Alcohol For Those In Distress

Well, I’m closing down the readings from the month of February. That puts me… 6 months behind. Maybe I can catch up a little in September so I don’t end the whole thing being 6 months behind. Or we could just pretend this whole thing was a “read the whole Bible in a year and a half” kind of thing.

Daily Scripture readings for February, set #23:

Isaiah, chapters 59-61
Proverbs 29:15-27
Luke 24:28-35
Hebrews 12:12-29

“The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice” (Isa 59:15). This is SO significant. The gods of the nations, the gods of the gentiles, these gods are free to do as they please. According to their respective divine texts, these gods act as one might expect a god-like being to act, and there is none to challenge them. All their servants fear them, and well they should. But our God, the God of creation, the God of the Bible, the one true God, he is JUST. He seeks justice and the lack of justice displeases him. He, being omnipotent, is not BOUND to anything, let alone justice. And yet he still pursues justice, not because he is forced to, but because he wants to (see also Isa 61:8). Great is the Lord.

Proverbs 29:26 continues the theme of God’s justice: “Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from the Lord that a man gets justice.” Do not look ultimately to your government or your boss for justice. It comes from God and God alone, though God uses man as a vehicle (cf Rom 13).

“He acted as if he were going farther” (Luke 24:28). I’m so curious as to what this kind of language means. Was Jesus truly “acting” in that he never intended to go farther but wanted the two he spoke with to think something different? Or was Jesus actually envisioning continuing on the road but the Spirit stopped him and led him to follow the two disciples? Both seem plausible, right?

I commented previously on the link between the first verse of Proverbs 29 and Hebrews 3, regarding the “point of no return” in a rebellious heart. Hebrews 12:17 touches on the same concept: “For you know that afterward, when (Esau) desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.” Do not sin with the intention of repenting. Rather, repent and TURN from your sin. The Lord is merciful, but his mercy should not be taken advantage of. God is not mocked.

Daily Scripture readings for February, set #24:

Isaiah, chapters 62-64
Proverbs 30
Luke 24:36-43
Hebrews 13:1-8

“But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them” (Isa 63:16). This is how the Old Covenant worked. The people rebelled, and therefore God was no longer on their side. The Old Covenant existed because it represents an aspect of who God is – it reveals, among other things, the side of God that delivers justice when an oath is breached. But this is not the covenant that we are under any longer. Thanks be to Jesus!

“If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth” (Prov 30:32). Stop. Think. Are you pursuing unjust gains? Are you acting wickedly and following your fleshly desires instead of the Spirit’s leading? It’s not too late to cease and desist.

Again in Luke we see evidence of Jesus’ BODILY resurrection. “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (24:39). What reason do we have to imagine that bodily resurrection like this will not also be true for us?

“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (Heb 13:7). This is EXACTLY what happened to me when I finally decided to take my faith seriously. I was about to get married to my wonderful wife (of 10 years now) and I considered the trajectory my life was on as compared to that of my parents (parents being the first to speak the Word of God to me). I considered their way of life and the outcome it had for them and decided that I could no longer drift in the wake of their faith. I began that day the past 10-year journey of truly imitating their faith. The Lord has been merciful and good to me.

Daily Scripture readings for February, set #25:

Isaiah, chapters 65-66
Proverbs 31
Luke 24:44-53
Hebrews 13:9-25

“Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (Isa 66:1-2). The Lord spends verse one of this text explaining that he doesn’t need anything. He doesn’t need any help, contribution, or gift. This is significant because he goes on to say in verse 2 that he will “look to” the man who fits a particular description. The Lord will look to man, but he does not need to. We might even say that it is his intention to look to man, but he does not need to. How amazing this is! But we must fulfill the verse 2 requirement.

The Lord made all things, with their respective properties and characteristics, exactly as he intended them to be. This includes alcohol. I was surprised to find that Proverbs 31 delineates at least one clear purpose for alcohol and its effects. “It is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more” (vs 4-7).

“Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45). This implies that there was a time prior to the moment captured by verse 45 where the disciples’ minds were NOT opened to understanding. Further, had the moment of verse 45 not happened, their minds would have remained “not open” to understanding.

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Heb 13:17). Paraphrase: Being difficult and burdensome to your leaders is not merely a bummer for them, it will in the end also be a bummer for YOU.

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