devotions written by Deborah Galyen
“And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory” (v7). The people of Judah were worried that the rebuilt Temple wouldn’t be as magnificent as the first one. They were not an independent nation anymore (they were dependents of Persia), yet God said that He had all the resources necessary – the silver and gold of the earth (v8-9) – to make the new house “glorious.” His own presence was the key.
“In this place I will give peace” (v9). The redemption of the world through Israel’s offspring, Jesus, was God’s plan and work. His loving, saving power brings peace.
“You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill … he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes” (v6). Through Haggai, God explained to the people of Judah why their work was not producing satisfaction. They were more concerned with their own individual lives (v9) than with rebuilding the Temple that had been destroyed years earlier. Their neglect of worship and sacrifice had consequences.
“Build the house … that I may be glorified” (v8). When God and His kingdom take priority, the rest of our lives begin to bear fruit.
“Behold, at that time I will deal with all your oppressors. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth” (v19). God’s justice deals with sin and lifts up those who have been oppressed. Israel’s leaders had failed them, and God warned that they would be dethroned and exiled; meanwhile, “I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly” (v12). Those humble people would find refuge in God.
God is “the mighty one who will save” (v17). He looks for people who will humbly accept His salvation and rejoice in the ways of His kingdom.
“This is the exultant city that lived securely, that said in her heart, 'I am, and there is no one else'” (v15). The prophet Zephaniah warned powerful, wealthy cities like Nineveh (v13) that they would be swept away and destroyed by God’s justice. They were not dedicated to God’s ways and purposes, and therefore their leaders, crowds, and sophisticated organization did not produce real, lasting life. Unless they repented and changed, these cities would become “a land possessed by nettles and salt pits, and a waste forever” (v9).
God is the life-giver and life-sustainer. All our human potential is wasted unless we submit it to His goodness and authority.
“And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit” (v1). John describes a scene of terror, as the final consequences of human evil (v20-21) fall upon the earth. God’s own people were protected (v4), indicating that though they suffered persecution, believers would not suffer judgment for sin. God alone holds the key to life, death, and eternity (v1).
We are commanded to pray, to work for peace, and to leave final justice in God’s hands. He has prepared “the hour, the day, the month, and the year” (v15) for Jesus’ return.
“Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake” (v5). The angel’s censer that caused such an explosion was filled with “the prayers of the saints” (8:4, 5:8); these prayers had been stored up in order to be released when the Lamb broke the seventh seal (v1). John’s vision assured the suffering believers that their prayers for justice were powerful and effective.
Our prayers rise before God like sweet smoke (v4), and we can trust that He will respond perfectly and completely at the right time.
“Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke! Flash forth the lightning and scatter them; send out your arrows and rout them!” (v5-6). The psalmist called on the Creator of the heavens, the mountains, and the lightning to “come down” and fight for the people He loves. Though we are fragile, “like a breath … a passing shadow” (v4), the psalmist declared that we are precious in God’s sight.
God’s powerful love is even greater than the spectacular world He created. He is “my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and He in whom I take refuge” (v2).
“Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth?” (v4). One implication of the strange sayings in this chapter seems to be that humility is the best response to the world’s mysteries, including the mystery of our own behavior. Humility makes us ask for “just enough” (v8) because that is what we handle best. We can study the ants, rock badgers, and lions, but often we are blind to our own motivations (v24-33).
In humility, we trust that our Creator holds the universe together, and “every word of God proves true” (v5).
“I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against … those who bow down on the roofs to the host of the heavens, those who bow down and swear to the LORD and yet swear by Milcom” (v4-5). Zephaniah warned the citizens of Judah that God would not tolerate their mixed worship and idolatry. Their priests still performed rituals to the God of Abraham, yet they were also sacrificing to pagan idols (Milcom) and the stars. Though no one thought God would take action (v12), Zephaniah declared that judgment was near.
We trust exclusively in the saving power of God poured out in Jesus. Leaning on any other security, including ourselves, will fail.
“O LORD, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O LORD … in wrath remember mercy” (v2). The prophet Habakkuk counted on God to make right judgments about punishing the wicked and yet being merciful to all who called on His name in repentance. Judah (southern Israel) was about to be invaded by Babylonians as part of God’s punishment, but Habakkuk also saw that God was fighting “for the salvation of Your people” (v13).
Habakkuk “heard the report” and rejoiced that God is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6).
“Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house, to set his nest on high, to be safe from the reach of harm” (v9). Habakkuk condemned those who were building houses, wealth, and security for themselves on a foundation of violence and injustice (v12). They were using the resources of God’s earth to create something ungodly, and they were investing in a system built on oppression.
Habakkuk saw a day when “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (v14). We are called to pour out our efforts in what glorifies Him.
“For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes" (v17). During John’s revelation, many Christian communities were facing persecution. John’s vision reassured them that no matter what happened on earth, believers from “all tribes and peoples and languages” would live forever, safe in God’s kingdom. The injustice and pain they suffered would not be forgotten, but healed.
“He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence” (v15). Our true home is in God’s presence, where we are accepted, healed, and at rest.
“Fall on us and hide us from the … the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come” (v16). The consequence of human rebellion is destruction – God’s wrath. However, the Bible is the story of God’s mercy as He “holds back” judgment, giving us time to repent and providing salvation in Christ. In John’s vision, the day of wrath has finally come: the Lamb opens the seals, and the full result of human sin falls on the earth.
God’s desire is that we trust in Christ so that we can stand secure on that day, knowing our names are in His book of life (Rev 20:15).
“For the enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; …therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled” (143:3-4). In these two psalms, David cries out to God from a place of deep discouragement and darkness. He has been “brought very low” and feels abandoned (142), yet he believes that God is able and willing to help him. “Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in You I trust” (143:8).
When we are lost, crushed, and can’t see clearly, God is able to lead us onto level ground and illuminate our path (v8-10).
November 24: Revelation 8 (11/24/2014)
November 23: Psalm 144 (11/23/2014)
November 22: Proverbs 30 (11/22/2014)
November 21: Zephaniah 1 (11/21/2014)
November 20: Habakkuk 3 (11/20/2014)
November 19: Habakkuk 2 (11/19/2014)
November 18: Revelation 7 (11/18/2014)
November 17: Revelation 6 (11/17/2014)
November 16: Psalm 142-143 (11/16/2014)
November 15: Habakkuk 1 (11/15/2014)
November 14: Nahum 2-3 (11/14/2014)
November 13: Nahum 1 (11/13/2014)
November 12: Revelation 5 (11/12/2014)
November 11: Revelation 4 (11/11/2014)
November 10: Revelation 3 (11/10/2014)
November 9: Psalm 141 (11/09/2014)
November 8: Revelation 2 (11/08/2014)
November 7: Revelation 1:9-20 (11/07/2014)
November 6: Revelation 1:1-8 (11/06/2014)
November 5: Micah 7 (11/05/2014)