Bible reading for July 17.
"And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15)
COVENANT RENEWAL (vv 1-28). The Mosaic covenant, given in grace to the descendants of Jacob, nevertheless had a bilateral character. Blessing from God upon each generation depended upon the peoples' wholehearted obedience. The Israelites are confident and sincere at this point in their desire to be faithful to the Lord. But the book of Judges which follows will tell a different story. One of the great lessons of the OT is that people will need a unilateral covenant with God, that is, one that is made (and kept) secure by the power of God. It is not enough that God should provide land, cities, vineyards, and orchards (v 13), what is needed is a changed heart that finds its home in the Lord himself (John 15:5; Heb 11:14-16). God must accomplish our salvation. However, the choice before us is still the same: we will serve the Lord, or we will serve other gods, which are no gods.
A GRAVE CONCERN (vv 29-33). How important are graves? This covenant renewal is filled with history (vv 1-13), both in recounting what God has done previously (vv 2-13) and then the deaths and burial locations of three important people (vv 29-33). Why is that? The bones of Joseph (cf Gen 50:26; Ex 13:19) were buried as a testimony that Joseph's home was not Egypt, but in the promised land at Shechem, a plot of land bought and paid for by Jacob many years before (Gen 33:19). Joshua and Eleazar (Aaron's son) are also buried in their inherited portions within the land. Such burials testify to faith in God's promises, and, I believe, as testimony to the hope of resurrection. History matters, the land matters, and the human body matters.
"This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:11-12)
ARREST. The healing of the lame man leads to Peter's public witness to the Lord Jesus and his resurrection. The temple authorities are not pleased, and so, Peter and John are arrested, but the next day are released with warnings and threats. "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard" (vv 19-20). There are times when it is right to disobey ruling authorities (Acts 5:29). Throughout the book of Acts we will see that hostility toward the gospel will result in persecution of the followers of Christ. This is normal.
BOLDNESS. In his preaching Peter was filled with the Spirit (v 8), enabling him to speak freely and boldly for Christ. The rest of the fellowship prayed also for boldness in the face of opposition, and they too were filled with the Spirit and spoke freely of Christ (vv 24-31). This word for boldness (parresia) means that the believers were outspoken, fearless, joyful, and confident in the their witness for Christ. Such boldness is one of the signs of the filling of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts. Are you and I talking much of Christ these days? God will give us the boldness we need, if we ask!
Image credit: photo of Mountain View Cemetery by Madeleine Maguire on Unsplash.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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