Monday, May 31, 2021

The Daily Bible Readings for Monday, May 31, 2021 — Memorial Day (USA)

 

The Daily Bible Readings
Monday, May 31, 2021

Memorial Day

Psalm 20; Numbers 9:15-23; Revelation 4:1-8 (NIV)
with commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible


Today’s Verse-of-the-Day:
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
Life Lessons:
This amazing passage describes the moment when the Lord returns for His church—the dead in Christ will rise and receive their glorified bodies, and those who are alive will be gathered directly into His presence. This should not be confused with the Second Coming of the Lord, when Jesus stands upon the Mount of Olives and establishes His kingdom on earth (Matt. 25:31–46). The Rapture begins the wedding supper of the Lamb (Matt. 25:1–13), and the Second Coming takes place after the banquet has concluded (Rev. 19:7—20:15).  It is the fulfillment of the promise Jesus made in John 14:1–3, to prepare a place for us to be with Him forever. He is our faithful Bridegroom, and we can be sure that Christ will return to take us to our new, eternal, heavenly home—even if we do not know the exact moment He is coming (Matt. 25:1–13; Luke 12:35–44; Rev. 19:7–9; 21:9–27).

Today’s Lectionary Readings:
From the Psalter
Psalm 20
The Name of God


1 May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
     may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
2 May he send you help from the sanctuary
     and grant you support from Zion.
3 May he remember all your sacrifices
     and accept your burnt offerings.
4 May he give you the desire of your heart
     and make all your plans succeed.
5 May we shout for joy over your victory
     and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

  May the Lord grant all your requests.

6 Now this I know:
     The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
  He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
     with the victorious power of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
     but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
8 They are brought to their knees and fall,
     but we rise up and stand firm.
9 Lord, give victory to the king!
     Answer us when we call!


Commentary
Psalm 20 is a prayer on behalf of the king. It is paired with Psalm 21, another royal psalm, which gives thanks for answered prayer on behalf of the king; both psalms pick up on motifs from Psalm 18, another royal psalm: see vv. 6, 9; 18:50; 21:1, 5. The people pray for the king’s victory in battle (vv. 1–5), express trust that the Lord will give the victory (vv. 6–8), and conclude with a final petition for victory (v. 9).

Horse-drawn chariots were one of the primary weapons of warfare in the ancient Near East. Yet David knew that the determining factor of victory was not military might, but rather the name of God (v. 7). Having God on his side meant that the Israelites could “lift up [their] banners,” signifying triumph over their enemies (v. 5). This is the kind of confidence David had in God’s commitment to save “his anointed” (v. 6). Similarly, Jesus trusted in his Father to bring victory over sin and death by giving “his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:28). Consider Jesus’ admonishment of the disciples as they drew their swords to prevent his arrest: “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Mt 26:53). Jesus showed perfect confidence in his Father’s power when he forewarned his disciples of his death while encouraging them that “on the third day he [would] be raised to life” (Mt 20:19). Scripture teaches that God is able and willing to save (Zep 3:17). It is the reason why so much of his Word reminds his people that they need not fear, for the battle belongs to the Lord (Dt 31:6; Isa 41:10; Ro 8:15; Heb 13:5–6).


A Reading from the Pentateuch
Numbers 9:15-23
God in the Cloud and the Fire


9:15 On the day the tabernacle, the tent of the covenant law, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire. 16 That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire. 17 Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. 18 At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. 19 When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the Lord’s order and did not set out. 20 Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days; at the Lord’s command they would encamp, and then at his command they would set out. 21 Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning, and when it lifted in the morning, they set out. Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out. 22 Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. 23 At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out. They obeyed the Lord’s order, in accordance with his command through Moses.

Commentary
This cloud was appointed to be the visible sign and symbol of God's presence with Israel. Thus we are taught to see God always near us, both night and day. As long as the cloud rested on the tabernacle, so long they continued in the same place. There is no time lost, while we are waiting God's time. When the cloud was taken up, they removed, however comfortably they were encamped. We are kept at uncertainty concerning the time of our putting off the earthly house of this tabernacle, that we may be always ready to remove at the command of the Lord. It is very safe and pleasant going when we see God before us, and resting where he appoints us to rest. The leading of this cloud is spoken of as signifying the guidance of the blessed Spirit. We are not now to expect such tokens of the Divine presence and guidance; but the promise is sure to all God's spiritual Israel, that he will guide them by his counsel. Psalms 73:24, even unto death, Psalms 48:14. All the children of God shall be led by the Spirit of God, Romans 8:14. He will direct the paths of those who in all their ways acknowledge him, Proverbs 3:6. At the commandment of the Lord, our hearts should always move and rest, saying, Father, thy will be done; dispose of me and mine as thou pleasest. What thou wilt, and where thou wilt; only let me be thine, and always in the way of my duty. In applying general precepts to particular circumstances, there should be good counsel and fervent prayer. When any undertaking is evidently wrong, or doubtfully right, and yet the mind leans that way, in such a case "the moving of the cloud," as men sometimes miscall it, is generally no more than a temptation Satan is permitted to propose; and men fancy they are following the Lord, when they are following their own wayward inclinations. The record of his mercy will conduct us with unerring truth, through Christ, to everlasting peace. Follow the pillar of the cloud and of fire. Lay the BIBLE to heart, and receive with meekness the ingrafted word, which is able to save your souls.


A Reading from the Apocalypse of John
Revelation 4:1-8
Heaven’s Holy Holy Holy


4:1 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. 3 And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. 4 Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. 6 Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back.
7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

“‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’
who was, and is, and is to come.”


Commentary
After the Lord Jesus had instructed the apostle to write to the churches "the things that are," there was another vision. The apostle saw a throne set in heaven, an emblem of the universal dominion of Jehovah. He saw a glorious One upon the throne, not described by human features, so as to be represented by a likeness or image, but only by his surpassing brightness. These seem emblems of the excellence of the Divine nature, and of God's awful justice. The rainbow is a fit emblem of that covenant of promise which God has made with Christ, as the Head of the church, and with all his people in him. The prevailing color was a pleasant green, showing the reviving and refreshing nature of the new covenant. Four-and-twenty seats around the throne, were filled with four-and-twenty elders, representing, probably, the whole church of God. Their sitting denotes honor, rest, and satisfaction; their sitting about the throne signifies nearness to God, the sight and enjoyment they have of him. They were clothed in white raiment; the imputed righteousness of the saints and their holiness: they had on their heads crowns of gold, signifying the glory they have with him. Lightnings and voices came from the throne; the awful declarations God makes to his church, of his sovereign will and pleasure. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne; the gifts, graces, and operations of the Spirit of God in the churches of Christ, dispensed according to the will and pleasure of Him who sits upon the throne. In the gospel church, the laver for purification is the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, which cleanses from all sin. In this all must be washed, to be admitted into the gracious presence of God on earth, and his glorious presence in heaven. The apostle saw four living creatures, between the throne and the circle of the elders, standing between God and the people. These seem to signify the true ministers of the gospel, because of their place between God and the people. This also is shown by the description given, denoting wisdom, courage, diligence, and discretion, and the affections by which they mount up toward heaven.



Today’s Lectionary Readings are selected from the Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, a three-year cyclical lectionary. We are currently in Year B. Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent in 2021, we will be in Year C. The year which ended at Advent 2020 was Year A. These readings complement the Sunday and festival readings: Thursday through Saturday readings help prepare the reader for the Sunday ahead; Monday through Wednesday readings help the reader reflect and digest what they heard in worship. Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org. The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel lessons are from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible.

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