Daily Scripture readings for January, set #3:
Ezra 4-5 is a pretty straightforward historical account of the political ups and downs in rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall and temple. I don’t have any notes written down for these chapters, but it strikes me as I write this today that the cycle of political discouragement and prophetic encouragement is not unique to Ezra’s day.
There are so many gold mines in today’s Proverbs reading. Verses 11-12 are my favorites: “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights” (See also, Heb 12:3-11).
Jesus’ door metaphor in Luke 13 is an interesting response to the question of whether “many” will be saved or not. The door is both “narrow” and then at one point “shut.” Both of these terms, when applied to this metaphor, clearly indicate that universalism is not in Jesus’ mind. Verse 29 follows up, however, by implying that those who are saved will represent all corners of the earth: “And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God” (vs 29).
1 Timothy 2:4 is a crazy coincidence in today’s reading, at least regarding Jesus’ response to the “how many will be saved” question asked of him in Luke 13. “(God) desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Is Jesus’ narrow and shut door metaphor compatible with this verse? A helpful clarification would be not equating “desiring” the salvation of all to “accomplishing” the salvation of all.
Daily Scripture readings for January, set #4:
“Then, according to the word sent by Darius the king, Tattenai, the governor of the province Beyond the River, Shethar-bozenai, and their associates did with all diligence what Darius the king had ordered” (Ez 6:13). It is not a difficult thing for the Lord to conform the political landscape to his will.
The plight of the wicked described in Proverbs 4:19 reveals the depth of sin’s root: “The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.” The wicked are not choosing their evil actions with full knowledge of the consequences or alternatives. Rather, wickedness has a blinding and disorienting effect that leaves us with unawareness of what we’re really doing, which of course reinforces our bondage to sin.
“But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (Lk 14:13-14). Notice that being repaid at the resurrection is called “blessed” in this situation, as opposed to being repaid here on earth (vs 12).
The qualifications for elder leadership in 1 Timothy 3 include this in verse 13: “Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.” Are the “outsiders” in this text referring to unbelievers? If so, does this conflict with Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 10?