Bible reading for June 14 -- 15
Jun 14 -- Isaiah 46 and Revelation 16
Jun 15 -- Isaiah 47 and Revelation 17
"...remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,'"... (Isaiah 46:9-10)
GOD'S PURPOSE (ch 46). Idols are useless. Bel and Nebo, Babylonian gods, are themselves only heavy idols carried off into captivity. Idols are burdens which must be picked up and carried about, but it is God who carries Israel (vv 3-4). Only God can save. Only God can bring his righteousness to us. It is only God who speaks eternal truth and unfailingly brings his plans to pass. "I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it" (v 11). The Scriptures reveal to us again and again that history unfolds "according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will..." (Eph 1:11). So, God exists, he thinks, he plans, and he works to fulfill his plans.
YOU AREN'T GOD (ch 47). Babylonians (aka Chaldeans) felt superior to others and secure in their knowledge and affluence, but after God's purpose for Israel was accomplished, Babylon itself would be destroyed and the people greatly humbled. They thought they were like gods, saying, "I am, and there is no one besides me" (v 8), which is true only of God himself. Fallen men and women ever seek to be God (Gen 3:5). It seems one of the most important lessons a person can learn in life is, "there is a God, and you're not him."
REFLECT. How thankful we should be for God's nature and character! We serve a God who is living and personal, and also wise and purposeful. There are no contingencies that catch him by surprise. "What God does, he always purposed to do" (Augustus H. Strong). We should meditate on this: "'For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?' 'Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?' For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen." (Romans 11:34-36) These truths should help us be at peace even during the most troubled times. As Corrie ten Boom once wrote, "God has no problems, only plans."
"And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon." (Revelation 16:16)
SEVEN BOWLS (ch 16). These are the seven last great judgments poured out on planet Earth. These cataclysmic events (mainly environmental) echo the judgments God placed upon Egypt when he delivered his people from there. Still, then as now, people do not repent and turn to God. With the seventh judgment, "It is done" (v 17). "Armageddon" (Heb., "har megiddo") means the mount of Megiddo, which is about fifty miles to the north of Jerusalem. The old city tel (mound) of Megiddo stands in the Plain of Esdraelon, a wide and flat area where many battles were fought in Israel's history. At that time it will become the staging place for nations who are demonically driven to gather against Jerusalem.
THE MYSTERY, BABYLON (ch 17). John tells us this is a mystery, something hidden now but one day seen clearly. The beast of chapter 13 will align with a global religion, symbolized by the woman who is a prostitute. Babylon was a city from the earliest years of human history that lived in power, luxury, and defiance against God. The Apostle Peter used the term to refer to Rome (1 Pet 5:13), and the seven hills (v 9) may lead to the same conclusion. The historical entity you think this refers to depends on your view of book of Revelation itself. If preterist (all this took place in the past) this would refer to old Rome and the pantheon of gods led by the emperors in the first few centuries of the Christian church. If historicist (reflecting the history of the church through the centuries) then Rome may refer to the powerful influence of the Roman Catholic church centered in Rome, especially before the Reformation. If futurist (events yet to come) this would refer to a great apostate church, whether centered in Rome or perhaps some other world city in alliance with the antichrist. This prostitute-city-church will be blasphemous, will promote sexual immorality, live in affluence, persecute true believers, and will come to a horrible and sudden end. This is a mystery still, and one day we shall understand it fully.
Image credit: photo of tel Megiddo and the plain beyond, from bookingisrael.com. 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.