Bible reading for weekend October 24-25.
2 Kings 5-6.
"So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean." (2 Kings 5:14)
NAAMAN'S HEALING (ch 5). Leprosy was a dreaded and chronic skin disease that rendered a person defiled in the eyes of their community. In Israel lepers had to live away from their towns and families, practicing social distance, literally. They were considered by many to be the living dead. Jesus not only spoke healing to, but also touched the lepers (Luke 5:13). Naaman, a gentile official from a pagan nation, comes to Elisha and humbles himself to obey a simple command. He is miraculously and instantly healed. Gehazi, though he served Elisha, seeks to enrich himself from this healing, and tries to deceive both Naaman and Elisha. The gift of healing was just that, a gift, and not a commodity for sale. Those who preach the gospel to become wealthy, as well as those who attend church to build business relationships, are abusing God's gracious gift by using it as a means for worldly advancement. Gehazi would be a leper for the rest of his life.
THOSE WHO ARE WITH US (ch 6). This chapter records the miracle of the floating axe head. Was it a kind of transmutation like Jesus turning water to wine (John 2)? Miracles do not "violate" the laws of nature, but what we observe as the laws of nature are merely the regular ways God upholds creation (Heb 1:3). As Creator God is free to change things as he wills. Also in this chapter: a behind-the-scenes look at a Syrian offensive from God's point of view. And notice the unusual kindness shown to the troops and the humorous outcome of this event. We are also introduced to a later event, a Syrian siege upon Samaria and the resulting famine. (This will play out in the next chapter.) The words from chapter 6, "Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them" should remind us of these words from John: "Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). As Paul also wrote, "...we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal" (2 Cor 4:18). Christians should never be vexed or perplexed when they feel like such a beleaguered minority in this world. Take courage: things are not always as they appear to be!
REFLECT. We believe that cleansing from our guilt, and healing from our sinful condition, is found in the Lord Jesus. It was not that the Jordan River had magical properties, or that this is a picture of the effectiveness of baptism, but Naaman's dipping seven times in the Jordan was how he demonstrated his faith in Elisha's word. This was simple, so simple that he needed to humble himself. This event is not so much about the Jordan, about baptism, about water, or even about leprosy, but about coming in faith to God for cleansing from sin and guilt (Ps 51:7; Titus 3:5-6). Of course, water baptism is a picture of cleansing, and is an act of faith not a saving rite in itself (1 Pet 3:21). So, where is the cleansing found, and what is the word from God to us? Is it not this: "They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb," and "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" (Rev 7:14; 22:14; cf Ezek 36:25-26; Zech 13:1). Have you recognized that you cannot cleanse yourself, and that you must be saved by God in God's own way? Have you come to Christ in the obedience of faith? (And if you have believed but haven't been baptized yet, by all means be baptized!)
1 Timothy 2-3.
"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way." (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
PRAYER, MEN AND WOMEN (ch 2). The opening words remind us to pray for our leaders, and as the election process in America is underway, let's pray for our future leaders! Paul affirms that there is one God and one Mediator between God and man (v 5), as the rest of Scripture teaches (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Many modern evangelicals chafe at Paul's teaching regarding the role of women (vv 9-15), but it should be remembered that he is basing his teaching not on changing cultural norms, nor on life after the fall of Adam, but on the design and order God gave humanity at creation. For more on this read Bavinck's summary here: graceonlinelibrary.org/doctrine-theology/doctrine-of-man/the-origin-essence-and-purpose-of-man-by-herman-bavinck/ And there are many helpful articles here: cbmw.org/resources/
ELDERS AND DEACONS (ch 3). Paul writes to Timothy about the standards which elders and deacons should meet. Though elders must adhere to and be able to teach sound doctrine, yet, most of these qualifications are moral and relational. This was needed then, and it is needed now! The Lord's church is a family to be nourished and protected, and an institution which holds forth and heralds the truth of God's word, that we "may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of truth" (v 15).
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.