Daily Scripture readings for January, set #7:
The context of Ezra 9 is clearly the specific sin of the returning exiles intermarrying with their pagan neighbors. However, it is striking how Ezra’s language in this chapter reflects the gospel in general. I’m thinking of verse 9: “For we are slaves. Yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his steadfast love.” And again in verse 15: “Behold, we are before you in our guilt, for none can stand before you because of this.”
Again in Proverbs 7 we are warned with strong words and great detail to avoid the forbidden woman. Verses 21-27 make me shudder! “With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life. And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.”
I often hear about salvation as a “corporate” thing for Israel, and theologians of the liberal persuasion will sometimes apply this corporate motif to the new covenant in an attempt to argue for some kind of universalism. Luke 15:10 would seem to refute that notion: “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
21st Century America would view much of what Paul says in the first half of 1 Timothy 5 as quite controversial. For example, verse 14: “So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander.” I’m curious if there are any younger women that read these blog posts. If so, how do these verses strike you?
Daily Scripture readings for January, set #8:
“We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this” (Ez 10:2). This is the God of Jacob, the God of the universe, with an attribute unique to Him: mercy. If you break a commandment of the sovereign of the universe that doesn’t spell the end for you. Rejoice!
“For wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her” (Prov 8:11). Think of something that you desire. Having wisdom is better than having that.
Spring-boarding from the comment I made about God’s mercy demonstrated in Ezra 10, I see another demonstration of this mercy in Luke 15. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (vs 20). I’ve never thought about this before, but perhaps the compassion of the father in this parable is the point of the whole story, especially as contrasted with the lack of compassion from the older son. God is in no way obligated to feel compassion toward us. He does this only because compassion is a good thing, and all good things find their route in Him.
I notice tonight that in Paul’s 1 Timothy 5 description of elders who deserve double honor he specifies this in verse 17: “Let the elders WHO RULE WELL be considered worthy.” Eldership itself is not worthy of the honor, but rather the right handling of the office.