NT Reading – May 15

2 Peter 1-3

2 Peter 1

Growth in Christian Virtue

Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

12 Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. 13 I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.

Eyewitnesses

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

 

2 Peter 2

The Rise of False Prophets

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.

Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, 11 whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, 13 suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; 15 forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet.

17 These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. 18 For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, 19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. 22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”

 

2 Peter 3

Purpose of This Letter

This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.

The Coming Day of the Lord

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

A New Heaven and Earth

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

Success or Faithfulness

 

Thoughts About What We’re Reading…

 

Today, we turn our attention to the book of Jeremiah, one of the Major Prophets and the longest of the Prophetic books.

So, who was Jeremiah?  The text teaches us he was a son of a priest called to be a prophet from his mother’s womb.

We know that Jeremiah prophesized during the years leading up to the fall of Jerusalem and exile into Babylon. The overarching theme of the book is judgment.

We call Jeremiah the “Weeping” Prophet for good reason. As we read through the book, we feel his anguish, lamenting over the fallen people of Judah and its capital city, much like Jesus laments over Jerusalem in Luke 13:34-35.

Despite some valiant attempts at reform by kings such as Hezekiah and Judah, this process of decline is irreversible and ends with the ultimate destruction of all the visible element’s of Israel’s covenant relationship with God, such as Jerusalem and the temple.

We feel Jeremiah’s frustration in dealing with the stubbornness of the people. The people felt immune to any threat of divine judgment, but Jeremiah repeatedly warned them about the vanity of their reliance on ritual and external formalism.

Jeremiah’s story is one of courage and endurance. Imagine, preaching for 40+ years and it doesn’t appear that there was even one convert!

His enemies cast him in a dungeon, his family and friends rejected him, other priests and prophets made fun of him. He was beaten, humiliated, and ridiculed.

At times in the text, we see how Jeremiah grows tired of bringing God’s message of judgment to an unresponsive people.

But God’s word would bring blessing to Jeremiah’s own soul, we read in Jeremiah 15:16, “Your words were found, and I eat them, and Your words became to me a joy and a delight of my heart…”.

Jeremiah’s message carried three main points as did most of the Old Testament Prophets – The Lord will judge His people for their sin, God is faithful and merciful, and will bring about restoration and salvation.

Faithfully, he preached and proclaimed the message that judgment was coming to the nation of Judah. Judgment would indeed come.

We see also the gospel foreshadowed in Jeremiah as he points to the sovereign grace of God in His control over world history and his faithfulness to His covenant – fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In Jeremiah, we learn a great lesson when it comes to ministry. Ministry isn’t so much about success as it about faithfulness. The Lord doesn’t ask us to be successful. He asks us to be faithful. Each of us has a job to do and the Lord isn’t asking for success, for only He can bring that about. He simply asks us to be faithful—to do what He says.

Until next time… Keep reading!

Jim

Excerpts for this blog were taken directly from The Gospel Transformation Study Bible, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, and Courson’s Application Commentary, Volume 2.

Slow to Anger but Great in Power

 

Thoughts About What We’re Reading…

 

It seems just a few weeks ago we were reading about Jonah and celebrating the revival of an entire city – the city of Nineveh.  But as we turn our attention to the Book of Nahum, we realize something bad has happened.

Nineveh has turned away from the Lord and returned to her old ways.  Instead of celebrating the Lord’s salvation  – we learn that Nineveh has come under judgment.

Nahum 3:3 reminds us – “The Lord is slow to anger but great in power…”

The main theme of the book is the impending judgment of Nineveh by the Lord, by which He would deliver His people – Israel. Yahweh would pay back Nineveh and the Assyrians in the same way they had mistreated their enemies.

The Book of Nahum is much like a sequel to the Book of Jonah.

As a reminder, Jonah was a prophet to the Northern Kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 14:25-27), who received a word from the Lord to go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it because of their wickedness. (Jonah 1:2)

Jonah was resentful of the people of Nineveh. Nineveh was the military capital of Assyria, (modern day Iraq) a people known for its violence and evil.  Because Assyria had caused much harm to the people of Israel – Jonah was slow to forgive them.

Consequently, when the Lord commissioned Jonah to preach repentance to this bloody, brutal people, Jonah went as far as he could in the opposite direction in fear that they would receive his message and experience God’s forgiveness.

After trying to run from the Lord and His calling, Jonah begrudgingly preaches the Word – the city repents, and Jonah ends up upset that the enemy of His people have repented and turned to the Lord.

Now, one hundred fifty years or so later, we pick up the story in the Book of Nahum—a book that divides itself into three sections.

In chapter 1, Nineveh’s doom is declared.

In chapter 2, Nineveh’s doom is described.

In chapter 3, Nineveh’s doom is deserved.

The book of Nahum dramatically portrays God judgment over Assyria to relieve His oppressed people.

It was certainly a harsh message for Israel’s enemies, but for the people of Judah it was a message of hope.

Nineveh comes to stand for those who have hardened themselves to God and oppose both the Lord and His people. God’s people can rejoice in God’s justice only because they have themselves been humbled and chastened, having been brought to repentance through His great patience (v. 3).

God’s patience manifests His love and His desire that all would repent and turn to Him, but this patience should not be mistaken for approval of the unrepentant.

The book of Nahum provides a great view of a powerful, just God who maintains His absolute moral standards and offers hope to those who are despised and downtrodden.

God overthrows and destroys dominions that are opposed to His rule and oppress His people.

Judgment upon wickedness will inevitably come. All will be set right. We can be hopeful and patient.

Nahum teaches us to trust God. Even when we despair of any help, we can know that God will stand with those who belong to Him.

Amen!

Until next time… keep reading!

Jim

Excerpts were taken from the following sources for this blog: The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Gospel Transformation Bible, HCSB, Courson’s Application Commentary Old Testament Volume 2

Behold – God is My Salvation

 

Thoughts About What We’re Reading…

 

Today we turn to the Book of Isaiah, one of the most loved books of the Bible; it is perhaps the best known of the prophetic books. It has great literary merit and contains beautiful descriptive terminology.

Isaiah spoke more than any other prophet of the great kingdom into which Israel would enter at the Second Advent of the Messiah. He also discussed the depths of Israel’s sin and the heights of God’s glory and His coming kingdom.

Jewish tradition tells us that Isaiah’s father was King Uzziah’s brother. We know that Isaiah frequented the court and was close to a number of kings.  So it is very possible that he was of royal seed.

Jewish tradition also tells us that Isaiah was sawn in half by the wicked King Manasseh. Hebrews 11 talks about those who were sawn asunder for their faith, a reference many believe is directed to Isaiah.

The first 39 chapters of Isaiah focus on the sin, the call to repentance and judgment of the people of Judah and Israel.

At chapter 40, the book of Isaiah takes a turn toward love, grace and the hope of salvation and restoration.

Isaiah’s overall theme receives its clearest statement in chapter 12: “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid”. (Isaiah 12:2).

The book of Isaiah provides us with the most comprehensive prophetic picture of Jesus Christ in the entire Old Testament.

It includes the full scope of His life: the announcement of His coming (Isaiah 40:3–5), His virgin birth (7:14), His proclamation of the good news (61:1), His sacrificial death (52:13–53:12), and His return to claim His own (60:2–3).

The authors of the New Testament read the book of Isaiah in light of the coming of Christ and realized that this prophet anticipated the Messiah’s coming with remarkable clarity. For this reason they quoted Isaiah more than any other Old Testament book.

In Isaiah we find a lofty view of God. The Lord is seen as the Initiator of events in history. He is called Lord Almighty, Holy One, Redeemer.

He is apart from and greater than His Creation; yet He is involved in the affairs of that Creation.

Indeed, Isaiah centered his theology and his book on God and the work that He was doing and would continue to do in the world.

Luke tells us in Luke 4:10-21 that Jesus opened the scroll containing the book of Isaiah and read one of the Messianic passages in Isaiah and told those in attendance that He was the fulfillment of that prophecy.

His life, death and subsequent resurrection proved indeed He was the Redeemer, the Messiah promised in the writings of Isaiah.

Amen!

Until next time…keep reading!

Jim

Excerpts for this blog were taken from the HCSB, Bible Knowledge Commentary and Courson’s Application Commentary, Old Testament Volume 2.

The Pride of Man

 

Thoughts About What We’re Reading…

 

Obadiah, the shortest book in the Old Testament is primarily a book about God’s judgment on Edom, but the book has a major message for us today.

Edom today would be associated with the area of southwestern Jordan or modern day Petra.

Edom was situated along the great trade routes between Syria and Egypt, this allowed the inhabitants to grow rich on tolls extracted from the many caravans making their way along the trade routes. Characterized by its red sandstone cliffs, rising to heights of more than 5,000 feet above sea level, Edom was easily fortified.

Much of the remains of this great city, which we now call Petra, can be seen today.

As a result of having made their home within this natural fortress, the people of Edom were free to wage war and levy tribute on others while themselves being relatively free of outside interference – sound familiar?

In Genesis 36 we learn that Edom is closely associated with Esau, the brother of Jacob. In Deuteronomy 23, the Jews were told, “Do not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother”.

Edom refused to give the Israelites passage in Numbers 20 after the Exodus, and we read how King David conquered the Edomites in 2 Samuel 8.

The end of Edom is shrouded in mystery. Widely known in ancient times and greatly admired, it was lost to western knowledge for nearly one thousand years until rediscovered by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burkhardt in 1812.

The city is entered through a narrow winding gorge or canyon, about a mile long and very narrow. On the average, it is about fifteen feet from towering wall to towering wall.

Toward the end of the passage the traveler suddenly comes to the first of the magnificent buildings that have been carved into the face of the rock.

According to Obadiah, on the occasion of an overthrow of Jerusalem by her enemies, the Edomites first stood by and then later participated in Judah’s misfortune both by raiding the city and by catching some of the escaping people of Judah and turning them over to their enemies (vv. 11–14).

Their pride and gloating over the misfortune of the Israelites, their kinsmen so to speak, brought God’s judgment.

We are reminded that God exalts a nation, then overtime, those in power see it as a cause for personal pride.

They boast that they are better than others and can even do without God.

Then God brings the nation down.

This has been the case with all the great kingdoms of the world. The pride of man, result of the fall, demonstrated at Babel and every civilization since.

Historians tell us that the world has seen twenty-one great civilizations, yet each has passed away making room for the next.

Egypt, Babylon, Greece, and Rome – all have fallen.

And so I imagine it will be with the great powers of our day – be it the Soviet Union, China or the United States.

No nation is ever going to be 100 percent Christian, and scripture teaches there will never be universal righteousness until the Lord himself returns to establish it.

I do not know what the future holds specifically for my children and this nation, but I do know God seeks a people who will humbly seek Him in prayer and righteousness, lovingly embracing Christ as Lord.

God will exalt a nation to the degree that it acknowledges its dependence on Him and seeks His righteousness.

Obadiah is a sobering reminder that, “the day of the LORD is near for all nations.”

Until next time… Keep reading!

Jim

Excerpts for this blog were taken from: The Minor Prophets, Obadiah, Volume 1 by James M. Boice