Today's Readings: 1 Chronicles 18 | Ezekiel 30 | Galatians 6
Reading 1 - 1Ch 18:1-3
"In the course of time, David defeated the Philistines and subdued them, and he took Gath and its surrounding villages from the control of the Philistines. David also defeated the Moabites, and they became subject to him and brought tribute. Moreover, David fought Hadadezer king of Zobah, as far as Hamath, when he went to establish his control along the Euphrates River..." (1Ch 18:1-3).
This narrative is parallel to 2Sa 8.
David's victories over the seven surrounding kingdoms (Zobah, Philistia, Moab, Syria, Edom, Ammon, Amalek) secure his own kingdom. In this they may be compared to the seven thunders of the Apocalypse -- in which Christ's kingdom subjugates the whole earth (Rev 10:3):
David first cleared Zion of enemies;
then brought "ark" to Zion (in Last Days terms, this may signify the glorified saints being established in Jerusalem); and
finally, the seven campaigns extend and secure the kingdom.
Reading 2 - Eze 30:4,5
"A sword will come against Egypt, and anguish will come upon Cush. When the slain fall in Egypt, her wealth will be carried away and her foundations torn down. Cush and Put, Lydia and all Arabia, Libya and the people of the covenant land will fall by the sword along with Egypt" (Eze 30:4,5).
An enemy would invade Egypt, slay many of her people, take away her wealth, and tear down her national foundations. Her neighbor Ethiopia (Cush, Nubia) would despair when this happened because Ethiopia had strong ties to Egypt. Egypt's other allies would also fall: Put (on the African coast of the southern Red Sea), Lud (Lydia in Anatolia), Arabia, and Libya (farther west on the Mediterranean coast of Africa). "Arabia" (Heb ha'arab) translates one pointing of the Hebrew text while "mixed people" (Heb ha'ereb) renders another. Men from Put, Lud, Arabia, and other countries served Egypt as mercenary soldiers (cf Eze 27:10; Jer 25:20,24; 46:9,21), and they may be the "mixed people" in view, if that is the correct reading. The Judeans who had fled to Egypt from the Babylonians would have suffered too, and they would have been part of this "mixed people."
Reading 3 - Gal 6:1
"Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently" (Gal 6:1).
"It has been said that the Christian army is the only army in the world that shoots its wounded. By this comment, it is implied that Christians attack and spiritually slay those who are already in a death struggle with sin. All too often this is true.
"It is a tricky thing to uphold the standards that God has set up for His people. On the one hand, we want to be kind, loving and forgiving. On the other hand, we have very specific examples of behavior which are not to be tolerated within the body of Christ.
"Too many times, it is a matter of approach. We see our brethren engaged in some act of sin. We jump on our white horses and gallop in to tell them that what they are doing is wrong. The problem is that most of them already know what they are doing is wrong; they simply lack the faith to stop doing it. It is like telling someone they are sick without telling them how to get well or better yet helping them get well. James comments on this attitude when he says '...one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?' It may feel like we are providing some valuable service in pointing out their malady and then riding off into the sunset, but we are in fact providing little value at all. If they don't get better, we get out the guns of withdrawal to put them out of OUR misery. In an ideal scenario, we need to roll up our spiritual shirtsleeves and build up their faith enough so that they can conquer their sin.
"There are three general kinds of sins which fall into the category of withdrawal in Scripture (examples are found in but not limited to 1Co 5, Gal 5 and Tit 3). They are unrepentant immorality, teaching false doctrine and creating a schism in the ecclesia. Another mistake we make in this area is widening or narrowing the categories. These areas have been clearly delineated for a reason. They are not for us to change or apply in a flippant fashion.
"There are certain principles in the Bible which necessarily need to be balanced. Some virtues, like love, have no need of balance. You cannot love too much. You cannot have too much balance. Other virtues, such as justice, need a proper balance. Justice is properly balanced by mercy. Both justice and mercy are virtues. However, both justice and mercy not tempered by each other can be faults. Justice left to itself is unmerciful and harsh. Mercy left to itself is anarchistic and permissive. Balanced and blended together with God's word as our guidepost, justice and mercy are kind, fair and righteous.
"How can we judge whether we are balancing both justice and mercy? You can certainly get closer to the answer by asking yourself the following questions: How would Jesus handle this situation? Am I doing everything I can to help this individual overcome his problem (and not just pointing it out)? Am I looking out solely for the best interests of the ecclesia and the individual, or are other considerations playing into this? Are the Scriptures clear on this matter so that the sin is indisputable, or is this a matter of conscience? Does the individual acknowledge or deny his problem? Is there any clear Scriptural precedent on how to resolve this problem? Am I being hypocritical by involving myself with something equally abhorrent that may not be known to others? Is my approach helpful and humble?
"In the end, we want Christ to be glorified by whatever we do. We need to remember that without qualification the greatest way to glorify Christ is to restore our erring brethren in the spirit of meekness and truth. 'Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted' " (Kyle Tucker).