Bible reading for Nov 6.
2 Kings 19.
"So now, O LORD our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone." (2 Kings 19:19)
THE CITY SPARED. What a frightening scene -- thousands of troops in a siege against your city. What awaits -- warfare, famine, disease, and then finally the breached walls, burning, pillaging, murder, rape, and then slavery for the survivors. The Assyrians' cruel boast was not an empty one. Hezekiah brings this all in prayer to God. Isaiah the prophet gives the word of the Lord -- the city will be saved, and Sennacherib will go home only to be murdered by his own sons. Overnight, 185,000 Assyrian soldiers die in a divine judgment (2 Chron 32). Some traditions hold that this came in the form of a plague. Events unfold exactly as Isaiah prophesied. The city is spared, though much of the country has been demolished. The promise given is that "...the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD will do this" (vv 30-31). God allowed the Assyrian empire a season of power in order to humble the nations in the ancient near-east (v 25). But the time had come for the complacent Assyrians themselves to be broken and humiliated.
PRAYER AND PROPHECY. Just like Hezekiah took the letter and spread it before the Lord (v 14), so we too take our current world conditions and bring them to the Lord. And like Hezekiah trusted the word of Isaiah, so we too trust what is written in the Scriptures, that all things will turn out just as God says they will. Isaiah's word to Hezekiah is the same as to us: "Do not be afraid because of the [reviling] words that you have heard..." (v 6). God's people will survive, and they will again take root downward and bear fruit upward. "Do not be afraid."
"He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high..." (Hebrews 1:3)
HEBREWS. This letter was written to Jews who had trusted Jesus as Messiah and yet were under great pressure to give up and go back to Judaism. Perhaps they were influenced by family and community to downgrade Jesus to a prophet, a great man, or some other supernatural being, but not to consider Jesus to be God. In the ancient church this letter was always included with Paul's letters, for the message and theology in it are Pauline. But the writer does not name himself and some scholars believe that this was a teaching, or series of messages, given by Paul, but transcribed by one of his assistants, perhaps Luke or Apollos, and then circulated to the early churches. It is in the NT canon because of its connection to the Apostle Paul, its power, and its consistency with the rest of Scripture. It has timeless application for Jew and Gentile alike.
"GREATER THAN..." The author gives a summary statement about Jesus in verses 1-4 [see chart]. This is a "high Christology", that is, Jesus is pre-eminent, greater than all of creation, and the source of salvation. Creation came into being through him, and he upholds the existence of the universe by his word. The first comparison is with angels (vv 5-14). The Bible recognizes angels as exalted spiritual beings with great power. Some in that day even worshiped angels (Col 2:18). But we are told that they are "ministering spirits", serving God's people (v 14). Jesus, on the other hand, is God's unique Son. He is even called "God" (vv 8-9) in a citation from Psalm 45. Other passages are quoted: Psalm 2; 2 Samuel 7; and Psalms 45, 102, and 110. For Jews it was especially important to verify New Testament claims with passages from the Old Testament.
REFLECT. Two big questions always face us: Who is Jesus, and what did he come to do? To do what he did -- accomplishing eternal salvation for all who would trust in him -- he must somehow be God. An angel couldn't do what Jesus did. Some cults today, like the Jehovah's Witnesses, say that Jesus was an archangel (and not God). And yet, what kind of Person is being offered to us as Savior in the Bible? Is it not the God-man, Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high? Shouldn't we be like Thomas who saw the wounds of the risen Lord Jesus, and say with him, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28)
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.