ABC July 31 – August 6

July 31 — Isaiah 59-63 — Prophecy’s Timetable (about 711 BC).  God was not always clear about the timing of events predicted for the future.  Sometimes the results would be realized in the time of the prophet, sometimes when the Messiah appeared for the first time at the Incarnation, and sometimes it would have to wait until Christ’s Second Coming.  We see examples of that in today’s reading.  The prophet Isaiah included himself as he prayed to God about the sinful condition of the people of his time: “For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us …” (59:12).  When Jesus was invited to speak in the synagogue in Nazareth, He read and applied to Himself (Luke 4:18) what was prophesied in Isa. 61:1-2.  Later, when John the Baptist sent some of his disciples to ask Jesus if He was really the Messiah, Jesus answered by quoting part of this passage from Isaiah (Luke 7:22).  Those prophecies applied to the time period of the Incarnation.  Then, some predictions seem to point toward a time after Christ returns to the earth again, perhaps referring to an even later time in heaven: “The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but the LORD will be your everlasting light” (60:19).  We may not see the whole picture but God does and He is guiding history to the fulfillment of all He has predicted.

August 1 — Isaiah 64-66 — Waiting for Awesome (about 711 BC).  Our God is one “who acts for those who wait for him” (64:4).  Waiting for Him to do what?  The people described by Isaiah were waiting for a visual appearance of God: “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down” (64:1).  They were waiting for something awesome, however, God “did awesome things that we did not look for” (64:3).  In fact, He even anticipates our prayers: “Before they call I will answer” (65:24).  In many ways, God is not predictable; we expect one thing but He does another.  He is not only infinitely powerful, doing whatever He desires, but He is also infinitely creative, doing what we do not expect.  It is not wrong to ask God to do things that you conceive as being good and right but we also should come to Him with an expectancy of the unknown.  Allow Him the freedom to do “awesome things that we did not look for.”

August 2 — 2 Kings 20-21 — Pray or Prey? (about 712-687 BC).  We read earlier in Isa. 37 about Hezekiah’s boil that Isaiah told him would be fatal.  However, as our reading today repeats, “Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD … and Hezekiah wept bitterly” (20:2-3).  That desperate prayer was heard by God and Hezekiah was promised 15 more years to live (vv. 5-6).  Then, it is tragically interesting that Judah’s best-ever king was followed by his son Manasseh, who was Judah’s worst-ever king.  Good parents don’t always ensure good children.  Manasseh reigned for 55 years and “did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger” (21:6).  The nation followed his idolatry, so God pronounced a sentence on them: “they shall become a prey … to all their enemies” (v. 14).  What a contrast!  Desperate prayer with tears vs. becoming prey in punishment.  Going God’s way is not only good but it is also safe!

August 3 — 2 Chron. 32-33 — New News (about 701-687 BC).  A lot of what we read about in 2 Kings yesterday is repeated in our reading for today but there is additional information that is helpful.  Here, we learn how King Hezekiah planned against the threat of attack from the Assyrian army by cutting off the enemy’s water supply (32:3), repairing and building additional city walls, making weapons (v. 5), and setting commanders over the people (v. 6).  He was well prepared for the human defense of the city, but he was trusting in God to deliver them.  He gathered the people to tell them that “with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles” (v. 8).  Human preparation but divine trust.  An additional thing we learn today is that because of King Manasseh’s evil leadership, God allowed him to be captured by Assyria and taken nearly 900 miles (1,448 km) to Babylon in chains (33:11).  We also learn that he “humbled himself greatly … prayed … [and] knew that the LORD was God” (v. 13).  Prepare … trust … humble yourself … pray.  What a great pattern for us!

August 4 — Nahum 1-3 — Nineveh’s Destruction (about 697 BC).  Nahum is a sequel to Jonah.  God responded to Nineveh’s repentance at Jonah’s warning but it lasted for only about 15 years before a new Assyrian king’s military began a cruel territory-enlargement effort.  King Sennacherib followed later as their leader, conquering the northern kingdom of Israel and sending messengers to threaten Jerusalem in the south.  About this time, Nahum predicted the destruction of the Assyrian capital of Nineveh (coming 85 years later) and declared that at that time, “the voice of your messengers shall no longer be heard” (2:13).  There is an interesting play on words with Nahum’s name, which means “comfort,” and a closely related word used in 3:7 in picturing Nineveh’s destruction: “Wasted is Nineveh; who will grieve for her?  Where shall I seek comforters for you?”  There would be none.  Judah was certainly “comforted” by Nahum’s prophecy of the future destruction of the evil empire that was oppressing them.  We are also comforted today by the “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction” (2 Cor. 1:3-4).

August 5 — 2 Kings 22-23, 2 Chron. 34-35 — The Found Book (about 640 – 621 BC).  Josiah was in the same best-ever-king category along with Hezekiah (cf. 2 Kings 18:5 and 23:25).  He was diligent in ridding not only Judah of the many idols being worshipped but also many places in the former northern kingdom of Israel (23:15, 19).  As a part of his widespread reform, he ordered that money collected and stored in the temple be removed and given to workmen to upgrade the building.  In obeying the king’s command, a different treasure was found: “While they were bringing out the money … Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the LORD given through Moses” (2 Chron. 34:14).  Apparently, God’s Word had been buried under money!  What a sad picture that is of how far Judah had slipped away from God!  After the 55-year evil reign of Manasseh, even the priests had forgotten about the Life Manual for Judaism!  Thankfully, your Bible is not buried under money, dust, or anything else because you are reading it every day.

August 6 — Zephaniah 1-3 — Unique Day (about 638 BC).  The prophecy of Zephaniah is unique in several ways.  First, is the prophet’s pedigree.  Half of the Old Testament’s 16 prophetic books don’t even mention the prophet’s father and six of the books name only the father.  Zephaniah, however, lists four of his ancestors back to Hezekiah, likely the godly king of Judah, making him sort of a royal prophet.  A second unique thing about this prophecy is his emphasis on “the day of the LORD,” which is referred to 20 times, far more than any of the other prophets.  That “day” of punishment was to happen soon to Judah, who would persist in walking away from God.  It would also be brought upon other peoples and empires, like Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Cush, and the then-dominant empire of Assyria.  That “day” also looks ahead to a day of future punishment for unbelievers and a day of blessing for us who know God, a day beginning with Christ’s return to connect us in a new way to Himself that will last for eternity—a very unique day.

Published by abibleread

This website honors the Bible as the inspired Word of God through which God speaks to us as we read and study it.

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