All readings are included in the post.
1 Chronicles 13 New International Version (NIV)
Bringing Back the Ark
13 David conferred with each of his officers, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. 2 He then said to the whole assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you and if it is the will of the Lord our God, let us send word far and wide to the rest of our people throughout the territories of Israel, and also to the priests and Levites who are with them in their towns and pasturelands, to come and join us. 3 Let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we did not inquire of[a] it[b] during the reign of Saul.” 4 The whole assembly agreed to do this, because it seemed right to all the people.
5 So David assembled all Israel, from the Shihor River in Egypt to Lebo Hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath Jearim. 6 David and all Israel went to Baalah of Judah (Kiriath Jearim) to bring up from there the ark of God the Lord, who is enthroned between the cherubim—the ark that is called by the Name.
7 They moved the ark of God from Abinadab’s house on a new cart, with Uzzah and Ahio guiding it. 8 David and all the Israelites were celebrating with all their might before God, with songs and with harps, lyres, timbrels, cymbals and trumpets.
9 When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled. 10 The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God.
11 Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.[c]
12 David was afraid of God that day and asked, “How can I ever bring the ark of God to me?” 13 He did not take the ark to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 14 The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house for three months, and the Lord blessed his household and everything he had.
With lots of free time on my hands over the last two months I have given some thought to the way I go about my Bible reading. I have come to the conclusion that I need to ‘read often and read widely’. Perhaps over coming months some of you might hold me accountable to this. Today’s readings certainly do that for me. One, from the Old Testament, deals with the epic period of David’s rise. King David, the ‘great king’. The second starts us into the book of Revelation. The book that I was told to stay away from until I had some done some growing as a young Christian. It promises to be a most rewarding journey as we launch into this most amazing book of scripture.
1 Chronicles 13
Chapter 13 deals with the return of the ark of the covenant under King David. We are told that the decision was taken to bring the ark back into the life of the nation. During Saul’s reign Israel or Saul ‘did not inquire of it’. David was determined that it reclaim its place at the heart of the nation.
It becomes obvious that the writer pictures an ‘ideal’ kingship at the heart of an ‘ideal’ Israel. His ‘official’ account must be considered alongside the warts and all human one in Samuel and Kings. (New Bible Commentary p389)
The writer, The Chronicler, uses the books of Samuel and Kings as his major sources as well as others now lost to us. Many believe The Chronicler to be Ezra, writing soon after the return from exile. However, there are good grounds for dating it some time later. (New Bible Commentary p389)
As we read we are shocked when we encounter the death of Uzzah. The experiences of Uzzah and Obed-Edom illustrate the ‘goodness of the ark’, but it is a ‘terrible good’. It is interesting to note that Uzzah had shared a house with the ark for twenty years so his over-familiarity was understandable, but it was fatal.
Revelation 1 New International Version (NIV)
1 The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
Greetings and Doxology
To the seven churches in the province of Asia:
Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits[a] before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
7 “Look, he is coming with the clouds,”[b]
and “every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him”;
and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.”[c]
So shall it be! Amen.
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
John’s Vision of Christ
9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”
12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man,[d] dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. 20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels[e] of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
As we begin Revelation we read of the vision that is John’s call to prophesy. We are told that there is great blessing for those that hear and take to heart what John is about to unfold, because ‘the time is near’.
The seven churches mentioned had acquired ‘special importance as organisation and distribution centres for the church of the area’. It is believed that at the time of John’s writing, this area held the greatest concentration of Christians in the world.
The description of the risen Lord v7, echoes that of ‘the Ancient of Days’ in Daniel 7:9. The intention is to show that The Lord possesses the glory of heaven and shares the likeness of God. John’s immediate response, quite rightly, is to fall at his feet. (see Is. 6:5; Ezk 1:28; Dn 7:28) There is immediate reassurance however and John is told what he must do.
The command is to to write, ‘what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.
The vision is awe inspiring as John describes Jesus. We too can only marvel as we read verses 12-16.
The angelic nature of the church is a reminder to Christians to realise on earth our heavenly calling. To help them and us do this, is the purpose of the seven letters.
In reading Revelation we might remember that we live in a time that has seen the most intense opposition to the gospel and the church since the writing of the book of Revelation and on the other, an unprecedented spread of the gospel and the growth of the church.
We here in Figtree and The Illawarra must play our part in proclaiming and witnessing before our families, friends and neighbours the great message of the gospel of Christ. As we begin our journey through Revelation let us keep this in mind, and remember, ‘read often and read widely’ .