Bible reading for weekend Aug 15.
I Samuel 5-8.
"If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines." (1 Samuel 7:3)
PAINFUL JUDGMENT (ch 5-7). The ark of the covenant was captured in battle by the Philistines. But they soon regretted this. Like God did to Egypt, so now he judges the Philistines and their gods. Dagon, the speechless and impotent deity, is toppled before the ark. The people experience painful tumors (the word can also be translated as "sores" or "hemorrhoids", ouch). A plague of mice also was involved. The Lord is vindicating his own name and reputation. The ark miraculously finds its way back to Israel, since nursing cows do not leave their calves behind (6:7-12). This time is also an occasion for the people of Israel to re-dedicate themselves to the Lord (7:3).
ASKING FOR A KING (ch 8). Samuel's sons also do not turn out well, and now the people ask for a king. Having a king was part of God's design (Deut 17:14-20), but the people's motives and expectations at this time were wrong (8:5, 19-20). They will first get a king like they want (i.e., Saul) and then God will give them a king after his own heart (i.e., David).
REFLECT. Do you sometimes get tired of being strange in the eyes of the world, and just want to be like everyone else? In Israel's day everybody else had idols, and Israel had a gold box. Everybody else could have multiple gods of their choosing, but Israel could have only one. Every other nation had powerful kings, but Israel had "judges". How can we become more content with being what God has called us to be, however unusual that may be?
"So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." (Romans 6:11)
BLESSINGS (Rom 5:1-11). Paul lists the many blessings that flow out of our justification by faith: peace with God (v 1), a standing in grace (v 2), joyful hope (confidence) of future glory (v 2), joy in sufferings which produces character (vv 3-4), God's love poured out through the Spirit (vv 5-8), saved from the wrath of God (v 9), reconciliation (vv 10-11), and joyful delight in God himself and the Lord Jesus (v 11). Have your experienced these blessings? They are yours in Christ!
TWO MEN (5:12-21). This is a very important section. The one man, Jesus, undoes all that the one man, Adam, brought upon the human race. A couple of assumptions here: first, that there was a literal, historical individual named Adam. The logic does not follow otherwise. If Jesus is an historical figure, then so was Adam. Secondly, there exists a "corporate solidarity" (a theological term) between these two men and those united to them. We are united to Adam by physical birth, but more: he was a "federal head" (another theological term, sorry) whose actions affected all those who are "in Adam." Hence, we are born into condemnation and death. Through faith in Christ our corporate connection is now with Christ, the second Man. (Jesus is like Humanity 2.0, whereas Adam was Humanity 1.0.) All that Christ has accomplished -- life and righteousness -- now belongs to us because we are "in him". So, our union with Christ is a very important truth seen throughout the Apostle Paul's letters. Observe how often he writes that we are "in him" or "in Christ" (e.g., Col 3:1-3). You will see this more clearly in the next chapter of Romans...
DIED AND RAISED WITH CHRIST (Rom 6). Not only did Christ die FOR us, but since we are united to him, we also died WITH him. This becomes the basis of our victory over sin, that we died with Christ, and we rose with Christ. So, there is a difference in our life. There is still a future physical, bodily resurrection coming for each of us, but even now we are "positionally" (that is, reckoned by God) dead, risen, and seated with Christ above. And now we enjoy powerful blessings from that position, being in union with Christ. This does not mean that we are without sin, or that we don't feel tempted anymore. It means that to experience our freedom we must consider (reckon as true) that we (in Christ) have died to the guilt and power of sin. The passage 6:11-14 is an excellent passage to memorize.
WHERE WE ARE. Paul is building upon the phrase, "The righteous by faith will live"(1:17 NET). In chapters 1 to 3 ("the righteous...") he shows how all of mankind is unrighteous in the view of God's judgment, and that his Son, Jesus, by his atoning death takes away sin and gives to us righteousness (cf. John 1:29). In chapter 4 ("...by faith...") Paul demonstrates that the means by which we receive a right standing with God is faith. In chapters 5 through 8 ("...will live"), he will show that we are united to Christ (ch 5), that in him we are dead to sin (ch 6), dead to the law (ch 7), and alive now by the Holy Spirit (ch 8). That's where we are and where we're going in Romans!
REFLECT. How important to you is this truth that through faith you have been united to Christ? He is not only in you, but you are in him. Are you aware of all the blessings that flow from that union?
Image credit. Moody Mountain landscape in Austria, photo by Daniel J. Schwarz 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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