Bible reading for June 16-- 17
Jun 16 -- Isaiah 48 and Revelation 18
Jun 17 -- Isaiah 49 and Revelation 19
"It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth." (Isaiah 49:6)
PEACE LIKE A RIVER (ch 48). We continue to read of Israel's hypocrisy, obstinacy, and idolatry (vv 1-8). God sends the prophets who reveal his words and what is to come (vv 5-8). The Lord for his own sake, and for the sake of his name, restrains and withholds judgment (vv 9-11). Bible expositors hold various opinions as to whether verse 16 is an allusion to God's triune nature or not. God's desire is that his people be trusting, joyful, and obedient (cf Titus 2:11-14). There is no peace for the wicked (v 22), but for those who pay attention to his commandments, "Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea..." (v 18).
A LIGHT FOR THE NATIONS (ch 49). This is the second of the "servant psalms", that is, songs about the Servant (the Messiah) who will redeem Israel (vv 1-6). He will bring about the restoration of Israel and will be a light for the nations. In the short-term, Jews returned to the land from exile in Babylon, and by believing the gospel many Jews have come to faith in the Lord, but the future restoration of Israel as a God-honoring nation will come only after a period of time when the gentiles (the nations) hear the gospel and are brought under the lordship of Christ (Acts 1:6-8; Rom 11:25-32). Meanwhile, we should always remember that the Lord never forgets his people! "Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me" (vv 15-16). Savor those words!
"Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war." (19:11)
BABYLON IS FALLEN (ch 18). We are reading about "Babylon the great" and her fall (Rev 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; 18:2, 10, 21). This is a politico-religious entity that is in alliance with the beast (ch 17), which will finally be destroyed (ch 18). Many, especially in the first centuries of the Christian era, identified this as the city of Rome. (See my previous post.) Whatever may be its specific identity, Augustine of Hippo wrote about the antithesis of what he called the city of man and the City of God: “... the earthly city glories in itself, the Heavenly City glories in the Lord.” Without righteousness such a city (any city or nation) is disordered by its own evil: “What are kingdoms without justice? They're just gangs of bandits” (Augustine, City of God). As you read the lament of chapter 18, make note of all the ways that city has failed (or will fail) to be the kind of community that God favors. In what ways does this resemble our world today?
SORCERIES. The pharmakeia word group, translated as "sorcery" or "sorcerers", is used five times in the NT, once in Galatians (5:20) and four times in Revelation (9:21; 18:23; 21:8; and 22:15). This particular sin will characterize the end-time generation. Though there are beneficial uses of medicine, of course, this word denotes the use of drugs in association with idolatry, sexual immorality, and murder. A sorcerer in the first century often sold compounds for poisoning people and for causing abortions. The people living in the time of Christ's return will be preoccupied with sex and with killing their unwanted children. I think we're there.
BEHOLD, A WHITE HORSE (ch 19). In contrast to the great prostitute (the immoral, crumbling city of man) is the beautiful and righteous Bride for whom Christ comes (ch 19). God's people are not to share in the sins of Babylon -- "Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues" (18:4) -- but are to be as a pure and radiant bride awaiting Christ's return. And Christ's second coming shall be different than his first. At his first advent he entered Jerusalem on a lowly donkey, as the King coming in peace (Zech 9:9; Matt 21:1-5). At his return, however, he will be mounted on a warhorse, and he will bring vengeance upon the wicked who have rejected his peace.
REFLECT. The only hope for the human race is to be found in our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the good and righteous King that Israel longed for. He is the Faithful and True Lord who returns to planet Earth as we see in the book of Revelation. Daily we should pray, "...may your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matt 6:10 NET). Have you prayed today for the Lord's return?
Oh, the joy to see thee reigning,
Thee, my own beloved Lord!
Every tongue thy name confessing,
Worship, honor, glory, blessing,
Brought to thee with glad accord --
Thee, my Master and my Friend,
Vindicated and enthroned,
Unto earth's remotest end
Glorified, adored and owned!
(Francis Ridley Havergal)
Image credit. Photograph of a white Lusitano by Robert Dawson. 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.