Bible reading for Dec 17.
2 Chronicles 19-20.
"Consider what you do, for you judge not for man but for the LORD. He is with you in giving judgment. Now then, let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Be careful what you do, for there is no injustice with the LORD our God, or partiality or taking bribes." (19:6-7)
THE MATTER OF JUSTICE (ch 19). Chronicles gives us a nuanced view of the strengths and weaknesses of the kings of Judah. Jehoshaphat did well in certain areas and not well in others. (Much like many of the Lord's people today!) He had a compromising friendship with Ahab, which tacitly gave approval to attitudes and actions the Lord hated. For this he is reproved. Jehoshaphat did well, however, in having a heart for justice being exercised in the land. Biblical justice, as opposed to some notions of social justice today, generally did not involve actions for or against categories of people. It had to do with a fair application of the law of God. Specifically, individual cases could not be treated with partiality or with injustice of any kind. The judgments were moral and individual, and justice had to do with equal application under the law rather than equity of outcome.
THE VALLEY OF BERACAH (ch 20). Another thing that Jehoshaphat did well was to seek the Lord, especially in crisis. The Lord showed himself strong to defend Judah against three bordering nations who came against them. "Thus says the LORD to you, 'Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God's'" (v 15; cf Josh 5:13-15). The people of Judah went forth in worship, and the Lord turned their enemies against one another. "Beracah" means "blessing". Our confidence, like Jehoshaphat's, is that "he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 Jn 4:4). Our calling, too, is to stand fast and await the salvation of the Lord (1 Pet 5:6-11). What are some of the times in recent months when you should have been praising God rather than worrying about things?
REFLECT. These chapters demonstrate a couple of biblical principles: 1) Love for others should never include the kind of friendship which approves or shares in the evil of others. "Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD?" (19:2) reminds us of Paul's words, "Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good" (Rom 12:9). If our enemies have needs, we show love (called benevolent love) which makes their welfare our concern (Matt 5:44-48; Rom 12:17-21). But the kind of love which is called complacent love -- where we delight in and approve of people and their way of life -- should not be shown to those living in rebellion against God and his ways. And 2) another principle is that salvation is God's work (20:17; cf Jonah 2:9). As God's children we actively participate in God's work through our faith and obedience , but salvation is not a combined, synergistic effort of God and man (Rom 4:19-25; Eph 2:8-10). It is the result of God's operation not of our cooperation: "You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem" (20:17).
"And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel." (8:3-4)
SEVEN TRUMPETS. The opening of the seventh seal introduces the seven angels blowing seven trumpets. These judgments (ch 6-8) seem to be repeated in the seven bowls of judgment in chapters 15-18. Whereas the judgments of the seven seals mainly involves human disorder, these judgments are primarily environmental and cosmic in nature. The great burning mountain falling from the sky (v 8) and the great star from heaven (v 10) may have reference to something like an asteroid or large meteor striking the earth and resulting in widespread destruction. Scientists have discovered that such near-earth objects (NEO's) fly past the earth on a surprisingly routine basis. One or two of these may have planet Earth's number.
THE PURPOSE OF THIS BOOK. Revelation is about Christ's sovereignty over all powers in heaven and on earth, which is demonstrated in the unfolding of history and its consummation in Christ's return. We are told this not merely to satisfy our curiosity, or so that we can make fascinating charts, but in order that believers (all believers for all time) might be stimulated to patient endurance and faithfulness in the midst of persecution. Part of this faithfulness is shown by our prayer life. (See my comments on chapter 5 from Dec 14.) Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “Of all the blessings of Christian salvation none is greater than this, that we have access to God in prayer,” and “Prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul.” Delivered by angels with golden bowls of incense, our prayers get noticed in heaven!
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.