Just and True

Day 358

Prayer for the day

May God be merciful to us and bless us, show us the light of his countenance and come to us. Let your ways be known upon earth, your saving health among all nations.

Scripture for the day

Habakkuk 1-3, Revelation 15

A lot of people wonder about God. They wonder about his ways. They wonder about why he does what he does, and why it seems that no matter what we do, God just allows anything and everything to happen to us. It even perplexed the writers of the Psalms as they lamented the seemingly indifferent nature of God.

Yet in the book of Habakkuk, we get a picture of the God who not only cares deeply, we get a picture of the God who is Just. This God is not capricious like other gods of the Ancient Near East. This is the God whose very name is synonymous with Justice and Truth. This is the God who refuses to cater to bribes or be cajoled into doing something other than what his sovereign will has determined. This God is the God who will do what he will do according to his nature, which is a nature steeped in justice and truth.

The writer of Revelation presents the same picture of God as he describes the victorious saints who have triumphed over the beast, and who stand praising God, singing:
“Great and marvelous are your deeds,
Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
King of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

John hears the wonderful words ringing out and conveys the nature of God to us: God is Holy, God is Just, and God is True. There is nothing God does that is not in keeping with these characteristics.

Thanks be to God.

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Awesome in Power

Day 357

Prayer for the day

O LORD, what are we that you should care for us? mere mortals that you should think of us? We are like a puff of wind; our days are like a passing shadow.

Scripture for the day

Nahum 1-3, Revelation 14

We don’t see a lot of mighty miracles today, at least not in the same way that the people in the First and Second Testaments did. People argue all the time about the nature of those miracles, whether God still acts the same way or whether God has changed His M.O. But these arguments miss the point that the Testaments seek to bear witness to: the indescribable power of God.

In the book of Nahum, the prophet extolls the power of God in a number of different ways. His way, says the writer, is the whirlwind. He goes on to describe God’s footsteps, God’s handiwork, the power that exudes from the presence of God. His speech dries up the sea, His presence causes the earth to quake. Every word written about this God are words of power, words that give us the sense that this God is not someone to be trifled with. This God is a God who radiates power.

Nahum and Revelation both point, however, to the nature of the power of God. It is not like a nuclear explosion, without direction, simply consuming everything in its path. Instead, the power of God is channelled, directed, and focussed.

The power of God in Revelation is presented as a force for blessings and a force for cursing, depending upon the life of the person who is being affected. The power of God is the power to save, the power to bless, the power to protect, and the power to transform. The power of God is also the power to discipline, to destroy, the power to do what is right and just and true.

May you experience the God whose power can transform.

What Does the Lord Desire?

Day 356

Prayer for the day

Sing to the LORD and bless his Name; proclaim the good news of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations and his wonders among all peoples. For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised; he is more to be feared than all gods.

Scripture for the day

Micah 6-7, Revelation 13

And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

It’s a natural question to ask: what does God want from us? Why can’t we figure out God’s will? Who knows what God wants from us? Many people assume that God has a finely worked plan that requires us to walk to the right or to the left, to do certain things at certain times for fear of damnation. We assume that the reason for the Israelites’ suffering was a lack of knowledge of the will of God. If only they could have figured it out, they would be free, we think. They would be happy.

MIcah seems to categorically reject this kind of thinking, instead saying that what God wants is not slavish adherence to a single path, but to live our lives based on the principles God sets out for us. This means a myriad of permutations and combinations of possibility, so long as those possibilities are typified by just action, a love of mercy, and a walk of humility with God. With these things, the choices we make will be subsumed under the umbrella of God’s will.

John’s visions in Revelation may inspire fear and terror, or they may inspire us to be the kind of people who see the devastation that can be wrought, and who endure and persevere. John calls the people of God to endure patiently and faithfully, so that in doing so, they will remain in the centre of God’s will, the will that calls for faithfulness and endurance.

May we be that kind of people.

The Child

Day 355

Prayer for the day

Exalt yourself above the heavens, O God, and your glory over all the earth.

Scripture for the day

Micah 4-5, Revelation 12

I love action movies. I love to watch people getting into impossible situations only to be saved at the last minute. I love the relief of a last-second escape, the play of good versus evil, and the eventual feel-good ending, when good and love triumph!

Though it may not be a movie, the Bible certainly has a lot of action, and one thing it has in spades, is the triumph of good and love.

In the First Testament, the prophet Micah looks ahead to a time when war will be a thing of the past, when good and love will triumph over the forces of violence and war in this world. Even the implements of war will experience conversion in this coming day, says Micah. He then proceeds to give one of the great Christological prophecies of the First Testament. A Great Child will be born, he says, in Bethlehem Ephrathah. This Great Child will be the one to lead the people of God to greatness, to pluck them from oppression and obscurity and raise them up, the one to usher in the incredible time of peace to come.

In his revelation, John speaks of a similar child, a child who will rule the nations eventually. This is a child who is protected by God, kept safe from the evil that would destroy him, so that one day he could fulfill God’s plan.

Both of these children should call to mind, especially at this Christmas time, the child who came. The child we speak of was born in Bethlehem, rose to prominence, and ruled. His rule, however, was unlike anything the world expected or had ever seen.

Do you know the child?

Kingdoms

Day 354

Prayer for the day

Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to another. Before the mountains were brought forth, or the land and the earth were born, from age to age you are God.

Scripture for the day

Micah 1-3, Revelation 11

The good and the bad. The righteous and the wicked. The scriptures paint the picture of dichotomy over and over again, but in reality, we all fit into the wicked category. So why so much discussion? Why so much “this and that?”

The First Testament regularly chides the people of Israel for not being who they were supposed to be. We’ve seen it over and over again in the words of the prophets, that the people of Israel ought to have been a light to the nations, not creating an “us and them” mentality, but seeking to move “them” into “us” so that all would experience the love and care of God.

Micah derides the people of God because they have not subjected themselves to the King who wanted to rule them lovingly, and instead have become part of the kingdom of the world, modelling their lives after those who were not ruled by God, but by themselves.

The book of Revelation gives us a glimpse of a time when the kingdom of the world, the kingdom which has been opposed to the Kingdom of God, is subsumed under the lordship of Jesus. The kingdom of this world, says the angel, has become the kingdom of our Lord. The kingdoms have not merged, or declared a peace. The kingdom of the world is transformed into the kingdom of God as the reign of God is acknowledged and lived out. God doesn’t make peace with the world in a conciliatory way. God transforms the world.

May we rejoice in the transformation God is working out in us, and in the world.

The Mysteries of God

Day 353

Prayer for the day

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on me. O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on me. O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

Scripture for the day

Jonah 1-4, Revelation 10

The book of Revelation is pretty much a catalogue of the mysteries of God. Who can understand everything that is written there, and who is able to unlock its meaning? Many books have been written to connect ancient prophecy with modern events, and many of them end up as embarrassments both to the authors and to the Christian community who buys into such things far too readily.

Yet this passage speaks about a particular mystery of God that will be revealed. Speculating on what that mystery is, the one He spoke to the prophets, is not the point of this post. The point of this post is to recognize that we don’t have all the answers, and we certainly are not able to delve the depths of the mysteries of God. It is only grace that allows us to know of God’s mysteries. Grace, and His willingness to speak.

Jonah got a first-hand account of God’s grace and willingness to speak. He was privy to some pretty important, and fairly dangerous, knowledge. God had revealed to him the great mystery of the future: what would happen to Ninevah. And God desired that Jonah tell this mystery to the Ninevites. It was grace in Jonah’s life and grace to the Ninevites all wrapped together, though it took some time for Jonah to really appreciate God’s provision for the traditional enemies of Jonah’s people.

God has used many different media to make known some of the mysteries of who He is and what He has done. We should count ourselves privileged to know the God who is so willing to reveal His secrets to us, that we might live!

Repent

Day 352

Prayer for the day

My lips will sing with joy when I play to you, and so will my soul, which you have redeemed.

Scripture for the day

Obadiah 1, Revelation 9

The doom keeps piling up for people as the Minor Prophets continue to call down God’s wrath on the nations. Edom is the target of Obadiah’s prophecy, and it does not bode well for them. They are in serious trouble because of the way they have treated their brother nations. They have stood by and watched as those God chose were cast aside and torn asunder.

We usually think of our sins as sins of commission, as things that we do. The scriptures, however, also talk of sins of omission. There are things we OUGHT to do, things we ought to be caring about, yet we refuse to do those things. Like Edom, we should be caring for our brother when we see him in distress, rather than going our own way or waiting in the wings.

The book of Revelation talks of the doom that awaits the people who reject the love and salvation of God, and who refuse to repent of their sins of omission and commission.

The amazing, terrible truth that Revelation reveals is that the people who experience the wrath and doom of God still refuse to repent and turn to their God. God’s wrath and doom are falling, causing disaster in order to bring anyone back, and yet those who see this doom and experience it refuse to escape it through faith. Instead, they continue their wickedness, living as those without hope.

In the face of the evil the world has to offer, in the midst of a world that sees evil as the default position, in the middle of a life full of catastrophe and chaos, God calls us to repentance, to follow Him with all we have and all we are.