With week eight completed, you are now more than two-thirds of the way through the Bible!
The readings for the coming week are fascinating. All of the prophecies are forward-looking. Some will come to pass in the lifetime of the exiles, others will come to pass before the end of the New Testament, but some of it remains a mystery even today from our vantage point.
Doubtlessly you will find yourself asking questions for which there are no apparent answers in the text. This is where keeping the 90-day schedule gets difficult. It’s tempting to stop and consult a study Bible or a commentary, but if you do it will be difficult to complete each day’s reading.
When you come upon an intriguing passage and have a question, discipline yourself to wait until you complete your reading. Then go check out what your study notes have to say. This discipline will help motivate you to get through your reading and stay on track!
Jeremiah As Israel continues to reject God and persist in sin, we see God’s judgment and faithfulness beautifully intertwined. Israel claims God has rejected them, but here is His response:
I would no more reject my people than I would change my laws that govern night and day, earth and sky. I will never abandon the descendants of Jacob or David, my servant, or change the plan that David’s descendants will rule the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Instead, I will restore them to their land and have mercy on them.
A new covenant is coming and God will not desert His people!
Lamentations The prophecies and warnings of Isaiah and Jeremiah have come to pass. Israel had placed their hope in countless things that were not God, and now they must realize the futility and foolishness of their disobedience. Jerusalem is gone. The temple is gone. Their ability to worship God as prescribed in the books of Moses is gone. Has God deserted His people?
This is a book of lament, full of grief, regret, and desperation for God. In it we see God’s purpose for the exile of His people as their hard hearts soften into repentance. They knew they deserved to be destroyed completely, but God had allowed them to survive as a people. From the poet-writer of Lamentations, here is their response to God’s mercy:
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
God knows what He is doing!
Ezekiel Ezekiel is a book of prophecy written by the man who bears the same name, overlapping the time period in which Lamentations was written. Ezekiel was one of 10,000 people taken as a captive by Nebuchadnezzar into Babylon. There his visions and prophecies explained to Israel what was happening to them.
The central theme of this book, as noted in How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens, is that “God’s presence is the key to life.”
As God’s presence departed from the temple, so did the life of the nation of Israel. They were dying a slow death, but were stubbornly unwilling to repent until they were completely conquered and all of their former glory was gone.
The most poignant moment comes as Ezekiel looks out over a valley of dry bones, symbolizing God’s people. But God says to the bones, “I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” (Ez 37:5)
It would be more than 600 years before the fulfillment of this prophecy would take place, as Emmanuel (God with us) brings life and the very presence of God back to His people in a way no one expected.
Daniel Next to the book of Revelation, Daniel contains more eschatological (end-times) prophecies than any other book of the Bible. Daniel was only a young boy when the exile to Babylon took place. He was quickly identified as someone with a promising future and was selected to be groomed for service to the very king who had just defeated Israel and carried her into captivity.
Amazingly, Daniel serves a pagan king with integrity and excellence, while remaining faithful to God. When faced with a crossroads, he always chooses obedience to God, even at the cost of losing his own life. But God miraculously preserves his life time after time.
Encouraging Comments from B90 Readers
Lamentations is such a sad, sad book … yet one of my most favorite passages comes in the middle of it: Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:21-23)
Referencing the lessons of the book of Ezekiel, Bible commentator Michael Williams notes that, like Israel, “A lot of us have spiritual attention deficit disorder. We get so distracted by the things that surround our lives that we forget where our life comes from in the first place.”
Can you relate? It will be a couple more weeks before we get there, but this theme shows up prominently in the Gospel of John. Jesus tells us in John 4 that He is the “Living Water” who sustains life. And again in John 6 that He is “true bread and true drink,” more important to our continued existence than our next meal.
The weaknesses of Israel are our weaknesses too. We are quick to forget that all life comes from and is sustained by God Himself. And we are so apt to place our hope in things that are not God.
So today ask the Lord to remind you that true life is found in Him. Ask God to make you even more hungry for His Word and for His presence.