Bible reading for May 5 -- 6
May 5 -- Isaiah 2 and Hebrews 10
May 6 -- Isaiah 3-4 and Hebrews 11
"The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day." (Isaiah 2:11)
THE PROPHETS. In our Bibles the writings of the Hebrew prophets are placed in a collection together. There are four "major" prophets (the longer books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel) and twelve "minor" prophets (minor in the sense of being shorter books). The role of the prophet in the OT was to forth-tell, that is, to proclaim to Israel what was the nature of her problems and to give divine promises, whether of judgment or restoration (or both). Often, with these proclamations the prophet would foretell future events, some in the near future and some in the distant future. This telescoping effect is sometimes called the "mountain peaks" of prophecy, that is, two similar events may at first appearance seem to take place at the same time, but actually, many centuries may intervene between them.
THE DAY OF THE LORD. The term, "day of the Lord', means the time -- not a 24-hour day, but a decisive period of time -- when the Lord brings about his reckoning through a climactic judgment, to be followed by blessing upon the remnant of believers. In Isaiah we see at least three such judgments: upon the land of Judah when the Assyrians invade, though Jerusalem is spared (c 705 BC), the later Babylonian invasion and the exile which followed (c 605 BC), and the future judgment upon the whole earth to be followed by a new creation (AD ??). Note that the imagery of hiding in caves (2:19), for example, is also cited in Revelation 6:15-17.
THE PROBLEMS. Israel and Judah both demonstrate (for all of us) the failure of humans to obey God's law. The prophets called out sins of idolatry (seen in the breaking of the first four of the ten commandments) and sins of injustice (seen in the breaking of the commandments five through ten). Much of the OT exemplifies their (and our) failure to love God supremely and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt 22:36-40). In the opening words of Isaiah's ministry we see that the city of Jerusalem appears to be thriving. Worship and sacrifices at the temple on Mount Zion are popular. The people are blessed with affluence. But the oaks and gardens mentioned (1:29) refer to the sacred groves where people could also worship other gods. The people were pluralistic in their faith. And injustice was present through bribery (perverting justice) and in the exploitation of the poor. Judah's pride would be humbled before God's judgment, for soon to come was the invasion of the land by King Sennacherib of Assyria.
REFLECT. What sins of Judah are also seen in our churches and society today? How do we prepare people for the upcoming (and final) Day of the Lord?
"And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Hebrews 10:10)
ONE SACRIFICE FOR ALL TIME (ch 10). The superior sacrifice before God -- the Lord Jesus dying for sinners -- is a once-for-all-time sacrifice. Note the tenses in verse 14: "has perfected" (completed action in past) and "are being sanctified" (or, "being made holy", present progressive). Our ongoing growth in holiness is a result and outworking of the completed perfection that we have in Christ. We are saints (holy ones) and at the same time being sanctified (growing in holiness). Believers, however, are not Lone Rangers, but need to meet with one another for spiritual growth and encouragement (vv 24-25). Another strong warning is given in verses 26-31. To reject the Sacrifice that is Christ himself, is to be left with no other offering. The message is: there is no other way! We cannot trust our good works, our sacrifices of any kind, or any religious ritual. There's nowhere else to go but Jesus and him crucified. There's no one else who can give eternal forgiveness. The chapter closes with, "Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward..." Persevering faith is needed.
FAITH DEMONSTRATED (ch 11). Now the author of Hebrews turns our attention to the men and women of the Old Testament who demonstrated faith in God. True faith is a kind of "seeing the unseen", or believing God's word about the future. It means acting upon his commands and promises, and openly identifying as a follower of God, no matter the cost. How do the examples given in this chapter help us live and follow the Lord in today's world?
Read more about "Faith's Hall of Fame" here.
Image credit. Graphic by Adam Ford @adam4dcom, creator of The Babylon Bee. 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 5 -- 6