Bible reading for Dec 16.
2 Chronicles 18.
"Ahab king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, 'Will you go with me to Ramoth-gilead?' He answered him, 'I am as you are, my people as your people. We will be with you in the war.'" (18:3)
A LYING SPIRIT. How can God -- who is absolutely true, who speaks only the truth (Titus 1:2; Heb 6:18) -- send a lying spirit to deceive Ahab? Sometimes the judgment for rejecting the truth is removal of the truth: "....because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false" (2 Thess 2:9-12). God does not delight in untruth or blindness, but he may send such as judgment upon those who do not want the truth or the light. Light rejected brings darkness. Read more about this on the 1 Kings 22 post on October 19.
UNEQUALLY YOKED. One big lesson here is that, for all the good things that Jehoshaphat did, he was too accommodating and too blind toward unholy alliances (2 Cor 6:14-18). It's true that Israel, the northern kingdom, were kinsmen according to flesh. But as Paul writes, "...not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel" (Rom 9:6). There was no spiritual kinship between Jehoshaphat and Ahab, and there was no reason for them to join their families and be in any kind of alliance together. Where might you be tempted to make compromising relationships and commitments?
"For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." (7:17)
ISRAEL SHALL BE SAVED. In an interlude between the sixth and seventh seal we are shown that salvation shall come to all the nations. But especially, we note that a central role is returned to the tribes of Israel. As we saw in Romans 11, despite a partial hardening of Israel and and a great ingathering of Gentiles, the time will come when the people of Israel will be very responsive to the gospel of their Messiah. There is a special place and future for ethnic Israel (Rom 11:26-29; cf Zech 12:9-14). The number 144,000 may be symbolic, representing fullness or completion (being 12 tribes X 12,000). Or perhaps, it's the number of Jewish evangelists during the tribulation period (Zech 8:23). There is certainly a sense of completion and fulfillment. And so, "all Israel will be saved."
PRAY for the fulfillment of God's promises not just to the nations (Gen 12:3) but also to Israel, God's people of the Old Testament. "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! 'May they be secure who love you! Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!'" (Psalm 122:6-7)
BY THE WAY, I do not think that the Church replaces Israel. The multi-ethnic, multi-national church is seen in 7:9-17. Verses 4-8 represents something different, and I believe it is best to understand Israel as, well, Israel. I recommend the messages of S. Lewis Johnson, especially on the topics of prophecy and eschatology, here.
Image credit. "The Wailing Wall", painting by Henry Ossawa Tanner, ca. 1898. 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.