Now let’s talk about goals.
The same Hebrews 12 passage we started with yesterday says that it was “for the JOY set before Him” that Christ “endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Now I don’t in any way want to compare Bible reading to the suffering of Christ but I do want to give you just a little taste as to the same JOY that’s set before all of us as we come to His Word.
If you’ve been to any Hartland Ladies Retreats the past couple years you’ll notice I keep returning to Revelation 19:6-8 and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. The previous 18 chapters give us glimpses of this crescendoing worship starting with the four living creatures in chapter 4. Next the 24 elders join in the worship, and then myriads and myriads of angels join in, and then every creature in heaven and earth and under the earth and in the sea, and then those who conquered the beast, and then this great multitude, and the worship is just building and building until all of a sudden there’s this outburst that John describes as being “like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give Him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure’ — for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.”
This is the JOY Christ is looking ahead to and we need to set it before our eyes as well, because it literally is the reason for everything we read about from Genesis on namely, God’s glory. Notice in Revelation 19 when the Bride of Christ makes her grand entrance the thunderous eruption of worship is directed toward God not the Bride. Yes, she has made herself ready and her garments are fine and bright and pure, but it was granted her to do so. Her garments, which are her righteous deeds, are themselves a gift, bought by the blood of the Groom, enabled by the work of the Holy Spirit, and according to Ephesians 2:10 chosen by the Father for her to walk in before the ages began. Ephesians 5:25-27 uses the same imagery in describing how earthly marriage is to be a reflection of Christ and His church.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
Why did Christ have to die? In order to present a sanctified, holy bride to Himself. How does Christ sanctify His bride? Through the washing of the Word. Did you catch that? The righteous deeds we will be clothed with on that glorious day are granted to us through the living, active soul penetrating Word of God. As we look to Christ in the pages of Scripture, He in turn works in us both to will and to do (Phil.2:13).
Our challenge this summer is to LOOK TO CHRIST on every page. Our goal is the JOY SET BEFORE US. Tomorrow we’re going to get really practical and talk about things that might hinder us in our reading and how the Bible Reading Challenge is designed to help us lay those aside. Let us spur one another on to that end!