July 22: 2Sa 7 | Jeremiah 12 | Matthew 23
Reading 1 - 2Sa 7:16
The LORD God's promise to David:
"Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me [according to some Hebrew manuscripts and the Septuagint; but most Hebrew manuscripts have 'you'!]; your throne will be established forever" (2Sa 7:16).
In this covenant is revealed the selection of David's house as the family through whom the Messiah was to come. Note the development of the covenant:
Adamic covenant: Gen 3:15.
Abrahamic covenant: Gen 13:14-18. Immortal seed of Abraham will inherit the land of Palestine.
Jacob's prophecy: Gen 49:8-10. Selection of the tribe of Judah as the royal tribe.
Davidic covenant: 2 Sa 7:12-16. Selection of the family of David as ancestors of the Messiah.
Gabriel's visit to Mary: Luke 1:26-35. Selection of the virgin to bear the Son of God.
David's kingdom, of Israel, is also called also the Kingdom of God, and the kingdom of the Lord: 2Ch 13:8; 1Ch 28:5.
The key points of the promise to David are:
David's throne will be eternal (Psa 89:34-36; Isa 9:6,7; 55:1-3).
It will be established through a natural descendant of David (v 12; Ps 132:11; Jer 33:17-21; Isa 11:1-5; Acts 2:30,31; 13:22,23; Luk 1:30-34)...
...Who would also be the Son of God (v 14; Psa 89:26,27; Heb 1:5; Luke 1:32).
After David had died (vv 12,19; Act 2:29)...
...But in his presence (AV has "before you", instead of "before me"): Isa 24:23; Act 15:16; Jer 30:9-11; 2Sa 23:5; Isa 9:6,7; Luk 1:32,33.
Reading 2 - Jer 12:1-5
Jeremiah complains to God:
"You are always righteous, O LORD, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease? You have planted them, and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit. You are always on their lips but far from their hearts" (Jer 12:1,2).
"It was Job's problem over again, in almost as acute a form, for, like Job, Jeremiah could urge his own blamelessness..." (HA Whittaker, "Jeremiah" 49).
"Yet you know me, O LORD; you see me and test my thoughts about you" (v 3).
Beginning in v 5, God answers Jeremiah. "Nevertheless in the LORD's response there was but cold comfort at present for this solitary sensitive witness for truth..." (Ibid).
"If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?" (v 5).
" 'Your experiences hitherto are but mild compared with what is to come; this is but an apprenticeship to fit you greater rigour and higher endeavour'... Poor Jeremiah! Is there no crumb of comfort for your soul? Hold fast to your confidence in the righteous judgments of Jehovah, and stay yourself on His promise of a day when 'a King shall reign in righteousness'; there is naught else in this bitter evil present" (Ibid 50).
Reading 3 - Mat 23:29-31
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets" (Mat 23:29-31).
"How? Why? Might not the Pharisees have replied that, by honoring their remains and their memory, they condemned their murderers? The greatest sin of Israel and of the world was and is, apostasy from the true God and His worship by idolatry; and the most prevalent mode of this apostasy is sacrilegious reverence for dead men's tombs and bones... Now, it was for rebuking this and other kinds of idolatry, that 'the fathers killed the prophets'; and those who built their tombs would, in like manner, kill anyone who condemned their idolatrous reverence for these very sepulchers. Thus the Pharisees, by the very act of building those tombs of the prophets, and 'honoring' them as they did, showed plainly that they were activated by the same spirit that led their fathers to kill them; and, to make this matter self-evident, they very soon proceeded to crucify the Lord of the prophets because of his faithful rebukes. Nor has this spirit changed in the least during the subsequent eighteen hundred years. Now, here, in Jerusalem, should the Savior reappear, and condemn with the same severity our modern Pharisees, they would kill him upon his own reputed tomb. I say this not with a faltering perhaps, but with a painful certainty. Alas! how many thousands of God's people have been slaughtered because of their earnest and steadfast protest against pilgrimages, idolatrous worship of saints, tombs, bones, images, and pictures! And whenever I see people particularly zealous in building, repairing, or serving those shrines, I know them to be the ones who allow the deeds of those who killed the prophets, and who would do the same under like circumstances" (WM Thomson, "The Land and the Book" 639,640).
Do we "build up" the "tombs" of our Christadelphian "prophets"? If so, is there any danger in doing so?
Are dead "prophets" less threatening than living ones? Seems to me that dead "prophets" (and I use the term loosely here -- whether referring to Isaiah and Jeremiah, or John Thomas and Robert Roberts) can be shut up in books, closed between the covers, and "controlled"... whereas living "prophets" go walking around sticking their noses into our business when we least like it, encouraging us more directly by word or deed to DO something when we would rather do nothing, and generally kicking us out of our "comfort zones". They can't be as easily "shut up" or "put on a shelf". Maybe that's why we don't care for the living "prophets". Maybe that's why we sometimes hasten their demise! Jesus also said, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor" (Mar 6:4).
RULES AND PRINCIPLES:
Being "religious" and living "in Christ" can be two completely different things. One lives by strict rules which must be obeyed wherever the cost and misses the principles upon which they are based. The other lives his life by principles that govern what he does and doesn't do. He does live by rules, but by a set of ideals.
This was the major difference between the Pharisees and Jesus. The Pharisees were legalists. They had a rule for any and every situation and the rules became a heavy burden to those who tried to keep them. Their rules even ended up making them ignore important principles like honouring your Father and Mother because they put so much effort into obeying the rules.
But on the other hand, Jesus life was lived by principles which meant that most of the rules were being kept - not because they were rules - but because they were involved in living life properly. Jesus' principles were things like living in love for God and your neighbor, seeking the kingdom of God first, and looking for justice, mercy and faithfulness.
Let us be like Christ and live by the principles laid down in the Bible, rather than being burdened by rules that do not allow us to see or grow.