Bible reading for Nov 3.
2 Kings 16.
"...but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even burned his son as an offering, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel." (2 Kings 16:3)
NO SANITIZED HISTORY HERE. When I was in elementary school learning about American history, our presidents were presented in a very sanitized form. About the worst I learned about George Washington was that he cut down a cherry tree. Not so for Jewish children. Their national history, being recorded in the inspired Scriptures, is described from God's perspective, meaning the people there are painted with all their blemishes and moral failures. King Ahaz was an imitator (he wanted to be like Assyria) and an innovator (he wanted to change the way Jews would approach God). We have plenty of that going around in the world today -- people wanting to come to God however they'd like. And we can see here how imitating the world results in death, even the killing of one's own children (v 3). I believe the modern equivalent is abortion, the sacrifice of a child for the god of reproductive rights. Whether then or now, this is an abominable, detestable practice.
REFLECT. Is history always written (or revised) by the winners? Do we need to whitewash the crimes of history, or at the other extreme, dismiss everyone who has gone before us? We may yet learn much from the villains (who are a lot like us), and we may still look up (with qualified admiration) to heroes even though they had feet of clay. Writing about the Reformation, historian Carl Trueman said, "Let us not idolize these people but learn from them, for they were simply doing in their day and generation what we seek to do in ours." We want to try as much as possible to get God's perspective on history.
"...who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works." (Titus 2:14)
WHY DID CHRIST DIE? Many Christians would say that Christ died to show us God's love. Indeed, Roman 5:8 says that the death of Christ demonstrates that. His merciful love is the motive behind Christ's death. But we must say more: the fundamental purpose of Christ's death upon the cross is summarized here -- that Jesus Christ, the God-man, died to redeem us -- not just to show us God's love but to accomplish something that we could not, namely our redemption. Our Lord's death upon the cross actually accomplished something. It satisfied God's justice (his righteous judgment against us) and set us free to belong to him, to become a new kind of people. This is why such things as character, behavior, and good works are so very important. Salvation is all of grace, but the grace that saves us is a "training grace" (v 12). This is one of the emphases in this short epistle to Titus, that belief should affect behavior, that good doctrine should result in good works. We are loved, redeemed, adopted, purified, and being taught how to live a new life before God.
OUR GREAT GOD AND SAVIOR. Paul says we are "...waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ..." (v 13). You might not catch it at first reading, but verse 13 is one of those places where Jesus is called God. In Koine Greek this construction [one article + multiple substantives, as in the Granville Sharp rule] means that Jesus Christ is the one referred to as being both "God and Savior". Of course there are other places this is declared (John 1:1; 20:28; Phil 2:6; 2 Pet 1:1). Jesus had to be fully human to be a true substitute for humans before God. And he had to be fully God so that his death and his righteousness might have infinite and eternal value before our holy God. Only in this way can we be redeemed. That's why there is "one mediator between God and men" (1 Tim 2:5) and "salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
REFLECT. What a great salvation we have! What a great Story we are part of! The truths which we believe should motivate us to live joyfully for God. We should be "zealous for good works" (ESV), which can also be translated, "eager to do what is good" (NIV) or "totally committed to doing good deeds" (NLT). This is what our Lord did: "...God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him" (Acts 10:38). Does that describe our hearts today? Are we eager and zealous to go about doing good like our Savior?
"It is Christian service—in all of its many varieties—that provides the context that lends a human authenticity to the word of the gospel." (David Wells, God in the Whirlwind)
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.