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Today’s Reading

Devotional

BEFORE THE OPENING VISION OF Revelation 1, which pictures the exalted Jesus in apocalyptic symbols that are reminiscent of the imagery of the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7 (Rev. 1:12–16), John provides us with a brief encomium: “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen!” (Rev. 1:5–6).

(1) For all the startling and even terrifying pictures of God and of the Lamb in this book, we start out with a declaration of Jesus’ love, his peculiar love for the people of God: “To him who loved us … be glory and power for ever and ever!” There is nothing that inspires our gratitude and awe more than the love shown us by the eternal Son of God on the cross. I believe it was T. T. Shields who penned the lines: “Was ever a heart so hardened, / And can such ingratitude be, / That one for whom Jesus suffered / Should say, ‘It is nothing to me’?”

(2) Jesus Christ “has freed us from our sins by his blood.” Some older versions offer instead “has washed us from our sins by his blood.” The difference in the Greek is only one letter; the NIV is almost certainly right. By his blood, i.e., by his sacrificial and atoning death, Jesus expiated our sins and thereby freed us from their curse. Not only so, but all the benefits we receive—the gift of the Holy Spirit, the promises of God’s enduring protection, eternal life, the consummating resurrection—have been secured by Jesus’ death, and all of them combine to free us from our sins—their guilt, their power, their results.

(3) Christ “has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father.” There is a sense in which we are in the kingdom—the sphere of his saving rule. There is another sense in which Christ now rules over all in unconditional sovereignty (Matt. 28:18; 1 Cor. 15:25), and in that sense everyone and everything is in his kingdom. But insofar as Christians are the peculiar locus of the redeemed community and the foretaste of the universe-transforming redemption still to come, we ourselves can be thought of as his kingdom. Moreover, he has made us priests. Christians do not have priests other than Jesus their great high priest: there is but one mediator between God and human beings (1 Tim. 2:5). But in another sense, we are priests: all Christians mediate between God and this broken, sinful world. We mediate God to fellow sinners by faithfully proclaiming and living out the Gospel, and bear their needs in our intercessory prayers before our heavenly Father. Jesus Christ has made us a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father.

2 Chronicles 10

The Revolt Against Rehoboam

10:1 Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. And as soon as Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it (for he was in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), then Jeroboam returned from Egypt. And they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all Israel came and said to Rehoboam, “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us, and we will serve you.” He said to them, “Come to me again in three days.” So the people went away.

Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men,1 who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive, saying, “How do you advise me to answer this people?” And they said to him, “If you will be good to this people and please them and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.” But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him, and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him. And he said to them, “What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke that your father put on us’?” 10 And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus shall you speak to the people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you lighten it for us’; thus shall you say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father's thighs. 11 And now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’”

12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king said, “Come to me again the third day.” 13 And the king answered them harshly; and forsaking the counsel of the old men, 14 King Rehoboam spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” 15 So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by God that the LORD might fulfill his word, which he spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

16 And when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, “What portion have we in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. Each of you to your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David.” So all Israel went to their tents. 17 But Rehoboam reigned over the people of Israel who lived in the cities of Judah. 18 Then King Rehoboam sent Hadoram,2 who was taskmaster over the forced labor, and the people of Israel stoned him to death with stones. And King Rehoboam quickly mounted his chariot to flee to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.

Footnotes

[1] 10:6 Or the elders; also verses 8, 13
[2] 10:18 Spelled Adoram in 1 Kings 12:18

(ESV)

Revelation 1

Prologue

1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants1 the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

Greeting to the Seven Churches

John to the seven churches that are in Asia:

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail2 on account of him. Even so. Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Vision of the Son of Man

I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Footnotes

[1] 1:1 for the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface; likewise for servant later in this verse
[2] 1:7 Or mourn

(ESV)

Zephaniah 2

Judgment on Judah's Enemies

2:1   Gather together, yes, gather,
    O shameless nation,
  before the decree takes effect1
    —before the day passes away like chaff—
  before there comes upon you
    the burning anger of the LORD,
  before there comes upon you
    the day of the anger of the LORD.
  Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land,
    who do his just commands;2
  seek righteousness; seek humility;
    perhaps you may be hidden
    on the day of the anger of the LORD.
  For Gaza shall be deserted,
    and Ashkelon shall become a desolation;
  Ashdod's people shall be driven out at noon,
    and Ekron shall be uprooted.
  Woe to you inhabitants of the seacoast,
    you nation of the Cherethites!
  The word of the LORD is against you,
    O Canaan, land of the Philistines;
    and I will destroy you until no inhabitant is left.
  And you, O seacoast, shall be pastures,
    with meadows3 for shepherds
    and folds for flocks.
  The seacoast shall become the possession
    of the remnant of the house of Judah,
    on which they shall graze,
  and in the houses of Ashkelon
    they shall lie down at evening.
  For the LORD their God will be mindful of them
    and restore their fortunes.
  “I have heard the taunts of Moab
    and the revilings of the Ammonites,
  how they have taunted my people
    and made boasts against their territory.
  Therefore, as I live,” declares the LORD of hosts,
    the God of Israel,
  “Moab shall become like Sodom,
    and the Ammonites like Gomorrah,
  a land possessed by nettles and salt pits,
    and a waste forever.
  The remnant of my people shall plunder them,
    and the survivors of my nation shall possess them.”
10   This shall be their lot in return for their pride,
    because they taunted and boasted
    against the people of the LORD of hosts.
11   The LORD will be awesome against them;
    for he will famish all the gods of the earth,
  and to him shall bow down,
    each in its place,
    all the lands of the nations.
12   You also, O Cushites,
    shall be slain by my sword.
13   And he will stretch out his hand against the north
    and destroy Assyria,
  and he will make Nineveh a desolation,
    a dry waste like the desert.
14   Herds shall lie down in her midst,
    all kinds of beasts;4
  even the owl and the hedgehog5
    shall lodge in her capitals;
  a voice shall hoot in the window;
    devastation will be on the threshold;
    for her cedar work will be laid bare.
15   This is the exultant city
    that lived securely,
  that said in her heart,
    “I am, and there is no one else.”
  What a desolation she has become,
    a lair for wild beasts!
  Everyone who passes by her
    hisses and shakes his fist.

Footnotes

[1] 2:2 Hebrew gives birth
[2] 2:3 Or who carry out his judgment
[3] 2:6 Or caves
[4] 2:14 Hebrew beasts of every nation
[5] 2:14 The identity of the animals rendered owl and hedgehog is uncertain

(ESV)

Luke 24

The Resurrection

24:1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

On the Road to Emmaus

13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles1 from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,2 43 and he took it and ate before them.

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for3 the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

The Ascension

50 And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.

Footnotes

[1] 24:13 Greek sixty stadia; a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters
[2] 24:42 Some manuscripts add and some honeycomb
[3] 24:47 Some manuscripts and

(ESV)