BIBLE 2018 | Week 19

II Corinthians 6-8 | Sunday: 2 Corinthians 8-9 is all about giving generously to other Christians who are in need. 

For a message on 2 Corinthians 8 see here and skip to 7:09.

Exodus 21-24 | Monday: Here we read through some of the “case law” that follows the Ten Commandments.

For the difficult sections in Exodus 21 on bondservants/slaves, see this message by Peter Williams (especially starting at 25:00).

For more on these somewhat difficult chapters, see this series from Kevin DeYoung.

II Samuel 10-14 | Tuesday: We see David’s horrible sin with Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11-12 along with the rebuke he receives from the prophet Nathan.

For a well written and powerful article on David’s great sin, see this article by Jon Bloom.

Psalms 54-56 | Wednesday: Marshall Segal has written a helpful article on Psalm 55: 

“King David knew the bitter flavor of betrayal. 

It is not an enemy who taunts me — 
     then I could bear it; 
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me — 
     then I could hide from him. 
But it is you, a man, my equal, 
     my companion, my familiar friend. (Psalm 55:12–13) 

My companion. My familiar friend. My loved one. The one I trusted. I sailed out into stormy seas with them, filled with hope and affection and confidence, and then suddenly they fled to safety while they watched me drown alone. 

We can hide from faraway enemies — from dangerous strangers or foreign armies — but we can’t hide from loved ones. The memories creep in everywhere we might hide, but their sweetness has been poisoned by betrayal. 

David had his enemies — by the thousands — but the worst enemies had been his best friends. 

We don’t know who the familiar friend of Psalm 55 was, but we do know David was betrayed by the ones closest to him. Maybe the most painful betrayal of all was by his son Absalom. 

David’s son murdered his other son to avenge his sister’s rape. Read those words again slowly, and think about the awful weight of this father’s heartache. If you have children, think about trying to care for your family in the midst of that kind of relational hurricane, all while your own heart is being beaten up and drowned. 

Despite the evil Absalom had done, David brought the prodigal murderer home (2 Samuel 14:21). He established boundaries (2 Samuel 14:24), but he eventually welcomed his son with a kiss (2 Samuel 14:33). 
How did Absalom respond to his father’s kindness, patience, and forgiveness? 

He conspired to overthrow his father’s kingdom (2 Samuel 15:12). He slandered his father’s reputation (2 Samuel 15:3). He lied to his father’s face (2 Samuel 15:7–8). And he forced his father into hiding for fear of his life (2 Samuel 15:14). He not only betrayed his own flesh and blood, but he betrayed the father who had forgiven him for murdering his brother. And his betrayal cost twenty thousand men their lives (2 Samuel 18:7). 

David may not have written Psalm 55 about Absalom, but he certainly could have said this about his son: “We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng” (Psalm 55:14). He could have been thinking of his son’s deadly lies in 2 Samuel 15:7–8: 

My companion stretched out his hand against his friends; 
     he violated his covenant. 
His speech was smooth as butter, 
     yet war was in his heart; 
his words were softer than oil, 
     yet they were drawn swords. (Psalm 55:20–21) 

The soft words of a friend can be drawn swords in disguise — trading precious trust for selfish gain — convincingly promising precisely the affection and loyalty he or she surrenders so eagerly. David knew the most intimate kind of pain and opposition. Do you? 

If so, you feel far more alone than you really are. Let the “But” in verse 16 call you out of loneliness and despair into hope again: 

But I call to God, 
     and the Lord will save me. 
Evening and morning and at noon 
     I utter my complaint and moan, 
     and he hears my voice. 
He redeems my soul in safety 
     from the battle that I wage, 
     for many are arrayed against me. 
God will give ear and humble them, 
     he who is enthroned from of old, Selah 
because they do not change 
     and do not fear God. (Psalm 55:16–19) 

Take refuge in the friendship of God. When friends or family leave you or fail you, know that he never will. He remains faithful, strong, caring, and close by — evening, morning, and at noon. He is relentless, persistent, unfailing in his love for you, and his love for you is strong enough to overcome any love that has failed you. 

Take refuge in the friendship of God, and let God judge the betrayer. As difficult as it might be to run into the arms of God when we’ve been betrayed in love, it may be even more difficult to surrender our desire for vengeance — our innate longing to make the one who hurt us feel something of the pain we felt. 

But the same love that holds and heals us in the wake of betrayal also frees us from having to administer justice. God, in unparalleled love, not only promises never to leave or betray us, but he also promises to punish every sin committed against us — either in the horrors of hell or in the death of his Son. As you wait for him to act, remember that your Judge intimately knows your pain. Jesus was not only betrayed to death by one of the worst of his twelve closest friends, he was also denied three times by one of the best — and then abandoned by the rest. 

Instead of going after his betrayer, David went hard after God. He trusted him to bring justice. 

Cast your burden on the Lord, 

     and he will sustain you; 
he will never permit 
     the righteous to be moved. 
But you, O God, will cast them down 
     into the pit of destruction; 
men of blood and treachery 
     shall not live out half their days. 
But I will trust in you. (Psalm 55:22–23) 

“But I will trust in you.” Those six words are strong enough to carry you over the massive waves of betrayal. Resist the impulse to take things into your own hands (or words), and rest your heart, the relationship, and the future in his capable hands. You can trust him.” 

Job 37-38 | Thursday: D.A. Carson gives us his reflection on Job 38: 

As we approach the end of the drama, God addresses Job directly for the first time (Job 38); he will continue to address Job through chapter 41. Elsewhere God speaks to Elijah in a still, small, voice (1 Kings 19); here God speaks to Job out of a storm (38:1), for he wants even the form of his communication, or its venue, to substantiate the large points he wishes to make. 

God’s first words are terrifying: “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me” (38:2-3). This opening salvo might lead the unwary to think that Job is the one with whom God is primarily displeased, and that the three miserable comforters have got off rather lightly. But like a drama that teeters back and forth between this perspective and that, this book is not finished yet. After all, the opening chapter records God’s estimate of Job, and nothing in these chapters reverses that estimate. Further, I have already drawn attention to 42:7, where God says he is angry with the three friends (something he never says about Job), because they did not speak what was right about God (as God’s servant Job did). 

God’s terrifying challenge to Job in these four chapters must be placed within the larger framework of the book, if we are to make sense of the whole. Job has repeatedly said that he wishes to question God. Now God says that he will question Job (38:3). Yet the nature of the barrage of rhetorical questions God raises in these chapters is scarcely the kind of questions Job wants to address. Job wants to talk about his own sufferings, about the justice of them, about God’s role in sanctioning such sufferings, and the like. He wants to do this not least because he desires to maintain his justifiable reputation for integrity and righteousness. But God’s questions focus on a much bigger picture. God asks, in effect: “Job, were you present at the dawn of creation? Do you have intimate knowledge of the entire world, let alone of the heavens? Do you control the course of the constellations—Pleiades and Orion, let us say? Were you the one who constructed the human mind, so that you can explain how it works? Does your word exercise the kind of providential sway that grants food to hungry ravens or to a hunting lioness?” 

At one level, of course, this response does not at all answer the kind of questions Job was raising. At another level, it does. It warns Job that his capacity to understand is more limited than he thinks. It prepares us for the conclusion that God wants something more from us than mere understanding.” 

Jeremiah 32-36 | Friday: Jeremiah 32:36-44 is a pointer to the new covenant and promises that find their ultimate fulfillment in the New Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 33:14-26 contains multiple mentions of the offspring of David, which is Jesus.

Luke 1-2 | Saturday: In Luke 2 Jesus is presented in the temple. In Luke 2:25-35 we read about Simeon: 

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 

29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, 
    according to your word; 
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 
31     that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, 
    and for glory to your people Israel.” 

33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” 

R.C. Sproul writes about this event:

“There are many interesting characters in Luke’s gospel, one of my favorites is Simeon. Very little is known about him, but the sketchy profile that Luke gives us is loaded with significance. Simeon was righteous and devout. He was an old man, who had spent his life probably looking for the consolation of Israel…We are told that the Holy Spirit was upon him…the context of this statement indicates that the Holy Spirit was abiding on Simeon.

Simeon was especially singled out by God to be uniquely gifted by the Holy Spirit…We read in verse 26: “it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” 

Luke does not tell us how Simeon received that revelation. All we know is, God privately told Simeon that before he died he would see the Messiah with his own eyes…

When I think of Simeon, I think of this old saint, who spent his days in the temple. He would come into the temple each morning. He would look around and the priest in the temple would say, ‘What are you doing, Simeon? What are you looking for?’ Simeon would say, ‘Well, I just came today to check and see if the Messiah was here.’ He would be disappointed day after day after day.

But God had told him that he would see the Messiah and he had waited and waited, and gone time after time after time, presumably, to the temple, yet every time that he went, looking for the Messiah, the Messiah was nowhere to be seen. The promise was not fulfilled. 

But then, one day, as was his custom, he came to the temple, and we read that he came, ‘in the Spirit’. Luke tells us that when the parents brought in the child Jesus, ‘to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he (that is, Simeon) took him up in his arms and blessed God’.

He saw a poverty-stricken peasant couple, holding a baby which perhaps was still adorned with swaddling cloths, but instantly, because of the gift of the Holy Spirit, he recognized the Savior.”

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