Micah 1:1-4:13, Revelations 6:1-17, Psalms 134:1-3, Proverbs 30:1-4
Today is the 15th day of December. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I am Brian and it’s wonderful to be here with you today. We’re just 10 days out from Christmas. A week and a half from today it will be Christmas. And it leaves us about 2-½ weeks left in the year. And we’re cruising along at a fast clip as we approach the end of the year. Today, we begin the book of Micah in the Old Testament. We’ll spend a couple days in Micah as we continue through Revelation in the New Testament.
Micah was a prophet who was a contemporary with the prophet Isaiah. And Micah seemed to have the same kind of access and voice in the king’s life as an advisor as Isaiah had. And we learn this from the book of Jeremiah. Pretty much everything else we know about Micah is found in the book of Jeremiah, that he prophesied during the days of King Hezekiah of Judah, that he was from the town of Moreisheth. Micah’s prophetic utterances, the book that we’re about to read, speak directly against leaders who have led the people away from God and of the corruption that is involved in that. False prophets, rulers, priests, they’ve all misled the people. And because of this, judgment will fall, but Micah is not just a book of judgment and doom. It’s also hopeful and speaks of the restoration of God’s people and reiterates a message running through the entire Bible - there’s a right way and there’s a wrong way and if we step out of grace we’re certain to feel the repercussions of the wrong way. But after judgment comes restoration. So, through the prophet Micah we see a clear line in the sand as we often do. God lays out his requirements for justice, obedience, and loyalty, but he also shows what happens when those requirements aren’t heeded. And, so, we begin. Micah chapter 1 verse 1 through 4 verse 13 today. And we’re reading from the Holman Christian Standard Bible this week.
Okay, let’s move ourselves back into the book of Revelation since we’ve been away for a couple of days and try to catch ourselves up. So, we have these seven letters to seven churches and after John wrote down what he was told to say, a door in heaven was opened up and John was caught up in the spirit to a place that he identifies as heaven into a throne room or throne area of God. And we don’t know like if this is partially outside or fully outside or inside. The sea is like glass before the throne. We don’t know if that’s a liquid sea made out of something different than water or if that just means that it was super calm. All the sudden where getting glimpses of God. And John says, the one sitting on throne looked like jasper and carnelian stone and there was a rainbow around the throne. So, he’s describing what he’s seeing but he doesn’t really have words to describe what he’s seeing. And this brings us to a few things that we should look at and remember as we’re moving forward. So, first of all, when John was on the island Patmos experiencing these visions and writing these things down, it was his understanding that he was writing about things that were happening and about things that were going to happen. So, this is largely a prophetic book in the tradition of Old Testament prophets and Old Testament prophetic books that were in existence. And there are many, many parallels in the book of Revelation that hearken back to earlier prophetic books in the Old Testament, books like Daniel and Ezekiel and Isaiah, just to name a few. Some of the same imagery from those writings are found in the book of Revelation. And scholars have been studying these parallels, trying to interpret them, trying to understand what’s being talked about for centuries. Which brings us to the second thing that we need to pay attention to, and that is time. When a prophecy is given it’s usually not known when the events that are being described are going to take place, other than to know that it’s not now. It’s future. Maybe the immediate future, it may be a distant future, but it hasn’t happened yet. Which leads a reader to invariably question whatever prophecy they’re reading and wonder, if it’s now, like, is this all happening now, or is about to happen and be something that I witness, I see, I experience. And a lot of people read the book of Revelation, in particular, even though it’s heavily influenced by symbolism from much earlier prophetic writings, in terms of their immediate present. So, this would be called, like, a presentist interpretation. In other words, these ancient prophecies are coming to be fulfilled before my eyes in the here and now. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For example, the entire book of Matthew, the first gospel that we read, has very much a presenttist attitude toward Jesus. Like, he can’t hardly turn around in the book of Matthew without fulfilling some prophecy. This is a very, very important thing to the writer of Matthew. It’s very, very important to him. It’s one of the primary missions of his gospel. But no matter what time period we’re talking about or talking about, when we’re talking about prophecy, we’re going to find a wide range of opinion, scholarly studied studious opinion from historical and theological perspectives that are widely in disagreement with each other. And we see this all over the Bible. So, if we’re talking about Old Testament prophets, they were rarely heeded, they were very, very often ostracized. And most of the time the writings of the prophets weren’t affirmed as something inspired by God or something to be held sacred as Scripture until much later. In many of the Old Testament prophets, we see other “prophets” who are saying completely different things. Like, so, a prophet will come in and speak to the prophets who were prophesying things that aren’t from God. And, so, this other prophet comes along to denounce them. And then there’s like a battle between them. Not like a war, but like a war of words. So, prophetic disagreement has a long history. And some of the problem comes from dating. Right? So, from time. When will this happen? Because there’s a dominant apocalyptic worldview found throughout the Bible, which is essentially the idea that the world as we know it will come to a close and something new will be reborn. God will do a new thing. And this will be like giving birth. There will be labor pains involved. So, that leads everyone who reads to go, okay, are we in this? Are we about to be in this? When is this going to happen? So, we get to the book of Revelation and we have a very presenttist reading. Every generation does it. Everyone thinks it’s now. And a lot of what feeds that is the third thing that we need to remember, symbolism. And we begin to encounter symbolism as we move out of the letters to the churches and move more into the body of the book of Revelation. So, we have John, who has been caught up in the spirit into heaven, standing before, what appears to be the throne of God, with 24 other thrones the belong to elders and some beasts who look similar to Ezekiel’s writings - and I see, like, glass and rainbows. So, we have John who is seeing things he has never seen before and trying to describe what he is seeing. And, so, he does what we all do when we can’t literally describe something, we use metaphor or symbolism to evoke what we’re talking about. So, these three things: prophecy, time, and symbolism present tremendous complexity in trying to arrive at interpretation, because there’s no key. Like, John didn’t write down, I’m saying this literally, and I’m saying this figuratively, you should take this allegorically, you should take this as absolute fact. So, as we come out of these letters and John is caught up into this spirit into heaven and sees God and describes God, should we then say that God, our Father God, looks like jasper and carnelian stone? Or was that just the best use of his vocabulary, the best words he could use to describe what was indescribable and what he was seeing? And we could say, probably a little bit of both. There’s a lot of strange symbolism, strange creatures, strange goings on in the Old Testament prophets, in many of them, and in the book of Revelation. And Scholars have been trying to figure out the symbolism for millennia. And these disciplines vary widely from a pragmatic, nonreligious look at symbology to some of the very sensational but often very contradictory interpretations that we’ve always found and that exist in the world today. So, the symbolism has always been challenging. And predicting the timing of these events has also been challenging. So, like, when Daniel has a vision or when Ezekiel has a vision and he’s caught up and he sees these things or when John is in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and he’s caught up, and he sees these things, these guys are seeing into the heavenly realms. They’re being caught up into a place where there isn’t time. So, using prophecy, symbolism, and time still leaves a lot of challenges about what has happened, what is happening, what has yet to happen, and you can find scholarship of people who will point by point take you through all the entire thing and say it’s all already happened. You can find other people who would say it’s happening. And you will have other people who will say it is yet to happen. So, I just want to be clear. As we go through this and we talk about this, I’m not trying to interpret the book of Revelation. I don’t think I’m qualified enough to do that, but I do thing and qualified enough to point out some things. So, we had the letters, then we have John caught up into heaven, and he’s before the throne of God, and a glassy sea and rainbows, and 24 elders and creatures, and hymns, like holy, holy, holy, Lord, God the Almighty, who was, who is, and who is coming. These are things that John heard being sung in heaven, hymns of worship from heaven. And in yesterday’s reading from Revelation, the whole scene began to unfold. There was one sitting on a throne on the right hand of God who had a scroll or a book that was sealed up with seven seals. From a scholarship perspective, there is some basic consensus here, that seals historically mean that something is hidden and that can only be opened by one who breaks the seal and as each subsequent seal is opened more is revealed. The problem is there’s an angel, saying, who is worthy to open? Right? Who can break these seals and open the scroll? But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or even to look in it, the book of Revelation says. And John then says, he cried and cried because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or even to look in it. So, why is John in heaven before God crying and crying? Why is he so sad? It’s probably because he thinks what’s in the scrolls is the redemptive destiny of God’s people, but if there is no one worthy in heaven to tell that story then maybe it can’t happen. And everything that John and all of his ancestors of hoped in for so long isn’t going to happen. And that’s been a problem, because everyone including the apostle Paul thought things were going to happen much sooner than they had and they still hadn’t happened and they were still trying to figure it out. And, so, here’s John caught up into heaven, and maybe it’s not going to happen, but an angel invites John to stop crying. And then the lion from the tribe of Judah is revealed, the root of David was been victorious, he can open the scroll. And then we get another picture of Jesus. So, John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and he turned around he saw some lampstands in the first place. Like, when all of this started and he saw Jesus with white hair and flaming eyes and this image of the cosmic Christ. Now he’s caught up into heaven and the scrolls can’t be opened until Jesus steps forward, and John describes him differently. Then I saw one like a slaughtered lamb standing between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders and he had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent into all the earth. And he came and took the scroll out of the right hand of the one seated on the throne. So, we have some symbolism here and can it be unraveled. I mean, if we were to take a literalistic view of what’s being said here, then we would say, Jesus has become an actual lamb with seven horns and seven eyes, and somehow as an actual lamb, he took the scroll with his hoofs out of the hand of God, and somehow with his hooves he was able to break the seals. Right? So, like, you can go, like, I’m just going to read this book literally and what it says it says. Or I’m just only going to read this book allegorically and see what it says or I’m just going to try and find a happy balance here, but how do you know? This is why these books of prophecy, especially with apocalyptic visions, have been examined for thousands of years. But nevertheless, Jesus takes the scroll and everyone falls down before the lamb, and more hymns are sung from heaven. And present at this event appear to be the living beings that Ezekiel saw and the elders that Isaiah saw and they fall down and worship the lamb. And beyond all of the debate about all of the symbolism that surrounds this, there is consensus among scholars in calling the scene that we’re seeing here an enthronement scene, where Jesus is being acknowledged. Which brings us to today’s rating where six of the seven seals are broken. And just to give you like a birds eye view of the minutia of scholarship that goes into these kinds of works, it’s been debated whether this document that has seven seals was a book, a codex, a scroll, or what. If there’s seven seals and each one that’s broken reveals something further, how could you do that with the scroll? Wouldn’t you need some kind of codex or some kind of book in order to be able to do that? And what’s in the book? Is this the Lamb’s book of life? Is this the names of everybody? Or is this some kind of prophecy about what’s coming next? Obviously, when the scrolls are broken, we find out that it’s not names. And yet, many have called this the names of life. This is where the names of everyone that gets in is contained. So, you can see that this is one thing, like, every single word here, every single symbol has been looked at from so many angles. But Jesus breaks seals and when He does break seals in succession things happen. And the first four seals, as their broken, reveal horsemen and horses and four things happen in succession. The first seal is broken, a white horse appears, the horsemen on the white horse has a bow and a crown that was given to him, and he went out as a victor to conquer. And then the second seal was broken and another horse appears and this one’s a red one and it it’s horsemen has the task and was empowered to take peace from the earth, so that there would be conflict in battle and death. And he was given a large sword to take with him. And then the third seal was broken and there was another horse and this one was a black horse and the horsemen had scales and it is widely thought that this this represents famine. And there was something like a voice from the four living creatures which appear to be the same kind of creatures that Ezekiel saw. So, John heard a voice coming from among the four living creatures. So, maybe they’re all saying something at the same time or they’re connected somehow. This is all very Ezekiel like imagery. And I say a quart of wheat for a denarius, and 3 quarts of barley for a denarius, but do not harm the olive oil and the wine. Those are the instructions to the black horse and its rider. And it’s been noted, like if we were to talk about the actual time that John was writing this, that these prices would be very, very inflated. So, in other words, to get enough food, you’d have to work all day just to get enough food to survive based on what the creatures are telling the horsemen to weigh out and how things are supposed to be priced. And, so, there’s a famine. And the next seal is broken and is a pale green horse. And this horsemen has a name, whereas the other ones don’t. And this horsemen is named death and Hades. So, the realm of the dead follows close behind. And his mission was to preside over the death of 25% of the earth’s population. And some of that will happen by the sword, by war, some that would happen through famine and plague, and some that would happen by the wild animals of the earth. So, the question is, okay, this is a prophetic utterance that was uttered some 2000 years ago. Have these things happened? When Jesus broke the scrolls, did that set about these events? Did they begin to happen? Have they already happened? Are they happening now? Or are they yet to happen? Well, I mean, conquest and victory, that’s been around a long time. Peace being taken from the earth so that people are in conflict with each other and go to war, that’s also been happening in the last couple thousand years and before that. Famine is something that has existed since this was written down and it happened before that. And significant loss of life through death in battle, in war, in famine, by plague, by wild animal, those things also happened and continue to happen. But this brings up some interesting things to think about. Jesus is the one breaking the seals. And whether these horses and riders are actual heavenly beings being sent to preside over these events or if they’re the same horsemen found in the book of Zechariah, or whether there more allegorical announcements that these things have begun or are about to begin, this is taking place because Jesus is breaking the seals and these horses and riders are being sent from the throne of God to take care of these things. And they appear to be in line with the prophetic tradition of warning and judgment. And now, Jesus is presiding over that judgment. And many biblical scholars and commentators have commented that this kind of judgment has a twofold purpose. One is judicial, its judgment, its justice. But two, its redemptive. And some have said compellingly that, if the book of revelations is to be looked at in the tradition of Old Testament prophecy then the children of Israel had to go through the things that they had to go through. It purified them. And then there was a new beginning, which brings us to the fifth seal that was broken. When this one was broken, those who had been killed for their testimony and their faithfulness to the Lord appeared under the altar and they had a message. They were saying something. Lord you are holy and true. How long until you judge and avenge our blood from those who live on the earth? And this, how long, kind of language is all over the Psalms. And the problem is we don’t know exactly when this is happening. So, like, if this happening in John’s time then it’s everyone who has been martyred up to this point. If we’re outside of time then it could be, you know, it could be any period. All we know is that it’s not done because a white robe was given to each of the martyrs and they were told to rest a little bit longer until everyone who was going to be martyred is. So, the opening of these seals is loosing upon the earth a judgment and purification and it’s difficult and it’s causing some to fall into the chaos in become in conflict and at war. It’s causing others to be purified and redeemed, because hardship, difficulty suffering, they have a way of peeling back the layers to what is essentially core and true about us. And we’ve seen example after example after example of this in the Scriptures, like in the book of Romans where we’re told to take up our own cross and follow Christ or that we will find our lives by giving them up, we’ll find our life by losing it. These ideas are all throughout the Bible. And then we come to the sixth seal. And there’s no horse and there’s no rider. There’s just sort of the end. And this is in remarkable parallel to the book of Isaiah. So, in Isaiah chapter 34 we read, ‘and the powers of the heavens will melt and the heaven will be rolled up like a scroll, and all the stars will fall as leaves fall from a fig tree.’ When the sixth seal is broken in the book of Revelation we read, ‘and the stars of the heaven fell to the earth as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. And the heaven was split as a scroll having been rolled up.’ So, if you’re taking a literal view here, then what we’re reading about or what we’re seeing is a picture of the end of the cosmos as we know it. If you’re reading from a little bit more allegorical perspective, than this is this is the condition in the scene that is final judgment. And that is where we leave off today.
Father, Father, we invite you into all of this. It may be difficult for us to unravel exactly everything that’s being said here, but maybe the point is clear, that we have to hold onto You for dear life and that we have to remain faithful to You as You have to us. And that remains true no matter where we are on the continuum. And, so, Holy Spirit, we invite You to help us navigate in this life. And that those bonds of love and loyalty that exist between us become the things that are most valuable to us, that this relationship is the most valuable thing we have and we can lose everything else, but not that. And no one and nothing can take it away. Come, Holy Spirit. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
dailyaudiobible.com is the website. It’s home base. It’s where you find out what’s going on around here. And, obviously, we’re getting closer by the day to Christmas day.
So, it’s Christmas time around here too and the Daily Audio Christmas Box for 2017 is available. And we’ve curated a number of resources, some for you to keep, some for you to give away, into that box and we’re getting down to last call on these. Monday is the day that we feel like it’s the safe cutoff date for Christmas delivery. And Monday is one week from Christmas day. So, be to be sure to check those out in the Daily Audio Bible shop, in the Christmas section.
The other thing that I’ll mention today is advance early registration for the More Gathering for women is available now through the end of the year. And that makes for a unique and life changing gift idea. So, you can check that out at dailyaudiobible.com as well in the Initiatives section or simply go to moregathering.com and you can find out everything that you would want to know there.
If you want to partner with the Daily Audio Bible here in the last days of the year, as always, thank you humbly. It’s quite an amazing thing that we do each year, going through the Bible together in community. And thank you for your partnership. That’s how this happens. There’s a link on the homepage at dailyaudiobible.com. Thank you for those of you who have clicked that link. If you prefer, the mailing address is PO Box 1996 Spring Hill Tennessee 37174.
And as always, if you have a prayer request or comment, 877-942-4253 is the number to dial.
And that’s it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.
Community Prayer Requests and Praise Reports:
Hi. Daily Audio Bible family. My name is Hose Carols. I’m calling from Mexico City and I want you to help me pray for all the recovering addicts around the world that are facing difficulties to stay sober or clean. As holidays come closer to all the celebrations and sometimes face or struggle more this time of the year with family or loneliness due to the consequence of addiction. I, myself am a recovering addict. I’ve been clean for 17 years by the grace of our God. I met Christ after 2 years of working the program and I still sponsor people in my home group and every time…the holidays and Christmas and unfortunately a lot of people quit and never come back. So, please help me pray. And if you are facing trouble with drinking or using drugs, know that Christ can set you free by his mercy, power, and love. Merry Christmas to all from Mexico.
Hi DAB family. This is Rebecca…I mean…this is Joyce in California. And I wanted to thank Rebecca in north west Arkansas and Kimberly and anyone else who prayed for me. I just wanted to thank you because I’ve been unusually productive in my studies and sleeping a lot more peacefully. This peace and confidence is something that I haven’t felt before and I know it’s got to be your prayers that are providing the spiritual covering so that I can finish my race well. Thank you so much for lifting me up. I’m praising God for you. I recently joined the DAB friends page on Facebook and I found that our community there is just as beautiful as it is here on the prayer line. I encourage anyone who is a little shy to join too so that we can all connect. Even if we haven’t met in person we are all brothers and sisters forever because of Christ who lives in us. We are all more than conquerors and we have not missed our windows of opportunity because of Him who is within us. He is the one who controls all time. I just love you all so much. I wanted to thank you, Brian and Jill, for creating this community. Thank you DAB family. I love you so much and I’m praying for you too. This is Joyce in California.
Hi. My name is Lizzy and I was hoping if you could pray for me about gymnastics because I just really don’t want to go to gymnastics and that it’s just hard for me because I really sweat and if don’t want to do something they still make me do it. It’s just really, really hard for me. So, if you could please pray for me about me not going to gymnastics and that my mom finally decides to get me out of gymnastics. Please. Thank you. Bye.
Hey guys. This is Cherry C. Cherry Pie. Hope all is well. I have a praise report. Malcolm got baptized and I am so excited. And when he went up he was like honey I’m getting baptized today but Malcolm tease so much, I’m thinking, whatever. I don’t have time to play with him in church. So, once the guys did altar calls he went up for altar call and he’s like hey, hold my wallet and glasses and so I’m thinking, maybe he’s going to the bathroom. But he went up and he got baptized. Halleluiah, let the angels sing. I’m so excited, I told him, I said, oh my God felt like I was getting married all over again. So, I just wanted to give you all that praise report. Malcolm’s got baptized. You guys have a great and wonderful and marvelous day. I always keep you guys in prayer. So, you continue to pray for me and I will pray for you. Love you guys.
Hey Daily Audio Bible family. This is Keith. Called to just…yea…like…almost a year ago I totally made a terrible, terrible decision and I just progressively thought I’d get better but the whole year and especially right now, I’m kind of losing it. I’m losing my mind. I try to…I try to draw to God but I feel like forgotten and ignored. I don’t know what to do. I feel like I’m about to lose everything and…I don’t even know what to say…I’m kind of…you know…losing my mind a little bit and need some prayers. I don’t know when anyone will hear this but please pray for me. I need peace. I can’t find peace. I’m kind of like panicking in this little…one…you know…trapped in my own brain and can’t…can’t find peace at all…can’t find peace…and it just seems like everything is getting worse. Anyway, please pray for me. This is all I have. I love you all. Thank you. Bye.