Bible reading for Nov 18.
1 Chronicles 11-12.
"All these, men of war, arrayed in battle order, came to Hebron with full intent to make David king over all Israel. Likewise, all the rest of Israel were of a single mind to make David king." (12:38)
HEROES. These chapters look back to 2 Sam 23 and the list of David's "mighty men" (Heb., ha-gibborim). As postmodern as we may be, most of us still long for heroes, whether it be a political figure, athlete, soldier, scientist, or artist. It may only be imaginary, like Iron Man or Wonder Woman, but we still cheer for men and women of courage and strength who accomplish great things. King David attracted a wide assortment of people from various tribes (both within and outside of Israel) to be his inner guard or to serve as military commanders. They had various skills and abilities, for example, ambidexterity with weapons (12:2) or the gift of wisdom (12:32). Many of them had followed David in the wilderness while in exile under Saul, but all shared a single-minded, whole-hearted purpose to support David's reign (12:38).
REFLECT. Jesus is the Son of David (Rom 1:3) who likewise gives strength to, and breathes courage into, his people (Ps 110:3; Acts 4:13; 2 Tim 2:1). Like David's mighty men we are called to single-minded service, undying loyalty, and courage to face any challenge to Christ's authority. We too face opposition as we follow Christ, and we too are exiles in this world. As the Apostle Paul said, "through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). We therefore need courage to fight the good fight (1 Tim 6:12). How do you respond to the many kinds of intimidation that come at you for being a Christian? Are you faithfully standing by your King? Are you trusting him for the courage you need at this hour?
"Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come." (13:13-14)
FINISHING HEBREWS. This last chapter contains a number of exhortations -- to love, show hospitality, to visit prisoners, stay sexually pure, be content, to obey church leaders, do good, to praise God, and to pray. Also here are some wonderful verses to memorize, for example, "Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" (v 5). And, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (v 8). As we have been seeing, the Jewish readers of Hebrews were tempted to downgrade Jesus to the role of a prophet, a great man, or even an angel. And yet like God -- the One who remains eternally the same, who is and was and is to come -- so also Jesus is eternal and unchanging.
NO DOWNGRADE. Most of us today are not faced with the exact situation the Hebrew readers faced, but we are faced with the pressure of pluralism, which tells us that all religious options are the same and equally valid. One belief is as good as another. But Jesus is not just a way among many, nor merely a subjective truth we may feel good about -- he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). He alone gives eternal life, and he remains eternally the Son of God. At the heart of this chapter is the call to openly identify with Christ, who was rejected by the world. He bore our (deserved) reproach, by dying for our sins. His blood sanctifies us, and now we have the privilege to bear his (undeserved) reproach by going to him who is "outside the camp", that is, to him who is unwelcomed by the world at large.
REFLECT. Often the Christian life is viewed as Christ knocking on the door of our hearts and coming in to dine with us (Rev 3:20). This by itself may leave the impression Christ has come primarily to fix up and fulfill our lives. This is true, he has come to us, but there is also this emphasis, that we go out to him. We identify as HIS followers, as citizens of HIS kingdom, and are seeking HIS righteousness rather than our own comfort. There's much in this passage that relates to what we read in the OT passage today, that we have a very real need for the grace, strength, loyalty, and courage that only he can give us! Here's the question -- are you openly identifying with Christ today?
Image credit. Photo of wall of Jerusalem by Shalev Cohen on Unsplash. 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.