Bible reading for weekend Nov 7-8.
2 Kings 20-21.
"And Hezekiah welcomed them, and he showed them all his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his armory, all that was found in his storehouses. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them." (2 Kings 20:13)
HEZEKIAH (ch 20). After being spared from the Assyrian conquest Hezekiah makes the mistake of inviting the king of the now-upcoming Babylonian empire into his house and showing him all his wealth. One does not simply cozy up to a powerful pagan dictator and expect to remain unaffected. Hezekiah was healed by the Lord, and his life extended -- along with the miracle of the shadow moving back -- but he does not use the extra time well. He should have taken God's early retirement offer.
MANASSEH AND AMON (ch 21). Hezekiah is followed by one of the worst kings of Judah, Manasseh. Though Manasseh repents later in life, his reign is filled with many abominations, including idolatry and child sacrifice. "Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another..." (v 16). Morally and spiritually, Judah had sunk below the behavior of the pagan nations around her. The fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian exile are foretold (vv 12-14). Amon, the son of Manasseh, comes to the throne and has a similar but thankfully shorter reign.
REFLECT. No nation this side of eternity has a lock on virtue or blessing. The advances of one generation can easily be lost in the next. Even a civilized nation can slide into barbarity, seemingly overnight. This is seen often throughout history. Ronald Reagan once said, "Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation..." This can be said for virtue, and justice, and humility, and goodness. (It's important to read history!) The lesson for the church -- not just from history but also from our Lord's words in Revelation 2-3 -- is that the life and spiritual health of any local church can be lost within a generation. In studying the decline of churches over time, Justin Taylor calls attention to the trend that one generation of a church believes the gospel and holds, as well, that there are certain social, economic, and political entailments. The next generation assumes the gospel, but identifies with the entailments. The following generation denies the gospel, and the "entailments” become everything. Read more here.
FYI, here's my current reading:
-- Live Not By Lies, by Rod Dreher
-- The Way of Life, by Charles Hodge
-- Twilight of the Gods, by Ian Toll
-- Breaking Bread with the Dead, by Alan Jacobs
-- The Father Brown mysteries, by G. K. Chesterton
"Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?..." (Hebrews 2:1-3)
THE HUMANITY OF JESUS (ch 2). Though Jesus is greater than the angels, he is also the perfect human being: he was perfected through suffering and became the perfect mediator for us. This does not mean Jesus was not perfect from birth -- he was always without sin -- but that there was a process, a history, in which his humanity would be tested and matured, and become part of his messianic identity. This is a reason (one of many) why we should come to him, for he is "a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted" (vv 17-18).
GREATER THAN MOSES (ch 3). The next comparison is with Moses. No other figure in the Old Testament stands larger than Moses. However, Jesus was more faithful in God's service than Moses. And Jesus' glory is greater than his (v 3). How much higher is Jesus than Moses? "Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses- as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.)" (vv 3-4). Thus Jesus is glorified as creator, as God, meaning that he shares deity with the Father. There's an infinite distance between his glory and Moses' glory.
REFLECT. One of the main purposes of this letter is to encourage believers not to yield to pressure to abandon the faith. Our culture, our media, our leaders, even our family, can demoralize us from finding our life and assurance in the Lord Jesus and his kingdom. Even our own hearts are so very fallible. "Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today,' that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin" (3:12-13; cf 2:1-4). This is one reason that the local church and Christian fellowship are so important -- there we speak truth to one another, and so help each other stay faithful to the Lord.
Image credit. Photo by Giancarlo Revolledo 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.