OT: 2 Chron. 17:1-18:34
Today, we read about Jehoshaphat's reign. The main story is of his alliance with Ahab and of the battle that ultimately caused Ahab's death. It seems that the chronicler is using Kings as his source, b/c this account is remarkably similar (though I didn't look it up. I guess that I should say it is remarkably similar to my memory of the account in Kings). I didn't have any new insight today, just the same old questions:
--Why did Micaiah first tell the kings a lie, when he had just said that he could only say what was from God? (18: 13-14).
--What did Micaiah mean when he answered Zedekiah, "You will find out on the day you go to hide in an inner room" (24)?
--And why did Jehoshaphat agree to attack anyway? What was the point of calling God's prophet if you weren't going to listen to his advice?
NT: Romans 9:22-10:13
Paul continues to grapple with the fact that his new faith tells him that many of his countrymen aren't saved. Needless to say, this troubles him deeply, and he just doesn't quite know what to make of it. And I could be totally wrong here, but I still have my theory from yesterday that God has not revealed the full knowledge of the situation to him. The Bible is inspired by God, yes, but that does not mean that its writers knew everything. There are some mysteries of God's will that I think we are just not meant to know, and that includes Paul. After all, in speaking of God's sovereignty and of God's control of his own life, David himself concedes that "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain" (Psalm 139:6). I have a good feeling that such knowledge is too wonderful for Paul, too.
But he can definitely theorize. He gives one of his theories in verses 22-23. I believe that it is a theory b/c Paul couches it as a question. He doesn't state it authoritatively; instead, he seems to be pondering and puzzling. His theory in those verses seems to essentially be that perhaps God is showing His love for His true chosen people by displaying patience for those who are not chosen. Hmmmm. Maybe Paul is totally right here. But still...that explanation just doesn't work for me. (Not that I think it has to "work" for me; I'm just describing my reaction to it.)
My working theory is still that, to an omnipotent being, foreknowledge ultimately means choice. God knows everything; He knows our every decision before we even make it. And when He chooses not to change our wrong decisions, He is making a choice. He could choose to force people to be saved, but He doesn't. And so, to foreknow of someone's destruction and to choose not to alter it even though it is in your power to do so, is ultimately to choose their destruction. Make sense?
Oddly, it does to me. And those gymnastics help me to reconcile the idea that we are chosen by God to the idea that we also have free choice.
Whew! Thankfully, Paul seems to be moving on from the predestination talk, though he is still on the topic of why his countrymen aren't saved. Like me, Paul seems to be absolutely baffled at how someone could be zealous for God's word and yet completely miss the truth. Predestination is one idea he puts forth. Now, he will add another one: motives.
Maybe those Jews missed the truth b/c "they pursued [the law] not by faith but as if it were by works" (32). Maybe they lacked the faith. Maybe they were too prideful. Maybe they thought that they were earning their own salvation. Thus, when someone came to freely give it to them, they balked. Maybe they were offended by a man who claimed to be able to forgive their sins. In their minds, they earned forgiveness when they offered sacrifices and followed the Law. No one could give it to them. They worked for it.
So maybe their motivation was off.
Paul ends on a hopeful note. In talking about the accessibility of salvation, Paul claims that it is not far from each of us. We don't have to go chase it down (10:6-7). Instead, God's truth is planted in each of us. According to Paul, "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart" (8). I don't know if he is talking about people who have scripture or if this is somehow true for everyone, but I take comfort in the overall theme that salvation does not consist in a bunch of hurdles through which we must jump. It simply consists in a true, transformative faith in Christ.
A kind of blessing psalm in which David wishes good things for the readers/singers of the psalm. At least, that's how I took it.
The first is a statement about the power of kings, and the second is an admonition to avoid strife and quarreling. Hear, hear! (Or is it, "here, here?")