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“Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.'” (Acts 18:9-10)
We can read the Bible in various ways. I think the easiest way is to start from Genesis and continue reading to Revelation. Have you read the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation? Genesis is not that difficult to read, and Exodus is also relatively readable. But it gets tougher from Leviticus onward. Reading and understanding the Old Testament historical books like 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles is challenging. When we get to the prophetic books like Isaiah, what happens? Oh my… What the heck are they saying? They drive us nuts. We almost feel like giving up reading the Bible. What about the New Testament? Compared to the Old Testament, it is not that difficult. But the Book of Romans is challenging. Revelation? Don’t mention it. I think it is the most difficult book in the Bible to read and understand. But the good news is that overall, the New Testament is more approachable. Have you read the whole Bible? I pray that this year, you’ll at least read it once. I suggest starting from the Gospel of Matthew. Amen!
There are still various ways to read the Bible. We can read the Bible by themes or by topics. For example, we can explore what the Bible teaches about money, work, and marriage. We can also read the Bible systematically such as the doctrine of God, christology, pneumatology, anthropology, ecclesiology, eschatology, soteriology, and so on.
There is also the option to read the Bible from a feminist perspective, or an archaeological standpoint, or through the lens of a scientist. You can even explore the Bible by focusing on specific Biblical characters like Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, and Paul. In essence, the Bible offers multiple perspectives.
Today, I would like to share one of the ways to read the Bible with you. We can read the Bible with the “remnant’s perspective.” Remnant means a small group of people who are left over or remain after God’s judgment(catastrophe or disaster) throughout history. In the process of God’s redemptive history, there are a few righteous individuals who endure crisis moments caused by human disobedience and sin. Even in situations where hope seems lost, they show that there’s hope for those who believe in God.
Isaiah 6:13 says, “And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.” Here, “stumps” and the “holy seed” represent the remnants. Through this small group of righteous individuals, God continues and ultimately completes His redemptive history.
Now, let’s take a look at who the “remnant” among the figures in the Bible are. First and foremost, there’s Noah. In Genesis 6, seeing the earth filled with wickedness, God regretted creating humanity. He was deeply troubled. The corruption of humanity had reached the limits of God’s patience, and a fresh start was necessary. God said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created,” but Noah found favor in God’s eyes as a righteous individual.
God saved Noah and eight people from the great flood. Only Noah and his family were kept alive. These eight were the first survivors. So, who was Noah exactly? Genesis chapter 6 verse 9 says, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.”
We all know Noah was not perfect. He couldn’t live a perfect life. He had certainly done things that were wrong. And God had forgiven any wrong things that Noah had done. But the Bible says he was “a good man.” Actually, Noah and his family were a remnant.
Secondly, it’s the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. At that time, human pride reached the heavens. Everyone wanted to become like God, saying, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves.” (Genesis 11:4) So, people began building the Tower of Babel. Seeing this, God decided to punish them. What was that punishment? At that time, all the people in the world spoke one language. God confused their language so that they couldn’t understand each other. In addition, God scattered them over the whole surface of the earth.
Unfortunately, it seems there were no God’s people on the earth. But when we read Genesis chapter 12, we see that God continued the work of salvation within human history. He did it through a person named Abraham. Abraham, the forefather of faith, a prophet, and a friend of God. In fact, Abraham and his family were a remnant who had been faithful to God.
Next is Moses. The Pharaoh of Egypt was fearing the increasing number of Jews. He ordered the killing of all Jewish baby boys. But God rescued Moses through Pharaoh’s daughter. God spared Moses as the remnant of an entire generation.
Through Moses, God liberated the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and led them into the wilderness. But, the Israelites couldn’t enter the land of Canaan, the Promised Land. They spent 40 years in the wilderness, often complaining to God, saying, “Egypt was way better; we want to go back to Egypt.” Eventually, they couldn’t enter the land of Canaan. They all perished in the wilderness except for Joshua and Caleb. They survived and entered the land of Canaan. In fact, Joshua and Caleb were a “remnant.”
When we look at 1 Kings 19, we can see that at that time, most of the Israelites worshiped a god called Baal, engaging in idolatry. Prophet Elijah was thinking that he was alone in faithfully following God and fighting against Baal’s prophets. But God reassured Elijah that there were still 7,000 people who had not bowed to Baal and remained faithful. God encouraged Elijah, restoring his strength. These 7,000 were a “remnant.”
In Romans chapter 9 verse 27, Paul says, “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved.” Despite some of his fellow Jews rejecting the gospel and persecuting the church, Paul emphasizes that God, by His grace, has prepared a chosen remnant for salvation.
When Paul was preaching in the city of Corinth, the Jews opposed and strongly criticized him. But at that time, God comforted and encouraged Paul through a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.'” (Acts 18:9-10)
Same thing… Brothers and sisters, you are a chosen remnant by the grace of God. You are the faithful remnant! Like Paul, do not be afraid! Do not be silent! Instead, let us boldly share the gospel! God is always with us. No one can harm you and me. You know what? I am confident that there are more than 7,000 chosen people in Tokyo area as well as in Chiba prefecture. They are the people of God. They are the people of the Holy Spirit. They are the people of faith. In fact, they are the faithful remnant. I want you to keep that in mind. So, don’t give up your calling! We are not alone. We don’t feel lonely. When the time comes, I believe we will meet the remnant, fellowship with them. We will walk, work, and worship together for the kingdom of God.
Let us all pray.