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00. Daily Bible Reading Information

Click "1. Unfolding of God's Purpose" in the Banner Panel to begin.

The purpose of this reading plan
During reading
How to use this reading plan

You may begin Dr. Hastings' plan for reading through the Bible at any time. You will need to keep up with the day your are reading.

The reading are divided into 52 separate topics which will provide you with an overview of the Bible. You will be pointed to a variety of passages that help give you an overview of the whole Bible.

Each topic has 7 days of readings associated with the topic. Each topic has a OVERVIEW/SUMMARY of the material covered in that particular reading.

The reading are arranged into 365 separate readings with a Brief and Full reading for each day.

Two options are available for reading:

The purpose of this reading plan:

During reading

 

How to use this reading plan

Updated Thursday, February 24, 2000

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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01. Unfolding of God's Purpose

Whence is the "Genesis  - the origin - of man and his universe? God revealed the answer to Moses and the prophets. This is not scientific history; it is revealed truth. The first chapters of Genesis tell us all we need for understanding of basic life issues, yet leaves Science free to probe the unknown ages to learn, if possible, how God wrought.

Who made everything? God, and He keeps it all going with order and design. Why the earth and its immense variety in nature? For man, God's highest and noblest. God made him like Himself so He could share Life together. He dignified him by trusting him with the care of all the earth and its creatures. Through man shares physical nature with the animals, yet God made them male and female to fulfill their earthly life wit creative love.

When God finished His creative work, He entered REST - that condition of satisfaction and contemplation of His perfected work. This is symbolized by the "Sabbath" which also becomes the symbol of man's condition in his redeemed life.

Man's simple restrictions in Eden were designed to reveal that he was morally free to obey or disobey God, yet that he could only "live" by depending completely upon God. When he chose to live in independence and rebellion against God, sin and death entered man and his world. Suddenly all that had been pronounced "good" and subservient to him now became corrupted man's sinful touch. Driven from Eden in fear and guilt, blaming others and angry with God, man must struggle against the world. However, under God's promise of ultimate victory, he learns to walk by faith until the Promise is fulfilled.

Through the long generation until Abraham, God's preserves a line of faith-walking men. Sin's vicious results are immediately apparent in the first crime and its consequences: human society organized on selfish, vengeful motives. So corrupt does this become that only wholesale judgment by the flood serves to spare the righteous line for this "best of all possible worlds."

Chapters 9-11 demonstrate how sin has divided mankind asunder into its manifold races and tongues. The only ultimate solution for this frustrated Kingdom of Man is the Kingdom of God with its power of Pentecost to reunite in one New Humanity in Christ.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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02. Abraham and Covenant

God begins His redemptive plan by calling Abram out of Ur, the great metropolis of the magnificent Sumerian empire, into the unknown. There, God begins a new Race, built on the principle of faith-righteousness (15:6) and unified by a Covenant God graciously inaugurates.

God "elects" or chooses this Race, not for any exclusive salvation, but rather as His human instrument for revealing Himself and His redemption to all races. "In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."

The history of Abraham demonstrates God at work in human affairs. This 'living God' calls men, gives promises, demands implicit trust. The events, down to seemingly minor details, prove that man cannot devise human ways of advancing the divine purpose and plan. Abraham, erring often, yet passing the crucial test of faith, learns that God chooses by His own wisdom and fulfills His promise by gracious power. He must constantly override human errors and redeem men from selfish defeating ways.

As a continual traveler  ("sojourner") in the very land promised him as his sole inheritance, he learns to look beyond to a higher inheritance which will belong to his faith-children. Walking by this faith in the God who covenants with him, Abraham becomes the "father" of peoples of all races and tribes and tongues who have come to a like trust in the Living God.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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03. Patriarchs

"I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Thus did God identify Himself to Moses at the Burning Bush. As we read again these fascinating stories of the patriarchs, we are amazed at the patience and grace of our God, who so carefully deals with men to achieve His far-reaching purpose.  Abraham truly was great by any standard of men: but Isaac was a plain man simply handing down rather clumsily the Covenant Promised; and Jacob truly lived up to his name "Trickster." Nevertheless, God is willing to risk His reputation in all the world as the God who identified Himself in actual history with three men who never made front page news in the great Empires of that day.

In almost every event you can see how man tried to live by his wits - even to further the purpose of God by human schemes. Patiently, God overrules their error and wickedness to further His purpose. The tribes of Jacob had little to weld them together in Canaan, where the most sensuous idolatry tempted those who would settle down to agricultural life.  Egypt was a civilization of great achievement. God permitted to the tribes to migrate to Egypt  to go to school to this civilization to develop unity and discipline through the furnace of affliction.

God's wise choice of Jacob over Esau to advance His Covenant purpose is justified in the later character of the brothers.

He can accomplish more with an oft- delinquent Jacob who had an appreciation of God's promises that with "profane" Esau (Hebrews 12:16), who had no eyes beyond the immediate horizon of self and its gratifications.

The evil effect of parental partiality and brotherly jealousy in the story of Joseph God is able to overrule. Joseph demonstrates time, and again how faith in God's providence gives a man integrity, courage, and skill to turn man's inhumanity into magnificent service to mankind.

He even gets revenge upon his brother by bringing them through such discipline that forgiveness and reconciliation become powerful forces to unite and mature the tribes of Israel.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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04. God's Nature Seen in Egypt

The Bible gives us a faithful record of our God who enters the life of His people and suffers with them in order to deliver them. He demonstrates His glory by His mighty acts in order to draw them by faith into His redemptive purpose. His grace is seen in His painstaking care to work through men, who otherwise could do nothing. When He would deliver Israel from bondage, He carefully watches over the birth and training of a Moses. Though all evil would destroy Moses and corrupt the children of Israel with the idolatries of Egypt, God demonstrates His righteousness and supremacy in the conflict with Egypt.

Each of the plagues is an act of judgment upon some phase of the idolatrous worship of Egypt. This is not alone a lesson to Egypt but to Israel, wedded to the "fleshpots of Egypt" even though sore oppressed. The final plague proves that only One has the power of life and dearth over all men. Even Israel is under the same condemnation of death and can find deliverance only by a symbolic act of faith-    the slaying of the lamb and the sprinkling of the blood of the Passover.   As the New Testament  teaches, this becomes a symbol of Christ, the Lamb of God that taketh away the  sin of the world.

The crossing of the Red Sea not only signals final escape from the hated oppressor, but it commits Israel without hope of return to her Wilderness sojourn with God under the leadership of Moses. All of these acts of judgment and redemption are preliminary to the the next and most important even of all-the constituting of a Holy Nation under Covenant at Sinai. There the God who revealed His Covenant Name to Moses at the burning bush will reveal the righteous terms of the Covenant relationship with Israel.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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5. Covenant Reveals Redemptive Work

The most important event of God's redeeming work with Israel is the making of the Covenant at Sinai. This contractual relation is offered solely by God; Israel can make no bargain but only accept it by faith, even before the giving the law.

This covenant constituted Israel as a kingdom of priests. This means that God is choosing Israel over all the nation to demonstrate His will, reveal His law. God as her King rules the nation on the basis of the law which governs all individuals and national life, since all of life is sacred under God for the covenant people.

The law was not given to make them righteous, but to teach the way of those who would be righteous by faith. This Kingdom of Priests is to serve all the nations, interceding for them and teaching them the truth and excellency of the one God.

The sad history of Israel shows how far she fails of this vision to bring the nation under the true God. Jeremiah foretells that God will set aside his old covenant for a new one, based upon the inner spiritual knowledge and relation of each individual with God. This new covenant Jesus has established by his sacrificial death and made real to us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

The Tabernacle teaches Israel that the Holy God yet dwells in the midst of His sinful people. He must be approached only by way of the judgment of death upon man's sin, the washing and cleansing of each worshiper and the offering of acceptable service unto Him. This sacrifice can only be offered by the High Priest. When Jesus accomplished this work for us, the veil of the Temple was rent from top to bottom, making it possible for every believer to enter directly into the presence of God Himself.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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6. Sacrifice Gives Approach to God

Our first day's readings give the theme of the strange book of Leviticus: God calls His People to be holy, that is, separated from the idolatries and immoralities of the heathen that they may be useful for His holy purposes.  Under the disciplines of the Covenant they then may expect blessings in obedience or curses in disobedience.

The sacrificial system was given to teach sinful man how he may approach the holy God through sacrifice.  The whole burnt-offering symbolizes his entire consecration through confessing sin and the removal of guilt.  The meal-offering acknowledges that life's necessities are from God.  The peace-offering pictures the joy and peace of restored fellowship with God.  The sin-offering demonstrates that non-willful sins may be atoned for by substitution of an innocent life.  (Note that the Mosaic system had no offering that could atone for willful sin, nor for breaking the Covenant relation.)  The trespass-offering made atonement through recompense for personal wrongs.  The key to the whole sacrificial system is in Leviticus 17:11:"for it is the blood that maketh atonement by reason of the life."  This is the Old Testament background for understanding the atonement of Christ that is made by the shedding of His blood.

The great feast days of Israel commemorate the mighty acts of God in their history and call them constantly to faithfulness to His Covenant.  The history of the next years in the wilderness shows how sadly they neglected event the most ancient day of all, the Passover.

After Moses had directed Aaron and his sons in the ceremonies of inauguration of the priesthood, the people prepared to resume their journey, led by the "glory of the Lord." The pillar of cloud by day and fire by night.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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07. Wilderness Days Prove God's Care

 As the people resume their journey from Sinai toward Canaan, their stubborn and rebellious nature finally deprives that generation of its promised rest in the Land.

Though God provides for their physical needs, they continually lust for more and complain against Moses.  Though God has put His same Spirit upon the seventy elders to assist Moses, yet the people are jealous of Moses.  Even Aaron and Miriam need rebuke.  Later the sons of Koral, Levites, but not priests of Aaron's family, try to compel Moses to make the priesthood an elective office.  The princes, Dathan and Abiram, lead a political revolt to compel Moses to share further the leadership.  In each case, God justifies His choice of Moses as prophet and Aaron as priest.

At Kadesh-Barnea Israel flunks the final exam of faith in God's power thru Moses' leadership.  The multitude wallow in self-pity over the majority report of the Twelve Spies.  When they refuse the exhortations of Caleb and Joshua, Moses must intercede for them lest God abandon the whole nation and start over with His three men of faith.

Though Moses rises to the peak of his noble character here, he soon grows weary and impatient with Israel's constant bickering.  At the Wilderness of Zin, faced with a second challenge of drawing water from the rock, he asserts his own authority instead of God's and in petulant unbelief he strikes the rock twice.  For this, even such a one as Moses is disciplined and denied entrance to the Land along with his rebellious people.

In spite of these "ten times" of rebellion the strange story of Balaam, the hireling prophet, proves that God is still watching over His people to justify them before the nations and to advance His purpose of redemption.

As we move into Deuteronomy, Moses prepares the people for entrance through his farewell messages that reflect the moral and spiritual depth of the Law.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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08. Teachings Basic to Entire Bible

A careful reading of Deuteronomy shows how basic are its teachings to all the rest of the Bible.

Here are the great themes Jesus emphasized: man does not live by bread alone; the two great commandments of love to God alone and brotherly love; the heart as the seat of all good and evil in man; the moral imperative to choose between two ways; the need for human justice and loving concern for one's fellow.

Here are the texts of the messages of the prophets: what does the Lord require, justice or religious observance? The purity of worship; the covenant bond between God and His people; the judgments of drought, disease, captivity upon a stubborn and rebellious people; the glorious hope of restoration through the Prophet like unto Moses.

Here are so many of Paul's appeals as he expounds justification by faith alone. The warnings against apostasy in Hebrews cannot be understood without Deuteronomy's warnings against forsaking Jehovah for other gods, despising God's redemptive acts, and breaking His covenant relation.

In the midst of much that has served its purposes and now set aside for a New Covenant, there is wisdom for all time.  As Jeremiah called (6:16), "Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way; and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls."

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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09. Joshua Leads in Conquest

The death of the great lawgiver, Moses, ushers in a new era for the tribe of Israel.  Joshua is fully equipped for the challenge of conquering the land.  He had the "book of the law," the Spirit that guided Moses (Num. 27:15-23), the covenant pledge of the tribes (Joshua 1:16-18).

Thus Joshua is able to lead the federated tribes in military conquest of the land.  After their remarkable conquest of the fortress of Jericho they are temporarily defeated at Ai through the presence of rebellious greed in Achan.  But through this "Valley of Trouble" they emerge victorious in two military campaigns, one in the south, the other in the north.

However, when the tribes move in to occupy the land, they do not have the courage to posses it fully.  The continued presence of Canaanites and Philistines prove to be a constant source of idolatrous and immoral infection.  As Hebrews shows, military peace was not the fulfillment of the promised "rest," which was not accomplished until another "Joshua" (Jesus).

The last charge of Joshua before his death is very revealing of the state of the nation.  Although they could pledge themselves to serve God alone, Joshua challenged their national purpose as too shallow and hypocritical.  Just as he feared the next generation "knew not Jehovah" nor His mighty acts and so went into repeated oppression.

The Judges were military saviors and part-time guides of various tribes, raised up and empowered temporarily by the Spirit of God.  Though the tribes won some signal victories, yet they went farther into the dark night of paganism.  The character of  the nation is reflected in their leaders: a left-handed assassin (Ehud), a woman (Deborah), a rash half-breed (Jephthah), and a lustful strongman (Samson).  The latter perfectly reflects the national plight: a young man, dedicated from birth unto God, powerful through the Spirit of God; yet his way was corrupted through self-indulgence and personal vengeance.  The tribes are so debased that they even gave over to the enemy their one savior.  As Milton says so powerfully, they loved "bondage with ease rather than strenuous liberty."

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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10 - JUDGES PERIOD REACHES PEAKS

The sad conclusion to the whole dismal history of Judges is seen in the last verse, near anarchy. Yet the story of Ruth proves that, in spite of the national character, family piety and individual nobility is possible. Moreover, God honors the faithful witness of a grief ridden Naomi to inspire the noble faith of a gentile, Ruth, who also is welcomed thereby into the Covenant. Here too, is an evidence of the "profit" of the Mosaic Law as it guides such a woman of faith into the line of David's ancestors.

Samuel, the last and greatest of the Spirit-anointed Judges, unites the three great official functions in Israel: as a judge he is Israel's kingmaker; he establishes the line of the prophets; and he functions as priest when the house of Eli lies in ruins.

Samuel sets the great themes of all the prophets, "to obey is better than sacrifice." He interprets the kingdom to Israel when the people rashly desire a king to unite them and be their political savior as the other nations have. God overrules their rashness and Samuel's personal pride and permits them a king after their own heart.

Saul begins nobly. He has all the elements of a great king: modesty, dependence upon God, the presence of the Spirit. Yet he presumes upon his position, tries to wrest the priestly function, disobeys God to favor his own means. Therefore, his kingdom which might have become the forerunner of the Messianic Kingdom (I Samuel 13:13f) is set aside in favor of one patterned after God's own heart.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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11. Saul and David Contrast Ideals

The Kingdom of Man (Saul) nations, he finally brings peace hastens on to decay as God prepares to the realm. He celebrates this pares the way for inaugurating His type of Kingdom under David. Saul's jealousy is provoked by the popularity of David and the gnawing conviction that his 1 house has been set aside in favor of another. Yet God's anointed one endures much affliction and discipline as he patiently awaits God's time to bring him to his kingdom. The greatness of Jonathan, Saul's rightful heir, is seen in his nobility for his friend, David. The final decay of Saul's character is seen in his rash attempt to seek Samuel's advice through witchcraft when he had so often ignored the prophet in life.

The FULL readings throw much light upon David's personal religion in the Psalms. These are chosen on the basis of titles at the head of the Psalms. Read at least Psalms 157 and 51 at the appropriate place for new insight into the Psalms.

After Saul's death, David is crowned king only over Judah and reigns in Hebron for seven and a half years before he is able to unite all the tribes, locate his capital at the newly conquered Jerusalem, and establish a kind of constitutional monarchy (II Samuel 5:1-5). After a long period of successful campaigns against the surrounding by returning me Ark of the Covenant to the restored "tent" just outside Jerusalem.

it is also during this period I that David falls into his great sin with Bathsheba. The superiority of Israel's law is nowhere better seen than here. In every other nation David's action would have been the accepted thing, decried as unfair perhaps, but certainly not a violation of the religious and social laws. But David must learn that in the Covenant nation under the law of Moses the king is just as guilty as any subject. His crime is against himself, his family, Uriah and his nation; but his sin is despising a righteous and holy God (II Samuel 12,10,14).

The full measure of God's, grace is revealed in restoring a penitent David Psalms 51). Now God enters into covenant David (II Samuel 7) to establish a dynasty of rule based upon a Father/Son relationship. The rule is characterized by righteousness and the people are unified by God's redemptive acts into a worshipping community (all the Psalms). A greater son of David has entered upon the throne of this kingdom through the Resurrection and Exaltation to the right hand of God.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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12 - Golden Age of Kingdom Seen

This week we come to the golden age of Israel's earthly kingdom. David develops the full potential of his people to praise God through song and ceremony. He makes elaborate preparation for the building of the Temple. The Psalms are both the Hymn book and the personal confessions of David and the People. While they extend from Moses to the Exile and after, David and Asaph brought them to the peak of influence. We will read certain representative Psalms:

Day 79: PSALMS OF CHARACTER. The first Psalm introduces the whole Psaltery with its classic contrast of the righteous and the wicked. The character of the righteous is based upon his devotion and obedience to the Word or Law of God.

Day 80: PSALMS OF WORSHIP. The revelation of God in all "creation" is grasped only by the mind of faith and spiritual insight. The Psalmist never confuses God and "Nature." God is always the supreme Creator who is to be worshipped because of His marvelous works in behalf of men. This leads naturally to corporate worship.

Day 81: PSALMS OF PENITENCE AND SUFFERING. The Psalmist knows man's nature and state in a world of evil. Since he has no light on compensating judgment in the afterlife, he has to plead God's justice to be executed in this life. He has no gospel of redeeming love that works through him for the wicked. Yet as David's life proves, he takes no vengeance in his own hands. He knows the power of the Law to condemn, but he has also experienced the mercy of God to forgive apart from animal sacrifice.

Day 82: While salvation is most often understood as deliverance from one's enemies or from disease or death, yet the Psalmist understands the blessedness of the man who is delivered from guilt and provided with true security in God.

Day 83: THE PSALMS OF THE MESSIAH (Christ). It is not true to say that just these predictive passages are Messianic for the whole Old Testament history is centered upon the Hope of God's Messiah. Yet these reflect the experience of the Psalmist as he tries to carry out God's calling to be prophet, priest, and King in an evil world. Under the terms of the covenant with David (II Samuel 7) the "anointed one" experiences on a lower plane what Jesus realized fully ("fulfilled") on the higher plane of eternal suffering and triumph.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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13. Golden Age Nears Climax

The close of David’s reign is filled with civil strife. Absalom’s rebellion is put down at the cost of this wayward son of David. The king’s grief reflects his own uneasiness over the way he has dealt with his son and with the northern ten tribes. The latter provide further trouble in the rebellion of Sheba and in the attempt of Adonijah to claim the throne instead of his brother Solomon. 

David, however, is determined to see Solomon enthroned as king before he dies. So he commits to him the Covenant inheritance and the commission to build the Temple. 

Solomon accedes to the throne with great nobility and dedication unto the Lord. His humble request for wisdom above prosperity begins an international reputation for both.

Seeds of later trouble in this Golden Age is seen in the multiplying of foreign wives, the tremendous build up of military and governmental establishments, and the growing luxury of the court.

Perhaps Solomon’s most enduring contribution to Israel is in the impetus he gave to Wisdom literature. The Proverbs are a collection of wise sayings of Solomon and many other sages of later times. They show practical wisdom (prudence) and practical religion (piety). The long discourse on Wisdom in Chapter 8 is the seedbed of the teachings on the Word in John 1 and 1 Corinthians 2.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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14. Decay Besets Hebrew Kingdom

Solomon's Kingdom is headed for sure disruption because of inner decay: the growth of luxury; the polygamy of the king, prompted by political alliances and national pride; idolatry, brought in by the foreign wives; increasing need for tribute from foreign countries; military extravagance; increasing governmental oppression; burdensome taxation.

Jeroboam, the first king of Israel, now the name of the northern confederacy, insures his kingdom against the house of David by erecting altars at Shechem and driving out the Levitical priests. He makes a new religion out of remnants of Egyptian calf-worship and Baal worship and calls it Jehovah worship. For this the prophets announce final doom upon his own dynasty and captivity upon the nation.

Ahab marries Jezebel, daughter of the King of Sidon, where the Baal worship flourished. Had it not been for Elijah, Ahab would have succeeded in his attempt to make Baal worship the state religion of Israel. Though Elijah wins his great victory at Mt. Carmel, he is scared off to the wilderness of Sinai (Horeb) by Jezebel. There in his self-pity God appears to him, shows him the faithful remnant in Israel, who have not bowed the knee to Baal and instructs him. He is to appoint Jehu as the political instrument of judgment upon the house of Ahab and Elisha as the prophet to rebuild the faith of the nation.

During the reign of Jehoash in Judah and under the guidance of the worthy high priest, Jehoida, the nation renews its Covenant vows unto God. About this period the first of the writing prophets, Joel, interprets a severe plague of locusts and a drought as a "day of the Lord" upon Judah. At the prophet's call, the nation repents and God restores their land. Then Joel looks beyond this event to God's promise of His Holy Spirit, that is poured out upon His people at a greater "Day of the Lord." (Acts 2:1-24)

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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15  Prophets of Israel Speak

After a brief look at the conditions in Judah at the death of the worthy high priest, Jehoida, we turn our attention to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, now well on its way to downfall.

Jeroboam II brought the kingdom to its highest peak of outward splendor and prosperity. However, the character and attitudes of Jonah perfectly reflect the nation’s loss of its covenant purpose under God. Commissioned to preach repentance to Israel’s mortal enemy, Assyria, Jonah tries to escape by fleeing in the land where Jehovah is in control. Though he experiences the gracious deliverance of God in his personal plight under judgment, yet he is unwilling for God to deliver the heathen under much greater judgment. Just so, the nation has denied its call to witness to a God who is Saviour to all nations. In its darkening conscience it can only pronounce doom upon her enemies in a desperate attempt to save itself.

Jonah is a vignette of the nation. No record is left of what he prophesied to Israel. However, God has ready a powerful country preacher from the wilderness of Judah to proclaim another "day of the Lord" upon Israel. Amos denounces a nation whose state-religion is so subsidized by the court that it can offer no effective criticism or guidance (7:10-16). They have presumed upon the Covenant, corrupted the sacrificial system and brought every phase of society into scandal and decay. The mighty call of Amos goes unheeded. "But let justice roll down as waters and righteousness as a mighty stream." (5:24)

If Amos is the prophet of fire and brimstone, Hosea is the messenger of love and grace. He is God’s last attempt to turn back the wicked nation from its sure doom in 722 B.C. Hosea first learns the meaning of God’s suffering love through the personal tragedy of his own family life. As he yearns and threatens, pleads and rebukes, promises and warns, he demonstrates the heart and holiness of God in dealing with a people which now has become "not my people." But beyond judgment upon the nation he sees the bright hope of victory of God’s redemptive purpose as He ransoms his faithful remnant from the grave, heals their backsliding and loves them freely.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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16. Isaiah Prophets to Judah.

While the Northern Kingdom is tottering on to decay, God commissions the prophet Isaiah to become a mighty voice of judgment and hope to Judah.

Isaiah’s call (Chapter 6) is a classic experience: In the midst of national breakup and personal crisis he suddenly confronts the Holy God, who only is King. At his confession of personal and social guilt, he experiences cleansing and forgiveness through judgment. Then he hears and responds to the commission of God to "go and tell the people."

The first chapter introduces the whole Book: a great charge brought against Judah for presuming upon the Covenant, perverting religion through multiplying ceremonials and corrupting the inner character of the nation. Yet there is hope of cleansing and renewal if only the nation repent.

With Chapter 2, there begins "the book of Judgment" through chapter 35. The first cycle of messages against Judah (Chapters 2-12) tell of the nature of the judgment: against the background of the glory of God’s Kingdom purpose (2:1-4) we see the foreground of Judah’s baseness (2:5-4:1). The Parable of the Vineyard portrays the necessity of judgment upon so favored a nation.

In the days of Pekah the Northern Kingdom experiences its first partial captivity by Tiglath-pileser of Assyria. Seizing an opportune moment when Tig-lath-pileses is absorbed elsewhere, Pekah and Rezin of Syria decide to rebel. They attempt to force Jotham of Judah to join them. In the days of Jotham’s son, Ahaz, this unholy alliance of usurper and heathen threaten to conquer Jerusalem by siege and place a puppet on the throne of David.

Isaiah now confronts Ahaz (Chapters 7-8) with his famous sign to prove to him that God will vindicate His promise and maintain the line of David through the power of "Immanuel" –God with us. When Ahaz, in self-will and relying upon Assyria instead, rejects this sign of hope, God sends another sign in the name of Isaiah’s second son (Chapter 8) to warn of doom upon the Allies. But for the overarching presence of "Immanuel" Judah herself would experience downfall at the hands of Assyria, in whom she vainly hoped.

The promise that protects Judah through this crisis becomes a reality in the virgin birth of Him who is truly "Immanuel." (Matthew 1:18-25)

God’s ultimate Deliverer of His People is seen to be a "child, a son" who shall be endowed with the Spirit of God to rule in righteousness and bring peace (Chapters 9-11). The "Tree" of David’s line, so soon to be cut down, will flourish again through the Righteous Shoot or Branch that finally brings God’s Kingdom to its proper fruit.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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17. Peak of Old Testament Faith Seen

At the close of the Northern Kingdom, God raised up Micah to prophesy to both Judah and the remnant in Israel. He announces imminent doom upon both kingdoms because of their idolatries, oppression of the poor, their greed and perversion of justice. Though their leaders are all profane and boast in their national security, yet beyond judgment God Himself intends to establish His Kingdom.

Micah foresees that God will bring back a Remnant of His people out of their captivities and establish His Kingdom through a Ruler chosen from this Remnant. This eternal King and Messiah will come from Bethlehem and rule as a Shepherd.

In Chapter 6, Micah rises to the peak of Old Testament faith in showing what God really requires in religion: "justice, mercy and faith." (Cf. Matthew 23:23). Then in the next chapter he experiences God’s grace justifying him before his enemies and praises Him for forgiveness. Here Micah has come closer to the Cross by faith than perhaps any man before him. (Cf. 1 Peter 1:10-12).

As we return to Isaiah, we are amazed at the wide range of his prophecies against many contemporary nations. It isn’t so much his pronouncements of doom upon their wickedness, but his world encompassing understanding of history under God. He sees God at work, not just in Judah, but in every nation to bring ultimate salvation by His own intervention. What a miracle of grace it is that Isaiah could include Israel’s greatest enemies – Egypt and Assyria – in the Covenant blessing (19:25)!

This section of the book closes with the events around the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem. When the forces of the world ruler defy God and His protection of Jerusalem, Isaiah calmly leads Hezekiah and the people away from political alliance with Egypt to simple trust in God’s character and Covenant purpose. The nation is miraculously spared and Isaiah looks yet onward to a greater renewal of the life in the Spirit.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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18. Jeremiah Preaches "Famous Sermon"

Why did good King Josiah rashly go to war against Pharoah-Neco, who was marching north to aid Assyria against Babylon? Whatever the reason, it violated a cardinal principle of the prophets against Israel engaging in power politics among the nations. At the death of Josiah, the national spirit would have collapsed completely but for Jeremiah's ringing challenge "Is not the Lord in Zion? Is not her King in her?"

Jeremiah preached "The most famous Old Testament sermon" on the steps of the temple shortly after the accession of Jehoiakim. He dared to challenge the people's idolatrous trust in the presence of the Temple to keep off the judgments of God. When he foretold its destruction and the downfall of the nation, the priests and the prophets nearly lynched him. At his trial, unexpected help came from -- of all places -- the princes!

Though Jeremiah was spared, he was cut deeply by the experience. He goes through a series of dark introspections that is climaxed in 15:15-21, where God calls him to repentance.

Chapter 36 gives excellent insight into the method of the prophets in committing their messages to writing. When his "first edition" is burned by the king, the Lord instructs him to rewrite it and add other messages. This also accounts for the fact that the book is not in any chronological order. Our effort here is certainly not offered as a final solution, but a working method.

As the nation hastens on to its final showdown with Babylon, Jeremiah proclaims the nation's indelible guilt and sure judgment. He becomes involved with the false prophets in a way that reveals the problem of a spurious as over against a true inspiration.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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19. Jeremiah Preaches "Famous Sermon"

Why did good King Josiah rashly go to war against Pharoah-Neco, who was marching north to aid Assyria against Babylon? Whatever the reason, it violated a cardinal principle of the prophets against Israel engaging in power politics among the nations. At the death of Josiah, the national spirit would have collapsed completely but for Jeremiah's ringing challenge "Is not the Lord in Zion? Is not her King in her?"

Jeremiah preached "The most famous Old Testament sermon" on the steps of the temple shortly after the accession of Jehoiakim. He dared to challenge the people's idolatrous trust in the presence of the Temple to keep off the judgments of God. When he foretold its destruction and the downfall of the nation, the priests and the prophets nearly lynched him. At his trial, unexpected help came from -- of all places -- the princes!

Though Jeremiah was spared, he was cut deeply by the experience. He goes through a series of dark introspections that is climaxed in 15:15-21, where God calls him to repentance.

Chapter 36 gives excellent insight into the method of the prophets in committing their messages to writing. When his "first edition" is burned by the king, the Lord instructs him to rewrite it and add other messages. This also accounts for the fact that the book is not in any chronological order. Our effort here is certainly not offered as a final solution, but a working method.

As the nation hastens on to its final showdown with Babylon, Jeremiah proclaims the nation's indelible guilt and sure judgment. He becomes involved with the false prophets in a way that reveals the problem of a spurious as over against a true inspiration.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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20. Righteousness By Faith Seen

We take our leave of Jeremiah for six days while we listen to Habakkuk in Jerusalem and Ezekiel among the Exiles in Babylon in the years before the fall of Jerusalem.

Habakkuk is greatly concerned because the Holy God seems to be using such a wicked nation as the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to bring judgment upon His Covenant Nation. He is comforted in the words of Paul's great theme of Justification, which became the central doctrine of the Reformation: "the righteous shall live by his faith." Though the nation be destroyed, yet the faithful remnant will be justified individually before God.

Ezekiel, like Daniel, was among those of the young men who were in the first deportation to Babylonia, when Jehoiachin and 10,000 of the finest of the people were carried captive (II Kings 24:10-16). The vision of the Glory of the Lord in the first chapter sets the divine background for the Ministry of Ezekiel to a corrupt and unholy people. Their false prophets are promising a soon return to Jerusalem, which they say will never be destroyed because it is the seat of God's temple and rule.

By many strange acted parables, Ezekiel warns the Exiles that God has numbered the days of their City, but they adamantly refuse his message. In the harshest of terms, the prophet describes the sins of the nation that justify such severe punishment from the Lord. Yet he never quite loses sight of the hope of God's ultimate salvation. Even as he sees the glory of the Lord departing from the City, he sees a vision of a scribe who carefully marks out those faithful ones who would be spared the judgment (Chapter 9). When one of these suddenly dies, the prophet almost despairs. He is revived in spirit by the first clear promise of the New Covenant (Chapter 11).

As the Siege of Jerusalem draws toward its doom, Ezekiel is given the revolutionary new doctrine of individual accountability, for it is only on such a doctrine that the blessings of the New Covenant can be given. Here is the watershed of all Covenant history in the Old Testament.

On returning to Jeremiah, we find this courageous prophet no longer bewailing his personal woes, but faithfully proclaiming a message like Ezekiel's to the court and the people in Jerusalem. Next week, we see him rise to the heights as he proclaims also the terms of the New Covenant.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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21. Hope Points to New Covenant

While shut up in the court of the guard and predicting imminent doom upon the City, Jeremiah gets his cousin, Hanamel, to buy some real estate! Thus he demonstrates his faith that God will return His people to their land after seventy years.

During these days when the king and all the people are in despair, Jeremiah turns to a most powerful message of Hope. He sees the day coming when God will set aside His Old Covenant and make a New Covenant with His people. The New will be effective where the old failed, for it will be based upon a law written upon the heart and not upon stones. Then will the knowledge of God be direct and intimate, not that which is learned from authoritative teachers. No privileged status will prevail, for no one will have the "inside track" on God. Above all the New Covenant is based upon God's effective solution of the sin problem which the Old Covenant could not touch (Hebrews 10:1-4).

This New Covenant Jesus inaugurated by His death on the Cross (Luke 22:14-20), which we recall at every Lord's Supper. Because of his continued counsel to surrender to the enemy Jeremiah is cast into the dungeon. He would have perished in the mire had it not been for the intercession of Ebed-melech, the Ethiopian eunuch. In a secret interview with King Zedekiah, Jeremiah again counsels surrender but to no avail.

Nebuchadnezzar after an eighteen months siege destroys the city and the proud Temple of Solomon and carries captive all the people that suit him. The heathen king instructs his captain to invite Jeremiah to go to Babylon with high honor, but the great prophet again shows the nobility of his soul as he chooses to remain with the pitiful remnant left behind under the governor, Gedaliah.

Intrigue and insurrection dispose of Gedaliah and Ishmael. Finally, Johanan musters enough strength to persuade the military leaders to emigrate to Egypt. Jeremiah goes, but protesting every step of the way the folly of disobeying the decree of God to stay in Judah. The last we see of this great prophet, he is still delivering a faithful message to the handful of Jews in Egypt who are taken in by the idolatrous worship of "the queen of heaven." A dwindling ministry and a nameless death is all that remains of the most courageous prophet of all time. 

On returning to Ezekiel among the Exiles we find him preaching the same great message of hope based upon the New Covenant. He stresses the promise of the Spirit of God to revive, restore and bring New Birth. Here is much of the background of the teachings of Jesus about the New Birth, the cleansing and restoring power of the Spirit and the Shepherd-Savior of Israel. At the close we see him foretelling that this New People of God will experience the worst of attacks by God's enemies to overthrow His Kingdom. In graphic Old Testament figures he assures them of the final victory of God's Kingdom.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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22. Prophets Give Exiles Hope

Three prophets during the Exile portray different facets of God's dealings with Israel. Ezekiel concludes his exile-long ministry by a further message of hope: God will restore His Kingdom and center it upon pure worship. Ezekiel's vision of the glorified Temple did much to restore the faith of the returning exiles and give them some guidelines for the rebuilding of the Temple under Zerubbabel. Obviously he was speaking ideally and symbolically, for a temple built on his specifications could not fit a restored Jerusalem. This is not as important, however, as the fact that the New Covenant forever does away with the sacrificial system (Hebrews) and the worship of Christ is forever freed from any central sanctuary (John 4:20).

The symbolism of the Temple in Ezekiel has been realized in the ideal Community of God's people under the new Covenant. The detailed perfection reveals the holiness of the worship of God in Christ that binds the Community together. The altar and its ministers stress the consecration of His servants. The River gives life that flows from the "fountain of blood." The goal of all human community is expressed in the name of the city: Jehovah-shammah, "The Lord is there."

Perhaps we should have listened to the Lamentations of Jeremiah as we closed his prophecy. However, these mournful sonnets express the deep feeling of the faithful remnant during these trying days, whether in Jerusalem, Egypt or Babylon. Note the refreshing element of hope based now on the character of God as merciful, not an appeal to a national God to defend his reputation.

A sudden change of climate takes place as we enter Daniel. This is no longer a message delivered to a rebellious people, but epics of faithful witnesses in the midst of a godless kingdom. Daniel and his three friends demonstrate the sovereignty of God over the arrogant rulers, Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar.

The apocalyptic visions bear witness to the establishment of God's sovereignty over all the kingdoms of man. While there is much uncertainty still in a full interpretation of these visions, we can yet see the main outlines. After the successful rise and fall of the Great Empires and during the last (Rome), God Himself established His sovereignty in the Anointed Prince (Jesus Christ), who received the kingdom and entered upon his victorious rule through His resurrection and ascension.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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23. Restored Community Renews Messianic Hope

Before we come to the Return from Exile, there is one brief prophecy of Obadiah against Judah's neighbor, Edom. Since the days of Esau there had been bad blood between these distantly kin peoples. Now when Edom saw her opportunity of revenge and plunder at the captivity of Judah, the prophet foretells a "day of the Lord" against all such cruel nations. The book ends with a hint of the future holiness and victory of God's kingdom.

The histories of Ezra-Nehemiah record the various phases of Return from Captivity, the rebuilding of the Temple, the walls of the city and the restoration of the Levitical system.

Under Zerubbabel in 538 BC and upon the decree of Cyrus (who was greatly impressed by the prophecies of Jeremiah, but strangely not Isaiah), somewhat over 42,OOO people return. After establishing their homes they start work on the Temple. When the foundation was laid amid the rejoicing of the young men, the old man who had known Solomon's Temple could do nothing but weep. Soon opposition from the remnant of the northern tribes causes all work to cease. It required the noble work of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to restore the people's faith and courage to complete the Temple.

Haggai could be called the most successful preacher of the Old Testament. He preaches for only four months, but it is sufficient to incite the people to the work with great zeal. To the grumbling old men he foretells that God will fill this rebuilt house with greater glory than that of Solomon's.

Zechariah carries this theme further by announcing that God will purge the priesthood and unite it under His Anointed Servant, the Branch, with the kingship. This book provides some of the background of the interpretation of the priestly work of Christ in Hebrews and the kingly rule in Revelation. In Chapter 11, the prophet acts out the dire consequences that will come should the people reject their coming Shepherd-Messiah. Beyond this he sees a time of great conflict for God's Messianic people, but he foretells the ultimate triumph of God's rule.

In 458 BC, Ezra the Scribe leads another contingent out of Exile and establishes some priestly reforms. However, these seemed to be ineffectual, for when Nehemiah 13 years later hears of the city it is in dire straits. Through his heroic leadership the walls are rebuilt against much opposition from the Samaritans. Our week concludes with one of the most far-reaching events of this period: Ezra organizes the scribes for the purpose of public reading and teaching of the Law. This is the beginning of the shift in Judaism from a sacerdotal religion to a religion centered upon the teaching of the Law in the synagogues.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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24. Should Churches Be Closed?

Suppose we came to church one Sunday and found a sign like this: "Closed until you are all ready to worship the Lord in sincerity and truth." This is what the prophet Malachi longed for in the period while Nehemiah had returned to Persia. This vigorous prophet denounces the perfunctory manner in which the priests served at the Temple and the slipshod way the people kept up their obligations to the ceremonial. He is concerned because the nation has lost its moral discrimination. So he warns rather than promises that God will send "tiny messenger" - the meaning of the name Malachi - to prepare the way for His coming to purify His people. The promise of the coming of Elijah in the last chapter Jesus said was fulfilled in the spirit and power of John the Baptist (Matthew 11:14).

The Book of Esther has some unusual distinctions among all of the Bible: it contains no mention of the name of God and it ascribes no action of its heroes to a religious motive. Yet it has always been counted worthy of a place in the Canon by both Jews and Christians because it demonstrates God's providential care of the Jews and the sure doom of any anti-Semitism.

The Song of Solomon has suffered much allegorizing at the hands of its friends. Although by the standards, its such a love poem was considered chaste and beautiful. It probably could not have maintained its place in the Canon had not the Jews made of it an allegory of the relation of Jehovah and Israel.

The Christians followed by making it an allegory of Christ and His bride, the Church. While it is difficult to discern the characters and the plot, in its simplest form this is a dramatic poem of the faithful love of a Shulammite maiden and her country lover under the stress of King Song of Solomon's wooing to join his "queens". The "daughters of Jerusalem" serve like the "chorus" of a Greek drama. Is the beauty of marital love so faded today that we cannot appreciate the Holy Spirit including such in the canon of our Scriptures?

Ecclesiastes is another book that demands a very advanced view of inspiration to appreciate its place in the Canon. This is the rock on which many mechanical, superficial and dictation theories go awreck. If on the other hand you view inspiration as the Spirit of God engaging real men in the midst of the problems of life in order to prepare them for the final revelation in Christ, then this book stands at the very threshold of the New Testament.

At a time toward the close of this entire pre-Christian period this nameless philosopher - "the Preacher" - takes stock of the whole of Old Testament theology and ethical living. The evidence is now all in: the great prophets are stilled, the Law has become a closed system, and the Psalmists have sung their Hallelujahs.

In the person of Song of Solomon he has enjoyed every reward and reaped every blessing promised to an obedient servant of the Law: riches, fame, wisdom, creative accomplishment, power over men. He has tried all of the philosophies of the Greek and Roman. His final analysis: "All is vanity." He is perfectly in accord with the New Testament estimate: the Law is "weak and beggarly," the sacrificial system helpless to "cleanse the conscience," all of man's wisdom is "foolishness in the sight of God."

Do not complain that this man was not inspired. Look at the vast numbers of we Christians who still vainly chase the goals he long ago pronounced vanity." His book cries out for "the way, the Truth and the light" that has come to us in Christ, who alone can give the abundant life

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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25. Study of Job to Highlight Readings

The Book of Job is the greatest epic of the soul ever written. We study it last of all in the Old Testament and do not even attempt to date its writing, for it is timeless. Like Ecclesiastes we now have all the light of revelation short of Jesus Christ.

We move outside the special revelation to Moses and the prophets and into the vast world that is concerned with the age long race-wide problem of pain and evil. Against such a backdrop as Job's swift tragedies the question is asked:

As Job mounts his ash heap castle to defend his integrity, the three friends come to comfort. But alas, they are more concerned to defend God and their self-made status with him than to seek for Him with this crippled soul.

Job introduces the drama with a lament that he was ever born and seems unable to die. Eliphaz begins modestly and consistently, "You have nothing to fear if you are innocent." Job answers (Chapters 6 and 7) "My vexation is justified": by the weight of his woe; by his disappointment in his friends; and by the just complaint that God warns against such an insignificant being as he.

Bildad, ever the traditionalist, inquires, "Doth God pervert justice?" The wisdom of tradition is seen in its judgment that you are bound to prosper if you are perfect. Job retorts, "But how can man he just with God?"

He feels such a frustration in trying to argue with God, and there is no mediator or advocate that can plead his case with God. Zophar, the clever psychologist, counsels Job to repent, he will enjoy security. But explodes, "No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you! " At the close of this first cycle of speeches Job turns to plead with God, "How many are mine iniquities and sins? Make me to know my transgression and my sin." Then follows his grand soliloquy upon death.

He rises to a climax when he asks, "If a man die, shall he live again?" But then he quickly falls off, for he has no answer.

Eliphaz opens the second cycle by insinuating that Job is terribly guilty because he is caught with the consequences of sin. "Miserable comforters are ye all." Job replies, "Is this the result of your philosophy, that you mock such as are in adversity? Can this God of yours be real? Surely God must not be like that. I believe there is a God who vouchest for me! I will appeal to Him."

Bildad offers small hope: "Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out." Job, now goaded almost to despair by the mockery of the friends and the silence of God, leaps into the void: "I know that my Redeemer liveth. "

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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26. Job's Accusers Speak

All the friends of Job are now convinced that he must be a great sinner to have suffered such tragedies. Zophar, in Chapter 20, concludes that the triumphing of the wicked is short; though they may seem to prosper, their latter end is doom. You will notice that very seldom do they make a direct charge against Job.

They insinuate ate that their traditional theology has a perfect explanation for Job's predicament. Then they leave him to draw the inevitable conclusion. However, Job answers, "How oft is the lamp of the wicked put out." Contrary to their theology, the facts prove that the wicked live often in peace and prosperity even unto death. And now Job finally says, "I know that you accuse me: what blessed comfort is this?"

With the beginning of the third cycle, Eliphaz now impatiently asks, "Is there any end to thine inequities?" He then implies that Job's sins are the high-handed tyrannies of the rich; the only hope he has is to return to. God so that He might hear his prayer and bring him salvation.

This sparks in Job one of the most touching soliloquies of all. He turns in every direction toward the brazen skies, and cries from the depths of his soul, "O that I knew where I might find Him."

Even in the midst of this helpless search, he has a measure of faith. He is not sure what to do with it, but he rests in what he has. "But He knoweth the way that I take."

Bildad in one quick paragraph asks, "How then can man be just with God?" This is one of the last of the great questions of the Book of Job. Job and his friends have no answer, even as the whole Old Testament theology has no answer, for the answers to these eternal questions can be given only by the final revelation in Jesus Christ himself.

In Job's final answer, he defends his integrity, recalls his past prosperity and blessedness, and bewails his present wretchedness.

In Chapter 28, there is one of the greatest literary passages of all time. The praise of wisdom is a marvelous evidence of the high and noble concept which was attained at this high water mark of Old Testament Theology.

With Chapter 32, there enters a new character, Elihu. This Young man seems to have appeared without notice and quietly waited for his older friends to conclude their fruitless effort to convince Job. Then he begins humbly enough to confess his own humility and to offer himself as an intercessor between Job and God.

Actually, he has nothing new to offer. He recaps in a calmer, nobler sentiment, all the best argument of the friends. He does suggest that suffering has one other purpose besides that of Punishment - it can serve as discipline of character.

As we await the final chapters, we are conscious of mounting tension in the whole Scene, looking toward the coming of God Himself into the picture Next week, we hear the voice of the Almighty, and search for the most profound meaning to the answer of the Book of Job.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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27. Job's Faith Vindicated

How disappointing it is to discover that Elihu has no better consolation for Job than the other three friends. As we pick up his argument this week, he is saying that Job is actually challenging the righteousness of God by claiming that God will eventually justify his integrity.

Has not God already revealed His judgment by Job's present suffering? Therefore, Job's failure to accept his suffering as at least chastisement is proof that he is full of wickedness.

At the close of Elihu's fine speech, a storm is rapidly approaching across the desert. You can sense in the young man's disjointed thought his own apprehension of meeting face to face the Almighty.

Suddenly God breaks in on the scene. His first question dismisses the upstart Elihu. He even uses the same words (compare 35:16). Then with a series of sweeping rhetorical questions. God makes Job aware of his proper place in the light of God's majesty in creation, and his infinite wisdom in providence.

God does not choose to answer directly any of the great problems raised either by the prologue or the drama. There is no special revelation therefore to relieve any of Job's problems. What is revealed is available to all men everywhere in every age.

In the words of Jesus, "Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field . . . shall he not much more clothe you." The Grace of our Lord is therefore available to all men who place their trust in his character.

The immediate response of Job is that of humility and repentance. Conscious of God's wisdom and power, Job humbles his mind. Conscious of God's presence, Job confesses his self-righteousness.

Job still knows not all the answers, still he has met in person the God who has all things under his loving care. Therefore, the Book of Job demonstrates for all time and apart from all special revelation that "the just shall, live by faith alone."

In the epilogue, it is remarkable that God rebukes the friends' theology and approves Job's. God honors the dogged faith and searching of a Job, rather than the dogmatic theologies of the friends.

God commands the sacrifice of repentance to be ministered by the priesthood of Job whom they had so recently condemned. God finally demonstrates his approval of Job in the only way understandable to the friends - by restoring doubly in his life that which he had lost.

If the ending of the book is still a disappointment, remember that the only ultimate answers to the questions Job raises were yet to be given by Jesus Christ Himself. These alone can satisfy the great issues of life, death and destiny.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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28. Gospels Record Record Life of Jesus

"In the fullness of time, God sent His Son." With confidence we can begin a 5 1/2 months study of the New Covenant (New Testament) as it is recorded for us by the disciples of Jesus.

We begin by tracing the life of Jesus through the Synoptic Gospels. These three - Matthew, Mark, and Luke - are in general agreement - as to the chronology and plan of Jesus' life. For that reason, it is easier to trace at the beginning the life of Jesus through these and follow with a study of John's Gospel separately.

Luke begins his Gospel with a statement which gives us confidence in his historical research. However, we have learned to follow for the most part the framework of Mark as our main guide for the life of Christ. The first section deals with the preparation for the birth of the Messiah.

His forerunner, John the Baptist, is born under significant events that indicate God is fulfilling his purpose to redeem Israel. The angel announces to Mary, the manner and purpose of the birth of her son. After her visit with the mother of John the Baptist, then the angel appears to Joseph to reassure him concerning the birth of a child to his espoused wife.

Matthew links this event with the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy that the child would bring to reality the glorious promise that God Himself would be with His people ("Immanuel").

The reaction of the many different groups to the birth of Jesus all indicate the glory surrounding His birth. But this is a glory - which is not of this world for it follows none of the traditions of men in bringing glory to a newborn King. It will be observed that the Wise Men visit the babe in Bethlehem after Mary and Joseph had found a house in which to live temporarily.

At the close of the 18 silent years in Nazareth, John the Baptist begins his ministry by calling the nation to repentance. While the Jews were accustomed to baptize Gentile proselytes, John calls even those of the Covenant to such a repentance baptism. However, he is overwhelmed when Jesus also comes asking for baptism.

Though he has never seen Him (John 1:33) he instinctively recognizes the unique person before him. Jesus identifies himself with his people and signalizes His acceptance of the way of the Suffering Servant to accomplish His divine mission.

As he goes to the Temptation, each of the three that Satan hurls against Him tests His purpose to go the long, hard way of the cross in order to provide salvation for man and achieve His kingly rule. The first ministry of Jesus begins immediately to demonstrate that God's saving power is at work among men to accomplish His redemptive purpose.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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29. Sermon Shows Kingdom Man

In the "Sermon on the Mount" Jesus describes the characteristics of the Kingdom man, the kind of man he came to create as his disciples. In striking paradoxes in the Beatitudes Jesus challenges contemporary ideals of every age and points to the true bliss for man.

In the next paragraph (Matthew 5:17-20), Jesus stamps the Law with his authority, but points to its culmination in his own work of fulfilling God's intent with the Law. In a series of powerful illustrations Jesus then places his authority above that of Moses and the new inner dynamic as supreme over the standard of righteousness.

The concluding injunctions about human relations seem to the average man hopeless. Exactly so! For human nature unaided by the transforming power of the Spirit of God is totally incapable at these points.

The sixth chapter gives assurance to the disciple that his devotion to his King will be accompanied by provision for all his basic needs. In the concluding chapter the lessons of trust in the heavenly Father and generosity of spirit toward man are enforced by great parables.

In contrast with the remarkable faith of the centurion there are all sorts of problems of faith in Jesus raised by his own people. John the Baptist even has grave questions about the nature of Jesus' ministry. He can understand one who brings judgment, but he cannot grasp the idea that Jesus is the Suffering Servant kind of Messiah.

Others would pervert the teachings of a Kingdom to fit their own preconceived desires; still others refuse to go along with any approach at all (Matthew 11:16-19). But to those who come with open minds and hearts like little babes there Is the glorious promise of "rest unto your souls."

In the next series of events the rising tide of popular favor begins to break against the opposition of the religious leaders. At this point Jesus turns solely to teaching by parables.

As he explains parables require the kind of sympathetic, spiritual insight that men of open minds of faith can understand. With others it serves as further judgment of God upon their willful blindness and stubborn refusal to recognize such a clear manifestation of God as demonstrated in Jesus Christ.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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30. Jesus' Cross Is Hard Idea

As we begin this week we are amazed to see how Jesus leaves his own kin and friends in Nazareth because they were offended by him. "And he marveled because of their unbelief."

Now the Master trains his disciples and sends them out that they might experience the joy and power of the Kingdom ministry. At the same time he prepares them for the kind of thankless misunderstandings and persecutions they are bound to receive. His own ministry revives the sordid conscience of Herod for the murder of John the Baptist, but it creates only superstitious fear and no repentance.

Jesus now enlarges the scope of his training of the disciples. The feeding of the five thousand almost precipitates a revolution by the people to make Jesus their king. He avoids the crowds and soon his Galiean campaign is stifled by the disappointed people.

A series of withdrawals with his intimate disciples to the surrounding Gentile regions now prepares the disciples for the decisive moment at Caesarea Philippi. In this comparatively secluded spot Jesus reveals his coming death and resurrection for the first time. Peter, who has just led in the disciples' confession of Jesus as God's Son, now lends himself to Satan to try to dissuade Jesus Cross.

But Jesus proves that the Way of the Cross is not only the way for he Master to accomplish his Messianic purpose but also the daily way for any disciple. And immediately He predicts that they will know by the Cross but the Son of Man has received the Kingdom and inaugurated His reign.

The disciples could not grasp any of this they missed the meaning of the Transfiguration, failed to use their Master's power on the demoniac boy, and could only express sorrow over the repetition of Jesus' prophecy of death and resurrection.

In a series of very human parables, Jesus enforces his training of the Twelve to strengthen their character against the coming crises.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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31. Hostility Against Jesus Mounts

During this phase of Jesus ministry he is drawn into many controversies with the religious leaders. This provides many opportunities for specific teachings about the nature of his for challenging discipleship.

The invasion of the Son of God with his redemptive power with at work in a hostile world excites all kinds of Satanic attacks. This warfare hastens on toward the sure climax of the Cross. Jesus warns his disciples repeatedly that they will be so deeply involved in this warfare that they will experience misunderstanding and ostracism even by their own kin.

As Jerusalem gradually closes her heart and mind to her King, he urges his followers to ever wider circles of ministry beyond even the borders of Judaism.

It is at the point of Sabbath observance that Jesus angers the Pharisees the most. Yet they are also shocked that one who taught with such authority and "went around doing good" should eat with sinners. In the powerful parables of the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and Lost Boy, Jesus reveals the hard heart of such pride and legalism. By the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus he rebukes their greed and its consequence - rejection of any Word of God even from one raised from the dead.

When Jesus points out to his disciples the fatal weakness in the character of the Rich Young Ruler they are amazed, because by their traditional standards such a one already had the evidences of salvation. On the rebound from this, Peter impatiently asks, "Then what do we get out of this?" In the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard, Jesus shows the kind of workmen God chooses to honor above all else: those who work for the love of it, who trust their Employer without bargaining and who do not measure themselves against others.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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32. Jesus' Ministry Is Climaxed

In his last public message, Jesus denounces sins in the name of religion in the strongest terms. As he weeps over Jerusalem he shocks the disciples by foretelling the destruction of the city and its Temple. The disciples question him about these prophecies.

First Jesus warns them not to confuse the events and their meaning (Matthew 24:4-14), for the whole period leading up to the fall of Jerusalem will be one of continual conflict and persecution.

The signs of the Fall of the City are clearly given so that the faithful may escape. The Fall signals the end, outwardly, of Israel as a national instrument of God's Covenant purpose (Matthew 24:15-26).

The next major event in God's Kingdom is the breakup of all earthly systems, climaxed by the Final Coming ("parousia") of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:29-31). The Parable of the Fig Tree (Matthew 24:32-35) illustrates how clearly are the signs of the coming of God in judgment at the Fall of the City.

The reference to the days of Noah (Matthew 24:36-39) on the other hand, emphasize the fact that the Final (Second) Coming of Christ will not be accompanied by signs and cannot be predicted. Therefore, in the light of these two truths, Jesus urges his followers to the only preparation possible: patient and faithful service to the very End. (Matthew 24:42-51).

The Parables in Matthew 25 all underscore this theme of faithfulness. Yet the disciples were still so weak and dense about the coming crisis Jesus foretells. They misunderstand the anointing by Mary of Bethany. They are woefully ignorant of their own capability at betraying Jesus. Peter even boasts of his own loyalty. They sleep during Jesus' agony.

In the Upper Room Jesus inaugurates the Memorial Supper, which points to the Cross as bringing men into a New Covenant relationship with God.

The trials through which Jesus goes reveal the widening circles of mankind's involvement in the death of the Son of God. Yet the suffering servant of the Lord maintains his steadfast way to his glory. By means of his death and his victory he achieves the place of authority and rule promised to the Son of Man.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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33. Spirit Expands Jesus' Work

Luke explains clearly in the first verses of Acts that he is writing one continuous story of the "doings and teachings" of Jesus. The ministry of Jesus after his resurrection was designed to prepare them for his departure and the coming of the Holy Spirit that God had promised through the Prophets.

Now the new age has fully arrived with the outpouring of the Spirit "upon all flesh". The remarkable change of character and conduct of the apostles can be explained in no other way then by the power of the same Jesus. So Luke proceeds to demonstrate in event after event the proof of the dawning of the new age.

This gospel which these changed men now carry cannot be hindered. Step by step Luke shows how the Spirit-filled life in the community of believers broke all bonds and brought the gospel to all men everywhere.

Here are the themes that recur throughout these early chapters of Acts:

Men can trust their lives in glad abandon to Him for they know that He is in control over history. Since these things are so, all men everywhere are challenged to repent and receive the redeeming love of God which comes through the Lord and Savior of all mankind. Since He has been elevated to the position of Lord, here can be no other way, no other religion, no other Name.

Note also how the life in the Spirit welds together such diverse peoples and conquers such social problems. Yet these men are not conscious of manipulating the community for any human purposes. The Spirit controls in a way most unexpected.

Yet His every move furthers the sure march of triumph. No wonder the early Christians counted it an honor to suffer shame for the Name of Jesus.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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34. Early Church Emphasizes A Practical Religion

It is interesting and instructive to compare Paul's story of his conversion in the 22nd chapter with that of Luke in the ninth. Paul lets us see the peculiar commission to the Gentiles and its relation to the Jews. Yet he is convinced that there is only one gospel and he has received it directly from God and not through any man.

At this point we turn to the earliest written portion of the New Testament - the book of James, written to Jews everywhere between 40 and 43 A.D. and probably distributed through the many language synagogues in Jerusalem at some festival season. This "most Jewish book" of the N.T. is patterned after the wisdom literature of the O.T. Its emphasis upon practical religion would be very appealing to non-Christian Jews, but it is still noteworthy that the first N.T. book is so highly ethical and so lightly evangelistic. I The teaching about faith and works in the second chapter is at first glance opposite to that of Paul in Romans. However, a closer look will prove that Paul is talking about faith justifying a man before God while I James is talking about works justifying a man's claim to faith before men.

As we return to the Acts we see the gospel advancing against many barriers. The first great barrier is not that of its appeal to Gentiles, but the prejudice of its own leaders. Peter needs quite a demonstration before he is convinced that God is opening the door of faith to the Gentiles.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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35. Spirit's Full Power Evident

The Age of the Spirit is now largely Gentile Church at Antioch now hears the Holy Spirit commanding them to commission Saul and Barnabas s the first missionaries to Observe the Holy Spirit's strategy the missionaries are sent first to the synagogues, they give their witness, are rebuffed and then turn to the Gentiles; further. they seek out the most influential people of the community; this two-fold attack brings out the Enemy in full force-, finally, the conflict gives occasion for a greater witness than ever and many demonstrations of the power of the Gospel.

Study of the sermons in the Acts.

Note how each one links up the history of God's revelation during Old Testament with the fulfillment of God's promise in Jesus Christ. Jesus is declared to be the Son of God and the Savior of Mankind by the resurrection, which is the key feature of all their witness. As a consequence of Christ's victory He has been given the Kingdom promised to David. The evidence of His rule is the "powers and signs and wonders" wrought through the disciples by the Holy Spirit.

The first great crisis of the Church leads to a decision which affected the whole course of Christendom to this day. The issue was simple: must Gentiles submit to the law of Moses and become Jews in order to receive the promises and experience the salvation of God in Christ? After much debate where the voices of Paul, Peter

and James are all heard with telling effect, the Church approves the opening of the door to the Gentiles without the necessity of coming by way of the Law of Moses. As a consequence the liberty of the Gospel is affirmed to all men, spiritual religion is vindicated and the unity of the New People of God is guaranteed.

It is at this juncture that Paul learns of trouble caused by the Judalzers among the new churches in Galatia that he had founded on the First Journey, at Antioch, Lystra, Derbe and Iconium. These young converts were so confused by the Judaizers that they were denying that Paul was a true apostle and attacking his gospel as false and misleading. So Paul writes Galatians from Antioch in Syria shortly after the Conference in Jerusalem in 49 A.D.

The highly charged letter develops like this: "I have been given the unchangeable Gospel of Christ directly. I marvel that you are trying so quickly to change, when there is no other possible gospel. My gospel was not handed down by men, not even by the apostles in Jerusalem. I stood for the liberty of fellowship in the Gospel even before Peter and Barnabas. Even we Jews bid to be justified through faith in Christ and not by works of law. The secret of this liberty from the law and from sin is the experience of death to the law and to self and union with Christ. Stand fast, therefore and do not get entangled again with any bondage."

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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36. Journey Shows Practical Theology

As the Second Missionary

Journey is about to start the dissension between Paul and Barnabas arrives over John Mark. There is evidence from Galatians 2:13 that an underlying cause of the dispute lay in the rebuke Paul gave Barnabas over his conduct in the presence of the Judaizers. Whatever it was, Paul chose Silas as his partner, a Jewish convert who was known for his prophetic preaching.

The Second Journey starts out through the same cities of Galatia where churches were founded on the First. Then the missionary team press toward the northwestern coast seeking every opportunity to preach, but divinely hindered till they came to Troas. In Acts 16:6-10 it is interesting to observe how Luke involves the Trinity in their leadership: "having been

forbidden of the Holy Spirit"…"the Spirit of Jesus suffered them no…concluding that God had called us to preach (in Macedonia)." This is, evidence of the practical and non-technical theology of the early Church.

In spite of persecution Philippi, a Roman colony, proves a fertile field for the Gospel. Later Paul will write these noble Christians with more genuine affection than perhaps any church he founded. At Thessalonica in a. very brief stay Paul founded a church composed of :some Jews, many Greeks and a number of influential women of the city. He was run out by a mob and so continued his ministry at near by Berea.

Most interpreters of Paul esteem very lightly his ministry in Athens where he preached I his famous sermon on Mars Hill before the assembled philosophers and hangers-on ("seedpickers" in the Greek). However, history records that the church that grew out of the few converts there outlasted all those in Asia Minor by several centuries.

Moving on to Corinth, the great commercial metropolis of the country, Paul found business friends in Aquila and Priscilla. When he was driven out of the synagogue he finds a place for a school in the house of Titus Justus next door and with the help of the new convert Crispus, former ruler of the synagogue, he engages in teaching for the next eighteen months.

During this time the letters to the Thessalonians are written 'to encourage -them and straighten them out on matters concerning the coming of the Lord. It seems that some had concluded from the apocalyptic preaching of Silas that the Day of the Lord was about to dawn or -even had already passed. Paul instructs them that the crisis of iniquity had not yet occurred, but that when such a Man of Sin came forth with all the lying powers of Satan at his command, the Lord Jesus would destroy him "by the breath of His mouth." Further than that he exhorts them to faithful service and patient waiting for the Coming of the Lord.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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37. Corinth Is Challenge of A Journey

The first great test of the power of the Cross against complete paganism came at Corinth, where Paul taught for eighteen months. The city was a great commercial center, about the size of Dallas, a Roman colony, but with the majority of the people slaves. It was a city of vice par excellent! (Cf. Romans 1:18-32, which was written from Corinth of Gentile debauchery). The pagan religion was centered upon the temples of Apollo and Aphrodite, the latter having over a thousand temple prostitutes for use of her worshippers. In all the Empire "to behave as a Corinthian" was a byword for the lowest kind of living.

When Paul arrived at Ephesus on the Third Journey he found members of the house of who in Chloe from Corinth formed him of the troubles that had developed since he had left. Inbred with the party spirit of the Greeks the members had divided into many factions over their human leaders.

As one has said, "They had to have something to rave about or to denounce … something to take sides about ... to give zest to life." Yet they were proud of their intellectual superiority and complacent over the presence of gross immorality in the church. They were engaged in disputes over marriage, social customs, banquets and eating idol-meats, the place of women in meetings, the Lord's Supper, spiritual gifts and even over the reality of the resurrection of Christ.

Briefly Paul's argument runs like this in answer to such problems: Unite, for Christ is not divided and no one of us was crucified for you. The Cross is the power of God unto salvation. Yet this offends human pride and wisdom, which God has set aside in His Wisdom. The Holy Spirit reveals that wisdom to us in spiritual experience that brings discernment. Yet you are still immature acting like mere humans in choosing up sides.

Actually every one of us leaders are on the same building team erecting the Church as the Temple of God. So we all belong to you anyway; why are you not learning from each of us, who are stewards of God's secrets that are now available to everyone? You must discipline your immoral member for his ultimate salvation and for the sake of the purity of the membership. When you have arguments, why go before heathen judges when you have men of humble and wise spirit among you- that can judge such cases?

The cure for all immoral living is to understand that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and act accordingly. The ideal marriage is one husband with one wife for a lifetime of mutual love and respect. If you are married to an unbeliever do not force such a one to remain or depart marriage, but remember that your holy influence is the Spirit's best means of leading your spouse and your children to the Lord.

However, because of the crisis of this age and the near approach of the Lord, it is best to remain unmarried as I. But I am not insisting on this as rule, certainly not to fathers to impress upon their daughters. We have been freed from taboos connected with idol worship ship, but since those who am weak in faith are still sensitive on this, we will not use our liberty to cause them to violate their conscience.

My freedom as an Apostle even means that I can forego my God-given right to be supported ported in the ministry. I do I this, not from pride, but because I gain extra freedom to identify myself with every type of man in order to many as possible. But this takes severe self-discipline, for, it is entirely possible to busy; oneself so with others as to lose, one's own soul. The example of the Israelites warns us not to play around with worldly desire and presume up upon God's Salvation.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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38. Christian Liberty Founded on Love

We pick up this week with the summary of the Corinthians correspondence at I Corinthians 11, paraphrasing: I cannot praise you for abusing your I new liberty in Christ by rejecting all divinely ordained lines of authority and the customary signs of such. Nor can I praise you in the manner in which you practice the lovefeasts prior to the Lord's Supper. You are so selfish and greedy in this that you are in no fit spiritual attitude to commemorate the sacrifice of the Lord, by which He established a new covenant relationship for us with God.

You have been arguing over which spiritual gifts are the best. Do you not know that all gifts are dispensed by the One Spirit of Christ as He sees best for the good of the Body of Christ as a whole. It takes many kinds of gifts, and you have nothing to do with which one the Spirit decides to give you, but each is essential to the whole. Now if you want to covet spiritual gifts, covet the one that gives meaning and value to them all - the gift of love. The active power of this love is able to resolve all your problems; its passive strength enables you to endure all your woes. Indeed, love is the highest way of knowing and the only way into spiritual maturity.

If you insist on comparing gifts, let us compare speaking in tongues with prophesying. The former benefits only the person who experiences such spiritual ecstasy; the latter is God's way of using men to encourage and instruct and comfort everyone in your assembly. Even so, when the Spirit moves any in the assembly to speak he can still control his urge so that you can take turns and make your worship an orderly and honorable affair.

Finally, I understand that some are actually denying Jesus rose from the dead hence there is no resurrection Besides the incontestable ness of those who saw Jesus after His resurrection, He is raised because He appeared to me on the Damascus road. But If this be not there is nothing at all to faith, and we are' altogether miserable and deceived in with no hope of any kind.

Christ has opened the way victory over the grave, and too will follow it the last when He returns to claim final victory and hand over Kingdom to God the Father Now this resurrection does simply restore us to this Kind of material body which have now. It raises us into higher kind of existence with bodily organism designed that perfect spiritual environment. This hope gives us complete assurance of Christ's first victory and makes us steadfast in this life.

On turning to 2 Corinthians we go first to Chapter 10 where many believe the so-called 'lost letter' - the second one that caused so much grief in Corinth is to be found. Paul had learned from his emissary that the church had not reaction well to his first letter. Indeed they were rebelling at his authoritarian tone and resentment this writing instead of coming personally.

The "second" let humbled them, and when Paul received the good report that 'the Church was following through on their moral a spiritual duties he wrote I wonderful consoling letter (2 Corinthians 1-9). This letter gives the greatest insight into Paul concept of the ministry, the urgency of the Gospel and privileged position believers now have under the New Covenant.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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39. Frustration Prompts A Great Epistle- Romans

From Acts we learn of Paul's intense desire to plant the gospel at the heart of the Roman Empire. His strategy always was to claim the most influential positions for the gospel. Yet his desire was temporarily frustrated. Premonitions of trouble on his return to Jerusalem may have hastened his desire to write the church at Rome, which must have been founded by converts at Pentecost and elsewhere. So when he spends three months in Greece he finds an opportunity through the visit of Phoebe (Romans 16:1-2) to send one of his greatest epistles "to impart … some spiritual gift … to preach the gospel to you also that are in Rome" (1:11-15).

Paul presents his credentials as an Apostle and justifies his interest in the Church at Rome. Then he presents his thesis: God graciously justifies sinners on faith alone. This is the heart of the gospel that God uses to bring salvation to both Jew and Gentile.

The guilt of all mankind before God makes necessary a new way to be right in the sight of God: through faith. The Gentiles have failed to achieve right standing with God. They rejected the knowledge of God that is available to all men, so they went into idolatry. This brings about a degraded religion and all forms of gross immorality.

The Jews likewise have failed to achieve righteousness. The self-righteous critic of others can expect the same impartial judgment of God. Even though they have the Law of Moses yet they have I brought shame upon the name of their God by their hypocritical action. So all are under the universal indictment because all are sinners and have failed to fulfill God's purpose in creating man.

The law itself, together with the prophets, point to the only way of righteousness: through faith in God and His provision for redemption. This is done through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who takes away our sin guilt and frees us. This is God's work and so 'proves that He was, right In his treatment of sinners who trust Him in every age.

Now the experience of Abraham proves the point that one does not achieve righteousness by obeying the Law, for the Law came many centuries after Abraham. His many acts of' faith demonstrate the kind of righteousness which he had.

Since God has put us in the right, we can have peace with Him and enter joyfully and without fear into His presence. He has demonstrated His love for us by pouring out His Spirit upon us, and by giving, His Son to us not as the reward of our faith, but as the means of winning us back to Himself. The death of Christ brings us back into harmony with God. His Risen Life gives us all the blessings of our present salvation and assures us of final victory.

It is true that mankind lost a lot as a consequence of the race going astray beginning with Adam. But we have gained more than we lost through the righteous life of Christ that He shares with us. Now we are under grace and free from the law, but this freedom is not license to sin. When we entered by faith into the experience we attest in baptism, we died to the old kind of life and arose to a new kind made possible by Christ within us. So rather this freedom makes possible for the first time the true use of ourselves as servants of God.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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40. The True Israel is Community of Faith

Last week we concluded with Paul's ninth chapter of Romans, which begins his wrestling with the problem that lay heavy upon his heart. His own people by this time were turning away, from Christ in massive unbelief. How could God achieve victory in the world it he people he favored with His special revelation did, not believe? Would His promises fail?

He sees the way out along these lines:

  1. The true Israel have ways been those who are of faith. In their history God has long worked a selecting and refining process in order to use men for His redemptive purpose.
  2. The true Israel Includes Gentile believers. The wrath of God upon the Jew has fallen out to the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles.
  3. The Jew failed because he thought to achieve righteousness by his works in obedience to the Law. But Christ has brought the law to its designed end and closed it forever as a way of righteousness.
  4. However, there is hope for a spiritual awakening among the Jews whenever they are sufficiently provoked by the salvation of the Gentiles. Through faith in the risen Lord both Jew and Gentile can be saved and so finally God will complete the tale of the true Israel, made up of both without any distinction in the New Humanity God is creating in Christ.

Paul concludes Romans with some brilliant chapters on the practical consequences of these great themes. Chapter, 12 appeals to all believers to invest their natural and spiritual gifts in the highest service of all. Life in this world is a constant tension: within the brotherhood we must practice love toward the world without we must fulfill our citizen duties as an obligation unto God.

Differences in minor convictions are to be settled on the principle of honoring the conscience of those who are "weak in faith" (the immature and unenlightened believers).

As we return to Acts we find Paul on the final leg of his Third Journey, returning to Jerusalem via Ephesus. There we gain insight into the spirit that characterized his pastoral ministry. On the way he is warned numerous times by the Holy Spirit of the dangers that await him in Jerusalem.

He evidently does not interpret these warnings as prohibiting his course. In the Temple he is sponsoring some Nazarites in concluding their vow, a practice which does not violate his principle of freedom 'from the Law, but which is questionable since the motive was to demonstrate to his fellow Jews that he was not a religious revolutionary.

However, the Jews who have trailed him from Asia-Minor seize the opportunity of denouncing him to the mob. Of great significance are the three charges they bring: teaching against the people of Israel against the Law of Moses and against the Temple. Note carefully that the way Paul words his defense to the Jews as compared with Luke's account of his conversion.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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41. Paul Witnesses Through Trials

Each successive trial presents Paul with a new opportunity to bear witness to the gospel of the Kingdom of God. The first trial recorded in this week's lesson before Felix, is significant because the high priest Ananias deemed it worthy of his trouble to bring a formal charge against Paul before the governor.

When Felix saw that the matter was simply a doctrinal issue between Paul and the Jews, he discharged the court but, hoping to receive some bribe from Paul or his friends, kept him in prison for two years. These two years are known as the silent years of Paul's life are strange when we consider how active the Apostle has been heretofore.

However, it is not unusual for God to set apart one of his leaders for a period of comparative unproductively while He prepares him for greater things in the future.

When Festus succeeds Felix, Paul soon sees that there is no hope of justice in these provincial courts. Therefore, he appeals to Caesar. Under the laws of the Roman Empire, any citizen had the right to appeal to Caesar at any time and that appeal could not be denied.

Paul's defense before King Agrippa is another striking account of his conversion. Before this heathen king, his defense is somewhat different from that which he made before the mob in Chapter 22. However, he makes it clear again that the question of the resurrection of Christ is still the key issue in all the dispute that rages around him.

At this point, Festus interrupts him with his famous shout. "Paul, thou art mad! Thy much learning is turning thee mad." But Paul turns to Agrippa with his knowledge of the Hebrew prophets and Agrippa replies with almost plaintive tones. "With but little persuasion, thou wouldst fain make me a Christian."

The thrilling journey to Rome is described in the 27th chapter. Here again the remarkable Providence of God is seen in the manner in which Paul is brought through all danger so that he might bring his final witness before Caesar. There are two passages in the 28th chapter which stand out with striking importance.

In Verse 14, the sentence concludes, "... and so we came to Rome." What a world of experience personal determination and guidance of the Holy Spirit is wrapped up in the little word "so." The other verse is the very last verse of the book.

Paul is described as he continues his ministry first to the Jews of the city who reject his gospel, and then to the Gentiles. Luke concludes this account by showing that Paul was now free to preach the Kingdom of God, teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness, none hindering him.

It would seem that Luke breaks off the story at this point; however, as Dr. J Frank Stagg of New Orleans Seminary has pointed out, "Luke's intention is not to give us a history of the Apostles, not; even a full account of Paul. It' is to give us a record of the victories the Gospel wins over, each succeeding hindrance until finally it is planted in the heart: of the empire where Paul is free to preach and soon will be called to bear witness before Caesar."

While Paul is in this hired I house, he received various friends who bring him reports from the many mission churches that he has established. One is brought to him by Timothy I by the church at Phillipi This church had been very dear to Paul's heart; they had followed his ministry with love and kindness and much financial support. Paul writes a letter of great joy to them from the Midst of his bonds. His purpose is simply to strengthen them, and to express his appreciation for them in Christ. In the midst, of this simple purpose, he expresses some of the profoundest themes of the Gospel.

If there is any trouble in Phillipi, it is minor as compared with that of Corinth. But there is a little bit of jealousy that Paul seeks to, solve by his exhortation in the second chapter. Here he uses the example of Christ to enforce his teaching of humility.

But there is a little bit of jealousy that Paul seeks to, solve by his exhortation in the second chapter. Here he uses the example of Christ to enforce his teaching of humility. At the same time, he gives us the finest insight into the person of the Eternal Christ. He is the one who, being equal with God from all eternity, laid aside all his divine prerogatives in order that he might become a servant and give himself as a sacrifice for the sin of the world.

As a consequence of his, obedience God has exalted him to His right hand to receive the name that is above every name that is, the Lord, and thereby to reign until every knee bows to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

The third chapter is notable for its insight into the Union of Paul in Christ. This is the secret of his power, his character, and his nobility. The short book concludes with a grand exhortation to rejoice not in spite of suffering and sacrifice and sorrow but as victorious through all of these trials.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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42. God In Christ Provides Redemption

Let us attempt to personalize the letter to the Ephesians:

"I, Paul, Christ's Personal Representative, salute you devoted followers of Jesus in all the churches of Asia Minor."

"Let us praise God, from whom all spiritual blessings flow in our redemption. God the Father chose this eternal plan for us. We can experience this in union with Christ. The Holy Spirit guarantees to us that God will complete His work of redemption by living within us."

"I pray that you may understand and appreciate these blessings. May God open the eyes of your heart to your rich heritage in Christ. You will then realize that He carries out His Plan through His Church."

"You have been transformed into a new kind of men. Remember how you used to live in sin and then you win understand how graciously God has saved us and for what noble ends. He has naturalized us into a New Human Race. Christ breaks down all human barriers so that we can all approval God on equal footing. This New Race is being built up into God's Temple where He dwells now on earth."

"I have a stewardship to reveal God's Plan even though I am the least of all His devoted followers. This secret, which is now being explained to all, is that God is including all the nations in the promises and privileges He once made to Israel alone. "

God demonstrates the wisdom of this Plan to all the world by the life and work of His Church. What a great confidence in our mission this gives! So we pray that you may actually demonstrate God's doxology of praise to all the world.

"I appeal to you to live worthy of your High Calling of God. Be united in the one spiritual Body of Christ. Renounce all worldly practices and put on the new robe of Christ-like conduct. As soldiers of Christ put on the armor He provides with complete confidence of victory."

Later in Paul's life, so most believe, he was released from his imprisonment in Rome and permitted travels that may have taken him again to Macedonia and perhaps Ephesus. There he renewed his contacts with the churches and with his co-missionaries, Timothy and Titus.

Then he seems to have been returned to Rome under much closer imprisonment before he met martyrdom at the hands of the debauched Nero.

The "Pastoral" epistles have an entirely different tone and emphasis, but this is understandable in the light of his counsel to individual ministers rather than to churches in these letters we see something of the work of the early ministers, their qualifications, trials a resources for the warfare. Paul is concerned about the purity of the faith, the consistency of Christian conduct, and the practical affairs of the missionary endeavor.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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43. Christianity Is Man's Only Hope

 Paul is still concerned in his letters to Timothy and Titus with healthy teaching ("'Sound doctrine"). This always has an ethical and social purpose in view. The personal openness of heart of the great apostle is nowhere better seen in II Timothy 4:9-18, which many believe to be the last words he dictated before his death.

One of the greatest books of the Bible is Hebrews. Although it had a struggle gaining a place in the New Testament canon, we could not do without it. The anonymous sermon (or series of sermons) is indispensable for our understanding of the relationship of the Old Testament to the Christian faith.

It throws great light upon the meaning of the person and work of Christ. It deals with the most profound doctrines: the security of the believer, the destiny of mankind through Christ the priesthood of all believers. It concludes that Christianity is the final religion and only hove for mankind because Christ Is God's last Word to man.

The author who was well versed in the Jewish faith and priestly system writes to Hebrew Christians, probably of Ephesus. Disappointed in their early expectations over the Messiah-Jesus, they had failed to grow under the discipline of experience.

They were under pressure from their old associates to return to Judaism. This would require renouncing their faith in Christ as Messiah and in effect of crucifying Him again. The Temple worship in Jerusalem was still going, though ominous signs of the end of the Jewish state already had appeared.

The conflict between synagogue and church had now become acute. Is Christianity to be a sect of Judaism, or is Judaism to be swallowed up in Christianity, the faith that knows no boundaries of race, priesthood, geography or time?

By a series of masterly arguments the author demonstrates the superiority of Jesus and the Covenant He established with His blood over the founders and mediators of the Old Covenant. In the first four verses Christ is presented as the supreme revelation of God and the climax of all the different and partial revelations that served as preparation.

Next Jesus as God's Son is shown to be greater than the angels ("messengers"), who were thought to have delivered the law on Sinai to Moses. In 2:1-4 the author stops for one of the frequent "pauses to exhort" in the book. There is a greater necessity for us to listen to the new revelation (which brings "so great salvation") in Christ than to obey the old revelation at Sinai.

In proving His superiority to angels, the author shows that Jesus, as the ideal man, fulfills the destiny God intended for man when He created him and gave him dominion over the earth. But Jesus won back this destiny by humbling himself so that he might experience and defeat death.

As a consequence Jesus is able to deliver us from the bondage of death and give us help through all our sufferings and temptations.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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44. Melchizedek Priesthood Fulfilled

Melchizedek has long seemed a riddle wrapped in an enigma. However, his role is not too difficult once we understand the Jewish method of interpretation. As far as the record goes in Genesis 14, he did not receive nor transmit his priesthood by inheritance ("without father, without mother, without genealogy"); there is no mention of his birth or death ("having neither beginning of days nor end of life".)

As king and priest, therefore, he is a type of Christ: He received His priesthood by direct appointment of God, holds it eternally without passing it on to any successor, and serves not Judaism through the law of Moses but all mankind through "the power of an indissoluble life." Moreover, He reigns as King through peace and righteousness. Since Christ had the same kind of priesthood as Melchizedek, He is superior to Aaron, whose ancestor Abraham recognized the superiority of such a universal priesthood.

Now this line of argument is no longer needed to convince our contemporaries that Jesus is superior to Aaron. Its immediate relevance served the first generation, but in so speaking, the inspired author has left us deeply in his debt. No other has so plumbed the qualifications and functions of Jesus as our High Priest.

The Priest has been elevated to the Kingship. He ministers in both roles in the True Sanctuary in the heavens, because He was the mediator of the New Covenant foretold by Jeremiah (31:31ff). This fulfilled and has taken the place of the Old Covenant completely. For this reason no Old Testament scripture can be interpreted directly, but only in the light of the changed conditions of the New Covenant. Failure to heed this is the greatest cause of misinterpreting Old Testament prophecy.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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45. John Records Mounting Conflict

The pattern of John's witness continues to be signs Jesus did plus His discourse with the Jews in the running argument over His claims. One of the most interesting textual problems of the New Testament occurs here in the story of the woman taken in adultery. The earliest Greek manuscript to record this story is Beza of the sixth century. It is found also in the somewhat earlier Old Latin, Vulgate, and Syriac translations.

Since no one of the three great Manuscripts (Sinaiticus, Alexanchine, and Vatican) have it, we conclude that it was not in the original of John. However, it has all the other intrinsic evidence of being genuine to the life of Jesus. It is thought that the early church wrested long with the problem of whether or not this story might condone adultery!

At any rate, it probably stands with a few nonbiblical traditions among those many things from the life of Jesus of which John said: "if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that should be written." (John 21:25)

In the eighth chapter the conflict with the Jews almost reaches its climax as Jesus claims an authority and antiquity greater than that of Father Abraham. Notice in John 5:58 the use of the divine name as revealed unto Moses at the burning bush.

In the next chapter Jesus heals the man born blind, which is an act of judgment upon the blindness of that generation (John 30-40). (Be careful how the application of verse 31 is made. This is Pharisaic doctrine and not Christian theology!)

The great passage on the Good Shepherd finds its main roots in the teachings of Ezekiel and only incidentally from the better known 23rd Psalm. Read them both and see.

In the raising of Lazarus the conflict between Jesus and the Jews comes to its head. In spite of the cautious counsel of Caiaphas the Jews are now determined to kill Jesus because He endangers their political and religious security (John 11:48).

With this break Jesus now turns to the inner circle of disciples and begins the last series instructions to prepare them for the time of disruption. These passages need long and earnest meditation to plumb the depths of their meaning and significance.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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46. John Adds Passion Events

We are indebted to John for significant additions to the Synoptic accounts of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. J o h n brings out further elements in the character and conduct of Pilate, which bears indirect testimony to the kind of Kingdom and the strategy of its Ruler that is from God. The crux of the people's rejection is: "We have a law, and by that law he ought to die. because he made himself the Son of God." However, knowing that such an argument could never convince the heathen Pilate, they switched to the political argument: "If thou release this man. thou art not Caesar's friend: every one that maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar."

John also reflects such eyewitness incidents as the casting of lots for Jesus' robe, the committal of His mother to the disciple whom Jesus loved, the breaking of His legs and piercing of His side.

It is well-nigh impossible to reconstruct the order of events of the morning of the Resurrection from the four Gospels. More important however, are these particulars upon which all four agree: no description is given of the act of Resurrection; afterward Jesus showed Himself only to believers; these manifestations were made both to separate individuals and to various groups; Jesus determined the circumstances and the manner of his appearances* the evidences were received at first with hesitation and doubt, no mere report being accepted;

manifestations was the conviction that the living Jesus was present with his disciples. Note I the masterly way in which John builds the case for belief in the risen Lord. Finally John records the warmly human episode beside the Sea of Galilee when Jesus recall., Peter, proffers His forgiving love and commissions him to "pastor" His Rock. The First Epistle of John is a profound exposition of practical!

Christian love that is motivated by intimate communion with God through Jesus Christ. It is this "fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ" which is the basis of our "Fellowship one with another." It is our hope of deliverance from sin, purity of heart and conscience, and victory over the evil that is in our immediate world. By receiving the Spirit. anointed of God, we have that, innate knowledge which enables: us to do the truth. This issues in practical love for our brother in his need and boldness in the presence of God. Who is love. In our effort to prove that the believer is still subject to sin and error in this life. Let us not water down John's insistence that the practice of love toward God and man brings us into, spiritual maturity.

II and III John are little fragments of the apostles' early, correspondence which reveal, the concern of the early Church! f the purity of the faith on for one hand (II John) and for the openheartedness of believers on the other (III John).

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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47. Encouragement Given in Trials

Peter, the Apostle to the Jews, sees the impending wave of persecution that is about to break over the churches of Asia Minor. He writes a circular letter to encourage and forewarn them in the midst of the wicked environment of the pagan world, probably after the martyrdom of James in Jerusalem in 62 A.D.

Peter encourages these Gentile believers by showing them the privileges and the power of the New Israel of which they are now full members. All believers are now the Chosen Race, a kingdom of priests and a nation holy to God. Consequently they have received all the promises God made to Israel under the Old Covenant .

Then he encourages them in the face of persecution by interpreting the meaning of trials to the Christian: persecution offers opportunity for the grand witness to the faith, Christ Himself being our example of how we should act under trial; furthermore, we are permitted to share Christ's sufferings with joy. But we are to endure suffering as a follower of Christ and not brim! it upon ourselves by doing wrong or "tempting fate."

The authenticity of II Peter is more seriously doubted than 'hat of any other book of the N.T. However, the great difference in style and language between it and the first letter may be explained by the fact that Peter, the unlettered fisherman, wrote the second letter, while he dictated the first to SilvanLis, who polished the style and language.

We do not have much evidence of the people addressed, but the purpose is clear: to guard against heretical teachers and the consequent breakdown in moral discipline. There was also considerable doubt by this time that the Lord would return as He had promised. Since the second chapter is so closely parallel to Jude, it is here placed last for closer comparison.

Jude, either the brother of James, and an Apostle (Luke 6.16), or a halfbrother of the Lord (Matt. 113.55), writes with the same purpose as that of 11 Peter. It is unique for recording the only full quotation from one of the Apocryphal books (I Enoch 1:9; compare Deut. 33:2-3).

The Book of "the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show unto his servants ... he sent and sig by his angel unto his son John." In the midst of the greatest persecution the Church had experienced, that by Domitian during the last decade of the first century, John writes from Patmos exile to the churches of Asia (Minor) a powerful witness to the final triumph of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ over the evil kindoms of this earth. It is impossible here to give a full introduction to this remarkable and much abused book.

The following will indicate criteria of sound interpretation:

  1. The Holy Spirit directed the message to the practical needs of the Christians in the Churches of Asia Minor so that they could understand, but their enemies who were persecuting them would not.
  2. The Book is largely written in symbolic language which must be handled with a mind steeped in the thought of the Old Testament and the relevant apocalyptic literature of the day.
  3. This Old Testament terminology must be interpreted with New Testament meaning under the conditions ot the New Covenant, never with a few to a return to the provisions of the Old Covenant.
  4. The visions must be grasped as a whole without undue pressing of each individual detail.
  5. The Book is addressed to the spiritually trained imagination. The drama is understood I in the terms of Eph. 6:12ff and I related passages.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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48. God's Sovereignty Seen In History

The first vision given to John magnifies the sovereignty of God in pictures drawn from Ezekiel's opening vision. The twenty-four elders, representing the twelve patriarchs of the Old and the twelve Apostles of the New covenants, are representations of the Israel of God, the assembly of the saints of all time.

Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who has become the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. is the only one worthy and able to bring the Book of Destiny and unfold the meaning of history and of all life.

The vision of the seals denotes the judgments upon mankind throughout history, climaxed in the Final Day of the Lord. However, Chapter 7 reassures John that the Church on earth will be preserved through these judgments, and The Church triumphant in heaven are secure in their eternal joy and heavenly pursuits.

The vision of the trumpets indicates the warnings sent to unbelievers, which also brings relief to the warring saints. There is no more graphic picture in all literature of the rise and fall of successive civilizations that corrupt themselves from within and invite disaster from without.

Meanwhile, the Christian martyrs continue their witness to the Gospel and the final victory of Christ's Kingdom until finally the anti-God forces triumph - seemingly. But the witness of the Gospel receives new life and continues to the consternation of God's enemies.

In Chapter 12 the vision reverts to the beginning of the conflict between the power of Satan and his kingdom of evil and that of "our Lord and of His Christ." When Satan is unable to destroy God's Son at this birth, he then turns upon the in unity of His followers with demonic persecution. All of this Anti-Christian combine is headed up in John's day by the tyrannous Caesars, who now accept worship of divine, land of the priesthood of this Emperor worship all over the world.

At the climax of this warfare the "City of the World" tinder the name of Babylon, that ancient cesspool of iniquity and pride raised a against God - is humbled before the whole world. And so fell Rome and so walls every "City of the World" that rises in arrogant defiance of God and His Kingdom.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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49. Redemptive Purpose Is Summarized

The closing chapters of Revelation give profound assurance, of the final victory of Christ and His saints and their glorious destiny in eternity. In the vision of the Word of God in the 19th chapter there is combined the warlike imagery with the moral and spiritual means to victory. It is by means of this "sword of His mouth" If Thessalonians 1-2) that the victory is iron over the twin beasts of Ro- man tyranny and emperor worship

As we approach the 20th chapter (with fear and trembling), we are reminded that this vision is not necessarily to be placed at the end of history, for we have seen numerous times when John's visions recapitulate the redemptive history either in whole or in part. Further, let us stay with just those truths that are in this chapter and not try to read into the millennium ideas and descriptions from other sources -most of them in the non-biblical apocalyptic books of the Jews). There are three main ideas:

  1. Satan is bound for a definite period in God's chronology for the purpose of limiting his power to deceive whole nations into idolatrous rebellion against God as he did Rome and her allies. The binding was accomplished by Christ in His Cross (see the passages in the "Full Readings").
  2. The martyred saints of John's day are seen reigning with Christ through the first resurrection, which is their triumph over physical death that ushers them upon their joint-reign with Christ. There is nothing said here about the earth being filled at this time with peace and righteousness, unlimited Prosperity.
  3. There will come a final eruption of evil and rebellion against God that will issue in final judgment and final destiny of the wicked. The 1000 years then is a symbol of that long, indeterminate (but definite to the mind of God) period between the Cross and the final advent of Christ. (This is no new interpretation, but is at least as old as Augustine in the fifth century).

The concluding vision describes the glorious destiny of the redeemed. That the New Jerusalem is not a literal city shown by the other New Testament figures and by the purposes indicated here in its function. It is the organized society, of the redeemed of all ages, "made ready as a bride adorned for her husband" Cf. Ephesians 2:19-220 5:23-32). The environment of this city does not obey natural law but spiritual law, "for the glory of the Lord did lighten it." It is a realm of perfect harmony, joy and communion of the full realization of the eternal purpose of God for which creation was made and redemption accomplished.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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50. The Glorious Destiny of God's People

 As the Christian martyrs continue their "witness" (the meaning of the word "martyr"), the scene shifts to the vision of the triumph of the sovereignty of God over all those who have been persecuting the Christians, exemplified by Rome under the figure of Babylon.  The Seventh Angel trumpets the victory of Christ.  The heavenly chorus responds with thanksgiving.  Then follows a scene shift that shows the wrath of the "great red dragon" (Satan and the forces of evil) against the woman who brought forth "a man-child" (Mary, as the figure of the Messianic community, and the royal Son) and against "her seed" (12:17).  The dragon's final defeat is followed by the grand announcement of victory (12:10-12).  The conflict is further described in the following chapters.

The divine forces are led by the Lamb of God and His faithful, the Church Victorious in heaven [the "144,000" = the 12 tribes times the 12 apostles times 1000 (immense numbers)].  The kingdoms of this world, epitomized by Babylon (Rome) are doomed.  Then the victorious "son of man," sitting upon a cloud appears and calls for the harvest of the final Judgment (14:14-20).

We are moving swiftly to the glorious climax of the Kingdom of God next week.

Copyright 1999-2001 by C. B Hastings . You may link to the Start Page for Bible Reading at http://www.ministryserver.com/dailybiblereadings.htm 
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51. The Final Victory of Christ

These 7 days complete our reading through entire Bible. (If you have read all the 'Brief" assignments, you have covered about 60% of the Old and 95% of the New Testaments). The final six days give a rapid summary of God's redemptive purpose through the entire Bible. If you would profit most by the year's readings, you will want to do two things: first, write in about 50 words or less your own summary of the Bible: then think through your reading experiences and. make note of the values you have received the new perspectives you have gained and the new truths which you have experienced.

As we approach the end of this journey through the Word of God we hear the call to the joyous preparation for the marriage of the Lamb of God to His wife, who is arrayed in the '"fine linen" of "the righteous acts of the saints' John is assured of the final victory of Christ, seated upon the "white horse" of triumph, and leading His armies to victory over all enemies.

Chapter 20 is the only reference in the Bible to the binding of Satan for the thousand-year rule ("millennium") of the "priests of God and of his Christ."  The purpose of the binding (at the Cross) is to limit Satan's power to deceive whole nations into idolatrous rebellion as he did Rome and her allies in the time of John the Revelator.  The term of the bondage is that long, indeterminate period (except to God, with whom a thousand years is but as yesterday) between the Cross and Satan's release prior to the Final Advent of Christ.  At the end of that period Satan is released for a last desperate effort to overthrow the Church Militant (on earth).  He meets his final end in the Lake of Fire in this last triumph of Christ.  Then comes the Final Judgment before the "Great White Throne," which separates the righteous and the wicked for all eternity.

Chapters 21 and 22 provide us with John's vision of the glorious destiny of the righteous.  This, like most of the rest of the Book of Revelation, provides us with a test of whether or not we have been liberated from the bonds of materialism--do we still believe that the "real" is limited only to that which we can apprehend with our senses?  The "streets of gold" and "the gates of pearl" are but metaphors that open like windows for us onto the vast glory of the spiritual nature of God's ultimate realities.  Let us drop the shackles of materialism, and delight in that which is so beautiful and glorious that ordinary language pales in its effort to describe that which "God has prepared for those that love him"--"things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, and which entered not into the heart of man" (2 Corinthians 2:9).

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52. No Summary Available

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