The year has been flying by for Gale and me. For the most part, we have not been too inconvenienced by the pandemic and are healthy. I hope the same for you!
How has it gone with you in listening to the Daily Bible Reading podcast, or following the Digging Deeper Daily reading plan? I would be very interested in hearing back from you, and for you to tell me about things like this:
To share with me, just reply to this message. Just before the beginning of next year, I will report back on what I learn from your responses. If you have enjoyed this year's readings or podcasts, please give our website address to your friends: dailybiblereading.info.
Many of you who started 2020 with day 1 of our Digging Deeper Daily reading plan have just started an intensive course in Bible prophecy that will run to the end of this year— with readings in Ezekiel, Isaiah, minor prophets and Revelation. I want to touch on just a few important points. One is that human teachers never get their interpretations of prophecy correct. The prophets in Jerusalem didn't know what God was going to do in Ezekiel's day, The Jews didn't get it right about what the Messiah would do. Just the other day I heard a radio preacher teaching an ordering of events for the end times that I think will be proved way wrong. Remember, God possesses all wisdom, and humans predicting what God will do based on prophecy have gotten it wrong time after time. (So I will only dare give a few major points below!)
If you are like me, we have joined Paul and John in praying "Come, Lord Jesus!" For a lot of my life, I have wished that I could see the Lord fulfill some prophecies signalling a quickening of the pace toward the return of Jesus. Guess what folks! Things are happening, and now we're saying, "Oh Lord, please stop it!" We all know that we are to avoid any marks on our hands and foreheads that could resemble any interpretation of 666. Those who refuse to receive the mark of the beast won't be able to buy or sell. But I sort of missed the implication that we who don't follow the beast's party line will one day be locked out of social media, sources of impartial news, and probably even the whole Internet.
Let's not miss this often-repeated warning: We must learn to trust the Lord and endure in faithfulness to Him no matter what happens. Please consider what God has done in the past. He told Abraham what would happen to the Jews. Then it happened: They were enslaved in Egypt, and then God brought them back to the promised land, just as He said He would. No other God has done something like that! Then God told Moses, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah (and others) about a similarly big thing that would happen. Over and over we read that the Jewish people would be unfaithful and would be exiled to far-away country— to Babylon, as it turns out. But God promised to return them to their country. Then in Isaiah, God even tells the name of the king who would allow the Jews to return to Israel, some hundreds of years before it happened. In that same passage God Himself asks the readers, "What other God has ever done something like that?!" God told the exiled people that he would take care of them in exile, and He did. So, I am sure that God will take care of us in whatever suffering (even tribulation) that we face. “This means that God's holy people must endure persecution patiently and remain faithful.” (Rev. 13:10)
We will see in our prophecy readings that many things that God predicts eventually get fulfilled multiple times. One of the chief examples of this is Daniel's prophecy about a king who would oppose the people of God. "The king will do as he pleases, exalting himself and claiming to be greater than every god, even blaspheming the God of gods." Extending from Roman kings, to Hitler, and now into our time, the closer we come to the end, the more like the antichrist our rulers will become. We hate to see this happen! But there is a comforting side: God is in control. He is not surprised by what is happening. The best thing we can do to prepare for the times to come is to study His Word. Use God's Word to answer those who do not know the truth.
More and more I pray for God to open minds. 2Cor. 4:3 says that “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. …” In verse 6 Paul says, “For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” Just so, I am confident that as YOU lovingly share the simple Good News with people, God will turn on the lights in the minds of some to behold the glory. But as Paul says in verse 7, “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.” That's how God wants us to be at this time. Join the club feeling fragile!
If you are in the USA, I urge you to know the issues and vote.
In Revelation, Jesus' saying, "He that has and ear let him hear," is repeated eight times. And of course, there are many times in the Gospels where Jesus says that. I have been amazed as a Bible translator at how many times I have needed to revise that saying. It is very hard to get that one right! Recently we revised all those verses in our Indonesian translation. Let me tell you that that saying always points backward. Jesus is not telling people to listen to what He's going to say. He's telling people to pay attention to what He's just said. In our Indonesian translation, the problem was that— the way we had expressed it— Jesus was coming off as angry or impolite. We had translated like what I have given as the meaning in the Daily Bible Reading podcast: "Ya got ears, don't ya?! Well listen!" So in searching for an answer, Balazi (the head of our translation program) said, "Ya know, there's something that Indonesian teachers and pastors say frequently, and here it is: Don't let what I've said go in your right ear and straight out your left." In English we say, "Don't let what I said just go in one ear and out the other!" That's our translation of Jesus' saying, except there needs to be one last command: "Meditate on it!" Yes, meditate on it! That's what we need to be doing with all our Bible readings at the end of this year.
The Daily Bible Reading podcast has done well in 2020. Our daily downloads are about 50% higher than around February, or on many days are 90% higher than they were last year at this same time.
Amazing things are happening in Indonesia. I normally would be there now, but not this year. My next trip will happen the spring of next year, Lord willing. You on this list did not get my updates about our work, but you can see our August letter here and our October letter here.
May the Lord bless you ‘real good’!
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