Bible reading for Aug 5.
"So the two of them sat and ate and drank together. And the girl's father said to the man, 'Be pleased to spend the night, and let your heart be merry.'" (Judges 19:6)
HITTING BOTTOM. As you read this chapter, reflect back on Genesis 19 and the angelic visitors to Sodom. The people who are called by God's name have sunk as low as the godless nations. We witness a callous disregard for life and human dignity, along with sexual perversion, abuse, and brutality (Eph 2:1-3; 4:17-19). Notice how many times we hear something like, "let your heart be merry" (vv 6, 9, 22). Like Sodom, the people of Israel center their lives around the sensual pleasures of food, drink, and sex (Ezek 16:49-50). In the first chapter of Romans the Apostle Paul teaches that when men and women, and societies, turn away from God, and from his design for human life, they do not become more human, but less human (Rom 1:18-32). It is God who defines who we are: "Man without God ceases to be a man" (Nikolai Berdyaev). The death and dismemberment of the woman reflects the disintegration of life, human dignity, and culture. At this point Israel is no different than Sodom and Gomorrah.
REFLECT. Think about this quote from Francis Schaeffer: "Man, made in the image of God, has a purpose--to be in relationship to God, who is there. Man forgets his purpose and thus he forgets who he is and what life means." Where do you think our contemporary society is on the spectrum described in Romans 1:18-32?
"It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial." (Acts 23:6)
PAUL ON TRIAL. This is the first of many hearings that Paul will undergo. Here, before the Jewish council he calls attention to his hope as a Pharisee who believed in physical, bodily resurrection. The council divides over party lines and begins infighting. Paul is again rescued from violence, and that night is comforted by the Lord himself: "Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome" (v 11). In general, the book of Acts displays the Roman governing officials generally in a good light, in their seeking understanding, fairness, and public safety. In God's providence, a plot against Paul's life is discovered. He is whisked away in the night by Roman soldiers to Caesarea Maritima, a Roman city where Herod Agrippa kept a seaside palace and praetorium.
REFLECT. "Take courage" is a command from the Lord that we should bring to mind often. I also noted kindness, and the need for kindness, that is seen in this chapter. First, Paul must publicly recant his disrespectful words in vv 3-5. We should all learn to speak kindly and respectfully in our public statements. We may not stand before rulers like Paul did, but we do speak to and about people in our social media and blogs to whom we should show respect. Secondly, we see the kindness of the Roman tribune in taking Paul's nephew by the hand to hear what he had to say. A little thing, but worth noting. What did you learn from this passage?
Image credits. Aerial view of the harbor at Caesarea Maritima and the ruins of Herod's seaside palace where Paul was imprisoned for about two years. Courtesy romanports.org.
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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