Vs. 27, “At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres.” The first section of our chapter (vs. 1-26) gives us the details of the spiritual leaders of Israel; the priests and Levites. It was important to show the validity of the key priests and Levites over the past three generations. The next even in our chapter (vs. 27-43) is the celebration of the dedication of the wall. The leaders and singers divided themselves in two groups with Ezra leading one while Nehemiah led the other. They separated so they could disperse themselves and be on the walls that they had helped build. But the most important part of this was their worship and sacrifice to the Lord for how He helped them. The latter section (vs. 44-47) is an encouraging display of all the people giving back to the Lord in their tithes and offerings.
Regarding application…Unified Worship. Vs. 43, “And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.” This is such a beautiful picture of worship! I love how the women and children joined in and the sound of rejoicing filled the land. Question: How did this happen? All of Israel that had returned joined together and prepared themselves for this dedication celebration. Question: Do you see it? This powerful unified worship transpired because people prepared themselves. In our churches today, the Pastor and worship team prepare during the week to lead the church in worship. However, when everyone comes prepared to worship and give the difference is like night and day. We all have the onus to prepare ourselves and give our best in worship!
Vs. 2, “he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.” As David surveyed his new digs, he realized that the ark was in a tent and not a grand place worthy of the LORD (vs. 1-3). However, on the night that David proposed his idea to Nathan the prophet; God would come bearing a message for Nathan to share to David (vs. 4-17). The Lord does not need a physical dwelling place nor did He ask for one. Though a temple would be built, David would not be the one to do it. This is perhaps one of the most important chapters in the bible as God confirms his covenant with David. God will establish David’s line and in this oracle from Nathan we see a Messianic promise that Jesus would be that fulfillment (vs. 13)! David’s response reminds us again why the Lord chose him above all others (vs. 18-29). Instead of entitlement, David humbly wondered who he was to have received so much. His concern was not for the praises of men, but that God’s name would be great!
Regarding application…How Great is Our God. Vs. 22, “How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.” Question: What made David respond with so much awe and reverence? He understood clearly what God’s promises were to him. Brothers and sisters, we too are living the benefit of God’s covenant with David. David’s natural response was to declare the goodness of God. He wanted nothing more than for others to see how great his God was. This is why we worship in spirit and in truth. I believe one of the hardest things for the church today is the challenge to remind everyone why we worship God. May our voices ring out the truth in word, deed, and worship. Let this week be a blessed one as you testify of God’s greatness in your life in your workplace, schools, church, and home.
Vs. 10, “Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Yesterday, I shared a message on the women visiting the tomb. The first part of Matthew, we are reminded of the Resurrection (vs. 1-10). Jesus’ birth on earth was a miracle and now His resurrection closes His tenure as fully man. Jesus not only appears to the women, but over a forty day period He would make numerous visits. While there were many testifying of Jesus’ resurrection, there were others (Chief priests & elders) conspiring to ensure that the truth stays hidden (vs. 11-15). The whole premise of the story is not very believable given the fact that there were guards hired to guard the tomb. The guards knew what truly happened with their fear and the earthquake (vs. 2-4). Matthew then closes his gospel with the Great Commission (vs. 16-20). Question: Why did the eleven doubt (vs. 17)? There are differing views on this, but some scholars point out that the doubt here was in the context of the eleven being unsure of the future.
Regarding application…Make Disciples. Vs. 19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Question: What is our purpose in life? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Jesus gives us a mandate and purpose to our lives. The Gospel isn’t just for the Jews, but it is to be spread to all nations. Question: What does that look like for us? Does that mean that we all must be international missionaries? The application to this is quite varied. Not all of us are going to be missionaries, but all of us can support making disciples; financial support, material support, prayer support, etc. Someone shared the gospel with you at some point in your life. They were making disciples. And now we must help in support not just a church emphasis, but the very exhortation of Jesus!
Vs. 5, “Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Question: Who is worthy to open the seal? Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:9-10)! An awe-inspiring and dramatic scene to say the least! Jesus did not conquer by overpowering, rather by succumbing to death. The significance of the sealed scroll is reminiscent of legal documents back in that day. Picture the scroll as a will and only after the author of the will is dead can it be opened. There are differing views from scholars as to the content; some believe it represents human history, some believe it is the Book of Revelation, others believe it is a list of judgments (Ezekiel 2:9-10) and another view is that it is the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 21:27). Just as the Passover lamb protected the Israelites, the Lamb of God’s blood protects God’s children. The horns and eyes of the Lamb (vs. 6) indicate the supremacy of Christ and His standing with the Father and the Spirit. I love how the response from the elders and four living creatures was to worship and sing (vs. 8-10) and declare the Good News for all nations! And in a stirring scene, the ten thousand times ten thousand (100,000,000 and more) angels join in (vs. 11-14) to declare the majesty of our Lord!
Regarding application…Prayer’s Importance. Vs. 8, “And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.” What a beautiful reminder of what happens to our prayers. How many of us have prayed and felt like, “What’s the point?” But our prayers rise up like incense to God and He hears and values them. I don’t have a child yet, but I can imagine one day my son or daughter wanting to talk to me. As a parent, they would value that precious time with their child. God values that time we spend with Him. Prayer reminds us that we are dependent upon Him. Prayer reminds us that we can’t get through this life without Him. Take time today to consider the moving scene of the Lamb who was worthy to take the scroll!
Vs. 12, “Therefore this is what I will do to you, Israel, and because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel.” Yikes! One thing we can ascertain from our text today; Don’t mess with God. In the final oracle (vs. 1-3) Amos addresses the women of in the Northern Kingdom Israel and even calls them “you cows of Bashan” (vs. 1). Cows of course are females, but He has a deeper meaning than just name calling. These cows of the Bashan were quite fattened and pampered. I’ve never seen the T.V. Series “Real Housewives”, but I’m imagining this was the type of situation that was going on that Amos is addressing. They only cared about themselves and this was abhorrent to God. Amos now directs his attention towards the lack of Godly worship (vs. 4-5). It’s striking to see all the examples (five of them ) of how Israel was being disciplined by God (vs. 6-11), yet did not have the sense to return back to Him! And lastly, Amos shares the reality of God’s Almighty power and name (vs. 12-13) Question: Are you prepared to meet God?
Regarding application…Almighty God. Vs. 13, “He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man, he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth—the Lord God Almighty is his name.” Question: Why did Amos talk about how important it was to know our God? Because, they were not honoring Him in their worship. The problem was that their hardened hearts thought they were giving right worship to God. Their life was about them and they were so self-centered, even their troubles did not bring them back to God. Question: Why do we worship in the first place? To gain favor from God? Of course not, there is nothing we can do to give back what He has so graciously given to us. We worship out of a response of gratitude and a heart that desires a relationship with our Almighty God! If we have a weak understanding of the Almighty God, our worship of Him will be just going through the motions. Brothers & sisters, when you bring worship to the Lord, come ready to be in awe of His majesty!
Vs. 1, “Israel was a spreading vine; he brought forth fruit for himself. As his fruit increased, he built more altars; as his land prospered, he adorned his sacred stones.” We continue the description of what God’s people were doing. They were supposed to be a vine that represented the fruit of God, but now they took the fruit of God and gave honor to themselves and other gods. We see the evidence of spiritual decline as they professed they had no king (vs. 3). It’s as if they were saying, “God can’t do anything for us anyway.” Hosea reminds them of their civil war in Gibeah (vs. 9) and how again defeat will come to them (vs. 14-15).
Regarding application…Honoring God. Vs. 12, “Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.” Question: What was keeping Israel from honoring God? Deceit (vs. 13). They thought that all the other things in their lives and their thoughts would not affect how God responded. Remember, we are to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). It’s not about what we perceive to be good. For example, the so-called righteous Pharisees looked quite good in their reverence to God. But, God knew their hearts. Anytime we have the opportunity to come and worship God, the Lord knows what the intention of our hearts are. Let’s not make the mistake of putting other things in front of the Lord. The Lord waits for our hearts and His grace is always abundant. Seek the Lord with all your heart.
Vs. 2, “And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” Just picture the scene…John is in Heaven…we just witnessed the elders & the four living creatures worshipping God. And then we see a scroll in the Hand of the God Almighty who sits on His throne. And an Angel comes asking this very question we just read in vs. 2. Perhaps there was a pause, vs. 3 suggests it….there was a pause as everyone looked around to wonder who would be that person worthy of such a deed? John wept with tears as he began to understand the ramifications if that scroll could not be opened. All creation was in jeapordy if no one was to be found worthy. The angel soothes John by pointing to the Lion of Judah (none other than Jesus our Lord)…yet John all of the sudden sees a lamb in the center of the throne room…but the lamb had been slain. Vs. 2, “Why was this possibleWhat is about to happen here
Regarding application…Praise & Worship. Vs. 8, “And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” The harps signify praise…the incence of course signifies our prayers. If you believe in prerapture…this even would fall after rapture, but before tribulation. Going back…vs. 8, really shows us how we are to live today. How did those bowls of incence get full? They got full because of the church that worshipped & prayed to Jesus before this even actually happened. That means now at this very moment we are filling up those bowls!!! Yet…whether we are filling up those bowls now…or one day joining the elders, the four living creatures & the Angels….the key to this whole thing is the proclamation of “Worthy is the lamb…” The heart of worship has always been about the Lamb…Jesus! Revelations gets me excited!!! Selfishly…I cannot wait till the day we are joining our voices in Heaven! What a glorious day that will be. Until that day…may we do our part during the period of Grace, to share to the world the love & sacrifice of the Lamb who was slain for you and me. One day Jesus will come back to redeem us & make right what went wrong. But, that day hasn’t happened yet & may we do our part until then!
” We see a vision of God’s throne with rainbows, thunder, lightening….we see twenty-four smaller thrones with twenty-four elders…we see four creatures with eyes all over them! Whew….what a sight to behold! Yet, even in this description we do not see a flambouyant display of grandeur, but rather a display of the Holiness of God! Don’t be confused by the details of this chapter…rather look at what all of this is trying to point out: The Greatness of God! Fasten your seat belts & put your seats in an upright position! You are about to come with John to the throne of the Most High!!!! Vs. 2, “Question: Who are the twenty-four elders
Regarding application…Worship of God. Simply ask yourself again…what are we learning from this chapter? Worship of God. Worship is not just saying nice things about God on Sunday. Worship is recognizing who God already was, is & will always be! Theologian J.I. Packer, “We must turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God.” The more we know of God…the more it will help you to truly worship Him! But once again….you may ask…”But why do we worship?” Pastor Richard Foster, “Our God is not made of stone. His heart is the most sensitive and tender of all.” Wow…do you know what this means? God delights in the worship & attention of His creation! That we would matter to God brings a purpose in life so incredible! Guess what? One day we all will be before this very throne we just read about! Let us join with these four living creatures….join with the angels…join with our brothers & sisters awaiting our homecoming to heaven….join to raise our voices & sing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty…”