Dr. Kim Riddlebarger, with some comments to help us as we read Job 37 today:

Having considered the greatness of God’s purposes, throughout the balance of chapters 36 and 37, Elihu is moved to praise God for all his goodness, seen throughout the glories of creation.

God is exalted in his power. Who is a teacher like him? Who has prescribed his ways for him, or said to him, ‘You have done wrong’? Remember to extol his work, which men have praised in song. All mankind has seen it; men gaze on it from afar. How great is God-beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out. He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams; the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind. Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds, how he thunders from his pavilion? See how he scatters his lightning about him, bathing the depths of the sea. This is the way he governs the nations and provides food in abundance.”

Elihu has no idea that he is speaking not only as a worshiper of YHWH, but as a prophet as well. Elihu is about to hear the very thing he has been trying to describe through his words of praise–the voice of God. And without knowing it, he has prepared the way for the coming of the Lord in the whirlwind.

In chapter 37, Elihu continues to praise YHWH. He has no idea of what is about to happen.

At this my heart pounds and leaps from its place. Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice, to the rumbling that comes from his mouth. He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven and sends it to the ends of the earth. After that comes the sound of his roar; he thunders with his majestic voice. When his voice resounds, he holds nothing back. God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.”

Continuing his praise of the Almighty, we skip ahead to verses 20-24 and the end of Elihu’s discourse.

Should he be told that I want to speak? Would any man ask to be swallowed up? Now no one can look at the sun, bright as it is in the skies after the wind has swept them clean. Out of the north he comes in golden splendor; God comes in awesome majesty. The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power; in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress. Therefore, men revere him, for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart?”

Elihu’s speech now ends. He has directed Job back to where he started–the gracious and sovereign God. Elihu has also prepared the way for the Lord. For the next words we read in Job in 38:1 are “Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm.” Everyone has spoken. Job, Bildad, Eliphaz, Zophar and Elihu have all had their say. Now the Lord will come and speak and whole the earth will be silent! Here is the wisdom all have been seeking. For the suffering and obedience of Job points us ahead to the doing and dying of the man of sorrows, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the very wisdom of God incarnate. In him, we find all that we need, including the resolution to the mystery of suffering and the revelation of the saving purposes of God. Amen!

December 18

Revelation 15 (ESV)

The Seven Angels with Seven Plagues

15:1 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.

2 And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. 3 And they sing the song of Moses, the servant [1] of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,

“Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations! [2]
4 Who will not fear, O Lord,
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

5 After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent [3] of witness in heaven was opened, 6 and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests. 7 And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, 8 and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.

December 18

John 19:28-37 (ESV)

The Death of Jesus

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Jesus’ Side Is Pierced

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”

December 18

Job 37 (ESV)

Elihu Proclaims God’s Majesty

37:1 “At this also my heart trembles
and leaps out of its place.
2 Keep listening to the thunder of his voice
and the rumbling that comes from his mouth.
3 Under the whole heaven he lets it go,
and his lightning to the corners of the earth.
4 After it his voice roars;
he thunders with his majestic voice,
and he does not restrain the lightnings [1] when his voice is heard.
5 God thunders wondrously with his voice;
he does great things that we cannot comprehend.
6 For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’
likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour.
7 He seals up the hand of every man,
that all men whom he made may know it.
8 Then the beasts go into their lairs,
and remain in their dens.
9 From its chamber comes the whirlwind,
and cold from the scattering winds.
10 By the breath of God ice is given,
and the broad waters are frozen fast.
11 He loads the thick cloud with moisture;
the clouds scatter his lightning.
12 They turn around and around by his guidance,
to accomplish all that he commands them
on the face of the habitable world.
13 Whether for correction or for his land
or for love, he causes it to happen.

14 “Hear this, O Job;
stop and consider the wondrous works of God.
15 Do you know how God lays his command upon them
and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine?
16 Do you know the balancings [2] of the clouds,
the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge,
17 you whose garments are hot
when the earth is still because of the south wind?
18 Can you, like him, spread out the skies,
hard as a cast metal mirror?
19 Teach us what we shall say to him;
we cannot draw up our case because of darkness.
20 Shall it be told him that I would speak?
Did a man ever wish that he would be swallowed up?

21 “And now no one looks on the light
when it is bright in the skies,
when the wind has passed and cleared them.
22 Out of the north comes golden splendor;
God is clothed with awesome majesty.
23 The Almighty—we cannot find him;
he is great in power;
justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate.
24 Therefore men fear him;
he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.”

December 18

Habakuk 1-3 (ESV)

1:1 The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw.

Habakkuk’s Complaint

2 O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
and you will not save?
3 Why do you make me see iniquity,
and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
4 So the law is paralyzed,
and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
so justice goes forth perverted.

The Lord’s Answer

5 “Look among the nations, and see;
wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
that you would not believe if told.
6 For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans,
that bitter and hasty nation,
who march through the breadth of the earth,
to seize dwellings not their own.
7 They are dreaded and fearsome;
their justice and dignity go forth from themselves.
8 Their horses are swifter than leopards,
more fierce than the evening wolves;
their horsemen press proudly on.
Their horsemen come from afar;
they fly like an eagle swift to devour.
9 They all come for violence,
all their faces forward.
They gather captives like sand.
10 At kings they scoff,
and at rulers they laugh.
They laugh at every fortress,
for they pile up earth and take it.
11 Then they sweep by like the wind and go on,
guilty men, whose own might is their god!”

Habakkuk’s Second Complaint

12 Are you not from everlasting,
O Lord my God, my Holy One?
We shall not die.
O Lord, you have ordained them as a judgment,
and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof.
13 You who are of purer eyes than to see evil
and cannot look at wrong,
why do you idly look at traitors
and remain silent when the wicked swallows up
the man more righteous than he?
14 You make mankind like the fish of the sea,
like crawling things that have no ruler.
15 He brings all of them up with a hook;
he drags them out with his net;
he gathers them in his dragnet;
so he rejoices and is glad.
16 Therefore he sacrifices to his net
and makes offerings to his dragnet;
for by them he lives in luxury, [1]
and his food is rich.
17 Is he then to keep on emptying his net
and mercilessly killing nations forever?

2:1 I will take my stand at my watchpost
and station myself on the tower,
and look out to see what he will say to me,
and what I will answer concerning my complaint.

The Righteous Shall Live by His Faith

2 And the Lord answered me:

“Write the vision;
make it plain on tablets,
so he may run who reads it.
3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay.

4 “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him,
but the righteous shall live by his faith. [2]

5 “Moreover, wine [3] is a traitor,
an arrogant man who is never at rest. [4]
His greed is as wide as Sheol;
like death he has never enough.
He gathers for himself all nations
and collects as his own all peoples.”

Woe to the Chaldeans

6 Shall not all these take up their taunt against him, with scoffing and riddles for him, and say,

“Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own—
for how long?—
and loads himself with pledges!”
7 Will not your debtors suddenly arise,
and those awake who will make you tremble?
Then you will be spoil for them.
8 Because you have plundered many nations,
all the remnant of the peoples shall plunder you,
for the blood of man and violence to the earth,
to cities and all who dwell in them.

9 “Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house,
to set his nest on high,
to be safe from the reach of harm!
10 You have devised shame for your house
by cutting off many peoples;
you have forfeited your life.
11 For the stone will cry out from the wall,
and the beam from the woodwork respond.

12 “Woe to him who builds a town with blood
and founds a city on iniquity!
13 Behold, is it not from the Lord of hosts
that peoples labor merely for fire,
and nations weary themselves for nothing?
14 For the earth will be filled
with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

15 “Woe to him who makes his neighbors drink—
you pour out your wrath and make them drunk,
in order to gaze at their nakedness!
16 You will have your fill of shame instead of glory.
Drink, yourself, and show your uncircumcision!
The cup in the Lord’s right hand
will come around to you,
and utter shame will come upon your glory!
17 The violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you,
as will the destruction of the beasts that terrified them,
for the blood of man and violence to the earth,
to cities and all who dwell in them.

18 “What profit is an idol
when its maker has shaped it,
a metal image, a teacher of lies?
For its maker trusts in his own creation
when he makes speechless idols!
19 Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake;
to a silent stone, Arise!
Can this teach?
Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver,
and there is no breath at all in it.
20 But the Lord is in his holy temple;
let all the earth keep silence before him.”

Habakkuk’s Prayer

3:1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.

2 O Lord, I have heard the report of you,
and your work, O Lord, do I fear.
In the midst of the years revive it;
in the midst of the years make it known;
in wrath remember mercy.
3 God came from Teman,
and the Holy One from Mount Paran.
His splendor covered the heavens,
and the earth was full of his praise. Selah
4 His brightness was like the light;
rays flashed from his hand;
and there he veiled his power.
5 Before him went pestilence,
and plague followed at his heels. [5]
6 He stood and measured the earth;
he looked and shook the nations;
then the eternal mountains were scattered;
the everlasting hills sank low.
His were the everlasting ways.
7 I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction;
the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble.
8 Was your wrath against the rivers, O Lord?
Was your anger against the rivers,
or your indignation against the sea,
when you rode on your horses,
on your chariot of salvation?
9 You stripped the sheath from your bow,
calling for many arrows. [6] Selah
You split the earth with rivers.
10 The mountains saw you and writhed;
the raging waters swept on;
the deep gave forth its voice;
it lifted its hands on high.
11 The sun and moon stood still in their place
at the light of your arrows as they sped,
at the flash of your glittering spear.
12 You marched through the earth in fury;
you threshed the nations in anger.
13 You went out for the salvation of your people,
for the salvation of your anointed.
You crushed the head of the house of the wicked,
laying him bare from thigh to neck. [7] Selah
14 You pierced with his own arrows the heads of his warriors,
who came like a whirlwind to scatter me,
rejoicing as if to devour the poor in secret.
15 You trampled the sea with your horses,
the surging of mighty waters.

16 I hear, and my body trembles;
my lips quiver at the sound;
rottenness enters into my bones;
my legs tremble beneath me.
Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble
to come upon people who invade us.

Habakkuk Rejoices in the Lord

17 Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.

To the choirmaster: with stringed [8] instruments.

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” —Revelation 14:6-7 ESV

Horatius Bonar:

It is a ‘glad message‘ from God to man; good news from heaven to earth. In it we have not man speaking to God, but God to man; not earth crying to heaven, but heaven to earth; it is love descending, not love ascending. It is the gladdest of all glad tidings that ever came to earth. It is the true good news—

(1) It is the true good news of God’s free love. To be good news, it must be the news of love. And for that love to be available or accessible to the sinner, it must be absolutely and unconditionally free. God’s free love is the very essence and marrow of the gospel. And it is as large as it is free.

(2) It is the true good news of God’s great gift. God gave His Son—and the Son gave Himself. Here is a gift beyond all measure and price—an ‘unspeakable gift.’ Of this the gospel is the glad message.

(3) It is the true good news of God’s propitiation for sin. It was not a mere gift, but a gift which was to be a propitiation—an atonement—a sacrificial gift—the gift of a substitute and surety. One special part of the value and suitableness of this gift—that which made it so pre-eminently a gift of sinners—was its sacrificial character. It was an offering for sin. It contained cleansing and reconciling blood. Yes, Christ is the propitiation for our sins! God has set Him forth as a propitiation. This is the very gladness of the glad message.

(4) It is the true good news of God’s righteousness. He is the righteousness of God—and He was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. We bring glad tidings of a divine righteousness in preaching the gospel of the grace of God—righteousness for the unrighteous, yes, for the most unrighteous of the sons of men!

(5) It is the true good news of God’s kingdom. The ‘gospel of the kingdom’ is its special designation. It is good news of a kingdom, and of the new and living way, and of the open gate into that kingdom for sinners. There is a glorious kingdom—there is free access to it; its gates are open; God bids us welcome. This is our gospel. Enter in, O man, O sinner, into the kingdom of God!

At this time of year, we celebrate the birth of our Savior and sing of the “newborn King”  and J. C. Ryle, as quoted at Grace Gems, connects Jesus’ kingly birth with his kingly death:

how our Lord was crucified as a KING. The title placed over our Lord’s head made this plain and unmistakable. The reader of Greek, or Latin, or Hebrew, could not fail to see that He who hung on the central cross of the three on Golgotha, had a royal title over His head. The overruling hand of God so ordered matters, that the strong will of Pilate overrode for once the wishes of the malicious Jews. In spite of the chief priests, our Lord was crucified as “the King of the Jews.”

It was fit and right that so it should be. Even before our Lord was born, the angel Gabriel declared to the Virgin Mary, “The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David–and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” (Luke 1:32, 33.) Almost as soon as He was born, there came wise men from the East, saying, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” (Matt. 2:2.) The very week before the crucifixion, the multitude who accompanied our Lord at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, had cried, “Blessed is the King of Israel who comes in the name of the Lord.” (John 12:13.) The current belief of all godly Jews was, that when Messiah, the Son of David came, He would come as a King. A kingdom of heaven and a kingdom of God was continually proclaimed by our Lord throughout His ministry. A King indeed He was, as He told Pilate, of a kingdom utterly unlike the kingdoms of this world, but for all that a true King of a true kingdom, and a Ruler of true subjects. As such He was born. As such He lived. As such He was crucified. And as such He will come again, and reign over the whole earth, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Hampton Keathley comments on the book of Nahum, which we read today in our reading plan:

The name “Nahum“ means comfort or consolation. His book is a message of destruction for Nineveh, and that would have been a message of consolation for the nations she had oppressed….

….This judgment is coming because of the character of God. This means we need to look at circumstances in the light of who God is. The book reveals quite a lot about the character of God:

(1) God is Sovereign – He is in control of both nature and the nations. He used the Babylonians to bring his judgment on the Assyrians. He also used a flood to help the Babylonians.

(2) God is Just – Assyria’s judgment was well deserved. Although God used them to destroy Israel, it went to their heads and they attributed their success to their own power and God did not appreciate that. God also dealt with the Assyrians appropriate to the way in which they had dealt with other nations. Many of the same atrocities they committed on others were committed on them.

(3) God protects his people – Although God used Assyria to discipline Israel, he would take notice of those who were faithful.

Why is God judging?

  • Because God cares for those who trust in Him.
  • Because God will judge those who violate His law.

This is a message of condemnation for those who disobey God and a message of consolation for those who trust and obey Him.

Ninevah exalted herself but she was humbled by God. This is what I call the Pharisee and Publican principle. In the parable of the pharisee and the tax gatherer, the pharisee compared himself to the tax gatherer and exalted himself before God. The tax gatherer was humble and asked for mercy. Jesus said it was the tax gatherer who went away justified. If you exalt yourself, God will humble you.

In Job 36:26, Elihu says of God-

Behold, God is great, and we know him not;
the number of his years is unsearchable.

3 points-

  1. Behold!  We need to look, to SEE God, as He is revealed in His Word, the Bible, and through Jesus, God Incarnate, Emmanuel, God With Us! Lord, give us eyes to see and a heart that comprehends. John Piper said, “The words of Jesus are the window through which we see the Light of Jesus. And through which we climb by faith.”
  2. God is indeed great!  In our search to KNOW God, it is good to remember that we will never fully know and understand Him.  That doesn’t mean that we give up and don’t try to know Him, but our finite minds will never have the capacity to completely know our infinite God.
  3. God is eternal! We don’t box God into time.

December 17 

Revelation 14 (ESV)

The Lamb and the 144,000

14:1 Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, 3 and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. 4 It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, 5 and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.

The Messages of the Three Angels

6 Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. 7 And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

8 Another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion [1] of her sexual immorality.”

9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. [2]

13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

The Harvest of the Earth

14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” 16 So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.

17 Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” 19 So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia. [3]