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July 2, Day 184 – The Tension of the Missionary Call

2 King 3:1 opens with “Joram, son of Ahab, became king of Israel in Samaria in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah.” This is the second son of Ahab to sit on the throne, and he reigned twelve years – doing evil in the eyes of the LORD” (verse 2). In verses 4-7, we see that Mesha, the king of Moab, “rebelled against the king of Israel” (verse 5). God has included this section in Scripture to show us that He is concerned about international affairs – especially as they affect His people, Israel. The Moabite revolt was documented on the Moabite Stone by Mesha, the king of Moab. That stone, which contains the name of David, king of Israel, has been excavated and is visibly displayed in the Louvre in Paris. It is a secular source that certifies the accuracy of this battle in 2 Kings. Here we see that Joram forms a coalition with Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, and the king of Edom, to fight against Mesha and the Moabites, and he led these armies in such a “seven-day, round about” way that they ran out of water (verse 9). Jehoshaphat asks, “Is there no prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of the LORD through him?” (verse 11). This is the same question he asked of Ahab before in their battle against the Arameans (cf., 1 Kings 22:7). They consult with Elisha who, through his fourth miracle by the Lord and on behalf of Jehoshaphat, miraculously provides abundant water for these armies. Fifth, Elisha prophesies that the Lord will hand over Moab to them (verses 17-27). Foolishly, Mesha sacrifices his son – “who was to succeed him as king” (verse 27). In chapter 4, we see that God is also concerned about individual affairs. Elisha performs his sixth miracle by providing oil to help the widow pay her debts. His seventh miracle promises the Shunammite a son, and later, when the same boy dies – with his eighth miracle – Elisha restores the boy to life. In this chapter, Elisha’s interactions and miracles with the elements – the oil, the provision of a son, the resurrection of the boy, the famine, the flour, etc., – all foreshadow and point to the Person and work of the future Bread of Life – Jesus Christ.

Today we come to the end of Psalm 78 (verses 56-72). In this Psalm, we have seen an overview of God’s historical work among the Israelites - from the Exodus to David. Repeatedly, the Israelites were disobedient and disloyal - infuriating God – Who “was very angry” (repeated twice in verses 59 and 62). Nevertheless, God remained faithful to His covenant with them. In verse 67, we are told that “He rejected the tents of Joseph,” but in verse 68, we see that “He chose the tribe of Judah, and then … David, who shepherded Israel with integrity of heart and with skillful hands” (verses 69-72). We recognize that it was God’s plan to accomplish this so that from David’s line, his Descendent - our Lord Jesus Christ – would become the Good Shepherd of Israel. The reason for God’s choice is clearly revealed in verse 72: integrity – the exact same characteristic for which Jesus Himself was both honored and recognized (cf., Mark 12:14).

In Acts 21:1-26, Luke describes the scene and their travels like diary entries. They “tore themselves away from them, and they put out to sea and sailed straight to Cos” (verse 1). From there to Rhodes … to Patara … to Phoenicia … passing Cyprus … on to Syria, … and landing at Tyre” (verses 1-3). Here, we see how the Holy Spirit is drawing Paul ever closer in his evangelistic journeys toward Jerusalem, which, ultimately means, toward Rome. And yet, “through the believers, the Holy Spirit is urging Paul not to go to Jerusalem” (verse 4). This is the tension of the missionary call. Called to go in the face of the unknown and the potentially dangerous. But Paul answered, “Why are you breaking my heart? I am ready to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus … he would not be dissuaded” (verses 13-14). This is our struggle. By God’s will, Paul is going to preach the gospel to the Gentiles and to the Emperor, and this will result in the world-wide outreach of the gospel. Paul was ready to die for this, and I recognize that commitment; every missionary faces it as a part of his or her call to the foreign field.

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