16 December 2017 Bible Reading
Today’s reading in Revelation 7 answers the question posed at the end of chapter 6: who is able to stand?
Four angels restrain the four winds, symbolic of a temporary reprieve from the events in chapter 6. It is the will of God that His servants be sealed before these judgments are unleashed. An angel is pictured with the seal of the living God declaring that the earth must not be harmed until the servants of God are sealed on their foreheads. Ezekiel 9:1 reveals similar imagery: “Bring near the executioners of the city, each with his destroying weapon in his hand.”
The sealing is symbolic of spiritual protection, identification and ownership. It is clearly not any form of physical protection:
- in Revelation 6:11, the slain saints were told that more servants of God were going to be killed, as they had been killed
- the letters in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 predicted suffering and death for those Christians
5 Now you shall gather yourself in troops,
daughter of troops.
He has laid siege against us.
They will strike the judge of Israel with a rod on the cheek.
2 But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
being small among the clans of Judah,
out of you one will come out to me that is to be ruler in Israel;
whose goings out are from of old, from ancient times.
3 Therefore he will abandon them until the time that she who is in labor gives birth.
Then the rest of his brothers will return to the children of Israel.
4 He shall stand, and shall shepherd in the strength of Yahweh,
in the majesty of the name of Yahweh his God:
and they will live, for then he will be great to the ends of the earth.
5 He will be our peace when Assyria invades our land,
and when he marches through our fortresses,
then we will raise against him seven shepherds,
and eight leaders of men.
6 They will rule the land of Assyria with the sword,
and the land of Nimrod in its gates.
He will deliver us from the Assyrian,
when he invades our land,
and when he marches within our border.
7 The remnant of Jacob will be among many peoples,
like dew from Yahweh,
like showers on the grass,
that don’t wait for man,
nor wait for the sons of men.
8 The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations,
among many peoples,
like a lion among the animals of the forest,
like a young lion among the flocks of sheep;
who, if he goes through, treads down and tears in pieces,
and there is no one to deliver.
9 Let your hand be lifted up above your adversaries,
and let all of your enemies be cut off.
10 “It will happen in that day”, says Yahweh,
“that I will cut off your horses out from among you,
and will destroy your chariots.
11 I will cut off the cities of your land,
and will tear down all your strongholds.
12 I will destroy witchcraft from your hand;
and you shall have no soothsayers.
13 I will cut off your engraved images and your pillars out from among you;
and you shall no more worship the work of your hands.
14 I will uproot your Asherah poles out from among you;
and I will destroy your cities.
15 I will execute vengeance in anger,
and wrath on the nations that didn’t listen.”
6 Listen now to what Yahweh says:
“Arise, plead your case before the mountains,
and let the hills hear what you have to say.
2 Hear, you mountains, Yahweh’s controversy,
and you enduring foundations of the earth;
for Yahweh has a controversy with his people,
and he will contend with Israel.
3 My people, what have I done to you?
How have I burdened you?
4 For I brought you up out of the land of Egypt,
and redeemed you out of the house of bondage.
I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.
5 My people, remember now what Balak king of Moab devised,
and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim to Gilgal,
that you may know the righteous acts of Yahweh.”
6 How shall I come before Yahweh,
and bow myself before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7 Will Yahweh be pleased with thousands of rams?
With tens of thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my disobedience?
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He has shown you, O man, what is good.
What does Yahweh require of you, but to act justly,
to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
9 Yahweh’s voice calls to the city,
and wisdom sees your name:
“Listen to the rod,
and he who appointed it.
10 Are there yet treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked,
and a short ephah that is accursed?
11 Shall I be pure with dishonest scales,
and with a bag of deceitful weights?
12 Her rich men are full of violence,
her inhabitants speak lies,
and their tongue is deceitful in their speech.
13 Therefore I also have struck you with a grievous wound.
I have made you desolate because of your sins.
14 You shall eat, but not be satisfied.
Your humiliation will be within you.
You will store up, but not save;
and that which you save I will give up to the sword.
15 You will sow, but won’t reap.
You will tread the olives, but won’t anoint yourself with oil;
and crush grapes, but won’t drink the wine.
16 For the statutes of Omri are kept,
and all the works of Ahab’s house.
You walk in their counsels,
that I may make you a ruin,
and her inhabitants a hissing;
And you will bear the reproach of my people.”
7 Misery is mine!
Indeed, I am like one who gathers the summer fruits, as gleanings of the vineyard:
There is no cluster of grapes to eat.
My soul desires to eat the early fig.
2 The godly man has perished out of the earth,
and there is no one upright among men.
They all lie in wait for blood;
every man hunts his brother with a net.
3 Their hands are on that which is evil to do it diligently.
The ruler and judge ask for a bribe;
and the powerful man dictates the evil desire of his soul.
Thus they conspire together.
4 The best of them is like a brier.
The most upright is worse than a thorn hedge.
The day of your watchmen,
even your visitation, has come;
now is the time of their confusion.
5 Don’t trust in a neighbor.
Don’t put confidence in a friend.
With the woman lying in your embrace,
be careful of the words of your mouth!
6 For the son dishonors the father,
the daughter rises up against her mother,
the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.
7 But as for me, I will look to Yahweh.
I will wait for the God of my salvation.
My God will hear me.
8 Don’t rejoice against me, my enemy.
When I fall, I will arise.
When I sit in darkness, Yahweh will be a light to me.
9 I will bear the indignation of Yahweh,
because I have sinned against him,
until he pleads my case, and executes judgment for me.
He will bring me out to the light.
I will see his righteousness.
10 Then my enemy will see it,
and shame will cover her who said to me,
where is Yahweh your God?
Then my enemy will see me and will cover her shame.
Now she will be trodden down like the mire of the streets.
11 A day to build your walls—
In that day, he will extend your boundary.
12 In that day they will come to you from Assyria and the cities of Egypt,
and from Egypt even to the River,
and from sea to sea,
and mountain to mountain.
13 Yet the land will be desolate because of those who dwell therein,
for the fruit of their doings.
14 Shepherd your people with your staff,
the flock of your heritage,
who dwell by themselves in a forest,
in the middle of fertile pasture land, let them feed;
in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old.
15 “As in the days of your coming out of the land of Egypt,
I will show them marvelous things.”
16 The nations will see and be ashamed of all their might.
They will lay their hand on their mouth.
Their ears will be deaf.
17 They will lick the dust like a serpent.
Like crawling things of the earth they shall come trembling out of their dens.
They will come with fear to Yahweh our God,
and will be afraid because of you.
18 Who is a God like you, who pardons iniquity,
and passes over the disobedience of the remnant of his heritage?
He doesn’t retain his anger forever,
because he delights in loving kindness.
19 He will again have compassion on us.
He will tread our iniquities under foot;
and you will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
20 You will give truth to Jacob,
and mercy to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.
7 After this, I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth, or on the sea, or on any tree. 2 I saw another angel ascend from the sunrise, having the seal of the living God. He cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was given to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying, “Don’t harm the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, until we have sealed the bondservants of our God on their foreheads!” 4 I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the children of Israel:
5 of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand,
of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand,
of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand,
6 of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand,
of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand,
of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand,
7 of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand,
of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand,
of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand,
8 of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand,
of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand,
of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes, peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. 10 They cried with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation be to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
11 All the angels were standing around the throne, the elders, and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before his throne, and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might, be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
13 One of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are arrayed in white robes, who are they, and from where did they come?”
14 I told him, “My lord, you know.”
He said to me, “These are those who came out of the great tribulation. They washed their robes, and made them white in the Lamb’s blood. 15 Therefore they are before the throne of God, they serve him day and night in his temple. He who sits on the throne will spread his tabernacle over them. 16 They will never be hungry, neither thirsty any more; neither will the sun beat on them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb who is in the middle of the throne shepherds them, and leads them to springs of waters of life. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
135 Praise Yah!
Praise Yahweh’s name!
Praise him, you servants of Yahweh,
2 you who stand in Yahweh’s house,
in the courts of our God’s house.
3 Praise Yah, for Yahweh is good.
Sing praises to his name, for that is pleasant.
4 For Yah has chosen Jacob for himself;
Israel for his own possession.
5 For I know that Yahweh is great,
that our Lord is above all gods.
6 Whatever Yahweh pleased, that he has done,
in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps;
7 who causes the clouds to rise from the ends of the earth;
who makes lightnings with the rain;
who brings the wind out of his treasuries;
8 Who struck the firstborn of Egypt,
both of man and animal;
9 Who sent signs and wonders into the middle of you, Egypt,
on Pharaoh, and on all his servants;
10 who struck many nations,
and killed mighty kings,
11 Sihon king of the Amorites,
Og king of Bashan,
and all the kingdoms of Canaan,
12 and gave their land for a heritage,
a heritage to Israel, his people.
13 Your name, Yahweh, endures forever;
your renown, Yahweh, throughout all generations.
14 For Yahweh will judge his people,
and have compassion on his servants.
15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of men’s hands.
16 They have mouths, but they can’t speak.
They have eyes, but they can’t see.
17 They have ears, but they can’t hear;
neither is there any breath in their mouths.
18 Those who make them will be like them;
yes, everyone who trusts in them.
19 House of Israel, praise Yahweh!
House of Aaron, praise Yahweh!
20 House of Levi, praise Yahweh!
You who fear Yahweh, praise Yahweh!
21 Blessed be Yahweh from Zion,
Who dwells at Jerusalem.
5 “Every word of God is flawless.
He is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
6 Don’t you add to his words,
lest he reprove you, and you be found a liar.