Bible reading for Aug 14.
I Samuel 4.
"And she named the child Ichabod, saying, 'The glory has departed from Israel!' because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband." (1 Samuel 4:21)
GLORY DEPARTED. The day comes at last when judgment falls on the house of Eli. The ark of the covenant (Ex 25:10-22) is captured by the Philistines. The Israelites were treating the ark as a kind of talisman, or good luck artifact, that would guarantee victory in battle. However, the ark was a symbol of the covenant relationship that was to exist between Israel and God. It was not a magical device or mysterious object with powers, such as portrayed in the movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark (Paramount, 1981). The loss of the ark to the Philistines signified God's judgment upon the Israel. It is the Lord, not a gold box that gives victory. Even if we were to find the ark of the covenant today in an archaeological dig, it would be a stunning find, but yet, it would only be a gold-covered box. Its value was as a symbol of God's faithful presence and the place of atonement for God's people, which has once and for all been fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Heb 9:11-12).
REFLECT. People can come to rely on objects and ceremonies as sources of good fortune for themselves. They may have special rituals, or sacred spaces, postures, holy water, or special clothing, not realizing that these things have no divine properties in themselves. This reflects a superstitious attitude. Are there objects or ceremonies in your life that you depend on for good fortune, rather than simply trusting the goodness of God?
"No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised." (Romans 4:20-21)
FAITH WHICH JUSTIFIES. Here's where we are in Romans: "The righteous (ch 1-3) by faith (ch 4) shall live (ch 5-8)". Paul has demonstrated the universality of sin and the depth of corruption in our hearts. The answer does not lie within us! "Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness" (Rom 4:4-5). In demonstrating that faith, not religious observance nor works of the law, will save us, Paul describes the faith of OT hero and patriarch, Abraham. (King David is also cited.) Abraham was declared righteous before any sign of the covenant was given to him. The point is, righteousness -- and all good things which follow -- comes from trusting God and taking him at his word. When Paul writes, "For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression" (v 15), he does not means that the believer lives in lawlessness, but that God has removed the condemnation of the law (its judicial claim upon us) through the death of his Son.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE FAITH? C. H. Spurgeon wrote, "Trust Christ, and by that trust you grasp salvation and eternal life. Do not philosophize. Do not sit down, and bother your poor brain. Just believe Jesus as you would believe your father. Trust him as you trust your money with a banker, or your health with a doctor. Faith will not long seem a difficulty to you; nor ought it to be so, for it is simple. Faith is trusting, trusting wholly upon the person, work, merit, and power of the Son of God." Read more of Spurgeon's Around the Wicket Gate here.
Image credit. Movie poster for Raiders of the Lost Ark, by Paramount Pictures, 1981.
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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