Bible reading for December 1 -- 2
Dec 1 -- Micah 6 and Luke 15
Dec 2 -- Micah 7 and Luke 16
"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8)
IT'S REALLY QUITE SIMPLE (ch 6). Don't you find it helpful when the Lord himself summarizes things for us? For example, Jesus summed up the law of God with, "love God with all your heart..." and "love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt 22:36-40). Here we have, "Do justice... love kindness... walk humbly with God" (v 8). How straightforward! This chapter begins with the Lord asking "what have I done to you"? That is, what fault have you found in me, what grievance do you have against me? (Cf Jer 2:5; Isa 43:22; Mal 1:13) Though Christians rarely vocalize their disappointment with God, it often becomes the reason for their backsliding. (I find that it is best to be humbly honest with the Lord about how we may feel unfairly treated or let down.) The chapter continues: what's needed now? To multiply sacrifices and increase offerings? (vv 7-8; as if great religious show would somehow impress the Lord!) No, it was really quite simple: observe and enforce God's law (justice), delight in his covenantal love and faithfulness (by exercising kindness, mercy toward others), and to live before God with humility (v 8). All their efforts, and the labors done for themselves or other gods, would be in vain, and their lives finally impoverished (vv 9-16).
WHO IS LIKE OUR GOD (ch 7)? Micah warns against putting trust in others (vv 1-7). Even the best of people will fail you at some time. Family members, too. Jesus cites this passage in Matthew 10:21, 35, to describe the future trials of believers. Micah puts his trust in the Lord and awaits his judgment (vv 7-9). At that time fear and shame would come upon the enemies of God (vv 10-13), but the Lord would shepherd his people like a flock dwelling in a garden land (vv 14-17). Compare verses 18-19 with Exodus 34: "The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, 'The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin...'" (Ex 34:6-7). Our God is incomparable, eternal, and unchanging "in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth" (Westminster Shorter Catechism). He is incomparable in his patience, and his willingness to forgive: "...God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom 5:8).
"But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate." (Luke 15:22-24)
LOST AND FOUND (ch 15). Jesus tells a three-fold parable of things lost and then joyfully found: a sheep, a coin, and a son. The first is an animal which wanders off; the second, a coin, something inanimate misplaced; and the third, a son, who willfully chooses to be lost. All three things are of value, and a child is of immense value. At the end of the parable there were actually two lost sons: one who left and returned, and the one who stayed, but remains outside, sulking, while the family celebrates the prodigal son's return. One took his inheritance and wasted it, but repented. He "came to himself" (15:17), admits his sin, and seeks to reconcile with his father. The other son was outwardly compliant, but seemed to be biding his time until he should receive his inheritance (he didn't want to rock the boat). He resents money being spent to celebrate his prodigal brother. At some point, it seems, neither son loved the father for himself, but only for his money! The parable ends with the rebellious son returned, and the legalistic son now sitting outside the family circle. The parable is not only an encouragement for returning prodigals, but primarily a warning to the self-righteous not to resent those lost souls who return to the Lord (15:1-2).
PAY IT FORWARD (ch 16). Erwin Lutzer once observed, "Few people have the spiritual resources to be both wealthy and godly." Read here about the abuse of wealth and Jesus' teaching about investing in the future.
CONGRATULATIONS to those of you who have been reading God's word daily, or at least, regularly! I began this blog / newsletter project two years ago. We read through the NT and Psalms each year, along with the first half of the OT (in 2020) and the second half of the OT (2021). Here's the first post in 2020 in case you want to begin again in Genesis this January. Since I have logged some 200,000 words so far, I'm going to give my fingers a rest at the end of this month. I plan to be working on some other projects -- and will likely post once or twice a week about them, beginning in January, 2022 -- so, feel free to stay subscribed or be unsubscribed, whatever you wish. It's been a wonderful adventure! Thanks for following, and keep reading his Word in 2022!
Image credit: hand-drawn calligraphy of Micah 6:8 done by a friend of ours, and hanging on the wall in our home. 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.