A Taste of Heaven

Today’s reading:

Haggai 1:1-Zechariah 3:10

My Selection:

For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day.  In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.  Zechariah 3:9-10

The prophet Zechariah, like many of the prophets in the Bible, paints a wonderful, vivid picture of the age to come when all sin is forgiven, all suffering is gone, and there is prosperity, unity, and love among all people.  We are not there yet, clearly.

Can we get a taste of heaven today?

Jesus proclaimed that the Kingdom of God was near (Mark 1:14,15).  By His death and resurrection, cleansing has been purchased for all who believe in Him.  We get a taste of heaven when we walk in the light and have fellowship with one another (I John 1:7).

Enjoy that taste today, living the truth, trusting the gospel of Jesus Christ, and showing love to others.

For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

 

 

Why Some Repent

Do you know why some repent and others do not? How do you explain the widely differing responses of people to the severe adversity of God’s judgment? The answer is clear in Scripture.

Today’s reading: Haggai 1-2; Revelation 16

14 And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, Haggai 1:14

8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory. Revelation 16:8-9

During Haggai’s time, the people of Judah in captivity in Babylon had been allowed to return to Jerusalem. They had settled down and begun to build their comfortable and fashionable homes. Haggai was sent to tell them that God was not pleased with their wrong priorities. They had left the temple in ruins while they focused on their own houses. God sent them drought. The crops failed.

The message of Haggai and the failure of the crops seemed to get their attention. But in the case of the people living under the outpouring of God’s wrath by the seven angels of Revelation 15-16, there is a completely different reaction. No matter what bowl of wrath is poured out the people do not repent and give God glory. They do not recognize His power and their sin. Their response is completely irrational. The only exception is the voice coming from the altar who give God the praise for the display of His justice and power (Revelation 6:9-11).

Adversity, in and of itself, does not produce repentance. As the bowls are poured out and one judgment is piled upon another, the cursing of God continues without diminishing. How do we explain this insane attitude toward the Sovereign and Holy God? Why did the people in Haggai’s day repent after a crop failure while the people of John’s vision dig in and curse God? The difference is that “the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people.” This turned them to obedience and service to rebuild the temple.

Do not expect repentance and praise to God to come from rebellious sinners unless the Lord stirs up their hearts. Pray that God may show mercy to those who are under His wrath by not only sending adversity and a messenger with the gospel, but by also stirring up their hearts. That is why some repent and others do not.

 

A Taste of Heaven

Today’s reading: Haggai 1:1-Zechariah 3:10

My selection: Zechariah 3:9-10

9 For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day. 10 In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.”

My reflections: After picturing the state of God’s people as represented by a high priest in filthy garments who must receive new, clean clothes, the Lord promises a day of cleansing and restoration. The removal of iniquity occurs in a single day. This is the work of God, not man. How does that renewal look?  ” In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.” There will be prosperity and unity among the people.

My challenge: When God’s kingdom comes in its fulness, none will suffer want and all will extend hospitality. What a picture of joyful and peaceful life together. Today, in the church, we should see the beginnings of this expected life. Does your fellowship with other believers show that you have been cleansed of sin? Do you freely share what you have with others in anticipation of a day when peace will reign in the new heavens and earth? Think about how you can give a taste of heaven to others.

Tomorrow’s reading: Zechariah 4:1-9:8

The Safe Place

Today’s reading: Habakkuk 2:2-Zephaniah 3:20

My selection: Zephaniah 2:3

3 Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land,

who do his just commands;

seek righteousness; seek humility;

perhaps you may be hidden

on the day of the anger of the Lord.

My reflections: How should God’s people respond to the announcement of the coming day of the anger of the Lord? Here they are commanded to seek righteousness and to seek humility. One would think that righteousness would include humility, but experience shows that people can be outwardly righteous while lacking inward humility. We can be proud of our humility, so to speak. This ruins everything.

Zephaniah tells them that by seeking righteousness and humility, they may be hidden on the day of the Lord’s anger. In spite of seeking righteousness and humility, they will still need to be hidden when the wrath of God is unleashed. All their seeking will not suffice to protect them from His justice.

Nor will ours.

My challenge: It is good to hunger and thirst after righteousness. It is good to be humble but, from the New Testament, we learn that this is not enough to save us from the just wrath of God:

2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:2-4

Ultimately our only safe place from the wrath of God is the hiding place with Christ in God. He is our life. Lay aside any trust in your own righteousness. It is all of Him. Seek righteousness and humility, but trust in Christ’s righteousness and humility. That is the safe place.

Tomorrow’s reading: Haggai 1:1-Zechariah 3:10