Awaken Bible Commentary & Reflections
Volume 1: January - March
Volume 2: April - June
Volume 3: July - September
Volume 4: October - December
Do You See the Parallel Between Past and Future Events?
Can You Extract the Lessons of Ancient Israel & Apply Them to Today?
Are You Able to See How Bible Prophecies Made Thousands of Years Ago Are Relevant to These Latter Days?
The commentaries and reflections contained in this book explore the ideas noted above. They are based on the theme of Reading Through the Bible in a Year. Just as Gary W. Ritter’s companion books, the 4-volume Awaken Bible Study Notes, provide a verse-by-verse exploration of Scripture, this 4-book set delves into the lessons that we can learn from selected verses. The essays correlate to the reading for each particular day. They look at the Biblical-historical aspect of the Scriptures and show how God’s Word is alive today and very much a double-edged sword.
If you enjoy being challenged with how the Bible speaks prophetically and supernaturally to us today, you will find many such examples in this book.
The Awaken Bible Commentary and Reflections series is comprised of four quarterly volumes. Just like the prior Study Notes books, the intent here is to encourage you to continually read through your Bible, day-after-day, year-after-year. This means that you can begin the process and pick up the reading plan at any time during the year.
New challenges based on ancient texts await you in the reading of these commentaries and reflections. More importantly, they give you the incentive to read God’s Word every day of your life.
Make this book an important part of your daily schedule in order to learn the Lessons from Scripture and to grow in your walk with the Lord.
The four volumes that comprise the Awaken Bible Commentary and Reflections series have a different focus than the sister compilation of Awaken Bible Study Notes that I previously produced. In those prior books my emphasis was to show the prophetic nature of God’s Word and to bring out its supernatural aspects. Many liberal theologians over the years have attempted to demythologize Scripture, i.e. to demonstrate that it is more a work of man than of God. I can’t even begin to say how wrong-headed that is. One has to have quite a low view of the Lord to go there. That’s not my perspective. I have a very high view of God and hope in these pages, just as in the Study Notes volumes, that God gets all the glory, as He should.
Both sets of Awaken books build on the premise of reading through the Bible in a year. The Study Notes are exactly that: in the verse-by-verse reading, they pull from Scripture many of its deeper meanings. The focus of Bible prophecy and the supernatural, I believe, are critical to understanding the larger narrative that God wishes to convey and wants us to understand as we make our way through this world.
In the Commentaries and Reflections presented in this series, again based on a thorough cover-to-cover reading of the Bible, I attempt to relate what the ancient writers conveyed to their audience and show the relevance of those lessons for today, both prophetically and supernaturally. In every era, we have our challenges. Sin is sin and in our world brokenness prevails. People choose to follow God or they reject Him. All this has consequences for better or worse.
The one lesson that shines through from then to now is that God requires us to have believing loyalty in Him. This means to love and obey only the God of the Bible and to never worship any other god, whatever its form. If we do this through the saving grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, the Lord loves that. As a loving parent who wants the best for His children, when we do what He says, He showers us with favor and blessings. Conversely, when we turn from Him in disobedience, we should expect correction, rebuke, and punishment.
The world is rapidly reaching a point of no return. I discuss that in many different ways in these books. Those who don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior face a grim future. Thankfully, we who have given our hearts and lives to Him are assured that He will rescue us from the wrath to come. What encouragement this is in these dark days!
Reading Schedule for Volume 1
January – March
|January 1 – January 31|
|Jan 1||Gen 1‐2, Matt 1||Jan 17||Gen 41, Matt 13:1‐32|
|Jan 2||Gen 3‐5, Matt 2||Jan 18||Gen 42‐43, Matt 13:33‐58|
|Jan 3||Gen 6‐8, Matt 3||Jan 19||Gen 44‐45, Matt 14:1‐21|
|Jan 4||Gen 9‐11, Matt 4||Jan 20||Gen 46‐48, Matt 14:22‐36|
|Jan 5||Gen 12‐14, Matt 5:1‐26||Jan 21||Gen 49‐50, Matt 15:1‐20|
|Jan 6||Gen 15‐17, Matt 5:27‐48||Jan 22||Ex 1‐3, Matt 15:21‐39|
|Jan 7||Gen 18‐19, Matt 6||Jan 23||Ex 4‐6, Matt 16|
|Jan 8||Gen 20‐22, Matt 7||Jan 24||Ex 7‐8, Matt 17|
|Jan 9||Gen 23‐24, Matt 8||Jan 25||Ex 9‐10, Matt 18:1‐20|
|Jan 10||Gen 25‐26, Matt 9:1‐17||Jan 26||Ex 11‐12, Matt 18:21‐35|
|Jan 11||Gen 27‐28, Matt 9:18‐38||Jan 27||Ex 13‐15, Matt 19:1‐15|
|Jan 12||Gen 29‐30, Matt 10:1‐23||Jan 28||Ex 16‐18, Matt 19:16‐30|
|Jan 13||Gen 31‐32, Matt 10:24‐42||Jan 29||Ex 19‐21, Matt 20:1‐16|
|Jan 14||Gen 33‐35, Matt 11||Jan 30||Ex 22‐24, Matt 20:17‐34|
|Jan 15||Gen 36‐37, Matt 12:1‐21||Jan 31||Ex 25‐26, Matt 21:1‐22|
|Jan 16||Gen 38‐40, Matt 12:22‐50|
Reading Schedule for January
January 1: Genesis 1:6-7 – Waters and Firmament
January 2: Genesis 3 – The Shining Serpent
January 3: Genesis 6:1-5 – Sons of God
January 4: Genesis 11 – Babel
January 5: Genesis 12:2-3 – God’s Promise to Israel
January 6: Genesis 15:4-5 – Angel of the Lord
January 7: Matthew 6:24 – Believing Loyalty
January 8: Matthew 7 – Destruction or Safety
January 9: Genesis 24:6,8 – Old Life Before Christ
January 10: Genesis 25:20,26 – Waiting
January 11: Genesis 28:8-9 – Rebellion’s Legacy
January 12: Matthew 10:23 – Rejecting Jesus
January 13: Matthew 10:28 – Fear
January 14: Genesis 35:9-11 & Matthew 11:20-24 – Which God?
January 15: Genesis 37:18 & Matthew 12:14 – Conspiracy
January 16: Genesis 39:3 – The Lord’s Favor
January 17: Matthew 13:12 – Abundance or Not
January 18: Matthew 13:42-43- Harvest Time
January 19: Genesis 44:5 – Divination
January 20: Genesis 47:20-21 – Serfdom
January 21: Matthew 15:8-9 – Wayward Hearts
January 22: Exodus 2:3,10 – What Moses Represents
January 23: Matthew 16:18 – The Gates of Hell
January 24: Exodus 7:5,16 – The God of the Hebrews
January 25: Matthew 18:11 – Missing Verses
January 26: Exodus 12:12 – Judgments Upon the gods
January 27: Exodus 13:9 – A Sign on Hand & Forehead
January 28: Matthew 19:28 – Ruling & Judging
January 29: Exodus 20:18-21 – Near or Far from God
January 30: Exodus 23:32-33 – The Snare of Other gods
January 31: Exodus 25-26 – God’s Mercy Seat
January 1: Genesis 1:6-7 – Waters and Firmament
(Genesis 1-2; Matthew 1)
The Word of God is so much deeper than we imagine upon a casual reading. There are often profound meanings that are easy to miss without further study. For instance, in the reading of Genesis 1-2, the verses of Genesis 1:6-7 caught my eye.
Variously in different Bible translations, God says, “Let there be [an expanse – ESV & NASB] [a firmament – KJV] or [a vault – NIV]…” that is in the midst of the water or between the waters that are part of the darkness and void (v2). In the Hebrew, waters can mean exactly what we expect; however, they also have the meaning of danger and violence. In reading the text, don’t some questions come to mind? In its initial formation, what were the waters? Where did they come from? Seemingly, they were just there.
But then God divides these waters. In the midst of them, i.e. in between them, He creates an expanse, a firmament, or a vault. In this separated place are the heavens, or the sky as we know it, i.e. the place where the stars reside.
So think about this. There is water below and water above the sky, i.e. the heavens. How does that work? How do the heavens keep these waters apart? Where are the waters above the sky?
Here’s a thought. If we think about this in-between space as a vault, maybe we can make sense of another term that we see elsewhere in the Bible. In Jeremiah 10:13 and Jeremiah 51:16 the prophet says that God brings rain from the storehouses, or treasuries of heaven, in a time of war. He unleashes rain and hail to destroy His enemies, bringing them danger and violence. Look at what these two verses in Jeremiah say about this: “there is a multitude of waters in the heavens” (KJV).
What an interesting statement when we examine this in light of that place between the waters, where one definition is that it’s a vault. Perhaps the storehouses of heaven are effectively this vault in the sky where God keeps the waters for His purposes at His chosen times.
There is so much more in God’s Word. He gave it to us so that we might understand Him and His ways more. Read His Word daily and use this opportunity to grow closer to Him.
ESV & NASB
And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so.
And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
January 2: Genesis 3 – The Shining Serpent
(Genesis 3-5; Matthew 2)
In the account of the serpent tempting Eve in Genesis 3, we tend to pass over the fact that this appears to be a talking serpent, and that Eve apparently had no issues with this. When was the last time you had a conversation with a snake, whether it was a good or an evil one?
The Hebrew word for serpent is nachash. As I’ve noted elsewhere (Awaken Bible Study Notes – Volume 1), the word nachash “is typically translated as serpent, which we all know. However, there are variations of the word which give it additional, and very intriguing, meanings. The word can mean the diviner, i.e. one who communicates with the supernatural realm. It can also mean shiny, or shining one, such as a divine being from the heavenlies. Moreover, serpents in the ancient Middle Eastern cultures were divine throne guardians. Perhaps the Biblical writer wanted to convey all these associations to this serpent that tempted Eve?”
What does this mean for our understanding of this incident? First, let’s consider what Eden actually was. Eden was the place that God created where heaven and earth met. It was a divine mountain garden. (See Ezekiel 28:13-14: “You were in Eden, the garden of God…on the holy mountain of God.”) From Genesis 3:8 we know that God spent time there: “…the sound of God walking in the garden…” It was a lush and beautiful place; why wouldn’t He love being there? But, was God the only other being that frequented it? No; at least one other did, i.e. the serpent. How about others from the heavenly abode?
We know from many places in Scripture that God has a divine family, just as He has a human family. In the Old Testament, members of this family are variously called sons of God (bene Elohim – Hebrew), angels, cherubim, seraphim, the heavenly host, etc. Might they likewise have walked in this lovely garden? Is it not perhaps reasonable to consider that their appearance might be exceptionally shiny, even radiant? (They are divine beings, after all!) If that makes sense, then the nachash was likely a shining one, just as its name implies. As such, being an intelligent entity, perhaps a cherub (we know from Ezekiel 28:14, if the same being spoken of in this verse as “an anointed guardian cherub” is also Satan, whom we associate with the Garden of Eden), then his speaking to Eve would not have been unusual in the least.
Perhaps the nachash took on a serpent’s appearance, but his presence there was no surprise to Eve, and her having a conversation with him was not out of the ordinary. Adam and Eve before their fall hung out with spiritual beings from what is now to us an unseen realm. But they could see these holy ones and speak with them. Someday, when we as true believers have our glorified bodies, we will once more be united with this other part of God’s divine family, as we also will be divine*.
* Just to clarify the word divine: we will not be gods. Through our glorified nature, we will be like Jesus (1 John 3:2) and have the characteristics of His body upon His resurrection. Much of what the angels can do, we will probably be able to similarly do, but even more; because in our gloried state, we will even judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3).
January 3: Genesis 6:1-5 – Sons of God
(Genesis 6-8; Matthew 3)
Genesis 6:1-5 is one of the most fascinating and troubling passages in the entire Bible. Some people want to make what is conveyed here an entirely human scenario, but that completely misses what’s really going on, and the larger Biblical narrative.
The text tells us that the sons of God (bene Elohim – Hebrew) took human wives. Who were the sons of God? In the Old Testament, it speaks exclusively about them as being members of God’s heavenly host; in this case, they were likely high-ranking princes in the spiritual realm and members of what is referred to as God’s Divine Council. (Note that in a number of passages in Scripture we see thrones (plural) around God’s throne. Who sits on these exalted chairs? Members of Yahweh’s spiritual family – members of His Divine Council – who have important positions in His kingdom. An example of this is Daniel 7:9: “thrones were placed and the Ancient of Days took his seat.”)
The alternative theory to explain what’s going on in this scene is what’s known as the sons of Seth theory. This theory attempts to explain away the supernatural aspect of these verses. It assumes that Seth’s sons were referred to here as God’s sons, and that they were somehow more holy than other men alive at the time. Moreover, it also assumes that the daughters of men – all human women – were somehow more wicked than Seth’s children. Of course, that makes no sense. In the fall of Adam and Eve, all men and women subsequently inherited a sin nature; none were Godly or more wicked than others in the way this theory wishes to portray.
Just as there was an original rebel (the nachash in Genesis 3 that we presume is Satan), there were other rebels. This passage in Genesis 6 tells us that. Confirming verses in the New Testament such as Jude 6-7 and 2 Peter 2:4 speak of the angels “who did not stay within their positions of authority, but left their proper dwelling.” As a result, “God did not spare angels when they sinned.” What was their sin? They rebelled against God; they disobeyed His command that their place was in the heavenlies and not to dwell among humans.
What did these angels – these sons of God – do? They not only came to live on the earth; they also procreated with human women. From this unholy action, giant beings known as Nephilim came forth. This led to further intermarrying and wickedness throughout the earth so that God finally reached a point that He had to act. He did that by destroying all life on earth through the flood.
What was the problem in all this? Satan’s intent has always been to be like God, to replace Him, and to be God. To accomplish this, Satan had to thwart God’s plans for humanity. Thus, he introduced rebellion to Adam and Eve, which led to sin. This resulted in God cursing Satan – the serpent – in Genesis 3:15, which effectively informed Satan that he was on a short leash. A time would come when he would be completely defeated by a human descendant of Eve’s. From that point, Satan was truly on a mission. He would do everything in his power to keep this human descendant from ever being born, or he would kill Him before God could accomplish His purpose to finally eliminate Satan.
The fall of the sons of God was part of this larger narrative. It is likely that Satan encouraged their disobedience. (“Look at how beautiful those human women are. Wouldn’t it be pleasurable to be like men on the earth and to lie with those women?”) Regardless how this went down, Satan’s intent was to corrupt the gene pool. If man’s DNA was corrupted and man’s blood no longer purely human, then no human descendant from Eve could be born. Satan could prevent Jesus from ever walking the earth. With this plan, Satan could annul the promises of God and make Him a liar. He could ascend to the throne of God and take over if God lost His divine authority.
Further on in Scripture we’ll come across descendants of Nephilim known as Rephaim. Somehow, the progeny of the wicked, disobedient sons of God would continue to be a problem to mankind that God would have to deal with.
The LORD is my portion; I promise to keep your words. I entreat your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies; I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments. Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me, I do not forget your law. At midnight I rise to praise you, because of your righteous rules. I am a companion of all who fear you, of those who keep your precepts. The earth, O LORD, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes!
– Psalm 119:57-64