TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- MICAH 1:1-4:13
Micah was an eighth century B.C. prophet from Moresheth, Judah, a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah, who preached both to Israel and Judah during the reigns of Jotham (750 – 732 B.C.) and Hezekiah (715 -686) who made attempts to follow the Lord, and Ahaz (735-715) who was one of the most wicked kings to reign in Judah.
Micah warns both the northern and the southern kingdoms of the spreading infection of their sins and the judgment of God that is due to come upon both, first Israel (also known as Jacob, and Samaria) and Judah. The spiritual malaise, idolatry, and social corruption, so obvious in the north, has now spread to the south and is even at the very gate of Jerusalem (1:9, 12). And so are the invaders from the north (Assyria and Babylon).
They should prepare parting gifts (v.14) as they will be taken away in the captivity.
Micah rebukes those who plot iniquity, covet fields and seize them, and defraud their fellow citizens. Therefore, disaster awaits. Jerusalem which prides itself on being Yahweh’s resting place, will be His resting place no longer due to its defilement.
One of the signs of judgment will be the sun setting on the prophets. There will be a famine of hearing the word of the Lord (Micah 3:6-7; Amos 8:11).
Chapter 4 is a glorious description of the Kingdom Age, the reign of the Messiah, the promised Son of David. It is a repeat of the prophecy given in Isaiah Chapter 2. Did Isaiah receive this from Micah, or did Micah receive it from Isaiah? What is clear is that both Isaiah and Micah recognized this was the word of the Lord.
Micah 4:1-4 1 And it will come about in the last days that the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains. It will be raised above the hills, and the peoples will stream to it. 2 Many nations will come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD and to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us about His ways and that we may walk in His paths.” For from Zion will go forth the law, even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 3 And He will judge between many peoples and render decisions for mighty, distant nations. Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they train for war. 4 Each of them will sit under his vine and under his fig tree, with no one to make them afraid, for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.
Kingship will one day return to the daughter of Jerusalem! (4:8) But first must come the age of the Gentiles when they are subject to foreign rule, a day that begins with the Babylonian captivity.
Micah 4:10 10 “Writhe and labor to give birth, Daughter of Zion, like a woman in childbirth; For now you will go out of the city, dwell in the field, and go to Babylon. There you will be rescued; There the LORD will redeem you from the hand of your enemies.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – REVELATION 6:1-17
The Lamb of God opens the scroll that will set into operation the judgments of evil to prepare for the Kingdom of God’s arrival. The judgments are going to be unleashed in three groups- the seven seals, seven trumpets and seven bowls. First the seals are broken. 7 trumpet judgments come telescoping out from the seventh seal when it is broken. 7 bowl judgments come telescoping out from the seventh trumpet.
The opening of the first seal releases the white horse and its rider. This is the counterfeit Christ, known as the antichrist, whose spirit is already at work in the world.
The opening of the second seal releases the red horse. Its rider is given power to take peace away from the earth and make men slay one another. It is the judgment of human animosities being let loose to instigate war and violence.
The opening of the third seal releases the black horse whose rider is holding a pair of scales recording the economic troubles, the disparity between rich (who have oil and wine) and the poor (who are starving from lack of bread). The law of supply and demand indicates probable famine.
The opening of the fourth seal releases a pale horse, whose rider is called ‘Death’. He is followed by ‘Hades’, the abode of the dead who are awaiting the final judgment.
The fact that the powers of sword, famine, plague and wild beasts are limited to one fourth of the earth (Revelation 6:8) shows that God’s judgment is restrained. He is still allowing time for unbelievers to acknowledge their sins against God, repent, turn away from sin, and turn to Christ.
The breaking of the fifth seal discloses the history of martyrdom. The martyrs are positioned under the altar. These are those who took up their cross in identification with the Word of God. Whether they include all martyrs of all ages, or at one period of time, is not clear. They are pictured as waiting for the vindication of the cause of Christ, the avenging of their blood. They are given white robes and told to wait patiently until their number is complete. In other words, there would be more martyrs to come and then their blood would be avenged in God’s time.
The opening of the sixth seal reveals judgments not caused by men, but natural disasters in the created world. The heavens and the earth are shaken. The natural light of the sun is darkened, and the moon turned blood red. These calamities disturb the stars above and shake the earth below. They cause people of every station in life, kings, princes, generals, rich, mighty, slave and freeman, to hide in caves among the rocks. These are those who have resisted God’s rule and dread ‘the wrath of the Lamb’ (Revelation 6:16). They know where these natural disasters originate from. They are not merely acts attributed to deity in general. They know these events are expressions of the wrath of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. They dread their inevitable appearance before Him. Yet, rather than repent, and turn to Him for mercy, these unbelievers cry out to be hidden from Him.
Revelation 6:16-17 16 and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – PSALMS 134:1-3;
This is the last of the Songs of Ascents, the body of Psalms traditionally sung by pilgrims on their way up to Jerusalem for the celebration of the feasts. It is a song for those who stand at night, keeping vigil in the temple, ‘to bless the Lord’.
Psalm 134:1-2 1 Behold, bless the LORD, all servants of the LORD, who serve by night in the house of the LORD! 2 Lift up your hands to the sanctuary and bless the LORD.
Those who serve by night are representing worshipers who cannot be there, detained by other responsibilities. God bless those who minister to the Lord in prayer on the night shift!
The second half of the Psalm is where those who stand in the presence of the Lord in turn, extend His blessing to others.
Psalm 134:3 3 May the LORD bless you from Zion, He who made heaven and earth.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 30:1-4
In these opening words of Proverbs 30, we have the contrast between those who have the light of revelation and those who live only within the limits of ‘sense knowledge’ (empiricism) and natural reasoning. We need the propositional truth of the Word of God. We need the Person of the Word of God if we are to see truth applied in our lives. For God has made Christ to be for us- our wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30).
Proverbs 30:1-4 1 The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, the oracle. The man declares to Ithiel, to Ithiel and Ucal: 2 Surely, I am more stupid than any man, and I do not have the understanding of a man. 3 Neither have I learned wisdom, nor do I have the knowledge of the Holy One. 4 Who has ascended into heaven and descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has wrapped the waters in His garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name or His son’s name? Surely you know!
All men are without excuse. The knowledge of God may be present but without the Holy Spirit, we lack understanding.
1 Corinthians 2:14 14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
Ephesians 4:17-18 17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart.
Republic of Vanuatu
Comprised of over 80 islands in the southwest Pacific, Vanuatu’s pristine beaches and active volcanoes intrigue and draw many to its shores. Mountainous tropical rainforests make up much of its terrain. With some of the most remote tribal cultures on earth, seemingly untouched by modernization, these islands appear remarkably disconnected from the rest of the world. Despite being one of the poorest nations in the Pacific, many hold it up as one of the happiest on earth.
Both British and French cultures have influenced Vanuatu since 1887. Having achieved independence in 1980, although followed by some riots and mutinies, Vanuatu now enjoys great political stability under a Parliamentary system led by a President and Prime Minister. Most of the ni-Vanuatu people live as subsistence farmers, and the nation faces significant economic challenges due to devastation from natural disasters (cyclones, earthquakes, tidal waves), high transportation costs, and an undeveloped economic infrastructure. Education resources are limited, and one-third of ni-Vanuatu children never go beyond a primary education. Despite these setbacks, though, the crime and divorce rates are low, and the ni-Vanuatu people enjoy a rich and stable culture.
Christianity has played a major role in Vanuatu’s development. Even today, many elected officials were previously leaders in the church. In 2006 Vanuatu rededicated itself to the Lord, coming together in repentance, worship, and prayer, with the president and other government leaders in attendance. Today 94% claim Christianity, of which 73% are Protestant. Thousands have turned away from the “John Frum” cargo cults and turned towards Jesus. Over 7,000 have recently come to Christ across the islands, with revival occurring in various locations. While Christianity is growing, the Mormons, Baha’i, and Muslims are also actively spreading their teachings. Many are also mixing traditional beliefs with their Christian faith, particularly ancestral spiritism. A deep understanding of the Gospel is needed to protect the ni-Vanuatu from false teachings.
Area: 12,190 sq. km
Twelve larger and 70 smaller islands, southeast of the Solomon Islands in the southwest Pacific. Formerly New Hebrides.
Population: 245,786 Annual Growth: 2.58%
HDI Rank: 126 of 182 (UN Human Development Reports 2009)
Official language: Bislama (Pidgin English), English, French Languages: 108
Largest Religion: Christian
Answer to Prayer
Thousands have turned to Christ, coming out of the “John Frum” cargo cults, despite these groups forbidding contact with Christians and the gospel. (These cults emerged from WWII and a belief that loads of supplies on ships and planes would come from “John from” America.) Recent work by Presbyterians, the JESUS film and WBT sees a new wave of over 7,000 positive responses to the good news.
Challenge for Prayer
Vanuatu’s motto is “In God We Stand”. Pray that leaders of this complex little nation may be examples in doing so. Committed Christians played a major role in attaining independence, and they continue to help lead the country – not least is the President himself.
- Pray for increased indigenous involvement in the 50+ languages still in need of translated Scripture.
- Pray for protection for the Christian government officials who have provided relative freedom for spreading the Gospel.
- Pray for young believers to stand firm on scripture and not fall back into animism, custom, or false teaching.
PRAYER: Lord, we have a more sure word of prophecy. May our hearts not harden, and our ears not grow dull to Your infallible Word. False ideologies, professionally packaged lies, distorted reporting, and false value systems saturate our world. And the people of the lie wage war against those who testify of the truth as it is in Christ Jesus. We live in a world that despises justice and distorts all that is right. May we be filled with the Spirit and with justice and might boldly proclaim the gospel of reconciliation and peace through the shed blood of our Savior. We eagerly look for His coming, knowing that He alone can properly execute judgment and mercy in a way that upholds righteousness. This was demonstrated to us in His loving sacrifice on the cross. Give us the grace to turn from every false way and cleave Your Word and follow the lead of the Spirit of Truth. In Jesus’ Name.