OT: 2 Chron. 21:1-23:21
Today, Jehoshaphat dies, and is succeeded by his son, Jehoram, who promptly kills his brothers and is apparently an all-around jerk. Regardless, the chronicler is not a fan. And neither is God, for that matter. Because of Jehoram's actions, God arranges for his whole family to be killed and for Jehoram to suffer and die from some "disease of the bowels" that ultimately causes his "bowels" to come out. Good lands! That is a disgusting and terrible way to die! Apparently, though, no one was really feeling the sympathy. As the chronicler notes, "He passed away, to no one's regret" (21:20). Yikes! Plus, "his people made no fire to his honor, as they had for his fathers" (19). Wow. I guess it was like, "Good riddance."
Next came Ahaziah, the one brother to survive Jehoram's little family purge. Ahaziah wasn't great, either, and Jehu eventually put him to death.
And then his mother, Athaliah reigned, and, like her son, she seemed like a real peach. She destroyed her own family in order to gain the throne, and only the infant Josiah survived. He ultimately became king in today's reading, and Athaliah was put to death. I know we have already read all this before, but I am trying to give better recaps.
Besides the gory facts, I also gleaned some possible insight into the Chronicler's intentions. My interest was first peaked by 21:7, which says, "Nevertheless, because of the covenant the Lord had made with David, the Lord was not willing to destroy the house of David. He had promised to maintain a lamp for him and his descendants forever." I love that last image, and I imagine that it would be especially pertinent to exiles and post-exiles. It seems that the chronicler is trying to show them that lamp, to make them aware of God's ultimate plan for them. It's not that he is trying to show them where the plan will lead, but instead to assure them that there has been a plan all along. And that's why he is so quick to point out God's hand in almost everything that happens in this book. And I guess the book was written to explain all this to Judah (btw, I meant Judah a few days ago when describing the author's partiality, but I kept saying Israel. If you read that and were confused, I'm sorry), b/c it is definitely Judah that takes center stage. So in short, my non-researched theory is that the author is writing this to the remnant of Judah in order to assure them that God has a plan for them and has been intervening in their lives. The lamp is still burning.
NT: Romans 11:13-36
Whew! I have to admit that Paul's acrobatics kind of lose me today, but I also have to admit that I didn't have much time to ponder.
He is still on the topic of the Jews, but he clarifies in verse 13 that he is talking to the Gentiles. He informs them that b/c of the Jews' rejection of the Christ, they have had the opportunity to be grafted in to the tree of salvation (I guess that's what the tree is), and he warns them not to get arrogant about their inclusion.
Instead, he admonishes them to learn from the Jews, rather than to look down on them. If anything, the sad story of the Jews' reaction to Christ (or at least, some of their reactions) should make the Gentiles acknowledge "the kindness and sternness of God" (22). The Gentiles should understand that if God could cut off the Jews, then He could cut off the Gentiles.
All in all, this was not a cheery reading. I think that Paul can be quite harsh in his delivery sometimes; it probably has to do with his confrontational personality. I think that most Bible-reading Christians have had a time when they have taken offense at Paul. I know that I have, especially when he gets to talking about women. Sheesh! And I've also heard many charges leveled at Paul from unbelievers. My grad school professor once told me that Paul was misogynistic, homophobic, and anti-Semitic. And okay, I can honestly see why a non-believer going by today's standards of political correctness would consider some of Paul's writings to be misogynistic and homophobic. But anti-Semitic? Are you kidding me? If anything, he is anti-Gentile! I mean, did you hear him today? He is all for the Jews, and he keeps lecturing the Gentiles to know their place and to marvel at the idea that God decided to save them in the first place. He even goes so far as to proclaim that "all Israel will be saved"! He's spent, like, three chapters now agonizing over the Jews' salvation. The man is a Jew, for pete's sake!
Okay, end rant. I realize that I am probably preaching to the choir, but apparently, I had to get that off my chest:).
But my original point was, yeah, Paul can be harsh.
A psalm in which David is in agony, and which God uses to foretell the life of the Christ.
"The righteous man lead a blameless life; blessed are his children after him." I hope my children are blessed b/c of the life that Greg and I lead.