Bible reading for weekend October 17-18.
1 Kings 20-21.
"And behold, a prophet came near to Ahab king of Israel and said, 'Thus says the LORD, Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will give it into your hand this day, and you shall know that I am the LORD.'" (1 Kings 20:13)
TWO VICTORIES (ch 20). On two desperate occasions, with Israel being greatly outnumbered, God gives military victory to Ahab and his troops. "You shall know that I am the Lord" (20:13, 28). In the previous chapter the Lord had shown himself to be the true God, and here twice he shows himself strong on behalf of Israel. Yet Ahab does not really have a heart to obey the Lord. And obedience to the Lord is imperative. Ahab shows mercy where he should bring judgment. It is not that Ahab is compassionate, he is basically a compromiser. There's a lesson here for us in this age of tolerance -- we cannot pronounce judgment when we should be merciful (Matt 7:1-5), but neither should we show mercy when judgment is due (Matt 7:6; Rom 12:9).
"TAKE MY WIFE, PLEASE" (ch 21). Sorry, Jezebel just reminded me of that old line from Henny Youngman! Jezebel is a piece of work. We are told twice that Ahab became "vexed and sullen" (20:43; 21:4). He pouted when he did not get his way, but Jezebel, on the other hand, was not so passive. She schemes a murderous plan to gain a vineyard for Ahab. Elijah pronounces judgment upon the house of Ahab and Jezebel. Since Ahab shows remorse, the judgment is delayed until after his death, but then Jezebel will go to the dogs, literally (2 Kings 9).
REFLECT. Ahab married poorly. One's spouse can profoundly influence how the other walks with the Lord or not. Will the person you marry become your help-mate or your hinder-mate? We must teach our children to stand strong in the Lord, and also to marry well in the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 3-4.
"...so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints." (1 Thessalonians 3:13)
PRESERVED, SANCTIFIED, GATHERED. The Apostle Paul rejoices that the Thessalonian believers have persevered through their trials: "For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord" (3:8). He calls for their continued sanctification (4:1-12). And he writes to them of the joyful expectation of Christ's return (4:13-18). The term "rapture" (wherever you may place it on the eschatological timeline) comes from the Latin form of the Greek word for "caught up" (4:17). When Christ returns, the saints -- both the living and the departed -- will be reunited in his presence together in the clouds. And they will never be separated again!
REFLECT. We look forward to the second coming of our Lord not merely as individuals. That is, we ourselves will at last see the Savior of our souls. But more: the Lord is coming for all his people, and it will be a glorious reunion! His return will be the salvation not only of individuals but of his holy community, the forever family of God: "For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?" (2:19) And, we should not grieve "...as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep" (4:13-14). And "so we will always be with the Lord" (4:17). It's "we", not just "me"! What does it mean to you that Jesus is returning, not just for you alone, but for all his people? He will be bringing with him believers from all time -- who will you rejoice to see along with the Lord? Also, do you have family and friends you need to be praying for now, that they might know the Lord and join God's family?
Bonus blessing: hear the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band perform "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" here.
Image credit. Detail from The Last Judgment by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, on Wikimedia Commons. 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.