OT: Isaiah 43:14-45:10
Two things I have noticed in the last few chapters are 1) a lot of "streams in the desert" imagery, and 2) a heavy emphasis on reconciliation and restoration. I like both of these things. The imagery is powerful, and the idea of God reconciling His people to Him is wonderful.
I also love God's words at the end of 44:8: "Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one." I had, "There is no other Rock; I know not one," written in the front of one of my Bibles.
There is also a long section on the folly of idolatry in 44: 9-20. One of the things that the author finds so ridiculous about idolatry is that idols were made out of common materials by average people. He highlights the fact that wood from the same block from which the idol is carved is used to build a fire to feed and warm the man who carves it (16-17). He also emphasizes that the man, the creator of the idol, is one who, like all others, "gets hungry and loses his strength," one who, "drinks no water and grows faint" (12).
Reading this section makes me think about the heart of idolatry. The great offense of idolatry is that man would presume to worship his own creation. It also seems offensive that man would elevate himself to the position of Creator. There is something so prideful in imbuing the works of one's hands with such power and meaning.
NT: Ephesians 3:1-21
Paul starts off chapter three in a way that coherently flows from chapter two, and then abruptly cuts himself off to marvel at the revelation that has come upon the world at this time. The idea that the Gentiles were part of God's master plan, "that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body" just boggles the mind (6). We take it for granted today, but this was big news to Jews like Paul.
One verse that I did not understand was verse 10. I have read Ephesians a hundred times; I even have developed curriculum based on it for the teen girls; and yet, this verse has never jumped out at me. But tonight, I read it and thought, "Huh?" The verse says, "His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God would be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord" (10-11, actually). Okay, so through Jesus, the church made known God's wisdom to "the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms"?? What does that mean? Who are those rulers and authorities? Are they angels? How did the church make something known to them? I have some swirling thoughts, but I'm going to ponder it some more.
Verses 16-19 has another amazing prayer, which I must now type in full:
"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
Of course, I love the ideas of being able to grasp and to know the love of Christ. And I love the concept of God's Spirit strengthening us so that Christ can live in our hearts. As I typed, though, what stood out to me was the last phrase. The culmination of Christ living in our hearts, of our comprehension of His love for us, is that we would "be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." What an amazing thought!
I also love the idea, found in verse 20, that the power of Christ at work in us can "do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine." Plus, I love verses 20-21 together, which gives all glory to Christ. Clearly, I love a lot in this passage. Ephesians is a favorite of mine.
A psalm praising God by telling of His great works. Like last time, my favorite part was that "God sets the lonely in families," and that "he leads forth the prisoners with singing" (6).
Why we shouldn't envy wicked men.