Bible reading for October 28.
2 Kings 9.
"And you shall strike down the house of Ahab your master, so that I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD." (2 Kings 9:7)
IS IT PEACE? Two kings and one queen will die in this chapter. "Is it peace?" is asked twice (vv 22, 31). Jehu answers, "What peace can there be, so long as the whorings and the sorceries of your mother Jezebel are so many?" (v 22) It's a brutal and grisly ending to their reigns. The irony is that Jezebel, hearing that Jehu was on his way, had just finished putting on her make-up (v 30) when she is thrown down and eaten by dogs. Jezebel has become a symbol of seduction, immorality, and idolatry (Rev 2:20). She is a kind of foreshadowing of the great prostitute in Revelation 17. She apparently used her beauty (and influence) to manipulate, deceive, and lead a nation astray. She murdered God's prophets, and led Ahab (a passive man) into idolatry and violence. Ahab's son would die on the same field that Ahab and Jezebel stole from Naboth (vv 21-25).
AVENGING THEIR BLOOD. This chapter is about God's vengeance (v 7). This is not only an OT theme, for Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matt 10:34). The saints who have suffered martyrdom cry out, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" (Rev 6:10; cf Rev 16:6.) We are told that there will be great rejoicing at the judgment of the wicked, and not by just a few, but from a "loud voice of a great multitude in heaven" saying, "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants." "Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever" (Rev 19:1-3). God may have mercy on some persecutors (e.g., Paul, 1 Tim 1:12-14), but many shall face the severity of final judgment.
REFLECT. A couple of lessons here: A) the Scriptures tell us to "leave room for the wrath of God", for it is not our place to apply God's vengeance (Rom 12:19-20). But we might be tempted to think that God will never bring vengeance at all. Some people -- sadly, many professing Christians -- believe that God is much too nice to ever bring wrath upon the human race. But we should rest assured that one day, whether in this life or at the end, the Lord will avenge the blood of all his children who have suffered at the hands of the wicked. Secondly, B) Christians should enjoy the gift of sexuality within the marriage covenant and also guard its purity. We should focus more on inward beauty of character rather than outward beauty of body (1 Tim 2:8-10; 1 Peter 3:1-7). Sexuality should never be weaponized or used to manipulate others. Throughout the Bible prostitution, along with all forms of sexual immorality, is condemned because it destroys covenant faithfulness to God and to one's spouse. In other words, don't be a Jezebel, and don't be looking for a Jezebel.
1 Timothy 6.
"Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world." (1 Timothy 6:6-7)
THAT WHICH IS TRULY LIFE. The Christian life and ministry should never be about gaining money and possessions. Rather than pursue worldly riches, the man (or woman) of God should pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness (v 11; cf Matt 6:33). Notice the active imperative verbs: "Flee... pursue... fight... take hold... keep the commandment..." (vv 11-14). Contentment, doing good, and sharing with others become a "good foundation for the future" (v 19). We do these things because that's the kind of world we are going to! Our attitude toward money and possessions can be a help or hindrance to that end.
DOXOLOGY. Never skim over the doxologies you find in the biblical text! Good doctrine should result in expressions of worship (vv 15-16). Doxologies are rich with insight into the nature and works of God: here he is "the blessed" (supremely happy), the only Ruler of the universe, the only Eternal One, and unseen and unapproachable in glory (unless, of course, he approaches us!). Compare this with 1 Timothy 1:17. In your own devotional time, can you move easily from doctrine to doxology?
REFLECT. Ponder this quote: "Contentment with what we have is absolutely vital to our spiritual health" (Jerry Bridges). Do you think this is true? Do you find it difficult to be content with what God has provided?
Image credit. Ancient Egyptian painted alabaster head from Treasure of Tutankhamen, New Kingdom, XVIII Dynasty; photo from "How Ancient Egyptian Cosmetics Influenced Our Beauty Rituals" on artsy.net. 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.