Bible reading for July 31.
"His father and mother did not know that it was from the LORD, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines ruled over Israel." (Judges 14:4)
SAMSON'S LOVE LIFE. We see that Samson, who is to be a deliverer, actually succumbs to the compromising influence of their Philistine overlords. People were inter-marrying and the book of Judges shows how pagan influences have affected the people of Israel. They are being culturally absorbed. But Samson's romance will not be a "happily ever after" one. Samson's love life will cause increasing conflict between the Israelites and the Philistines, and that needed to happen.
GOD'S PLAN. In God's wise providence Samson's impulsive and sinful decisions work for the greater good of God's plan (v 4; cf 1 Kgs 12:15). We have seen this before with Joseph's brothers (Gen 45:5; 50:20) and especially in the crucifixion of our Lord (Acts 2:23; 4:28) -- that God works his plan even through the evil choices of human beings. Michael Horton summarizes: "God's providence governs history, so that his purposes are realized gradually in the world--yet without subverting the free agency of creatures" (Pilgrim Theology, p 111). Theologians call this "concurrence", where God works through secondary causes. So, all things are not good in themselves, but God works in and through all things to bring about his good result (Rom 8:28). I like how Charles Spurgeon said it: "God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick." This should never be used as an excuse for us to sin, however, for Jesus said, "Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!" (Matt 18:7) We are always responsible for our actions.
"And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, 'Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.'" (Acts 18:9-10)
AT CORINTH. During his second missionary journey Paul and the team arrive in the city of Corinth (region of Achaia, southern Greece). He stays there a year and a half with much success, though opposition comes with it. What encouragement the Lord gives him in vv 9-10! And we, too, can go forward in confidence knowing that the Lord is with us and the gospel will bear fruit in the lives of people. As the eighteenth century evangelist, George Whitefield, once said, "We are immortal until our work on earth is done." Paul will pass through Ephesus briefly and then conclude his second missionary journey back in his home base in Antioch (v 22). After a while he will launch his third trip (v 23) and spend some time in Ephesus (next chapter). Paul, a wise discipler and church planter, will visit many of the places he visited before and follow up with the young churches.
LETTERS. I have found an easy way to remember what letters the Apostle Paul wrote, and when he wrote them, this way: On trip #1 Paul wrote one letter (Galatians). On trip #2 he wrote two letters (1 & 2 Thessalonians). On trip #3 he wrote three letters (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians). And on trip #4, his Roman imprisonment, he wrote four letters (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon; also called the prison epistles). After his release and before his martyrdom he will write his personal, pastoral epistles (1 & 2 Timothy, Titus).
Image credits. Photo of a street in ancient Corinth, from Wikimedia Commons.
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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