Bible reading for Nov 2.
2 Kings 15.
"And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin." (2 Kings 15:28)
THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT. This chapter records for us the long reign of King Uzziah (= Azariah) in Judah for 52 years, and a succession of several short reigns in Israel. There's more detail on King Uzziah's leprosy in 2 Chron 26. Uzziah is followed by the good reign of Jotham. During this time the Assyrian empire is expanding its power into Israel, beginning about 730 BC (vv 19, 29). Also, the prophet Isaiah's ministry occurs during this period (Isa 1:1; 6:1; 7:17-18).
PERSISTANT SINS. You'll notice that some of the moral failures we read about span the generations. In the south they can't seem to get rid of the high places (popular alternative worship sites)(vv 4, 35) and in the north they "did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam" (alternate worship sites with fake priests and calf idols)(vv 9, 18, 24, 28). Both north and south wanted to worship God in their own way. But these ways had been around so long that they were entrenched and familiar. These sins were so much a part of their history, upbringing, and culture that the people could probably not imagine a life without them. It would seem strange to them to travel to Jerusalem to worship at the temple in the way God prescribed.
REFLECT. The author of Hebrews writes, "let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Heb 12:1). Several churches that Jesus addresses in Revelation had sins of which they were unaware (Rev 2:4; 3:17). Over time our families and friends may influence us to think certain sins are "no big deal" -- sins like lying, gossip, ethnic or racial pride, lust, or substance abuse. Some sins can seem so familiar, so widespread, that we do not even see them or treat them seriously. Jerry Bridges in his book Respectable Sins (NavPress, 2017) lists various sins we tolerate, like anxiety, envy, jealousy, anger, pride, strife, worldliness, and more. He asks, and this is a good question to ask ourselves, “Shall we presume on God’s grace by tolerating in ourselves the very sin that nailed Christ to the cross?”
"...in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began..." (Titus 1:2)
DON'T SKIP THE INTRO. The standard opening for letters in Paul's day was... "[Name of writer] to [name of recipient], greetings." Paul adds so much more! In lieu of traditional titles he affirms his identity as a servant of Christ and his calling as apostle. Along with that he mentions faith, election, truth, godliness (which follows from truth), the confidence of eternal life, God who cannot lie (it's against his nature), a promise from before the ages, God's timing, the revelation of God's word, and the preaching which proclaims all these things. Paul's greeting is a theology lesson in one sentence!
APPOINTING ELDERS. Like Paul's first letter to Timothy, his letter to Titus contains instructions on church organization and leadership. The list of qualifications here for elders (vv 6-9) is similar to that found in 1 Timothy 3. One primary role of elders is to teach biblical truth and to counter false teaching: "He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it" (v 9).
REFLECT. Sound doctrine is paramount in the church. But doctrine alone is not enough, it must be accompanied by godliness and good works. We'll see more of this emphasis as we read the epistle to Titus. Like Paul's introduction, do we see ourselves in the light of the gospel? Is our identity defined by the world and ourselves, or by the eternal plan of God in Christ?
Image: recent sunset through an oak tree. 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.