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Love Through Our Actions

Readings for December 4, 2023

Psalm 137 is an imprecatory but touching Psalm that relates the sadness of God’s people in exile - away from Jerusalem - their beloved home. We know that sin was the reason for Israel's exile, and that the exile was rightly deserved, but even while His people experienced the harsh realities and consequences of their removal from God’s presence, God still loved them. This Psalm expresses the intense emotions that we feel when our sin separates us from the presence of God. Indeed, how can we rejoice “while in a foreign land” (verse 4)? How can we sing when we are “tormented” by our “captors?” (verse 3). Our captors are the enemies of God. We need to “remember” the glories of “Zion” – representative of the very presence of God - and we need to return to them. Only when we return from our “exile” to a right relationship with Him will we really experience our “highest joy” (verse 6).

In 1 John 3, the apostle contrasts the hatred of the world with the love of Christ which should characterize the life of every believer. God equates hatred with murder, and we are all capable of it (verse 12). To counteract it, we are commanded to love not only in our words, but also through our actions (verse 16). In 1 John 4, we are told to “test the spirits” (verse 1) to determine their origin. The acknowledgment that Jesus is God in the flesh testifies that a spirit is of God. Moreover, those who truly “know God,” will “listen to us” (verse 6), but those who “do not listen” to our message “are not from God;” they are from the world, and they “speak from the viewpoint of the world” (verses 5-6). Today's viewpoints expressed by the world are dangerous and inconsistent with reality. Only the Bible gives us an accurate understanding of the world in which we live.

In Daniel 9:20 - 11;1, we see Gabriel “instructing” Daniel regarding his vision of seventy sevens which have been decreed for his people (verses 22-24). This vision relates to the end times - with near and far fulfillment - when God will “put an end to sin” (verse 24). It prophesies the coming and the death of the “Anointed One” - Jesus Christ. It tells us about the Antichrist, his broken “covenant” with the people of Israel, and the “abomination that causes desolation” (verse 27). These events are prophetic and will occur in the tribulation. In Daniel 10-11:1, we see Daniel’s vision of “the man dressed in linen,” (verses 5-6), which, consistent with Revelation 1:12-20, is a pre-incarnate appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who had come to explain what would happen in the future (verse 14). Daniel’s encounter with the Lord was so breathtaking that it affected him physically - he was left “speechless, and overcome with anguish, he trembled, and he could hardly breathe” (verses 15-17). We can see from this appearance that Jesus Christ holds divine authority, and He alone is truly worthy of all our highest praise and worship.

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