RMM RoundUp December 23
2 Chronicles 27-28
These 2 chapters repeat the general pattern of the Chronicles in miniature. There is the hope of some revival followed by the failure to pass on faith to the next generation. Jotham did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the days of his life. He imitated what was good about his father’s faith and he avoided his more obvious mistakes. His son Ahaz however, was another story.
In chapter 28 the northern tribes of Israel and Syria were under pressure from the mighty army of Assyria. So they made a coalition together to fight back and invited Judah to join them. Under the influence of Isaiah (Isa. 7:1-6) Ahaz rightly refused to be a part of their alliance. Because of this Israel and Syria tried to pressure them by oppressing them. Interestingly, northern Israel who the Chronicler characterizes as apostate, actually obeys the Lord when confronted with over-zealous actions against Judah whereas Ahaz spirals into deeper unfaithfulness. Instead of seeking help from the Lord, Ahaz seeks the help of the Assyrians. God’s displeasure showed in Assyria’s refusal and increased trouble. Rather than humbly coming before God after this, Ahaz sought the god’s of Syria for help since they had apparently helped Syria. Not only did he seek their help but he stole from and closed the house of the Lord in order to serve them. The Chronicle plainly states,
“For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus that had defeated him and said, “Because the gods of the kings of Syria helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.” But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel.” (2 Chronicles 28:23)
Judah has become just as apostate as northern Israel; so much for the brief revival.
Reading these stories makes us long for the obedient Son! As Christmas approaches we can rejoice that the pattern of faithlessness and futility has been broken! A Child has come, born of a Virgin, in the City of David, who is Christ the Lord! Of his faithfulness, there is no end. Thanks be to God!
Assistant Pastor Evan Webster
The importance of the Apostle Paul’s ministry rings out to us today as we read through the events of Revelation 14. Even in persecution that almost cost Paul his life, he was,
...strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. (Act 14:22 ESV)
In Revelation 14 the Apostle John writes of the tribulations that precede our entrance into glory. In light of that day, believers now need to be strengthened and encouraged to persevere in the faith. This chapter, like Revelation 7, serves as a warning and promise. It is a pause of hope between the wrath of the beasts against the saints (Revelation 13) and the wrath of God that is about to be unleashed against the world and the devil (Revelation 15-18).
In verses 1-3 the multitude of worshippers are gathered before the Lamb singing the song of redemption. These faithful worshippers have resisted the enticements and defilement of the world, keeping themselves pure (see 2 Corinthians 11:2-3). They have endured suffering and martyrdom. They are blessed; their difficult labours of earth are over and their reward will be realized. This eternal blessedness of the worshippers of the Lamb stands in stark contrast to the eternal torment of the worshippers of the beast. We will say more on that in a moment.
John speaks of two harvests (verses 14-20). The first is the ingathering of those who hear the gospel, fear God and give him glory (verses 7, 15). The second pass of the sickle over the earth (verses 14-16) is the outpouring of the horrific judgment of God upon the earth. The King of kings treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty (see Revelation 19:15-16).
So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse's bridle, for 1,600 stadia. (Revelation 14:19-20 ESV)
Widespread violent death is the end of those who worship the beast, refusing to repent. If this isn’t horrific enough, the unimaginable eternal torment of hell follows these.
…he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name. (Revelation 14:10b-11 ESV)
In light of Revelation 14, at the end of 2016 and into 2017, how then shall we live?
Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. (Revelation 14:12 ESV)
By God’s grace,
We will be faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ and his Word.
We will resist the enticements of the world.
We will patiently endure hardship.
We will continue on in the faith.
We will keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and our eternal home.
Associate Pastor Jody Cross
This chapter of Zechariah speaks to the restoration of Judah and Israel. God is a merciful and loving god, and while he disciplines His children He will bring them back from exile and ruin. Here is what we should see in this passage:
1. Rely on God for your sustenance.
2. Look to those who trust and fear the Lord for your leadership.
3. When God calls, go.
In this passage God calls His people to rely on Him for their very livelihood. It would have been common for the nations to pray to their household gods for the rain needed to grow crops. God says “NO” to this. He alone brings the rain and He wants His children to come to Him for their needs.
11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11 (ESV)
Zechariah 10 also talks about how God is going to remove those who are leading His people away from Him. In the book of James God makes the point that those who teach will be judged more strictly (James 3:1), but God also says that it is a good thing to desire the role of leader.
3 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 1 Timothy 3:1 (ESV)
The warning in all of this is; while it’s a good thing to desire to lead we must make sure that we are leading in a godly way. We must first be led by the Holy Spirit into godliness and truth.
Lastly, we see that God is in the business of calling His children to Himself. This really speaks against our view of salvation. We often mistakenly think that it is we who are searching for God. The reality is that God is chasing us. He is the pursuer of lost humanity. We are accountable for our acceptance or refusal of God’s call.
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, Hebrews 3:7-8 (ESV)
We all need to remember that God is God, His ways are not our ways. We need to look to Him as our sustainer, we need to rely on Him to show us how to lead, and we need to heed His call in our lives!
Associate Pastor Jonathan Welch
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 ESV)
What a wonderful and simple command. And yet, upon careful analysis, the world might consider this command to be less than wonderful – barbaric even. They would certainly discover in this simple command a great deal of complexity. For instance, note the context of this passage. We have just read about Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet. We were also told of Jesus’ awareness of Judas’ intentions to betray him that night. Does the world really celebrate the kind of love that washes the feet of ones own betrayer?
And what about the paragraph following this command? After washing his feet Jesus goes on to tell Peter that before the night is done Peter will deny Jesus three times. This closest friend will reject Jesus in his hour of need.
Does the world truly celebrate a love for our enemies? If we assess our culture honestly, we recognize that there are many people that our society has labeled as “beyond love.” We will not be applauded for extending compassion to the “un-lovables”. And what about those who appear to be friends but who ultimately fail us when we need them? Our culture has a title for those people: Fair-weather friends. The world will see your forgiveness of such a person not as noble but as naïve.
And while the world looks on in confusion, bewilderment and often disgust on this kind of love, Jesus tells us that these responses will serve a purpose. “They will know you are my disciples.”
The way that believers love one another speaks volumes to an on-looking world. In a culture where people hold grudges like badges of honor, being quick to forgive will cause a stir.
Consider the way you speak to and about other believers. Does you love as Jesus loved?
Assistant Pastor Levi denBok
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name! You are faithful, even when we are not! Lord Jesus Christ, you are the obedient Son, we are not. You spoke as the Father gave you to speak - we can not control our tongues. You fulfilled all righteous - we have all fallen short of the glory of God. You have done for us what we could never do for ourselves - thanks be to God! Thank you for your Spirit by which we are being transformed and equipped to be the people you created and saved us to be. Strengthen us for the challenges that lie ahead - hold us fast through the tribulations and trials that will surely follow. Keep us in the faith by enabling us to do keeping things. Send us and use us for your glory and for the gathering of your people, O God, 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