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Julie Ferwerda Christian Blog and Commentary

Julie Ferwerda

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Are you ready for change in 2009? Grab a One Year Bible (NLT), commit to reading it daily, and join Julie Ferwerda on an extraordinary adventure that will transform your life as you experience its relevance in a fresh, understandable way. In addition to 20+ years in Bible teaching ministry, Julie is a professional speaker and writer. Her works have appeared in publications such as Focus on the Family, Discipleship Journal, Christianity Today, Marriage Partnership, Brio, and Revolve Biblezines & Devotional Bible (for teens). She's also the author of "The Perfect Fit: Piecing Together True Love," and also the upcoming book, "One Million Arrows for God: Raising Your Children to Change the World." Learn more at www.JulieFerwerda.com.

Today's One Year Bible Reading

YOOHOO! You made it. Can you believe it? I can't. Honestly, along about April-September, I just didn't know how I could finish. But here we are, truly overcomers in our own right, having overcome the fear and tyranny of the urgent to feast in God's Word this year. And what a FEAST it's been! Wowzers. I am speechless, thinking back over all we've learned. I'm so proud of you and excited as we go forth from here, using what we've learned to make a difference in the way we love God and love people. Kudos to you! And whatever you do...stay in the Word! The treasures have only begun...

As for today, a nice long reading for old time's sake. Aw...you didn't think I was going to let you off easy on the last day did you? We must "milk" it for all it's worth!

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. John the Baptist is referred to twice in Malachi. Here as the one to prepare the way for Christ, as well as in the next chapter (we'll see in a minute). On another level, this could be speaking of Jesus, preparing the way for Yahweh, the messenger of the Abrahamic Covenant!

3:2-3 "But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord. This is a powerful picture of one type of judgment. Since it's speaking of the Levites, I believe this is a type of refining for believers later, making them worthy of serving in the Temple (Jesus). As you know, I believe that Christians in the second resurrection will have to go through a refining period (individually, based upon their lives here) for not attaining to overcomer status when offered the chance.

3:5 "At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me," says the Lord of Heaven's Armies. Pretty black and white—anyone who is guilty of these behaviors does not truly fear the Lord. We see orphans and widows in the equation again!

3:10 (NAS) "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. I think what this is saying is that God wants us to give to His household so that there is enough food to go around—to orphans, widows, the down and out. If all the Christians in the world shared their surplus and bounty, I believe world hunger would have been solved. And that is the complaint that God will have against us on "that day." All He asks is that we each do our part. Either feed souls, or feed stomachs (or both).

3:14-15 "You have said, ‘What's the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the Lord of Heaven's Armies that we are sorry for our sins? From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm.'" As I've begun to share more of the true character of God with people, the question they always ask is, "What's the point of obeying God then? Why not just live for ourselves now?" Well, I think God's response to this attitude is the perfect answer to these people. Here is His response:

3:16-18 Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name. "They will be my people," says the Lord of Heaven's Armies. "On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not." Hey, for once, the words "special treasure" or "special possession" is correct! This might be why NLT takes the same liberty in other places. So anyhow...now you see WHY we are to obey and to really set our hearts on loving God!

4:2-3 "But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. On the day when I act, you will tread upon the wicked as if they were dust under your feet," says the Lord of Heaven's Armies. Verses like this give me so much hope!

4:5-6 "Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Here is our second reference to John the Baptist. This is prophetic on two levels (I believe). First of all, it happened with John:

"It is [John] who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Luke 1:17

However, I believe it will be fulfilled on another level (as we've recently learned) through one of the last days churches (certain types of believers scattered across the world) who is referred to as one of the witnesses, the lampstand, and the olive tree. This witness can shut up the sky so there is no rain (could be symbolic for God's interacting with mankind but could also be literal), and this witness will be a forerunner to the 2nd coming of Christ!

Revelation

22:9 But he said, "No, don't worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers the prophets, as well as all who obey what is written in this book. Worship only God!" I found it amazing that an angel would put a man on the same level as "just a servant of God." I think of angels as so much higher. I think it will be amazing to someday interact with them! Maybe they come from another Story in the cosmos and they can tell us amazing things.

22:10 Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy." Interesting little verse.

22:12 "Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds." Notice it is our "deeds" we are repaid for, not our belief. Rewards follow works and obedience!

22:15 Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie. There are other places in Scriptures where it pictures "outside the city gates." I believe it is synonymous with Gehenna, that place many modern translators term "hell," the literal garbage dump outside Jerusalem where homeless people, beggars, and lepers lived and where bodies and trash were burned. It believe it's a picture of being out of fellowship with God, a place of judgment in the refuse pile until one makes his/her amends with God and is "washed clean" so they may enter the city gates. Here are a couple more references to being thrown outside the city into a place of sorrow and remorse.

"But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, `Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?' And the man was speechless. "Then the king said to the servants, `Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'  "For many are called, but few are chosen." Matt. 22:11-14

"I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matt. 8:11 Notice that it is the "sons of the Kingdom." This again is Jesus talking TO JEWS about JEWS in terms they understood. The Jews were the sons of the Kingdom who were going to be thrown out. Yet Paul reminds us in Romans 11:26: and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, "THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB." 

22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." Let anyone who hears this say, "Come." Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life. So let me as you a question: We know who the Spirit is. Do we remember who the Bride is? The overcomers ruling and reigning with Christ for both the MK and the Judgment Age. And who are these two speaking to when they say, "Come"? Who is the "anyone who is thirsty" that can come and freely drink the water of life? It is those who are outside the city. They are being invited inside to leave their old lives behind and come to the One who gives LIFE!

"IT IS FINISHED!!"

What a perfect place to end our story this year. Sigh.

Today's One Year Bible Reading

Malachi

1:14 "Cursed is the cheat who promises to give a fine ram from his flock but then sacrifices a defective one to the Lord. For I am a great king," says the Lord of Heaven's Armies, "and my name is feared among the nations!" The implication here is that God requires only our best, whatever that may be. A good question to ask ourselves as we contemplate the start of a new year... "Am I giving God my best, or am I giving Him the leftovers?"

2:5-7 "The purpose of my covenant with the Levites was to bring life and peace, and that is what I gave them. This required reverence from them, and they greatly revered me and stood in awe of my name. They passed on to the people the truth of the instructions they received from me. They did not lie or cheat; they walked with me, living good and righteous lives, and they turned many from lives of sin. The words of a priest's lips should preserve knowledge of God, and people should go to him for instruction, for the priest is the messenger of the Lord of Heaven's Armies." This is a great picture of the job of a true priest of God, both then and later in the MK.

2:13-15 (NAS) "This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. "Yet you say, `For what reason?' Because the LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth. This should be a comforting verse for wives who live with harsh hypocritical husbands. I've met some of them—husbands who put on a good face at church and in front of friends, but who deal treacherously with their wives and children at home. God is watching. And it appears that there is no remnant of the Spirit in such a man.

Revelation

21:3-4 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, "Look, God's home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever." The end of this verse was instantly suspect to me that it was a mistranslation. Why? Because if the word translated "forever" was "aions," (like it usually is) it would mean that we should take another look at aions as meaning forever, since the old world really is going away forever. So I looked up the Greek and guess what it says? "the former things passed away."

21:6 And he also said, "It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. First of all, I have read in several places that when Jesus called Himself the Alpha and Omega, beginning and the end, He referred to His crucial role in the opening and closing (and everything in between) of the plan of the ages. I think this is the 3rd time Jesus has said, "It is finished" (unless this is a repeat of the 2nd one) and I believe He means this plan is complete. The consummation of the ages has come. The GREAT TABERNACLES has come when God dwells among men. Since three is significant in Jewish numerology, I believe it supports that this is the third time for Him to declare it. I found this commentary:

In sacred Scripture the number 3 represents that which is solid, real, substantial, and something in its completeness.  This number usually indicates something of importance or significance in God's plan of salvation by identifying an important event in Salvation History.  This number operates as a "sign-post" in Scripture study for the reader to "pay attention" to the significance of the next event.

  • 1st time: At the end of his first coming as a mortal and the onset of His dominion over the spiritual Kingdom

  • 2nd time: At the end of the Tribulation and onset of the physical Millennial Kingdom

  • 3rd time: At the end of the AGES, or the consummation and the onset of the everlasting Kingdom of God, when God becomes "all in all."

21:7 All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. I have noticed while reading literal translations that it appears that modern day translations have slaughtered wording or verb tenses, trying to cover up the meaning. When you compare literal translations (I use 3), you see uniformity in the verb tenses and word meanings, often which disagree with modern translations, which seem to really lose meaning. Case in point, this verse. See if you see anything different...

YLT: "he who is overcoming shall inherit all things, and I will be to him -- a God, and he shall be to me -- the son."

CLT: He who is conquering shall be enjoying this allotment, and I shall be a God to him and he shall be a son to Me.

Greek Interlinear: "The one conquering shall be enjoying the allotment all and I shall be to him God and he shall be to me the son."

So you see, lots of conformity there. They are basically identical! And what I pointed out is the fact that it is in the progressive present tense, as if those who are in the process of overcoming are inheriting and becoming a son (or daughter). Do you see it? If we were to match the verb tense in the NLT, it would read, "all who are being victorious..."

We can find even more illumination in tomorrow's reading, but the only confusing thing is the chronological unfolding of events. It almost appears to me that the new earth and New Jerusalem come about during the Judgment Age, and not at the very end of the ages. Don't know for sure.

Today's One Year Bible Reading

Zechariah

14:4-5 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. Half the mountain will move toward the north and half toward the south. You will flee through this valley, for it will reach across to Azal. Yes, you will flee as you did from the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all his holy ones with him. It's the earthquake again! Only this time we have the clue that right after the earthquake is when Jesus comes with all the holy ones (who have just been resurrected a few days earlier), and they will come to the Mount of Olives.

14:6-7 On that day the sources of light will no longer shine, 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. NLT and NAS contradict each other:

(NAS) In that day there will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle. For it will be a unique day which is known to the LORD, neither day nor night, but it will come about that at evening time there will be light. Time for a third opinion:

(YLT) And it hath come to pass, in that day, The precious light is not, it is dense darkness, And there hath been one day, It is known to Jehovah, not day nor night, And it hath been at evening-time -- there is light. Sounds like NLT got it wrong! A day of darkness and gloom. I looked up "darkness and gloom" on studylight, and I got many references in the prophets that appear to be referring to this very day. We recently read Zephaniah 1:14-15:

Near is the great day of the LORD, Near and coming very quickly; Listen, the day of the LORD! In it the warrior cries out bitterly. A day of wrath is that day, A day of trouble and distress, A day of destruction and desolation, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness.

The descriptions fitting together all seem pretty terrible during those last days! Maybe martyrdom will be a good thing.

14:8-9 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. And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day there will be one Lord—his name alone will be worshiped. Again, we see that there will be these waters as a result of the earthquake that flow into the Dead Sea, bringing it back to life (we saw other prophecies to the same effect). Can you imagine ONE Lord and ruler for all the earth?

14:16-19 In the end, the enemies of Jerusalem who survive the plague will go up to Jerusalem each year to worship the King, the Lord of Heaven's Armies, and to celebrate the Festival of Shelters. Any nation in the world that refuses to come to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of Heaven's Armies, will have no rain. If the people of Egypt refuse to attend the festival, the Lord will punish them with the same plague that he sends on the other nations who refuse to go. Egypt and the other nations will all be punished if they don't go to celebrate the Festival of Shelters. We have talked about this before. The whole earth will be required to worship God at His appointed Feasts and Holy Days. That should answer the question for us today: should we be observing man-made holidays now, or God-established Holy Days? If it is required in the Kingdom, shouldn't it be something we choose to do now?

Revelation

20:4-6 Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their forehead or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. This is the first resurrection. (The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.) Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years. So we see the first resurrection has taken place (beginning of MK). When is the second? It is after the MK for the White Throne Judgment. It will have both believers and unbelievers:

20:11-15 And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God's throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.

We have talked about this at length throughout the year, so I'm just repeating for any recent visitors. But there is no judgment at the first resurrection. But the Bible clearly shows that the 2nd resurrection has the judgment of both believers and unbelievers. The first resurrection is for the overcomers! It is a reward.

Okay...only two more days! Keep pushing ahead!

Today's One Year Bible Reading

Zechariah

12:8-9 On that day the Lord will defend the people of Jerusalem; the weakest among them will be as mighty as King David! And the royal descendants will be like God, like the angel of the Lord who goes before them! For on that day I will begin to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. I can't believe how much Z patterns with Revelation! And I can't wait until the day that this weak feeling person (me) has the might of King David and the power of God unveiled! Woo hoo! We will see in Revelation how it confirms that the "royal descendants" or the kings and priests will go out with Him to destroy the rebellious nations.

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. Interestingly, here we have a picture from the days of Joseph, when he revealed himself to his brothers who had plotted his death and sold him into slavery. And of course, it's a brilliant prophecy of Jesus' crucifixion that would take place hundreds of years later. There is another Joseph prophecy in today's reading in Revelation:

He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God (Revelation 19:14). Remember the robe of Joseph's that his brothers took from him, dipped in blood, and presented it to their father to prove his death? Well, the Messiah ben Joseph will be WEARING this robe, but He will be fully alive and out for war.

13:1 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. I think this is prophecy for the remaining mortals who will be replanted in the land with healing and in safety. Obviously, the immortals will not need to be purified by the fountain.

13:3-4 If anyone continues to prophesy, his own father and mother will tell him, ‘You must die, for you have prophesied lies in the name of the Lord.' And as he prophesies, his own father and mother will stab him. On that day people will be ashamed to claim the prophetic gift. No one will pretend to be a prophet by wearing prophet's clothes. He will say, ‘I'm no prophet; I'm a farmer. I began working for a farmer as a boy.' There will be no need for prophets to speak in the name of the Lord. He will be here among them-either in the flesh or in "the body" of His elect. Sorta crazy that parents will stab their own children! But there will certainly be law and order in the Kingdom. It will be perfect peace.

13:7 "Strike down the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn against the lambs. Another Messianic prophecy about Jesus' disciples abandoning Him on the night of His crucifixion.

13:8 Two-thirds of the people in the land will be cut off and die," says the Lord. "But one-third will be left in the land. This goes along with Revelation's teaching of 2/3 the earth's population being killed that we learned earlier. It sounds as if the remaining 1/3 will at some point be purified through their suffering:

13:9 I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,' and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.'"

Revelation

Revelation 19 could be at the very end of this age, after the first resurrection and at the start of the takeover of the Kingdom, or it could take place at the end of the MK a 1,000 years later. It begins with the Wedding Feast, which might be a short beginning of the 1,000 years, or it could be considered the entire 1,000 years ending with the White Throne Judgment. Either way, there is a wedding feast:

19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. The Bride is the overcomers who spend the 1,000 years with Jesus.

19:8-9 "She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear." For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God's holy people. And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb." This passage shows WHY it is not all believers who are invited to the Wedding Feast. It is the "good deeds" of God's holy people who merit them a place at this table. It is not the free gift of salvation, but the reward for faithful works of obedience and faith. It is a great reward and a special blessing. Refer to the parable of the ten virgins!

19:11-21 We see either the onset or the conclusion of the MK where Jesus and His immortals/ bride/ kings/ overcomers ride with Him into battle. I believe these are immortals because verse 14 says: The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. This is the same way the bride was described earlier, in pure white linen. Verse 20 makes me think it might be at the beginning of the MK that the Beast and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire. If the beast and the false prophet are people, that means they will be in there a long time. If they are systems of some kind, they will be destroyed.  

My head is swimming with all this Bible prophecy! I've even been dreaming about it. Good thing we're almost done!

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Example: "Gen 1:1" "John 3" "Moses" "trust"
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