“After this I saw a vast crowd,
too great to count,
from every nation
standing in front of the throne and
before the Lamb.
They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar,
Salvation comes from our God
who sits on the throne
and from the
The final book of the Bible gives us a brief
glimpse into Heaven –
one where we are still diverse in ethnicity yet
united into one through Jesus.
What a beautiful picture
of the Church,
and worshipping together in
Respond in Prayer
Today pray for
God’s Kingdom to come.
Pray boldly for God to
peace and unity
to your neighborhood, city,
nation and world.
Pray that His Church
would be a beacon of
in a dark world and ask for Him to show you the part you
as a member of the Body.
Worship Him today! Commit to
continue learning in
being part of the solution in
bringing unity through our diversity.
See this 5 day Bible reading planfrom the author of
Be the Bridge
For Families with Kids at Home
As you pray for God’s Kingdom to come, invite your kids into this prayer for your family. Pray with them today that your family would represent and seek His Kingdom together.
Jesus and Zacchaeus
1Then Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2And there was a man named Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, who was very wealthy. 3He was trying to see who Jesus was, but could not see over the crowd because he was small in stature. 4So he ran on ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see Him, since Jesus was about to pass that way.
5When Jesus came to that place, He looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down, for I must stay at your house today.”
6So Zacchaeus hurried down and welcomed Him joyfully. 7And all who saw this began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinful man!”
8But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, half of my possessions I give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will repay it fourfold.”
9Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
The Parable of the Ten Minas
11While the people were listening to this, Jesus proceeded to tell them a parable, because He was near Jerusalem and they thought the kingdom of God would appear imminently. 12So He said, “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to lay claim to his kingship and then return. 13Beforehand, he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas.a ‘Conduct business with this until I return,’ he said.
14But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We do not want this man to rule over us.’
15When he returned from procuring his kingship, he summoned the servants to whom he had given the money, to find out what each one had earned.
16The first servant came forward and said, ‘Master, your mina has produced ten more minas.’
17His master replied, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very small matter, you shall have authority over ten cities.’
18The second servant came and said, ‘Master, your mina has made five minas.’
19And to this one he said, ‘You shall have authority over five cities.’
20Then another servant came and said, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have laid away in a piece of cloth.b21For I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man. You withdraw what you did not deposit and reap what you did not sow.’
22His master replied, ‘You wicked servant, I will judge you by your own words. So you knew that I am a harsh man, withdrawing what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23Why then did you not deposit my money in the bank, and upon my return I could have collected it with interest?’
24Then he told those standing by, ‘Take the mina from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’
25‘Master,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’
26He replied, ‘I tell you that everyone who has will be given more; but the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 27And these enemies of mine who were unwilling for me to rule over them, bring them here and slay them in front of me.’ ”
The Triumphal Entry
(Zechariah 9:9–13; Matthew 21:1–11; Mark 11:1–11; John 12:12–19)
28After Jesus had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
29As He approached Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, He sent out two of His disciples, 30saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ”
32So those who were sent went out and found it just as Jesus had told them. 33As they were untying the colt, its owners asked, “Why are you untying the colt?”
34“The Lord needs it,” they answered. 35Then they led the colt to Jesus, threw their cloaks over it, and put Jesus on it.
36As He rode along, the people spread their cloaks on the road. 37And as He approached the descent from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of disciples began to praise God joyfully in a loud voice for all the miracles they had seen:
38“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!”c
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”d
39But some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples!”
40“I tell you,” He answered, “if they remain silent, the very stones will cry out.”
Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem
41As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it 42and said, “If only you had known on this day what would bring you peace! But now it is hidden from your eyes. 43For the days will come upon you when your enemies will barricade you and surround you and hem you in on every side. 44They will level you to the ground—you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.e”
Jesus "Cleanses" the
(Matthew 21:12–17; Mark 11:15–19; John 2:12–25)
45Then Jesus entered the temple courtsf and began to drive out those who were selling there. 46He declared to them, “It is written: ‘My house will be a house of prayer.’g But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’h”
47Jesus was teaching at the temple every day, but the chief priests, scribes, and leaders of the people were intent on killing Him. 48Yet they could not find a way to do so, because all the people hung on His words.
The twelve tribes of Israel came from the twelve sons of Israel. “Israel” is the name that God gave Jacob (Genesis 32:28). His twelve sons are Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin (Genesis 35:23-26; Exodus 1:1–4; 1 Chronicles 2:1–2). When the tribes inherited the Promised Land, Levi’s descendants did not receive a territory for themselves (Joshua 13:14). Instead, they became priests and had several cities scattered throughout all of Israel. Joseph’s tribe was divided in two—Jacob had adopted Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, essentially giving Joseph a double portion for his faithfulness in saving the family from famine (Genesis 47:11–12). This means the tribes who received territory in the Promised Land were Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh. In some places in Scripture, the tribe of Ephraim is referred to as the tribe of Joseph (Numbers 1:32–33).
After King Solomon died, Israel split into two kingdoms. Judah, to the south, included the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The other tribes combined to make the kingdom of Israel in the north. In the ensuing years, many Israelites in the north emigrated to Judah in the south to flee the apostasy in their homeland (see 2 Chronicles 11:16; 15:9). Eventually, Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians, and most of the Israelites were either killed or deported; the Israelites who remained most likely integrated with Judah as many of the faithful before them had.
Jesus was from Judah, Paul was from Benjamin, and John the Baptist was a Levite, but, since the diaspora in A.D. 70, identifying the tribe of a modern Jew is a little more difficult. That doesn’t mean that the tribal divisions are irrelevant. During the tribulation, when most of the world has abandoned God and is following the Antichrist, 144,000 Jews will be sealed by God. This number comprises 12,000 from each tribe. So, even if we don’t know who is in what tribe, God has kept track. The tribes are listed again in Revelation 7:5-8, but they are not the same tribes that were given land in Joshua. Manasseh is there, and Ephraim (under Joseph’s name). But instead of Dan, Levi is included. No explanation is given as to why.
Diversity is, basically, variety. In recent times, the word diversity has taken on the specific connotation of “variety of people within a group”—the differences among the people being racial, cultural, gender-based, etc. Diversity was God’s idea. Even a cursory study of science reveals an amazing variety of plant and animal life. People, God’s final creation, are diverse, too. He did not create us as clones or robots. He created two different genders (Mark 10:6). The creation of male and female is diversity at its most basic—the sexes are very different, yet complementary.
that created diversity
occurred at the
Tower of Babel
and God wanted them to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1).
To expedite their obedience,
He confused their languages,
impossible for them to
From there, humanity spread out across the earth,
people with the
. Over time,
cultures, races, and
and resulted in the
Diversity is part of being human, and
part of the body.
God delights in the plethora of differences His human creatures possess. The book of Revelationdescribes the final gathering of God’s people from “every nation, tribe, and tongue” (Revelation 7:9). The angels and elders around God’s throne adore Jesus with the words “with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). So God enjoys the diversity within the human race. We are each created in His image for His pleasure and glory (Revelation 4:11; Colossians 1:16). He designed us the way we are and delights in His handiwork (Psalm 139:13–16).
However, in our modern culture, the focus on diversity can become its own god. Diversity itself is revered rather than the One who created that diversity. An emphasis on diversity tends to highlight our differences. God is more concerned with unity (Ephesians 4:3). Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” God is saying that our differences are not what should define the children of God. Those who belong to the Lord Jesus should first define themselves as God’s children. We must be willing to set diversity aside in favor of unity in spirit. Jesus’ passionate prayer in John 17 shows that His desire for His disciples was that “they may be one as you and I are one” (verse 22).
So, what does it mean to be “one”?
When we are
born again (John 3:3),
Our fleshly differences become
secondary to our
new nature in Christ.
We are unified around the centrality of God’s Word. We have “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5). Regardless of racial, cultural, or gender differences, God’s children hold to His Word as their final authority on all matters, including cultural and social issues. Some try to use “diversity” as an excuse to justify immorality or homosexuality (1 Corinthians 6:9). While we all have different sin strongholds, we cannot allow unrepentant sin to continue under the guise of diversity. The diversity God created is good; sin can indeed be diverse, but God has nothing to do with it.
Human differences such as race, temperament, and culture are to be celebrated, tolerated, and incorporated in our goal of being “one” in Christ (John 17:20–23).
However, when diversity is made into an idol, we become self-centered and divisive. When every difference is treated as sacred, selfishness rules and oneness is sacrificed in favor of individual preference.
When we exalt our preferences over unity, we become demanding and proud, rather than selfless and forgiving (Ephesians 4:32; Philippians 2:4). John 17:23 encapsulates the desire of Jesus for all His children. In this last, long, recorded prayer before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed, “I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” While we can and should appreciate the value of the various nuances of being human, our goal must always be to become more like Jesus (Romans 8:29).
The tribulation saints are, quite simply, saints living during the tribulation. We believe that the church will be raptured before the tribulation, but the Bible indicates that a great number of people during the tribulation will place their faith in Jesus Christ. In his vision of heaven, John sees a vast number of these tribulation saints who have been martyred by the Antichrist: “There before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands” (Revelation 7:9). When John asks who they are, he is told, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (verse 14).
The tribulation will be a time of great trouble for the wicked, because of God’s judgments. It will also be a time of great persecution for the believers—or saints—because of the Antichrist’s persecution (Revelation 13:7). Daniel saw the Antichrist “waging war against the saints and defeating them” (Daniel 7:21). Of course, the saints’ eternal salvation is secure: Daniel also saw that “the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom” (Daniel 7:22; cf. Revelation 14:12–13).
The tribulation saints will hear the gospel from several possible sources. The first is the Bible; there will be many copies of the Bible left in the world, and when God’s judgments begin to fall, many people will likely react by finding a Bible to see if prophecies are being fulfilled. Many of the tribulation saints will also have heard the gospel from the two witnesses (Revelation 11:1–13). The Bible says these two individuals “will prophesy for 1,260 days [three and a half years]” (verse 3) and perform great miracles (verse 6). And then there are the 144,000 Jewish missionaries who are redeemed and sealed by God during the tribulation (Revelation 7:1–8). Immediately following the description of their sealing in Revelation 7, we read of the multitudes of tribulation saints who are saved from every corner of the world (verses 9–17).
The tribulation saints
will serve their Lord Jesus Christ
in the midst of
Faithful to the end,
many of these believers will
die for their faith.
But in their death,
“They overcame [Satan]
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the
word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Revelation 12:11). And God will reward them: “He who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:15–17).
We praise the Lord
that the great day
will also be a great day
Even as God is meting out His just punishment on an
He will be
restoring Israel to faith
and extending grace to all who believe,
Jew and Gentile.
God has always been
of saving people,
and that salvation will still be available during the tribulation. Don’t wait until then, however; receive Jesus now (John 1:12).
SAVED by GRACE