Bible reading for weekend of Dec 5-6.
2 Chronicles 5-6.
"But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built! Yet have regard to the prayer of your servant and to his plea, O LORD my God, listening to the cry and to the prayer that your servant prays before you, that your eyes may be open day and night toward this house..." (6:18-20)
THE TEMPLE FINISHED. The construction of the temple is completed (ch 5), and as the people sing, the glory of God is revealed: "...when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD, 'For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,' the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God" (5:13-14). Solomon recognizes God's choice of Jerusalem and the lineage of David, and the centrality of the temple and the ark of the covenant to the life of the nation (ch 6). He prays that the house of the Lord would be the reference point and location for his people in prayer, when they need forgiveness, victory, food, healing, comfort, or restoration.
IN WHAT DIRECTION DO WE PRAY? Jesus told the Pharisees, "I tell you, something greater than the temple is here" (Matt 12:6). And he said to the Jews in Jerusalem, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up," speaking of the temple of his body (John 2:19-21). He told the woman at the well, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father" (John 4:21-24). In the OT the temple represented God's presence and the place of communing with him. As NT believers we do not go to a special space, or face a geographical direction, but we pray to the Father in the direction (so to speak) of Jesus Christ. We pray "in Jesus' name", knowing that he is the one who has brought eternal forgiveness, victory, healing, comfort, and restoration. It is not a building but Jesus himself who reveals the glory of God (John 1:4; Matt 17:2; 2 Pet 1:16-18). Do you ever end your prayers with "in Jesus name" without thinking about all that this means?
1 John 4-5.
"And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life." (5:11-12)
DOCTRINE AND LOVE. In his rotation of themes, John comes back to doctrine (4:1-6). There is truth and there is error. Truth matters. To believe Jesus didn't come in the flesh but rather was some kind of emanation or hologram was false teaching. And of course, that would affect one's understanding of salvation, as well. To deviate from the biblical presentation of Christ is to have the "spirit of antichrist", which means that person denies or substitutes something for the truth about Christ. Of course, the beast of Revelation (Rev 13) and the lawless one (2 Thess 2) are referring to the ultimate imposter, the false Christ, who is usually referred to with the capital A, the Antichrist. Then John returns to the topic of love again (4:7-21). God loved us before we ever loved him, and his love is shown to us in Christ's atoning sacrifice (propitiation). This love, and our loving him in return, gives us confidence before God and becomes the basis from which we love others.
FAITH THAT OVERCOMES. John returns to the theme of obedience (5:1-3) and then to the topic of faith (5:4-15). Faith is receiving God's testimony about his Son (vv 9-10). It is to receive life and to have the assurance of life. We pray now for the things that God wills and have confidence that he hears and answers. [On the "sin unto death" see Tom Constable's notes on this chapter in the NET Bible.] Those born of God cannot continue their habit of sinning (or, the practice of sin, vv 18-19). "Keep yourselves from idols," is an unusual way to end this letter, but it is an arresting way of saying that whenever we accept false teaching about Christ, or whenever we neglect obedience to God or love to others, we are acting like idolaters. In that sense, we have exchanged the truth of God for a lie (Rom 1:25; see Exod 20:2-6). D. L. Moody once said, "Satan doesn't care what we worship, as long as we don't worship God." Has the First Epistle of John been helpful to you in understanding the vital signs of a true relationship with God?
Image credit. Text of 1 John 4:11-12, 14-17 (front & back) in P9 (Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 402) from the 3rd century, via Wikimedia Commons. 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.