Warnings, Calls, and Promises
by Brandy Hall
December 3, Thursday – Psalms 18:1–20 v 18:21–50; Amos 4:6–13; 2 Pet. 3:11–18; Matt. 21:33–46
(ESV Daily Office Readings Online)
(Unless otherwise noted, I am quoting from The Voice translation.)
The scripture readings lately have been full of warnings of destruction by violence, fire, and brimstone. “And on that day, the sky will vanish with a roar, the elements will melt with intense heat.” (2 Peter 3:10). The coming of the day of the Lord is spoken of in many texts throughout scripture, and often with such grim and terrifying language.
Today’s selections are no different in their tone:
“What do you think the landowner will do when he comes and sees those tenants?
Chief Priests and Elders:
‘He will eviscerate them, to be sure!’” (Matthew 21:40-41). “I sent plagues on you like the plagues I unleashed upon Egypt. I slaughtered your young men in battle… I destroyed some of you as I destroyed the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah” (Amos 4:10a, 11a).
“Because of His great anger, the earth shook and staggered; the roots of the mountains shifted. Smoke poured out from His nose, and devouring fire burst from His mouth. Coals glowed from Him.” (Psalm 18:7-8).
But there is also a thread of God revealing truth, of unveiling what was once hidden:
“Then the deepest channels of the seas were visible, and the very foundations of the world were uncovered” (Psalm 18:14).
The parable of the tenants from Matthew 21 is also found in Luke 20, where we find in verse 19, “They realized that Jesus, with this parable, had exposed their violent intentions”. “The earth and all the works done on it will be seen as they truly are” (2 Peter 3:10). “Witness the One who shapes the mountains and fashions the wind, who reveals His thoughts to human beings” (Amos 4:13).
“Knowing that one day all this will come to pass, think what sort of people you ought to be—how you should be living faithful and godly lives” (2 Peter 3:11). The, “all this”, is not just referring to the, “terrible”, part of, “the great and terrible day of the Lord”, but also to the, “great”, part. One day all will be laid waste, one day we will all die, but one day we will also come face to face with our Lord, and all will be revealed. Not only to us, but all of us as well. All of our good, all of our bad, and all of our ugly will be seen as they truly are.
In every one of today’s readings there is a call to repentance and righteous living, and a promise of salvation to those who heed the call. And keep in mind that these warnings, calls, and promises are directed to Israel, to priests, to Christians. So let each of us think about what sort of person we ought to be, and what sort of people we ought to be.
Thankfully, Peter has spelled it out for us lest we become overwhelmed with such a task, “living faithful and godly lives, waiting hopefully for and hastening the coming of God’s day”, “work hard to live in peace, without flaw or blemish; and look at the patience of the Lord as your salvation”, and, “keep up your guard and don’t let unprincipled people pull you away from the sure ground of the truth with their lies and misunderstandings. Instead, grow in grace and in the true knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Anointed, to whom be glory, now and until the coming of the new age. Amen.” (vs. 11-12, 14-15, 17-18).