Skip to main content

bible reading dec 15



Bible reading for Dec 15. 

2 Chronicles 17.

"His heart was courageous in the ways of the LORD. And furthermore, he took the high places and the Asherim out of Judah." (17:6) 

JEHOSHAPHAT, a good king of Judea, is next in the Chronicles' account. He had a lengthy reign (25 years) and was noted for seeking the Lord and obeying his commandments. He built a strong military and fortified Judah from their enemies, which included Israel at times.  Further, Jehoshaphat was unique in that he had the courage to address the faith and practice of the people outside of Jerusalem. He sent out teachers of the Law to instruct people in the cities and towns of Judah, as well as shutting down the high places of worship (vv 6-9). 

THE HIGH PLACES. At first there seems a discrepancy between the statement in verse 6 about removing the high places, and what's reported in 1 Kings 22:43, "Yet the high places were not taken away, and the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places." Actually, a little further in Chronicles, there is agreement with the Kings account: "The high places, however, were not taken away; the people had not yet set their hearts upon the God of their fathers" (20:33).  The high places (Heb., bamah) were places throughout the land where Jews would bring sacrifices, rather than traveling all the way to Jerusalem, as the Law said. These alternative worship sites were usually "inclusive" (having other gods represented there, i.e., idols) and were sexually "liberated" (having cult prostitutes available). As you can guess, they were popular with the people. The picture -- when we put Kings and Chronicles together -- is that Jehoshaphat had the courage to shut down these high places, to remove the idols and prostitutes, but ultimately with limited success. The people kept bringing their sacrifices to those locations, or perhaps new locations, rather than to the temple in Jerusalem. 

REFLECT. Jehoshaphat exemplifies a leader who seeks, and keeps seeking, the Lord and walking obediently in his ways. But more, he had courage to promote truth among the people by sending out teachers of the Law (a positive action), and in removing the high places (a negative action). This reminds us of the Apostle Paul: "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Cor 10:4-5).  Good church leaders should be able to teach, encourage, exhort, reprove, and rebuke, …whatever is needed. Will you pray for your church leaders that they would have courage to speak the truth, and to reprove falsehood and sin? What about you? Whether you are among family, friends, church, or the wider community, do you have courage to speak the truth of Christ and his word, and also willing to confront the lies of the devil and of our present age? Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you courage in these days! 

=============  

Revelation 6. 

"Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, 'Come!'" (6:1)

SO IT BEGINS. History will consummate with the second coming of Christ, accompanied by global judgment. Over the next chapters we will encounter seven seals, seven bowls, and seven trumpets. Chapter 6 reveals the breaking of the first six seals: nations at war, violence and bloodshed, food shortages, pestilence and plague, persecution, and environmental catastrophes. "Pestilence" in the ESV (v 8) is translated in other versions as "disease" (NET, NLT) or "plague" (NIV, CSB).  The Greek word is "death", often for death by natural causes, or at least here as death by unseen causes, like viruses or germs (cf 18:8). 

YET FUTURE. One of the reasons I take most of Revelation as referring to the future is because of the global, even cosmic, impact of these judgments. Granted that some of the language is symbolic, or language of appearance, it still seems these judgments are beyond anything human history has yet to see. I believe that the seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls (chapter 6-18) cover the last seven years of earth's history before Christ's visible return. 

THE NATURE OF JUDGMENT. Some may find fault with God for bringing such destructive judgment to our world. But it's our sin and rebellion that's destructive. And, to be clear, it is not our world, but his. God's judgments are righteous and true (Rev 15:3). Revelation opens with a throne and a white horse, and closes with a white horse and a throne. (There are 46 references to thrones in this book.)  What we may view as destructive judgment is, in the Bible's view, the withdrawal of God's blessing and order. In the seven days of creation (Gen 1-2) mankind is given the blessings of life, boundaries, good environment, social order, reproduction, freedom, rest, and peace. Judgment is the loss of those blessings -- a loss of order, boundaries, environment, rule over creation, food, family, peace, freedom, and life itself. Though we as humans have a responsibility to actively preserve these blessings, ultimately they are not the product of human achievement but rather the gifts of God who is Creator and Redeemer.  In a sense judgment in this world is a return to pre-creation disorder, which may be called chaos (Gen 1:1-2; cf Isa 45:18). 



Image credit. At top: detail of "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse", by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1887. At bottom: In seminary (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1981-86) we often had to draw charts of books of the Bible. This helped us see how sections and chapters related and how the argument of the book was advanced. The photo above is from a chart (first half of a chart) that I made in a Bible Exposition class taught by the venerable Stanley Toussaint.  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.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

bible reading nov 1-2

  Bible reading for weekend Nov 1 -- 2 Nov 1 -- Hosea 7 and Psalms 120-122 Nov 2 -- Hosea 8 and Psalms 123-125 ================   "Were I to write for him my laws by the ten thousands, they would be regarded as a strange thing." (Hosea 8:12) THE RESULTS OF SIN (ch 7-8). Notice the words and metaphors to describe Israel's sinful condition: they are surrounded with, and proud of, their evil (7:1-3); like adulterers in the heat of passion (7:4-5); their anger is like a hot oven (7:6-7); they are like a half-cooked (one side only) cake (7:8); their strength is gone (7:9); they are like silly doves easily trapped (7:11-12); they are undependable like a warped bow (7:16). In spite of all of this they are so proud of themselves! (We might say they have a strong self-esteem.) They have spurned what is good (8:3); they sow to the wind and have no real fruit (8:7); they are a useless vessel (8:8) and a wild donkey wandering alone (8:9); they regard God's law as a strange thing

bible reading dec 3-5

  Bible reading for weekend December 3 -- 5  Dec 3 -- Nahum 1 and Luke 17 Dec 4 -- Nahum 2 and Luke 18 Dec 5 -- Nahum 3 and Luke 19 ================ "The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. But with an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness." (Nahum 1:7-8)  TIME'S UP FOR NINEVEH (Nah 1-3). The prophecy of Nahum is God's word to the people of Nineveh, part two. Jonah was part one, chronicling a city-wide repentance of Assyrians in the capital about a hundred years earlier. The closing bookend is Nahum, and the Assyrian empire is big, powerful, and aggressive. Notice the references to chariots (2:3-4, 13; 3:2). The Assyrians were a militarily advanced culture, and cruel in their warfare. Whatever spiritual receptivity they had at the time of Jonah was gone by the time of Nahum. Nahum may not have actually visited Nineveh, for it seems the book was w

bible reading dec 13-14

Bible reading for December 13 -- 14  Dec 13 -- Haggai 2 and John 3 Dec 14 -- Zechariah 1 and John 4 ================ "Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts..." (Haggai 2:4) THE LATTER GLORY (Haggai 2). The Jews, having returned from Babylonian exile, must get to work and finish rebuilding the temple. For this reason, the post-exilic period is called the "second temple" period. King Herod would later enlarge and add many embellishments to the site. But the beginnings in Haggai are so modest compared to the temple originally built by Solomon, and the people were discouraged. The Lord asks, "Is it not as nothing in your eyes?" (v 3) He tells them that they are to be strong and to keep working, for he is with them, no matter how humble the project may seem. This principle applies to us, as well (Matt 28:20; Eph 6:10). We should not become disheartened at the smallness of the return on our