Bible reading for September 21.
2 Samuel 17.
"For the LORD had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the LORD might bring harm upon Absalom." (2 Samuel 17:14)
THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD is seen in the ways David is protected from the schemes of Absalom. The counsel of Hushai rather than Ahithophel's is acted upon (vv 1-14). The unnamed woman hides the messengers from Absalom's soldiers (vv 15-21), reminding us of the actions of Rahab (Josh 2:1-7). And David's company is able to cross the Jordan, and were supplied with food, bedding, livestock, and other supplies by friendly supporters (vv 22-29). This foreshadows our own rejected King, Jesus. Even from birth our Lord was protected from the evil schemes of violent rulers (Matt 2:12-16). He was appointed by God to be Messiah, and though his reign was (and is) rejected by many, his kingdom will never be destroyed (Psalm 2; Isa 9:7; 49:23; 52:14-15). God guides the events of history for his good purposes: "Divine providence is that work of God by which He preserves all his creatures, is active in all that transpires in the world, and directs all things to their appointed end" (L. Berkhof).
REFLECT. Though it seems that much of our world today has cast off the authority of Christ, yet he sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven, and his kingdom shall come with power and glory, and every knee will bow (Phil 2:5-11). We, too, who belong to Christ should know that everything that happens in our lives is overseen and guided by our Father for our good and for the glory of his Son. The Heidelberg Catechism tells us that by knowing God's providence, "We can be patient when things go against us, thankful when things go well, and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing will separate us from his love. All creatures are so completely in his hand that without his will they can neither move nor be moved" (Q&A #28). How can this truth give you encouragement in our own troubled times?
2 Corinthians 10.
"For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends." (2 Corinthians 10:18)
APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY. The church in Corinth was made up largely of believers with Greek and Roman backgrounds, rather than Jewish. Their ideas of who should lead the church was influenced more by the criteria of philosophical refinement, ability to speak, and impressive personality. Had they known more of the Old Testament they would have realized that leadership over God's people was not a human attainment but rather a calling from God. Like the prophets of the Old, the New Testament apostles would be chosen by God to give revelation to guide his people (Eph 2:19-20; 3:5; 4:11; 2 Pet 3:2). The Apostles also had to be witnesses of Christ's resurrection (Acts 1:21-22; 1 Cor 15:8-10). Their authority was unique, and they were equipped with divine power. It's in this sense that Paul says, "For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ..." (vv 4-5). The Apostles taught and defended the truth of God. They were sovereignly called by God for this. Paul's point: it is God's commendation -- not human opinions, popularity, or impressions -- that matter when it comes to the authority that God gives.
REFLECT. Two thousand years later, we do not know the names of many of those contentious leaders in the first century church, but millions upon millions down through history know who the Apostle Paul was. The Apostles were Christ's gift to his church, and it is to their divinely-given teaching that we owe our allegiance (Acts 2:42; 2 Pet 3:2). Ask yourself, how clear would your thinking be about God's plan of salvation without reading the New Testament? Today, how thankful are you for this ministry of the Apostles, who provided for us this written record of God's word?
Image credit: Detail of P46, papyrus manuscript, containing a passage from Romans 6 by the Apostle Paul, dated c. AD 200. Image is from the Chester Beatty Collection, Dublin. 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. One recommended resource is NETBible.org, a ministry of bible.org.