Bible reading for Aug 13.
I Samuel 3.
"And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD." (1 Samuel 3:19-20)
JUDGE AND PROPHET. Samuel is called by the Lord from an early age. He hears God speak audibly to him, and is recognized as a prophet. He is also considered an OT judge because of his leadership and judicial rulings in the nation (1 Sam 7:15-17). He had a priestly role, too, in offering sacrifices (1 Sam 7:9-10; Ps 99:6). He was a unique individual who played an important role at a critical time.
REFLECT. Peace and stability come to communities when people have a true knowledge of God. The role of a prophet was to communicate the words of God. The role of a judge (and later, the king) was to ensure righteousness was practiced in the community. The role of a priest was, by sacrifice and offering, to bring people into a right relationship with God. Jesus the Christ (Anointed One) would be all three: prophet, priest, and king. In our own times people will say that they have no need of anything outside of themselves in order to live well. Secular humanists say that they need no authority higher than themselves, no priests, and no prophets. Consider the following quote:
“It must be recognized that man in his limited and relative earthly life is capable of bringing about the beautiful and the valuable only when he believes in another life, unlimited, absolute, eternal. That is a law of his being. A contact with this mortal life exclusive of any other ends in the wearing-away of effective energy and a self-satisfaction that makes one useless and superficial. Only the spiritual man, striking his roots deep in infinite and eternal life, can be a true creator. But Humanism denied the spiritual man, handed over the eternal to the temporal, and took its stand by the natural man within the limited confines of the earth.” (Nikolai Berdyaev)
"What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written: 'None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.'" (Romans 3:9-11)
ALL UNDER SIN. This chapter is a pivotal chapter that connects the "bad news" of our sin and guilt with the "good news" of Christ's atonement. Sin is not just something we do, it infects our very hearts. We do not actually want God. Men and women may "seek" God to get things -- for safe trips, to be healed, or to be made prosperous -- but this is not to seek God for God himself. By nature we do not want to love him, honor him, give him thanks, or give him first place in our lives. And we don't want to give up those other gods which we have chosen. So the entire human race -- Jew and Gentile, good and bad, religious and irreligious -- are all under the sentence of condemnation. And God's judgment is completely just (vv 4, 8).
RIGHTEOUSNESS! Here is Paul's summary of what God did through Christ: "But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it - the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith" (vv 21-25). Christ's death was a satisfaction (propitiation) of God's justice which sets free (redeems) all who believe. Self-righteousness is excluded. We are redeemed by Christ apart from our works: "For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law" (v 28). Faith is the means by which we are "justified", or declared righteous in God's sight. Our salvation is God's work, which we receive by faith.
REFLECT. On May 24, 1738, John Wesley, a priest in the Church of England, attended a meeting at a Moravian chapel in Aldersgate, London. He was a fervent and religious man, but did not have peace of mind that was right with God. At the meeting someone was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle of Romans, describing the faith which saves. Wesley wrote in his journal, "About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death." Do you have such an assurance too?
Image credits. A Currier & Ives lithograph of John Wesley preaching on his fathers grave in the church yard at Epworth in 1742. When forbidden from preaching from the pulpits of parish churches, Wesley began open-air preaching. Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
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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