Isaiah 1

“READ THROUGH THE NEW TESTAMENT + ISAIAH” (RTNTI) PROJECT
Today’s Reading: Isaiah 1 (NIV) | (NLT) [click version to read]
[You can read/download the reading plan here.]
Date: 19 October 2013
Written By: Dr Conrade Yap

1The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

2Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth!
For the Lord has spoken:
“I reared children and brought them up,
but they have rebelled against me.

3The ox knows its master,
the donkey its owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.”

4Woe to the sinful nation,
a people whose guilt is great,
a brood of evildoers,
children given to corruption!

They have forsaken the Lord;
they have spurned the Holy One of Israel
and turned their backs on him.

5Why should you be beaten anymore?
Why do you persist in rebellion?
Your whole head is injured,
your whole heart afflicted.

6From the sole of your foot to the top of your head
there is no soundness—
only wounds and welts
and open sores,
not cleansed or bandaged
or soothed with olive oil.

7Your country is desolate,
your cities burned with fire;
your fields are being stripped by foreigners
right before you,
laid waste as when overthrown by strangers.

8Daughter Zion is left
like a shelter in a vineyard,
like a hut in a cucumber field,
like a city under siege.

9Unless the Lord Almighty
had left us some survivors,
we would have become like Sodom,
we would have been like Gomorrah.

10Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the instruction of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!

11“The multitude of your sacrifices—
what are they to me?” says the Lord.
“I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure
in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.

12When you come to appear before me,
who has asked this of you,
this trampling of my courts?

13Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.

14Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals
I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.

15When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
I am not listening.
Your hands are full of blood!

16Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong.

17Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.

18“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.

19If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the good things of the land;

20but if you resist and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

21See how the faithful city
has become a prostitute!
She once was full of justice;
righteousness used to dwell in her—
but now murderers!

22Your silver has become dross,
your choice wine is diluted with water.

23Your rulers are rebels,
partners with thieves;
they all love bribes
and chase after gifts.
They do not defend the cause of the fatherless;
the widow’s case does not come before them.

24Therefore the Lord, the Lord Almighty,
the Mighty One of Israel, declares:
“Ah! I will vent my wrath on my foes
and avenge myself on my enemies.

25I will turn my hand against you;
I will thoroughly purge away your dross
and remove all your impurities.

26I will restore your leaders as in days of old,
your rulers as at the beginning.
Afterward you will be called
the City of Righteousness,
the Faithful City.”

27Zion will be delivered with justice,
her penitent ones with righteousness.
28But rebels and sinners will both be broken,
and those who forsake the Lord will perish.

29“You will be ashamed because of the sacred oaks
in which you have delighted;
you will be disgraced because of the gardens
that you have chosen.

30You will be like an oak with fading leaves,
like a garden without water.

31The mighty man will become tinder
and his work a spark;
both will burn together,
with no one to quench the fire.”
(Isaiah 1)

RTNTI

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Time for Reflection: “The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us … shall please God… to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son – it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.” (C. S. Lewis)

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This “Read Through the New Testament” project and commentary is sent to you from Theology@Work, a ministry that helps apply theology in our daily lives, and seeks to inculcate, faith, hope and love in our heads, hearts and hands. If you find this meditation helpful, forward it to friends or encourage them to subscribe here. You can contact me (conrade) at yapdates@aim.com.

Catch-up Day (Oct 18th, 2013)

“READ THROUGH THE NEW TESTAMENT + ISAIAH” (RTNTI) PROJECT
Today’s Reading: Catch-up Day (October 18th, 2013) (NIV) | (NLT) [click version to read]
[You can read/download the reading plan here.]
Date: 18 October 2013
Written By: Dr Conrade Yap

17The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

18I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.

20He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

21The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
(Revelation 22:17-21)

RTNTI
Take the day to catch up on your missed readings. It is also a great moment to remember the great day of rest and peace. Feel free to read ahead. We continue with Isaiah 1 tomorrow.

Blessings,

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Time for Reflection: “Thus the gulf between the Creator and the finite creature has been bridged by revelation, and the absolute mystery of that transcendent source from which we come has been illumined to our spirits and made partially intelligible to our minds. To Christians, therefore, the transcendence of God implies and requires the revelatory acts of God. And for this reason, Christian theology rightly feels that all that it can validly say about the transcendent God must be based upon and guided by God’s revelation of Himself.” (Langdon Gilkey)

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This “Read Through the New Testament” project and commentary is sent to you from Theology@Work, a ministry that helps apply theology in our daily lives, and seeks to inculcate, faith, hope and love in our heads, hearts and hands. If you find this meditation helpful, forward it to friends or encourage them to subscribe here. You can contact me (conrade) at yapdates@aim.com.

Revelation 22

“READ THROUGH THE NEW TESTAMENT + ISAIAH” (RTNTI) PROJECT
Today’s Reading: Revelation 22 (NIV) | (NLT) [click version to read]
[You can read/download the reading plan here.]
Date: 17 October 2013
Written By: Dr Conrade Yap

1Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

6The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.”

7“Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”

8I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. 9But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!”

10Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near. 11Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.”

12“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

14“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

16“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

17The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

18I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.

20He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

21The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
(Revelation 21:1-20)

RTNTI

We have come to the final chapter of the New Testament. I want to take some time to examine how the whole ending looks like. Let me make five observations and two final conclusions.

First, the vision of the river of life shows how vibrant and life sustaining is the outflow of grace and blessings. Note how the clear water of life gushes forth from one source to the other regions. This is about the spread of life.

Second, fruits come forth fully, all twelve crops referring to all the tribes of God’s chosen people. They will be continually fruitful for God.

Third, the light that is present will be omnipresent and ever present. There is no lack of light. There will be no more darkness. There will be light.

Fourth, the Word of God will be fulfilled completely and perfectly. Things written in the Book of Life will be fully revealed.

Fifth, even in the midst of the glory, there is the temptation to bow down and worship the beauty of the vision, just like John who was warned not to bow down before the angel bringing the blessings.

The first conclusion is that there will be judgment. Only those whose names are written in the book of life will be saved. Those who have will have more.

The second conclusion is this. How ready are we to receive the coming of the Lord Jesus? The Spirit has already said, “Come.” God is coming. God will come again.

Come Lord Jesus!

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Time for Reflection: “The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us … shall please God… to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son – it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.” (C. S. Lewis)

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This “Read Through the New Testament” project and commentary is sent to you from Theology@Work, a ministry that helps apply theology in our daily lives, and seeks to inculcate, faith, hope and love in our heads, hearts and hands. If you find this meditation helpful, forward it to friends or encourage them to subscribe here. You can contact me (conrade) at yapdates@aim.com.

Revelation 21

“READ THROUGH THE NEW TESTAMENT + ISAIAH” (RTNTI) PROJECT
Today’s Reading: Revelation 21 (NIV) | (NLT) [click version to read]
[You can read/download the reading plan here.]
Date: 16 October 2013
Written By: Dr Conrade Yap

1Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

5He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

6He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

9One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick. 18The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.f 21The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

22I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
(Revelation 21:1-27)

RTNTI

Eternal glory. Full of light. Full of grace. Full of glory. The magnificent image of heaven coming down to earth is simply breathtaking. It reminds me of the Lord’s Prayer that many have continued to pray today. God’s will be done in heaven as well as on earth. In the new heavens and new earth, we get a glimpse once again of the coming of the Kingdom of God in all its glory. Like the first coming of Christ, God dwells once again among His people in this kingdom. There will be no more tears, no more pain, no more death, no more suffering, and no more falsehood and evil. For only God’s light remains.

Note in verse 22 where there is no need for artificial lighting or external sources of light to shine on the city. For the city itself will be full of light. The use of light is widespread and tells us it is independent, it dispels all darkness, and it is self-sustaining. That is because God is the One sustaining it. God is the One who is able to give light, present light, and to sustain light for all. The perfect kingdom will come. When that happens, we better be ready to celebrate.

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Time for Reflection: “The deepest passion of the heart of Jesus was not the saving of men, but the glory of God; and then the saving of men, because that is for the glory of God.” (G. Campbell Morgan)

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This “Read Through the New Testament” project and commentary is sent to you from Theology@Work, a ministry that helps apply theology in our daily lives, and seeks to inculcate, faith, hope and love in our heads, hearts and hands. If you find this meditation helpful, forward it to friends or encourage them to subscribe here. You can contact me (conrade) at yapdates@aim.com.

Revelation 20

“READ THROUGH THE NEW TESTAMENT + ISAIAH” (RTNTI) PROJECT
Today’s Reading: Revelation 20 (NIV) | (NLT) [click version to read]
[You can read/download the reading plan here.]
Date: 15 October 2013
Written By: Dr Conrade Yap

1And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.

4I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. Theya had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

The Judgment of Satan

7When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. 9They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

The Judgment of the Dead

11Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
(Revelation 20:1-15)

RTNTI

This chapter has spawned several different interpretations of the thousand years. Is it literal or symbolic? Are we already living in the thousand years (Midtribulation)? Many such as Charles Feinberg, John Walvoord, Harry Ironside, and Charles Ryrie say it has yet to happen (Premillennialism). Others like Charles Hodge and BB Warfield say it has already happened (Postmillennialism). Then there are those who claim that we are already living in the realized millenialism. This position is held by people such as Abraham Kuyper, Leon Morris, Anthony Hoekma, the Roman Catholic Church, as well as many Reformed theologians.

Personally, I believe there is not much benefit to hold dogmatically to any one position. We may profess an orientation toward one or more of them. We may even argue strongly for the strengths of one over another. Yet, we need to be humble enough to acknowledge that only time will tell, only God can reveal all we need to know. Whatever it is, be open to the reality of the thousand years, the realism of the need for faith regardless of the literal or nonliteral interpretations, be open to the revelation of God that has come and is to come. This is the way to read Revelation. With open hands for the Lord to place the interpretation. One thing we know. At the end, whoever whose name is not written in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire.

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Time for Reflection: “The men of strong faith blamed their weaker brethren for being superstitious and, by their superstition,
bringing a yoke of bondage upon themselves. “No,” replied the weaker sort, “we are not superstitious! We are conscientious, while you go much too far in your liberty and cause us to stumble.” Thus while the strong looked down upon the weak, almost doubting whether they could have come into the liberty of Christ at all, the weak condemned the strong, almost charging them with turning their liberty into licentiousness!

They were both wrong, for they were judging one another. Paul, who was, himself, most strongly opposed to the Judaizing party and in every respect came out clear and straight upon the bold lines of Christian liberty, was, nevertheless, so actuated by the spirit of his Master that he was ready to be all things to all men—and seeing grave peril of dissension where all should be love—he rushed into the breach and he said, “Do not judge one another: what have you to do with judging? There is a judgment yet to come.” (Charles Spurgeon)

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This “Read Through the New Testament” project and commentary is sent to you from Theology@Work, a ministry that helps apply theology in our daily lives, and seeks to inculcate, faith, hope and love in our heads, hearts and hands. If you find this meditation helpful, forward it to friends or encourage them to subscribe here. You can contact me (conrade) at yapdates@aim.com.

Revelation 19

“READ THROUGH THE NEW TESTAMENT + ISAIAH” (RTNTI) PROJECT
Today’s Reading: Revelation 19 (NIV) | (NLT) [click version to read]
[You can read/download the reading plan here.]
Date: 14 October 2013
Written By: Dr Conrade Yap

1After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting:

“Hallelujah!
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
2for true and just are his judgments.
He has condemned the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth by her adulteries.
He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”

3And again they shouted:

“Hallelujah!
The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.”

4The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried:

“Amen, Hallelujah!”

5Then a voice came from the throne, saying:

“Praise our God,
all you his servants,
you who fear him,
both great and small!”

6Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

“Hallelujah!
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
8Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”

(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)

9Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

10At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.”

11I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”a He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

17And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.”

19Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.
(Revelation 19:1-21)

RTNTI

This beautiful chapter begins with a mighty worship. The shouts from heaven say: “Hallelujah!” In fact, three times the hallelujahs ring out loud and clear. No one can miss it. The angel says to John: “Write this.” That is an author’s dream, to be motivated by the divine angel to pen down the vision. Awed by it all, John starts to bow down before the angel. Quickly, the angel stops him. That is the mark of a servant of God. True servants of God will refuse homage paid to them, but will direct all glory and honour back to God. Only God deserves all of our worship. The victorious scenes continue.

The warriors from heaven then go forth. The coming of the white horse is a powerful vision. It reminds me of the great scene where Gandalf appears amid a major battle that the good guys appear to be losing. Christ is our Gandalf, our Hero, our God. Note how comprehensive is the victory. Apart from the armies of heaven that follows the white horse, there is the sharp sword coming out of the mouth of the horse, the treading of the winepress, the overwhelming strength and power of the celestial forces. The resistance quickly rises against heaven, only to be quickly doused.

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Time for Reflection: “But have we Holy Spirit power – power that restricts the devil’s power, pulls down strongholds and obtains promises? Daring delinquents will be damned if they are not delivered from the devil’s dominion. What has hell to fear other than a God-anointed, prayer-powered church?” (Leonard Ravenhill)

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This “Read Through the New Testament” project and commentary is sent to you from Theology@Work, a ministry that helps apply theology in our daily lives, and seeks to inculcate, faith, hope and love in our heads, hearts and hands. If you find this meditation helpful, forward it to friends or encourage them to subscribe here. You can contact me (conrade) at yapdates@aim.com.

Revelation 18

“READ THROUGH THE NEW TESTAMENT + ISAIAH” (RTNTI) PROJECT
Today’s Reading: Revelation 18 (NIV) | (NLT) [click version to read]
[You can read/download the reading plan here.]
Date: 13 October 2013
Written By: Dr Conrade Yap

1After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. 2With a mighty voice he shouted:

“ ‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’
She has become a dwelling for demons
and a haunt for every impure spirit,
a haunt for every unclean bird,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal.
3For all the nations have drunk
the maddening wine of her adulteries.
The kings of the earth committed adultery with her,
and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”

4Then I heard another voice from heaven say:

“ ‘Come out of her, my people,’
so that you will not share in her sins,
so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
5for her sins are piled up to heaven,
and God has remembered her crimes.
6Give back to her as she has given;
pay her back double for what she has done.
Pour her a double portion from her own cup.
7Give her as much torment and grief
as the glory and luxury she gave herself.

In her heart she boasts,

‘I sit enthroned as queen.
I am not a widow;
I will never mourn.’

8Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her:
death, mourning and famine.
She will be consumed by fire,
for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.

9“When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. 10Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry:

“ ‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
you mighty city of Babylon!
In one hour your doom has come!’

11“The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore— 12cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; 13cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves.

14“They will say, ‘The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your luxury and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.’ 15The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn 16and cry out:

“ ‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet,
and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls!
17In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!’

“Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. 18When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’ 19They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out:

“ ‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
where all who had ships on the sea
became rich through her wealth!
In one hour she has been brought to ruin!’

20“Rejoice over her, you heavens!
Rejoice, you people of God!
Rejoice, apostles and prophets!
For God has judged her
with the judgment she imposed on you.”

21Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said:

“With such violence
the great city of Babylon will be thrown down,
never to be found again.
22The music of harpists and musicians, pipers and trumpeters,
will never be heard in you again.
No worker of any trade
will ever be found in you again.
The sound of a millstone
will never be heard in you again.
23The light of a lamp
will never shine in you again.
The voice of bridegroom and bride
will never be heard in you again.
Your merchants were the world’s important people.
By your magic spell all the nations were led astray.
24In her was found the blood of prophets and of God’s holy people,
of all who have been slaughtered on the earth.”
(Revelation 18:1-24)

RTNTI

A lament for Babylon? After all the terrible signs and destruction that Babylon has wrought over all the entire world, they all end with a puff of smoke like a rifle that has emptied all of its bullets. All the might that she had is no more. All the threats that she brought is no more. All the destruction and deceptions she had posed is no more. All that remains is the judgment by the King of kings and the Lord of lords. With Babylon’s sins piled up high and the blood of the saints in her, the voice of heaven calls out to the faithful one to come out from inside Babylon. Remember how the saints were persecuted and consumed? Now is the time where God recognizes all their faithfulness and to bring them back to God. Those who are repentant will be saved.

Following this call are the three woes pronounced on Babylon. I am reminded of the mercy of God in the midst of the Great Judgment. Unlike some of the powers of the world that seems bent toward total destruction and annihilation, God’s judgment is one of mercy and grace. While destruction can be total, grace is also total. There is no human institutions that are able to do both. Just take the bird flu epidemic that has hit several countries in the recent years. When a few chickens were found infected by the deadly flu strain, the entire flock had to be culled. That includes those chickens that are perfectly fine. The problem is that people do not have the means or manpower to test and verify every single bird. After all, some may have the virus but may not respond to the tests at that time. The Judgment of God is different. When God tests, we know that it is perfect and just. We know that nothing escapes the eye of God. At the same time, we know nothing escapes the mercy of God. What a great God He is! Praise him. Bring all of ourselves to God in prayer.

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Time for Reflection: “Furnish thyself with arguments from the promises to enforce thy prayers, and make them prevalent with God. The promises are the ground of faith, and faith, when strengthened, will make thee fervent, and such fervency ever speeds and returns with victory out of the field of prayer. The mightier any is in the Word, the more mighty he will be in prayer.” (William Gurnall)

conrade

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This “Read Through the New Testament” project and commentary is sent to you from Theology@Work, a ministry that helps apply theology in our daily lives, and seeks to inculcate, faith, hope and love in our heads, hearts and hands. If you find this meditation helpful, forward it to friends or encourage them to subscribe here. You can contact me (conrade) at yapdates@aim.com.