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Today’s Reading

Devotional: Colossians 1

Faith, hope, and love are together sometimes referred to as the Pauline triad. They occur in Paul’s letters in various combinations. Sometimes only two of the three show up; sometimes all three.

Probably the best known verse with the Pauline triad is 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Here no relationship is expressed among the three. Paul tells us that these three virtues—faith, hope, and love (and this last one he calls “the most excellent way” [1 Cor. 12:31b; see the September 8 meditation] rather than a “gift”)—all “remain”: what he means, I think, is that these all remain into eternity, and therefore should be nurtured and pursued even now. But the greatest of these three, Paul insists, is love. Why this is so, Paul does not tell us. Based on what the New Testament says elsewhere, we might reasonably hold that the reason why love is the greatest is that it is an attribute of God. God does not exercise faith; he does not “hope” in the sense of looking forward to the fulfillment of something that some other brings about. But he does love: indeed, 1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love; no text says he is faith or hope. So the greatest of the three is love.

Here in Colossians 1:3–6, however, the relationship among the three elements of the Pauline triad is quite different. Paul thanks God when he prays for the Colossians, he says, “because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints—the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you” (Col. 1:4–6). This NIV rendering is slightly paraphrastic, but it catches the sense very well. Note:

(1) Paul did not plant the Colossian church. But now that he has come to hear of these believers, he prays for them constantly, with thanksgiving.

(2) What Paul has heard of these Colossian believers is their faith and love, both demonstrable virtues. If you have faith in Jesus, and if you love the saints, neither virtue can be hidden. These virtues were so evident among the Colossians that reports of their faith and love circulated to Paul. Do reports of the faith and love of our churches circulate widely?

(3) Paul says this faith and love “spring from the hope” that is stored up for them (Col. 1:5). Living with eternity in view vitalizes faith and calls forth love.

(4) This hope that has grounded their faith and love has itself been grounded in the Gospel, the word of truth that was preached to them (Col. 1:5–6).

Devotional: Psalms 97–98

In the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 98 is known as the Cantate Domino (“Sing to the Lord”) and is placed between the evening Old Testament reading and its New Testament counterpart. It overflows with exhilarating worship and joy.

The psalm has three stanzas. The first (Ps. 98:1–3) celebrates the “salvation” of God (found in each verse). The word is perhaps more comprehensive than the way it is used today. It includes victory over enemies: this “salvation” or victory was effected by the Lord’s “right hand and his holy arm” (Ps. 98:1). But it also includes what we mean by salvation: God reconciles people to himself and transforms them by his grace. While God “has remembered his love and his faithfulness to the house of Israel” (Ps. 98:3), the glorious truth is that he “has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations” (Ps. 98:2); “all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God” (Ps. 98:3). Small wonder, then, we must sing to the Lord “a new song” (Ps. 98:1). The expression signals not so much a new composition, written for the occasion perhaps, as a fresh response to new mercies showered upon us.

The second stanza (Ps. 98:4–6) responds to the first. The first celebrates God’s coming in power and salvation, the second responds to every act of God in exhilarated worship. Indeed, because the full salvation briefly described awaits the consummation, all our acts of worship are an anticipation of the end. We “shout for joy before the LORD, the King” (Ps. 98:6) as a prelude and an announcement of the consummation of his reign. The instruments listed here were regularly used as part of temple worship (cf. 1 Chron. 16:5–6) or on joyous occasions such as the accession of a new king (e.g., 1 Kings 1:39).

If the praise of the second stanza is carefully put together in orchestrated singing, the praise of the third stanza (Ps. 98:7–9) is inarticulate. But it is no less powerful for being artless. Even now the whole universe declares the glory of God. But if various Old Testament passages anticipate a vast renewing of the created order (Ps. 96:11–13; Isa. 2; 11; 55:11–12), Paul not only anticipates the same but recognizes that the fulfillment depends on the transformation of human beings at the end: “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Rom. 8:19–21).

1 Kings 14

Prophecy Against Jeroboam

14:1 At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick. And Jeroboam said to his wife, “Arise, and disguise yourself, that it not be known that you are the wife of Jeroboam, and go to Shiloh. Behold, Ahijah the prophet is there, who said of me that I should be king over this people. Take with you ten loaves, some cakes, and a jar of honey, and go to him. He will tell you what shall happen to the child.”

Jeroboam's wife did so. She arose and went to Shiloh and came to the house of Ahijah. Now Ahijah could not see, for his eyes were dim because of his age. And the LORD said to Ahijah, “Behold, the wife of Jeroboam is coming to inquire of you concerning her son, for he is sick. Thus and thus shall you say to her.”

When she came, she pretended to be another woman. But when Ahijah heard the sound of her feet, as she came in at the door, he said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why do you pretend to be another? For I am charged with unbearable news for you. Go, tell Jeroboam, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: “Because I exalted you from among the people and made you leader over my people Israel and tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, and yet you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commandments and followed me with all his heart, doing only that which was right in my eyes, but you have done evil above all who were before you and have gone and made for yourself other gods and metal images, provoking me to anger, and have cast me behind your back, 10 therefore behold, I will bring harm upon the house of Jeroboam and will cut off from Jeroboam every male, both bond and free in Israel, and will burn up the house of Jeroboam, as a man burns up dung until it is all gone. 11 Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat, for the LORD has spoken it.”’ 12 Arise therefore, go to your house. When your feet enter the city, the child shall die. 13 And all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something pleasing to the LORD, the God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam. 14 Moreover, the LORD will raise up for himself a king over Israel who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam today. And henceforth, 15 the LORD will strike Israel as a reed is shaken in the water, and root up Israel out of this good land that he gave to their fathers and scatter them beyond the Euphrates,1 because they have made their Asherim, provoking the LORD to anger. 16 And he will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he sinned and made Israel to sin.”

17 Then Jeroboam's wife arose and departed and came to Tirzah. And as she came to the threshold of the house, the child died. 18 And all Israel buried him and mourned for him, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by his servant Ahijah the prophet.

The Death of Jeroboam

19 Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he warred and how he reigned, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. 20 And the time that Jeroboam reigned was twenty-two years. And he slept with his fathers, and Nadab his son reigned in his place.

Rehoboam Reigns in Judah

21 Now Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city that the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. His mother's name was Naamah the Ammonite. 22 And Judah did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins that they committed, more than all that their fathers had done. 23 For they also built for themselves high places and pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, 24 and there were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations that the LORD drove out before the people of Israel.

25 In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem. 26 He took away the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king's house. He took away everything. He also took away all the shields of gold that Solomon had made, 27 and King Rehoboam made in their place shields of bronze, and committed them to the hands of the officers of the guard, who kept the door of the king's house. 28 And as often as the king went into the house of the LORD, the guard carried them and brought them back to the guardroom.

29 Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 30 And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually. 31 And Rehoboam slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. His mother's name was Naamah the Ammonite. And Abijam his son reigned in his place.

Footnotes

[1] 14:15 Hebrew the River

(ESV)

Colossians 1

Greeting

1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the saints and faithful brothers1 in Christ at Colossae:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant.2 He is a faithful minister of Christ on your3 behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks4 to the Father, who has qualified you5 to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

The Preeminence of Christ

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by6 him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation7 under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Paul's Ministry to the Church

24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

Footnotes

[1] 1:2 Or brothers and sisters. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, the plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters
[2] 1:7 For the contextual rendering of the Greek word sundoulos, see Preface
[3] 1:7 Some manuscripts our
[4] 1:12 Or patience, with joy giving thanks
[5] 1:12 Some manuscripts us
[6] 1:16 That is, by means of; or in
[7] 1:23 Or to every creature

(ESV)

Ezekiel 44

The Gate for the Prince

44:1 Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east. And it was shut. And the LORD said to me, “This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered by it. Therefore it shall remain shut. Only the prince may sit in it to eat bread before the LORD. He shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gate, and shall go out by the same way.”

Then he brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple, and I looked, and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple of the LORD. And I fell on my face. And the LORD said to me, “Son of man, mark well, see with your eyes, and hear with your ears all that I shall tell you concerning all the statutes of the temple of the LORD and all its laws. And mark well the entrance to the temple and all the exits from the sanctuary. And say to the rebellious house,1 to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: O house of Israel, enough of all your abominations, in admitting foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, to be in my sanctuary, profaning my temple, when you offer to me my food, the fat and the blood. You2 have broken my covenant, in addition to all your abominations. And you have not kept charge of my holy things, but you have set others to keep my charge for you in my sanctuary.

“Thus says the Lord GOD: No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, of all the foreigners who are among the people of Israel, shall enter my sanctuary. 10 But the Levites who went far from me, going astray from me after their idols when Israel went astray, shall bear their punishment.3 11 They shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having oversight at the gates of the temple and ministering in the temple. They shall slaughter the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before the people, to minister to them. 12 Because they ministered to them before their idols and became a stumbling block of iniquity to the house of Israel, therefore I have sworn concerning them, declares the Lord GOD, and they shall bear their punishment. 13 They shall not come near to me, to serve me as priest, nor come near any of my holy things and the things that are most holy, but they shall bear their shame and the abominations that they have committed. 14 Yet I will appoint them to keep charge of the temple, to do all its service and all that is to be done in it.

Rules for Levitical Priests

15 “But the Levitical priests, the sons of Zadok, who kept the charge of my sanctuary when the people of Israel went astray from me, shall come near to me to minister to me. And they shall stand before me to offer me the fat and the blood, declares the Lord GOD. 16 They shall enter my sanctuary, and they shall approach my table, to minister to me, and they shall keep my charge. 17 When they enter the gates of the inner court, they shall wear linen garments. They shall have nothing of wool on them, while they minister at the gates of the inner court, and within. 18 They shall have linen turbans on their heads, and linen undergarments around their waists. They shall not bind themselves with anything that causes sweat. 19 And when they go out into the outer court to the people, they shall put off the garments in which they have been ministering and lay them in the holy chambers. And they shall put on other garments, lest they transmit holiness to the people with their garments. 20 They shall not shave their heads or let their locks grow long; they shall surely trim the hair of their heads. 21 No priest shall drink wine when he enters the inner court. 22 They shall not marry a widow or a divorced woman, but only virgins of the offspring of the house of Israel, or a widow who is the widow of a priest. 23 They shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the common, and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean. 24 In a dispute, they shall act as judges, and they shall judge it according to my judgments. They shall keep my laws and my statutes in all my appointed feasts, and they shall keep my Sabbaths holy. 25 They shall not defile themselves by going near to a dead person. However, for father or mother, for son or daughter, for brother or unmarried sister they may defile themselves. 26 After he4 has become clean, they shall count seven days for him. 27 And on the day that he goes into the Holy Place, into the inner court, to minister in the Holy Place, he shall offer his sin offering, declares the Lord GOD.

28 “This shall be their inheritance: I am their inheritance: and you shall give them no possession in Israel; I am their possession. 29 They shall eat the grain offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering, and every devoted thing in Israel shall be theirs. 30 And the first of all the firstfruits of all kinds, and every offering of all kinds from all your offerings, shall belong to the priests. You shall also give to the priests the first of your dough, that a blessing may rest on your house. 31 The priests shall not eat of anything, whether bird or beast, that has died of itself or is torn by wild animals.

Footnotes

[1] 44:6 Septuagint; Hebrew lacks house
[2] 44:7 Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate; Hebrew They
[3] 44:10 Or iniquity; also verse 12
[4] 44:26 That is, a priest

(ESV)

Psalms 97–98

The Lord Reigns

97:1   The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice;
    let the many coastlands be glad!
  Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
    righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
  Fire goes before him
    and burns up his adversaries all around.
  His lightnings light up the world;
    the earth sees and trembles.
  The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
    before the Lord of all the earth.
  The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
    and all the peoples see his glory.
  All worshipers of images are put to shame,
    who make their boast in worthless idols;
    worship him, all you gods!
  Zion hears and is glad,
    and the daughters of Judah rejoice,
    because of your judgments, O LORD.
  For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth;
    you are exalted far above all gods.
10   O you who love the LORD, hate evil!
    He preserves the lives of his saints;
    he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
11   Light is sown1 for the righteous,
    and joy for the upright in heart.
12   Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous,
    and give thanks to his holy name!

Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord

A Psalm.

98:1   Oh sing to the LORD a new song,
    for he has done marvelous things!
  His right hand and his holy arm
    have worked salvation for him.
  The LORD has made known his salvation;
    he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
  He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
    to the house of Israel.
  All the ends of the earth have seen
    the salvation of our God.
  Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
    break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
  Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre,
    with the lyre and the sound of melody!
  With trumpets and the sound of the horn
    make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!
  Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
    the world and those who dwell in it!
  Let the rivers clap their hands;
    let the hills sing for joy together
  before the LORD, for he comes
    to judge the earth.
  He will judge the world with righteousness,
    and the peoples with equity.

Footnotes

[1] 97:11 Most Hebrew manuscripts; one Hebrew manuscript, Septuagint, Syriac, Jerome Light dawns

(ESV)