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bible reading oct 22



Bible reading for October 22. 

2 Kings 3.

"This is a light thing in the sight of the LORD. He will also give the Moabites into your hand..." (2 Kings 3:18) 

SOMETIMES THERE ARE NO WINNERS. As a pastor I would often be called upon to help others resolve conflicts, whether in their marriages, families, businesses, or church relationships. Sometimes I found situations where nobody was in the right. Each party might feel justified in their position and want to win their case. But at times, well, you just wanted to throw all the bums out. (So to speak!) Israel's war against Moab is perhaps a case in point. The Moabites were an idolatrous people who often harassed their neighbors. Their chief god was Chemosh, but they also worshiped Molech and Baal, among others. As seen in this chapter Moabites could resort to human sacrifice. It was God's will that they be subjugated and the land be rendered infertile. (Moab's wealth and power came from their sheep industry.) The Moabites would continue to raid Judah and Israel over the years but eventually they would be conquered and displaced by the Nabatean Arabs. The defeat of Moab in this chapter was not a complete victory for Israel, nor was it in response to Israel's worthy aspirations, but rather it was a demonstration of the sovereign will and power of God. Who is vindicated in this chapter is the Lord himself and his word through the prophet Elisha. There weren't really any other winners, at least from God's perspective.

REFLECT. One lesson we can take from this is, beware of thinking that God's responding to your prayers is necessarily evidence of his approval of your cause or actions. The Lord shows kindness to the righteous and unrighteous alike: "For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matt 5:45). It may be that God has purposes other than taking your side! "Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, 'It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land...'" (see Deut 9:4-6).     

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2 Thessalonians 3.

"But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one." (2 Thessalonians 3:3) 

NO WORK, NO EAT. I think it's fair to say that the Bible really does not promote communism or any type of government where the state owns everything and disperses it according to its will. Generosity to the poor, equal opportunities for work, help for the disabled -- these actions are encouraged, yes, but not in any sense of a comprehensive welfare state.  God's law recognizes ownership of private property (Ex 20:15). The phrase, "earn their own living" (v 12) is literally, "eat their own bread" (as in the NASV). A similar principle is echoed by Paul in Ephesians: "Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need" (Eph 4:28).   

PROTECTED FROM THE EVIL ONE. As I read verse three this morning I was reminded how this truth is seen elsewhere in Scripture (e.g., Matt 6:13; John 17:5). God promises to guard us (also translated, "watch, defend, protect") from the evil one. Satan is a very real enemy who appears in the earliest chapters of Genesis (3:1ff) and is active all the way through to the end in Revelation (20:10). So, what does it mean that the Lord will guard us against the evil one? Ultimately, it means that we who trust the Lord will never be lost. Where the Good Shepherd gives life, there the thief will not be able to steal, kill, destroy, or snatch us away from the Lord (John 10:10-30). It also means that we will be equipped to face the spiritual snares set against us (Eph 6:11; 2 Cor 2:11). And it means that in this life, where we are tried, tempted, and tested, the Lord will continually strengthen and renew our faith. A careful study of Luke 22:32-34 will help clarify this.  We may stumble and fall, but we shall rise up again (Prov 24:16). Like a cork pushed down into the water, at some point we will pop back up to the surface again. This doesn't mean we won't get bruises or wounds, or will never fall flat on our faces, but that we shall finally be found standing. Like Christian passing between (and near) the lions in The Pilgrim's Progress, so we too must pass by lions (with real teeth) but they have divinely-set limits of the damage they can do to God's elect. Yet, the Christian is called to move forward in faith and to stay carefully on the right path. Theologian Herman Bavinck writes of God's grace in this struggle...  

"He grants abundant grace not that we should instantly or suddenly be holy and continue to rest in this holiness, but that we should persevere in the struggle and remain standing. He hears our prayers but does it in accordance with the law and order which He has fixed for the spiritual life. Hence we are always of good courage, for He who has begun a good work in us will finish it until the day of Jesus Christ. The believers can and they will become holy because in Christ they are holy." (Our Reasonable Faith, p. 503)


Image credit: illustration of Christian passing between the lions, from The Pilgrim's Progress, courtesy bunyanministries.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. One recommended resource is NETBible.org, a ministry of bible.org. 


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