Bible reading for weekend May 14 -- 16
May 14 -- Isaiah 13 and 1 Peter 1
May 15 -- Isaiah 14 and 1 Peter 2
May 16 -- Isaiah 15 and 1 Peter 3
"...then a throne will be established in steadfast love, and on it will sit in faithfulness in the tent of David one who judges and seeks justice and is swift to do righteousness." (Isaiah 16:5)
WOE TO BABYLON. After pronouncing judgment upon Assyria, Isaiah looks forward a hundred years to pronounce judgment upon Babylon, the nation which will eventually destroy the city of Jerusalem and carry many Jews into exile. Chapters 13 to 23 contain a number of oracles against specific nations that have, or will, come against God's people. There is something within fallen humanity that seeks to unite themselves together in opposition to God. From the tower of Babel (Gen 11) to the final Babylon (Rev 17-18) people build communities that exalt human ability, power, and autonomy, setting themselves against God's will. Such collectives may become great cities and kingdoms. In the apocalyptic literature of the Bible these kingdoms are symbolized by beasts. "Babylon" has come to symbolize the proud, powerful, united community of humanity in rebellion against God. It is the city of Man versus the city of God, with its goal being human glory rather than the glory of God. "Pride is the idolatrous worship of ourselves, and that is the national religion of hell." (Alan Redpath)
THE PUPPET-MASTER. There's more to history than human ambition or the sheer will to power. There is a supernatural dimension behind this drama, and we see an intimation of that here: "You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north..." (14:13) This echoes the aspirations of Lucifer (Ezek 28:11-19). He is also called Satan (or the devil, the serpent, the dragon), and he is the puppet master energizing and guiding the evil intentions of fallen men and women, especially of earthly rulers and authorities (Rev 12-13). Judgment will come upon these kingdoms in due time. It is in the fall of empires, the destruction of cities, and the dissolution of communities that the Lord lays bare the pretense of human pride. Before people can seek and trust the Lord in the right way, the pride they have in themselves must be seen and be broken.
THE THRONE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. History is moving toward the day of righteous leadership and justice, where the ruling authority will be truly good and just. This is God's kind of rule: "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you" (Psalm 89:14). This is fulfilled in our Lord and Savior, Jesus, the son of David (Isa 9:6-7). Such words -- steadfast love, righteousness, justice, faithfulness -- aren't they beautiful? Isaiah tells us that this is the world to which we are heading, "...for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea" (11:9). And the Apostle Peter adds, "...according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Pet 3:13). We will read a lot about judgment in Isaiah, and in the other prophets, too, but the goal in all of this is making way for God's new world! As is true in home renovation, the "demo" (demolition) comes before the "reno" (renovation).
If you have questions about the details of the text please check out the NET Bible notes.
"...who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, as was necessary, you have been grieved by various trials..." (1 Peter 1:5-6)
A LETTER FROM BABYLON. Our NT reading this weekend is in the first epistle of the Apostle Peter. He is writing in the early 60s AD from "Babylon" (5:13), almost certainly meaning the city of Rome (5:13). This letter was written to encourage believers to walk in holiness and courage while living in a pagan empire. There's quite a tension there! Christians are to submit to ruling authorities as ordained by God and to give due honor (2:13-17). But never are believers commanded to put their trust or hope in governments or human leaders or non-Christian culture. We recognize God's sovereignty over all of creation and history, but we know there is much evil in high places, and therefore we never put our hope in governing authorities. We also do not form our beliefs and morality from the habits and customs of the culture around us. We are to be willing to suffer reproach without fear, and to be ready to gently and respectfully explain why we believe and follow our Lord Jesus Christ: "But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame" (3:14-16). As you read First Peter, what truths do you find there to help you persevere through difficult days, living in a hostile culture?
Here are more notes on chapter 1.
More notes on chapter 2.
And here's Constable's notes on chapter 3.
Image credit. The Ishtar Gate at Pergamon Museum, one of eight gates of the inner city of Babylon, built during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II (c 575 BC). Wikimedia Commons. 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.
Bible reading for weekend May 14 -- 16