Scripture Text: Luke 17:22-24 Title: Where is Christ?
Question of the Day: What has been the number one desire of Christians since Jesus ascended into heaven?
Jesus knew the great desire of all true believers when He was on earth was just to be with the Master—to follow Him, to watch Him live, to listen to Him teach, to see Him heal, and to see the way He baffled those who came along to badger Him with questions. So, what would it be like here on earth for these 2000 years now when He wasn’t around to be with His chosen special people?
Jesus answers that question in today’s text: “And Jesus again turned to His disciples and said, ‘the time will come when you will desire to relive some of the days when the Son of Man was here, but you will not be able to relive those days. Then people will say to you, “Look, there is the Messiah! Or, “Isn’t that Him over there?” But do not go after them or become their followers. As the lightning flashes in one part of the sky and lights up the whole sky, it will be like that when the Son of Man returns in His day of glory.’”
Jesus knew that the number one desire of all Christians of all time would be to relive some of those days, or dream about what it was like to see such an individual walk the earth again. What would it have been like to follow Him each day; to just see the way He lived; to listen to Him teach again some of the great truths of the Bible; to watch Him heal lepers and blind people—and even bring back to life those who had died; or to watch Him embarrass those who came to badger Him with their questions?
With that in mind, then what would be the number one temptation of His followers, or those who were His “would be” followers? It would have been to go after anyone who claimed to be the “Messiah”! One person counted recently and found that there were over 1500 people worldwide who claimed to be Christ! So Jesus said, “Many false christs will come in My name and deceive many.” (Matthew 24:4-5) But the truth is this: when He returns in all His glory with His holy angels with Him, it will be unmistakably clear that it is He who has returned to be with us; and when He comes in the rapture of the church, the last phrase in I Thessalonians 4:17 captures our immediate attention: it says, “…and so we shall ever be with the Lord.” What a great thought!
Prayer: Lord, You know how our great desire is to see You and to be with You forever—and that is just the promise that You make to us! We are part of Your body, and as such we have a great need to be with You—to be fulfilled; to be all that You designed us to be; and just to enjoy Your presence forever. This we long for, and say with the Apostle John, “Even so, Lord Jesus; come quickly!” Amen!
David B. Virts has written a book called “Knowing, Seeking Worshiping — a study of the character of God.” It is available by calling 615-945-0611.
Scripture Text: Psalm 115:1-8 Title: Helpless Idols Helpless People
Question of the Day: This world is full of idolatry, but what are the people like who worship those idols?
One of the remarkable things about life on planet earth is this: it has been observed that many couples that have been married for 50 or 60 years are said to think and act alike, and in some cases look alike. That is remarkable! Some of them even look alike! Not that they are both old and wrinkled, but they have so enjoyed each other’s presence, talked together, walked together, planned together, worked together, and so on that they actually begin to look alike.
In today’s passage the psalmist describes the contrast between the LORD and the useless idols of this world. Here is today’s passage: “O LORD, it is not unto us, now it is not unto us, but to Your name that we give glory, and why? Because of Your overwhelming and steadfast love and Your faithfulness! Then why do the nations keep on saying, ‘Where is there God?’ Our God is in the heavens and He does whatever He pleases. But the idols of the world are made of silver and gold and they are the handiwork of a man. They do have mouths, but they cannot speak; they have eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but they do not hear; they have noses, but they do not smell; they have hands but they cannot feel; and they don’t make any sounds at all. What is sad is that those who make them end up becoming just like them—and that goes for all who put their trust in them.”
In this psalm we are confronted with the stark contrast between the LORD, the God of the universe, and the gods of this world, and with a startling conclusion:
First here is what we learn about the LORD:
He is a God of steadfast love. We cannot comprehend how God can love the whole world and give His Son so that they can be saved, but that is the truth of the Word of God! His love is steadfast and overwhelming and unfailing and incomprehensible.
He is a God who is always there for us constantly, that is, He is faithful. We live in a world where we can trust nothing else or no one else; yet He reveals Himself to us as the One who is always there for us; He will never leave us or forsake us; and He admonishes us to learn to be faithful, consistent, and always there for each other—especially fellow believers.
Our God is also firmly enthroned in the heavens. This gets our perspective off ourselves and onto the One who is in heaven, who always existed, and has capabilities far beyond our comprehension.
Our God also does whatever He pleases:
First, He is able to do what He pleases.
Second, He cannot be stopped or hindered from doing whatever He pleases.
Third, He has absolute power and can do anything that He wants or needs or plans to do.
And fourth, He has a complete plan for every creature that He makes, and whether they like it or not, they will end up doing whatever He has designed and planned and purposed that they do!
And here is what we learn about the gods of this world: They are made of material things like silver and gold. They are always handmade. They have a mouth, but cannot speak; eyes, but cannot see; ears but they cannot hear; noses but they cannot smell; hands that cannot feel; feet that cannot walk; and a throat but they cannot make a sound!
When the contrast is completed, look carefully at the final conclusion of the psalmist: he said that what is sad is that those who make them end up becoming just like them—and that goes for all who put their trust in them. Here is the stark contrast: man was made in the image of God, and in that image he has creative ability. Throughout the rest of Scripture we are told to love as God has loved us; to be holy as He is holy; to learn to be faithful as He is faithful; to show mercy and forgiveness to others just as He has shown mercy and forgiveness to us; and so on. Now what is startling in this passage is that when the psalmist completed the description of the useless and helpless condition of the gods of the world, then he concludes by saying that those who make these gods and worship them become like them! We are challenged in Scripture as believers to become like God, but those who make and worship useless and helpless idols become like them. Let your imagination run wild on that thought!
Prayer: O God, You made us in Your image and then you tell us in Ephesians 5:1 to imitate You—that is, to become like You. That is the longing in the heart of every believer—to be and become like Jesus Christ our Lord, who is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature” (Hebrews 1:2-3 ESV). If we become like You and the world becomes like the gods of this world, no wonder they end up feeling Your wrath forever! O God, help us to become like You! Amen!
David B. Virts has written a book called “Knowing, Seeking Worshiping — a study of the character of God.” It is available by calling 615-945-0611.
WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL by David Virts
Scripture Text: Luke 17: 5-10 Title: What Does God Want?
Question of the Day: What does God expect from us—His servants?
Jesus had a way of tying together two completely disjointed thoughts together in order to make His point, but when He made His point, it was driven home deep into our hearts. This is the case in this story. Listen as Luke tells us how Jesus explained faith to His disciples. Here’s what the text says, “And it is at this point that the apostles turned to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, what can we do to have more faith?’ And the Lord said to them, ‘If you had a very little amount of faith, as much as a very little mustard seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, “Be uprooted and thrown into the ocean,” and it would obey you.
“But which of you, if he had an employee plowing in the field or feeding your cattle, and would casually say to him as he came in from chores, “Go and sit down and eat”? Wouldn’t you really say, “Fix a meal first so I can eat, and prepare the meal and serve me first, and after I have had plenty to eat and drink, then you can serve yourself?” Would you then thank that servant because he did what was expected of him and what he was ordered to do? I don’t think so! In the same way, when you have done all of this things that you are commanded to do, you must then say, “we are unworthy employees: we have only done what was our duty to do.”’”
Here Jesus ties together the fact that our faith needs to be increased, the potential of doing what I do by faith, and the fact that just being His servant and doing what was expected of me is my duty. What do these have to do with one another? We all know our need to have our faith increased, so Jesus pointed out to here that when we do the task that God has given us to do, and carry out His plan for us, that is only our duty, “we are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty to do.”
Does it take faith to complete the task that God has given us to do—when we can’t see how that fits into our lives and into His eternal plan? When we move ahead and do what He has ordered us to do, will He not be there and, if needed, a sycamore tree will be uprooted and cast into the ocean if it is in the way? I believe that the biggest thing that holds back our faith is our inability to see the “big picture”; that is, to see all that God is doing, and the seemingly small insignificant task He has give me to do is really part of a huge plan that encompasses all of this life and right on into eternity as we serve Him. So, as Jesus said here, we must see ourselves as “unworthy servants”, and just dig in and do whatever He asks us to do.
Prayer: Lord, as I look at the seemingly small task that You have given me to do, I get discouraged because it seems so insignificant; yet by faith I move ahead expecting You to move mountains and uproot trees, and in so doing remove all obstacles that would stand in the way of Your plan from being accomplished. Thank You for acting on our behalf! Amen!
by David Virts
Scripture Text: Psalm 115: 9-11 Title: Complete Trust!
Question of the Day: What does it mean to have complete trust in the LORD?
From our first days in the Christian life we are told that we must learn to trust in the LORD with all of our heart and not to lean on our own understanding. It never dawns on the new believer for many years how much of his new life in Christ is built around his faith and trust in the LORD. We learn quickly that it was by faith that we were saved through grace. From there we are staggered at the many things that a believer must accept, not by what he can see, but simply by faith: we can’t see salvation, yet we believe; we can’t see God’s angelic hosts protecting us, yet we know we are being watched and shielded from evil and disaster every day; we can’t see heaven and all its glories and the many loved ones who have died and gone there, yet we firmly believe that one day we will see the Lord in all of His glory and be reunited with family and friends who have died; and we can’t see the help that comes in our time of need, but it is always there—just in the nick of time!
In this psalm the writer has just chronicled how we can give glory to the great God that we serve. His steadfast love hangs on to us every day, and His faithfulness proves to us that He will always be with us constantly throughout the rest of our lives here on earth and for eternity. Then he deals with a contrast between our God, the One who is firmly seated in the heavenlies, and the “gods” of this world—the things that they trust in that are helpless and useless. Then the psalmist puts this challenge to the people of his day: “O Israel, put your trust in the LORD! He alone is the One who helps them and He is a constant shield around them. O descendants of Aaron, trust fully in the LORD! He alone is the One who helps them and is a shield around them. All of you who have a reverential fear of the LORD, trust fully in the LORD! He alone is the One who helps you and is a shield around you.”
As we wrestle with learning to trust the LORD more and more each day of our lives, we can learn how to trust Him more from these verses: The whole nation of Israel was to put their trust in the LORD. This tells us that the whole nation of Israel was to be an example to the rest of the world on how to worship and trust in the LORD, the God of Jacob.
“The house of Aaron” refers to all of those who were the religious leaders, the clergy, of that day. They were to lead the rest of the nation in following the LORD and their primary purpose was to teach everyone everywhere to trust in the LORD.
“All you who fear the LORD” refers to all who were true believers. Today we would say all who have been truly born again must learn to trust in the LORD.
If all the people in any nation were to put their trust fully in the LORD, things in that nation would be remarkably different. If all the clergy in any nation were to put their trust fully in the LORD, things in that nation would be remarkably different. And if all believers, those who take the Word of God seriously and all who truly fear the LORD, were to trust fully in the LORD, the whole world would be a different place to live.
The psalmist then pointed out to each group in his nation two main things for which we must learn to trust in the LORD: We must learn to call out to Him for help. For how many things do we struggle through each day instead of crying out to the LORD? We tend to “lean on our own understanding”, and so we muddle through the day. Every day we need wisdom, direction, seeking Him for what to do and how to handle each situation. The direction of our lives could be focused on “things above and not on things of the earth”. If we learned to trust Him in every detail of our lives, how much smoother would our days be?
As we go through each day, we are aware often that we are under attack: we live in a hostile world; we are destined for a world beyond what we can see; we have unseen forces trying to disrupt and destroy anything we try to do for God; the world wants us to go their way and see things their way and do things the way they think things should be done; and so we need a safe place of protection. The psalmist pointed out to us that the LORD alone is our shield, our protector, our refuge, our fortress, our deliverer, our rock, and the only place where we can have peace and safety. So what is the answer? We must learn to trust in the LORD each day and each step of the way—that is our only recipe for survival in this life!
Prayer: O God, our complete trust is in You and in You alone! Teach us to trust in You in every phase of our lives and in each day that we live. We know that we need Your help every moment and we need Your protection from the hostile forces that we face in this life. We trust in You—completely! Amen!
David B. Virts has written a book called “Knowing, Seeking Worshiping — a study of the character of God.” It is available by calling 615-945-0611.
Weekly Devotional by David Virts
Scripture Text: Various Scripture Passages Title: Baby Messiah
Question of the Day: What must it have been like for Jesus to come as the Messiah Baby?
Title: “IAM” came as Your Messiah
In eternity past Almighty God decided to create mankind on planet earth, and when those men rebelled, it was already decided that IAM would come to rescue them from certain eternal damnation. It was then decided that IAM would come to earth as a Baby Messiah. This is how the plan unfolded.
A certain young virgin would be given the privilege of becoming pregnant without her male counterpart, and this conception would be administered by the Holy Spirit of God. So IAM, the Baby Messiah became a man. We can only imagine Mary and her relative Elizabeth trying to piece together the fact that IAM, the Creator of the Universe was actually in the womb of His creation.
Imagine Mary patting her tummy and thinking, “Here is the Creator of the Universe, the IAM, the Baby Messiah living inside me!” She must have felt every move and the excitement grew as the Baby grew. However the day must come that she would face her espoused husband and try to explain to him the details of what was happening to her and in her. Yet the provision was already made for that event as the angel came and informed Joseph in a dream that “all is OK” and to go ahead and marry Mary and help her bring this Child to birth.
Then came that awful decree from Caesar Augustus that everyone must return to their home town for a special tax and registration, so we packed up—even though Mary was nearly nine months pregnant—and made the journey to Bethlehem since both of their family connections came from Bethlehem. When they arrived in that small insignificant village, they discovered that there was no room for them to stay in the local inn, so they made do in a stable.
What a trip, and on top of that the place was crowded with other guests, and the Baby Messiah came in the middle of the night. The only place to sleep was in a stable, so IAM came and the Baby Jesus, and was born. Boy was that night ever a different night: first IAM came, and then the angelic hosts were heard heralding that announcement to some shepherds on a hillside; the shepherds then came to see the newborn King and when they left they told everyone around and the word spread fast; and what they found out later is that IAM was the only Child born ever who created Himself!
It seems that quite a stir was made when IAM came, and to everyone’s surprise, IAM came as a baby. To the rest of mankind it seemed strange that God could come as a Baby, but then IAM does things that mortal man cannot even imagine doing, but even at birth, IAM made quite a stir and remain to this day stirring the hearts of people as they celebrate IAM’s birth at Christmas.
A Christmas Prayer: Thanks goes up from every true believer of all time that one day the Baby Messiah came to save mankind from their sins and to conquer death and give them the unspeakable gift of eternal life! Amen!
Question of the Day: What happens when I pause to give thanks to those who have blessed my life?
How grateful am I when someone does something significant for me? How is being thankful connected to bringing glory to God? Here is one example: this story takes place on Jesus’ final trek through Samaria and Galilee just before His death. It is recorded that Jesus passed through a number of towns and villages, but in one town there were ten lepers who met Him. Here is what the text says:
“Now as Jesus continued His journey to Jerusalem He passed through the middle of Samaria and Galilee. And when He came to a particular village, ten men who were lepers met Him, and they kept their distance from Him as was required by law. Then they all cried out in unison, ‘Jesus, Master: have mercy on us.’ And when Jesus saw them he said to them, ‘Go and present yourselves to the local priest.’
“And so it happened that as they went, their leprosy disappeared and they were completely healed. And one of them turned back and spoke in a loud voice giving glory to God. When he got to Jesus, he fell down on his face at His feet, and personally gave Him thanks. Now this man was a Samaritan. And Jesus said, ‘Weren’t there ten who were cleansed? Where are the other nine? They are nowhere to be found to give glory to God except this foreigner.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Get up and go your way; your faith has made you well again.’”
Let’s note several things here:
1. These men were healed when they obeyed Jesus’ words and went to show themselves to the priests, who were the doctors of that day.
2. And one of them, a foreigner, returned to Jesus when he saw that he had been healed, and he spoke with a loud voice thanking Jesus, and in doing so it is recorded that he gave glory to God!
3. He fell at Jesus’ feet and personally gave Him thanks. How often do I personally return to someone to give them thanks for what they have done—especially when they have done something significant for me?
4. In Jesus’ final words to the healed leper, Jesus indicated that the thankful heart that he had was a sign of true inward healing.
It is good to note here how this man’s thanks to Jesus was really giving glory to God. Am I likewise giving glory to God when I return to personally thank someone? Is giving thanks one of the ways that I can give glory to God? Giving thanks is just recognizing that all I have has been a gift from God through others to me. And when we pray and ask God to intervene when we are sick, it is not just our physical body that is healed, we need to be healed mentally, spiritually, and emotionally—and giving thanks and giving glory to God goes a long way toward our healing. This man was healed spiritually exercising faith and obedience, and as a result he gave thanks to God and glorified Him. So returning to give thanks and bringing glory to God made the man a whole person again!
Prayer: Lord, I desire to give You glory by learning to be a grateful person in every area of my life. Instead of pointing out what others around me have not done for me, I choose to be grateful for what they have done and how their acts of kindness has enriched my life—and in that way I give glory to You. Heal me: body, soul, and spirit as I become a grateful person. Amen!
by David Virts
Scripture Text: Revelation 14:1-5 Title: Marked Men!
Question of the Day: What are the distinctives of the 144,000 who stood with the Lamb on Mount Zion?
There are many things that are not understood about the book of Revelation, and won’t be figured out until some or all of the events are unfolded. Many have speculated as to who the 144,000 are, and here are a few of the things we know about them: they represent each of the twelve tribes of Israel; they are each marked on their foreheads with the name of their Father; they sang a new song that only they knew; the song was echoed from the lips of many believers in heaven who were gathered around the Throne of God with the four living creatures and with the 24 elders; it is only after they have finished their earthly task that the proclamation is made that the Great Commission is complete; they have lived a blameless life before God; they are called “the firstfruits for God and for the Lamb”; and they have followed the Lamb wherever He goes. Wow! What a resume!
Here is today’s text: “Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, 3 and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. 4 It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, 5 and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.” (ESV)
Here is what John was saying, “I looked, I saw the Lamb standing on Mount Zion with 144,000 of God’s holy children who had His Father’s name written on their foreheads. At the same time I heard a voice from heaven—like the loud roar of a waterfall and like the sound of a loud clap of thunder. Also I could hear the sound of many harps playing. And they sung a new song before the throne, the four living creatures, and the elderly men who sat on thrones around the throne. And the only ones who could sing that song were the 144,000 redeemed people from off the earth. These were virgin men who hadn’t been defiled with women, and they followed the Lamb wherever He went. These redeemed men were the first wave of redeemed people to come to God with the Lamb. Their speech had no guile in it, and they lived a life of complete integrity before God’s throne.”
One wonders at this time in the history of the church just before the rapture and the tribulation starts if there are 144,000 fiery Jewish evangelists in the world today! Are they alive today and preparing for their task? Are we that close to those endtime events?
What is fascinating is that in the rest of the chapter an angel flies directly overhead John and proclaimed the “eternal gospel to all who dwell on the earth, to every people group, every nation and nationality, every tribe, and every language. Just before judgment begins and many are wiped out, the 144,000 go forth and proclaim the gospel, and it is here that we understand that the Great Commission is finally completed. Today the church is scrambling to complete the task and get churches planted in every place on earth, get the Scriptures into the mother language of every person on earth, and get as many as we can to watch the Jesus Film and accept Christ as their Messiah. Will this task be completed before the 144,000 finish their mission? Can this era of the plan of God be complete without it?
Prayer: O God, we know that when we send forth the gospel into the world we are helping finish Your plan of Salvation and Redemption for mankind. As we approach the time of the rapture and tribulation and judgment, we look in awe at the 144,000 and their part in completing the Great Commission. We can only imagine 144,000 fiery Jewish evangelists turned loose on the task of finishing the job! Amen!
by David Virts
Scripture Text: Revelation 13:13-18 Title: Grasping God’s Plan
Question of the Day: Why would God allow His precious children to go through the tribulation?
Persecution is the lot of true believers ever since the Garden of Eden when Cain got mad at God and killed his brother, Abel. When the world around us finds out that we stand firmly on God’s Eternal Word and that we will not alter our thinking to fit the ways of the world, we are immediately a target for persecution. Think of all the Christians, Old Testament and New Testament believers, who stood for what is right and were persecuted and/or executed for their faith. Jewish people, God’s chosen people through whom the Redeemer would come, have been hunted and hounded for centuries and scarcely have seen a time of peace.
Let’s look at one of the last predictions of martyrdom and persecution of believers mentioned in the Bible in today’s text which tells us about the anti-christ and his false prophet: “He demonstrated all the power of the first beast, and made all on earth worship the first creature—the one whose deadly head wound had been healed. He too did amazing things, making fire come down from heaven to earth so that all men could see this spectacular sight; he also deceived people by other miraculous happenings, and all of these things were done so that the first beast and all people on earth could watch. He told everyone on earth to make an image that looked like the first beast, showing the wound on his head that had been miraculously healed and came back to life. The second creature also had power to give what looked like life to the image of the first beast, and even made the image speak. He also directed that, as many as did not worship the beast would be killed. He also caused all people, from those who live in the ghetto to the palaces, the rich and the poor, those who are free and those in prison, to have a mark in their right hand and on their forehead so that nobody could buy or sell anything unless that person had the mark, or the name of that beast, or the numbers that represent his name.”
The prevailing teaching today tells us that as believers we are ready for the rapture because Christ will take His bride out of the world before He rains down judgment on the nations of the world and prepares the world of Jesus’ reign. I believe that that thought is Biblical, but what I can’t get my arms around is the fact that many that are saved during the tribulation will endure such hardship and martyrdom and intense persecution. Why? Are these believers to set a pristine example to all believers of all time that one can endure intense hardship and persecution and have their faith in tact and demonstrate great endurance? Have many, if not all, of these believer had an opportunity to get saved now during what is called “the age of grace”, yet they had rejected God up to the time when the tribulation started and then bowed their hearts and accepted the gift of eternal life?
Many such questions and our attempts to answer them are finite man trying to get their arms around God’s plan that will never be fully understood until all is over and God’s Holy Spirit can fully teach us the beauty of the tribulation period. This is like just looking back now and finally understanding redemption after Christ came, but those who lived through it struggled putting it all together. In the same way we will all struggle to understand fully God’s plan as we are going through this life and as we come up to the rapture and tribulation and millennium, but once we are through all of it and the judgment of God is complete, much more will be understood. Then God’s Spirit will reveal to us all the details and we will be able to accurately teach about the impact of that time-period on man’s history and God’s great eternal plan. For now we ponder; for now we wait; and for now we anticipate what is about to happen!
Prayer: O God, right now we wait for Your Son’s return to clean up the mess this world is in, and we wait for the time when we will be caught up in the air to meet the Lord. There is so much we don’t understand about what is about to happen because You had it written in such a way that it will never be fully understood until it happens. Right now there needs to be different leaders in key countries and the temple needs to be rebuilt; all the Jews need to be gathered back to their homeland; “the land” needs to be fully divided; and most of all, our task of evangelizing the whole world is not yet complete, and so we wait…on Your next move! Amen!
by David Virts
Scripture Text: Psalm 115:1-8 Title: gods versus God!
Question of the Day: How does the Scriptures contrast Almighty God verses the gods of this world?
We who live in a land where there aren’t any images or idols that people bow down to are quite puzzled as to how man can be foolish enough to worship them. Now we have to immediately admit that a god doesn’t have to be a statue to be worshiped, and that people can worship a variety of things or people or money or a position or anything else, but if it is something that people worship and give devotion to, it is none-the-less an idol.
In this psalm as well as in other various passages of Scripture, idolatry is contrasted with the worship of the One True God. In this psalm the psalmist said in prayer: “O LORD, it is not unto us, I repeat, it is not unto us but to Your name that we give glory, and why? Because of Your overwhelming and steadfast love and Your faithfulness! Then why do the nations keep on saying, ‘Where is there God?’ Our God is in the heavens and He does whatever He pleases. But the idols of the world are made of silver and gold and they are the handiwork of a man. They do have mouths, but they cannot speak; they have eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but they do not hear; they have noses, but they do not smell; they have hands but they cannot feel; and they don’t make any sounds at all. What is sad is that those who make them end up becoming just like them—and that goes for all who put their trust in them.”
In this psalm we are confronted with the stark contrast between the LORD, the God of the universe, and the gods of this world: Here is what we learn about the LORD: He is a God of steadfast love. We cannot comprehend how God can love the whole world and give His Son so that they can be saved, but that is the truth of the Word of God! His love is steadfast and overwhelming and unfailing and incomprehensible.
He is a God who is always there for us constantly, that is, He is faithful. We live in a world where we can trust nothing or no one; yet He reveals Himself to us as the One who is always there for us; He will never leave us or forsake us; and He admonishes us to learn to be faithful, consistent, and always there for each other—especially fellow believers.
Our God is also firmly enthroned in the heavens. This gets our perspective off ourselves and onto the One who is in heaven, who always existed, and has capabilities far beyond our comprehension.
Our God also does whatever He pleases: First, He is able to do what He pleases. Second, He cannot be stopped or hindered from doing whatever He pleases. Third, He has absolute power and can do anything that He wants or needs or plans to do. And fourth, He has a complete plan for every creature that He makes, and whether they like it or not, they will end up doing whatever He has designed and planned and purposed that they do!
And here is what we learn about the gods of this world: They are made of material things like silver and gold. They are always handmade. They have a mouth, but cannot speak; eyes, but cannot see; ears but they cannot hear; noses but they cannot smell; hands that cannot feel; feet that cannot walk; and a throat but they cannot make a sound! And the sad thing is this: those who make them become like them.
What a contrast between the useless helpless gods of this world and the LORD, the God of the universe! The psalmist mentioned to believers that we can give Him glory, and later in the psalm we are told of Israel’s complete trust in the LORD for help and for their protection, and for His blessings, and then the psalm is concluded with this admonition: Praise the LORD! Hallelujah!
Prayer: O God, what a pleasure to worship You and You alone! Truly there is none else like You, and when us believers see all that You do for us and how You bless us and how You have prepared a permanent home for us in eternity, who else could we worship! Amen!
by David Virts
Scripture Text: Luke 16:14-16 Title: Get into Heaven!
Question of the Day: When did this idea get started that “we have to try to get into heaven”?
Many things started in Jesus time because He became the beginning point of much of what this world faces today. But what about Judaism and the other religions of the world; did they teach what a person had to do to “get into heaven”? Listen to what Jesus said in these verses:
“Now those of the religious group called the Pharisees were there listening, and they loved money and its influence on others in a covetous way, and they began to deride Jesus by turning up their noses at Him. So Jesus turned to them and said, ‘You are the ones who try to make yourself look so good before others, but God knows your hearts. That which is highly esteemed and ends up being of great value in man’s sight, is despicable in God’s sight. The Mosaic Law and the words of the prophets were highly valued until John the Baptist came to preach. Since that time the approaching kingdom of God has been proclaimed and everyone wants to make sure that they are prepared for it. You see, it would be easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for one small part of God’s Law to fail.”
Jesus had an interesting way of saying that the age of the Law was now being transitioned into the age of grace and the church when He said, “The Mosaic Law and the words of the prophets were highly valued until John the Baptist came to preach.” It is not that the Law and prophets were now obsolete, it is that now the gospel is being preached, and from here on people’s number one desire is to make sure that they get into God’s kingdom. And from that day until now people are “pressed” with a desire to “get into the kingdom of God.” I wonder if any of the religions of the world before this time ever spoke of “how to get into heaven”; or was it from now on throughout history that men were eager to learn how to get into heaven?
The kingdom of God could not come here on earth until the King Himself was come, and now He is here and it is time to get on with it. Everyone wants to be part of “God’s kingdom”, but the ways to be part of it, and the varied ways people come up with to get into it, have sprung up and many false ideas have arisen? The devil has jumped on the bandwagon and given a lot of people false hope that they are OK or that they are on their way to heaven, but Jesus said when He meets many of them He will say to them, “Depart from Me, I never knew you—you who practice lawlessness.” We must make sure we are “born again” and ready to enter heaven!
Prayer: Lord I praise Your name that You have prepared the way for a born again believer to get into heaven, and that Your Father draws us, and You then make sure that all believers will be with You forever. The passion of our lives is to be in heaven with You—forever. Amen!
Scripture Text: Psalm 114 Title: Tremble!
Question of the Day: What is man’s response when the presence of God is manifested?
There are those who deny the existence of God because they have never “seen” Him; but every believer knows what it means to be visited by the presence of God. It usually happens in the most unexpected times and ways and during a crisis time when are under attack from the evil one. The presence of God is the theme of this psalm, and it is loaded with meaning for the Bible student of today as it was for the Israelites when it was written.
Here are the words of this text: “When the Israelites left Egypt, and the descendants of Jacob left that nation who had a strange language, it was then that Judah became the place of the sanctuary of the LORD, and the land of Israel became the place where He desired to rule the world. Before His mighty nation the Red Sea took one look and fled and the Jordan River turned back and piled high. The mountains skipped like the male sheep butting each other and the hills skipped like a little lamb. So what ails you, O Red Sea that you fled like that? And O Jordan, what ails you that you piled high? O mountains, why did you skip like a ram, and O hills, why did you skip like a little lamb? O earth, tremble at the presence of Elohim, when the God of Jacob shows up and turns the rock into an abundance of water, and the hard flint rock became a spring of water.”
The psalm outlines for us what happens when the presence of the LORD is manifested in any place on earth. Of all places on earth where the LORD shows his mighty power, it is in and around the land of Israel and among the Jewish people on earth—and in our day around places where the people of God gather, and among where His people live. It is a fact that the LORD demonstrates His presence wherever His people are—whether in bondage in Egypt, at the Red Sea, at the Jordan River, or—as recorded in this psalm—in the mountains and hills of the land of Israel.
When it is God’s timing to show His presence on earth, He chooses to do it in and through the events that surround His dealings with His people. For instance, when Israel went out from Egypt, and when the descendants of Jacob left the country where they spoke a strange language. Then the process began whereby eventually among the tribe of Judah He made His earthly sanctuary, and among the nation of Israel He, declared His dominion (which will eventually be over the whole earth). During the time of the Exodus and Israel’s departure from bondage, the Red Sea fled from the presence of the LORD, the God of Jacob. The Jordan River was turned back and the waters “heaped”—even though water doesn’t heap—except at the command of God! The mountains skipped around like rams. When one thinks of rams, they think of them butting heads with a thundering sound. This is referring to the time when the Israelites were at mount Sinai and the earth quaked and shook the surrounding area and it seemed that the mountain moved at the presence of the LORD (see Psalm 18:7; 29:6; Exodus 19:18), and the hills also skipped like a lamb. When little lambs are young, they run and jump and skip around in frolic as they play around—it is fun to watch!
At this point the psalmist directly addresses the Red Sea, the Jordan River, the mountains, and the hills with a question, “What ails you…?” One would wonder what the connection between these events is: Why would each of them respond in totally unnatural ways? Seas don’t flee; rivers don’t turn back; and mountains and hills don’t skip around like a lamb. It is at this point that the psalmist unveils the purpose of His writing this psalm: he had figured out that the connection was that the presence of the Lord, the God of Jacob, was manifested at each of these events.
And then the psalmist concludes with mentioning how God manifested His presence to the children of Israel: it was also when He turned the rock into a pool of water and the flint into a spring of water—enough to supply the needs of 3 million or so people! And in this way the LORD, the God of Jacob manifested His presence. So I ask myself: in what ways has the LORD manifested His presence during my lifetime? Here is a brief list: the night I was saved in Ringgold, NE in a revival at the Free Methodist Church; the day the Lord saved my life when the tree fell up in the LaSal Mountains of southeastern Utah and brushed me and knocked me down; when CF fired me for not running with a female truck driver on an overnight sleeper run, and I lost my job, filed a lawsuit that went nowhere, and lay awake many a sleepless nights grieving over what I had done to our family and wept in the middle of the night.
When I was a student at Prairie Bible College and we sang Handel’s “Worthy is the Lamb” and the “Hallelujah Chorus” with a 50+ piece orchestra and a 250 voice choir, my heart pounded with excitement as the LORD manifested His presence to us in that auditorium. I remember the speaker for the night getting up and saying, “We have already reached the pinnacle of the service, we just as well say the benediction and go home!”
I remember when the information for the book “Knowing, Seeking, Worshiping” first came to me while driving a truck between Murfreesboro and Manchester, TN. My heart pounded with excitement as I rejoiced in the way the various character qualities of God are revealed throughout the various parts of His creation, and that He had specially chosen man to mirror one of His character qualities forever—His steadfast love! I also remember when I joined the Heritage Men’s Choral for the first practice that I attended; my heart was pounding for hours after I left that music building on the campus of Trevecca University, and I lay awake that night until 4:00 in the morning and couldn’t sleep because of the excitement of that moment. In so many ways the LORD has manifested His presence as I study and meditate on His Word, and so I wait for many more times in my brief life when the Lord will manifest His presence again and again!
Prayer: O God, I praise You for manifesting Your presence so many times throughout history. Man looks for a visible representation of an invisible God, yet the brilliant light that surrounds Your presence is no place for man in a sinful body! Come show Your presence to me so many more times throughout my pilgrimage here on earth, and teach me to look for You to show up when needed and when You chose to. It will be wonderful throughout all of eternity to continue to dwell in Your presence, and as the psalmist said in Psalm 91:1, “The person who continually dwells in the sheltered place of the Most High God will find permanent rest in the shadow of the Almighty!” Amen! David B. Virts has written a book called “Knowing, Seeking Worshiping — a study of the character of God.” It is available by calling 615-945-0611.
Scripture Text: James 1 Title: Anger–Major Setback!
Question of the Day: What is it that holds us back from knowing God and His Word—perhaps the main thing that holds man back?
Christians are painfully aware that much of the curse of God for man’s sin rests on our lives, we struggle with many effects of the fall of man, and then we are reminded again and again of the ways in which we are held back from knowing God and seeking Him through His Word. By contrast, as we study the life of Jesus of Nazareth, we are very impressed with His handling of the Scriptures, His knowledge of the condition of man and his sinfulness, His way of touching the lives and bodies of people He met, and the way that He discovered His purpose for being here on earth and perfectly fulfilled that purpose. We struggle with the trials and temptations of life, and through them we find a number of things that hold us back from responding fully to what we read in the Scriptures.
In James 1, he gives us a list of the things that set us back from getting the most out of our trials and emphasizes how we must respond to the Word by becoming “doers of the Word, and not hearers only”. Here he covers our attitude in facing trials (“Count it all joy”), the fact that our faith is being tested to give us steadfastness and endurance, our lack of wisdom in knowing what to ask for, the humility that is needed to take in the Word, the blessing that comes from standing firm under a trial, the ability to know when we are being tempted by sin and how to successfully stand, and the way that we, during our trials, must keep our eyes on the “Father of lights.”
It is then that James pauses and tells us in verses 19-21 what it is that keeps us back from “receiving with meekness the implanted Word—that which transforms our souls.” We must do three things: We must be quick to hear. Israel was rebuked by God for being “dull of hearing”, and in the book of the Law many times they were told to “listen carefully to the voice of God and obey Him.” We must be so sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit and to what He is trying to teach us through the times when we read, study, memorize, and meditate on Scriptures. They are absolute truth, and His is the great Communicator and Illuminator—but we must be listening.
We must be slow to speak. Our tongues have the potential of getting us into a lot of trouble and causing a lot of damage in the world around us. We must learn to use our tongue to bring healing and restoration and love and hope to the dying world around us. When we learn wisdom and maturity, we learn to talk must less and listen a lot more.
The final thing that holds back our response to the Word is anger. We must learn to be slow to get angry.
It is here that we want to pause. The first child born on earth, Cain, got angry and killed his brother, and since then anger has been one of the most destructive forces in homes, schools, churches, and in society in general. Moses became angry a number of times throughout his life and it ended up costing this great man of God, a prophet of God, his trip into the “Promised Land”. Anger hits all of us: for some it just smolders like the embers of a fire, and then one day it bursts into flames and brings great destruction. So we must ask ourselves, what does it take to make you mad? The people around us in traffic? Some family member or co-worker who sets us off? When we see injustice done to others? When someone in authority tells us what to do? When we get ripped off by aggressive sales people? You make your list and I will make mine!
The sad thing is that uncontrolled anger (wrath) puts an end to spiritual growth until we learn to deal with it. Take inventory of your life? What makes you mad? Does that anger put you in a rage? Then you must deal with it! In the true nature of the Scriptures we are given help and the answer to our anger. Here are some of the answers: (by the way, this author faced a time of anger that was close to wrath, it is scared him and drove him to find The Answer!)
We need to discover what makes us mad. Job’s accuser wanted to find a way to get to him so that he would curse God, and it is the same for us today. Many people down through the centuries have seen how Job learned perseverance and endurance instead of getting mad. Satan was looking for something, anything to get Job to get angry and curse God. The point: we must know what it is that makes us mad and deal with it. Job did! We must!
Psalm 37:8 says, “Stop getting angry, and stay clear away from wrath!” I decided to get angry about ______, and I must decide not to get angry and to steer clear away from uncontrolled anger—wrath! I must, or it will destroy my life!
Ephesians 4:26 tells us “to be angry, but not let that anger turn to sin.” Sin happens when we allow anger to control us; sin happens when we allow anger to stop up our free flowing relationship between us and our God; and sin happens when we allow anger and the resulting anxiety to diminish our faith. Jesus instructed us several time to “be anxious about nothing”, and it is that anxiety that turns to anger and stops up the Holy Spirit’s ability to do the surgery in our hearts that is needed and bring health and growth to us again.
Prayer: Lord, help me to deal with anxiety with much more prayer so that I will not become an angry person and inch toward letting that anger deteriorate to wrath. I bring the concerns and trials of my life to You in constant prayer with a thankful heart as You point out in Philippians 4:6-7. Dear Lord, keep me away from anger so that my heart will be in constant peace as You rule in my heart. Amen!
Scripture Text: Luke 16:10-13 Title: God or Money?
Question of the Day: Why does Jesus tell His disciples that they will be serving either God or money?
Jesus’ clear teachings always ended up with a statement that forces us to evaluate our lives to see where we stand. Here He concludes this section of instructions to His disciples by making the statement, “You cannot serve God and money.” Why is it either/or and not both/and? Does money have such a great pull on us that when we to serve it, or if we spend our lives pursuing it, then we are not able to serve God too?
It is interesting to note here that during Jesus’ public ministry, the only recorded time that He touched money is when He asked them to bring a silver coin to Him and He asked them “whose image and inscription is etched into this coin”, and then he told them to give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. Very little is said throughout His public ministry about Him or His disciples handling money. Peter caught a fish and used the gold coin in its mouth to pay their taxes; and it is also recorded that the one in the group who handled the little money that was needed was Judas—who ended up betraying the Lord for a little more money, and he also pilfered out of their stash of money.
So these twelve men had “left all, taken up their cross, and followed Him.” It is during this time of transition from their former occupations (fishing, tax collecting, etc.) and the rest of their lives that they would devote to following Him while He was here on earth, and spreading the gospel after He left which cost them their lives. It was during this time that Jesus spoke directly to them about how money can have such a stranglehold on them. We can easily understand this because our whole society is built on money and the things that money can buy and we even see having a certain pile of money saved as helping us now to be “secure”.
So, is Jesus telling them that money is bad or unnecessary? Not really. What He is speaking to them about is whether they were “serving God or serving money”. He clearly pointed out to them that you can’t spend your time and energy pursing money, making it, and using it to buy the temporal things of this world, and at the same time pretend to be serving God. While God may put it on the heart of a person to make money, invest it wisely, and then use it for His glory, the bottom line is this: does money have a stranglehold on me; or do I use it when needed to take care of the basic necessities of life? I must never “serve money” as I have determined to “serve God”?
Prayer: Lord deal with me thoroughly and clearly when I am tempted to “serve money” instead of giving my all to “serve You”. I desire to be 100% devoted to You and serving You with all my heart, and I know that I must always guard my heart so that nothing comes between You and I as we walk together down life’s road. I desire to leave the pursing of money to others, and to follow You with “all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.” Amen!
Scripture Text: Psalm 112 Title: Praise and Blessing!
Question of the Day: What are the blessings that are poured out on the life of a righteous man when he praises God?
Thirty four times in 31 different verses in Psalms the phrase “Praise the LORD” appears, and it appears 42 times in 39 verses throughout all of the Scriptures. When my heart is ignited to praise the LORD often, then what results come to my life in the form of blessings? How is a person’s life described who is richly blessed by God? Verse 1: he has learned to have a reverential fear of God. Verse 1: he delights in God’s commands. So here’s a question we can ask ourselves, what is my attitude when I hear of another command from God that I must obey? Verse 2: His children and grandchildren will be mighty in their country. Verse 2: because of their upright (righteous) lives, each generation will be richly blessed. Verse 3: he will have wealth and riches in his house. Verse 3: his righteous life and the effects of that life will last forever! Verse 4: light will come to all the dark places of life when he continues to live an upright life. Verse 4: he will be gracious, merciful, and righteous. Verse 5: he will become a man who deals generously with others and lends to them. Verse 5: he will conduct the affairs of his life with ultimate justice in the way he deals with others. Verse 6: He will be the epitome of a righteous man whose life will never be moved. Verse 6: his righteous life will always be remembered. Verse 7: he is not afraid of bad news—in fact, he wonders how God will make something good out of that! Verse 7: his heart always firmly trusts in the LORD. Verse 8: his heart is firm and steady in his trust in the LORD. Verse 8: he will never fear until he looks with triumph on his enemies and adversaries. Verse 9: he distributes what God has given him freely. Verse 9: when he sees a poor person, his heart is moved with compassion and he gives freely to them. Verse 9: the effects of his righteous life will last forever. Verse 9: he will be highly honored by his generation.
Wow! What a life this man lives! In this psalm the outline for a godly and righteous man is given and the resulting blessings of God that are poured out on his life. These results are breathtaking—especially in light of the wicked world that we live in and fact that as we look around us, the wicked person’s life is being destroyed through the results of their evil life, as mentioned in verse 10. Wicked people are dumbfounded when they watch the life of a righteous person who lives in the same world that they live in, yet they seem to rise above every trial and temptation and devastating circumstance that life throws their way. And that is all the more reason for a believer to learn to give praise to the LORD no matter what is happening in his life. To praise the LORD as we are instructed to do is to focus our existence, not on the temporal here and now, but on the eternal—and specifically on the eternal God. He is worthy of all of our praise!
Prayer: O God, we give praise to You and to You alone! Your blessings remind us many times a day that to praise You is the eternal occupation of the believer. In fact, as every knee will bow, everyone who has ever lived will, in one way or another, give praise to You. Right now in this life we see godly men and women who have great influence in our world, and we know that it is because of Your blessing—so we praise You. Praise the LORD! Amen!
Scripture Text: Psalm 110 Title: “Sit,” Until When?
Question of the Day: When will Jesus Christ finally take over His creation and reign over it?
One of the hardest things in all of life to do is to “wait until”; we wait until we are old enough to go to school and tie our shoes and read; we wait until we get up there in school with the “bigger kids” and to play football and drive; we have to wait until it is the right time to get married and have a family of our own; and so on through life. What value is there in waiting? What happens when we get impatient and demand something long before we are ready to receive it, use it properly, and fully appreciate the gift?
In this world believers have known since the first couple inhabited the world that one day things would have to change; their world would have to be ruled by a Man who would rule it in perfect righteousness and overthrow both the failed efforts and the sin of mankind and also defeat and destroy the forces of evil that is the devil and his demonic spirits. It is this time period that the psalmist David speaks of in a prophetic way in this psalm. Here is a paraphrase of text: “The LORD says to my Lord, ‘Sit here at My right hand until I make all Your enemies bow in defeat at Your feet.’ The LORD sends forth from Zion the conquering power of Your scepter so that You can rule over Your enemies! Your people will offer themselves freely to You in the day that You take power. They will come clothed in holy garments just as if they had been born recently out of the womb of the morning with the dew of the newborn on them. The LORD has stated this and will never change His mind: ‘You are a priest forever with the same authority and mystic that Melchizedek came.’
“The Lord is at Your right hand and He will shatter kings in the day when His wrath is poured out. He will execute absolute judgment and justice in all the nations of the world, and when He does; their nations will be filled with corpses. He will shatter their rulers and bureaucrats worldwide. He will drink from the brooks along the way and therefore He will be ultimately and overwhelmingly successful.”
Here the “Lord” (Jesus Christ) is told by the “LORD” (Almighty God) to sit at His right hand until the time comes when He will come forth to conquer the whole world and subdue all His enemies. Right in the middle of the psalm where we are told of this great Conqueror who is coming, we are told in verse 4 about the great high priestly ministry that belongs to Jesus. Why this interruption of thought? Actually the truth is this: for Jesus to come and conquer the whole world, He first had to come and conquer the biggest enemies of mankind—sin and death. He had to come as our Redeemer first and take care of the sin question and then die Himself and conquer death, and then He was rightly qualified to come as a reigning Conqueror over His creation.
So what is our reigning Conqueror waiting for? He has been instructed by the wise plan of God the Father to “sit here at My right hand until the time comes for You to be revealed as the coming conqueror.” This is unveiled fully in the book of Revelation (and other prophecies) where Jesus Christ will be unveiled to this world as “The Final Judge” when He takes care of all of the injustices that have plagued this world since the beginning of time, and then He will come forth to be unveiled to mankind and to all the angelic hosts as “The King of kings and Lord of lords”. When will that happen? It will happen as soon as the command from God the Father is issued for Him to be unveiled to a world that hates Him and us and would destroy both if they could—but they can’t! And won’t! But for now we must wait until…
Prayer: O God, we submit ourselves to Your sovereign control over the whole universe. The day will come when Your holy character will be fully manifested to all and when You give the order to Your Son to “go forth conquering and to conquer”. Until then we need to get hold of and fully understand Your great love, grace, and Your longsuffering attitude toward wayward man—not willing that any of them should perish, but that all should come to repentance. And so we wait until… Amen
Scripture Text: Luke 15:11-32 Title: Safe and Sound!
Question of the Day: Where is our heavenly Father’s heart concerning His children?
The story of the prodigal son and his prodigal brother reveal much about the heart of our heavenly Father. The story begins with the younger son’s escapade and hiatus in the “far country”, and how he wasted all of his inheritance, and how the older son, though he stayed home and worked hard for his father, his heart was not right as he demonstrated a selfish and sulky attitude. But what is so intriguing about this story and its implications is how it reveals so much about the heart of our heavenly Father toward us.
1. The father allowed the son to have a large sum of money to go out and blow before he ended up at the end of his rope and repented and returned home. Our heavenly Father allows us to go off and do things that a young person with no restraint and maturity would do before He draws us back to Himself in love and compassion.
2. The son remained a son, even though he was rebellious, left home, and blew a large part of an inheritance, yet he was allowed to return home with the full status of a “son”. Isn’t that just like our heavenly Father—restoring us to all that He had originally intended us to become when He created man in the beginning?
3. The father smothered the son with such love and compassion when he returned home with a penitent heart, and that love stopped the son’s coming home speech. Our heavenly Father smothers each believer with so much love and compassion here on earth and in eternity He will overwhelm us to the point we won’t even remember all the heartaches and trials we went through here on earth! (And that is what the Scriptures say!)
4. The father knew just how to handle the immature wayward son who went off in rebellion and lived a sinful life, and he knew how to handle the “stay at home son” that also had a selfish self-centered attitude and showed no compassion for his lost brother. Our heavenly Father knows how to handle each of us and bring us to maturity—and that is going to be a big task for many of us!
5. The father’s words exposed his own heart: it was full of mercy, love, compassion, and longsuffering toward the younger son because he had been lost and dead, and now he was “alive again…is found…and returned home safe and sound.”
This story is a classic example of our Father’s great love for us—His wayward children. Here is the main point: when we all get to heaven and get all cleaned up and clothed in His righteousness and stand before Him complete and whole, what will win out? Our sin and rebellion and wayward way of life, or our Father’s love, mercy, and forgiveness? This great and overwhelming love will be the theme of the song of our hearts throughout all of eternity!
Prayer: O God our Father, our hearts overflow with gratitude and praise to You for Your great love and mercy and forgiveness that You so lavishly pour out on us—Your children. Ignite our hearts now and prepare us for eternity where we will have the privilege of giving praise and glory to You forever! Amen!
Question of the Day: Why was the message given to John in this chapter both bitter and sweet?
John was allowed to see many things in this book that are a mystery to us, and will be so until they are unfolded before our eyes. Many events cannot and will not be explained to us until they happen, but the final result of those events (recorded in Chapters 21-22) will do two things for us: first, it will help us understand all of the prophecies of the Scriptures in full; second, it will end the wickedness of mankind and the satanic hosts in the “lake of fire and brimstone”, and the establishment of those who, thou they don’t deserve it, will reign in righteousness forever with Jesus Christ, their Lord.
Today we come to the tipping point when events will begin to unfold that will end satan’s rule through man here on earth. Here are the words of this chapter: “And I saw another very powerful angel come down from heaven. He was clothed with a cloud, a rainbow was around his head, his face was as bright as the sun, and his feet were like columns of fire. In his hand was a little scroll that was open. And He set his right foot on the oceans and his left foot on the dry ground, and cried out with a loud booming voice that was like the loud roar of a lion. And when he spoke, seven successive claps of thunder were heard. When the seven claps of thunder had sounded off, I got ready to write down what I saw, but a voice from heaven interrupted me, saying, ‘Seal up those words that the seven thunders just gave—do not write them down!’
“Then the angel that I saw standing on the ocean and the dry ground, lifted up his hand to heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever (see Daniel 12:7)—the One who created the universe and all that is in it—including the oceans and all that are in them, that time shall no longer be. However, in the days that the seventh angel sounded, the mystery that shrouds God is now to be completed, and He has revealed this mystery to His servants—those who are prophets.
“The voice that I heard from heaven spoke to me again, and said, ‘Go and take the little scroll out of the hand of the angel who is standing on the ocean and the earth.’ So I went to the angel and said to him, ‘Please give me the scroll.’ And the angel said to me, ‘Take it and eat it, and it will turn your stomach over, but it will taste as sweet as honey to you.’ I took the book out of the angel’s hand and ate it—completely—and the angel was right; it was sweet as honey to my taste, but turned my stomach over it was so bitter. And the angel said to me, ‘You must prophesy again and again before many people, nations, language groups, and kings of the earth.’”
John had a fascinating experience here: Almighty God had just declared that “time would be no longer” and that “the mystery that shrouds God is now to be completed”. These words indicate the opening salvo of the wresting of the power of this world from Satan and his hosts and from the age of man’s dominance, and the turning over of this world to Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Now wouldn’t that make any believer rejoice? Yes, and no! and that is the bitter and the sweet.
The bitter would be for believers—either in heaven or on earth—watch the world destroyed, and with that destruction all of those who had defied God and taken the mark of the beast, that is, all unbelievers. In that crowd would be many who we have known who thought they were Christians, had tried to convince themselves and even the Lord that they were, but were told “Depart from Me; I never knew you.” That for a believer would be very bitter. But for the believer there is one more thing that would be bitter: we know that “but for the grace of God go I!” They are getting what I deserve! That is bitter!
But what about that which is sweeter than honey? We have all longed for the day when all evil is finally put down and righteousness is allowed to reign, and we know that we will be part of that event. To a believer, that would be the sweetest thing that could ever happen here on earth—especially since it involves the exaltation by God of our Lord Jesus Christ to rule this world in righteousness. What a different place this world could be if righteousness reined instead of the awful wickedness that permeates everything here on earth and destines it for destruction. Now that is sweet!
Prayer: O God, we look forward to this event when Your patience and longsuffering attitude toward man is over and You set up righteousness and holiness to reign here on earth. It will be an earthshaking event, and not wonder it was revealed to John that this event was pivotal. We long for the sweet—the establishment of Your reign here on earth in the Person of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord! Amen! David B. Virts has written a book called “Knowing, Seeking Worshiping — a study of the character of God.” It is available by calling 615-945-0611.
Psalm 109: 1-20 Epitome of Evil!
Question of the Day: What was King David’s description of an evil person who hounded him?
Those who have read the Scriptures are aware of the “imprecatory psalms” of King David. This psalm sounds like one of them, but to us in the church era those words sound harsh because Jesus taught us to love our enemies and to pray for them. David’s enemies were constantly hounding him from the day that he slew the giant, Goliath, to the day he died as king of Israel. The question we must ask ourselves is this: who are out enemies? Do we know who they are? Will God not eventually wipe them out? And when should we pray that God will take care of our enemies and keep them at bay in our lives.
Here are the words that David used to describe his feelings about his enemies: he said, “Set against them a wicked person, and let someone accuse him constantly. When he goes to trial, let him come out with a guilty verdict, and let his prayers be counted by You as sin! May his days be few and may someone else replace him. May his children end up fatherless and may his wife be a widow! May his children end up wandering down the streets and begging and scrounging around for food in the dump where they live!
“May the bank come and seize everything he has, and may people he doesn’t know plunder whatever he has managed to save! May no one extend kindness to him, and may no one show pity to his orphans. May his children and grandchildren be shunned by everyone, and may people in the next generation not even know that he existed! May he bear the results of gross injustice of his forefathers which are not forgotten by the LORD, and don’t let his mother’s sin be forgiven! Let those sins come up continually before the LORD, and may his life be quickly forgotten.
“And why should my enemies be treated like this? Because they did not remember to show kindness to others, but took advantage of the poor and needy, and those who were brokenhearted, they put to death! He loved to curse people, so let curses be on him! He refused to bless others, and may no blessings come on him! He cursed others casually like he was putting on a coat, but may it be like having one’s coat soaked with water or like being bathed with oil that sticks to everything! May the curses be like a coat wrapped around him and like a belt that he puts on every day!”
One wonders what scathing words are spoken every day against believers. We are “like sheep going to slaughter” and are the offscouring of the world. Since they cannot get their hands, so to speak, on the neck of God and wring it, they come after, first of all, Christians, God’s holy children, and for centuries earlier they came after the righteous and after God’s chosen people, the Jews and His nation, Israel. So is it right for believers to see their enemies for what they are and pray against the foes of darkness that would swallow us up?
And how can a believer praise God in the midst of this scornful scathing put down of believers? Yes! We know that He will one day completely wipe out the wicked and that they wicked who have rejected Jesus Christ as their Savior will spend forever in “the lake of fire”. One day, when we are on the other side of the judgment of God on mankind, we will be able to look back and say, “Justice was done! All evil has been eliminated! We have been totally exonerated! We can praise Him unhindered for all of eternity! We thank Him!”
Prayer: O God, give us patience, like the patience that You have displayed for centuries toward the wicked in this world. You are longsuffering; we see things short-term and want them destroyed now! Help us to see things from Your perspective and love and pray for our enemies. Maybe they too will come to know the truth and have their lives transformed by Your power—just like ours were!
Scripture Text: Psalm 109:21-26
Question of the Day: How does a believer, in this case David, feel when beaten down by enemies?
Many Christians down through the centuries have suffered at the hands of those who outnumbered them—the wicked people around them. In the Old Testament it was not only the righteous who suffered, but also the prophets who spoke in the name of the LORD, and they were not treated very well. Here David explained to us how he felt when his enemies hounded him, and the words are very graphic. And as he pours out his heart to the LORD, there is hope because he clung to what he knew was true about the God he served.
Here are the words of the text: “But You, O GOD my Lord, deal with those evil people to protect your precious name and because of Your overwhelming steadfast love toward me, and come to my rescue! I am poor and need Your help so much, and my heart is crushed in me. I disappear like a fast moving shadow in the evening, and am shaken off like one shakes off a bug from his clothes. My knees are weak from going without food in a fast, and my body is very thin with no fat. I am the object of scorn to those who accuse me; when they see me they just shake their heads. Come to my rescue, O LORD my God! Show me once again Your overwhelming and steadfast love by delivering me.”
It is obvious from David’s words that he knew that it was only God who could rescue him. Why would God come to his rescue? David was concerned about God’s reputation when he asked God to rescue him, “for Your name’s sake”. What would motivate God to come to his rescue? David addressed God as the “Sovereign God” indicating his strong belief that God controls all things through His awesome power. Then he asked God to come to his rescue because of His overwhelming and steadfast love, saying that “it is good”. Would the same God that we worship come to our aid with both the love that we need and the power to help us out of our difficulty?
Now we come to the heart of today’s passage: David described the depths of his trial like this: He tells us that he is poor and needy. His heart is stricken in him. This indicates how depressed and down David felt. His life was slipping away from him like an evening shadow as the sun goes down. He feels like he is easily shaken off like a bug shaken off of one’s clothes. Does a Christian ever have such a hopeless feeling of rejection by those around him/her? His knees are weak because of the fact that he has been fasting. When fasting, our strength has been weakened by lack of food. Do trials and difficulties make us feel like we have been fasting for some time and are quite weak? His body had become gaunt, with no fat! The NLT says, “I am skin and bones!” Many who have gone through extreme trials have testified that they don’t feel like eating, and it would seem that they get weaker and weaker. He was aware that he was the object of scorn to those who accused him, and that when they saw him they just shook their heads. Is the physical pain that we feel amplified by the misunderstanding of this around us and the scorn and reviling that they give?
David began this section and concluded it with a plea for “the LORD my God” to help him in line with His steadfast and overwhelming love. Where would any of us be any day of our lives were it not for the steadfast love of the LORD and His faithfulness in being there for us continually. So when we are at the lowest of low places in our lives, we can have great hope—just because even though the rest of the world may be against us and scorning and reviling us, yet our God is always there with His love to help us out once again. We may be beaten down, but His love lifts us up!
Prayer: O God, You know what it is like for us down here because You have made this world and allowed it to go the direction it is now going, and besides that, in the Person of Your Son, You were here and saw firsthand the plight of man. And that is why, even though we are feeling very very low, yet we can always count on Your steadfast love to lift us up. Amen!
Scripture Text: Luke 15:20-24 Title: Love Smothers Rebellion
Question of the Day: How does the love of a father change a rebellious heart?
We can never underestimate the value of good parents when a son or daughter has been restless, gone away from home, and wasted their lives in “riotous living”. Here’s the portion of the story of the prodigal son when he came home:
The text says: “Then he got up and went home to meet his dad. But to his amazement his dad saw him coming a long way down the road, had great compassion on his son, and ran to meet him, wrapping his arms around him and welcomed him home with an embrace. Then the son began his prepared speech, ‘Dad, I have sinned greatly against God and done wrong before you and am no more worthy to be called your son.’ But the dad interrupted the son’s prepared speech and turned to his nearby servants and said, ‘Run and get the best outfit available for this boy and get him properly dressed, and put the family ring on his finger, and shoes on his feet; then get that fat calf that we have been preparing for this occasion and butcher it and prepare a feast—let’s celebrate! Here’s my son who was as good as dead, but now I find out that he is still alive! He was long gone from home, but now he is found. And they all rejoiced and enjoyed a big feast.’”
By now the son had done all of the damage he could do to himself and his life, and he knew that to return home would be a very humiliating experience; but he was hungry, tired of his life, and lonely. The son then did what he needed to do; he began to talk to himself about how good it was “back home”. The door had not been shut forever on the son, so his heart was humbled and broken, and he got up and made the long trek home.
But to his surprise, as he rounded the corner and came over the hill, he could see his dad standing in the front yard looking down the road. Why would he do that? As soon as his dad saw him, he took off running in the direction of his son and eagerly welcomed him. It says he “…had great compassion on his son, and ran to meet him, wrapping his arms around him and welcomed him home with an embrace.” How is that for a welcome home from a wayward rebellious son?
So the son started his speech about how he had sinned against heaven and in his father’s sight, an am no longer worthy to be called “your son”; Note that he had good religious upbringing and even mentioned God in his speech. The rest of the speech never got out of the son’s mouth because his dad cut him off with some orders to a nearby servant to bring clothes, the family ring, and shoes, and to bring the “fat calf” that the father had obviously been raising for this celebration, and then the dad called for a giant celebration. In short, the father cut off his son’s repentance speech and smothered him with his love—and it was that factor that melted further the heart of the son and he knew that he had been restored to being his father’s son again!
Isn’t that just like the love of our heavenly Father? When we have gone far from home and far away from God, when we humble our hearts and return to our heavenly Father, He then smothers us with His love and even calls us “His son”! It doesn’t get any better than that!
Prayer: Father, I thank You for Your great love that melts a hard rebellious heart and restores that hardened heart and makes us Your child. Truly You are a Master at this because You have taken every heart of your children and melted them with Your great love. I need that love! We all need that kind of love to know what real love is. Again, thank You for Your great love! Amen!
Scripture Text: Psalm 108:5-6, 9-13 Title: Enemies Conquered?
Question of the Day: When and how will we ever see our enemies defeated—the ones that constantly hound us?
One thing that troubles believers since the beginning of time is the opposition that we face—just because we belong to God as His holy children. Cain got angry and slew his righteous brother Abel, and from then on Christians have been under attack from those around us who hate God, and who would, if they could, get their hands on the neck of God and strangle Him. But since they can’t, they take it out on His children. In today’s Psalm David looked around at the land of Israel and the nations around them that had given them so much trouble throughout the years. Would God wipe them out? How would it happen?
Here is today’s text: “So be exalted, O God, in Your place high above the heavens, and may Your glory be seen all over the earth. 6 That way Your beloved children will be rescued. Show us Your salvation by Your right hand and answer the cry of my heart! 9 Moab is the basin with which I wash; I will throw out My shoe on Edom; and Philistia is a land over which I will triumph.’
10 “So who will bring Me to any fortified city? Who will help Me triumph over Edom? 11 Haven’t You rejected all of us, O God? Don’t You go out with our armies anymore? 12 Oh come to our aid against our foes because we cannot trust in the help of any other nation around us. 13 It is only through You that we will be valiant against our enemies, and only You can walk all over them.”
Let’s go down through the passage and highlight David’s thoughts:
David started out by desiring to exalt God and see His glory shine forth throughout the whole earth. That is a good place to start!
Then David expressed his heart’s desire to see God’s “beloved ones” to be delivered from their enemies, and the only way that was going to happen was for “Your right hand to come to our rescue in answer to our prayers”. How many times throughout history have the believer’s enemies been defeated soundly by the mighty right hand of God wiping them out?
Does God really own Moab and Edom? Yes! The whole earth and all that is in it belongs to Him, so Edom and Moab are no match for the powerful right hand of God.
David then asked in verse 10, “who will bring me into that fortified city”, the capital of Edom? This is, of course, a rhetorical question; but it showed that David wondered if anyone could penetrate that fortified city. David then asked God in verse 11 if He had rejected His people, and that was the reason that Edom had never been crushed and soundly defeated. David also explained clearly that if “God does not go out with us to battle, then we will never see victory.”
Finally David asked God for help against their enemy—specifically Edom, and expressed with confidence that when God goes out with them, they will “tread down their foes.”
So what happened? In I Kings 11:15-16 we read, “For when David was in Edom, and Joab the commander of the army went up to bury the slain, he struck down every male in Edom 16 (for Joab and all Israel remained there six months, until he had cut off every male in Edom).” The final quote is from I Chronicles 18:12-13: “And Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, killed 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. 13 Then he put garrisons in Edom, and all the Edomites became David’s servants. And the Lord gave victory to David wherever he went.” Was this defeat not catastrophic to Edom? Did God give His people victory because they were His “beloved children” and because David, their King, asked God to intervene with His mighty hand? That is what God can and will do for us to His enemies—if we but ask!
Prayer: O God, it breaks our hearts to see how this world is given the power to wipe out believers, stir up persecution, abuse, reviling, and scorning from our enemies—the ones around us constantly. Would You be pleased to answer us and show is Your power and defeat and destroy our enemies? We know You can? We know You eventually will? Will You come and wipe out my enemies? How do I balance that with Your words to “love your enemies”? Amen! David B. Virts has written a book called “Knowing, Seeking Worshiping — a study of the character of God.” It is available by calling 615-945-0611.
If we all didn’t have a wayward streak and have to be brought back by the Father, this story wouldn’t have much meaning!
Scripture Text: Luke 15:20-24 Title: The Father’s Plan
Question of the Day: Does our heavenly Father have a plan when a wayward child returns?
The story of the prodigal son and the loving compassionate father has many very good points to make in it. The son had been gone a long time, and it is obvious in this story that the father already had a plan in mind for when the son returned home. Isn’t this just like our heavenly Father. When we have gone astray, done our own thing, spent all of our money and energy on pursuit of temporal things that cannot satisfy, and in this story it says, “…he spent it all in riotous living.”, and when we have come to the end of ourselves—tired, hungry, and lonely—then our heavenly Father has a plan to quickly restore us! Look at what the father in this story had planned:
1. “But” the father interrupted his son’s speech with orders of his own. Isn’t that just like a father? He has a plan in his mind of how he would treat the wayward son:
2. He didn’t ask him first how much money was left. This would have been obvious by the shabby dress and the smelly clothes his son was wearing, and by the hungry look on his face.
3. He would first be cleaned up and dressed in the finest robe available.
4. Then restore the family ring—which in those days would empower the son to buy the necessary things he needed. This today would be the equivalent of giving him a credit card to use, or cash to spend as was needed!
5. Then the son would have proper shoes on his feet. “Those shoes are worn out and cannot properly take my son where he needs to go,” the father would muse to himself.
6. Then bring on the best meal available, that is, the “fatted calf” is in this story.
7. And let us all “eat and have a festive time.” The father didn’t wait for the son to “prove himself” again—this was his son, and he would be treated just like before—far better than the formerly wayward son deserved.
8. To the father, the son was gone and had been dead and lost as far as he knew, and he was so glad to have the son return because now he is alive and found.
9. And isn’t this just like what our heavenly Father does for us? The Father accepts us back home “just as we are”. He knows what kind of a life we have lived, and there is no use rehashing it and explaining it again and again—just come home!
10. Our Father first clothes us in the “finest robe”, the clean and pure righteousness of His own Son. We are not properly clothed in this life unless the Father can see the righteousness of His Son clothing us!
11. God the Father then begins to give us far more than we could ever want—and for sure more than any of us deserve. This is His marvelous grace kicking in and providing for all that we could ever need.
12. Then our feet will need new shoes, and those shoes will take us places we never could have gone before.
13. Then we will be fed with the “fatted calf”, which for us is our Father giving to us things to eat that satisfy, and not like the hunger we experienced before when we were in that far away land. This is real satisfaction that only the Father can give us.
14. Now it is time to “eat and have the greatest fellowship on earth available”. God only knows how much good Christian fellowship means to us and how it will strengthen us.
15. All of this came because of the excitement of our heavenly Father that once we were dead in our sins and lost sheep wandering aimlessly, but now we are alive and found.
16. So let the celebration begin—and the celebration that we are experiencing here on earth is just a small foretaste of that great celebration the Father has planned for us in eternity!
We can easily put ourselves in this story because all of us at one time were lost and dead in our sins. But the Father’s plan has changed all of that. What else has He planned? Listen to the words of Romans 8:17-18: “And if now we are God’s children, then we are also heirs of what our Father has planned, and more than that, joint-heirs with our Lord Jesus Christ. So if we suffer now in this life, it is so that we can one day be glorified with Him. Here is the bottom line: I am convinced that the sufferings in this present life are not worthy to be compared with all that the Father has planned, and for the splendor and glory that is ours in eternity.”
Prayer: Father, thank You for all that you have planned for us. When we were “lost and dead in our sins” we couldn’t even imagine all that You had prepared for us—and we can’t even grasp it yet! We are not worthy, but we are eternally grateful for all that You planned and have prepared for us. Your plan is extra-ordinary! Amen!
Scripture Text: Psalm 108:7-13 Title: Victorious Conqueror!
Question of the Day: What is it about God’s steadfast love, His faithfulness, and His mighty power in answering our prayers that ignites praise in His beloved children?
Believers live in a world right now where they are taking it on the chin: the people in this world who do not know God hate us and everything that we stand for, yet we know that we have been made righteous before God and that the day will come when He will vindicate us. Will we ever see our foes in this life totally crushed? Will the LORD ever display His great power on our behalf and totally wipe out those who are against us? In this psalm King David speaks for all of us when he tackles this important subject.
Here is today’s text: “You have made promises to us in Your holiness. You have said, ‘It is My pleasure to divide Shechem, and to give out a portion of the Valley of Succoth. I own Gilead; Manasseh belongs to Me; Ephraim is like a helmet that protects Me, Judah is the scepter in My hand; Moab is the basin with which I wash; I will throw out My shoe on Edom; and Philistia is a land over which I will triumph.’ So who will bring Me to any fortified city? Who will help Me triumph over Edom? Haven’t You rejected all of us, O God? Don’t You go out with our armies anymore? Oh come to our aid against our foes because we cannot trust in the help of any other nation around us. It is only with You that we will be valiant against our enemies, and only You can walk all over them.”
King David was a conquering king, yet he saw the nations around him as a constant threat to righteous people. At the same time he opened the psalm with these thoughts: And that is why “my heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with everything that I have using musical instruments every day early in the morning. And that is why Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness means so much to every believer as You deliver us with Your mighty right hand!” In this psalm David speaks of believers as “the beloved ones” through whom God will deliver us with His power.
David had seen God subdue his enemies before him, yet they weren’t totally wiped out and he knew that they would again strengthen and do damage to the next generation of believers (which they did). Yet in this psalm David reminded himself of God’s promise of His holy character that comes out of His holy temple (see verse 7). God had said to him that He would divide up Shechem; portion out the Valley of Succoth; He had mastery over Gilead, and Manasseh and Ephraim and Judah; His dominion included wiping out Moab, Edom, and Philistia. Who could possibly defeat Edom’s fortified city? David was convinced that God could and would eventually do it, and he also reminded us that it was God going out with His beloved children who would do the unthinkable: destroy the nations around Israel and bring those nations into totally subjugation.
In conclusion we must go back to the beginning of this psalm. David expressed to us that his heart was determined to focus on the steadfast love of our God, His faithfulness to us that stuns us, and, when He comes with His mighty right hand of power, the nations of the world around us are no match for us. His right hand will wipe out all of our foes, and that is enough to make my heart to be “steadfast before You, O my God!”
Prayer: O God, my heart is fixed on You. Whenever I see Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness demonstrated toward Your children and Your right hand restraining and wiping out those who oppose You and us—Your “beloved ones”—it is then that my heart will be forever “fixed on You, O my God”! Amen! David B. Virts has written a book called “Knowing, Seeking Worshiping — a study of the character of God.” It is available by calling 615-945-0611.
Scripture Text: Psalm 108:5-6 Title: Prayers + Awesome Power
Question of the Day: At what point does the believer see the most impressive power of God in action?
One of the great joys of the Christian life is to see God answer our prayers. No matter the need, the time of the need, the amount of help we need, or the place we are at the time, He is always there for His “beloved children”. Recently this author was in a foreign nation of one of the predominant religions of the world, and was surprised to learn that the people there were pleased when a Christian prayed for them. In fact, it has been chronicled many times where they have specifically asked a Christian to pray for them. And why is that so? Because they knew that our God answers our prayers! I find that incredible!
Since the believer is the only one who has direct access to the throne of God, the Master of the universe, it follows that when we draw near to God with full assurance to the throne of grace, it is then that we can receive mercy and find the grace that we need in a time when we need help,” and that from Hebrews 4:16. In today’s text David made this statement: “So be exalted, O God, in Your place high above the heavens, and may Your glory be seen all over the earth. That way Your beloved children will be rescued. Show us Your salvation by Your right hand and answer the cry of my heart!” David pointed out to us that God has His eye on “His beloved children”, and He will answer with great power. Isn’t that why we come to Him for help? We have a great need, we cry out to God, and He comes to our aid.
Let’s chronicle a few of the examples of Scripture where God answered the prayers of His saints and demonstrated His great power:
When the Egyptian army had Israel cornered by the Red Sea with nothing in between them but a cloud, it looked hopeless. But in that cloud was a host of angelic beings and chariots of fire as the LORD was there to protect His children from being wiped out. And after the Red Sea was parted and they had safely passed over and the waters of the Red Sea had closed in on the Egyptian army, there was a great chorus of praise to God for His protection. When the future King David was running from the present King Saul, he cried out to God and was protected many times—at times when he and his men were in the same cave as King Saul, and when the LORD sent a deep sleep on Saul’s army and David stole into their camp, again God protected him. When he was able to give a great sigh of relief that Saul was finally dead, David gave a great song and shout of praise to the LORD—as recorded in Psalm 18 and II Samuel 22.
In the book of Daniel, his three friends were thrown into a fiery furnace, and yet “one like the Son of God” was there with them to protect them. And when Daniel himself was thrown into the lion’s den and angel of the LORD was there all night to protect him.
We could chronicle a great many more stories, but the point is this: God knows all about His beloved children, where they are, what need they are confronting, and what it will take to rescue them—and He has the ample power for every need. In today’s text David referred to believers as God’s “beloved ones”, and when he prayed and asked God to answer, He came through and demonstrated His power. The resulting message is always this: the believer must then exalt God “above the heavens, and then see His glory over all the earth.” That’s how this world is constantly aware of God’s presence in our world. That is how His glory is seen in a dark sinful satanic controlled world. It is when the light meets the darkness, and the light always wins. And when He answers my prayer, then I see His mighty power on behalf of me!
Prayer: O God, we are so thankful that You always come through for us when we cry out to You. We are absolutely convinced that Your power will be there to bring the answer to our prayers so that we can in turn make You known once again in our world—our sphere of influence. Answer us with Your mighty power so that we can exalt You. Amen!
Scripture Text: Revelation 9:13-16 Title: Numbers in Revelation
Question of the Day: What do we make of all the numbers given in the book of Revelation?
When we try to get a grasp on the death, destruction, devastation, catastrophes and cataclysmic events mentioned in this book, it takes our breath away. Many have tried to count the numbers of people killed compared to the population of the world today and have come up with a varieties of numbers. Let’s look at some of the references to numbers and some of the other comments given about people on earth during the tribulation and see what conclusions we can come up with.
In today’s text one of the various numbers in Revelation is given. Here is the text: “When the sixth angel sounded, I heard a voice coming from the four horns of the gold altar, which stands before God, which said to the sixth angel that was ready to blow its trumpet, “Cut loose the four angels that are in chains in the great river, the Euphrates.” The four angels that were unchained were loosed for one hour, one day, one month, and one year to destroy one-third of the people on earth. The number of the army that assembled was 200 million: and I heard their number given.” The following are some other numbers given throughout the book of Revelation:
Around the throne in heaven, mentioned in chapter 4, are four “living creatures”, twenty-four elders, One “sitting on the throne, one Lamb, myriads of myriads and thousands of thousand of angels, and in chapter 7 under the altar are the souls of those who had been slain for the Word of God and for their witness, “a great multitude that could not be numbered” is mentioned, 144,000 fiery Jewish evangelists were commissioned to complete the Great Commission in chapter 7, and in chapter 14 after many events had transpired and many saints had been martyred, the 144,000 are listed—and evidentially not one of them is missing!
In chapter 6:8 we are told that the rider on the pale horse were given authority to kill one fourth of the people on earth with the sword, with famine, with pestilence, and by the wild beasts of the earth.
In chapter 8 the mention is made of seven trumpets, after the first trumpet burned up a third of the trees and all the green grass, after the second, one third of the fish in the ocean died and a third of the ships were destroyed, after the third trumpet one third of the waters of the world became bitter and many died, and after the fourth trumpet a third of the sun, moon, and stars had their light blocked from reaching the earth.
In chapter 9 the creatures that looked like horses with a scorpion-like sting tormented people for five months, and then in today’s text the number of the mounted troops totaled 200 million.
The number seven appears again in chapter 10 with the seven trumpet judgments, but no details are given (it must be very devastating and too horrible to describe).
In chapter 11 the two witnesses come to do their work, and when they are killed, their bodies laid on the streets of the city for three and a half days, and when they were resurrected and taken to heaven, a great earthquake destroyed one tenth of Jerusalem and 7,000 people were killed in the quake.
In chapter 12 Satan is thrown down from heaven and the people of Israel who were godly were protected for 1,260 days while Satan tried to destroy them.
In chapter 14 three angels gave their judgments and “one like the Son of Man” came to harvest the earth and destroy those who gathered for that great battle. In chapter 15 there were seven angels who, in chapter 16, went forth to pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on those who had taken the mark of the beast.
In the next chapters the wrath of God is poured out on Babylon and that “great city” is wiped out in one hour.
When we get to chapter 19, the Rider on the White Horse comes and wipes out the rest of the nations and the peoples of the world who have taken the mark of the beast—and all who had taken the mark of the beast were killed (chapter 14:11; 16:2; and 19:20).
The bottom line is this: from the numbers given it seems obvious that all of the people who had received the mark of the beast during the tribulation period were eventually wiped out—and that includes every non-believer. And that is how God concludes the judgment on this world as we know it today. There are more judgments later just after the nations of the world gather together for one last battle after the millennium and then there is the Great White Throne judgment in which all unbelievers are cast into the Lake of Fire. And it is then we will fully understand the judgment of God men who have rejected the gift of salvation and on all the demonic angels. We will understand fully what it means to have the wrath of God poured out and to see His holiness shine and dominate the universe—both the new heaven and the new earth. The numbers are staggering; the devastation overwhelming and complete; and then the judgment of God will be complete.
Prayer: O God, when we look at the advanced copy of the prophecy of what will happen in destroying the sin and wickedness of this world, we are in awe and stunned at the wiping out of all evil and the eternal punishment of those who have rejected You. We are sobered by this staggering information! Amen!