Bible reading for December 6 -- 7
Dec 6 -- Habakkuk 1 and Luke 20
Dec 7 -- Habakkuk 2 and Luke 21
"Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith." (Habakkuk 2:4)
THE COMPLAINT (ch 1). The prophet Habakkuk wrote late in the 7th century BC, during same time as Jeremiah's ministry in Jerusalem. The first Babylonian subjugation of Israel would come in 605 BC. The prophet complains of the widespread immorality and injustice of the Jews, and why doesn't God do something about it? God answers by saying he will in fact deal with it by raising up the Chaldeans (another name for the Babylonians) to invade the land. This shocks Habakkuk. How could the Lord deliver over his people to an empire even more evil than themselves? How could God seemingly approve, and even promote, such a wicked and pagan nation? The answer is that God is so sovereign he can use evil for a good purpose, namely, for humbling his people that they might seek him. God would not allow evil to come into his universe unless he could manage it for a higher purpose. The Lord would allow the Babylonians to pursue their intentions for a season, in order to purify God's people. After the Babylonian exile, God would then destroy that empire.
FAITH AND LIFE (ch 2). The Chaldeans (Babylonians) trusted their gods, their wealth, their skill, and their own strength. They were swollen with pride and would ultimately suffer the destruction of the proud. God's people -- men and women of faith -- trust God and wait upon him. By their faith they are justified (considered righteous) and so, shall live. The opposite of Babylonian pride was the faith of God's people. Pride looks to self; faith looks to Another. Verse 4 is quoted three times in the NT -- Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; and Heb 10:38. This is a major OT passage to demonstrate the truth that we are justified before God by our faith. "Faith abandons hope in man's own accomplishments, leaves all works behind, and comes to Christ alone and empty-handed, to cast itself upon his mercy" (J. I. Packer). This is the faith that justifies and brings eternal life to the believing soul.
"Then some of the scribes answered, 'Teacher, you have spoken well.' For they no longer dared to ask him any question." (Luke 20:39-40)
BY WHAT AUTHORITY (ch 20)? In the temple courts of Jerusalem, the religious leaders confront Jesus about his authority, namely, by what right does he teach and do what he does? He turns the question back on their attitude toward John the Baptist. They won't answer on this. After giving a very plain and pointed parable, Jesus faces questions from each religious party in their attempt to discredit him. Some of the scribes, however, recognize the truth and wisdom of Jesus' answers. After the attempts to trap Jesus fail, he asks them a question about Psalm 110. There King David calls his son (the Messiah) "Lord." Jesus asks in what way could the Messiah be David's son, that is, only a human descendant? What kind of being must the Christ be, if he is a king with human lineage, and at the same time has eternal authority? Anyone who has read the gospels with an open and fair mind will be struck by Jesus' majesty, his authority, and his power beyond any mere human attainment.
SIGNS OF HIS RETURN (ch 21). This chapter has much in common with Matthew 26 and Mark 13. Jesus calls his disciples (them and us) to be watchful and to persevere in the face of persecution prior to his return. Sometimes we forget that the world hasn't really gotten better! We may have better health, better technology, more information, and better abilities, but the spiritual condition of the human heart hasn't changed. The Lord Jesus was violently opposed in his day and has been opposed in most of the generations from then until now, and will be to the end. But we must not despair. No matter how much we are opposed, Jesus says, "...they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness" (21:12-13). As we see hatred for Christ and his followers increasing in the world today, we should not wring our hands in despair, but rather see this as a privilege and an opening for us to speak for Christ! We should be like the Apostle Paul who said (while in chains), "I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today..." (Acts 26:2). When confronted by others we should think, "it's testimony time!"
Image credit: photo above by Ben White 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.