Today’s readings.. (2 Samuel 23), (Jeremiah 26), (Romans 15), (Romans 16)

As we complete reading Paul’s letter to the Romans we note his point that “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” [15 v.4]  “The Scriptures” are, of course, the Old Testament.  Paul wanted the Gentile Christian converts in Rome to realize these Jewish scrolls are now for them as well.  Those who claim to follow Christ today need to realize this too – many think they only need the New Testament, or at most, only the Psalms and Proverbs.
One particular reason that Paul gives is the examples of “endurance” in the service of God will give them encouragement and hope.  He writes, ”may the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another …”  [v.5]  When the world around us is godless and falling apart because there is no unifying spirit of faith and vision, it is more important than ever for true believers to be in harmony and to be a source of strength to each other.
How desperate the situation of Jeremiah is becoming! His faith is now undergoing greater tests.  We read today how “the priests and the (false) prophets said … ‘This man deserves the sentence of death because he has prophesied against this city …” [26 v,11] Jeremiah is an outstanding example of endurance for us.
In our 2 Samuel 23 reading we have “the last words of David … the sweet psalmist of Israel” [v.1].  He says, “The Spirit of the LORD speaks by me; his word is on my tongue. [v.2]  What words we have in his and other Psalms to give us “encouragement” in order to endure. Although not tested at present as Jeremiah was; but we know a few that are which we must remember in prayer, we must not turn to prayer as a last resort as the final king in Jerusalem did,  sending to Jeremiah an urgent message “Please pray for us to the LORD ..” [37 v.3], but it was too late.
Returning to our chapter in Romans we notice how Paul selects 4 different quotations from the Old Testament (v.9 to 12) which all relate to what was written under God’s inspiration about the involvement of the Gentiles.  The time had now arrived for them to “glorify God for his mercy.” [v.9] Paul had been previously blind to the significance of these Scriptures.  Let us not be blind “to whatever was written in former days” – for as this world becomes even more unstable we will need all the encouragement and spiritual strength the Scriptures provide – remember Jesus said, “the one who endures to the end will be saved.” [Matt. 24 v.13[

 

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