Bible reading for Nov 24.
1 Chronicles 19-20.
"And David said, 'I will deal kindly with Hanun the son of Nahash, for his father dealt kindly with me.' So David sent messengers to console him concerning his father. And David's servants came to the land of the Ammonites to Hanun to console him." (19:2)
KINDNESS REBUFFED. These two chapters relate David's victories over two neighboring hostile nations, the Ammonites (ch 19) and the Philistines (ch 20). These victories foreshadow the future inheritance of David's descendant, the Messiah: "Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession" (Psalm 2:8; cf Ps 110). What makes Hanun's response so despicable was that he was rejecting a kindness from David which was being made in good faith. He shamed and mocked the messengers who brought the offer of covenant friendship. Hanun serves as a warning not to foolishly reject, or treat lightly, the kindness which God extends to us.
HOW MUCH WORSE. People today do much the same with Christ's offer of forgiveness. They do not believe the goodness of God behind the gospel offer: "But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared..." (Titus 3:4). And that "...in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation" (2 Cor 5:19). Like Hanun they mock the offer and shame the messengers. But the Scripture says it is more serious to reject the gospel than it is to reject the law: "Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?" (Heb 10:28-29).
"By its very nature, unbelief in any form is not open to God and his good news, so to those whose hearts are closed, the good news is simply not good news." (Os Guinness, Fool's Talk)
1 Peter 1.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you..." (1:3-4)
MORE PRECIOUS THAN GOLD. Written by the Apostle Peter in the AD 60s to believers (mostly Jewish-background Christians, but applicable to all of us) this epistle tells us how to live in a culturally hostile environment. It is honest about suffering, but filled with encouragement. Peter himself is likely in Rome by this time, which he calls "Babylon" (5:13). The three Persons of the Trinity are named in verse 2. We read of the past, present, and future phases of our salvation (vv 3-7). Though trials are part of the Christian's experience now, there is a purpose in them (vv 6-7). Saving faith in our Lord gives us a love for him and a glorious joy (vv 8-9), what Jonathan Edwards called new affections. The OT prophets foretold of the sufferings of Messiah, as well as the glories to follow (vv 10-12), and those who suffer with Christ are part of that grand Story of redemption. Suffering is part of the normal Christian life, especially the suffering that comes from being identified with Christ. The world that rejected him (as foretold by the OT prophets) will also look down upon his followers.
PREPARED AND HOLY. They, and we, are therefore to be prepared and sober-minded, pursuing holiness in an unholy world. We have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ and we have a glorious hope through God's grace (vv 18-19). Notice repeating terms: God's foreknowing (vv 2, 20)(meaning more than prior knowledge of something, but rather a personal relationship and a divine plan (Acts 2:23: Jer 1:5); the new birth (vv 3, 23); and the value of gold (as well as the beauty of flowers)(vv 7, 18, 24). Big point: wealth and beauty will fade in this world, but God's word and work are eternal and glorious. These believers may not have the wealth and beauty of the age, but they have something more precious than gold.
IS IT WORTH IT? Sometimes we get assessments on our houses, antiques, autos, or other possessions to see if they have retained value or if they are worth holding on to. Peter is directing us to take stock of what we have in Christ so that we will not be discouraged by hardship. We are saved by the precious blood of our Savior (and that's what makes our faith "more precious than gold"); we are in communion with the Triune God; we are part of a grand story of redemption (past, present, and future); we are guarded by God's power; and we have an imperishable, undefiled, unfading inheritance waiting for us. We may not have the wealth and beauty this world so values, but we have an inheritance more lasting, permanent, and eternally glorious. What else do you see in this chapter that helps you answer the question, is it really worth it all to follow Christ?
Image credit. Gold coins for sale at a dealer in the Dubai Gold Souk, via 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.