Notes from my Bible Study for February 17, 2010

Psalm 48, Genesis 43, 2 Chronicles 21, Acts 15:1‐35

Psalm 48 – The children of Israel worshipped God in the city of Jerusalem. In this psalm, we read about our great Lord, who has shown Himself time and time again to be worthy of praise.

Most likely, enemy armies had come into Jerusalem to try to control of the city. The enemy armies clearly lost that battle. God had protected Israel. The Sons of Korah wrote this song as a celebration of the fact that God had protected His people. How beautiful to be the city where God dwells.

Genesis 43 – There is something so beautiful about this part of Joseph’s story. Years and years of bitterness and pain are wiped away when Joseph’s eyes catch those of Benjamin. Benjamin was Joseph’s only true full brother, as they shared the same mother. Maybe Joseph saw a bit of his mother’s eyes in Benjamin. Either way, he was so overcome with emotion that he needed time to compose himself. Upon composing himself, he dines alone, for, according to verse 32, it was an abomination for an Egyptian to dine with a Hebrew. This means that Joseph had spent years dining alone. His position gave him Egyptian servants who prepared food for him, but no one to dine with.

The brothers dined together and sat in astonishment that they were being so blessed. They also took notice of the extraordinary portion size on Benjamin’s plate.

The secret will soon be revealed. But for now, the brothers must wonder, “Why? Why are we being treated so well? What have we done to deserve such favor in God’s eyes?”

When you think about it, everyone of us is like Joseph’s brothers. We may never consider selling a brother into slavery, but we have all fallen short of God’s glorious plan for our lives. We have all sinned. And, God allows us to experience blessings in our lives that we don’t deserve. Why? Because, He loves us. He truly does. We may fall short, but God knew we would and He sent a Redeemer; Jesus Christ, our Lord. May we not throw away the gift of Jesus! We need God’s grace. Reach for it today!

2 Chronicles 21 – The sad tale of Jehoram is told in 2 Chronicles 21. The eldest son of Jehoshaphat, Jehoram was nothing like his father. Upon taking over the throne, Jehoram killed all of his brothers! He must not have wanted a threat to his throne.

Not only that, but he practiced the things that the kings of Israel had practiced. in fact, verse six tells us that he lived like Ahab, the most wicked king Israel had ever known. He married Ahab’s daughter, and went to war against Edom, which would be akin to going to war with a state in the United States, if you were President of the USA. Edom never came back under the rule of Judah.

Verse eleven tells us that Jehoram led the inhabitants of Jerusalem into whoredom and made Judah go astray! What a terrible legacy! He brought idolatry to Judah.

Then something amazing happens! Elijah (who in my opinion was Israel’s greatest prophet, a courageous man who stood against Ahab and Jezebel) wrote a letter to Jehoram telling of what God was going to do to him.

I just preached an entire series on the life of Elijah and completely missed this incident from Elijah’s life. Elijah prophesied in Israel, not in Judah. This time, via letter, he prophesies in Judah. And, he tells the king about an awful sickness that the king will receive. The sickness will kill him, but it will be a painful death.

God was furious with Jehoram! But, God was faithful to His covenant with David.

Jehoram dies, and verse 20 says, “and he departed with no one’s regret.”

What a terrible epithet! May we never walk away from God like Jehoram. Our God is sometimes slow to act, but He does act. Jehoram only reigned in Jerusalem for eight years and then he died.

Acts 15:1-35 – The Jerusalem Council is a great model for us as we think through how church leaders should make decisions. The council had an important decision to make. How “Jewish” should Gentile believers be required to become, once they become followers of Jesus. There were many in the council who wanted Gentile believers to be circumcised to keep the law of Moses.

The apostles and elder debated and then Peter spoke up, under the prompting of the Holy Spirit. It was decided that the new believers should only have to observe a few requirements. A letter was sent that was a great encouragement to the believers. In it, the leaders wrote, “28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

When the Gentile believers in Antioch received these words they were so blessed. Paul, Barnabas, Silas and Judas not only delivered the message but ministered for quite a while amongst the people. These godly men sent a good word to the people and blessed them by staying on to disciple them. That is good and godly leadership.