Malachi 1:1-2:17, Revelations 21:1-27, Psalms 149:1-9, Proverbs 31:10-24
Today is the 30th day of December. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I’m Brian. It is great to be here with you for the final two days of the year. I guess we can’t get much closer, just one day closer. So, we don’t have much territory to cover before the end of the year, but we do have some. And in the Old Testament, we have reached the final book, the book of Malachi.
The book of Malachi is that the final of what is known as the 12 Minor Prophets and it happens to be the last book of the Old Testament. And it will be 400 years from the end of Malachi before God sends another prophet, John the Baptist. Of course, a lot of things happen in those 400 years. And there’s all kinds of writings from those 400 years, but it will be 400 years until John the Baptist. So, in the book of Malachi, as with all the other prophets, God’s central message is clear - come back, return to me, coupled with the promise of restoration. In Malachi’s case, he’s also speaking to the priests who have simply begun to not take the law seriously. For example, the Mosaic law required sacrifices that were pure and spotless, but the priests have begun using blemished and blind animals. Throughout the culture men had begun treating the wives of their youth disrespectfully and still expected God to accept their sacrifices. And on and on it goes. Same story, different writer, different book. Of course, the parallels are striking, and it doesn’t take a degree in theology to apply the circumstances to our culture today into our own lives. God isn’t pleased when we disobey Him. That is only leading us off the narrow path that leads to life and toward our own destruction. And that isn’t because he’s a self-absorbed tyrant. It’s because he knows what is best, how we’re made, he knows what is right for us. And He is right and best for us in all circumstances. And, so, we will conclude the Old Testament with an oracle of the Lord spoken through His servant Malachi. Turn back. Turn back to God. And, so, we begin. Malachi chapter 1 verse 1 through 2:17.
Okay, so it’s no secret that tomorrow is the last day of the year. So, obviously, we have come down to the final readings in the Bible, which means we have also come down to the final readings in the book of Revelation that we’ve been diving into this year. And in today’s reading we kind of turn the corner. What began as seven letters to seven churches turned into seven trumpets and seven bowls. And we spent a lot of time with a lot of disruption. And we’ve looked at many views from many angles that eventually led us to do the great white throne of God and the final judgment. And we passed through that yesterday in our reading. Now we get a picture of all things being made new and the imagery is riveting. And as we’ve gone through the book of Revelation, we’ve looked figuratively and we’ve looked literally in an attempt, simply to get behind all of the things that have been said about the book of Revelation, to try to get insight on what’s being said. So, we have to look at all things being made new from the same perspective as we prepare to end the book of Revelation and the Bible. So, let’s look literally at what we read today while doing what we’ve been doing all along, asking ourselves, is this literal? Is this a literal thing that’s being said or is this a figurative thing that’s being said that represents something bigger that can’t be said? So, after the great white throne judgment that we read about yesterday, we are greeted with the fact that a new heaven and a new earth have appeared. So, we need to stop and think about that literally. A new heaven and a new earth, which would tell us that our ultimate destination is earth, just, apparently, not this one. In the new earth there is no sea. The sea was gone. So, clearly that would be a very different earth. What we don’t know is if John is referring to, like, the Mediterranean Sea will be gone and how would that work? But if we just assume that there are no oceans than a very different earth. And on this new earth John sees the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven to earth dressed like a bride ready for her husband. And a loud voice from the throne said, God lives with humans, God will make His home with them and they will be His people. And God Himself will be with them and be their God and He will wipe every tear from their eyes. And there won’t be any more death and there won’t be any more grief or crying or pain, because the first things have disappeared. So, on this new earth that has no oceans, God plans to actually dwell with people. And as this is happening, the one sitting on the throne says, I’m making everything new. I’m the first and the last. I’m the beginning and the end. And I’ll give a drink from the fountain filled with the water of life to anyone who is thirsty. It’s not going to cost anything. Everyone who wins the victory will inherit these things. I’ll be their God. They’ll be my children. And then He says, you know, cowardly, unfaithful, detestable, all of the people that have been judged earlier, they don’t get to go into this new rest. And then, continuing literally, one of the seven angels that had one of the seven bowls that were poured out on the earth at the end with the seven plagues came to John and said, come I’m going to show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And, so, John is carried by the angel’s power to a high mountain where he sees this new holy city, Jerusalem, coming from God out of heaven. And it’s, obviously, ornate with gates and jewels and angels and inscriptions. The names of the 12 tribes of Israel are on the 12 gates. There are 12 foundations and each foundation has the name of one of the 12 apostles of the Lamb written on it. And it’s coming down from heaven to earth. And it gets measured. And it’s a cube. It’s a big cube coming down out of heaven that is a cubed city coming down-to-earth. And it’s measured. And its measurements are 12,000 stadia long, wide, and high. And 12,000 stadia equates to about 1600 miles or almost 2600 km. And, so, from literal perspective, somehow this this will work. The atmosphere of this new earth must be different because on the earth that we currently live on, I mean, if we just get 60 miles up, we’re kind of in outer space. So, 1600 miles tall would be way out there in outer space. And the angel is telling John that this 1600 mile cube coming out of the sky down-to-earth is the bride. And there is no temple in this this new city because God himself and the Lamb are the temple. And the city doesn’t need any exterior light like the sun or the moon because the glory of God illuminates it. And apparently, because it has gates, you can go in and out of it. And Revelation says, the nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. So, you can go in and out of it, or at least some people can. And its gates never close. It’s open all day. They don’t close because there isn’t any more night. So, it never gets dark outside. And everyone who had passed through the great judgment and their names were found in the book of life, the Lamb’s book of life, would be able to go into the city. So, that’s kind of a literal look at what we read today. If we’re looking at this figuratively then there are a plethora of nuances, but indeed a new heaven and a new earth are established. But this doesn’t necessarily mean different planets. So, the idea of first and second or old and new are used throughout the Bible, So, like, you have an old covenant, a new covenant, a first Adam, a second Adam. Or language like, the latter will be greater than the former. And this is usually indicating the impermanence of the first and the permanence of the second. So, this second earth, this new earth certainly could be at a different planet, but from a figurative perspective, it would be a restored one, one in which evil does not exist, where pollution is gone, where corrupt political systems of governance do not exist, one in which the presence of God is immediate and tangible. Basically, an existence that is restored to shalom, where nothing is broken and nothing is lost. All has been restored to perfection. There are no more goodbyes. One in which death does not exist and God wipes every tear from our eyes. One in which there is no grief or crying or pain because those things do not exist anymore. This picture comes from the book of Isaiah, where it is said there will be a new heaven and new earth, and they will by no means remember the former. So, looking at that figuratively, the struggle to survive in a dark world while trying to remain true to Jesus unto death, that’s over. That will never happen again. But when we did read about this new earth, literally, we found that it has no sea. So, there are no oceans. From a figurative view, scholars just simply look at how this the sea was referenced in the rest of the book. So, it was seen as the origin of cosmic evil. It was referenced as the place of the unbelieving rebellious nations who attacked and tried to stamp out God’s people. It was referenced as the place of the dead. It was referenced as the seat of the world’s idolatry and evil trade activity. So, figuratively, those things aren’t a part of this new earth. So, sticking with this figurative view of the sea then, that means that on this new earth there is no longer a threat from Satan or darkness or evil. Those have been permanently judged. They can never be a part of the new creation and there won’t be any threat from political, or corrupt, rebellious nations. They’ve suffered the same fate is the devil. There won’t be any more death. So, there is no reason to have a place of the dead. And even the fear of the ocean itself as kind of a dark, murky, unpredictable place will be over. And this new city has 12 gates, each named after one of the 12 tribes of Israel with the foundation having 12 foundations, each having the names of the apostles, which would figuratively, basically, represent the completeness of God’s redemptive plan, that all who are within this city are essentially the true Israel, which is not an ethnic thing. And it’s not the structure itself, this 1600 mile cube, that is going to somehow, this cube that isn’t alive is going to somehow become a bride. It’s everyone within that sphere. And this is thought to be true because God uses marriage as a metaphor for His covenant with His people all throughout the Bible, even in devastatingly, heartbreaking ways. So, God is probably not interested in being in a covenant relationship with the literal structure. Rather, He wants union with his people - loyalty, allegiance and perfect intimacy. And God’s saying that He is the Alpha and Omega isn’t, you know, the Lord saying that He is two letters in an alphabet. It is to say that He is the beginning and the end. Right? So, we see that very clearly as a figure of speech. So, figuratively. But He’s saying it as a way of reassurance, that he called creation into being at the beginning and has remained sovereign. So, we can be assured that all things will be made new because He is the beginning and end of it all. And those who win the victory or those who overcome or are overcommers will inherit all of this. And as we’ve seen from one of the main themes of this book that we talked about several times, an overcomer is the one who endures through whatever until the end. And what we inherit is union and communion with God and all of the essentials that we need for an abundant life in his family are available. And it’s been pointed out that the look of this new Jerusalem, the way that is constructed with all of the precious stones, remarkably parallels the description of the great whore of Babylon. Right? So, on the one hand, John is told, come I will show you the judgment of the great whore and then he’s told, come, I will show you the bride. So, figuratively throughout this book Babylon was the dark, evil, world system consolidated into a city name. So, those who look at this figuratively would say the same thing is happening here. One was an attempt to dominate and demand worship and it was full of the world’s people who went along with that. The other is true and is full of those who remained true. And we talked about that a lot when we were talking about the judgment of Babylon. But in terms of looking at this new city figuratively and not as a structure, the allusions go to other parts of the Scripture that are used figuratively. For example, when Jesus is referred to as the cornerstone that the builders rejected. Well, I don’t think anybody thinks Jesus is a piece of rock, is a stone. That would be figurative language. Or when Peter says, in his first letter, that we as believers are precious living stones. We can take that figuratively, pretty easily, because no one thinks that their destiny, ultimately, is to become a stone. And, so, that’s why these things are seen figuratively, in terms of this new city. And there won’t be a temple in this new city. So, if the city isn’t about the structure of the city, but about the people within it, then perhaps there isn’t a third temple to be built. But that is hotly debated. But figuratively, the temple always represented the presence of God. Before there was a temple there was a tabernacle that represented the presence of God. So, in this new creation there’s no need for that. The presence of God is everywhere and is not hindered or impeded in any way. And what about the dimensions of this new city. I mean I said it was like 1600 miles, like, 15 or 1600 miles, I think, like, 7 million feet tall. So, an obviously amazing structure, but in Revelation it’s described as 12,000 stadia. And the number 12 is symbolic throughout the Bible. Right? So, there’s 12 tribes of Israel. There’s 12 apostles in this new city. There’s 12 angels at 12 gates. Earlier in Revelation there were 12,000 people from 12 tribes of Israel that made up 144,000. There were 12 precious stones in the breastplate of the priest. And we could go on and on. Many scholars affirm that the number 12 is a number signifying authority and completeness. So, when applied figuratively to the new Jerusalem, it would represent the entire family of God, as opposed to a cubed city. So, there are a couple of ways of looking at what we’ve read today. And, as with everything that we’ve talked about in the book of Revelation, this is just the tip of the iceberg. But man, man, no matter whether this is literal or figurative or whatever this is going to look like, this is the unimpeded presence of God with no distractions in a world where evil does not exist and perfect union with God is completely normal. It’s a picture of how things were always supposed to be for us. And it’s a promise that all things will be made new. And if there’s one thing that I’m certain of in my life, it is that I want to be there. I want to stay true. I want to see all this and I’m sure in the end it will be completely different than I might imagine or that any of us might imagine, but what I want, more than anything, is that first moment of pure ecstasy of the full presence of God, followed by the awareness that it never ends. Don’t you? And we can all be there. We can all overcome. And we overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. We get there by realizing that the end of what we think we know isn’t the end of anything. It is only the beginning.
Father, we thank You for these pictures that describe what is beyond comprehension. And we take the book of Revelation for what it is, a promise. And we invite Your Holy Spirit to come, seal us in Christ, that we might endure whatever comes our way, whatever time we’re in. Come, Holy Spirit. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
dailyaudibiible.com is the website. It’s home base. It’s where you find what’s going on around here. And what’s going on around here is we’re about to switch into a new year. Tomorrow is the last day and we will complete this revolution through the Bible. And I hope that it has caused revolution in your life as it has for me, as it does for me every year.
And one of the ways that we’re going into the new year is with the new Daily Audio Bible app that I’ve been mentioning most days, just kind of getting us all migrated over. The new Daily Audio Bible app is free. So, you can tell everyone that you know. All you have to do is go to the Google Play store or the Apple App store and search for ‘Daily Audio Bible mobile app’. We have a couple of apps. We have our current app and we have the new one. The new ones called ‘Daily Audio Bible mobile app’. So, make sure you download it and get ready for the next revolution through the Scriptures.
Also want to remind you that the early registration pricing for the More Gathering, which is coming up this April, is available through the end of the year, which is tomorrow. So, be sure to check that out. If it’s something that’s been on your mind or on your heart, just go to moregathering.com or you can find all the information at dailyaudiobible.com in the Initiatives section.
If you want to partner with the Daily Audio Bible here in the last moments of the year 2017, then thank you. I mean, profoundly and humbly, thank you. There is a link on the homepage of dailyaudiobible.com. If you’re using the new Daily Audio Bible app, just press the Give button in the upper right-hand corner. If you prefer the mail, the mailing address is PO Box 1996 Spring Hill Tennessee 37174.
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And that’s it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.
Community Prayer and Praise:
Happy New Year everyone. This is Christi from Kentucky. I wanted to give you an update on Andrew, who, my nephew, who had stage 4 kidney failure. He is out of the hospital now and the pneumonia has compromised his lungs a little and he’s not behaving by staying inside out of this cold weather, but he is improving. And Kerri is out of ICU with a collapsed lung. And she has been taken to a private room and she is improving. Thank you. Thank you so much for your faithfulness to pray. I love you guys so very much. Annette, from Oklahoma, you know girl how much I love you, and I just wanted to tell everyone on DAB just a testimony of Christmas day. So very, very hard. Tim and I were here alone and we had no visitors and it was so hard that day. It was…I was in such a dark place. The hardest day that we’ve had since we lost mom and dad. In one year in my life…in our lives have just changed tremendously. And Annette, you came onto Facebook and you did a video and she was just speaking and just to see her beautiful face and hear her voice, which always cheers me up. I know it does to everyone. But she actually was talking about those people that were alone and she mentioned us. And Annette, you know, you know how much that just blessed us. It took this girl that was in a very dark place that day and shed light on her life again. And I thank you. I thank you sister. God bless you. Guys, we need one another. And I just praise God for this community. I love you all so very much and hope each of you are having a most blessed and lovely day. I’ll hit that prayer wall up soon. God bless you.
Hi Daily Audio Bible. This is Paul from Houston. And I’m praying from the 11th of December broadcast that had Jubilant Perseverance from Indonesia. And I just wanted to pray for her. I really liked how she started off her call - my God is my refuge and my strength, a very present help in times of trouble. And Jubilant, you were saying that your time was coming to an end in Indonesia and for some different circumstances you weren’t going to continue teaching there. And I just want to pray that God gives you wisdom and direction on where to go and that God would open the doors and close doors where He doesn’t want you. And I thank You Lord that You’d be with her, that You would give her direction, that You give her wisdom, that Your Holy Spirit will guide her, and that You would give her wisdom in different things. And I ask Lord that any hurts or wounds would be let go of. And I ask Lord that You would just show that You are sovereign and that You are in control of her circumstances. Whether it be in Indonesia or in the states or wherever she is Lord that You are with her and that You direct her and You guide her paths and that You go with her. And I thank You Lord for being with her this time, this time of year during this holiday season with Christmas and New Year’s, Lord, that she is present in…with You. And I thank You Lord for blessing her and being with her. And just, give her the peace that You have given all of us Lord. That Your Holy Spirit gives that present help, that comforter that comes to us in times where we don’t know understand why things are going the way they’re going. But Lord, You understand, because Lord, you have a bigger picture, a bigger…
This is Candice from Oregon. Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, Abba Father, Holy Spirit, thank You. Thank You so much for redeeming the world and thank You that the restoration of all things is coming, the new earth, even more magnificent than the one we already experience and see. Lord, thank You that You are sovereign, that You, the sovereign, have invited us into life that’s truly life. That You’ve called us to take every thought captive to the Lord Jesus Christ. You are a good, good Father. That’s who You are. And we are loved by You. That’s who we are. Oh Lord, may Your blessings cover 2018 above and farther than anything we could have asked for or ever imagined. We give ourselves completely over to You and knowing that that’s like coming home, that’s what we’re made for, that’s where we become truly ourselves, the person you knit together when we were in our mother’s womb.