Bible reading for weekend May 17 -- 18
May 17 -- Isaiah 16 and 1 Peter 4
May 18 -- Isaiah 17-18 and 1 Peter 5
"But now the LORD has spoken, saying, 'In three years, like the years of a hired worker, the glory of Moab will be brought into contempt, in spite of all his great multitude, and those who remain will be very few and feeble.'" (Isaiah 16:14)
LAMENTS FOR MOAB, SYRIA, AND CUSH. Within a short period of time these three strong kingdoms, along with Israel, would be humbled. The Assyrian invasion led by Sargon (720 BC) and Sennacherib (713--701 BC) would devastate and bring down these nations. Most amazing would be the conquest of Ethiopian-ruled upper Egypt, called "Cush" or "Nubia", which today would include the Sudan. See the NET Bible for details. This Assyrian sweep would topple Moab first, within three years of Isaiah's words. Some of these prophecies would come to pass soon, but others were long-range, like the judgment upon all nations. The final restoration of Moab, Egypt, and Assyria, for example, will await the future Millennium (Rev 20). In the NT we begin to see the first-fruits of this at Christ's first coming -- for example, the Magi from the east (Matt 2), the Ethiopian eunuch from the south (Acts 8), and the many nations represented at Pentecost (Acts 2).
"IN THREE YEARS..." Many people think of the Bible as a big book written by long-ago people to perpetuate myths and legends. It's actually a library of writings by a succession of then-contemporary authors, written and collected over 1500 years. For example, there are sixteen prophets whose writings are included in the OT collection. How did they get added? God would send prophets to the various generations of Israel and Judah, to guide the people, to give promises, and to pronounces judgments. There were many so-called prophets during Israel's history, but there were two main tests, based on Deuteronomy 18:18-22. The legitimate prophet must 1) speak in the Lord's name alone, in harmony with previous revelation from God (cf Deut 13:1-5), and 2) his prophecies must come true (18:20-22). Many true prophets were not initially well-received by the people because their words and pronouncements were not popular. But after the fact, the people would realize that God had indeed sent that prophet among them. Then the words of that prophet would have been canonized, that is, accepted as legitimately from God, because they passed the standard God set through Moses. The Bible thus grew generation-by-generation as God sent prophets to Israel. Each prophet was an individual witness to his own generation (and beyond) that God was guiding his people and was guiding history to its end. The fulfillment of the short-term prophecies would mean that God's people could trust God to fulfill the long-term prophecies, as well. So the Bible is one testimony, but also many testimonies, in revealing the truth of God to us.
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:6-7)
DON'T BE SURPRISED (ch 4). The Apostle Peter writes to believers, most of whom were living in the midst of a decadent Roman culture: "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you" (v 12). I must confess that I do continue to be surprised at the hostility the world in general has shown towards the gospel and towards followers of Christ. And yet, what did our Lord say? "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (John 15:18-19). By his life and teaching Jesus testified that the works of this world were evil, and for that reason he was hated (John 7:7; cf 1 Jn 3:12-13). They were not offended at his love, but at his holiness and his embodiment of truth. If we seek to follow Christ we really shouldn't be surprised that many people will be offended by us.
HUMBLE YOURSELVES (ch 5). The chapter contains a passage I have used countless times in pastoral care (5:5-11). I have gone to this passage more than any other in counseling people going through crises. Take some time to meditate upon -- perhaps memorize -- this passage. Ask yourself, how does each of these truths help me -- or help someone I love -- to get through a difficult situation?
"Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.' Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 5:5-11)
About this newsletter: I post three times a week on my Bible reading, following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Subscribe for email at Buttondown.email/Sandy. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. A very helpful resource is the NET Bible with its excellent notes at netbible.org.