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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, a ministry of


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