Habakkuk 1:1-3:19, Revelation 9:1-21, Psalms 137:1-9, Proverbs 30:10
Today is the 18th day of December welcome to the Daily Audio Bible I am Brian it is wonderful to be here with you today as we gather around our roaring Global Campfire and get all snuggled up and get warm and find our space and take the next step forward together. It is a brand-new shiny sparkly week, and this is the fourth Sunday in the season of Advent. One week from today is Christmas day. Wow! But here we are and that moving through the season of Advent, where we have allowed our hearts to consider the arrival of the Savior in the world and consider our longing for His return. And, so, Advent we talked about it, like all along the way, has Iike calendars and Advent wreaths with candles in them. And, so, you may be lighting the fourth Advent candle this week at church or maybe you have an Advent wreath at home that you light each Sunday and just focus your heart and remind yourself what’s going on. This is the love candle that we’ll be lighting today, the fourth candle, allowing us to focus this week as we move right to Christmas. Love, the profound, unspeakable, unknowable, and I mean we can’t know God’s love, but His love is vastly beyond what we can comprehend. We focus our hearts of the love that it took, the love that was displayed for us as God became flesh and dwelt among us. And, so, this is where we find ourselves in the season of Advent. And in our journey through the Scriptures this year we have come to yet another book. We will read it in its entirety today. It is the eighth of 12 minor prophets and it is called Habakkuk.
Introduction to the book of Habakkuk:
We don’t know practically anything about who Habakkuk was, maybe…maybe less than any other biblical writer, but we don’t know much about Habakkuk. There are some traditions. There’s a Hebrew tradition…tradition that speaks of Habakkuk being the Shunamite woman’s son, the little boy was resurrected through the prophet Elisha. And we found that story in the book of second Kings. There is another tradition found in the…the apocryphal book, Bell and the Dragon, and that displays Habakkuk ministering to Daniel while he’s in the lion’s den. But these are traditions. When you don’t know anything else you look to the traditions. And, so, these are some of the traditions. Most scholars, especially with the Bell and the Dragon and Habakkuk being with Daniel in the lion’s den believe, you know, that’s how legends are made. But those are some of the traditions around who Habakkuk was. There are many verses in the book of Habakkuk that will sound familiar. There’s one in particular, “but the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.” That should sound familiar, because that’s something that the apostle Paul said a lot. And we find this in the book of Hebrews as well because “the righteous will live by faith”, that’s like…it’s like a core Christian doctrine. So, we see where Paul and some of the other writers are referring back to Habakkuk for the language. Because the language is poetic, maybe lyrical, even especially the very very end of Habakkuk seems like it’s a hymn of a song to be sung, there are scholars who have observed this and wonder if Habakkuk might have actually been a temple musician. But again, we don’t know with certainty, but what we’ll see is Habakkuk having a conversation with God that moves from doubt to worship. Habakkuk will begin by saying out loud what is happening in the world and it will sound familiar, and he wants to understand why God is indifferent, like why he seems to allow any evil a human being can come up with and allow it to happen like God wasn’t even paying attention. And God responds that he’s gonna use the Babylonians to punish his own people, which wasn’t like the response he’s looking for and it’s confusing. Like, why would you use a less righteous group of people to be an object of judgment on a more righteous group of people? And God explains that He’s not indifferent, that He’s not unaware, that He is sovereign and that he knows what He’s doing, which leads Habakkuk into worship. And, so, with that we’ll read Habakkuk, which contains three chapters, in its entirety. We’ll read from the Common English Bible this week.
Father, we thank You for Your word. We love You, Lord. Thank You for Your kindness, Your patience, Your graciousness to us. And on this, the final Sunday in the season of Advent as we are moving directly into Christmas week, we just recognize where we are. And we recognize the busyness all around us and the preparation all around us and the excitement and the goodwill and good cheer all around us. We also recognize how much pulls us away from what this is all about, what we’re even jumping up and down and celebrating over, what we’re giving gifts to commemorate and that is Your arrival, Your arrival to rescue us and we are grateful. And, so, as we contemplate the depths of love that You have extended toward us, even while we were sinners, even while we where Your enemies we are grateful. And may we share Your love out into the world. May it filter through us and pour out of us to those that we come into contact with. May we be known by our love for one another we pray. In the name of Jesus, our Savior, we ask. Amen.
Community Prayer and Praise:
Hello family it’s Jackie in Vancouver BC and I’m crying because God is great. I listen to all of you and I pray every day and I always tell myself I have faith. Sometimes it’s as little as a mustard seed. And I’ve been struggling with business and the sales have been low and this December month has been low, this November was low, and I was thinking, oh God I need your help. And just today somebody came in and surprised me with a grant of $5000. God really is good, and He answers all our prayers. And, so, these are tears of joy because God is great, and He sees me, and He hears me. And I think He sees you and hears you. And, so, I pray that all of your prayers will come true. And this is a praise. I know I’m crying but this is a praise. I’m praising God for His goodness for his mercy. So, family please praise God with me. And for everything you’re going through I’m joining my faith with yours and praying and thanking God for answering our prayers, for hearing us. And it feels great to feel seen, to feel known, to feel like I’m God’s child. Thank you, Brian. Thank you, the DAB. Thank you all the family that calls every day and the ones that call to pray…
Hi this is Willow tree. I used to be weeping Willow but now I’m more like the tree planted by the water. Being fed by the word of God every day is making me full of joy and I’m very grateful. I’m grateful to the Hardin family too for the music that they’ve blessed us with and I would really encourage you if you haven’t listened to the Rest album by Brian with headphones on to go and do that. It’s amazing how we made the sounds just swirl around you. And it’s just beautiful. It’s kind of like I just close my eyes and listen to it. It’s kind of like I’m on a holodeck. It’s really cool to just be in that place that he’s created for us. And, so, I would encourage you to listen to it with headphones. I love you all and I’m so happy to be a part of this family.
This is a prayer of encouragement I wanted to send out to I believe People on the Water. You called in December 2nd from Indiana. Bother I just wanted to reflect back to you what I heard because I’m not trying to minimize the anguish that you’re going through and the struggle and how hard it is but what I hear on the other end of the line is not somebody that is not confident because your voice to me sounded very strong in your confidence of not knowing what’s going on and not knowing what you’re doing. And to me at 19 years of age that exhibits real strength to be able to declare into a community of other brothers and sisters to make a public declaration that you have no idea what to do is…takes strength and courage and humility. And I just wanted to…to commend you for that and to give you praise, like to praise you for that because that is a real…that’s a real thing that not a lot of people will admit at this age. So, I just wanted to encourage you to don't…don’t try to rise above your situation, you know, find God in the struggle. I know that’s maybe easier said than done but that’s something that was coming to me to maybe help you look into it a little more and realize that He’s…He’s working where you are exactly for a reason and trust that.
[singing begins] We wish you a Merry Christmas we wish you a Merry Christmas we wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy new year. [sing continues in French] __. This is Francois from New Jersey. Merry Christmas. Merry Noel __.
Deep dive into the book of Revelation:
Okay. So, we read from the ninth chapter of Revelation today. And, so, let’s just remember we started Revelation with this image of Jesus, seven golden lampstands it represented seven churches. Seven letters were written one to each of these churches and then a scroll was revealed that no one could open and it had seven seals on it. And the lamb steps forward, and He is the only one. Jesus is the only one that can open the seals. So, He breaks the seals and what is held by those seals is then revealed. Then we have seven angels before the throne of God who are given trumpets and their each now blowing their trumpets. And we went to the first four trumpets yesterday and the fifth and sixth angels blow their trumpets today. And, so, we begin, “when the fifth angel blew his trumpet, I saw a star that had fallen to earth from the sky and the star was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit.” Okay. So, we have to kind of go back into the different ways that this can be read. So, you can read this literally because we’ve seen a bunch of stuff falling from the sky. And, so, a star falls from the sky and that. And then the star, the rock, the star somehow is given a key and opens up a shaft that’s on earth, but it’s a bottomless pit. So, you can see how like from a literal perspective it would be hard for a star to hold a key and turn a key lock. It would be hard to find something bottomless on earth. Like, if we started digging now, right, if it was even possible to go through the center of the earth and out the other side and that would then end up in space on the other side of the world. It…how could that be bottomless? So, a completely literal reading of the book of Revelation would be…I mean…it would be very challenging. The star falling from the sky has been interpreted a number of ways, mostly dealing with that the star is actually an angel. But then the question becomes, is this a good angel or is this a bad angel? And it’s been noted by scholars that the star falling from the sky imagery usually refers to a judgment of some kind and that there is no other…there is no other reference in the Scriptures to a like a good…a godly angel falling from the sky like a star. That only happens when an angel is judged and cast down. So, for example, in the gospel of Luke, Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like a star from the heavens.” So, many commentators, not all, but many commentators would say this has to be the judgment of…of an angel that is being cast down. This may be Satan himself being cast down to do this task because he is under the sovereignty of God or…or one of his minions. So, this entity is given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. It opens the bottomless pit. And of course, the bottomless pit is probably a metaphor for the realm of the judged. And when this pit is opened smoke comes out of the shaft like the smoke from a large furnace and the smoke darkens the sun and the air. So, there’s a number of interpretations around this. I mean, if…so, if you’re reading literally than its smoke. Like there’s a lot of smoke, enough to darken the sun and the air. So, a serious amount of pollution. If we’re looking a little more allegorically then darkness is usually a metaphor for like a spiritual darkness, a blindness. And, so, this comes pouring out of the bottomless pit and darkens the world. And immediately following the smoke and the darkness locusts come flying out of the bottomless pit out of the smoke onto the earth and…and they’re given power like that of the scorpion. And they’re not allowed to harm nature, like the grass or green plants or the trees. They can only torment the people. And they can only bring this judgment on those who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. So, obviously from a literal perspective we’re talking about insect-like creatures that look like locusts but have stingers like scorpions and they plague the earth. If you’re looking allegorically, then I mean, when you look at some allegorically you can interpret it however you interpret it, which is why there’s such diversity and interpretations that are everything from, you know, rational to far-fetched, and many in conflict with each other because you don’t know exactly what the symbolism means. But if we’re taking a pragmatic scholarship perspective, trying to draw comparisons with similar visions that happen in other places in the Bible, then these locusts can represent those beings that have been held in the bottomless pit. And a good many scholars would say that that’s associated with the fallen angels, demonic forces that have been held there and they’re loosed upon the earth. But they can’t hurt the earth’s nature and they can’t hurt those who have been sealed with the seal of God on their foreheads. And, so, God allows the trumpet blast to happen. This star, this angel falls and is is it sent down to earth a key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. It’s opened and all kinds of things come spilling out on the earth, things that can’t harm those with God’s seal on their foreheads. But those who don’t they’re definitely receiving judgment. And that judgment will either harden their hearts and lead them toward their ultimate destruction or soften their hearts and they turn to God. And for a lot of scholars this…this whole picture, this whole scene reveals that the judgment that was formerly limited to those demonic forces who are in this pit is now extending all across the earthly realm. Because of Christ’s victory through His death and resurrection judgment has begun, not only in the bottomless pit, but also upon the earth. And that is happening through the darkness coming out of the pit. People are being blind…blinded in the darkness and tormented and oppressed, but this isn’t happening to those who have been sealed by God. And there’s a little bit of a parallel here in Jesus words from the Gospel of Luke. “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall harm you. Your names are recorded in heaven.” So, if this parallel is correct, then those sealed by God have authority over these things that are coming up out of the abyss. They have authority over them, and can be harmed by them which would lead us to believe that this is allegorical. The imagery is symbolic. And then the sixth angel blows his trumpet, and the six angel is instructed to release the four angels were held at the great Euphrates River. Some would say these are like dark ark angels, so like very very powerful demonic forces. Some draw parallels with the four angels that were the four corners of the earth with the four winds, but most translators and commentators say these are evil. They’re being held against their will for a specific time for a specific task and their loosed. And whereas in the fifth trumpet everything coming up out of the abyss wasn’t allowed to kill anyone, wasn’t allowed to harm nature, wasn’t allowed to touch anyone with the seal of God on their forehead and wasn’t allowed to kill anybody, it was just tormenting and oppressing people. Whereas in the sixth trumpet when these four angels are loosed their loosed to kill one third of humanity. And John says that the number of those forces were 20,000×10,000, so that’s 200 million. So. if you’re reading literally then four actual angels have been being held at the great Euphrates River for a time period that we don’t have any way of knowing, but they’ve been held for a specific hour and day and month and year, and they’re released and there’s 200 million soldiers on horses that are loosed to do this task of killing one third of humanity. If we’re looking at this a little more allegorically, let’s remember, if we’re looking at things allegorically then everything can have a meaning. So, if we’re looking at this allegorically, but with a pragmatic view, then powerful dark forces are released. They have been held for an indefinite period of time but held for this time, this time of judgment that we’re reading about. And there’s a vast horde involved, and they unleashed three plagues - fire, smoke and sulfur - and these come out of their mouths. And, so, allegorically what’s coming out of their mouths is bringing darkness, blindness, the inability to see clear. The power of these forces is in their mouths and in their tails. So, like in their words and in their deeds. They are bringing us such spiritual darkness and chaos and torment and depression that the result is death, and this affects 1/3 of the earth’s population. Or if we’re not taking that number literally, a lot of people are affected by this darkness and death that spreads because of this. And then as we end our reading for today with the sixth trumpet there’s kind of an aside, kind of God’s commentary here. “The people who survived these plagues still did not turn to me and changed the way they were thinking and acting. If they had they would’ve stopped worshiping demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood, which cannot see, hear, or walk. They did not turn away from committing murder, practicing witchcraft, sinning sexually, or stealing. So, using the formula that the Bible gives us for judgment, that it can have a refining and perfecting and purifying outcome or it can have a hardening outcome that leads a person who rejects it to their own destruction, we can see that, in spite of all that is going on, there are still those who are…who have…who have not died but who are still rejecting God.
Father…Father, we don’t want any part of that. We don’t want any part of rejecting you. And yet we confess that we have done exactly that in our thoughts, words and deeds by what we’ve done and by what we’ve left undone. And, so, we invite your Holy Spirit to continue to refine and purify us. And we reframe the suffering that we’ve endured in this world. We hate it. We don’t want to go through it. We want you to take it away. These are so much of the content of our prayers. And although we will continue to ask you for your counsel on how to navigate through things that are very difficult and unexpected we choose to also look at what you are doing in these things, that you’ve got us and these things refine and purify us. And truly we want to be pure before you, true before you. We want to be sealed in you for all of eternity. Come Holy Spirit we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.