RMM RoundUp December 17
2 Chronicles 19-20
Jehoshaphat is one of the more noteworthy reformers in David’s line. In chapter 18 however, we are introduced to his fatal flaw. Jehoshaphat makes a marriage alliance with the house of Ahab. He has forgotten the example of his great grandfather Solomon:
For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father (1 Kings 11:4 ESV)
Jehosphaphat’s sin was perhaps even more grievous than Solomon’s because Ahab was not a foreign power like Pharaoh, rather he was an apostate from Judaism and an idolater. He was an active persecutor of real religion and a determined promoter of immorality. After making his unholy alliance and following Ahab into war, Jehoshaphat receives a visit from a prophet of God. He says:
“Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Because of this, wrath has gone out against you from the LORD. (2 Chronicles 19:2 ESV)
Despite his many good works and honourable achievements, more of which are recited in these two chapters, his besetting sin seems to be over intimate association with wicked allies. At the end of chapter 20 in the last narrative of his life we are told:
35 After this Jehoshaphat king of Judah joined with Ahaziah king of Israel, who acted wickedly…. Then Eliezer the son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Because you have joined with Ahaziah, the LORD will destroy what you have made.” (2 Chronicles 20:35–37 ESV)
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33 ESV)
If we assume the overlapping parallelism of Revelation, as many evangelical scholars do, then the 7th seal represents the end of the tribulation story told under the symbolism of this particular figure. Kind of like those little Russian dolls however, inside the 7th seal we meet 7 trumpets. Perhaps it would be fair to say that the last Act of the drama has 7 significant scenes. This interpretation seems to be bourn out by the fact that the 7th trumpet (the final scene in the last Act of the drama) seems to be characterized by utter finality:
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15 ESV)
That is both an end and a new beginning. The 7th trumpet then, marks the end of all things and the beginning of the fully consummated reign of Jesus Christ in the New Heavens and the New Earth.
Chapter 8 then is depicting for us the first 4 scenes in the final act. What is interesting for us to note is that the end comes in one sense, in response to our prayers. Look carefully at verses 3-4:
3 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, 4 and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. 5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. (Revelation 8:3–5 ESV)
When the judgment of God finally falls upon the earth, it comes in response to the prayers of the saints. How long O Lord? Behold - he comes and who can stand on the day of his appearing?
In this fifth vision we see God promising to encourage and resource the two main leaders associated with the renewal of the covenant community at that time: Jeshua the High Priest and Zerubbabel the Governor. If the lampstand represents the witness of the people of God (a reasonable assumption) then the vision seems to be saying that God is using these two leaders to renew and refurbish that witness. In verse 14 we are told that the two olive trees are the two sons of new oil - they are two men who bring fresh energy and power. The vision makes clear that the power and energy comes ultimately from God.
“This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts." (Zechariah 4:6 ESV)
In chapter 3 we saw that Jeshua was saved and equipped for service by the grace of God and here we learn that the same applies to Zerubbabel.
This chapter has several important similarities with Ephesians 4. In that chapter the Apostle Paul says that God is building up his house and to do so:
He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11–12 ESV)
The gifts God gives are people; leaders are a gift! As Bible reading Christians we must avoid two extremes. On the one hand we must not worship our leaders or follow them blindly. After all, their strength ultimately comes from God and if the story of the Bible teaches us anything it is that all people are fallen and in need of grace. Leaders are sinners. But on the other hand, we must avoid the contemporary temptation to despise and discount leaders. Few great movements have come about apart from very gifted leaders. God moves the direction of history through the calling and equipping of great men and women. God builds his church through gifted leaders. This is a difficult balance for us to maintain and calls for great discernment.
When reading this chapter Christians are often distracted by the issue of whether or not Jesus lied to his biological brothers. They tell him to go to the Feast in Jerusalem to prove himself by mighty works and he replies:
You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After saying this, he remained in Galilee. (John 7:8–9 ESV)
The text goes on to say however that later, after his brothers went to the feast, he also went, though secretly. Did Jesus lie? Did he mislead? Did he deceive? While this is not the major point of the chapter, it does seem to be the piece most Christians need help with. D.A. Carson provides helpful clarity:
Jesus’ response to his brothers is not that he is planning to stay in Galilee forever, but that because his life is regulated by his heavenly Father’s appointments he is not going to the Feast when they say he should. The ‘counsel of the wicked’ (Ps. 1:1) cannot be permitted to set his agenda. His ‘not’ turns down his brothers’ request; it does not promise he will not go to the Feast when the Father sanctions the trip.1
Jesus does not make his plans in order to serve his own ambitions - he goes when and where the Father sends him.
Jesus eventually does go to the Feast and he once again teaches with such power and authority that the officers sent to arrest him fail to do so. When asked to explain their inaction they say:
“No one ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:46 ESV)
The story reveals the growing division among the Jewish people as to the identity of Jesus. Some say he is the prophet anticipated by Moses, others that he is the Christ but the chief priests and Pharisees are convinced that he is a deceiver and a threat. The life and message of Jesus is, as Paul will say later:
to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. (2 Corinthians 2:16 ESV)
Who is sufficient for these things?
Heavenly Father, you are faithful to all your promises! The people living in darkness have seen a great light! Thanks be to God for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! He came to do for us what we could never do for ourselves and to pay for what we did do in his body on the cross - praise his name! Lord, you are Sovereign and you have determined the end from the beginning from before the world began and yet still you hear our prayers. Still our tears are precious in your sight and you have ordained to effect judgment in response to the pleas of your people. O Lord come! See the wickedness of man on every side - hear the cry of your saints Lord, see the blood of the martyrs. Come and save us! Thy kingdom come and thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Strengthen your church, prepare us and adorn us in anticipation of your coming we ask, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Pastor Paul Carter
N.B. RMM Roundup assumes the Bible reading guide popularly known as “The RMM Bible Reading Plan”. You can find a single page version of the 1 year plan here: http://www.edginet.org/mcheyne/year_classic_single_letter.pdf and a version of the 2 year plan here: http://www.edginet.org/mcheyne/year_carson_a4.pdf
1 D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, Pillar New Testament Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 309.