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August 25: 1Ki 20 | Jer 47 | 1Cor 6

Reading 1 - 1Ki 20:42

"This is what the LORD says: 'You have set free a man I had determined should die. Therefore it is your life for his life, your people for his people' " (1Ki 20:42).

"Here is an apparent frustration of the ways of providence through human weakness. God meant the destruction of the king of Syria, and he escaped through Ahab's misplaced leniency. The case reveals the fact that there is no mechanical coercion of the human will in the working out of the divine purpose by means of men; co-operation of man in such a case is necessary, and that where the result aimed at is not attained through the failure of that co-operation, the purpose will be accomplished by another instrument, for divine purposes will never ultimately fail" (Robert Roberts, "Ways of Providence" 228).

Compare Mordecai's words to Esther: "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Est 4:14).

Reading 2 - Jer 47

"This is the word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the Philistines..." (Jer 47:1).

The Philistines are first mentioned in Gen 10:14. Apparently they came from Caphtor, or Crete, very early in Bible times (Deu 2:23; Jer 47:4; Amo 9:7). The land of Canaan received its other name -- Philistia, or Palestine -- from them (Psa 60:8; 87:4; Isa 14:29).

The Philistines ousted other peoples and settled initially on the Maritime Plain north of Gaza -- a very fertile and desirable area. They seem to have lived in the region around Gerar and Beersheba as early as the time of Abraham (Gen 21:32,34; 26:1).

After the Exodus, the tribes of Israel were directed by God to journey to Canaan by a route that bypassed the coast of the Philistines (Exo 13:17,18), presumably because they were too strong for Israel at that time. When the Israelites began to settle the Land, the tribe of Judah captured Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ekron (Jdg 1:18), three of the five main Philistine cities; the other two were Gath and Ashdod. But a bit later, because of its idolatries, Israel was handed over into the hands of the Philistines (Jdg 10:6,7). It was delivered from them (Jdg 10:11,12), but soon fell under their dominion again, and remained so, off and on, through the times of Samson (Jdg 14-16), Eli (1Sa 4-6), Samuel, and Saul (1Sa 10:5: 12:9; 13:19-21; 14:52). After Saul's army was defeated, and he and his sons slain by the Philistines (1Sa 28:4; 29:11; 31:1-13), king David overcame and repelled them on several occasions (2Sa 3:18; 5:17-25; 8:1; 19:9; 21:15-22; 23:9-17).

After David's reign, the Philistines are mentioned less frequently, although they come in for threats of judgment by various prophets at later times because they invariably aligned themselves with Israel's enemies (Babylon and Assyria) against their old foe Israel.

The Philistines are joined with other Arab nations confederated against Israel in the latter days was pointed out (Psa 83). This prophetic psalm undoubtedly had a historic fulfillment (possibly 2Ch 20 or 2Ch 32), yet it also points forward to a time when the combined enemies of Israel "know that thou alone, whose name is the Lord, art the Most High over all the earth" (v 18). Today, the modern counterpart to the ancient Philistine territory is what is now called the Gaza Strip, with its exploding Palestinian Arab population -- nearly all of which are inflamed with the most intense hatred of their Israeli "oppressors".

Bible prophecies about Philistia seem to fall into two main categories, with some natural overlapping: (1) first, the Philistines' hatred toward Israel takes shape in despicable actions; and (2) then, the Lord Himself takes vengeance upon these enemies of His people.

Reading 3 - 1Co 6:20

"You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body" (1Co 6:20).

"Do not waste a minute of God's time, not one cent of His money. You are totally 'bought with a price,' to be His faithful laborers. You were not selected from the perishing millions to indulge yourself in unfaithful stewardship, or to lounge lazily in the sun. Total devotion to the work of God is the only way to eternal joy. Indolent, self-pleasing, and embezzling servants will be cast with shame into outer darkness. Have wisdom in this brief day of such glorious opportunity. The reward for faithful devotion in His service is beyond our highest conception: the punishment for slothfulness is dreadful to contemplate. Truly, no one can earn the reward: it is a free gift -- but on conditions. Only by total love, manifested in total devotion and service, can we obtain God's mercy and acceptance. Anything less is a mockery of His infinite goodness toward us. Why would any servant be so stupid as to expect a reward, and not rather severe punishment, for laziness and unfaithful self-indulgence and self-use of his lord's entrusted goods?" (GVG).


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