect also on His works of providence – “All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:14,16). It also causes us to reflect on God’s work of redemption. The thought of creation leads on to the thought of re-creation: “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The thought of providence also leads us to think of redemption: God’s “book” (Psalm 139:16) turns our thoughts to “the book of life” – the book of eternal life which we receive through faith in “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Zechariah 5:1-8:23; Jude 1-25; Psalm 139:17-24
Again and again, in Zechariah, we find the phrase, “the Word of the Lord (Almighty) came to me” (Zechariah 6:9; Zechariah 7;1,4,8). Another recurring phrase, with similar meaning, is “This is what the Lord (Almighty) says” (Zechariah 6:12; Zechariah 8:3,4,6,7,9,14,20,23). The Word of revelation – This is the basis of our faith. It’s God speaking His Word to us. His Word is a Word of salvation (Zechariah 8:7-8). This salvation is not only for the Jews. It is for “countries of the east and the west” (Zechariah 8:7). It is for “men from all languages and nations” (Zechariah 8:23). This “salvation we share” (Jude 3), a salvation which goes from nation to nation, from generation to generation, is to be preserved by God’s people “contending for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). In today’s world, many proudly dismiss the whole idea of divine revelation. The Lord’s people must not be deceived. Over against those who oppose God and His Word of revelation, we must speak the Word of rebuke: “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 9). We have been forewarned: “In the last times there will be scoffers, who will follow their own ungodly desires” (Jude 18). In the face of this, we must “build ourselves up in our most holy faith” (Jude 20), always trusting in “Him who is able to keep us from falling” (Jude 24). How does He keep us from falling? How does He keep us standing up for Him in the face of such opposition? – “How precious are Your thoughts, O God!” (Psalm 139:17). We are to feed upon the Word of God, with this constant prayer: “Search me, O God … Lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:24).
Zechariah 9:1-11:17; Revelation 1:1-20; Psalm 140:1-5
“Rejoice greatly … your King comes to you … having salvation … because of the blood of My covenant with you” (Zechariah 9:9,11). “The Ruler of the kings of the earth … who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood” (Revelation 1:5). The King of love is revealed in both Zechariah and Revelation. We see, however, different aspects of His Kingship. We see His two comings. There is His first coming – “Your King comes to you … gentle and riding on a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9) – and His second coming – “He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him” (Revelation 1:7). The Lord’s way – “gentle” is to be our way. We trust in Him when we are confronted by “men of violence” (Psalm 140:1). We know that, when the King comes again, the men of violence will be exposed – “every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him” (Revelation 1:7).
Zechariah 12:1-14:21; Revelation 2:1-17: Proverbs 30:1-10
God “pours out … a spirit of supplication” upon His people. As a result of this, they look on Him, “the One they have pierced.” In doing so, they come to “a fountain … to cleanse them from sin and impurity” (Zechariah 12:10; Zechariah 13:1). Mourning for the One they pierced and receiving cleansing from sin, we enter into a new relationship in which God says, “They are My people” and we say, “The Lord is our God” (Zechariah 13:9). This new life is to be caharacterized by “worship.” “Holy to the Lord” is to be the central feature of our new life (Zechariah 14:16,20). This is “the new name” (Revelation 2:17) of God’s people – “Holy to the Lord.” It is inscribed upon us, written over our lives. It is “known only to him who receives it” (Revelation 2:17). Only those who are beginning to experience what it means to be “holy to the Lord” will understand its meaning. Experience and understanding belong together. They are united in the act of receiving. Faith is the tie which binds together experience and understanding. By faith, we hold out our empty hands that they might be filled with God’s gift of grace. There is no way to “a man’s understanding”, no way to “wisdom”, no way to “knowledge of the Holy One”, no way which begins with “I”. Concerning ourselves, we must make this confession: “I am the most ignorant of men” (Proverbs 30:2-3). The question is asked: “Who has gone up to heaven and come down? … What is his name …? Tell me if you know!” (Proverbs 30:4). There is no answer to this question. The Gospel does not begin with man, reaching up to heaven. It begins with God, reaching down to earth – “Who came down from heaven to earth? Jesus Christ our Saviour”. It is God who pours out His grace. This is the foundation on which our life of faith is based.
Esther 1:1-2:18; Revelation 2:18-3:6; Psalm 140:6-13
God is at work in the life of both the Church and the nation. He has a message for His Church. It is the message of the Spirit: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:29; Revelation 3:6). This message of the Lord concerns His Church. It also concerns the world. On the surface, the story of Esther is not a very spiritual story. Nevertheless, God is there. Amid all the talk of “twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics” (Esther 2:12), God was working out His purpose. He was revealing Himself as the “Sovereign Lord”, the “strong defender” of His people. The plans of men – “the wicked” – did not succeed. The pride of man was brought to nothing so that the glory belong to God alone (Psalm 140:7-8). This is the message of the book of Esther. In order to hear this message clearly, we must read between the lines. This message may not be spelled out in detail. Nevertheless, it is there for the believing reader who is attentive to the Lord, speaking through the events of history. God’s concern is that there may be “justice for the poor”, that “the cause of the needy” may be upheld (Psalm 140:12). This is a concern which will take us beyond the fairly narrow and well-defined scope of the Church. God’s concern takes us into the world with a desire to see the quality of life improved by God so that the people will be more deeply moved to praise His Name and live in His presence (Psalm 140:13).
Esther 2:19-5:14; Revelation 3:7-22; Psalm 141:1-10
There are doors which can only be opened by God – “See, I have placed before you an open door that no-one can shut” (Revelation 3:8). There are doors which must be opened by man – “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). This is illustrated in the story of Esther. She became the Queen of Persia according to the sovereign purpose of God. God opened the door. Nevertheless, there were doors which had to be opened by Esther. As the Queen of Persia, she had to act in a wise and courageous way in order to carry out the purpose of God. In everything, we must say, with the Psalmist, “My eyes are fixed on You, O Sovereign Lord” (Psalm 141:8). This is not, however, to be the kind of heavenly-mindedness which makes us oblivious to what is going on around us. We must keep a close eye on events. We must direct our prayers towards the fulfilment of God’s purpose through the particular course of events which are taking place here-and-now. This is precisely what the Psalmist does. He sees what is happening, and he prays, “Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil” (Psalm 141:4). His “prayer is ever against the deeds of evildoers” (Psalm 141:5-6). This, again, is a combination of God opening and closing doors – “What He opens no-one can shut and what He shuts no-one can open” (Revelation 3:7) – and ourselves opening and closing doors as, looking at what is going on around us, we choose God’s way rather than the world’s way. Concerning this opening and closing of doors, we say, “O Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).
Esther 6:1-8:17; Revelation 4:1-11; Psalm 142:1-7
In the book of Esther, we see the people of God in conflict. There were enemies against whom they had to contend. In this battle, there are victories which lead to “joyous celebration” (Esther 8:15). Such times of victory are times of “happiness and joy, gladness and honour” (Esther 8:16). Such times point toward the final victory, the glorious celebration which will take place in God’s eternal Kingdom. Worship will “never stop.” The Lord’s people will “give glory, honour and thanks to Him who sits on the throne and who lives forever and ever” (Revelation 4:8-9). Concerning the Lord, we say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living” (Psalm 142:5). He is our refuge and portion in both this life and the life to come. “The land of the living” does not only speak of the “land” which will come to an end. It speaks also of the “land” that endures forevermore. In this life, there are many times when we say of our enemies, “They are too strong for me.” In the life to come, we will be fully “set free from our prison”, set free by God to “praise His Name” (Psalm 142:6-7).
Esther 9:1-10:3; Revelation 5:1-14; Proverbs 30:11-23
Esther 9 speaks of days of feasting and joy (Esther 9:17-19,22-23,28). If the Jews had cause to rejoice in Esther’s day, we have much more cause for rejoicing in the Lord – “Do not weep! Se, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed” (Revelation 5:5). The praise of God’s people does not arise only from the Jewish nation. It comes from “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9. Our rejoicing is in Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God”: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5:12). This praise will continue throughout eternity: “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13). Proverbs 30:18 speaks of things that are “too amazing” for us, things that we “do not understand.” This is the Gospel. It stretches far beyond our understanding. Through amazing grace, such great things have been revealed to us. This is why praise arises in the hearts of God’s people as a song which will continue for all eternity.
Malachi 1:1-2:16; Revelation 6:1-17; Psalm 143:1-12
“Come! … Come! … Come! … Come!” (Revelation 6:1,3,5,7). The invitation is clear. We are to come to the Lord. How are we to come to Him? If we are to learn how we are to come to Him, we should learn also how we are not to come to Him. Malachi 1 stresses that we are not to come to Him with blemished sacrifices. Bringing such sacrifices shows contempt for the Name of the Lord (Malachi 1:6-9). We are not to show contempt for “the Lord’s table” (Malachi 1:7). We are not to say of the Lord’s table, “It is defiled.” We are not to say of the food of the Lord’s table, “It is contemptible.” We are not come to the Lord’s table, saying, “What a burden!” (Malachi 1:12). This is no way to come to the Lord. We are to come with “pure offerings”, acknowledging the greatness of the Lord’s Name (Malachi 1:11). He is the “great King” whose “Name is to be feared among the nations” (Malachi 1:14). The invitation comes from “the Lamb” (Revelation 6:1,3,5,7). Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God. He is the pure Sacrifice. He has been slain for us. He is the foundation of our worship. He is the basis on which we come to God the Father. When we cry to God, “O Lord … Listen to my cry for mercy” (Psalm 143:1), we come to Him in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we plead His “faithfulness and righteousness” (Psalm 143:1), our attention is fixed on the Cross of Christ. There, God’s faithfulness and righteousness are revealed to us. When, in our morning meditation, we pray, “Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You” (Psalm 143:8), we are looking, in faith, to the Christ of Calvary from whom blessing flows to us. When we pray, “In Your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant” (Psalm 143:12), we are seeking God’s forgiveness and new life and are committing ourselves to be His servants.
Malachi 2:17-4:6; Revelation 7:1-17; Psalm 144:1-8
Malachi 4:5 speaks of “that great and dreadful Day of the Lord.” The Day of the Lord will be a Day of Judgment. This is not, however, the full story. It will also be the great Day of salvation. This comes through clearly in Revelation 7 – “a great multitude that no-one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb … wearing white robes and … holding palm branches … cried out in a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne and to the Lamb'” (Revelation 7:9-10). This is our great encouragement as we wage spiritual warfare against the enemies of God. The glorious celebration in the Kingdom of God is the outcome of our life of faith. Saved by grace, we are victors in Christ. “These in white robes … have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:13-14). That is the glorious finale of God’s gracious work of salvation. Here-and-now, we face spiritual warfare. In the midst of the battle, we say, “Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. He is my loving God and my Fortress, my Stronghold and my Deliverer, my Shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues people under me” (Psalm 144:1-2). We, who have had a glimpse of heavenly glory, a foretaste of glory divine, now pray, “Part Your heavens, O Lord, and come down” (Psalm 144:5).
Ezra 1:1-2:67; Revelation 8:1-9:12; Psalm 144:9-15
We read of “gold” in both Ezra and Revelation (Ezra 1:4,6,9-11; Revelation 8:3; Revelation 9:7). In Ezra 1:6, “gold” is set alongside “valuable gifts” and “all the freewill offerings.” “Gold” is a valuable thing. The “gold” of our lives is truly valuable when it is given freely, as a “freewill offering.” In Revelation 8:3, “gold” is associated with “the prayers of all the saints.” The “gold” of our lives is truly valuable when it is given prayerfully to the Lord. In Revelation 9:7, the reference to “gold” is of a different kind. It refers to “the locusts.” It does not refer directly to “gold.” It uses the intriguing phrase – “something like crowns of gold.” This phrase speaks to us of the counterfeit, something which is like the real thing but is not the real thing. Like “the locusts”, we must be “prepared for battle” (Revelation 9:7). We must be watchful. We must guard against the counterfeit. We must keep ourselves for God so that we may be presented to Him as that which is truly “gold.” “Prepared for battle”, we must wage war as those who trust in the Lord, “the One who gives victory” (Psalm 144:2). This is the way of blessing: “Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 144:15).
Ezra 2:68-4:5; Revelation 9:13-10:11; Proverbs 30:24-33
At the heart of the rebuilding of the Temple, there was worship -“With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: ‘He is good; His love to Israel endures for ever” (Ezra 3:11). Those who worship the Lord are set within the context of a world that refuses to worship Him: “The rest of mankind … did not stop worshipping demons” (Revelation 9:20). Even when the call to conversion is sounded out clearly and often, we must reckon with the fact that many will refuse to come to Christ for salvation. His way is still the narrow way, while many take the broad way that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). Part of God’s Word to today’s world is a word of rebuke: “If you have played the fool and exalted yourself, or if you have planned evil, clap your hands over your mouth!” (Proverbs 30:32). Stop answering back! Stop protesting against the Lord! Start listening to the Lord! Listen to His Word! The Lord has much to say to this generation, if only the people would listen. If the word of rebuke is heeded, perhaps, there will be a real opening for the word of salvation.
Ezra 4:6-5:17; Revelation 11:1-19; Psalm 145:1-7
Ezra speaks of the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem (Ezra 5:11). Revelation speaks of “God’s Temple in heaven” (Revelation 11:19). Both belong together – building the Church here on earth and building for the Kingdom of heaven. We must never be content with a measure of success in building the Church here on earth. God’s calling is heavenly. We look beyond the Church here on earth. We work towards the full and final fulfilment of God’s eternal purpose: “The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). Here, on earth, we are learning to praise God – “I will exalt You, my God the King … Every day I will praise You” (Psalm 145:1-2). This praise will be complete in the glory of God’s heavenly and eternal Kingdom: “I will praise Your Name for ever and ever … and extol Your Name for ever and ever” (Psalm 145:1-2). However much God may bless our worship here on earth, there will always be an inadequacy about our worship in this earthly life: “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no-one can fathom” (Psalm 145:3). Psalm 145:4-7 gives a great description of the joyful celebration, which is true worship (Psalm 145:7). This joyful celebration will reach its fullness in the glory of heaven. There, we will see the most marvellous fulfilment of the words of Psalm 145:7: “They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness.”
Ezra 10:1-44; Revelation 14:14-15:8; Psalm 146:1-10
God’s people are to belong to Him alone. Influences which are foreign to the Gospel of Christ, alien to the Word of God, are to be excluded from our lives so that we might be, more truly and more fully, the people of God. This is the message of Ezra 10, as it emphasizes the sinfulness of God’s people intermarrying with those who worship false gods. From our lives as well as our lips, there is to be the song of praise, found in Revelation 15:3-4. It is a song of praise which gives God His rightful place in our lives. We acknowledge Him as the holy God, the God of righteousness. We affirm that His ways are just and true. We submit to Him – “Who would not fear You, O Lord.” We seek His glory – “and bring glory to Your Name?” (Revelation 15:4). This commitment to singing the praise of the Lord involves the whole of our life – “I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live” (Psalm 146:20. This lifelong commitment is not to be fulfilled in our own strength. We need the strength of the Lord. “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Israel” (Psalm 146:5).
Nehemiah 1:1-2:20; Revelation 16:1-21; Psalm 147:1-11
How do we respond to adverse circumstances? We can respond in a godly way or we can respond in a worldly fashion. “The walls of Jerusalem … had been broken down, and its gates … had been destroyed by fire” (Nehemiah 2:13). Nehemiah responded with faith in God: “Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem … The gracious hand of God is upon me” (Nehemiah 2:18). “Sanballat … Tobiah … and Geshem” responded in a worldly way: “They mocked and ridiculed us” (Nehemiah 2:19). There are still two quite different responses to suffering. In faith, we can say, “You are just in these judgments, You who are and who were, the Holy One … Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are Your judgments” (Revelation 16:5,7). There is also the negative reaction: “They cursed the Name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify Him” (Revelation 16:9,11). Scripture leaves us in no doubt that the better way is the way of praise – “How good it is to sing praises to our God” (Psalm 147:1). We see that “the Lord builds up Jerusalem” and we give praise to the Lord (Psalm 147:2). This “building up” of Jerusalem is more than building with bricks and mortar. It is the gathering together of the Lord’s people, the healing of the broken-hearted, the binding up of their wounds (Psalm 147:7). As we consider this “building up”, which is the work of God Himself, we are to “sing to the Lord with thanksgiving” (Psalm 147:7). When we choose the way of praise rather than the way of complaint, we bring delight to the Lord: “The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love” (Psalm 147:11).
Nehemiah 3:1-4:23; Revelation 17:1-18; Psalm 147:12-20
God’s people faced opposition. What did they do? They kept on working – “The people worked with all their heart” (Nehemiah 4:6). They kept on praying – “We prayed to our God” (Nehemiah 4:9). They were watchful – “Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked” (Nehemiah 4:17-18). God calls us to work for Him. As we work, we must also pray. In all of our praying and working, we must never forget that we are involved in spiritual warfare. In this battle with our spiritual enemies, we can say with confidence, “Our God will fight for us!” (Nehemiah 4:20). Revelation 17:14 speaks of conflict and victory: “They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings – and with Him will be His called, chosen and faithful followers.” It is important that we see the spiritual dimension of our own experience of conflict. Satan’s opposition is directed against the Lamb. When we understand our conflict in this broader context, we begin to see the way to victory. The victory over Satan is not something that we achieve for ourselves. We stand against Satan in the victory of the Lamb. Our victory is always “with Him.” It is always a sharing in His victory – “”The Lamb will overcome them.” In Psalm 147:12, we read, “He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you.” This is speaking of the city of Jerusalem, but we can also apply it to our own lives. Through the Lord who fights for us, we receive strength and we enjoy His blessing.
Nehemiah 5:1-7:3; Revelation 18:1-17a; Proverbs 31:10-20
Again, the combination of prayer and work is seen in Nehemiah – “I devoted myself to the work on this wall” (Nehemiah 5:16), “I prayed, ‘Now, strengthen my hands.'” (Nehemiah 6:9). “So the wall was completed … this work had been done with the help of our God” (Nehemiah 6:15-16). We may contrast the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and the fall of Babylon – “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!” (Revelation 18:2).The contrast between Jerusalem and Babylon – the ‘tale of two cities’ – is the contrast between God and the devil, between holiness and sin, godliness and ungodliness, righteousness and unrighteousness, good and evil. the triumph is the Lord’s. The word of judgment concerning Babylon has been spoken (Revelation 18:10,16-17). Proverbs 31:10 tells us that “noble character … is worth far more than rubies.” Again, what a contrast there is between the rich blessing of noble character and the empty futility of worldly riches: “Woe! Woe, a great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering stones and pearls! In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!” (Revelation 18:16-17).
Nehemiah 7:4-8:18; Revelation 18:17b-19:10; Psalm 148:1-6
We are called to “worship God” (Revelation 19:10). Our worship is to be with reverence and joy. “Be still: “This is the call for reverence (Nehemiah 8:11). Alongside this reverence, there is to be joy: “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). We are to “rejoice” in the Lord (Revelation 18:20). This joy is not a superficial emotion. It is accompanied by the reverence which comes from taking seriously the “woe” that is pronounced on the “great city” that lives for this world only (Revelation 18:19). Joyful worship arises from “a great multitude in heaven” (Revelation 19:1). Four times, in Revelation 19, we read, “Hallelujah!” (Revelation 19:1,3,4,6). “Hallelujah” means ‘Praise the Lord.’ Our praise is to be characterized by joy: “Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory!” (Revelation 19:7). This joy is grounded in an awe-inspiring face: “Our Lord God Almighty reigns” (Revelation 19:6). “Praise the Lord”: These are the first words and the message of Psalm 148. The ‘choir’ which praises the Lord is truly astonishing (Psalm 148:1-4). Our song of praise participates in the song of praise which arises from God’s whole creation. This inspires us to worship Him, more truly and more fully.
Nehemiah 9:1-37; Revelation 19:1-21; Psalm 148:7-14
In the history of Israel, we read a great deal about the history of human sin. First and foremost, however, it is the story of God’s grace and mercy. Israel’s sin is there in the forefront: “We are slaves today … Because of our sins … We are in great distress” (Nehemiah 9:36-37). Even more significant is the God of grace and mercy: “But in Your great mercy You did not put an end to them or abandon them, for You are a gracious and a merciful God” (Nehemiah 9:31). The God of grace and mercy is “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16). He reigns in grace and mercy. This is not to suggest that there is no judgment. There will be judgment. People from all walks of life come under the divine judgment (Revelation 19:18). There is, however, a way of escaping judgment. It is the way of coming to the Saviour: “Come, gather together for the great supper of God” (Revelation 19:17). When the redeemed of the Lord are gathered together for the great supper of God, it will be perfectly clear that “His Name alone is exalted: His splendour is above the earth and the heavens” (Psalm 148:13).
Nehemiah 9:38-11:21; Revelation 20:1-15; Psalm 149:1-9
The Lord’s people, in Nehemiah’s time, made this commitment: “We will not neglect the House of our God” (Nehemiah 10:39). Such a commitment to God and His work is not easy to maintain. There is an enemy who opposes God and His work – “the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan” (Revelation 20:2). Whatever chaos Satan may cause in the Lord’s work here on earth, we are left in no doubt about his eternal destiny: “The devil … will be tormented day and night for ever” (Revelation 20:10). Satan’s eternal destiny is very different from that of God’s people: “The Lord takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with salvation” (Psalm 149:4) – “This is the glory of all His saints” (Psalm 149:9).
Nehemiah 11:22-12:47; Revelation 21:1-27; Proverbs 31:21-31
“At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem”, the keynote of the service was joyful thanksgiving. They gathered together “to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving” (Nehemiah 12:27). “On that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy” (Nehemiah 12:43). They sang “songs of praise and thanksgiving to God” (Nehemiah 12:46). This joyful thanksgiving is only a foretaste of the greater joy and thanksgiving of heaven: “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). In the city of God, “the glory of God” will be shining with everlasting brightness (Revelation 21:23). The Church of God will be “prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). The beautiful picture of the godly wife in Proverbs 31 gives us an outline of what God is seeking to do in His people. It is summarized in Proverbs 31:30: “A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” This is what God wants to make His Bride, the Church – a people who fear the Lord and bring praise to Him.
Nehemiah 13:1-31; Revelation 22:1-21; Psalm 150:1-6
Each day, we stand between the past and the future. In our prayers, we call upon God to “remember” (Nehemiah 13:14,22,29,31). There are two different kinds of ‘remembering’ here. God remembers His faithful servants. He also remembers those who have been unfaithful. As we face the future, we must be guided by both the Gospel invitation and the Gospel warning (Revelation 22:17-19). Salvation is offered to all. It is to be received by faith in Christ. There is also judgment for those who refuse to “come” to Him. Whatever our reaction to Him may be, God maintains His saving intention. He waits patiently for us to heed the call to “praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:1,6). “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6).