Bible reading for Dec 8.
2 Chronicles 8.
"Solomon brought Pharaoh's daughter up from the city of David to the house that he had built for her, for he said, 'My wife shall not live in the house of David king of Israel, for the places to which the ark of the LORD has come are holy.'" (2 Chronicles 8:11)
3 John 1.
"I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority." (3 John 9)
POWER AND PROSPERITY. Something I noticed in both readings today: people generally can't handle power and prosperity very well. Solomon, at this point in his reign seeks to honor and obey the Lord. The Lord blesses him and the nation. But already there are indications of future problems. Solomon has married the Egyptian Pharaoh's daughter, who is not ritually clean and so must have her own residence. This is the beginning of many compromising alliances he will make (1 Kgs 11:1-8). As well, the former residents of the land -- who should have been driven out (Ex 23:31-32) -- are enslaved and put to work, but their practices of idolatry will remain entrenched in God's land. Meanwhile, great wealth is flowing into the land.
ON BEING FIRST. In our second reading the Apostle John is writing to his friend Gaius about a problem in one of the local churches. In Second John the problem was with the churches being indiscriminate in their support of so-called Christian teachers. In this letter it's the reverse: the problem is with a dictatorial pastor who gave no support to legitimate Christian teachers who had itinerant ministries. Diotrephes even dissed Apostolic authority. Power can be abused in every place -- in homes, at work, in governments, in churches, and even in good churches. Because we have an indwelling principle of sin we are quick to turn the blessings of God to our own self-serving ends. John commends the example of another man, Demetrius (v 10). And the Apostle Paul directs us to follow the example of our Lord, "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant... " (Phil 2:5-8).
MARY, DID YOU KNOW? Truly, the only human being who is able to wield absolute power for absolute good is the God-man himself, our Lord Jesus. What did Mary really understand about the power and authority of her newborn son? I've always enjoyed Mark Lowry's song, "Mary, Did You Know". My favorite rendition of this is by Mark Lowry himself, accompanied by the acapella group, Voctave: https://youtu.be/uaRpeMT1tjQ
Image credit. "The Holy Family", painting by Henry Ossawa Tanner (c. 1909). 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.