Bible reading for Nov 23.
1 Chronicles 18.
"So David reigned over all Israel, and he administered justice and equity to all his people." (18:14)
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THANKSGIVING? Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. It's so satisfying to have an entire day just to give thanks to the Lord and to enjoy his many blessings of family, friends, and good food. Sadly, this year due to the pandemic many will not be gathering in person with family and loved ones. But every year the sad problem with Thanksgiving remains the same -- the joy and gratitude don't last for very long! It's a precious, short period of time when we are all together, thankful to God, satisfied, content, getting along with each other. For a brief moment all seems right with the world! For a brief moment... and then the squabbling returns, the complaints, the discontent, and selfishness and greed and unhappiness. For a moment -- for some briefer, for some longer -- we see how happy the world could be.
A HAPPY AND HOLY SOCIETY. In today's reading David defeats and subdues the enemies surrounding Israel (cf 2 Sam 8). Hamstringing the horses (v 4) was not meant as an act of cruelty, but was intended to disable the enemy's chariot power, which was fearsome in warfare. David purposed not to increase that technology in Israel (Psalm 20:7), though later Solomon would reverse that policy. The goal of all this warfare was not to expand beyond the borders God gave Israel, but to create a secure kingdom where righteousness would exist. This was David's aim, to administer justice and equity to all Israel, and to live happily under God's righteous rule (v 14). He desired to build a holy society where people honored God and treated one another rightly. This is God's goal, too, in history -- to create a society of people who delight to live under his rule, loving one another. Now, through the death of our Lord Jesus, the eternal King, we are declared righteous (justified before God by faith), and brought into the New Covenant. Now, by his Holy Spirit we are given a love for righteousness, a desire to live according to God's design for life. As Jesus taught us, "...seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness..." (Matt 6:33).
REFLECT. The Apostle Peter wrote, "But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace" (2 Pet 3:13-14). When the Lord Jesus returns he will subdue all the enemies of his kingdom, since as God's designated King (Psalm 2; 110) he came, and will come again, to establish an everlasting kingdom of righteousness (Isa 11:3-5; 61:11). So we should ask ourselves, along with Peter, "What sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God?" (2 Pet 3:11-12; Jer 9:24) This Thanksgiving may we say along with the psalmist,
the world and those who dwell in it!
Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the hills sing for joy together
before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity." (Psalm 98:7-9)
"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." (5:16)
CONFESSION. There's a time to feel sorrow for our sins, and to repent (vv 1-6; cf 4:8-10). In the first of his "Ninety-five Theses" posted in 1517, Martin Luther wrote that the Lord willed "...the entire life of believers to be one of repentance." He meant that the Christian is always to be facing the truth about himself, and then turning from sin. The Christian life is not meant to be always a feel-good experience! In addition, we are also to be patient in suffering, and steadfast in waiting upon the Lord in prayer (vv 7-11). We are to pray, to sing, to confess, and seek healing (vv 12-20). James mentions examples from the OT to follow: the prophets (v 10), Job (v 11), and Elijah (v 17).
HEALING. At both churches where I served the elders always welcomed those who requested special prayer. We would anoint with oil and pray for many who had illnesses and various conditions. Occasionally, we would see very remarkable improvement, even instantaneous healing. Often, however, improvement might come slowly over time, or not at all. We can't always predict how the Lord will answer, but we do know that this passage teaches us to pray in faith for one another. For more helpful details on this topic see Constable's notes on this chapter in the NET Bible.
Image credit. Photo by Jana Sabeth 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.