It's hard to believe that we've come to the end of another year on the Bible in a Year and Beyond blog, and another year of reading through the entire Bible in a year. Thanks so much to all the posters, commenters, as well as all the people who follow along and read with us. If you'd like to participate in a more active way this coming year, please email me to let me know!
Next year we have decided to follow a Chronological Plan - reading through the Bible in the order the events occurred. I have a Chronological Life Application Study Bible that is set up this way (which makes it super easy for me!) and I have typed out a One Year Bible plan according to the way it is laid out in this Bible. I ended up making it a few days shorter, giving more freedom around the Christmas holidays. Click here to see the new Bible reading plan for 2016! I have also changed the link on the sidebar.
On to the final post for 2015!
I appreciated John Piper's thoughts on the beginning of Malachi 1.....
When God said in verse 2, "I have loved you, says the Lord," the Israelites respond skeptically, "How hast thou loved us?"
Now test yourselves here. How would you answer that question in your own life? How would you describe God's love to you. Is your life and family in such a shambles that you feel as skeptical about it as the Israelites did? Do you want to say, "How hast thou loved me?"...
Answer: "Is not Esau Jacob's brother? says the Lord. Yet I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau."
Now what sort of answer is this? The descendants of Jacob have asked, "How hast thou loved us?" How is it an answer to say, "Jacob I loved, Esau I hated"? Isn't that just a repetition of what he already said in the first part of verse 2, "I have loved you, says the Lord"?
No it's not, because of the little question, "Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" What does that mean? Why did God ask that? He asked it because he knew that the answer to that question contained the key to the essence of his love.
What is the answer? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? The answer is yes. In fact as every Israelite knew, Esau was not only Jacob's brother, he was his twin brother, conceived in the womb of Rebecca by their father Isaac. Jacob and Esau were not like the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael. They had different mothers and one of them wasn't even an Israelitess. But Jacob and Esau were twins. And not only were they twins, Esau was the elder, which means that by all customary rights and privileges he would be the main heir of the father's blessings.
Now what is the point of saying, "Is not Esau Jacob's brother?" The point is this: Based on what you and Esau were in yourselves I could just as easily have chosen Esau as you. Isn't he your brother? Weren't you twins? Isn't he in fact your elder? But I chose you, and passed him by.
What then is God's answer to the question, "How hast thou loved us?" His answer is, I have loved you with free, sovereign, unconditional, electing love; that is how I have loved you.
- My love for you is electing love because I chose you for myself above your brother Esau.
- My love for you is unconditional love because I chose you before you had done anything good or evil—before you had met any conditions—while you were still in your mother's womb (Genesis 25:24).
- My love for you is sovereign love because I was under no constraint to love you; I was not forced or coerced; I was totally in charge when I set my love upon you.
- And my love for you is free because it's the overflow of my infinite grace that can never be bought.
Now I ask you, if you are a Christian here today, and if you say to God, "How have you loved me?" can you answer the way God answered the Israelites? Do you look at your sister or brother living in sin and tremble that you have been chosen? And that your election is not because of anything in you? And that your faith and hope are owing wholly to God? Do you look at that childhood friend or college roommate who took a turn away from God when you stayed on the path, and tremble at the awesome thought that God chose you?
Piper notes that God's hatred of Esau (the descendants of Esau) means that He opposed them, will continue to oppose them, they will be given up into wickedness, and God will be angry with them forever.
Why does God tell us this?
- To humble you.
- To take away your presumption.
- To remove every ground of boasting in yourself.
- To cut the nerve of pride that boasts over Esau as though your salvation were owing to anything in you.
- To put to naught the cavalier sense of self-reliance that lets you dally in my presence as though you were an equal partner in this affair.
- To make you tremble with tears of joy that you belong to God.
As the psalmist says, "There is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared!" (Psalm 130:4).
But above all, that we may know that He reigns over the whole earth.
5 Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel!”
May we humbly give glory to Him and Him alone for our salvation.
Luke 24:46-47 “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
May we proclaim His death and resurrection until He comes again!
See you in 2016!
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Genesis 1-3