One Year Bible Reading Plan and Devotional
Today’s Bible Reading: February 7
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God’s Word Never Ends
Heaven and Earth will pass away
Jesus said in Matthew 24:35 that one day heaven and earth will pass away – meaning this physical earth that we live on will gone. It will all come to an end and be no more. When we read the book of Revelation, and see what the end of the story looks like, we can become anxious or fearful at what awaits the earth. But for the Christian, we rest in the promises of the final outcome and are able to trust what the Bible says, because God’s Word will never change.
What does the Bible tell us about how the world will end? In the final epoch of earth’s story found in the Book of Revelation, we find out what happens to Babylon the Great, the Battle of Armageddon, and finally, the earth.
God’s Word tells about the Destruction of Babylon the Great
Some argue that Babylon the Great is simply a figure of speech regarding evil nations in general. Theologians have also concluded that Babylon the Great is just that, a revived and rebuilt Babylon. Others interpret Babylon the Great as an evil world system, based in Babylon (possibly signifying Rome) and controlled by the Antichrist, during the last days before Jesus’ return. The angel who speaks to John in Revelation 17:18, identifies Babylon the Great as “the great city that rules over the kings of the earth”
Regardless, we find in Revelation 17:1-5 and 18:8, that God will destroy this prostitute named “Babylon the Great.” The symbol of a prostitute is fitting because these people have consorted with the rulers of the world to gain power and wealth and we find in Revelation 17:3, that it commits blasphemy and religious heresy.
Blasphemy, heresy, and false prophets
To blaspheme is to speak with contempt about God or to be defiantly irreverent. Blasphemy is verbal or written reproach of God’s name, character, work, or attributes. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, defines heresy as the “adherence to a religious opinion contrary to church dogma.” A second definition is “dissent or deviation from a dominant theory, opinion, or practice.” With regards to religion, any belief or practice that goes against the official position of the church is considered heretical.
With these definitions in mind, we turn to “false prophets.” A false prophet is a person who spreads false teachings or messages while claiming to speak the Word of God. In the Bible, false prophets also spoke on behalf of false gods. False prophets functioned in their prophetic role illegitimately or for the purpose of deception. As such, they are guilty of both blasphemy and heresy. The Bible denounces false prophets for leading people astray.
Revelation 18:9 says, “And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, “Alas! Alas! You great city, you mighty city, Babylon! For in a single hour your judgment has come.”
Destruction of Babylon of the Old Testament
Throughout time, there have always been religious heresy through the teaching of false religions and today is no different. Many of the false religious teachings and practices of today, such as idolatry, prosperity, and occultism, were also present in ancient Babylon, a city steeped in false religion and superstition (Isaiah 47:1, 8-11). Additionally, sexual immorality and homosexuality were part of their religious practices.
As a result of their depravity and wickedness, God destroys Babylon. In Jeremiah 50:38, the prophet writes: “A drought against her waters, that they may be dried up! For it is a land of images, and they are mad over idols.” Mighty Babylon fell when its protective waters—a moat fed by the Euphrates River—were “dried up,” opening the way for an army of Medes and Persians to conquer the city. Additionally, we learn in Daniel 5 that Babylon’s enemies conquered them in just one night!
Destruction of Babylon the Great in the book of Revelation
Like Babylon of the Old Testament, Babylon the Great of the book of Revelation “sits on many waters.” In Revelation 17:1, one of the seven angels says to John: “Come, I will show you the judgment of the notorious prostitute who sits on many waters.” And in verse 15 the angel explains, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute was seated, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages.” These people, multitudes, and nations represent the millions who support the religious heresy and the wickedness of the “prostitute.”
Just as Babylon’s moat dried up enabling her enemies to destroy and conquer her in a single night in the Old Testament, so does the “waters” of Babylon the Great. John writes in Revelation 16:12, “The sixth poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the east.” And Revelation 18:8 tells us her destruction will be swift: “For this reason her plagues will come in one day—death and grief and famine. She will be burned up with fire, because the Lord God who judges her is mighty.”
Who will God use to be the destroyer of Babylon the Great? Revelation 17:16-17 gives the answer: The very political rulers of the world with whom she consorts. Those who once loved her will turn on her and plunder her, or devour her. Revelation 17:16 tells us: “[They] will hate the prostitute and will make her devastated and naked, and they will eat up her flesh [or, riches] and completely burn her with fire.”
God’s Word warns us about the blasphemy and religious heresy of false teachers
In Matthew 7:15-18, Jesus said, “By their fruits you will recognize them. . . . Every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit.” Exchanging God’s truth for a lie — or false teaching — will always result in the production of “worthless fruit”. Therefore, anyone who preaches or teaches anything contrary to the Bible is a false teacher and guilty of blasphemy and religious heresy. They produce worthless fruit.
The blasphemy and religious heresy of idolatry
The definition of idolatry, according to Webster, is “the worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.” Idolatry offers a different view of God, usually because we do not like God’s rules and we want to live the way we want, so we turn to a fake god – a fake religion – that is tolerant of the way we want to live. An idol is anything that replaces the one, true God, and therefore it is spiritual adultery. Idolatry practices in the Bible also included sexual immorality, to which Babylon’s pagan gods not only tolerated, but welcomed. The problem with sexual immorality, is that it also brings baggage in the form of guilt, broken relationships, and emptiness. It destroys your self-respect.
Books have been written that totally redefine God in accordance with human desire. In one such book, entitled, Conversations with God, the author states that as he was writing a spirit came along and basically dictated to him what to write. And basically what the spirit said is, “I am whoever you want Me to be.” Such a statement goes totally against what God says about himself in the Bible. So, if a “spirit” came over the author, it was not the Holy Spirit, but a demonic one.
Do you know that it was Thomas Huxley, a supporter of Charles Darwin, who said that the reason we accepted evolution without a lot of proof is because we didn’t want a god to interfere with our sexual mores? In other words, “Get God off our back so that we can be free,” but that kind of freedom comes with a huge price of bondage.
Idolatry expects God to submit to us
Idolatry is blasphemy and religious heresy because it removes the eternal God from the picture and replaces it with a made up view of God that bends to what we want.
There is a story about a man who was driving through a farmyard and he noticed that on the barn there were a bunch of targets. And right smack in the middle of each target there was an arrow. So he stopped to commend the farmer for being such an expert marksman. The farmer said, “What you saw out there wasn’t done by me. A village boy who is somewhat mentally challenged did it. He comes out here. He shoots arrows into my barn and then he paints the targets around them.” That’s what society does. “I want to do what I want to do. I want to live the way in which I want to live and God will come along and make it all right and agree with me.”
My friend, the God of the Bible never compromises His unchanging Word. As Jesus says in Matthew 24:35, Heaven and earth may pass away, but my words will never pass away.” It is never God’s position to align His will to ours. Peter tells us that we are to “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God.” In other words, we are to submit to His will.
Idolatry in Babylon
The most prevalent form of idolatry in Bible times was the worship of images that were thought to embody the various pagan deities. And Babylon was a land in which life was overshadowed by a vast idolatry and worship of multiple pagan gods including, Marduk, Hergal, Tiamat, Shamah, and Ea.
Isaiah describes with a fine and indignant irony how in Babylon, too, the smith with the tongs, and the carpenter with his rule, would combine to make an idol according to the beauty of a man, and how worship would be paid to what was, in reality, only the stock of a tree. It was this idolatry which Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego resisted at the risk of their lives.
The blasphemy and religious heresy of homosexuality and same-sex marriage
Changing laws that make practices that offend God legal, such as homosexuality and same-sex marriages are also “worthless fruit” of blasphemy and religious heresy. Leviticus 18:22 tells us exactly how God feels about homosexuality and same-sex marriages: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” For those who want to argue that the New Testament amends the Old and Jesus overturned existing law, neglect to see what the New Testament has to say.
Paul says in Romans 1:25-27, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen. This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. For even their females exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. The males in the same way also left natural relations with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error.”
And in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul writes, “ Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. The Bible is clear that God detests such behaviors.
The blasphemy and religious heresy of abortion
As part of Babylon’s religious practices, child sacrifices were common. Today, we may not hear much about child sacrifices, but we are just as guilty of killing innocent children – before they are even born. The Bible never specifically addresses the issue of abortion. However, there are numerous teachings in Scripture that make it abundantly clear what God’s view of abortion is.
Jeremiah 1:5 tells us that God knows us before He forms us in the womb. Psalm 139:13–16 speaks of God’s active role in our creation and formation in the womb. Exodus 21:22–25 prescribes the same penalty—death—for someone who causes the death of a baby in the womb as for someone who commits murder. This law and its punishment clearly indicate that God considers a baby in the womb to be just as much a human being as a full-grown adult. For the Christian, abortion is not a matter of a woman’s right to choose to have a baby. The baby is already present and living. Abortion is a matter of the life or death of a human being made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–27; 9:6).
What does the Bible say about abortion? Simply put, abortion is murder. It is the killing of a human being created in the image of God.
What about in instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother? According to GotQuestions.org, “the overwhelming majority of abortions performed today involve women who simply do not want to have the baby. Only 2 percent of abortions are for the reason of rape, incest, or the mother’s life being at risk. Even in these more difficult 2 percent of instances, abortion should never be the first option. The life of a human being in the womb is worth every effort to preserve.”
The blasphemy and religious heresy of exchanging Biblical doctrine for traditions
As a Christian, you may feel that the “worthless fruit” seen in Babylon does not apply to you. However, such fruit also includes substituting hollow rituals and empty traditions for the wholesome teachings found in the Scriptures. In speaking to the Pharisees and scribes, Jesus said in Matthew 15:3: “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? And in verse 6, He says: “for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.” And in verses 7-9, Jesus says: “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
Some years ago, I was at a church where people were leaving the church because the church leadership decided to remove the pulpit from the stage. They were enraged over the idea and felt that the pulpit somehow was “holy” and one could not have church if there was no pulpit. This would be an example of a tradition that is not doctrine and these people would rather leave the church for the sake of a tradition. Every church has their time0honored traditions but when we make traditions a higher priority than the Bible or replace Biblical doctrine with tradition, we can be guilty of “worthless fruit.” In John 21:17, Jesus said to the the disciples, “Feed my sheep.” Today, however, many people feel spiritually starved because false teachers do not teach the true gospel message.
God’s Word tells about the Battle of Armageddon
With Babylon the Great destroyed, God will then turn his attention to the political rulers themselves—“the kings of the entire inhabited earth.” Along with wicked people in general, these will be destroyed in “the war of the great day of God the Almighty,” also called “Armageddon.”—Revelation 16:14, 16.
In the Bible, Armageddon refers to a climactic future battle between God and the forces of evil, as recorded in the book of Revelation. Got questions.org reports, “the word ultimately comes from the Hebrew word Har-Magedone, which means “Mount Megiddo,” the predicted location of the battle. The exact location of Armageddon is unclear because there is no mountain called Meggido. However, since Har can also mean “hill,” the most likely location is the hill country surrounding the plain of Meggido, some sixty miles north of Jerusalem.”
The Battle of Armageddon will be a real battle in the future, near the end of the tribulation. Demonic influences will cause the kings of the earth to gather their armies for an all-out assault on Jerusalem and Revelation 16:13-15 tells us the Antichrist will be leading the charge. However, we see in Revelation 19:14 that Jesus Christ will return to earth with the armies of heaven; and Zechariah 14:4 says His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives. He will defeat the forces of evil as told in Revelation 19:15-16 and verse 20 says he will cast the Antichrist and the false prophet into the lake of fire. In revelation 20:1-6, Jesus will bind Satan and set up His kingdom on earth for 1,000 years. That’s right! We know how the story ends. Jesus wins and Satan is defeated.
God’s Word tells about the end of the world
The Bible consistently warns us that this world will not last forever. “Heaven and earth will pass away,” Jesus said in Matthew 24:35. His statement was in the context of end times’ prophecies and the eternal nature of Jesus’ words: “My words will never pass away.” This means that trusting Jesus is wiser than trusting anything in this world.
2 Peter 3:11–12 tells us exactly how the Earth will cease to be: “The day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire. . . . That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.”
The prophet Isaiah also foretold the passing away of heaven and earth. In Isaiah 34:4 he writes: “All the stars in the sky will be dissolved and the heavens rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree”.
God’s Word will never end
While this world will pass away, there will never be an end to God’s Word. The promises of God’s Word are reliable, true, and trustworthy – which means our salvation is secure. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “The heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail” (Isaiah 51:6).
Many places in Scripture extol the faithfulness of God. Lamentations 3:22–23 says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” So, what is faithfulness?
The Hebrew word translated “faithfulness” means “steadfastness, firmness, fidelity.” The opposite of being faithful is to be ever-changing or wishy-washy. Psalm 119:89–90 says, “Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations.” Here faithfulness is equated with God’s Word. God speaks never-ending truth. If God spoke something a thousand years ago, it still stands. He is faithful to His Word, because His Word is an expression of His character. The promises He made still hold true because He does not change (Malachi 3:6) and His Word will never end. His promises are dependable.
The promises in God’s Word are dependable
God’s promises are more dependable than the ground we walk on and the air we breathe. They are more sure than even the existence of the universe. At the time Jesus said these words in Matthew 24:35, He knew that one day the disciples would put their very lives on the line for Him and He wanted them to know that they could trust that every Word was true.
Today, we still have that assurance and are able to depend on the teachings and promises found in the Bible from Genesis to Revelations. Because we know that there will come a day when Earth will be no more, it is wiser to trust in the never-ending words of Christ than to put our trust in anything earthly. Because we know how the story ends, we should be wise to the heresy and blasphemy of false teachers and steer clear of them. Why? Because while the physical earth will disappear, our souls do not – they live for eternity — either in heaven with Christ or in hell.
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