Bible reading for December 27 -- 28
Dec 27 -- Zechariah 14 and John 17
Dec 28 -- Malachi 1 and John 18
"For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts." (Malachi 1:11)
WITH BELLS ON (Zech 14). Like most of the prophets of the Bible, Zechariah does not leave us with the bad news, but gives us the good news, the promise of a glorious future. After judgment -- if we learn from it -- comes blessing. And it's a beautiful world (see my previous post, "With Bells On").
TIRED OF GOD (Mal 1). The first two books of the Bible open with the glory of God, seen first in creation (Genesis), and then in redeeming his people from Egypt (Exodus). In the last book of the OT we find a people who are tired of God. They have lost the sense of his greatness. Regarding the worship of God, they are saying, "What weariness this is..." (v 13). And that attitude affects every other part of their lives, as we will see in the rest of Malachi. As you read Malachi, ask yourself, "Am I like this? Have I grown weary of God? Have I lost the sense of his greatness?"
"And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." (John 17:3)
OUR HIGH PRIEST (Jn 17). Like the high priest Aaron in the OT tabernacle, Jesus bears his people upon his shoulders and over his heart (Ex 18:12, 29). This high priestly prayer has intrigued me all of my Christian life. It is at once beautiful, caring, and yet mysterious and profound. It is a deep well of wonder, giving us a window on the relationship of the Father and the Son. Note the terms and phrases that Jesus uses -- glory and glorify, "those whom you gave me", an accomplished work of giving his disciples the name and words of the Father, and "that they may be one." This prayer gives us a glimpse of Christ's intercessory ministry in heaven even now (Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25). Read more here.
BEFORE PILATE (Jn 18). Chapter 17 is Jesus before God; chapter 18 is Jesus before men. He is arrested, the disciples flee, and Peter disowns the Lord three times. The gospel of John notes that when Jesus identifies himself as "I am he" (Gr., ego eimi, "I am", v 5) the soldiers drew back and fell to the ground. Something in the way Jesus said the name of God, as applied to himself, incapacitated these men. The glory of God would completely undo us if it were not for his mercy (cf Ex 33:20; Isa 6:5; Rev 1:17). Jesus then stands before Pilate, who represents the mighty power of Rome. Though he faces a horrendous death by crucifixion, yet Jesus stands and speaks with perfect composure. He came to testify to the truth (v 37). Pilate's cynical reply is, "what is truth?" And so, we see the ongoing conflict between the truth of brute power (Rome, the world) versus the One who is and speaks truth (14:6). Is power truth, or truth power? Our Lord Jesus came to inaugurate a different kind of reign. Napoleon Bonaparte is credited with saying, "God is on the side with the best artillery." But, on the third day, all the mighty power of Rome could not keep Jesus in the grave!
ABIDING IN HIS WORD. Reading through the Bible is not a one-and-done affair. We should abide in his word (Jn 8:31), meditate on his word continually (Ps 1:2), and let his word dwell richly in us (Col 3:16). The psalmist wrote, "Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law" (Ps 119:18). When we read passages of the Bible that we have read before, the Holy Spirit does not change the meaning of what we read, but he does open our eyes to truths we may not have seen before. We see clearer, better, and have fresh new insights and applications. I usually vary my reading and the tempo, year by year. One year I'll read through the entire Bible, and in the next year I may read more slowly on a few selected books of the Bible. The main thing is to keep grazing in God's rich pasture: "He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake" (Ps 23:2-3). Bible reading is a vital part of our ongoing fellowship with the Lord.
Image credit: photo above by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash. 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.