In yesterday’s reading, we were introduced to the Levites who served as security guards, the gatekeepers, and also had responsibilities to minister in the house of the Lord. None of the gatekeepers stood alone, but were on guard with teammates.
Some of the Levites were in charge of the treasures, the tithes, and gifts. These were the financial managers.
The priests and the military were divided into different ‘courses,’ ‘administrative or fighting units’ or ‘divisions.’ Think of them as different groups, or teams, each being assigned a particular work shift. Each course would be assigned to serve for one month at a time. This rotation made the work less burdensome. (The military units were quite sizeable- 24,000 in each).
There is wisdom in shared ministry, where worshipers can take a break from their performed duties and benefit from the ministry of others. It is also a way for people to take on new tasks of service and discover their spiritual gifts.
Every now and then in these lists, we get information on those who were of noteworthy value, such as Zechariah, who was ‘a counselor with insight’ (1 Chronicles 26:14), or Jonathan, David’s uncle, who also was a counselor and ‘a man of understanding’. We are told of Hushai, who had a special role as ‘the king’s friend.’ You may remember reading how Hushai proved his friendship when David sent him as a spy and informant into Absalom’s court (2 Samuel 15:13-37; 16:15-17:16). Absalom received Hushai as a counselor, believing that Hushai had forsaken his friendship with his father. Hushai played a special role in David being able to reclaim the throne in Jerusalem.
It is important to keep in mind that, as organized and involved in the worship services as the children of Israel were, they would eventually be taken into captivity. Why? Because of sin.
This is why we need to give careful attention to our own walk with the Lord and encourage those we serve with to fight sin and walk in holiness.
The leaders and people who served in the golden age of David and Solomon were not on guard. There was so much loss as a result of their turning their backs on God.
All of this reminds us of our need to turn to the Greater King, the Greater David, the Greater Solomon, Jesus Christ, who has given us the privilege of serving in the Greater Temple of His body, the church. He is able to help us fight sin and keep us from falling. He is able to present us faultless in the presence of His glory with exceeding joy! (Jude 1:24)
Paul takes us back to the example of Abraham, who was justified by faith, apart from works, and irrespective to the Law of Moses. How do we know this? Because the Law had not been given yet!
Paul is thinking of Abraham’s response to God’s promise.
Genesis 15:6 6 Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
Abraham’s relationship with God was not based upon Law-keeping or Law-Breaking, but believing God and following Him by faith.
Abraham’s faith was not a ‘mind-game’ of striving to believe something hard enough to make it happen. He merely rested in God’s ability to do what He had promised, even when he had no capacity to bring about that promise in his own strength.
The good news that Abraham experienced- God’s righteousness credited to Him as a free gift- is for us as well:
Romans 4:23-25 23 Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, 24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.
The resurrection is a validation of the atoning work of Christ on the cross as being the legal ground of our justification (Romans 4:25).
Chapter 5 introduces the fruit of our being declared righteous before a holy God:
- We have Peace with God (5:1).
- We have access to all the covenant blessings won by Jesus’ perfect obedience on our behalf (5:2).
- We have the certain hope of the ‘future grace’ of our bodily redemption, glorified bodies in the kingdom reign of Jesus Christ on the earth and in the new heaven and the new earth (5:2).
- We have a unique perspective that enables us to glorify God in our weakness, knowing that our afflictions are light and temporary. Our pains are turned to both temporal and eternal gains- producing patience, perseverance, character, and the blessed hope of the kingdom to come. And that hope does not disappoint because Jesus Christ has given His bride, a betrothal gift, the Indwelling Holy Spirit, who gives us a foretaste of the reign of God’s love working in and through our lives. (5:3-5).
I heard a message titled, “If there is a God, why are there atheists?” R.C. Sproul wrote a book on the psychology of atheism, with the same title, highlighting what motivated the atheism of prominent thinkers such as Freud, Nietzsche, and Marx.
The Psalmist gives his take on the psychology of atheism in Psalm 14- it is a heart issue.
Psalm 14:1 1 The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good.
Psalm 14:3 3 They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.
Does that last verse sound familiar? We read it a few days ago as the Apostle Paul quoted it in Romans 3:12!
“Eternity will make believers out of everyone,” said C.S. Lewis. May those who have taken refuge in the Lord (Psalm 14:6) engage the lost in redemptive conversations!
What a contrast between those that live in their self-imposed confinement in dungeons of doubt, and those who dwell with the Lord and His virtues in Palace Beautiful.
Psalm 14:5 5 There they are in great dread, For God is with the righteous generation.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS- PROVERBS 19:17
Proverbs 19:17 17 One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his good deed.
Let us live our lives as ‘unto the Lord’ and see the nobility of every human being, for although they are fatally flawed through the Fall and in need of God’s saving grace, they are made in His image. And in doing service to our fellow human beings, we can be ministering to those He dignified by virtue of His creation.
(See pages 469-473 in the “Operation World Prayer Guide”)
You can watch a Prayer cast here: https://prayercast.com/iraq.html
The Church is characterized by fragmentation – denominationally, ethnically, and politically, despite the great opposition all Christians face. The majority are in the Catholic-linked Chaldean Church, but others are part of the Assyrian Church of the East, Syriac Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Protestant denominations, or even a Muslim-background believers’ network. Some in the historic denominations are being impacted by revival; others resent and oppose what they perceive to be aggressive proselytism and a money-spinning focus of the newer Protestant groups. Outreach to the Muslim majority remains a terrifying prospect to most, although compassionate ministry by some Christians to all in need sees many Muslims profoundly touched. Pray for unity among believers, with a Christ-centered front that responds to hatred and persecution with boldness, forgiveness, and love.
Evangelicals are growing at an unprecedented rate. Many are coming from Muslim and even extremist backgrounds, touched by the peace, love, and hope Christ offers. They are Arab and Kurd, in the north and south, within Iraq and scattered abroad. However, they come nowhere near offsetting the loss endured by Christianity as a result of the flight of the ancient confessions from Iraq. Pray for these believers, for their witness to non-Christians and for their faith to endure despite many difficulties.
The emergence of Iraqi Arab evangelicals in recent years (now over 50,000) is an answer to prayer! Many of them come from Muslim and even extremist backgrounds, but they encountered Christ through evangelical witness, gospel radio, and especially through dreams and visions of Jesus. Pray for leaders for the churches. Many fled the country and others died, often targeted by Islamists. Many times the Christian widows of these leaders continue with the pastoral and discipleship work.
PRAYER: Lord, we are grateful for the many ministries in the body of Christ. Each member has a unique portion and has been given unique capacities to serve as part of this new community. Thank you for appointing friends to come alongside us to encourage us to enthrone the Greater David moment by moment. Thank you for the finished work of redemption and that by simple faith in the Promise- Who Jesus is and what He has done, we are justified freely and enjoy the peace of reconciliation with you. The fruit of this justification by faith is access into Your Presence and every spiritual blessing that is ours in Christ Jesus. We do not have an over-realized eschatology, realizing that some of these blessings are for the future age. You have prioritized that we grow in grace, experiencing patience, perseverance, character development, and trust as we seek to glorify You with unconditional obedience. Help us to dignify our daily trials by constantly relying upon You as Your Holy Spirit enables us and floods our hearts with Your love. In Jesus’ Name.