Thursday, December 31, 2015

DBRP_001 GEN.1-2, JOB.1, MRK.1a

Congratulations on starting TODAY on a life-transforming journey! The Digging Deeper Daily plan will help you be successful in your commitment to read the whole Bible in a year. The unique order of the readings— together with the brief devotional notes, will help see the various threads that unify the message of the Old and the New Testaments. I hope these notes will help you remember what you have read the day before, and hint at the deep and incredibly rich treasures in God’s Word. But the most satisfying treasures that you find this year will be the ones you dig to discover for yourself! Check out the ‘Shovels’ page of for tools to help you go deeper in your study.

Introducing GENESIS:

The first five books of the Bible are the Jewish Torah, and the Bible refers to them collectively as ‘the Law’. Many other books in the Bible attribute the authorship of these five books to Moses. Genesis is the foundational book of the whole Bible. When we were in our first Bible translation project among the Orya in Papua, Indonesia, I witnessed how getting a little detail of the foundation wrong (such as, how the first sin happened) can wreck the whole building that is being constructed. This book of Genesis tells us what God wants us to know about the beginning of our world, the beginning of sin, mankind’s rebellion against God, and who God and Satan are.

Introducing JOB:

Job is probably the oldest book of the Bible, so it makes good sense to start our daily poetry readings here. Job probably lived sometime around the time of the patriarch Abraham. Amazingly for such an early book, we find established religious practices and beliefs, excellent poetry, well-developed mythology, and very sophisticated philosophy. One would expect an early book to end with a neat answer that sums up the author’s opinion. Or one would expect an early author to create a debate where the hero is totally right and the other speakers are clearly wrong. Instead, all the human speakers in the book of Job mix truth and error. And it is a mark of inspiration that Job leaves us still searching for some answers.


Translation notes:

1 This is the Good News about [Christ Jesus//Jesus Christ], the Son of God.

The order in Greek here is ‘Jesus Christ’, and sometimes the Greek puts the order the other way around. I will consistently read ‘Christ Jesus’. Here is the reason I do this: Although it has become natural for us to say ‘Jesus Christ’, it is actually against English grammar. ‘Christ’ is a title. And in English, titles (such as president, doctor, or ambassador) always come first. The reason why I point this out is this: I have found people who think that ‘Christ’ is Jesus’ last name. The title ‘Christ’ (from Greek) means exactly the same thing as Messiah (from Hebrew). Both mean ‘anointed one’.

You will notice that I read many Bible names in a strange way. I read them with a more phonetic pronunciation— which in fact, is more like how the Indonesian language and many others read them. This allows me to be more consistent in my pronunciation, and it also happens to be more like the Hebrew and Greek pronunciations. English pronunciations for some names is quite far from the source language pronunciations. An example from today is the name Isaiah, which I pronounce as ‘Yesayah’.

6 John wore clothes made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and his food [included//was] locusts and wild honey.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015DBRP_365 Mal4 Is66 Rev22

As I finish this podcast, I am really thankful for this year-long experience. If you are one of the faithful ones who have listened through a year’s worth of daily podcasts, I want to congratulate you. Way to go! I sincerely hope these podcasts have been a blessing for you— as they have been for me. I hope that nothing that I have said has caused you to stumble or decreased your desire to study God’s Word. I started this project in the hope that my four (soon to be five) grandchildren would— in some future year, listen to this series of recordings. If you are Luke Fields, Laura Fields, Ava Baughn, Joel Baughn, and one as yet unnamed Baughn, know that Grampa loves you and that I desired to share spiritual treasures with you. I am proud of you and wish that we could have shared these readings in person. And to ALL of you in the family of Christ Jesus our Savior, I send warm greetings and love. May the Lord bless you as you continue your journey with Him!

 As people like Simeon and Anna waited for the Messiah to come, I am sure that they were thinking of verses like the one in Malachi 3:

1 “Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

We turn for the second time to Isaiah 66. Isaiah ends with blessings and promises  that foreshadow Revelation, such as these:

12This is what the LORD says:
“I will give Jerusalem a river of peace and prosperity.
22“As surely as my new heavens and earth will remain,
so will you always be my people,
with a name that will never disappear,”
says the LORD.
The wealth of the nations will flow to her.

In stark contrast to the promises and blessings, Isaiah also ends with vivid warnings against judgments and punishments that are like those in Revelation:

24And as they go out, they will see
the dead bodies of those who have rebelled against me.
For the worms that devour them will never die,
and the fire that burns them will never go out.
All who pass by
will view them with utter horror.”

Jesus himself repeatedly quoted that verse about the worms and the unquenchable fire. (Mark 9)

We turn to Revelation 22, the last chapter in the Bible. In chapter 21 we heard the invitation to receive free life-giving water for anyone who is thirsty, and that invitation is repeated in today’s chapter. The culmination of everything promised and the healing of everything sick and broken occur here— from the Garden of Eden and the start of sin, the tower of Babel, and all the rest. God says, “Look, I am making all things new.” There is again symbolism in every aspect of the New Jerusalem— including even the shape of a huge cube. As noted above at the end of Isaiah, in stark contrast to the eternal blessings for God’s people are the vivid ending warnings of eternal judgment in the last two chapters of Revelation.

In Rev. 22:8-9, most translations make it sound that John made the same mistake twice—, bowing down again to the angel that was showing everything to him, as he did in chapter 19. But the Greek in those verse in chapter 22 can be understood to be retelling that event that happened in chapter 19, and I think that makes better sense. That’s how I will read it today. The probable reason that John included the story  twice was to emphasize that angels should not be worshipped. It is likely that he repeated the story in order  to combat a heresy that was current during his time and even can be seen in some forms to the present day.


1b  On each side of the river grew [the/a] tree of life,
8b  And when I heard and saw them[— as I said before], I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me.
16b  I am both the [founding] source of David


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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015DBRP_364 Mal3 Is66 Rev21


We turn to Malachi 3. In chapters 1-2 yesterday, we heard how skeptical and sassy the Israelites had become. This came out in the way Malachi has the people of Israel talk back to God. The first is like this:

2“I have always loved you,” says the LORD.
But you retort, “Really? How have you loved us?”

Topics for such exchanges included offering sacrifices that show appropriate honor to God, breaking covenants of marriage through divorce, and not honoring God as the God of justice. Two more sassy exchanges happen in today’s reading.

We turn for the first time to Isaiah 66. I highlight verse 17 from chapter 65, as it foreshadows what we will read in Revelation today and tomorrow:

17“Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth,
and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.

And I believe that these moving verses from that same chapter portray the torment of the lake of fire:

13Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
“My servants will eat,
but you will starve.
My servants will drink,
but you will be thirsty.
My servants will rejoice,
but you will be sad and ashamed.
14My servants will sing for joy,
but you will cry in sorrow and despair.

We turn to Revelation 21. In chapter 20, we read about the millenium or the thousand year reign of Christ, the defeat and imprisonment of Satan, his brief release following the 1,000 years, and his eventual eternal judgment in the lake of fire. Death and the Grave were also abolished in the lake of fire.


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Monday, December 28, 2015

2015DBRP_363 Mal1-2 Is65 Rev20

We heard a very difficult conclusion to Zechariah yesterday. Chapter 14 started out with horrendous news for Jerusalem. But the Lord himself steps in:

3 Then the LORD will go out to fight against those nations, as he has fought in times past. 4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. And the Mount of Olives will split apart, making a wide valley running from east to west. … 5 … Then the LORD my God will come, and all his holy ones with him.

We will see the following from Zech 14 very soon in Revelation:

… Then the LORD my God will come, and all his holy ones with him.

6 On that day the sources of light will no longer shine, 7 yet there will be continuous day! Only the LORD knows how this could happen. There will be no normal day and night, for at evening time it will still be light.

8 On that day life-giving waters will flow out from Jerusalem, half toward the Dead Sea and half toward the Mediterranean, flowing continuously in both summer and winter.

We turn now to the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi. The name means, “my messenger.” There is some debate as to whether this is a name or a title. There is also debate as to the date of the writing of this post exilic prophet, but it is generally said that there is a 400 year gap between this last Old Testament prophet and New Testament. Constable states:

Since Malachi addressed many of the same matters that Nehemiah tried to reform, it is tempting to date Malachi during Nehemiah’s governorship. Both Malachi and Nehemiah dealt with priestly laxity (Mal. 1:6; Neh. 13:4-9), neglect of tithes (Mal. 3:7-12; Neh. 13:10-13), and intermarriage between Israelites and foreigners (Mal. 2:10-16; Neh. 13:23-28).

The book of Malachi helped prepare the people of Israel for the coming of the Messiah.  This verse from chapter 3 was especially significant:

1 “Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

We turn the second time to Isaiah 65. Note that the chapter starts with a verse that Paul quotes in Romans 10.

We turn to Revelation 20. After the judgment on the city code-named Babylon, in chapter 19 we heard songs of praise from heaven. Then we saw the appearing of Christ riding on a white horse. Typical of John’s reticence to name deity, Christ is not named, but is beautifully described. Note that even Jesus has a name written on his person which only He understands. And like in John 1:1, Christ’s title is the ‘Word of God’. Note also that this account of His appearing may not be in chronological order in its position following the destruction of Babylon. Although Christ’s army is mentioned, note how the victory is won by Christ alone.


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Sunday, December 27, 2015

2015DBRP_362 Zech14 Is65a Rev19

Unfortunately, we have not yet seen the fulfillment of this prophecy from the end of Zechariah 12:

10“Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on the people of Jerusalem. They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died.

This part has been fulfilled from the beginning of chapter 13:

“On that day a fountain will be opened for the dynasty of David and for the people of Jerusalem, a fountain to cleanse them from all their sins and impurity.

This from Zechariah 13 was referred to by the Lord Jesus in Mark 14:27 in or on the way to the garden of Gethsemane:

7“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd,
the man who is my partner,”
says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
“Strike down the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered,
and I will turn against the lambs.

We turn for the first time to Isaiah 65. In chapter 64, there is a mixture of hope, regretful repentance, and supplication— including these verses:

4For since the world began,
no ear has heard
and no eye has seen a God like you,
who works for those who wait for him!
5You welcome those who gladly do good,
who follow godly ways.
But you have been very angry with us,
for we are not godly.
We are constant sinners;
how can people like us be saved?
6We are all infected and impure with sin.
When we display our righteous deeds,
they are nothing but filthy rags.

We turn now to Rev. 19. In Revelation 18 we heard the chapter of doom against the city of Babylon (or Rome, or this world’s evil system). If this sounded familiar, it is because you were remembering Ezek 27.

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

2015DBRP_361 Zech12-13 Is64 Rev18

Several times I have noted Zechariah and other prophets who use the figure of shepherding a flock— picturing God’s people. In chapter 11, there were puzzling verses where Zechariah evidently performed an outward demonstration involving two staffs. Other prophets did such demonstrations. In this one, evidently Zechariah stood in for the Messiah. The two staffs were named Favor and Union. Our Messiah, Jesus, came to restore us to God’s favor and give us unity as God’s people— no matter from what race. The 30 pieces of silver is spoken of with irony: “this magnificent sum at which they valued me.” Remember this shepherd picture!

We turn to Isaiah 64. Yesterday in chapter 63, we heard the people of Israel ask a whole series of questions about the Lord, like:

“Where is the one who brought Israel through the sea, with Moses as their shepherd?

And here is another verse:

15 LORD, look down from heaven;
look from your holy, glorious home, and see us.
Where is the passion and the might
you used to show on our behalf?
Where are your mercy and compassion now?

The chapter ended with deep pathos:
18 How briefly your holy people possessed your holy place,
and now our enemies have destroyed it.
19 Sometimes it seems as though we never belonged to you,
as though we had never been known as your people.

However, don’t forget how the chapter started, with the Lord wearing blood-stained robes from trampling out the grapes (yes, ‘grapes of wrath’)— the nations who oppressed his people. This is a picture of the grape harvest that we saw so recently in Revelation 14. Note that in Isaiah the Lord does the trampling alone. And so we see also in Revelation, the final battle is won by the Lord acting alone.

We turn to Rev 18. The part that puzzles me most in chapter 17 is this:

8The beast you saw was once alive but isn’t now. And yet he will soon come up out of the bottomless pitb and go to eternal destruction. And the people who belong to this world, whose names were not written in the Book of Life before the world was made, will be amazed at the reappearance of this beast who had died.

Satan’s sponsorship of the beast is clear. But how will this ‘eighth king’ reveal himself as someone who previously died so that people actually believe it and are amazed?

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Friday, December 25, 2015

2015DBRP_360 Zech10-11 Is63 Rev17

As we have seen before, the Lord loves names and delights to give new names. In Zec. 8 He said,

Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City; the mountain of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will be called the Holy Mountain.

In Zec. 9 we read the verse Matthew quotes in chapter 21 about Jesus coming riding on the foal of a donkey. The verse is also alluded to in John 12:15. And we heard this verse about the New Jerusalem:

16 On that day the LORD their God will rescue his people,
just as a shepherd rescues his sheep.
They will sparkle in his land
like jewels in a crown.

We turn to Is. 63. In chapter 62 we heard like what I shared above about the Lord and giving names:

4 Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City”
or “The Desolate Land.”
Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight”
and “The Bride of God,”
for the LORD delights in you
and will claim you as his bride.

And at the end of that chapter:
‘Look, your Savior is coming.
See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.’”
12 They will be called “The Holy People”
and “The People Redeemed by the LORD.”
And Jerusalem will be known as “The Desirable Place”
and “The City No Longer Forsaken.”

Note how we will soon see the fulfillment of all this in the last chapters of Revelation.

We turn to Rev. 17. In chapter 16 we heard all 7 of the Bowl Judgments. At the time this judgment happens and the bowls are poured out on the earth, it seems that 100% of the people are opposed to God. No one repents when the judgments happen, but instead curse God. And there are preparations for a final battle of Armageddon with God. However God’s voice from the throne says that “It is finished.” This seems to refer to the punishment against Babylon. In John’s day, Babylon was a code word among Christians for the city of Rome— the capital city of the empire which was built on 7 hills. But in our day Babylon pictures the prevailing evil unified world system of commerce.


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Thursday, December 24, 2015

2015DBRP_359 Zech8-9 Is62 Rev16

I hope that you have noticed Jeshua the high priest. He was the one that Satan was not allowed to accuse. He was given clean clothes. He is a priest and was given a clean priestly turban. And the gem with seven facets (literally, seven eyes) was set before him. He is a picture of the Messiah, who is called the Lord’s righteous Branch. Then in chapter 6 yesterday we heard that he was given a crown, and told:

he will build the Temple of the LORD. Then he will receive royal honor and will rule as king from his throne. He will also serve as priest from his throne, and there will be perfect harmony between his two roles.’

As far as a normal man can do so, he is a picture of Jesus. And Jeshua is a variant of Joshua— which is the same name the Greeks pronounce ‘Yesu’, which is where we get our pronunciation of Jesus. From our place in history, how easy it is to see what God was picturing.

We turn now to Is. 62. Yesterday we heard another Messianic section of Isaiah, the part that Jesus spoke in his hometown synagogue in Luke 4. And he alluded to the same passage when he sent John the Baptist’s disciples back to him in Luke 7:

Luke 7:22 “Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. 23 And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.’”

Let us not turn away from Him!

We turn now to Rev.16. Note that we saw another view of the crystal sea in chapter 15, but in that view it was mixed with fire. My theory is that the glassy sea is the same, but it changes in appearance based on God’s prevailing mood. Note that the 144,000 (or all the people victorious over the beast) sang the song of Moses. Note that with just that little hint, the victory over the forces of Satan is pictured as victory over the army of Egypt and release from bondage. The angels are dressed like Jesus in chapter 1. The plagues come from the interiour of the heavenly sanctuary.

We turn from the interlude between the trumpets and the bowls. There is a difference here: You will see that before the plagues struck just a third of whatever object. Now they strike 100%. This is the end.


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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

2015DBRP_358 Zech6-7 Is61 Rev15

There were so many correspondences to Revelation in the three chapters we read yesterday in Zechariah that I cannot even take time to list them. I single out this one from chapter 3 as especially interesting in the light of Isaiah and Revelation. And the terms, "Branch," or "Rod," or "Shoot," referring to Messiah, are found in Jeremiah and Isaiah.

8 “Listen to me, O Jeshua the high priest, and all you other priests. You are symbols of things to come. Soon I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. 9 Now look at the jewel I have set before Jeshua, a single stone with seven facets. I will engrave an inscription on it, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, and I will remove the sins of this land in a single day.

This insight given to Zerubbabel in chapter 4 is a principle for all of us to lay hold of:

It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
This is one of Gale’s favorite verses. We have claimed this repeatedly in our lives:
10 Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin…”

We turn to Isaiah 61. Once again I sound like a broken record. Isaiah 60 contains these verses which are echoed in Revelation:

1 “Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see.
For the glory of the LORD rises to shine on you.
2 Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth,
but the glory of the LORD rises and appears over you.
3 All nations will come to your light;
mighty kings will come to see your radiance. …
19 “No longer will you need the sun to shine by day,
nor the moon to give its light by night,
for the LORD your God will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
20 Your sun will never set;
your moon will not go down.
For the LORD will be your everlasting light.
Your days of mourning will come to an end.
21 All your people will be righteous.
They will possess their land forever,

We turn to Rev 15. Note that in chapter 14 the victory over Babylon is proclaimed as already won. But God’s holy people are still warned against receiving the mark of the beast. At the end of the chapter are the two harvests, the wheat harvest of the righteous, and the grape harvest of those who will enter into eternal punishment. These are visions that give an overview, in a similar vein as the vision in chapter 12.


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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2015DBRP_357 Zech3,4,5 Is60 Rev14

In Zechariah 1-2 we heard how Zechariah’s dreams often included angels talking with him. There were horses and riders, horns and blacksmiths, and the measuring Jerusalem. Jerusalem will not be nearly big enough. God’s people will come out of captivity in Babylon. Note that by Zechariah’s time, this was already happening, and what is said there probably looks forward to the Babylon in Revelation and the new Jerusalem. The chapter ends like this:

10The LORD says, “Shout and rejoice, O beautiful Jerusalem,d for I am coming to live among you. 11Many nations will join themselves to the LORD on that day, and they, too, will be my people. I will live among you, and you will know that the LORD of Heaven’s Armies sent me to you. 12The land of Judah will be the LORD’s special possession in the holy land, and he will once again choose Jerusalem to be his own city. 13Be silent before the LORD, all humanity, for he is springing into action from his holy dwelling.”

We turn to Isaiah 60. In Isaiah 59 we again heard beautiful messages that harmonize with what we are reading in Revelation. The beginning verses contain foundational truths:

1Listen! The LORD’s arm is not too weak to save you,
nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call.
2It’s your sins that have cut you off from God.
Because of your sins, he has turned away
and will not listen anymore.

Ephesians 6 is not the only place we hear of spiritual armor, but this time it is the Lord who wears it.

Is. 59:17 17He put on righteousness as his body armor
and placed the helmet of salvation on his head.

The last verse of the chapter says, “My spirit will not leave them” (those who are God’s redeemed people and enjoy a covenant with Him). And the verse that before prophecies again of Christ:

20“The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem
to buy back those in Israel
who have turned from their sins,”
says the LORD.

We turn to Rev 14. Note that the beast that comes up from the sea— which we heard about in chapter 13, is under the ancient dragon of chapter 12. It says this about the beast:

7And the beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation. 8And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast. They are the ones whose names were not written in the Book of Life before the world was made—the Book that belongs to the Lamb who was slaughtered.

Note that the Book of Life belongs to the Lamb, and note when the names were written in it. This should encourage us who are on the path of Life! God knew you from before the world was made!

Back in chapter 12 we heard how long all this would last: a time, times, and half a time = 3 ½ years, 42 months, or 1260 days. We heard those times in Daniel. But remember these are symbolic numbers, and God alone knows how to calculate them.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

2015DBRP_356 Zech1-2 Is59 Rev13

We read both chapters of the little book of Haggai yesterday, and heard how Haggai motivated his discouraged audience to return to the task of rebuilding the temple. Haggai certainly must have known and worked with our next author.

We turn now to Zechariah 1. There are between 27-30 men named Zechariah in the Old Testament, and the name means ‘Yahweh remembers’. The HCSB Study Bible gives a good overview of Zechariah:

[Zechariah] sought to inspire those who had returned from captivity to rebuild the temple and rededicate their lives to the Lord. The message of encouragement involved surrealistic visions and vivid poetic images, focused on a reversal of God's judgment, and called for a reversal of the people's behavior.

That comment is right about the surreal visions! This book is called the ‘Apocalypse of the Old Testament’. (The Apocalypse is another name for the book of Revelation.) Since we are also reading Revelation, you will get a double dose of this genre and prepare to see interesting correspondences.

Mears gives this interesting comment, and this is something I want to watch for as we go through this book:

Someone has said that to correctly read the visions of this book, you must shine two lights on them— the light of the cross and the light of the crown. Otherwise, you will find that you don’t have the proper perspective or background to understand Zechariah’s visions. The prophet, looking far into the future, saw two aspects of the future Messiah— one Person, but two appearances. First, he saw Him in humiliation and suffering; then he saw Him in majesty and great glory. Jewish people who do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah ignore the Christ of the cross. Christians too often ignore the Christ of the crown. Both are wrong.


[The messiah speaks:] 8After a period of glory, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies sent meb against the nations who plundered you. For he said, “Anyone who harms you harms my most precious possession.c 9I will raise my fist to crush them, and their own slaves will plunder them.” Then you will know that the LORD of Heaven’s Armies has sent me.

We turn to Isaiah 59. Although chapter 58 didn’t use the word ‘hypocrisy’, that is what God was preaching against. After telling us the kind of fasting that God desires most, God gave beautiful promises to those who live as He teaches.

Translation Note:

15b The LORD looked and was displeased
[when he saw that//to find] there was no justice.

We turn to Revelation 13. Following the 7th trumpet blast in chapter 11, the vision in chapter 12 is an overview. The woman who gives birth to ‘he who will rule the nations with a rod of iron’ is not just Mary. This is an overview. I encourage you to dig deeper to find out more about the picture of the glorious woman. I will give you my take about the dragon’s seven heads and seven crowns. The dragon, as we will see will do his best to masquerade as God. He is doing that still today. Look out, and don’t be fooled! An important teaching in that chapter is to explain about the source of the spiritual battle we now see being played out in the world.

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

2015DBRP_355 Hag1-2 Is58 Rev12

I hope you saw correlations to Revelation in the 3rd chapter of Zephaniah yesterday— in what God plans for the nations and for those who come to the new Jerusalem. And these verses from that 3rd chapter are interesting because of correlations all over Scripture:

I will remove all proud and arrogant people from among you. 
There will be no more haughtiness on my holy mountain.
12Those who are left will be the lowly and humble,
for it is they who trust in the name of the LORD.

Mears gives a helpful summary about the prophets: Of the 16 prophets, most of them— 11, prophesied before the exile, just 2 prophesied during the exile (Ezekiel and Daniel), while 3 prophesied after the exile. We turn to the first of these now— Haggai.

This book consists of four prophecies in four months— each dated and all in the second year of King Darius’ reign. (In the modern calendar these dates would have been between August 29 and December 18, 520 B.C.) This places Haggai’s messages two months before Zechariah started to prophesy. Haggai’s purpose was to move a discouraged nation to rise up and build the temple. Remember that opposition to the rebuilding of the temple caused a postponement of the work, which caused the discouragement.

We turn to Isaiah 58. In Isaiah 57, we saw again that God considers idolatry to be a sin against him that is just like a wife being unfaithful to her husband. In such a context of explicit and harsh condemnation, these words stand out:

18I have seen what they do,
but I will heal them anyway!
I will lead them.
I will comfort those who mourn,
19bringing words of praise to their lips.
Then God says,
20“But those who still reject me are like the restless sea,
which is never still
but continually churns up mud and dirt.
And finally for the second time in Isaiah God says,
21There is no peace for the wicked,”
says my God.

We turn now to Revelation 12. In Revelation 11, John again took an active part in the vision he was seeing. He was given a rod and told to measure the temple, the altar, and count the worshippers. What other prophet participated in measuring a temple in a vision? John was told not to measure the court of the Gentiles. I encourage you to dig for gold there. Check out some on-line study Bibles on this. And while you are at it, find out what ideas people have about the two witnesses. John is not the first prophet that saw olive trees on both sides of a lamp and lamp stand. Who was the prophet? And how is John’s vision different than the other prophet’s vision?

At the end of the chapter, we heard ‘the last trumpet’. Say, is the last trumpet that Paul mentions?! The words of praise by the 24 elders and the last verse in the chapter give a big clue as to what the seventh trumpet brings. What happens in the next 2-3 chapters is not the direct result of that trumpet blast.

Translation note:
11And they[— our brothers and sisters,] have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

2015DBRP_354 Zeph3 Is57 Rev11

Today we read the last chapter of Zephaniah— chapter 3. In chapter 2 yesterday, we heard words that were much like what we heard recently in Isaiah 49 and 55:

2Gather [together] before judgment begins,
before your time to repent is blown away like chaff.
Act now, before the fierce fury of the LORD falls
and the terrible day of the LORD’s anger begins.
3Seek the LORD, all who are humble,
and follow his commands.
Seek to do what is right
and to live humbly.
Perhaps even yet the LORD will protect you—
protect you from his anger on that day of destruction.

Note that God repeatedly says, “What you need to do to get right with me, do it NOW. Don’t put it off.”

We turn now to Isaiah 57. Yesterday in chapter 56, we heard how God’s plan includes even eunuchs and foreigners— which includes us. The chapter ended with a condemnation of Israel’s leaders which was filled with irony. Also note the relationship to what Jesus said about his being the Good Shepherd:

They are ignorant shepherds,
all following their own path
and intent on personal gain.
12“Come,” they say, “let’s get some wine and have a party.
Let’s all get drunk.
Then tomorrow we’ll do it again
and have an even bigger party!”

We turn to Rev. 11. We are still in the interlude before the 7th trumpet. In chapter 10 John saw a mighty angel come to earth holding a little and open scroll, the 7 thunders spoke. That— in prophetic language, indicates God’s voice, and John takes the scroll and as commanded eats it. This is not the first time a prophet has been told to eat a scroll. Do you remember the name of the other prophet? The mighty angel stood on the land and the sea. The sea symbolizes the kingdom of darkness, so his standing on land and sea indicates that the message the angel brings will impact the whole world even including Satan’s kingdom.

Check out this episode!

Friday, December 18, 2015

2015DBRP_353 Zeph1-2 Is56 Rev10

The concluding words of Habakkuk are the most often quoted and memorized. I cannot help but underline them for you by reading them again:

17Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
18yet I will rejoice in the LORD!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
19The Sovereign LORD is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
able to tread upon the heights.

Now we turn to the book of Zephaniah. Constable tells us:

“Zephaniah” means “Yahweh hides [or has hidden],” “Yahweh’s watchman,” or “Yahweh treasured.” The uncertainty arises over the etymology of the prophet’s name, which scholars dispute. I prefer “Yahweh hides.”

Zephaniah was very likely the descendent of king Hezekiah, and he lived in the time of the reign of King Josiah. It seems likely that he preached to the upper echelons of society and it is probable that he helped inspire Josiah in his reforms. And since, like Nahum some years earlier, Zephaniah prophesied against Nineveh, he was probably writing between 635 and 625 BC. Like other prophets, he preached vehemently against idols. He also prophesied these important things:

*A faithful remnant will be delivered from captivity.
*The Gentile nations will be converted.
*One day people everywhere, not only in Jerusalem, will worship God (2:11; Jhn. 4:21).

We turn to Isaiah 56. Rather than commenting on verse Is. 55:11, as I bet some of you thought I would, I’m picking this section to remind you of instead:

8“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
9For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

I was struck recently how true it is that God’s thoughts are always counter-intuitive for humans. Take for instance what God says in this chapter: “Come to me. Seek me while I may be found. Come, I am offering eternal food and water for free. You don’t have to earn it.” It takes someone like Paul to tell us why God would do this. (If we earn it, we tend to pat ourselves on the back. And God wants all the glory to go to his Son.) But even with explanations in God’s Word, you can go to a huge number of churches who vastly misunderstand how God wants us to fully believe in Him for our salvation, and not in our own merit. Another way we misunderstand is by saying that ‘free food and water’ mean that people don’t need to repent. But in this chapter God says,

6Seek the LORD while you can find him.
Call on him now while he is near.
7Let the wicked change their ways
and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them.
Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.

We turn now to Rev. 10. Note that after some huge judgments in Revelation— such as at the end of chapter 6, the people on earth recognize God’s hand and react to the Almighty in some way, such as trying to hide from God. But in others they close their eyes to him— such as in chapter 9:

20But the people who did not die in these plagues still refused to repent of their evil deeds and turn to God. They continued to worship demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood—idols that can neither see nor hear nor walk! 21And they did not repent of their murders or their witchcraft or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

Check out this episode!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

2015DBRP_352 Hab3 Is55b Rev9

We heard Habakkuk bring his complaints to God about his justice yesterday, and God answered, in effect, that after he uses the Babylonians, their time of judgment will come. In chapter 2 verse 3, God gives this assurance:

If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

Then the next verse ends with a famous promise:

4 “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.

(The verse as it is often quoted in the NT is a little different since it was quoted from the Septuagint.

Two more powerful and often quoted verses bear repeating:

20 But the Lord is in his holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.”

14 For as the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the Lord.

We turn again to Isaiah 55. Note that in Revelation we have already heard and will hear again words like the beginning of Isaiah 55, which start like this:

1“Is anyone thirsty?
Come and drink—
even if you have no money!

Remember also that Jesus in John chapters 4 and 7 offered living water and streams of water that would bubble from within.

This chapter 55 is so rich! But we don’t have time for me to comment verse by verse. As a Bible translator, the promise we base our very lives upon is found in verse 11.

We turn to Revelation 9. In Rev. 8, we saw the results of the first four trumpet blasts. This, like the seals, is another vision of God’s justice finally being expressed in judgment. Note that the enactment of this punishment was preceded by the prayers of God’s holy people. (That’s is how NLT translates ‘saints’. And that word means us, we have been purified by Christ!) At last, the answers to prayers for God’s justice like heard from the martyrs in Rev. 6 and like in Habakkuk’s prayer will start to be answered.

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

2015DBRP_351 Hab1-2 Is55a Rev8

The book of Nahum ended with these words about Nineveh:

19There is no healing for your wound;
your injury is fatal.
All who hear of your destruction
will clap their hands for joy.
Where can anyone be found
who has not suffered from your continual cruelty?

And now we turn to the book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk preached at the time when it was clear (through prophecy and conquest taking place) that Babylon would defeat Judah. This was between 627 and 605 BC, which would have been at the same time as Jeremiah, Nahum, Zephaniah were living, and Daniel may have been a young boy.

We often hear people questioning how God could be good and loving and allow various disasters or evil things to happen. And Habakkuk asks that question, and another: “Why do You, God, use a nation that is more sinful than we are to punish us?”

Mears gives this neat outline of the three chapters of Habakkuk:

  1. Watch and see
  2. Stand and see
  3. Kneel and see

At the beginning of Isaiah 54, we heard words quoted by Paul in Gal. 4:27:

1“Sing, O childless woman,
you who have never given birth!
Break into loud and joyful song, O Jerusalem,
you who have never been in labor.

At that point Paul was quoting this, he was using Sarah as a metaphor for the New Jerusalem, which, he says, is our ‘mother’.

Also perhaps you noticed another interesting thing in Isaiah 54: In just a few days in our reading of Revelation we will hear about precious gems used in building the New Jerusalem.

11“O storm-battered city,
troubled and desolate!
I will rebuild you with precious jewels
and make your foundations from lapis lazuli.
12I will make your towers of sparkling rubies,
your gates of shining gems,
and your walls of precious stones.

We turn now to Revelation 8. Remember that in Rev. 7 we saw first the 144,000 from the tribes of Israel. 144,000 = 12 x 12,000. Remember, numbers in Revelation have symbolic meanings! Now the question is whether the next group that John sees is the same group or a different one. He says that they were “a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language.”

Look closer at God’s Word and you will always see that it is very deep. Look closely at the names of the 12 tribes! Notice that the list has been altered from the normal list repeated in the Old Testament. Which tribes are missing? Which tribe is doubled up? Note that the answers to this may hold a clue as to whether the 144,000 is made up only of ethnic Jews. There is gold to dig for here!

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

2015DBRP_350 Nah3 Is54 Rev7

Yesterday we heard just how Nineveh’s defenses would be breached. The description was detailed and vivid, including the scarlet color of the enemy uniforms and the way chariots would rumble recklessly in the city streets after the river gate was torn open. God justly judged this city for its cruelty to others.

In Isaiah 53:10 it says,

But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief.

Often literal translations give a meaning that can hardly be conceived of, saying that the Lord was ‘pleased’. This was the Lord’s will, which is why Jesus received a No answer in the garden of Gethsemane. But it cause great sorrow to God. Think how Abraham felt when he was about to sacrifice his son, Isaac!

Also Isaiah 53 ends with the idea that Jesus ‘intercedes for the rebels’— which is us. This is echoed in Hebrews 7 in the teaching that Jesus is our great High Priest.

24But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. 25Therefore he is able, once and forever, to savee those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.

In Revelation chapter 5 we heard what happened when Jesus opened 6 of the 7 seals on the scroll that had been in God’s hand. After the 6th seal was broken,

The sky was rolled up like a scroll, and all of the mountains and islands were moved from their places.

No one on earth will call that ‘global warming’. There will be no atheists by that time. Everyone still left on earth will be cowering in terror of God’s judgment.

These judgements— set off when the seals are opened, are an overview. Remember that we will hear the same story from other perspectives. And this is not the only time in this book where there is an interlude between the 6th and 7th item.

Check out this episode!

2015DBRP_350MerryChristmas Update

Hey everyone!

Merry Christmas!

Gale and I send our Christmas greetings to all of you. During this special time of the year, may the Lord give you great joy in our unity with Christ and other believers.

Our daughter— Hannah, and family are back from Pakistan. I can mention the name of that country now, because their visas were not renewed, and it is unlikely that they will ever be returning there. Hannah is expecting their third child, and that brings our total up to five grand kids. Please pray for God to direct  Hannah's family into a new work or a new ministry.

I have updated the Digging Deeper Daily reading plan— the one many of you are following within the YouVersion Bible app. Now the introductory comments are included right in the Bible app, and they should appear when you click on the words ‘devotional content’. These notes were taken from the 2015 podcast episode notes. (Right now the Android app and web browser version are still not showing the devotional notes, but I hope that will soon be fixed. The apps for i-devices seem to be working.) I hope that my devotional notes will make the plan more helpful for everyone— especially those who join at the beginning of 2016. I don’t at all claim that my notes are well done! They were often made under the pressure of getting the podcast out on time. My main hope is that the notes will add to the understanding and enjoyment of God’s Word.

The other thing I want to share about is to invite you to join me for an all new set of podcast recordings starting on January 1, 2016. The podcasts in 2016 will be based on the Good News Translation. So I’m making my second recording of the Bible, and I hope to do a better job overall. I ask for your prayers, because this represents a major commitment, and I don’t want to let people down by getting sick or getting stopped by other problems.

I said above that I invite you to join me again for the next series of podcasts. But I also urge you to consider if you should find another podcast for reading the Bible next year. A good alternative for next year would be to subscribe to the Daily Audio Bible with Brian Hardin.  Link:

If the DBRP has ministered to you in 2015, how about passing on the blessing to others? Right now and through the first week in January is the most strategic time to share with your friends, because so many people consider making a New Year’s resolution to read the whole Bible. If you agree with our goal of increasing the understanding, enjoyment, and fully believing of God’s Word, then please share about this ministry with your friends.

Here are two good ways to share:

  • Please consider sharing my 2016 audio invitation podcast, which is linked in the episode notes for this podcast. Or, you can find it by searching for _000 within the listening app or at The complete name is DBRP_000, and the link is here:
  • At the bottom of the episode notes for this podcast, I am giving two short texts that could be used for Facebook posts, sending in an e-mail, or putting in your church bulletin.


Facebook/e-mail/Church bulletin Option #1:

The best New Year’s resolution you can make is to read or listen to the whole Bible in 2016! The Daily Bible Reading Podcast can help you be successful and consistent in your Bible reading in 2016. Visit to find out how to use your smart device to listen to the whole Bible in one year following the daily 20-minute-long podcasts. Or, the same site tells how to read the Bible follow the Digging Deeper Daily plan using your Bible or smart device. This reading plan features three different genre daily, making every day interesting, and helping you to see the unity of God's Word.


Facebook/e-mail/Church bulletin Option #2:

How about trying something new for your Bible reading in 2016! The Daily Bible Reading Podcast gives you a way to listen to the whole Bible in 20-minute-long daily episodes— using a smart phone, tablet, or computer. And the Digging Deeper Daily Bible reading plan is one of those available (YouVersion) reading app. Many people are listening to the Daily Bible Reading Podcasts during their commute to work. And a great way to double your retention of God's Word is to listen to the podcast while reading along in your Bible or with the reading app. See

Check out this episode!

Monday, December 14, 2015



This is the introductory episode to the Daily Bible Reading podcast for anyone starting in 2016. I’m Phil, and I invite you to join me in a year-long journey through the whole Bible. I’ll drive the tour vehicle— or maybe it’s a time machine, and you sit next to me in the passenger seat. Our road map for our journey is a reading plan that I named Digging Deeper Daily. There will be no dull days along the way, because each day has three different kinds of readings. For instance, for the first reading, we’ll start at the beginning in Genesis, and then move chronologically through Bible history. The second reading every day is Old Testament poetry, and we begin with the oldest book in the Bible— the book of Job. Our last reading each day is from the New Testament, where we’ll start with the earliest written Gospel— the Gospel of Mark.

I’ll share short introductions before each of the three daily readings. My aim in the introductions is to help you recall what we read the day before, to help you connect the dots, and to challenge you to dig deeper in your personal study. Then at the end of each podcast, I’ll lead briefly in a prayer— asking God to help us apply what we have just read. I say an Amen at the end of my prayers because I hope you will continue to pray after the recording stops.

You may have noticed that it seems that I will do all the sharing, and you will just listen. I hope that won’t be how it is with you! If your desire is to maximize the impact of God’s Word for yourself and others, then I encourage you to join the Digging Deeper Daily online community and share together with me and your fellow travellers. To see how to join the community, please see the Sharing Together page at

If you are joining us on the tour this year, I want you to know that the DBRP is a no-frills production, and this program is not my full-time job. No background music will be provided. If you find a mistake, please tell me about it via the online community. Be sure to include the chapter and verse reference.

My day-job is as a Bible translator. My wife is Gale, and the focus of our work for over 30 years has been in the country of Indonesia— where we have led two New Testament translation projects to completion. Currently we are working on translating the Old Testament into Plain Indonesian. When I started the Daily Bible Reading Podcast at the beginning of 2014, one of my major goals was to leave the recordings as a legacy for our three children and four grandchildren. For more information about us, please see the Our Story page at

You can listen to the DBRP on any smart device or computer. Find the details at Unless you are driving a car while listening, it’s a great idea to read along with the podcasts, as this will double your retention of God’s Word. The most convenient way to do that is to use the YouVersion Bible reading app on your device or computer. Then, within the app, sign up to follow the Digging Deeper Daily reading plan.

One last detail: In the 2016 podcasts, we will be reading the Good News Translation. The 2015 podcasts were based on the NLT (New Living Translation). You can listen to either set. For more information about the two versions, please see the DDD plan page at

May the Lord bless you ’real good’ through His Word in 2016!

Check out this episode!

2015DBRP_349 Nah1-2 Is53b Rev6

I was struck by how personal Micah’s last chapter is! He was pouring out his heart. And like the verse in Isaiah 50 that I highlighted, Micah said something that might be a commentary on that:

7As for me, I look to the LORD for help.

I wait confidently for God to save me,

and my God will certainly hear me.

8Do not gloat over me, my enemies!

For though I fall, I will rise again.

Though I sit in darkness,

the LORD will be my light.

9I will be patient as the LORD punishes me,

for I have sinned against him.

But after that, he will take up my case

and give me justice for all I have suffered from my enemies.

Now we turn to Nahum, about whom nothing is really known, except for what we can glean from his book. His name means ‘compassion’, ‘consolation’, or ‘comfort’.

Nahum mentioned the fall of the Egyptian city of Thebes (3:8), so we know he wrote after that event, which took place in 663 B.C. The Assyrian king Ashurbanipal conquered it. Nahum predicted the fall of the Assyrian capital, Nineveh, which happened in 612 B.C., so he must have written this book between 663 and 612 B.C. Nineveh fell to a combined force of Medes, Babylonians, and Scythians.[3]

This book is a vivid prediction of the approaching downfall of Nineveh, the city that Jonah preached against 150 years earlier. Assyria was an extremely violent and cruel oppressor. Nahum’s opening words set the theme:

The lord is a jealous God,

filled with vengeance and rage.

But other than being jealous, avenging, and a just judge, God is also shown as being slow to anger, good, a refuge in times of trouble, and caring for those who trust in him.



I like the contrast in Isaiah 53, which we will read for the second time today. We read in verse 8:

8Unjustly condemned,

he was led away.b

No one cared that he died without descendants,

that his life was cut short in midstream.c

But just two verses later, we read:

10But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him

and cause him grief.

Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,

he will have many descendants.

He will enjoy a long life,

and the LORD’s good plan will prosper in his hands.

So we have ‘died’, verse 9, ‘buried like a criminal’, and ‘no descendants’ in 8, and ‘long life’ and ‘many descendants’ in verse 10. Looking back at Jesus, this makes perfect sense. In a similar way, mysteries in Revelation will one day be perfectly clear.

The topic for chapter 53 starts in 52:13, where we will begin our reading today.

13See, my servant will prosper;

he will be highly exalted.

14But many were amazed when they saw him.d

His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human,

and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man.

15And he will startlee many nations.

Kings will stand speechless in his presence.

For they will see what they had not been told;

they will understand what they had not heard about.

Translation note:

5But he was pierced for our rebellion,

crushed for our sins.

He was beaten so we could be whole.

[His back was lacerated//He was whipped] so we could be healed.



In Revelation 5 we heard that only One was worthy to take the scroll that was in God’s hand. The scroll had seven seals, and it is the first of three big series of seven. Christ is introduced as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. But when John sees him, he appears as a lamb that has been slain. (Remember Isaiah, Micah, and John the Baptist!) The Lamb had seven horns. Horns are used in Scripture to portray kingly power to rule, so with 7, he is the perfect and divine King. And the Lamb had 7 eyes, which again, we are told, stand for the sevenfold Spirit of God. Through the Holy Spirit Christ has perfect eyesight seeing in all places and in all hearts.




Check out this episode!