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bible reading dec 18



Bible reading for Dec 18. 

2 Chronicles 21.

"He was thirty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he departed with no one's regret..." (21:20) 

NEXT UP. After Jehoshaphat's death Jehoram takes the throne and kills all of his royal siblings (v 4). He is acting like a pagan king, and in fact his wife is a daughter of Ahab (v 6). This is an example of influence which results from being unequally yoked (2 Cor 6:14-16). Despite all this evil God is faithful to his covenant with David and Jehoram will not rule long (v 7). "Whoredom" (vv 11, 13) means that Jehoram promoted the worship of other gods. Just as adultery is breaking the marriage covenant, so also the worship of other gods is being unfaithful to the covenant with the Lord. Also, sexual immorality often accompanied idolatry. This chapter includes the only mention of Elijah in Chronicles (v 20). His ministry was mainly to the northern tribes of Israel (the focus of Chronicles being mainly upon Judah), but Jehoram's evil was so excessive that Elijah wrote of God's coming judgment upon him. God limits his rule to eight years and Jehoram dies a slow, excruciating death.  No one mourns his death, he is not honored, and his body is not placed in the royal tombs. Ironically, there will be another son of David, but whose life is exemplary in every way and pleasing in the sight of God, who also will be treated with dishonor by many in Israel (Isa 53:3, 9).  

REFLECT. What a sad ending for Jehoram. But God is faithful to his covenant with David and removes the son of David who rules wickedly. We see also the tragic influence of compromising relationships. We rejoice to know that Jesus Christ is God's anointed King, perfect in every way and worthy of our complete loyalty. And faithfulness on our part is important. To chase after other gods is to be a spiritual adulterer. We belong to Christ: "I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ" (2 Cor 11:2-3). 

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Revelation 9. 

"So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind.  The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number." (9:15-16) 

THE FIFTH TRUMPET. The fifth angel sounds his trumpet (vv 1-12). The last three trumpets are also called the "three woes", meaning that the judgments are becoming especially severe. The main feature of this fifth judgment is the frightening locust invasion. Various explanations have been given: these are actual locusts, these are demonic beings, these are descriptions of weaponry of modern warfare, and so on. For the various options how we might understand the details of this chapter see Tom Constables notes on this chapter in the NET Bible.  One thing we should note is that unseen spiritual realities may lie behind visible geopolitical events. An army may be both natural and physical and yet be led by demonic forces (v 11). This does not mean that every war, every plague, every natural disaster involves demonic activity or is a divine judgment. We know that here, and at other times in history, that is true. But we must be careful not to quickly identify any event -- whether individual, national, or global --  as being God's direct judgment or arising from demonic activity.  

THE SIXTH TRUMPET.  The sixth angel sounds his trumpet (vv 13-21).  The main feature here relates to the unusual horses (vv 17, 19). Whereas locusts are airborne, this judgment involves ground troops, or cavalry (v 16). Again, students differ as to how much of this is symbolic, or language of appearance. And again, angels (probably demonic since they are bound) are involved in bringing these troops from the east to the middle-east (vv 14-15; cf Rev 16:12). Many have thought the number of troops being 200 million is impossibly high. At the time the Apostle John wrote this the entire world population wasn't that high. And yet, in our day with nations in the far east numbering in the billions, this size of military is no longer unimaginable. 

THE PROBLEM OF PAIN. One intended purpose of God's judgments in history is to bring about repentance (vv 20-21). In our OT reading today we saw that the Lord gave Jehoram time to repent. The Lord shows great longsuffering and kindness toward us in order to lead us to repentance (Rom 2:4). God also gives us a conscience (Rom 2:14-16), though we often choose to ignore it.  But divine judgment cannot be avoided. C. S. Lewis wrote about this in The Problem of Pain: “But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” The Lord has patiently given us time to turn back to him and away from sin. The book of Revelation tells us that time will run out. It may be painful to repent, but in the end it will be more painful not to repent. Don't delay!


Image credit.  Locust swarm in the Congo, photo by Ben Curtis / Associated Press.  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. 

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