Joel 1:1-3:21, Revelation 1:1-20, Psalms 128:1-6, Proverbs 29:18
Today is the 9th day of December. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I am Brian. It’s great to be here with you today as we continue our journey forward. And, yeah, we can practically count down the days, we can practically see the shore on the voyage that we’ve been on together. Today we’re going to be beginning new books in both the Old and the New Testaments and when we get to the New Testament, we have reached the final book. So, we’ll be spending the rest of our time in the New Testament in the book of Revelation. But as we get into the Old Testament we have come to the book of Joel.
Introduction to the book of Joel:
Joel is another of the minor prophets and we’ll read the whole thing. We’ll read the entire book of Joel today. So, let’s just consider what it is we’re going to read. Ironically, nobody really knows who Joel was. There are other people in the Bible with the name Joel, but scholars don’t believe that any…any of those people are the author of this book. But stylistically this is prophecy and Joel shares a similar language style with other prophets like Ezekiel or Jeremiah or other minor prophets like Amos, Micah and Zephaniah. Some scholars have argued that Joel could be the work more one prophet, then others considered the fact that the similarities between other prophetic books just to simply be a byproduct of…of the time like of the shared culture the shared tradition and the shared language. But Joel doesn’t really give any historical clues inside the text either, which makes dating this book really hard. And, so, many scholars have come to many different conclusions over many different centuries. But like in just broad terms, Joel has been dated somewhere between 500 and 800 B.C. but dating the book…I mean scholars have agreed that dating the book isn’t necessary to understand the books meaning and impact. Joel writes of a vast horde of locusts that invaded the land and destroyed it, ate all…everything green, destroyed all the vegetation, destroyed the crops and a great famine followed this plague of locusts. And Joel used this natural disaster as his backdrop to call the children of Israel back to repentance. And most scholars think that this locust invasion, this was an actual event not just like a metaphor or an allegory, it actually happened. And Joel used that event to speak…well…to speak the apocalyptic prophetic message of judgment that is found in this book. And as is the case with much of the Bible, Joel’s words were intended to reveal a fork in the road. Like if…if you’ve noticed on our journey through this year, we keep being brought to forks in the road. Nearly every day we’re…we’re allowed to see a path that goes this way and a path that goes that way and where they’re going to end up. And Joel, the path of repentance would lead them to blessing and restoration, and the path of rebellion would lead to what Joel calls the great and terrible day of the Lord. And, so, we begin. We’ll actually begin and end the book of Joel today. Joel has three chapters and we’ll read them all. And we’re reading from the Common English Bible this week.
Introduction to the book of Revelation:
Okay. This brings us to the final book of the New Testament, and for that matter the final book of the Bible. And Revelation has captured the fascination of readers in ways that no other book has. And the interpretations of this book are myriad, and it’s been looked at through many lenses over thousands of years and some of them are pragmatic and some of them are fantastic. So, this book is self identifies the author as John, but it doesn't…it doesn’t say clearly which John we’re talking about. So, traditionally the accepted author is the apostle John, who wrote the gospel of John as well as first second and third John. This has been questioned though, since at least the third century and we are in the 21st-century, so a long time and that continues until today. But based on the evidence, the tradition that the apostle John was the author is very possibly true. And if that’s the case then the apostle John later in his life was banished to the island of Patmos where Revelation says it was written. And this little island of Patmos it’s believed was like a Roman penal colony, where…where like criminals and like political opponents and the prisoners, they would be exiled onto this island and just kinda left there to figure it out. And it’s a real island, it still exists until today. It’s in the Aegean Sea. So, between like Greece and Turkey not that far from Ephesus actually where…where it is believed that John spent his later life. So, Revelation is considered a work of apocalyptic literature, which is why there is so much intrigue and confusion around it because the genre is highly symbolic, and the reader must discern what is to be taken literally and what is to be looked at allegorically or as a symbol of something else. And since the subject matter is like the beginning of the world as we know it and an emerging new era for all of humanity, then obviously people want to figure out what to take symbolically and what to take literally which leads to widely diverse conclusions. And this has been the case for thousands of years. So, for example, some read the book of Revelation entirely from a first century perspective, right? Trying to route themselves specifically in the time that it was written and read it that way and would then conclude the events in Revelation as already taken place. Then others see the book outlining like a chain of events beginning in the first century and lasting until the end of the world. And then others believe that the symbolism that’s in Revelation is…is…is timeless…is just outside of time, it’s describing things that are beyond what we can fully comprehend and is beyond time and is describing a cosmic struggle between good and evil. Any of these views can be legitimate. But getting lost in the details, like just being lost in the mystery and attempting to just take all of the pieces and force them to fit in some sort of way, that might not work. It’s been the custom of every generation for all of these thousands of years, and nobody’s been right, at least in trying to outline, you know, sort of a date and time for all of these events to take place. But one thing that we will…will not be able to avoid as we move through Revelation is a theme that has been emerging for months, endurance. In some ways it’s like we’ve been following this theme of endurance all the way to get to Revelation so that we can then begin to see how endurance is irreplaceable in the ultimate battle between darkness and light. Revelation ultimately tells us that those who endure, that those who stay faithful to the testimony of Jesus, in other words that their lives are speaking of Christ and endure until the end no matter what happens because of that, those will be eternally victorious or quoting it from Revelation, “they defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.” So, as we move into Revelation and move through all of its imagery, we need to focus our attention on this theme of endurance because it’s critical. And we’ll discover that endurance isn’t like hiding…hiding away, hiding yourself and just trying to wait something out. Endurance isn’t a passive thing. It’s not a defensive posture, right? Remaining true when the whole world is against you and you could lose your life, that is a powerful statement against deception. And its deception as we’ll see, that has always been the greatest force set against mankind. We saw that from the very beginning of our journey in the book of Genesis and we will see it in the book of Revelation. We are to remain true. Our witness, the word of our testimony, the way we live our lives in the light and in the truth will expose the darkness and this will keep happening until the very end. And as we will see, as we get to the end of our time together for this year, the end that causes so much fear because of the book of Revelation is actually a new beginning. And, so, we begin. Revelation chapter 1.
Father we thank You for Your word. And as we continue to move into this month and get settled in this new week we just keep moving through new territory in the Scriptures and it’s as if the Scriptures speed up as our year speeds up and this gives us a fantastic opportunity to quicken our pace to stay in lockstep with You and everything that we say and do. And, so, as we move into the book of Revelation, we invite Your Holy Spirit to lead us to the understanding that we need for this season in our lives. And as we continue to move through the minor prophets, and we learn a lot of history we invite You to speak to us. Come Holy Spirit we pray, we invite You into everything we do and say today, everything that we think today. Help us to see the path that we are walking through the eyes of the kingdom. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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And it’s Christmas and that’s what’s going on around here. And we have a Christmas tradition here around the Global Campfire that…I was trying to remember the first year of this tradition and I’m thinking it was maybe the second or third…I think that I can safely say for the last decade during these two thousand tens we’ve had this tradition, and that is our annual Christmas party. And we’re a virtual community, right? So, we’re wrapped all over the world and that we so…so…I mean, wow! What an enjoyable thing if we could all get together in some stadium somewhere and have a Christmas party but the logistics of that…I don’t even…yeah…I just…we’re a virtual community and we have a virtual home. And, so, we have to celebrate and have our Christmas party together around the Global Campfire virtually. And, so, what we do is we call in our Christmas blessings, Christmas stories, Christmas wishes, and we share those with each other. We’ll compile them all sometime next week, but for this week you can call in and share your Christmas wishes to the community that you’ve shared this year as we’ve traveled through the Bible. So, you can obviously dial 877-942-4253 or you can dial any of the other numbers. Like in the UK you could dial 44-20-3608-8078 or if you’re in Australia you can dial 61-3-8820-5459 or no matter where you are in the world, if you have the Daily Audio Bible app, you can press the little Red button at the top, the one that we use to call in our prayer requests. The same numbers that we use to communicate via prayer with one another, this is what we’ll use for Christmas. There’s only one rule. This is one time when you can call in more than once because if you have a prayer request you need to make that a separate call. If you have a holiday greeting, you need to make that a separate call. Just don’t combine a prayer request in a Christmas greeting in the same call or it’s gonna get real confusing around here. But all this week until the end of the week we’ll take these calls. Use the Hotline button, use the phone, however you please but call in and share your holiday greetings with your brothers and sisters who have been sitting around this Global Campfire for the year and taking this journey together and then next week we’ll start putting that all together and we’ll release our annual Christmas party.
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And that’s it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I will be waiting for you here tomorrow.