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2 CHRONICLES 19:1-20:37 | ROMANS 10:14-11:12 | PSALM 21:1-13 | PROVERBS 20:4-6
We are now studying the life and times of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. Here was a good king, we are told, and barring a few lapses of judgment as in the case of allying with Ahab, king of Israel, Jehoshaphat seems to know what is right and what is not. He goes to great lengths to appoint judges throughout the land, and is mindful of the advice that he receives from the prophets.
There is the one account of Jehoshaphat preparing to go to battle with some of the neighboring kingdoms, and at this time, this is the advice that he receives from one of the seers upon whom the spirit of the Lord descends: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’”
And what do you think is the battle-cry of Judah’s armies? It is the simple refrain: “Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever.” What could be more effective than that?
Turning now to our reading in the book of Romans, we find Paul continuing with his argument for inclusion of the non-Jewish peoples around the world into the kingdom of God through the work accomplished by the person of Jesus Christ, inasmuch as Paul has been preaching this message of the “good news” or gospel to both Jew and Gentile.
To all his Jewish brethren who question the legitimacy of the Gentiles being part of this greater plan of salvation, Paul attempts to explain the concept of faith through grace, and not works. And to all his other Jewish brethren who refuse to believe that Jesus Christ is the long-awaited Messiah who lived and breathed among them possibly less than a hundred years ago, Paul is attempting to explain this fundamental truth by way of quoting from the great prophets and poets of old—Moses, Isaiah, and even David—in outlining the foretelling of events, many of which have already come to pass, chief among them being the advent, life, death, and resurrection of God incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ.
There is some frustration and resignation in Paul’s words and tone even as he acknowledges that just as in times past when there was only a “remnant” who chose to adhere to the Lord, as in during the time of the seven thousand who chose not to bow down to Baal, the god installed by Ahab and Jezebel, so also, there is only a “remnant” even today among the Jewish people.
Paul says, 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
Paul cannot stress enough how important it is that one understand that this is not a matter of entitlement, but a matter of individual choice: a choice to accept this free and priceless gift of eternal life from a God who does not wish anything in return, except possibly your love. To think that you can earn it or that you might be entitled to it by virtue of birth goes against the very nature of what grace means.
Of those who were blinded to the truth of the Messiah, Paul asks, 11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!
Paul does not believe it is too late for the non-believing Jews even now; at all times in his writings, we see this great desire of his to make known to his own people, the Jews, this great and beautiful truth about the grace of God that is freely available to each one, both Jew and Gentile alike. And one could possibly argue that it is perhaps there even more so for the Jews with whose ancestor Abraham, the very first covenant of love was ever made by God.
Turning now to our reading of the psalms, we find Psalm 21 which appears to be autobiographical in style and form. David is obviously speaking of himself as he offers up these words of praise:
1The king rejoices in your strength, LORD.
How great is his joy in the victories you give!
2 You have granted him his heart’s desire
and have not withheld the request of his lips.
3 You came to greet him with rich blessings
and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.
4 He asked you for life, and you gave it to him—
length of days, for ever and ever.
5 Through the victories you gave, his glory is great;
you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty.
6 Surely you have granted him unending blessings
and made him glad with the joy of your presence.
7 For the king trusts in the LORD;
through the unfailing love of the Most High
he will not be shaken.
Finally, three verses from the book of Proverbs, each one unrelated and independent in meaning, and all three worthy of record and rumination:
4 Sluggards do not plow in season;
so at harvest time they look but find nothing.
5 The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,
but one who has insight draws them out.
6 Many claim to have unfailing love,
but a faithful person who can find?
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.