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Bible Insights

For to Us a Child Is Born

Isaiah’s Prophecy

Isaiah 9:1–7

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given. (Isaiah 9:6)

This passage in Isaiah’s prophecy opens with the word nevertheless. To gain insight as to what this means we must consider the end of the prior chapter.

There Isaiah writes of the time when the people have turned their backs on God and are suffering the consequences of their actions. They see only distress, darkness, and gloom.

Nevertheless, there will come a future time when the gloom of those in distress will fade. The people, those walking in darkness, will see a great light. It’s the dawn of a new day (see John 1:4–5). In that time there will be joy and rejoicing. But why?

Because a child will be born, God’s Son sent to earth to save us. His name will be Jesus (Matthew 1:21 and Luke 1:31), and he’ll be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. What a profound list of names; what an impressive record of his attributes.

As Wonderful, Jesus will be admirable and elicit astonishment from all who see him.

As Counselor, Jesus will teach us. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John record his words, along with his actions for us to emulate. Though we think of the Holy Spirit as our Counselor, remember that the characteristics of one part of the Trinity apply to all.

As Mighty God, Jesus will show everyone his almighty power. He’ll heal people, raise the dead, and forgive sins.

As Everlasting Father, he lives eternally.

And as Prince of Peace, he will usher in a time of harmony.

Ruling on David’s throne, this child will grow up to carry the government on his shoulders. He’ll reign over his kingdom with justice and righteousness from that time forward and forevermore.

Imagine living under a political power that provides both a just and a right leadership, governing without fault or variation.

All this arrives through Jesus and begins when he comes to earth as a child to live among us.

Part of Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled with the Savior’s birth, with Jesus’s arrival establishing the framework for much of the remaining details of the prophet’s declaration. We eagerly await the complete fulfillment of it when we, as his church, marry the Lamb (Revelation 19:7).

And this all begins when Father God sends his one and only Son into our world to save us (John 3:16–17).

What kind of future do we have because of Jesus?

How can we best live our life now as we await our final destination with him?

Prayer: Jesus, may we live each day for you, mindful of who you are and what you did for us. Continue to teach us through the Holy Spirit and prepare us to live with you for eternity.

[Learn more about Isaiah in the devotional Bible study For Unto Us: 40 Prophetic Insights About Jesus, Justice, and Gentiles from the Prophet Isaiah.]

[This devotional is taken from the December 20 reading from The Advent of Jesus.]

Celebrate Christmas in a fresh way with The Advent of Jesus. It’s a forty-day devotional that prepares our hearts to celebrate the arrival of Jesus in an engaging read. Begin your Advent journey now and gain a greater sense of wonder for the season.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Eternal Kingdom Prophecy

Daniel Foretells the Future

Daniel 7:13–14

“His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:14)

The prophet Daniel lived some five centuries before Mary. You may know the story of Daniel in the lions’ den, where God protected him overnight after his detractors had him thrown into a den of hungry lions.

The next day, the unscathed Daniel is freed and the hungry lions feast on his enemies when they’re tossed in to take Daniel’s place.

But the book of Daniel has much more than the story of his escape from a den of ravenous lions.

The first six chapters share six stories, including the one about the lions.

The last six chapters include four future-focused prophecies that God reveals to him through visions. (The angel Gabriel, who visited Zechariah and Mary, shows up in Daniel’s second and third visions.)

We read the first of his four visions in Daniel 7. In this vision he sees four winds and four great beasts. The fourth beast has ten horns. An eleventh horn appears; it has eyes and a boastful mouth.

Then Daniel sees God (the Ancient of Days) sitting on his fiery throne with a river of fire flowing before him. Millions attend him and one hundred million stand in his presence. Court is in session and the books are opened.

This is all quite perplexing, but don’t stop reading. Next comes the important part, the one that anticipates Jesus.

Daniel witnesses one like a son of man, who arrives with heavenly clouds. The man approaches God and comes into his presence. He receives authority, glory, and sovereign power.

People from all nations and every language worship him. His dominion will last forever, continuing without end. His kingdom will stand strong eternally.

This dream perplexes Daniel, just as it does us. He seeks an interpretation and receives one that explains the four beasts and the ten horns.

When the person explaining the vision to Daniel gets to the last part, he simply says that this kingdom will last forever, and all rulers will worship and obey him (Daniel 7:27).

This final part of Daniel’s vision is what Gabriel alludes to when he comes to Mary and tells her about what Jesus will do (Luke 1:32–33).

Though the precise meaning of Daniel’s vision may not have been clear to him then, it is clear to Gabriel when he comes to tell Mary about Jesus.

If we follow Jesus as his disciple, we’re part of this everlasting kingdom that Daniel saw in his vision.

When we read things in the Bible that don’t make sense, do we seek someone (or the Holy Spirit) to explain it to us?

What is our response when we see Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in the New Testament?

Prayer: Lord God, speak to us and reveal your truth as we read the Bible. May your Word cause us to revere who you are, what you did, and your plan for us.

[This devotional is taken from the December 6 reading from The Advent of Jesus.]

Celebrate Christmas in a fresh way with The Advent of Jesus. It’s a forty-day devotional that prepares our hearts to celebrate the arrival of Jesus in an engaging read. Begin your Advent journey now and gain a greater sense of wonder for the season.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Malachi’s Prophecy

Prepare the Way, Part 1

Malachi 2:17–3:5

“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me.” (Malachi 3:1)

The opening of Mark’s gospel quotes two Old Testament prophecies about John the Baptist. The first is from Malachi, the final book in the Old Testament.

But Malachi isn’t speaking his own words. He quotes directly from God, the Lord Almighty. In this way, we hear our Lord’s own words through his prophet and servant Malachi.

God says he will one day send someone to go before him and prepare the way for him. The messenger, as we’ll later learn, is John the Baptist. He will go ahead of Jesus to make the way for him.

Now let’s pull back a bit and look at the prophet’s words in context. To do so we’ll need to start at Malachi 2:17 and read to Malachi 3:5.

Malachi writes that the people have wearied God with their words.

“How?” the people ask, not understanding their failings.

They do so by calling evil good (see Isaiah 5:20–21) and assuming God is pleased with them. They also question God’s apparent lack of justice.

In response to these people who weary God with their twisting of words and insulting accusations, he shares his solution. He’ll send a messenger tasked with preparing the way for me to come. And by me, he means Jesus.

After God’s messenger makes the way, then Jesus will suddenly appear. He’ll be the one they seek, the solution they desire.

“But who can endure his coming?” Malachi asks. “Who can stand before him?” These questions may seem like Jesus is someone we should fear. But we can also see this as a reason to revere God as the awesome Lord that he is.

In addition, Malachi writes that the message will purify them and refine them to make them—and us—right before God.

He’ll also speak out against sorcerers (false religions), adulterers (sexually immoral practices), and perjurers (liars). He will oppose those who cheat their workers, take advantage of widows and orphans, and prevent outsiders from receiving justice.

This is our Lord’s response to the naysayers who ask, “Where is God’s justice?”

Jesus will come to bring justice (see Luke 11:42 and Acts 17:31). Even more importantly, Jesus will provide a solution to make us right with Father God.

In what ways might we weary God with our words?

Do we care as much about justice as God does?

Most significantly, have we allowed Jesus to make us right with his Father?

Prayer: Jesus, may we have a heart aligned with yours for justice and then act to pursue it. May our actions to promote justice serve as both an act of worship and as a witness.

[This devotional is taken from the November 29 reading from The Advent of Jesus.]

Celebrate Christmas in a fresh way with The Advent of Jesus. It’s a forty-day devotional that prepares our hearts to celebrate the arrival of Jesus in an engaging read. Begin your Advent journey now and gain a greater sense of wonder for the season.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Visiting Churches

A Spirit-Led Service: Visiting Church #66, Part 2

Several months later we have a chance for a return visit to this same church. The opportunity to experience a normal service with their regular pastor should provide the chance to experience what we missed the first time. 

I hope to experience a spirit-led service.

Consider these seven discussion questions about Church 66.

1. The church moved since our first visit. An exterior sign guides us to the entrance, but that’s it. We walk down a long corridor and eventually find an open door.

How easy is it for people to find us?

2. We sing four songs, filling most of an hour. I try to worship God, but we don’t connect. I should have prayed with greater intention for this service.

Who’s to blame when we can’t connect with God?

3. As we sing, several people ease toward the pastor and surround him. They place their hands on him. Their lips move in quiet prayer.

Do we pray for our ministers before the service, during the service, or not at all?

4. The pastor begins with prophecies and prayers for healing as the Holy Spirit directs him.

Do we let God’s Spirit guide us to prophesy and pray for supernatural healing? If not, is he not speaking or are we not listening?

5. The pastor says to not preach against other religions, but to preach Jesus. Too many people fail to follow his advice, suggesting why so many view Christians negatively.

Do we rant about what we’re against or celebrate what we’re for?

6. When the minister shares a verse, I never see him glance at his notes. The text and reference gush forth as regular speech.

Do we know Scripture well enough to quote and cite it as normal dialogue?

7. The Holy Spirit powerfully directed our time together through both the teaching pastor and the worship leader. I’ve seen few church services this Spirit-led.

Does the Holy Spirit direct what we do when we gather with other believers?

[Read about Church 66, part 2 or start at the beginning of our journey.]

If you feel it’s time to move from the sidelines and get into the game, The More Than 52 Churches Workbook provides the plan to get you there.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Peter DeHaan News

New Book: A New Heaven and a New Earth

40 Practical Insights from John’s Book of Revelation

Gain insight into one of the most intriguing books of the Bible: Revelation

The end times. The second coming. When Jesus returns. No matter how you refer to the last book of the Bible, Revelation is an epic battle between good and evil. Through evocative imagery that sparks our imagination, the final book in the New Testament can both intrigue and confuse believers.

Stop spinning your wheels, trying to unlock the secret code of what might happen when, how, and where.

A New Heaven and a New Earth: 40 Practical Insights from John’s Book of Revelation

A New Heaven and a New Earth: 40 Practical Insights from John’s Book of Revelation will help you read Revelation and study it with the goal of applying it to your life today. Even if you’ve been in church your whole life, it will inspire you to hope in Christ’s return and the establishment of a new heaven and earth.

Through forty daily readings, you’ll discover how Revelation can best inform what we do, think, and believe today. A combination of Bible study teaching through a devotional style, you’ll discover practical and understandable insights you can apply to your life and spiritual journey right now.

In this Bible study devotional on Revelation, you’ll:

  • gain a fresh approach to the book of Revelation
  • explore how to apply it to your life in meaningful ways
  • gain a broader and more impactful view of John’s Revelation
  • hold on to hope that good will triumph over evil in the end
  • trust in a God who holds the past, present, and future in his hands

Join Peter DeHaan, a lifetime student of the Bible and founder of the A Bible a Day website, in this study on Revelation that will teach and encourage you. Through forty daily insights, you’ll gain practical application about the final book of the Bible and feel more confident in your understanding of this often-confusing book.

Through short readings, application questions, and additional biblical references, you’ll receive hope and assurance that God is in control over every future event. This book is ideal for individuals, small groups, and Bible studies.

If you’ve ever wondered how Revelation can apply to your life, then start with A New Heaven and a New Earth to discover what God’s final words can teach you.

Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Then They May Know That I Am the Lord

God Does What It Takes to Get People’s Attention

God speaks to the prophet Ezekiel and gives him a prophecy against Ammon, against Moab, against Philistia, and against Tyre. The prophecy against Tyre is the longest and most devastating, but all four carry the same rationale.

God will inflict them with punishment for their past mistakes. When his judgment comes, he says that then “they will know that I am the Lord.”

God is right to punish them. They have done what is wrong, with no regard to him or his people. But their sentence isn’t only punitive; it’s also to teach them a lesson—an-all important one.

He wants them to realize that he is Lord. When he says that he wants them to “know that I am the Lord,” we see embedded in this statement two names for God, one implied and the other direct.

We first see God as “I am” when he talks to Moses at the burning bush. When he asks the Almighty’s name, the response is “I am who I am.” (Exodus 3:13-14, NIV).

We later see “I am” again from Jesus when the armed mob comes to arrest him. He says, “I am he.” The people draw back and fall to the ground in reverent fear. Their reaction is because they recognize “I am” as the name of God. (John 18:4-8).

Not only does God want these nations to know him as “I am,” he also wants them to know him as Lord, that is, as the all-powerful, all-knowing, all present creator of the universe.

The I am appears to Moses in the Old Testament and later comes to earth as Jesus in the New Testament. The purpose of both encounters is so that we may believe him and know that he is Lord.

Do we follow Jesus as the I am and as our Lord?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Ezekiel 25-27 and today’s post is on Ezekiel 26:6.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

When God Calls Us to Act, We Better Act

May We Never Be Lax about Doing the Work of God

The book of Jeremiah contains prophecies about many of the countries that surround God’s people, many countries that tormented them in the past or are tormenting them during Jeremiah’s time. One of these countries is Moab.

Here’s the backstory.

Lot’s oldest daughter has a son. His name is Moab, and he becomes the father of the Moabites. Later it is the Moabites who hire Balaam to curse the people of Israel, but that backfires. Moab does this even though God told Moses to not harass or provoke the people of Moab.

Yet throughout the centuries the people of Moab repeatedly harassed the people of Israel. Along comes Jeremiah who prophesies against Moab. Everyone will come against Moab to destroy her.

Then in the middle of his prophecy, Jeremiah inserts a curious phrase, placing a curse on anyone who is lax in doing God’s work against Moab.

Don’t Be Lax in Doing God’s Work

Though this curse specifically relates to God’s goal of punishing Moab, I wonder if we can extrapolate a general principle for us today. Specifically, God is not pleased with us if we are lax about doing his work.

May we never displease God. May we never be lax about doing his work. Instead may we diligently do all he calls us to do. He can call us to action through Scripture, the written word of God. And he can call us to action through the Holy Spirit, the spoken word of God.

Though I don’t suspect God will call us to punish another nation, he does call us to promote the kingdom of God, in the spiritual sense. May we hear what he calls us to do, and may we follow through with all diligence.

May we never be lax in doing God’s work.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Jeremiah 46-48, and today’s post is on Jeremiah 48:10.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

When God Says Enough

Despite God’s Longstanding Patience Giving Us Time to Shape Up, Judgement Will Eventually Come

The book of Ezekiel is an interesting one, packed with evocative prophetic imagery that portrays God’s power, patience, and eventual judgement. As follows through much of the Old Testament the people disobey God.

He warns them to turn things around and is patient, hoping they will avoid the consequences of their wayward actions. He wishes for the best, and the people let him down.

But Ezekiel is confronted with a peculiar response to his messages of impending punishment. Like the boy who cried “wolf,” the people dismiss Ezekiel’s warnings (actually God’s warnings). They say, “Time passes on but these threats never happen.”

They stop taking Ezekiel (and God) seriously, which they never fully did to begin with. They feel quite justified in ignoring the word of God because they think there is no downside for disobedience.

There are Consequences

To this God says “enough.” He will withhold their punishment no longer and will fulfill all that he said. There will be no more delays.

I wonder how much we today are like these people of old, viewing God’s warnings as meaningless threats that will never happen.

Since our wrong behavior receives no immediate punishment, perhaps we’re not so bad after all. Maybe God doesn’t really mean it when he says our wrong actions are sin.

To this I hear God again saying “Enough.”

There are consequences for disobeying God, and I fear our time is up.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Ezekiel 9-12, and today’s post is on Ezekiel 12:21-28.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

An Astounding Turnaround for Egypt

Isaiah’s Shocking Prophecies about the Nation of Egypt

Isaiah often mentions the nation of Egypt in his prophecies. Egypt appears in the book of Isaiah forty-three times. Many, but not all, of these mentions relate to judgment and punishment.

In a surprising passage, Isaiah looks forward to the day when Egypt will openly and intentionally embrace God as their Lord.

In the time between Isaiah’s prophecy and now, I’m not aware of this spiritual turnaround having happened. And it certainly isn’t the situation today. We’re still waiting for this prophecy’s fulfillment.

That means we anticipate a future time when Egypt will turn to God and fear him as their true Lord.

Looking forward, Isaiah sees this coming age when the people of Egypt will erect an altar to God in the heart of their country. In addition, they will place a monument honoring him on their border.

This will serve as a witness to all regarding the Lord Almighty. Egypt will pursue a state-sanctioned embrace of biblical God.

Also, they will worship God with sacrifices, grain offerings, and vows. And they won’t make their promises in haste. Rather, they’ll honor the pledges they make to the Lord God.

How Will This Come to Be?

Isaiah says that Egypt will face a time of oppression. They will call out to God for help. He will send them a savior, a defender, a rescuer.

Though this opposition could come from a foreign power, it could also come from above. Isaiah says that God will strike the Egyptians with the plague.

Remember, he did this before to get their attention. He sent them ten plagues of increasing severity so that Egypt would give God’s enslaved people their freedom. (Read about Moses and Egypt’s plagues in Exodus 6–12.)

In the future, God will send one more plague, which will hit Egypt hard. But then he will hear their pleas for help, respond to their agony, and heal them from their affliction. He will save them, defend them, and rescue them.

In this way, he will reveal himself to them. And they will accept him as their Lord.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Isaiah 18-20 and today’s post is on Isaiah 19:19.]

Read more about the book of Isaiah in For Unto Us: 40 Prophetic Insights About Jesus, Justice, and Gentiles from the Prophet Isaiah available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Micah Speaks Truth, but the People Won’t Listen

Stop It Micah!

The prophet Micah gives some strong words from God to his chosen people. Although Micah’s proclamation—his prophecy—should convict them, instead they take offense.

At one point the people even tell him to stop talking—they say, “Stop it Micah”—as if his silence would keep God’s plans from happening.

Micah’s sarcastic retort is that if a prophet proclaimed plenty of wine and beer for everyone, the people would flock to him. Apparently, rather than face the truth, the people prefer to anesthetize themselves from it.

We aren’t much different today. We flock to pastors who give us feel-good messages that overflow with positive platitudes and memorable sound bites. However, when a pastor must deliver a God-honoring message that criticizes us or convicts our conscience, we often turn on our teacher.

We may attack the messenger, attempt to remove them, or run off to sit under the teaching of someone who will make us feel good about ourselves.

Our reaction is to respond as consumers, leaving the teacher of an unpalatable message and seeking someone who will tell us what we want to hear.

That’s approaching faith with a consumerism mindset: looking for what is pleasant and nice—even if it’s wrong. It happened to Micah and it’s still happening today.

Telling the people what they want to hear—as opposed to the truth—is making a false prophecy. Regarding these false prophets, Micah further notes that when the prophets are fed, they pronounce that peace will occur, but if they don’t say what the people want, the people turn against them.

How much does money affect what our ministers today say or don’t say?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Micah 1-4, and today’s post is on Micah 2:6.]

Learn more about all twelve of the Bible’s Minor Prophets in Peter’s book, Return to Me: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope from the Minor Prophets

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.