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Favor from the LORD

December 31, 2023

Today is the last day of the calendar year, and we want to consider Proverbs 31:21-31, which continues and concludes King Lemuel’s inspired truth about “a woman – especially a wife – of noble character.” The section begins with “When it snows” (verse 21), which relates to unexpected or adverse conditions that come into in her life, but “she does not fear” because she is prepared for them – having already anticipated them. In this section, the writer refers to her in the nominative case (i.e., “she”) six times - indicating her specific activities in preparations. He also refers to her in the genitive case (i.e., “her”) four times – revealing that for which or for whom she prepares – directly for “her husband” (twice – cf., verses 23 and 28) and for “her children” (verse 23), and then indirectly for “her praise” (verse 31) – by virtue of her actions. Finally, the writer refers to her in the dative case – “Give her the reward she has earned” (verse 31). Four times, the passage speaks of her creation or production of “coverings” (i.e., clothing) – a clear picture of her concern for spiritual things and especially her understanding of the atonement. Her preparations enable her to “laugh at the days to come,” because “she watches over the affairs of her household,” and she is industrious – not “idle” (verse 27). Both her husband and her children “bless and praise” her. As the writer indicates, “many [other] women do noble things, but [this woman] surpasses them all” (verse 29). Why? Because “she fears the LORD” (verse 30). This woman is a treasure – indeed, a true “pearl of great price” (cf., Matthew 13:45-46), and any man who finds her should “sell all he has” to obtain her – and keep her. "He who finds a [noble] wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD" (Proverbs 18:22).

In Revelation 21-22, we come now to the end of the book and the end of the Bible – essentially, to the “culmination of all things” at the hands of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (cf., Romans 10:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11; and 1 Peter 4:7). He is the “Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End” (21:6). He is the One Who makes “everything new” (21:5). In this section, we see “a new heaven and a new earth” (21:1), and a “new Jerusalem” where, from that point on, the “dwelling of God will be with men – He Himself will be with us” (21:3). He will remove all tears, death, mourning, crying, and pain; what a wonderful, glorious setting will be ours! Here, we see the coming of the Bride of Christ and the Holy City – Jerusalem – which is a reflection of all that God is. There is no night, no sun, no moon, and no temple there, for “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple, and the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. Nothing impure will ever enter it” (21:22-27). In Revelation 22, we are told of the “river of life,” and the complete removal of the curse upon creation; here, we are promised that we “will see His face” (22:4). Moreover, we also have the promise of our Lord’s return (22:12-16). The book closes with (1) an invitation and (2) a warning: (1) The Holy Spirit invites all who thirst for life to “come and take the free gift of the water of life” (verse 17); and (2) He warns not to “add or take away any words from this book” under the penalties of “the plagues described in this book and the loss of one’s share in the tree of life” (verses 18-19). Indeed, to this we say, as John wrote, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus” (verse 20).

Our readings for the year now conclude with Nehemiah 11:22 – 13:31. Here, we see a list of the rest of the towns in the land and the exiles who settled there. Yesterday, we stated that God is personally concerned about people who make promises, and He does not take that lightly – He holds us accountable for what we say (cf., Ecclesiastes 5:4-7). In chapter 13, we see the problem which the people created for themselves by making promises that they did not keep. Although the people promised to “separate themselves from neighboring peoples” (cf., 10:28); not to exchange with foreigners their “daughters in marriage” (cf., 10:30); and not to buy or sell on the Sabbath (cf., 10:31), we observe that Nehemiah had to rebuke them for their failure to keep these and other promises (cf., Nehemiah 13:11-ff.). Indeed, God cares deeply about what "comes out of our mouths" (cf., Matthew 15:11). We need to be careful about what we promise and what we say – a good reminder for ending the year. This year, our readings have emphasized our need to walk in step and close relationship with our God and to maintain fellowship with Him. If we do this, we can confidently pray the same prayer Nehemiah prayed to end his book: “Remember me with favor, O my God” (Nehemiah 13:31).

I want to wish you all a joyous New Year in which you experience the favor and wonderful blessings of our God. Like John, we pray “Amen. Come Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

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