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November 24: Urgent Prayer

Today’s Bible Reading: Daniel 9, Job 21:22-34, John 13:18-30, Jude 8-16 Daniel 9: Daniel’s prayer is more than worthy of emulation. First, he discerns a clear promise in Scripture (9:2). This is a principle for us to apply: once we have discovered in the Bible a word from God, a promise from God, then utilize that promise in our prayers to God. This is the way to “pray in faith” or “pray in Jesus’ name” or “pray according to God’s will.” We discover what it is that God has promised to do—in this context, bring God’s people back from exile after a certain length of time—and then we go to God in prayer and ask him to act according to his own promise. This prayer of the righteous man is powerful and effective. Second, prayer is combined with confession (9:4). Who can approach the holy God without being conscious of their need for forgiveness, and therefore...

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November 23: Glory and a Kingdom

Today’s Bible Reading: Daniel 7-8, Job 21:1-21, John 13:12-17, Jude 1-7 Daniel 7-8: Some aspects of these next two chapters are difficult, and as we approach this part of Daniel perhaps we are tempted to think that discretion is the better part of valor when it comes to reading them (let alone interpreting them). We may have sympathy with the great Bible commentator John Calvin who opted to skip over this part of Daniel. Nonetheless, there are truths here that are edifying, useful, profitable—as is all Scripture. In particular, it is good to know—and humbling and edifying—that some parts of what God reveals, his purposes, are too much for us. Like watching Olympic gymnasts going through their routines, the mere experience of knowing that what they are doing is well beyond us helps us realize that there is more to life than we have before grasped. Sometimes we need at least to know what we do...

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November 22: Writing and Lions

Today’s Bible Reading: Daniel 5-6, Job 20, John 13:1-11, 3 John 1-14 Daniel 5-6: Two famous stories—so well known that sayings from them and motifs about them have entered into common parlance and conversation even still today. First, “the writing on the wall” (Daniel 5). Belshazzar, son of Nebuchadnezzar, is proud; what is more, he arrogantly calls for the vessels taken out of the temple in Jerusalem and uses them in giving praise to the pagan gods of gold (5:1-4). This incenses the holy God and is an offense against him; a hand appears and writes on the wall (5:5). The apparition terrifies the king and his guests, and so they send for the wise men of their age to interpret the meaning of the writing but none can (5:6-9)—until the queen remembers Daniel (5:10-12). Daniel comes along, refuses the monetary reward offered to him, and correctly interprets the writing (5:13-28). Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin....

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November 21: Praise and Extol

Today’s Bible Reading: Daniel 3-4, Job 19, John 12:37-50, 2 John 1-13 Daniel 3-4: Two famous stories. First, the fiery furnace. The king makes an image of gold and commands everyone to worship it or else be thrown into a fiery furnace (3:1-7). The Jews are accused for failing to engage in such idol worship (3:8-12), and so they are thrown into the furnace (3:13-23)—but amazingly they are preserved (3:24-27). And even more so: “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods” (3:25). And recognizing this as God’s extraordinary miraculous intervention (3:28), the king recognizes God’s unique power: “there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way” (3:29). The king even says, “His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation” (4:3). Now...

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November 20: The Lord Gave

Today’s Bible Reading: Daniel 1-2, Job 18, John 12:20-36, 1 John 5:13-21 Daniel 1-2: The book of Daniel—of great fame and fantastic storytelling ability—calls us also to faithful bravery, even in the midst of opposition. “Dare to be a Daniel.” At the same time, it also calls us to focus on the true and greater Daniel, Jesus Christ, who really sacrificed himself for us and withstood all the attacks of the enemy on our behalf. The first chapter, worthy of careful attention and frequent reading, is structured deliberately around an oft repeated phrase: “And the Lord gave” (1:2, 9, 16, 17). The message is that the exile was under God’s providence, as was Daniel’s bravery and the favor that Daniel earned as a result. What a difference it would make if we could look at the ups and downs of our lives, both negative and positive, as that which “the Lord gave”! It is all...

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November 19: The Lord Is There

Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 48, Job 17, John 12:12-19, 1 John 5:6-12 Ezekiel 48: The land is now divided up between the different tribes, much of which we had heard before in chapter 45. There is also a plan given for the city itself, and its new name. All this is written to encourage the exiles and assure them of God’s continued plan for them, his people, and to cast a wide vision for the fulfillment of all God’s promises, ultimately in Christ in whom all the promises of God are Yes and Amen, and to urge us to therefore be diligent in the pursuit of God’s kingdom, and to be prepared for the vision of heaven where God’s promises are finally fulfilled and his presence fully experienced. This last—God’s presence—is here wonderfully intimated, and more than suggested, but claimed and declared by the new name given to God’s city. “And the name of the city...

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November 18: Flowing Water

Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 45-47, Job 16, John 12:1-11, 1 John 5:1-5 Ezekiel 45-47: The first two chapters of this section further describe the division of the land, the temple, the prince, the priests, and the responsibilities and duties in a way that suggests that the fulfillment of these matters is surely in a future gospel state that will far expand beyond the boundaries of the Old Testament. We read of these facts and figures, and other spiritual type, and in further fulfillment in the person of Christ and the gospel church, and see the scale of this gospel church that goes out to all nations, and is finally fulfilled in the New Heaven and the New Earth. Similarly, in chapter 47, Ezekiel’s vision of the holy waters, which if literally interpreted would not be so much sweet as foul, draining away the dregs from all the sacrifices, and seem most likely to have that meaning...

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November 17: The Glory of the Lord

Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 42-44, Job 15:17-35, John 11:45-57, 1 John 4:7-21 Ezekiel 42-44: This continued description of the temple in these chapters amounts to much the same as Ezekiel’s previous description—namely a timely reminder of the temple, but in a non-literal sense pointing to the fulfillment of the temple in Christ, in Christ’s people, the gospel-church, and ultimately the New Heaven and the New Earth where God shall be with his people and they shall be glorified with him forever. In these chapters are various elements that are hard precisely to tie down or grasp, but various elements that evoke feelings of awe and magnitude—all of which are intended to lead us to worship God, be awe in of him, repent of our sins, and from a gospel fulfillment point of view, be led to Christ, the fulfillment of the temple in his own body. This glory is shown as very great in various places, particularly: “Then...

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November 16: A Temple Vision

Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 40-41, Job 15:1-16, John 11:38-44, 1 John 4:1-6Ezekiel 40-41:Matthew Henry, of famous reputation, says this is “justly looked upon to be one of the most difficult portions of scripture in all the book of God. The Jews will not allow any to read it till they are thirty years old, and tell those who do read it that, though they cannot understand every thing in it, ‘when Elias comes he will explain it.’” We are then verging on matters that have perplexed the brilliant, and caused plentiful head scratching among the learned.What shall we make of this vision? To begin with, we should be prosaic. The most obvious answer to the question is that Ezekiel is encouraging the exiles with a vision of the temple—a vision that for them would have seemed strange, after so long away from the former temple. It is practical, in that it gives dimension and...

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November 15: Know that the Lord is God

Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 38-39, Job 14, John 11:17-37, 1 John 3:19-24 Ezekiel 38-39: In Ezekiel 38 and 39, we hear of God’s judgment and opposition upon Gog and Magog, the continued trouble that Israel would face even after it had returned from exile, but God’s final victory over that trouble. We do not know exactly who these opponents of Israel were, perhaps the kings of Syria, as biblical history does not record these later events that are here prophesied. Also, from Revelation 20:8, we know that there is a final further fulfillment related to Gog and Magog that is still yet to come. Throughout these chapters God’s purpose to reveal who he is, his holiness and glory, even in this world of trouble and difficulty, is again and again made clear. “You will come up against my people Israel, like a cloud covering the land. In the latter days I will bring you against my...

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