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Dec 31: Job 41, 42 | Mal 3, 4 | Rev 21

Reading 1 - Job 42:3

At the end, when confronted with the awesome majesty of God, Job said, "Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know" (Job 42:3).

"Will you lay your poor little insignificant present life and possessions on the scale, if God will lay the glories of endless eternity on the other side? Does not the gracious, marvelous prospect make you anxious to heap every possible service and sacrifice you can on your side, to manifest your bursting and overwhelming sense of thankfulness and awe? -- to compensate with the manifestation at least of love and willingness for the utter nothingness of the very best you can offer? If not, are you really a living creature, or just a piece of dead, unfeeling wood? Does not the infinite wonder and beauty of it all fill your heart to overflowing? A cow cannot appreciate the marvels of a sunset, and we are all cows by nature, as to spiritual things. But God be thanked that we can learn to be something more than cows, if we desire it above everything else, and strive for it with all our heart" (GV Growcott).

Reading 2 - Mal 3:16,17

"Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name. 'They will be mine,' says the LORD Almighty, 'in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him' " (Mal 3:16,17).

The Hebrew word here, "segullah", we are told, referred to the private treasure of kings. In societies where kings were more or less absolute dictators, everything in their realm was considered to be legally their property. But even a king could not control and spend and enjoy all properties in his kingdom. So he would possess certain properties, properties which were set apart as his own "special treasure", his "peculiar" or unique property, and no one else's (the same word occurs in Exo 19:5; Deu 7:6; 14:2; 26:18; 1Ch 29:3; Psa 135:4).

In the figure here, God Almighty is the great king, and all the universe belongs to Him, and all men, and all they have -- it is all His. The cattle on a thousand hills belong to Him! But... the Heavenly Father has condescended to choose a special few of all His subjects to be His own family, His own special possession, His own cherished riches. They stay close to His person; they recline in His bosom; they hear His whispers of endearment; they feel the tender touch of His special love. They are dearer to Him than the stars in the heavens, or the glorious snow-topped mountains. They are dearer to Him than the treasures of the richest mines, or the harvests of the richest fields. They are the ones He has redeemed with the precious blood of His Son. With tenderness He gazes upon them. "These," He says, "are mine!"


Reading 3 - Rev 21:1-5

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.' He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true' " (Rev 21:1-5).

"It is scarcely possible to miss the significance of this. God's final encampment upon the earth is to be in a Tabernacle made of materials supplied by the human race -- living materials answerable to the precious things offered by Israel, gold, silver, precious stones, representing the good and honest-hearted among enlightened men. The Tabernacle was not let down from heaven ready made, though the pattern after which it was made was from that source: so the divine system of things to occupy the earth for ever, does not come down from heaven as a complete literal development, after the manner of some people's ideas of the New Jerusalem. The pattern comes from there. Christ, even in the days of his flesh, could say, 'I came down from heaven,' because the Spirit which caused his appearance emanated from thence. In how much fuller a sense, at his second appearing, will he be able to say the same thing? But the elements of the Tabernacle to be reared up upon earth, for the glory of God, will be supplied from the ranks of Adam's descendants in conformity with the divine specifications" (Robert Roberts, "Law of Moses" 96).

"What the dwelling of God with His immortal saints will mean in terms of personal experience is evidently past the powers of even a mighty angel or an inspired apostle to put into words. That which devout souls have craved and reached out for in the days of their weakness will become a normal everyday experience, a satisfying never-ceasing reality, like the warmth of sunshine on the wings of a butterfly newly-emerged from its chrysalis.

"And the new and higher faculties with which the redeemed will find themselves endowed will be such as cannot be described in terms of present experience. Even this divine Apocalypse has to be content with a description in terms of the negation of every present tribulation. All this -- death, sorrow, crying, pain -- will be anointed out by the balm of God's Holy Spirit, by the gift of personal immortality, and by the transcending experience of His own very Presence.

"Time and again in this Revelation the Holy Spirit gropes for ways of making known the marvels of blessings to come, which present limitations bar the reader from understanding. The new Jerusalem is pictured as a city in which the length and breadth and height are equal (Rev 21:16). This is no human metropolis. It has had another dimension added to it. The song which the redeemed sing is one which none can learn save those who share the fellowship of the Lamb on mount Zion (Rev 14:1,3). The new name received by 'him that overcometh' can be learned only by 'him that receiveth it' (Rev 2:17).

"It is not inconceivable that, added to the main comprehensible fact of immortality, there will be unlocked in the minds of the redeemed other faculties which have remained shut up and atrophied in the brain ever since a curse was put on the human race in Eden. Experts say that there are considerable areas of the human brain without any known function. And from time to time certain 'freak' individuals have been known to possess startling and altogether abnormal mental powers and perceptions. Can it be that these are hints of possibilities to be unlocked in a glorious day when servants of the Lord step out into a work of fuller endowment such as they have hardly suspected the existence of?

"A man who is color-blind lives almost completely without appreciation of much of the loveliness of Nature or the world of art. One who is tone-deaf is shut out of a realm which he knows exists for others but which, in this life, he can never enjoy. For him a Brahms symphony is just a long boring noise; and he would enjoy a Bach chorale just as well recited as sung. Such individuals know that there is something in life which they are missing and which no amount of effort and education can make good. But one day, by the grace of God, the first will stand in awe at the fiery splendor of a stormy sunrise or be charmed into speechlessness by the harmonies of color in a Scottish glen; and the other will revel in the timbre of horn and cello, and glory in his new-found ability to sing hymns by the hour to the God of his new creation. Then what of the man who comes from blindness to sight? And what must be the ecstatic shock to one who hears for the first time?

"Imagine, then, for those blessed with a call to the marriage supper of the Lamb a like transformation even less susceptible of translation into words, because as yet outside the experience of all except Christ. Is it possible to conceive the addition of some sixth sense, some extrasensory perception? What will it mean to move into a world of more than three dimensions? Even the Book of Revelation cannot describe these things in terms which present human limitation can grasp. All it can do is to say: All experience which you know now to be a disability will become only a painless memory, perhaps not even that. It can only tell of a city in which the height is fully equal to the length and breadth, of a song which no man can sing now, try as he will, and of a new name not to be disclosed until the day when Christ bestows it" (Harry Whittaker, "Revelation" 242-245).


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