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2 Chronicles 36, Revelation 22, Malachi 4, John 21

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 36, Revelation 22, Malachi 4, John 21. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Malachi 4.

Our final Old Testament reading for 2016 sums up the entire message of the Bible pretty well in 6 short verses. First, God promised his day of judgment would come and destroy everyone who does evil (v. 1). But, in verse 2, he promised those who worship him (aka, “those who revere my name”) would not only escape God’s wrath, but they would also experience God’s presence dawning in their lives like the sun rising on a clear morning. His righteousness would bring healing, not destruction, for those who worship him and they would prosper (v. 2c) and participate in God’s defeat of his enemies (v. 3).

Until that happens, however, those who revere God’s name were to remember his word in obedience (v. 4). Finally, God would work to save many who are evil doers by sending his servant Elijah to turn hearts toward him and toward one another in reconciliation (vv. 5-6). This is a great passage on which to end 2016. Jesus is coming to fulfill these words; until he does, let’s hope in his promise, worship our Father, and live in obedience to his word.

My devotionals for 2017 start tomorrow but you have to subscribe to them. You will not automatically receive them if you’re subscribed to the 66in16 mailing list but, instead, you have to re-subscribe to the new list which you can find here.

If this is the end of the line for you, thank you for reading the Bible with me this year and for subscribing to and reading my devotionals. I hope they’ve been helpful to your spiritual life. If you choose not to re-subscribe to NT17, please keep the Bible reading habit going! Find or develop some kind of devotional reading plan for yourself. BibleGateway, the site that supplied the NIV text for us to read together this year, has a huge list of devotionals you can see here that you can subscribe to and read each day.

Or, if you want to do the same reading plan we did this year, Dr. D.A. Carson has a devotional blog that does what I did with 66in16--post the reading each day and include a daily devotional from one of the readings. You can see it here and subscribe to it here.

Happy new year and thanks again for reading with me this year!

2 Chronicles 35, Revelation 21, Malachi 3, John 20

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 35, Revelation 21, Malachi 3, John 20. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Malachi 3.

Malachi 3 began with the promise of the coming of Messiah (v. 1), then described the day of his coming in terms of cleansing (vv. 2-4) and judgment (v. 5). Many Old Testament prophecies predict in the same paragraph events that are fulfilled many years apart. Scholars compare this to looking at mountains through a telescope. From a distance, through a telescope, the mountain peaks appear to be very close together, but in reality there are miles between them. Here’s a YouTube video that explains it pretty well. So Malachi here in verse 1 predicted the coming of Messiah which was fulfilled in Jesus’ first coming, then in verses 2-5 he prophesied about what Messiah would do which will be fulfilled in Christ’s second coming.

Verse 6 reminded Israel of God’s covenant with her and that it remains valid because of God’s unchanging nature. Then, in verse 7, God called his people to repent and return to him in obedience. Specifically, he wanted them to return by tithing (v. 8). To paraphrase Jesus, “Your heart is where your money goes,” so by depriving the Lord’s work of the tithe, God’s people were showing their distance from him through financial disobedience. Verse 9 informed the people that the whole nation was under a curse for their refusal to tithe. Verse 10 commands them to bring “the whole tithe” to the temple so that his work would be provided for: “that there may be food in my house.” Then, amazingly, God commanded his people to test him (v. 10b), promising to bless them financially (v. 10c) and protect them financially, too, if they do what he has commanded.

New Testament believers question whether or not tithing is for today or whether it is part of the Old Testament civil & ceremonial law that was fulfilled in Christ. It is true that there are no New Testament commands to tithe. But the New Testament calls us to generous giving (2 Cor 9:6-15), promises eternal abundant rewards to those who give generously (Lu 6:38), and some degree of prosperity in this life so that we can continue to give (see 2 Cor 9:10-11). I believe that tithing is an excellent financial discipline for a Christian and I have seen God bless in my life and others who give generously to his work. So while there is no legalistic demand to tithe in the New Testament, the Christian who does not tithe should consider where his heart is (see Matt 6:19-21) and review the blessings God promises in the Old and New Testaments to those who worship him through financial support. It is truly a blessing to support God’s work financially. Don’t miss out on it!

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

2 Chronicles 34, Revelation 20, Malachi 2, John 19

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 34, Revelation 20, Malachi 2, John 19. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Malachi 2.

Malachi was the last prophet before the New Testament era whose prophecies were written down and included in the scriptures. This means, of course, that he lived and served the Lord after Israel and Judah had returned to the promised land after they were defeated and dislocated from the land by Assyria and Babylon. God’s people, who had struggled with idolatry all the way back to Moses, were finally cured of it after they returned to the land. Although they did not serve idols any more, they still struggled with genuine worship and service to God. Malachi wrote to God’s people to remind them of God’s love (1:1-5) and call them to genuine worship. He started with the priests who were offering damaged animals as sacrifices (1:6-14) and were not teaching the Law faithfully (2:1-9).

Starting in verse 10 Malachi broadened his audience from the priests to the Jewish people generally. He accuses them of breaking faith with God by marrying foreign women who did not worship the Lord (vv. 10-12). Although these Jewish men continued to worship the Lord (v. 13) their godless wives would eventually have turned their hearts back to idols; we’ve seen this numerous times in the Old Testament with Solomon being the highest profile example. So the Lord’s concern here was preserving the exclusive worship that the Assyrian and Babylonian defeats achieved.

The issue of foreign wives is deeper, however, than the idol worship of those foreign women. In order to marry these foreign wives, these Jewish men had divorced their Jewish wives (v. 14). Malachi reminded them that God was witness to the vows they made to their Jewish wives (v. 14) and that the spiritual problems they now faced were his judgment on their unfaithfulness (v. 13). Verse 15 reminded these Jewish men that they belonged to God who made them (v. 15a) and that what he wanted from them more than anything else was a family that worshipped him just as they did (v. 15b). Unfaithfulness and divorce destroyed God’s plan for godly families and it harmed women (v. 16) who would have to provide for themselves in a society where that was very difficult for a woman to do.

Times have changed. In the Bible only men had the legal authority to divorce; now husbands and wives both can terminate a marriage. Now, women can work to earn a living for themselves if they get divorced but in the Bible, men kept their ancestral property after a divorce so they could continue to earn a living. All a woman got when she was divorced was the bride-price her husband paid to her father when they were betrothed (engaged) and even that was sometimes spent. So a woman had only a few options when her husband divorced her--become a beggar, become a prostitute, or get remarried. Moses allowed for divorce so that women could remarry; it was designed to protect them from poverty or prostitution by forcing a man to clarify that he was completely releasing (repudiating, really) his wife. It gave her the ability to show another man that she was no longer legally bound to her first husband, so it was legally acceptable for the second man to marry her.

Although times have changed, God’s will regarding marriage has not. Those of us who worship God because of Christ made a covenant to our spouse before God. God is witness to that covenant and wants you to work together with your spouse to raise godly children. Unfaithfulness to your spouse puts God on his or her side against you (vv. 13-14) so it damages your spiritual life and jeopardizes God’s plan for your family. Divorce does the same thing which is why Jesus equated divorce with adultery and only allowed it if adultery had already occurred (Matt 5:32; 19:9).

So, protect your marriage! Guard it against outsiders who may be attracted to you and may seem attractive to you. Keep the covenant you made with your spouse and work with him or her as a team to raise a godly family and to have the loving relationship you both want from somebody.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

2 Chronicles 33, Revelation 19, Malachi 1, John 18

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 33, Revelation 19, Malachi 1, John 18. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read 2 Chronicles 33.

Some human governments move back and forth like a pendulum and that’s what Judah’s leadership was like at times during the divided kingdom. After all the good that Hezekiah did during his lifetime, his son Manasseh came in and reversed it all. Verse 2 declared that, “He did evil in the eyes of the Lord” and verses 3-6 catalog his sins which included idolatry (of course), desecration of the temple, child sacrifice, divination, witchcraft, and spiritism. His actions were so evil that verse 9 said, “Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites.”

God graciously sent his word to Judah (v. 10), then imposed punishment on him personally (v. 11). At his lowest point, however, “he humbled himself greatly” (v. 12b), “sought the Lord’s favor” (v. 12a) and God heard and delivered him (v. 13). This was genuine repentance, too, because verse 13c said, “Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.” He also “restored the altar of the the Lord” and “told Judah to serve the Lord, the God of Israel.”

So, if he was truly repentant and showed genuine fruit of repentance, why did verse 2 include him among the evil kings of Judah? The answer is that the phrases, “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” or “He did evil in the eyes of the Lord” describes the king’s leadership more than it does his personal walk with God. Of course, those two things are deeply linked and an ungodly leader is, of course, almost always an ungodly man. Manasseh is an unusual edge case. Although he repented, his repentance came after many years of ungodly living and ungodly leadership. His soul may have been saved after his repentance, but that did not erase the influence of his ungodly life and leadership. Despite his repentance, Manasseh was an unqualified evil influence as king of Judah, so that’s why he’ll always be considered an ungodly king, despite his repentance.

Here is a lesson for us about the foolishness of sin. I don’t know if anyone sins thinking, “I’ll just ask forgiveness for this later.” Our sinful choices usually involve more kind of self-deception and justification than that. But if anyone does think that way, they are missing a very important truth: your sin and mine leaves its mark on others. It gives them a way to justify their own sinful actions, a sort of “moral permission” that really isn’t moral at all but quiets their conscience enough to let them choose evil. If you have influence over many people, many more of those people will try out your sin for themselves. May God help us say no to sin not only for our own spiritual health but also to prevent sin from spreading to those who follow our lead.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

2 Chronicles 32, Revelation 18, Zechariah 14, John 17

We’re in the home stretch here! Thanks for sticking with me; hope this has been helpful to your Christian  life. If you want to get these devotionals next year (aka, this Sunday), YOU WILL HAVE TO RE-SUBSCRIBE. You can do that here: https://www.calvary-bible.org/blog/start-nt17.

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 32, Revelation 18, Zechariah 14, John 17Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read 2 Chronicles 32.

Hezekiah honored the Lord from his heart, led Judah to honor and seek the Lord, and God blessed the nation with spiritual renewal. That did not mean, however, that Hezekiah had it easy. Here in chapter 32 he had to deal with a significant military threat from Sennacherib king of Assyria. The Assyrians had built a powerful army and were intent on subjugating as many other nations as possible to their control. In verse 1, Sennacherib picked off some of the smaller fortified cities in Judah, then set his sights on defeating Jerusalem. Remember that David chose Jerusalem to be his capital because it was built on a high hill and surrounded by other mountains which made it difficult to attack successfully. Hezekiah did what he could to prepare Jerusalem for Sennacherib’s attack. He blocked off the springs of water outside the city so it wouldn’t be easy for the Assyrian army to camp there indefinitely (vv. 2-4). He also fixed the broken sections of Jerusalem’s wall and built some towers to improve surveillance around the city (v. 5a-b). He manufactured “large numbers of weapons and shields” (v. 5d) and built an outer wall and “reinforced the terraces of the City of David” (v. 5c).

[NOTE: I wrote a couple of paragraphs about the “City of David,” then decided that information really wasn’t relevant for a devotional. I included those graphs at the very end of this devotional, after my usual conclusion, if you care to read them.]

Hezekiah also prepared his army for the attack (vv. 7-8) and held fast against the propaganda war that Sennacherib waged (vv. 9-19). Most importantly, he prayed. He and Isaiah the great prophet waged war on their knees in this moment of crisis (v. 20) and God honored them by miraculously delivering Judah from Sennacherib (vv. 21-23). Later, when he contracted a fatal illness, God honored his faith and his prayers by healing him (v. 24).

What an amazing life this man led, yet because he was a man he was not immune from sin. He had many victories and much success (vv. 27-29) but he also struggled with pride (vv. 25-26). This temptation follows many people who achieve everything, or most things, they want in life. We forget how much God and others contribute to our success and we start thinking that we have all the answers and deserve everything we’ve gotten. God hates pride and those who succumb to its temptation usually find themselves humbled in some way before him. The ultimate test of pride is whether one is repentant or not when God deals a blow to their pride. Hezekiah did repent (v. 26) and God was merciful to him to a degree (v. 26b). His story reminds us to be careful about our thoughts when things go well for us. If you’ve had a great year in 2016, I am happy for you and wish you even better things in 2017 but remember to thank and praise God rather than taking too much credit in your heart. God loves humility and rewards the humble but the proud he usually brings to humility.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.


Let’s talk about that phrase, “The City of David” for a second. Sometimes this phrase is used to describe Jerusalem generally but, in this context and most of the time, it means something more specific. When David conquered the Jebusites and took Jerusalem from them, it was more of a garrison--a fortress--than a city. David moved right into that fortress and inhabited it but outside that fortress there were still Jebusites who lived in the open fields farming the land and using it for pasture. When David angered the Lord and an angel threatened to destroy Jerusalem, David went out of the fortress called Jerusalem and bought a field from a Jebusite named Araunah. There David sacrificed an offering to God and, since he owned that land now, he dedicated it to be the site of the new temple that Solomon would build. See 2 Samuel 24 and 2 Chronicles 3:1.

So Solomon expanded Jerusalem beyond the original fortress that David took from the Jebusites and made it into a real city. The original fortress was still a walled garrison within the city of Jerusalem and THAT is what is meant by the “City of David”--the original fortress that the Jebusites built and that David took to be his capital city.

2 Chronicles 31, Revelation 17, Zechariah 13:2–9, John 16

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 31, Revelation 17, Zechariah 13:2–9, John 16. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read 2 Chronicles 31.

Hezekiah restored the temple and the priesthood (chapter 29) led Judah to observe the Passover again after generations of ignoring it (chapter 30), and called his people to return to serving and worshipping the Lord from the heart (also chapter 30). God worked through his leadership and the people responded favorably to the Lord. The word “revival” is used whenever a large number of people turn or return to the Lord. Here in 2 Chronicles 31, we see the results of genuine revival from the heart.

The first result is the removal of idols. Idolatry was a constant struggle within Israel and Judah and even when godly kings ruled, it was still practiced in secret. After God revived the hearts of his people under Hezekiah, they voluntarily destroyed their own idols as a result (v. 1). This demonstrates a true repentance--a true turning from sin to serve the Lord alone. It is what happens in our lives, too, when God works to revive and strengthen our commitment to him.

Another result of revival is giving to the Lord’s work from the heart (vv. 2-19). The Levites and priests had abandoned their ministries, as we saw in chapter 29. This was partially due to their own disobedience and partially due to the lack of funding they were receiving from God’s people. After God worked through Hezekiah to revive the hearts of people, the people gave so generously to the Lord’s work that the priests and Levites had more than enough for themselves (vv. 9-10). How did this happen? People started tithing faithfully (vv. 5-6). When people were faithful in tithing, there was more than enough to provide for God’s work and God’s servants. In fact, there was so much more than what was needed that the priests just starting piling it up (vv. 7-8) and built storerooms to warehouse it all (vv. 11-13). In addition to providing for the priests, were two additional results to this faithful tithing. First, there was heartfelt praise and thanks to the Lord for his provision (v. 8). Second, there was adequate provision for more men to dedicate themselves to serve the Lord (vv. 16-19).

This is what happens when God works in a group of people. People stop loving and start hating and repudiating their idols and they start giving faithfully to God’s work. As God’s work is better funded, his servants are able to do more for him and a virtuous cycle begins.

What is the state of your heart before the Lord? Are you praying for God to revive the hearts of people in our church and our community?

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

2 Chronicles 30, Revelation 16, Zechariah 12:1–13:1, John 15

Merry Christmas!

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 30, Revelation 16, Zechariah 12:1–13:1, John 15. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Zechariah 12:1–13:1.

Today’s passage from Zechariah is not nearly as well-known as other prophecies of Christ but it is an important one because it foretold the sufferings of Christ on the cross. After promising destruction to Israel’s enemies (12:1-9), God promised “a spirit of grace and supplication” for “the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (v. 10). Surprisingly, however, after prophesying grace and supplication, Zechariah immediately said, “They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son” (v. 10). You may recognize the first part of this verse from John 19:37 where John quoted it as fulfilled at the crucifixion of Christ. While not everyone in Jerusalem mourned the death of Christ, the faithful disciples who followed Jesus did, just as this passage said.

But what brings together the two seemingly disjoined ideas in verse 10--the idea that there would be “grace and supplication” while “they look on me, the one they have pierced and they will mourn for him...?” The answer is provided in Zechariah 13:1: “On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.” This is why Christ was pierced and how his piercing could provide “grace and supplication.” His death on the cross for us became a fountain that cleanses sinners from sin and impurity. This is something to remember and be thankful for on Christmas morning! As we gather to worship together this morning, prepare your heart by giving thanks for the fountain of grace and forgiveness that Jesus is for us.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

2 Chronicles 29, Revelation 15, Zechariah 11, John 14

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 29, Revelation 15, Zechariah 11, John 14. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read 2 Chronicles 29.

Unlike the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Judah had some kings who served God--eight of them (out of 20) to be exact. The degree to which they served God, however, varied widely from one godly king to another as we have seen. Here in 2 Chronicles 29 we read again about Hezekiah, one of Judah’s best kings. After introducing him in verses 1 and 2, the author of 2 Chronicles began telling us how bad things had gotten in Judah when Hezekiah became king. Hezekiah “opened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them” (v. 3b) because the previous generations had “turned their faces away from the Lord’s dwelling place and turned their backs on him. They also shut the doors of the portico and put out the lamps. They did not burn incense or present any burnt offerings at the sanctuary to the God of Israel” (vv. 6b-7). The magnificent temple Solomon built and dedicated was neglected and in disrepair, a fitting symbol for Judah’s spiritual condition as well. It needed to be fixed up and cleansed both physically and spiritually (v. 5). When Judah turned away from the Lord in previous generations, many of the priests also abandoned their work of serving the Lord (v. 34). So there was much to do if Hezekiah wanted to restore Israel’s ability to worship the Lord biblically.

Despite all that needed to be done, Hezekiah wasted no time before starting Judah on a path of worship reformation. In verse 3 we are told that he started this reformation, “In the first month of the first year of his reign.” Of all the things he sought to change and improve as king of his nation, obedience to the Lord in national worship was A1 on his priority list. As you look at your life here at the end of 2016, what do you want to change? Do you want to eat healthier? Exercise more? Spend more time with your children? Strengthen your marriage? Paint your house? Get trained in some area of your work so that your career can move to the next level? All of these are good things but far less important than your walk with God.

When I was growing up, preachers used to encourage us to “get dedicated” or “rededicated” to the Lord’s work. Many of them meant something theologically that is unbiblical so I have resisted using that language in my preaching. Instead, I try to encourage people to be obedient to the Lord today and do the same thing tomorrow. But this passage indicates that maybe there is something to be said for making a renewed covenant to serve the Lord, as Hezekiah did in verse 10, after a time of disobedience or half-hearted obedience. Maybe that’s something to consider in your life this Christmas eve.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

2 Chronicles 27–28, Revelation 14, Zechariah 10, John 13

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 27–28, Revelation 14, Zechariah 10, John 13. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read 2 Chronicles 27-28.

In times of trouble, many people turn to the Lord for help. This is how some people become Christians; it is also how many people believers grow in their faith and become stronger Christians. In contrast to all of that was Ahaz king of Judah that we read about in 2 Chronicles 28. Although he was the son of Jotham a man who “walked steadfastly before the Lord his God” (27:6), Ahaz “did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord” (28:1). He practiced idolatry, of course, but also stooped to child sacrifice (v. 3: “sacrificed his children in the fire”).

In response to his disobedient life, God allowed the Arameans to defeat him (v. 5a) and the Northern Kingdom of Israel as well (vv. 5b-8). The Israelites were especially brutal to Judah (vv. 6-8) until God sent a prophet to keep Israel from going too far (vv. 9-15). Instead falling before the Lord in humble repentance after these defeats, Ahaz humbled himself before the Assyrians (v. 16) and sought their help defeating the attacking Edomites (vv. 17-21). When the Assyrians made things worse instead of better (v. 20), Ahaz still did not seek the Lord. Instead, “In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord. He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus, who had defeated him; for he thought, ‘Since the gods of the kings of Aram have helped them, I will sacrifice to them so they will help me.’ But they were his downfall and the downfall of all Israel.”

This is how unbelievers typically respond when the wages of sin catch up with them. Some unbelievers, of course, find Christ in these painful, difficult circumstances but others harden their hearts and choose to sin even more in defiance against God. At times we as believers do the same thing. We sin, God allows consequences for our sin and, to alleviate those consequences, we sin more hoping things will get better.

But they don’t get better! More sin adds up to more pain and consequences in our lives. Let’s learn from Ahaz and turn to the Lord in our times of trouble, trusting him to rescue us when we humble ourselves before him. If you’re struggling with a sin or its consequences and are looking for a way out, turn to the Lord and find your way out through honest repentance and humble obedience to his word.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

2 Chronicles 26, Revelation 13, Zechariah 9, John 12

f you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 26, Revelation 13, Zechariah 9, John 12. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read 2 Chronicles 26.

The life story of Uzziah is a sad one. It is about a man with great potential whose reign as king began in spiritual victory but whose life ended in disgrace. Although he became king at the tender age of 16 (v. 1, 3), he was graced with a godly advisor and mentor in the person Zechariah (v. 5). Although Zechariah “instructed him the fear of God” (v. 5b), it was Uzziah’s choice to follow the Lord in obedience or not. Every king in Judah and Israel had the power to do what he wanted. The priests and the prophets and good advisors could speak truth to the king and urge him to obey God’s word, but they had no power to stop an ungodly king from ungodly actions. Uzziah began his reign by listening to Zechariah’s godly advice and using the stewardship of power as king for good. What was the result? “As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success” (v. 5).

That success was defined by his military wins (vv. 6-7), the voluntary submission of the Ammonites (v. 8a), widespread fame (v. 8b), great building projects (vv. 9-10), and a powerful, well-equipped army (vv. 11-15). What an impressive resume!

Unfortunately, Uzziah read (and believed!) too much of his adoring press coverage. He began to believe that his success was a testament to his skill and wisdom rather than the blessing of God on his obedience. As a result, “his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God” (v. 16b). His pride expressed itself in his attempt to be both priest and king (vv. 17-19a). God brought judgment on his head (literally, v. 19b) for his pride and his once-good spiritual leadership ended in disgrace.

I wish this were only Uzziah’s story but it isn’t. Too many servants of the Lord have gotten high on the success God granted them and believed that it was their own wisdom and skill that achieved that success. God, however, has a way of humbling the proud by letting us follow our own desires and “wisdom” down a path of disobedience that leads to his discipline. As I’ve mentioned before, there are two ways to become wise: (1) learn from your mistakes and (2) learn from someone else’s mistakes and avoid those mistakes before you make them yourself. Let’s guard our hearts, then, against the sin of pride. Let’s remember that it is God’s blessing that causes our lives and ministries to thrive (v. 5) and to continually humble ourselves before him in full dependence throughout our lives.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

2 Chronicles 25, Revelation 12:1–13:1, Zechariah 8, John 11

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 25, Revelation 12:1–13:1, Zechariah 8, John 11. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read 2 Chronicles 25.

Amaziah followed his father Joash as king of Israel. He also followed his inconsistent spiritual leadership. Verse 2 said, “ He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not wholeheartedly.” He was obedient to the Law when it came to punishing his father’s assassins (vv. 3-4) and when he was told not to hire soldiers from Israel (vv. 5-10). But he stooped to idolatry after defeating the Edomites and taking their gods even though, as a prophet put it to him, “Why do you consult this people’s gods, which could not save their own people from your hand?”

That question makes the folly of idolatry so clear, doesn’t it? But it is easy for us to fall into the same kinds of traps. We fall for materialism even though God’s word warns us against it and we know from our own experience that new possessions lose their allure quickly. We turn to secular wisdom when we need advice and counsel instead of God’s word. We follow our own desires or our own thinking even though it runs counter to God’s commands and has led us astray before. This is why we need a steady supply of truth in our lives, through daily Bible reading and consistent Bible teaching, to remind us and help guard us against the folly of false gods and unbiblical ideas.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

2 Chronicles 24, Revelation 11, Zechariah 7, John 10

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 24, Revelation 11, Zechariah 7, John 10. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Zechariah 7.

During the 70 years that Judah was captive to Babylon, the Jewish people began a tradition of fasting in the fifth and seventh month of each year (vv. 3-4). The purpose of this fast was, on the surface at least, to beg the Lord to end the captivity, return his people to the promised land, and restore the temple. But the temple was now being rebuilt and many people were returning to Judah, so this delegation wanted to know if the fasting was still necessary.

Zechariah’s answer was long and did not conclude until chapter 8, but his entire answer challenged the questioners more than it answered the question. The Lord asked the people, “...was it really for me that you fasted? And when you were eating and drinking, were you not just feasting for yourselves?” (vv. 6-7). A fast of true repentance would have honored the Lord but a mere ritual that everyone observed as a matter of custom meant as little to the Lord as it did to the people observing the fast. Likewise, their “normal” days of eating and drinking were done without any regard for the Lord. They did not give thanks for the food he provided or enjoy it as an act of worship from grateful hearts. Both their religious observance and their daily habits were done for themselves, not as servants of God seeking to please him.

Instead, God wanted his people to live like him daily, showing justice, mercy and compassion by caring for widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor rather than using the vulnerabilities of these groups as levers to exploit them. This is the kind of worship God wants, not because he expected people to work to earn his favor but because these ethics were evidence of a truly changed heart.

Think about your daily choices--to eat or not to eat, to read God’s word and pray or not, to attend church or sleep in, to be kind and helpful to others or to ignore their needs. Does your walk with God drive the decisions you make on these (and other) things or do you choose what you will and won’t do based on your own personal motivations?

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/calvarybiblechurch/. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

2 Chronicles 22–23, Revelation 10, Zechariah 6, John 9

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 22–23, Revelation 10, Zechariah 6, John 9. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Zechariah 6.

Zechariah is one of the prophets who received the Lord’s word through highly dramatic, visual, symbolic visions. Here in chapter 6 he saw “two mountains” made of bronze (v. 1) and four chariots with horses of many colors (v. 3). These horses and chariots represented “the four spirits of heaven” going from the Lord throughout the earth (v. 5). The point of his vision was that the unrest with Babylon, which resulted in the Babylonian captivity of Judah, was over (vv. 8-10). God’s people are now returning to their covenant land and will be at rest.

In verses 10-11 Zechariah was instructed to get gold and silver from some of the exiles who had returned from Babylon and make a crown to put on the head of Joshua the high priest. Then Zechariah was to give Joshua a word from the Lord, “Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord. It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.’” Our translation seems to imply that Joshua is the Branch and will serve as both priest and king. However, the Hebrew indicates something else. The translation “here is” is not meant to indicate, “Here, this guy, Joshua is the Branch.” Instead, it is meant to convey something like, “Look, Joshua here symbolizes one who is called ‘The Branch.’” The one who is referred to as, “The Branch” will give life to Israel by building the temple of the Lord, receiving the majesty of the king, and being Israel’s priest as well as her king (v. 13). Verse 13 concluded by saying, “‘And there will be harmony between the two.’” After years of struggle between kings--some of whom lived to honor the Lord and many more of whom did not--the Branch would unite the kingship and priesthood of Israel in one person. This is, of course, a prophecy of Jesus. He is our king, our Lord but also our savior, the one who made atonement for us.

Israel is still waiting for this priest-king to finish his work of unifying the nation politically and religiously and, since we have been grafted into the branch by God’s grace, we wait with Israel for this fulfillment as well. As we look forward to Christmas on Sunday, we remember not only coming of Jesus our Lord and Savior but also the promises he will fulfill when God’s time for them comes.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

2 Chronicles 21, Revelation 9, Zechariah 5, John 8

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 21, Revelation 9, Zechariah 5, John 8. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read 2 Chronicles 21.

For all the good that he did, Jehoshaphat was unable to leave Israel with a godly successor. His son Jehoram got to be king because “he was his firstborn son” (v. 3c). That’s a very good reason for choosing someone to be your successor. Solomon, for instance, was not David’s firstborn son; not even close. Jehoram must have felt some insecurity about his reign because when he had “established himself firmly over his father’s kingdom, he put all his brothers to the sword along with some of the officials of Israel” (v. 4). He also married one of Ahab’s daughters who evidently influenced him toward idol worship (v. 6, 11).

God was gracious to Jehoram, to a point, despite his murder and idolatry, but that was only due to his covenant promise to David (v. 7). Although God did not remove him from being king, he did bring severe trials into Jehoram’s life because of his sins:

  • He faced rebellion from the Edomites (vv. 8-10) “because Jehoram had forsaken the Lord, the God of his ancestors” (v. 10b).
  • He received a stern letter of warning from Elijah (vv. 12-15).
  • He lost when attacked by Philistines and others (vv. 16-17).
  • He contracted an incurable bowel disease (vv. 18-19) and “died in great pain” (v. 19b).

Since Jehoshaphat ran such a tight ship religiously when he was king, one might reason that Israel enjoyed having Jehoram, a fellow idol worshipper, follow him and loosen things up. No such luck, though; when he died, “His people made no funeral fire in his honor, as they had for his predecessors” (v. 19c). Ouch! Verse 20 summed up his eight year reign this way, “He passed away, to no one’s regret, and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.”

That phrase, ““He passed away, to no one’s regret” has been on my mind today. I read this passage earlier in the day and that description has stuck with me. It is foolish to live so that others regret your death. You’ll spend your life trying to please everyone and it is difficult to do that and please God at the same time since God wants you to be holy and everyone else wants to be unholy. But look at Jehoshaphat. He made some dumb decisions, but he lived for the glory of God to the best of his ability and he is remembered for that. Proverbs 28:12 says, “When the righteous triumph, there is great elation; but when the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding.” The way to be remembered well at your funeral is to live a righteous life and be the best manager for the Lord of whatever power and influence he gives you. People may be repelled by your high standards, your ethics, and your morals but over time they will respect the steady leadership you have provided.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

2 Chronicles 19–20, Revelation 8, Zechariah 4, John 7

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 19–20, Revelation 8, Zechariah 4, John 7 Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read 2 Chronicles 19-20.

We read yesterday about the foolish alliance that the godly king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, made with the ungodly king of Israel, Ahab. God saved Jehoshaphat even though he went into battle dressed like a target (see 18:29-31) and he caused Ahab to be killed even though he was trying to avoid detection (18:33-34). Here in chapter 19, a prophet named Jehu rebuked Jehoshaphat for his alliance with Ahab (vv. 1-2). Although “the wrath of the Lord” was on Jehoshaphat (v. 2b) he was still man who set his “heart on seeking God” (v. 3b). What were the evidences of that his heart was set on seeking God?

First, he turned others to seeking God. Chapter 19 verse 4 told us that he reached out to the people “from Beersheba to the hill country of Ephraim.” This is a large area around Jerusalem, where Jehoshaphat lived. Beersheba was far to the south of Jerusalem, encompassing all of Judah and Simeon as well as a number of Israel’s enemies. “The hill country of Ephraim” was the area due north of Jerusalem, including the tribes of Benjamin and Dan. These are areas that belonged to the Northern Kingdom of Israel but Jehoshaphat travelled around these places “and turned them back to the Lord, the God of their ancestors” (19:4b).

Second, he delegated justice to others but charged them to judge in the fear of God (19:5-11). One man cannot do all that needs to be done, but a godly leader both delegates the work and urges those responsible to do the work in a way that pleases God because they fear God.

Third, he trusted God to keep His covenant (20:6-7) and defend His people (20:1-13), looking to God in prayer for these promises. Because of his faith God answered his prayers and miraculously delivered Judah from their attackers (20:14-26).

Fourth, he gave thanks and praise to God in worship when God delivered Judah from her enemies (20:27-28).

Jehoshaphat did some really stupid things (see 18:29-32 again. Sheesh). His obedience was imperfect (20:33) and failed to learn his lesson at times (20:35-36). God even disciplined him for some of these things (20:37). But because his heart was set on seeking God (19:3), God was merciful to him when he disciplined him and God blessed the areas where he was wise and faithful to the Lord.

Isn’t that encouraging? Even though he messed up a lot, his efforts to do right were blessed and praised by God because they came from a sincere heart of obedience. I hope this gives you some comfort and encouragement to keep seeking the Lord and striving to do what’s right. I hope it helps you not to be discouraged when the Lord’s discipline comes into your life but to keep seeking him for as long as you live.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

2 Chronicles 18, Revelation 7, Zechariah 3, John 6

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 18, Revelation 7, Zechariah 3, John 6. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Zechariah 3.

One of the most important truths people need to grasp in order to understand our salvation is the concept of “imputation.” Imputation is a theological name for the truth that our salvation is given to us--imputed to us or credited to us--by God. God declares us to be not guilty and righteous in his sight even though we are actually guilty and unrighteous. 

Zechariah 3 gives us a clear picture to help us understand imputation. In verse 1 a man named Joshua is facing the angel of the Lord but Satan is standing next to Joshua also. Verse 1 tells us that Joshua is “the high priest.” This indicates that he represents the whole nation; that’s what the high priest does when he goes to offer the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement. 

Satan stood next to Joshua “to accuse him.” He was ready to bring up every sin he’d ever committed in order to show that he was not a holy man but one who deserved God’s punishment. In verse 2, however, the Lord rebuked Satan and then said this, “Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” That statement indicates that Joshua has been saved. He was in the fire, about to be consumed for his sins, but the Lord snatched him from that judgment.

However, he was still burning because the Lord said, “Is not this man a burning stick....” So he had been rescued for the moment, but was still deserving of punishment. Verse 3 changes the imagery and notes that Joshua was “dressed in filthy clothes.” This was another way of conveying his guilt. In verse 4, the angel of the Lord decreed that his filthy clothes be exchanged for “fine garments” that the Lord would put on him. The meaning of this exchange: “I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.” God imputed righteousness to him as symbolized by his rescue from the fire and the exchange of his robes.

After completing the clothing change for Joshua (v. 5) and charging him to live obediently to the Lord (vv. 6-7), the Lord explained the meaning of this vision. First, he told them that this was about things in the future: “...who are men symbolic of things to come...” (v. 8). In the future, then, the Lord promised, “I am going to bring my servant, the Branch.... and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day” (vv. 8-9).

This is what God has done for us in Christ. He rescued us from certain destruction and exchanged our guilt for his righteousness. And this is prophesied in the Old Testament because this is what God always intended. Israel never kept his laws because sinners are incapable of keeping the law of God without God’s gracious work in our lives. If you’ve come to know Jesus, “the Branch,” by faith, then no matter what you’ve done in your life or how guilty you feel, God silences the accusations of Satan against you and you stand before him perfect. This perfection came to you by imputation, when God credited to filthy sinners like you and me the perfect righteousness of Christ. 

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

2 Chronicles 17, Revelation 6, Zechariah 2, John 5

Thanks for reading along with me this year. If you'd like to continue this practice in 2017, click here for details about NT17, my devotional plan for next year. You can sign up on that page; the mailing list you're on now will be discontinued on December 31 after the last 66 in 16 devotional goes out.

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 17, Revelation 6, Zechariah 2, John 5 Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Zechariah 2.

In this chapter Zechariah learned what life would be like in the future city of Jerusalem. In verse 1 he met a man who was on his way to measure Jerusalem but by verse 3 the man had been stopped by an angel because the city would be beyond measure. According to verse 4 it would be “a city without walls,” full of people and animals, guarded and illuminated by the Lord himself (v. 5). This describes Jerusalem as it will be during Christ’s earthly kingdom--the Millennium (v. 10). Although Israel, God’s covenant people, are gathered into this city (vv. 6-9), they are not the only ones who will enjoy this amazing life. “Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you” (v. 11). This is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abram that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen 12:3b). This is why the gospel was for the Gentiles just as much as it was for the Jews. Our presence there in Jesus’ kingdom was part of God’s plan all along and it shows God’s love and grace to us regardless of who we are or where we came from. There is a bright future ahead for the human race but it will arrive through the fulfillment of Christ’s promises, not through technological breakthroughs, political planning, or military conquest. When the cares and problems of this life drag us down, a passage like this can return our gaze to God and his plan. Great things await those who trust in Jesus!

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

2 Chronicles 16, Revelation 5, Zechariah 1, John 4

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 16, Revelation 5, Zechariah 1, John 4. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read 2 Chronicles 16.

Asa began well as a spiritual leader but, as we read today in 2 Chronicles 16, he changed for the worse as he grew older. Verses 7-10 told us that Asa was rebuked by Hanani, a prophet, for trusting in Ben-Hadad the king of Aram instead of God for diplomatic success. Although his alliance with Ben-Hadad worked (vv. 4-6), the Lord was not consulted or trusted for success. Likewise, when Asa faced a “severe” foot disease, “he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians” (v. 12). He had forgotten how the Lord encouraged him and strengthened him to remove the idols from Israel as we read yesterday in chapter 15. Now, in his older years, he was satisfied with living and ruling based on his own wisdom and cunning. This was both dishonoring to God and foolish for Asa because, as verse 9 said, “...the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” God was there for Asa and would have rewarded his faith with strength and skill and wisdom to face these problems but Asa refused God’s grace and chose to live by his own insight.

It is easy to see how foolish this was for Asa but to miss how often we make the same kind of choice. We can be tempted to live our daily lives as if God did not exist, making decisions without asking for his help, his wisdom, or his blessing on us. Blessed is the one who learns to rely on the Lord throughout all of his life and even more so as he gets older.

One more lesson from this passage. Verse 10 records that “Asa was angry with the seer because of this; he was so enraged that he put him in prison.” All this prophet did was bring truth to Asa, truth that would have surrounded the king in God’s grace if he had chosen to believe it and obey it. Instead of receiving the Lord’s rebuke, however, Asa “was angry with the seer.” This happens to us sometimes, too, doesn’t it? How often does someone bring truth into our lives to help us change and we resist their words and become angry with the messenger rather than receiving the truth in the message. May we learn to always receive truth for what it is--the gracious gift of God to us. It may hurt us in the moment, but that wound will keep us from the long-term damage that unaddressed sin will certainly bring in the future.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

2 Chronicles 14–15, Revelation 4, Haggai 2, John 3

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 14–15, Revelation 4, Haggai 2, John 3. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read 2 Chronicles 14-15.

We read about King Asa back in 1 Kings 15 and I wrote about him here. Today’s passage here in 2 Chronicles 14-15 is a lengthier account of Asa’s life with more detail than we saw in 1 Kings 15. 2 Chronicles 15 told us that a prophet spoke to Asa which encouraged the king to begin the reforms that he is known for. In the middle of verse 2 we read these words, “The Lord is with you when you are with him.” How often do we use that kind of language in our prayers: “Be with me, Lord, as I....” This passage (and plenty of others) teach us that the answer to that prayer depends a lot on what follows the words, “...as I....” Often such prayers are asking God to bless and prosper what we want to do. “Be with me, Lord, as I drive to Atlanta.” “Be with me, Lord, as I ask for a raise.” “Be with me, Lord, as I get this biopsy.” There is nothing wrong with these prayers but they are somewhat misguided. What God is about is saving people and making them holy. So God may see your request differently than you do. When we ask God to “be with” us, we are asking him to give us the outcome we want--a safe trip to Atlanta, the raise in pay we’re asking for, a negative biopsy. But God may want to use the opposite of what you expect when you ask him to “be with” you to make you holy. Or, he may use something different than what you expect to bring someone else to faith in him.

Far more important than asking God to be with us is to understand that “The Lord is with you when you are with him” (v. 2). He’s already promised his presence with us and that will work all things together for our good. What we should look for, then, is where we are out of alignment with what God wants and get into alignment. In other words, instead of asking God to be on our side, we should ask God to show us where his side is so that we can get on it. That’s the encouragement Asa received. He knew that God wanted him to remove idolatry from Israel. This verse was spoken to him by the prophet to get him to move; that is, so that he would start cleansing the idolatry just as God wanted him to do.

Have you been asking God just to be with you in anything and everything you want to do? Isn’t it more honoring to God when we look for what he is already doing and get on that side?

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/calvarybiblechurch/. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

2 Chronicles 13, Revelation 3, Haggai 1, John 2

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 13, Revelation 3, Haggai 1, John 2. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Haggai 1.

As you no doubt have noticed, most of the prophets we’ve read prophesied judgment was coming for Israel or Judah or both. Haggai was one of the prophets who spoke the Lord’s word after his people were returned from exile. 

Here in chapter 1, the Lord challenged the people through Haggai for returning to the land and building their own houses (v. 4) but doing nothing to rebuild the temple (v. 2, 4). Their reasoning for this was, “’The time has not yet come....’” Undoubtedly there was still a lot of work to be done in Jerusalem. A city that has been destroyed by the Babylonians would take a long time to rebuild. Their plan, however, suggested wrong priorities. Instead of understanding that their security and prosperity were consequences of faith in and obedience to God, they believed that taking care of business was most important and then, “we’ll get to the Lord’s work when things are humming along nicely again.” 

Verses 5-11 explained the outcome of their misplaced priorities. Though they had worked hard (“planted much”) they were struggling to make ends meet (“harvest little... earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it” (v. 6)). This was all the Lord’s doing as he explained in verses 9-10: “‘What you brought home, I blew away. Why?’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops.’” Through Haggai, then, the Lord taught his people to change their priorities and see worship as far more important by rebuilding the temple (v. 8). 

Unlike the past, God’s people at this time received the message of the Lord’s prophet (v. 12). Their resolve to rebuild the temple and their obedience to that intention (v. 14) was met with the Lord’s favor: “I am with you” (v. 13b). 

What struggles are you facing now? Work problems or business struggles? Rebellious children? Strained friendships? A too-tight budget at home? Maybe this is just the Lord’s will for you now to teach you patience and strengthen your faith. But, have you considered that maybe the Lord is holding too low a priority in your life? You’re working harder than ever but that leaves less time for prayer and Bible reading. You’re trying to spend more time with your kids but that means you’re choosing recreation over church attendance frequently. Consider the frustrations you face in your life might be the Lord’s discipline in your life and that this passage is calling you to reassess your priorities and put more attention into your walk with God. Then, do what it takes to give the Lord his proper place. It may seem tough to find time to rebuild your walk with God but remember the Lord’s encouraging promise: “‘I am with you,’ declares the Lord.”

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.