Bible reading for October 20.
2 Kings 1.
"Again the king sent the captain of a third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up and came and fell on his knees before Elijah and entreated him, "O man of God, please let my life, and the life of these fifty servants of yours, be precious in your sight." (2 Kings 1:13)
THE KINGS, VOLUME 2. The succession of the kings of Judah and Israel continues, opening here around 850 BC. Elijah will soon complete his service, and his successor Elisha will continue the prophetic ministry to Israel. In chapter one we see that Ahaziah, Ahab's son, follows in the ways of his fathers and seeks guidance from false gods. We also learn from these events how not to approach God's prophets, and so the third captain comes humbly. But Elijah must still pronounce judgment, and King Ahaziah dies after a very brief reign.
REFLECT. Where do I seek guidance on how to live? Do I go to the world and its pundits? Do I consult my feelings, or horoscopes, or celebrities, or politicians? Shouldn't we go to God's word for counsel? "To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn" (Isa 8:20). If you want to learn what God says about the future, and how to face the future, why not seek out a wise Christian leader who can show you what God's word says about these things?
2 Thessalonians 1.
"Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring." (2 Thessalonians 1:4)
THESSALONIANS, PART 2. This is Paul's second letter to these young believers, written soon after the first. They are a bit confused about Christ's second coming, and also are experiencing much opposition for their Christian faith. Twice Paul speaks of them being found worthy of their calling (vv 5, 11). One reason for persecution and suffering in this world is so that God's people might willingly embrace their identification with Christ and thus show they belong to him. They share in his suffering, but, as Paul says, they will also share in his glory: "that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him" (v 12; cf Phil 3:10-11). We who identify with Christ in his rejection will be glorified with him in his victorious return (Rom 8:21, 29-30; Heb 2:10). We will see, bask in, and be filled with all of his goodness and glory (John 17:22-24). But like Jesus endured the cross before the crown, so we also must pass through suffering before glory. As he obeyed his Father's will, so we too must be obedient to God before a watching, hostile world. He said, "The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne" (Rev 3:21).
ETERNAL JUDGMENT. "They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might" (v 9). What this passage teaches is affirmed all throughout the Scriptures, that there are only two destinies for human beings: eternal glory or eternal condemnation (Dan 12:2; Matt 25:46; John 5:29; Acts 24:15; Rev 14:11; 20:15; 21:8). This may be a difficult teaching, hard to accept, but this is what God has said. And he is fair, truly fair, and righteous in all his judgments. It is almost certain that we do not see the utmost seriousness of sin as does God, who is holy.
REFLECT. We must identify with our Lord and raise our flag of allegiance to him. We must endure and trust God for the perseverance we need. "Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus" (Rev 14:12). There is no reason or need for any to suffer eternal punishment for sins -- God himself has provided forgiveness through the death of his Son and commands all people everywhere to repent (turn around) and believe him (Acts 17:30). We come because he tells us to come! "Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates… And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price" (Rev 22:14, 17). Have you come to him for forgiveness and life? Do you know where you will spend eternity?
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.