Bible reading for May 24 -- 25
May 24 -- Isaiah 25 and 1 John 3
May 25 -- Isaiah 26 and 1 John 4
"He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces..." (Isaiah 25:8)
THE DEATH OF DEATH (ch 25). Jerusalem would survive the Assyrian onslaught. And though in King Hezekiah's day food would be scarce, yet a banquet is coming, the Lord says. Isaiah is seeing over 700 years into the future to an event in Jerusalem which will destroy death itself. And the Apostle John sees a glorious future, as well: "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" (Rev 21:4). Through the succession of nations and empires, through all the vicissitudes of time and history, there is one certain, unchanging plan of God. We can say with Isaiah, "O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure" (v 1). At the center of God's sure and certain plan of the ages is the cross and empty tomb of our Lord Jesus.
KEPT IN PERFECT PEACE (ch 26). This song of salvation was sung first by those in Judah and Jerusalem, when they are delivered from the Assyrian siege in 700 BC (Isa 36-37; 2 Kings 19; 2 Chron 32). But this can be our prayer, too! As you read this chapter, make it your own prayer. Our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, is coming to judge the nations and deliver his people for all time. His death is the death of death, and his resurrection is life forevermore: "Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead" (v 19). And here's a timely word for us today -- don't get caught up in the fear, panic, self-indulgence, confusion, and hysteria of people who are without God. "Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by" (v 20). Jesus told his disciples, "Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation..." (Matt 26:41), and "when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you" (Matt 6:6). We are to keep our minds and hearts stayed upon the Lord.
"No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God." (1 John 3:9)
CHILDREN OF GOD (ch 3). Being a beloved child of God, awaiting Christ's return, will have a purifying effect upon us. As we have seen in the previous chapters, the Apostle John is showing us that the new birth results in changed lives -- we think differently (we love the truth); we live differently (we love God's ways); and we relate to others differently (we love God's people). This is our new DNA as children of God. It does not mean that Christians don't sin, which they do (1:8-9; 2:1-2), but that they do not continue to live in unrepentant, habitual sin. They desire to walk as God's obedient children. As seen in the diagram above, John writes in a kind of circular fashion, moving back and forth between these great themes. In this chapter he comes back to the moral dimension (practicing righteousness, vv 1-10), and then to the social dimension (love, vv 11-18), and then back again to the moral (keeping his commandments, vv 19-24).
DOCTRINE AND LOVE (ch 4). In his rotation of themes, John returns to doctrine (4:1-6). There is truth and there is error. Truth matters. Some in John's day believed that Jesus didn't come in the flesh (as fully human) but rather was some kind of emanation or hologram from God. This is false teaching. And of course, that would affect one's understanding of salvation, as well. To deviate from the biblical presentation of Christ is to have the "spirit of antichrist", which means that person denies or substitutes something for the truth about Christ. The beast of Revelation (Rev 13) and the lawless one (2 Thess 2) are referring to the ultimate imposter, the false Christ, who is usually referred to with the capital A, the Antichrist. Then John returns to the topic of love again (4:7-21). God loved us before we ever loved him, and his love is shown to us in Christ's atoning sacrifice (propitiation) for our sins. This love, and our love for him in return, gives us confidence before God and becomes the basis from which we love others.
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 May 24 -- 25