Bible reading for weekend Nov 1 -- 2
Nov 1 -- Hosea 7 and Psalms 120-122
Nov 2 -- Hosea 8 and Psalms 123-125
"Were I to write for him my laws by the ten thousands, they would be regarded as a strange thing." (Hosea 8:12)
THE RESULTS OF SIN (ch 7-8). Notice the words and metaphors to describe Israel's sinful condition: they are surrounded with, and proud of, their evil (7:1-3); like adulterers in the heat of passion (7:4-5); their anger is like a hot oven (7:6-7); they are like a half-cooked (one side only) cake (7:8); their strength is gone (7:9); they are like silly doves easily trapped (7:11-12); they are undependable like a warped bow (7:16). In spite of all of this they are so proud of themselves! (We might say they have a strong self-esteem.) They have spurned what is good (8:3); they sow to the wind and have no real fruit (8:7); they are a useless vessel (8:8) and a wild donkey wandering alone (8:9); they regard God's law as a strange thing (8:12). The last observation reminds me so much of our own culture -- God's ways and commandments are deemed strange. Here's the conclusion: "For Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces, and Judah has multiplied fortified cities; so I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour her strongholds" (Hos 8:14).
"I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the LORD!'" (Psalm 122:1)
SONGS OF ASCENT. The next fifteen psalms (120-134) are called the psalms of ascent, because traditionally they were recited on the way to the temple mount in Jerusalem. Each psalm has a particular theme related to being a pilgrim on the way to God's house. The first six themes are departure (120), protection (121), joy (122), mercy (123), deliverance (124), and security (125) .
DEPARTURE (120). The psalmist does not literally dwell in Meshech (to the far north of Israel) or Kedar (far to the east), but feels as if he lives among barbarian people who do not care about the God of Israel. Their lives are characterized by deception, not truth. When he speaks out for peace (Heb., shalom) he is not being primarily anti-war, but rather, is promoting God's way of peace, involving reconciliation and the wholeness of living God's way. The people around him do not like this (see Rom 3:17). This is the point of departure for the pilgrim. He, and we, decide to leave the lies and hostility of the world behind to seek God’s holy city (Heb. 11:16).
PROTECTION (121). The Lord is the one who protects ("keeps, keeps watch over") the pilgrim on the journey (John 10:27-29). The trip to Jerusalem could be dangerous and the traveler was vulnerable, needing protection. God is the One who does not sleep or get distracted from watching over his children. He will bring them safely to his heavenly kingdom (2 Tim 4:18; 2 Thess 3:3).
PEACE (122). This is a call to pray and work for the peace and well-being of God's people. First, we pray for the peace of Jerusalem and that God would reveal the Lord Jesus to the Jewish people (Zech 12:10; Rom 10:1). And we pray for our brothers and sisters experiencing persecution around the world. And we pray for peace within the church, that believers would delight to gather together to worship the Lord in unity (Eph 4:1-6; Phil 2:1-2).
MERCY (123). In this psalm the pilgrim expresses faith in the care and compassion of the Lord, as a servant is dependent upon the care and power of his or her master. In humility we too lift our eyes to the Lord for his continued mercy (Heb 4:16).
DELIVERANCE (124). We have confidence in the Lord who rescues us from our enemies (2 Tim 4:17-18). If it were not for the Lord's powerful protection, God's people could easily be swept away and lost. Jesus taught us to pray, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matt 6:13; cf 1 Cor 10:13).
SECURITY (125). The pilgrim needs to know that the Lord himself surrounds his people. What assurance this brings, knowing that God will not allow his people to be destroyed (Rom 8:28-30). The Bible tells us that we have come to "the city of the living God", and that we have received "a kingdom that cannot be shaken" (Heb 12:22-29).
JUST PASSING THROUGH. These psalms are clearly applicable to the Christian today. We should have a similar mindset in our world as these ancient pilgrims did. We are traveling to our Father's house (John 14:1-3). We too live in a world characterized by deception, filled with lies about what's important, what's real, and who God is and is not. We live as pilgrims, knowing that we have the protection of our Father in heaven. We are to work for the unity and harmony of God's people. We are on a journey to a new world, a new land where righteousness dwells (2 Pet 3:13), which is our future inheritance. In The Pilgrim's Progress, the main character, Christian, says, "I am seeking an inheritance that is not subject to decay and that cannot be tarnished and that will never fade away. It is kept safely in Heaven to be given at the appointed time to all who diligently seek it. If you will, you can read about it right here in my Book." -- The Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan (Tyndale House edition, 1991; Cheryl Ford translation). And in a more contemporary vein, here is the last stanza of Larry Norman's song, "Reader's Digest" (1972)...
"And everybody has to choose whether they will win or lose
Follow God or sing the blues, and who they're gonna sin with.
What a mess the world is in, I wonder who began it.
Don't ask me, I'm only visiting this planet. ...
This world is not my home, I'm just passing through."
Image credit: photo above is the album cover of "Only Visiting This Planet" (1972) by Larry Norman, courtesy Verve Records. About this newsletter: I'm Sandy Young, and 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 December 3 -- 5 Dec 3 -- Nahum 1 and Luke 17 Dec 4 -- Nahum 2 and Luke 18 Dec 5 -- Nahum 3 and Luke 19 ================ "The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. But with an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness." (Nahum 1:7-8) TIME'S UP FOR NINEVEH (Nah 1-3). The prophecy of Nahum is God's word to the people of Nineveh, part two. Jonah was part one, chronicling a city-wide repentance of Assyrians in the capital about a hundred years earlier. The closing bookend is Nahum, and the Assyrian empire is big, powerful, and aggressive. Notice the references to chariots (2:3-4, 13; 3:2). The Assyrians were a militarily advanced culture, and cruel in their warfare. Whatever spiritual receptivity they had at the time of Jonah was gone by the time of Nahum. Nahum may not have actually visited Nineveh, for it seems the book was w