One Year Bible: Days 334-343; Zechariah; Revelation 1:1-2:17; Psalms 136:13-140:5; 1 John 2:12-5:21; 2 John; 3 John; Jude; Daniel 7-12; Proverbs 29:10-30:10
Daniel 7:1-8:14; 1 John 2:12-27; Psalm 136:13-26
Daniel 7:13-14 looks forward, prophetically, to the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the future towards which history is moving, the future towards which God is working, the future of the Kingdom of God. This world is passing away, "but the man who does the will of God lives for ever" (1 John 2:17). Psalm 136 continues to emphasize, over and over again, that "His love endures for ever." This love does not guarantee salvation to those who refuse to welcome God's Son, Jesus Christ, as their Saviour. Responding to God's love by doing His will, we receive, eternal life. Those who belong to the Lord, those whom He has redeemed, are His for ever. Psalm 136 contains the contrast between Israel and Egypt. Israel are brought through the midst of the Red Sea. Pharaoh and his army are swept into the Red Sea (Psalm 136:13-15). The Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ will bring the ultimate division of men and women. There are those who belong to Christ. For them, there is salvation. There are those who have refused Christ. For them, there is judgment.
Daniel 8:15-9:19; 1 John 2:28-3:10; Proverbs 29:10-18
There is real urgency about Daniel's prayer: "O Lord, look with favour on Your desolate sanctuary ... O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act!" (Daniel 9:17,19). We do need to pray with urgency. There are many who seek to lead us astray (1 John 3:7) - "Bloodthirsty men hate a man of integrity and seek to kill the upright" (Proverbs 29:10). Who can help us in this situation? - Only the Lord: "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work" (1 John 3:8). He alone will give us strength to "continue in Him, so that when He appears we may be confident and unashamed before Him at His Coming" (1 John 2:28).
Daniel 9:20-11:1; 1 John 3:11-4:6; Psalm 137:1-9
"When He spoke to me, I was strengthened" (Daniel 10:19). The strength we receive from the Lord is a greater strength than the temptations we face - "the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). To know that we receive such strength from the Lord is very encouraging when we are mocked by "our tormentors" (Psalm 137:3). Their scorn makes us wonder, "How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?" (Psalm 137:4). When this question arises in our hearts, "God who is greater than our hearts" (1 John 3:20) speaks His Word, and we are strengthened with the strength which comes from Him, His strength. With His strength, we are able to sing "songs of joy" (Psalm 137:3). We have this testimony - "The joy of the Lord is my strength." By ourselves, we are cast down with weeping (Psalm 137:1). Strengthened by the Lord, we have joy. We rejoice in Him.
Daniel 11:2-35; 1 John 4:7-21; Psalm 138:1-8
Daniel 11 is concerned with conflict. This is part of our spiritual experience as well as Israel's military experience. There is an enemy who opposes the Lord and His people. Nevertheless, "the people who know their God will firmly resist him" (Daniel 11:32). How are we able to resist the enemy? We are strengthened by love, the love of God. We learn to love God as we learn to appreciate His love for us: "We love because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). This love, His love, gives us the strength to firmly resist the enemy. God's love is a faithful love - "Your love, O Lord, endures for ever" (Psalm 138:8). His love and His faithfulness belong together - "Your love and Your faithfulness" (Psalm 138:2). How do we know of the faithful love of God? - Through His Name and His Word: "You have exalted above all things Your Name and Your Word" (Psalm 138:2). As the Name of the Lord and the Word of the Lord become precious to us, so the love of the Lord becomes real to us, the strength of the Lord is given to us and the enemy is firmly resisted.
Daniel 11:36-12:13; 1 John 5:1-21; Psalm 139:1-10
Scripture speaks of "the time of wrath" (Daniel 11:36), "a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then" (Daniel 12:1). For some, this will bring "shame and everlasting contempt." Through the grace of God, others will receive "everlasting life" (Daniel 12:20). This "everlasting life" is in Christ - "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life." Scripture also contains the Word of warning - "He who does not have the Son does not have life" (1 John 5:12-12). As we hear Scripture speaking to us concerning eternal life, we say in our hearts, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain" (Psalm 139:6). Too wonderful? Too lofty? - Yes, but, by the grace of God, it is given to us - "I write these things to you who believe in the Name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:13).
Haggai 1:1-2:23; 2 John 1-13; Proverbs 29:19-27
God calls His people - "Be strong" (Haggai 2:4). This call comes to the "governor", "the high priest" and "all you people of the land" (Haggai 2:2). We need spiritual strength in government, in the Church and throughout the land. This strength is needed if we are to build upon the sure foundation of truth. The Lord's work is to be built up. This can only be done when we stand for the truth in the face of "many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh" (2 John 7). John tells us that we must take care to ensure fruitfulness in the Lord's work - "Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully" (2 John 8). The danger we must take care to avoid is described pictorially in Haggai 1:6 - "You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it." When we hear a message such as this, we must receive it with humility and not with pride - "A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honour" (Proverbs 29:23).
Zechariah 1:1-4:14; 3 John 1-14; Psalm 139:11-16
The removal of sin (Zechariah 3:4,9) and the restoration of glory: Here, we have a great description of salvation, wiping out the sin of the past, giving an anticipatory glimpse of the glory to come. The past is forgiven. The future is promised. What about the present - "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord" (Zechariah 4:6). This life in the Spirit - lived between the forgiven sin (the past) and the glory to come (the future) - is to be a life of "working together for the truth" (3 John 4). As we live this life in the Spirit, we enjoy the "peace" of God (3 John 14). This peace arises in our hearts as we learn to praise God. we praise Him for His work of creation - "I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." This praise - "Your works are wonderful" - causes us to reflect also on His works of providence - "All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be" (Psalm 139:14,16). It also causes us to reflect on God's work of redemption. The thought of creation leads on to the thought of re-creation: "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17). The thought of providence also leads us to think of redemption: God's "book" (Psalm 139:16) turns our thoughts to "the book of life" - the book of eternal life which we receive through faith in "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
Zechariah 5:1-8:23; Jude 1-25; Psalm 139:17-24
Again and again, in Zechariah, we find the phrase, “the Word of the Lord (Almighty) came to me” (Zechariah 6:9; Zechariah 7;1,4,8). Another recurring phrase, with similar meaning, is “This is what the Lord (Almighty) says” (Zechariah 6:12; Zechariah 8:3,4,6,7,9,14,20,23). The Word of revelation – This is the basis of our faith. It’s God speaking His Word to us. His Word is a Word of salvation (Zechariah 8:7-8). This salvation is not only for the Jews. It is for “countries of the east and the west” (Zechariah 8:7). It is for “men from all languages and nations” (Zechariah 8:23). This “salvation we share” (Jude 3), a salvation which goes from nation to nation, from generation to generation, is to be preserved by God’s people “contending for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). In today’s world, many proudly dismiss the whole idea of divine revelation. The Lord’s people must not be deceived. Over against those who oppose God and His Word of revelation, we must speak the Word of rebuke: “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 9). We have been forewarned: “In the last times there will be scoffers, who will follow their own ungodly desires” (Jude 18). In the face of this, we must “build ourselves up in our most holy faith” (Jude 20), always trusting in “Him who is able to keep us from falling” (Jude 24). How does He keep us from falling? How does He keep us standing up for Him in the face of such opposition? – “How precious are Your thoughts, O God!” (Psalm 139:17). We are to feed upon the Word of God, with this constant prayer: “Search me, O God … Lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:24).
Zechariah 9:1-11:17; Revelation 1:1-20; Psalm 140:1-5
"Rejoice greatly ... your King comes to you ... having salvation ... because of the blood of My covenant with you" (Zechariah 9:9,11). "The Ruler of the kings of the earth ... who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood" (Revelation 1:5). The King of love is revealed in both Zechariah and Revelation. We see, however, different aspects of His Kingship. We see His two comings. There is His first coming - "Your King comes to you ... gentle and riding on a donkey" (Zechariah 9:9) - and His second coming - "He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him" (Revelation 1:7). The Lord's way - "gentle" is to be our way. We trust in Him when we are confronted by "men of violence" (Psalm 140:1). We know that, when the King comes again, the men of violence will be exposed - "every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him" (Revelation 1:7).
Zechariah 12:1-14:21; Revelation 2:1-17: Proverbs 30:1-10
God "pours out ... a spirit of supplication" upon His people. As a result of this, they look on Him, "the One they have pierced." In doing so, they come to "a fountain ... to cleanse them from sin and impurity" (Zechariah 12:10; Zechariah 13:1). Mourning for the One they pierced and receiving cleansing from sin, we enter into a new relationship in which God says, "They are My people" and we say, "The Lord is our God" (Zechariah 13:9). This new life is to be characterized by "worship." "Holy to the Lord" is to be the central feature of our new life (Zechariah 14:16,20). This is "the new name" (Revelation 2:17) of God's people - "Holy to the Lord." It is inscribed upon us, written over our lives. It is "known only to him who receives it" (Revelation 2:17). Only those who are beginning to experience what it means to be "holy to the Lord" will understand its meaning. Experience and understanding belong together. They are united in the act of receiving. Faith is the tie which binds together experience and understanding. By faith, we hold out our empty hands that they might be filled with God's gift of grace. There is no way to "a man's understanding", no way to "wisdom", no way to "knowledge of the Holy One", no way which begins with "I". Concerning ourselves, we must make this confession: "I am the most ignorant of men" (Proverbs 30:2-3). The question is asked: "Who has gone up to heaven and come down? ... What is his name ...? Tell me if you know!" (Proverbs 30:4). There is no answer to this question. The Gospel does not begin with man, reaching up to heaven. It begins with God, reaching down to earth - "Who came down from heaven to earth? Jesus Christ our Saviour". It is God who pours out His grace. This is the foundation on which our life of faith is based.