“Tyre had a longer reach than even Babylon; her traders were known from the Indian Ocean to the English Channel. Revelation 17 and 18 combine the OT oracles on Tyre and Babylon for the composite picture of the world as seducer and oppressor, over against the city of God” (D. Kidner)
Earth’s proud empires all pass away. Only God and His purposes endure. Never be intimidated by secular power.
This chapter begins a section that runs through to 27:13 and is sometimes called the ‘Isaiah Apocalypse’.
Verses 1-13 carry words of judgement with verse 6 giving the reason. Verses 14-16 speak of praise that is to come; while verses 17-23 speak of cosmic judgement, “for the Lord Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before its elders – with great glory.”
We await that final day as it is described in Revelation 21 and 22.
Enroute to Jerusalem
This passage deals with the closing phase of Paul’s ministry at this time around the Aegean Sea. He leaves Ephesus and goes to Macedonia spending some time in Corinth and probably writing his letter to the Romans.
He returns to Troas where the remarkable story of the restoration of Eutychus takes place.
A facetious remark might be, “keep sermons short unless you have a Paul around”. But seriously, we see the evidence of God’s power with Paul both in the restoration of that young man, and in the hunger for God’s word in those who were present in that upstairs room. May we too be hungry for His truth.
The passage set for reading today is divided up in the NIV as 1:2-4 Habakkuk’s Complaint; 1:5-11; The Lord’s Answer; and 1:12-2:1 Habakkuk’s Second Complaint.
“Habakkuk was probably a contemporary of Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Nahum, and possibly Joel”. He sits in that juncture of history where Assyria was in rapid decline, Babylon was in the ascendancy, and Israel was on its way to captivity in Babylon.
Our passage for today should be read with thoughtfulness and prayer. God will vindicate His Name and His people though nations will come and go under the judgement of God.
Our world is a world under judgement, judgement which will have an ultimate and final expression. 1 Peter 2:11-12 gives counsel as to the way we are to operate at this point in God’s dealing with our world.
Habakkuk’s resolve in 2:1 is a stance we too might well adopt.
On the Way to the Cross
This account shows wonderfully the great love of the Lord Jesus.
Before him is the prospect of his own agonizing death as God’s Lamb to take away the sin of the world. But that momentous prospect, with all that it will entail, does not block his ears to the cry of just one single blind beggar. Both truths, or both expressions of the one truth, rightly draw our praise and thanksgiving. He cares eternally.
Sinfulness Does Not Go Unpunished
“… the book of Nahum tells us in very straight terms that evil will be punished. It warns us about our own sin, and it encourages us when we are oppressed by great evils by reminding us that God will have the last word. We need this message bringing home to us at times when our persecutors ‘increase like the locusts’, or on the other hand, at times when we think we are getting away with behaviour which is not strictly honouring to God. The book may have a limited scope, but its message is a vital one.” (M. Butterworth)
It is worth reading Revelation 20:11-15 as a New Testament equivalent.
Entering the Kingdom of Heaven
Who will enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Thank God that what is absolutely impossible for sinful human beings is possible with God. Only by His undeserved mercy and grace can any of us be saved. Thanks be to God, He does save those who call upon Him.
Fallen is Virgin Israel
The opening words of this chapter are dramatic.
Israel (the Northern Kingdom) had ascended to its greatest national achievement in the initial half of the 8th century BC. The mood was confident but the foundations were crumbling. “There are those who turn justice into bitterness, and cast righteousness to the ground”, consequently God warms that He will judge the nation.
Right living and caring for those in need were part of the calling that God had given to His people. Their failure to practise genuine loving concern for others would bring God’s judgement.
The command to love others as we love ourselves is a call from God to emulate His love for us in caring for others. Let’s seek to do it in the situation in which we live.
“Remember that when you leave this earth you can take with you nothing that you have received – only what you have given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice, and courage” Francis of Assisi
God the Seeker
Jesus welcomed sinners then and welcomes now. I both parables God is the seeker. This is both our greatest personal encouragement and our calling to follow His example.
The Earth is the Lord’s
God is the Creator King. Majesty and strength are His. Earth is the product of His creative will and power. It will continue as long as He determines.
We were given the task of caring for this part of His creation. Our record is not good and large numbers own no loyalty to the Creator King.
There are at least three things that we who seek to honour the Creator King can do.
1. We can acknowledge daily that we live in an environment that He has provided for us
2. We can do what we can to seek the good of the creation and act as faithful stewards.
3. We can acknowledge God our Creator King, trust in the provision He has made for our redemption in the Lord Jesus, and seek by His Holy Spirit to live in obedience to his commands the principal one being to love one another.
God at Work
Two characters figure in this chapter: Esther and Haman.
Haman is motivated by pride and hatred, and plots evil. Esther, stirred by her uncle to courage and action, risks all in an approach to the king.
In these events God is at work to deliver his people.
The Book of Revelation is an extended exposition of the reality of evil and the unseen powers that promote its operation in our world. It is also the most powerful expression of the action of God and His Christ that finally defeats every form of evil and ends with the vision of the City of God: God with His people.
Faithfulness and courageous action for God and His people will finally triumph.
Of Believing and Confessing
In his explanation of the parable in yesterday’s reading the Lord Jesus “lit a light in his disciples. This light, he now teaches, must not be hidden by them.”
Trust and obedience are the DNA of those who are true brothers and sisters of our Lord.
Who, indeed, was able to to quieten the foaming lake? None other than the Lord of heaven and earth. Do we trust Him in the storms of life?
Moments of Decision
From time to time there come moments when one must stand up and be counted. Moments when loyalty to God demands courage and action. This was such a moment for Esther.
Do we have such a moment now in our society when the legalisation of both same-sex marriage and euthanasia are being promoted? Will these practices be added to the widespread use of abortion for cases other than those relatively rare situations where it is not possible for both mother and child to survive?
People and Parables
It is a fascinating company that travels with Jesus. The presence of the women recorded was not altogether unusual. Apparently a rabbi might travel with a mixed group appropriately divided. The presumption is that in each case Jesus had, in a particular way, touched the lives of those who are named. The “many others” who helped support Jesus and his disciples indicates the sweep and impact of his ministry.
The “soils” change little over the centuries. The devil, the rocky ground, and the thorns are still present. Let us pray that our hearts may be “good soil” and produce a good harvest.