July 29: When It’s Really Urgent
2 Samuel 20:1–21:22; 2 Peter 3:14–18; Psalm 146:1–10
The urgency of God’s work is easily lost on us. But to the early church, Jesus’ return seemed imminent. We get a sense of this urgency in Peter’s second letter, where he writes that every moment between now and when Jesus returns is a moment of grace; therefore, believers must work harder than ever to bring others to Christ and grow in their relationship with Him.
Peter remarks, “Therefore, dear friends, because you are waiting for [Christ to return], make every effort to be found at peace, spotless and unblemished in him. And regard the patience of our Lord as salvation” (2 Pet 3:14–15). God wants to see more people come to Him—that is why He has not returned. When we feel like Peter’s audience does, wondering why Jesus hasn’t returned, Peter’s explanation can help us refocus and remember that it’s not really about us; it’s about others.
The Christian life is marked by a focus on God and our neighbors. The more we love Him, the more we learn to love our neighbors. And the more we love our neighbors, the more we become like Christ. We get closer to God with each act of love, and each act of love brings someone else closer to Him as well.
Peter continues, “Therefore, dear friends, because you know this beforehand, guard yourselves so that you do not lose your own safe position because you have been led away by the error of lawless persons. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 3:17–18). For Peter, the major issue is whether his audience will stay focused on Jesus or be led astray by false teachers. If the false teachers are able to sway his audience’s beliefs, then perhaps they never believed at all. By disavowing the assertions of false teachers, enduring persecution, and dedicating themselves to Christ’s grace, his audience shows their true faith. The act of defying evil readies God’s people for His return.
When all of our lives are focused on God’s eternal work, the questions about priorities, how we show love, and what matters to God suddenly have answers. God’s urgency becomes our priority.
What priorities has God given you? Are you living as if the end could be around any corner?
JOHN D. BARRY
- Then there was come thither a wicked man (named Sheba the son of Bichri, a man of Benjamin) and he blew the trumpet, and said, We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Ishai: every man to his tents, O Israel. So every man of Israel went from David and Followed Sheba the son of Bichri: but the men of Judah clave fast unto their King, from Jordan even to Jerusalem. When David then came to his house in Jerusalem, the king took the ten women his concubines, that he had left behind him to keep the house, and put them in ward, and fed them, but lay no more with them: but they were enclosed unto the day of their death, living in widowhood. Then said the King to Amasa, Assemble me the men of Judah within three days, and be thou here present. So Amasa went to assemble Judah, but he tarried longer than the time which he had appointed him. Then David said to Abishai, Now shall Sheba the son of Bichri do us more harm than did Absalom: take thou therefore thy lord’s servants and follow after him, lest he get him walled cities, and escape us. And there went out after him Joab’s men, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men: and they departed out of Jerusalem, to follow after Sheba the son of Bichri. When they were at the great stone, which is in Gibeon, Amasa went before them, and Joab’s garment, that he had put on, was girded unto him, and upon it was a sword girded, which hanged on his loins in the sheath, and as he went, it used to fall out. And Joab said to Amasa, Art thou in health, my brother? and Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him. But Amasa took no heed to the sword that was in Joab’s hand: for therewith he smote him in the fifth rib, and shed out his bowels to the ground, and smote him not the second time: so he died: then Joab and Abishai his brother followed after Sheba the son of Bichri. And one of Joab’s men stood by him, and said, He that favoreth Joab, and he that is of David’s part, let him go after Joab. And Amasa wallowed in blood in the midst of the way: and when the men saw that all the people stood still, he removed Amasa out of the way into the field, and cast a cloth upon him, because he saw that everyone that came by him, stood still. When he was removed out of the way, every man went after Joab, to follow after Sheba the son of Bichri. And he went through all the tribes of Israel unto Abel, and Beth Maachah and all places of Berim: and they gathered together, and went also after him. So they came, and besieged him in Abel, near in Beth Maachah, and they cast up a mount against the city, and the people thereof stood on the rampart, and all the people that was with Joab, destroyed and cast down the wall. Then cried a wise woman out of the city, hear, , I pray you, say unto Joab, Come thou hither, that I may speak with thee. And when he came near unto her, the woman said, Art thou Joab? And he answered, Yea. And she said to him, Hear the words of thine handmaid. And he answered, I do not hear. Then she spake thus, They spake in the old time, saying, They should ask of Abel: and so they have continued. I am one of them that are peaceable, and faithful in Israel: and thou goest about to destroy a city, and a mother in Israel: why wilt thou devour the inhearitance of the Lord? And Joab answered, and said, God forbid, God forbid it me, that I should devour it, or destroy it. The matter is not so, but a man of mount Ephraim (Sheba the son of Bichri by name) hath lift up his hand against the king, even against David: deliver us from him only, and I will depart from the city. And the woman said unto Jacob, Behold, his head shall be thrown to thee over the wall. Then the woman went unto all the people with her wisdom, and they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast it to Joab: then he blew the trumpet, and they retired from the city, every man to his tent: and Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the King. Then Joab was over all the house of Israel, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada over the Cherethites, and over the Pelethites, And Adoram over the tribute, and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud the Recorder, And Sheva was Scribe, and Zadok and Abiathar the Preists And also Ira the Jairite was chief about David. then there was a famine in the days of David, three years together: and David asked counsel of the Lord, and the Lord answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites. Then the King called the Gibeonites, and said unto them, (Now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but a remnant of the Amorites, unto whom the children of Israel had sworn: but Saul sought to slay them for his zeal toward the children of Israel and Judah) And David said unto the Gibeonites, What shall I do for you, and wherewith shall I make the atonement, that ye bless the inheritance of the Lord? The Gibeonites then answered the king, The man that consumed us, and that imagined evil against s, so that we are destroyed from remaining in any coast of Israel, Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up unto the Lord in Gibeah of Saul, the Lord’s chosen, And the king said, I will give them. But the king had compassion on Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, because of the Lord’s oath, that was between them, even between David and Jonathan the son of Saul. But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, even Armoni and Mephibosheth, and the five sons of Michal, the daughter of Saul, whom she bare to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite. And he delivered them unto the hands of the Gibeonites, which hanged them in the mountains before the Lord: so they died all seven together: and they were slain in the time of harvest: in the first day, and in the beginning of barley harvest. Then Rizpah the daughter of Saul took sackcloth and hanged it up for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest, until water dropped upon them from the heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to light on them by day, nor beasts of the field by night. And it was told David, what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah the concubine of Saul had done. And David went and took the bones of Saul, and the bones of Jonathan his son, and they gathered the bones of them that were hanged. And the bones of Saul and of Jonathan his son buried they in the country of Benjamin in Zelah, in the grave of Kish his father: and when they had performed all that the King had commanded, God was then appeased with the land. Again the Philistines hath war with Israel: and David went down, and his servants with him, and they fought against the Philistines, and David fainted. Then Ishbi-Benob which was of the son sof Haraphah (the head of whose spear weighed thee hundred shekels of brass) even he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succored him, and smote the Philistines, and killed him. Then David’s men swore unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, lest thou quence the light of Israel. And after this also there was a battle with the Philistines at Gob, then Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Saph, which was one of the sons of Haraphah. And there was also a battle in Gath, where was a man of a great stature, and had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number: who was also the son of Haraphah. And when he reviled Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea the brother of David slew him. These four were born to Haraphah in Gath, and died by the hand of David, and by the hands of his servants. 2 Samuel 20:1–21:22
- Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless. And suppose that the long suffering of our Lord is salvation, even as our beloved brother Paul according to the wisdom given unto him wrote to you. As one that in all his Epistles speaketh of these things: among the which, some things are hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable, wrest, as they do other Scriptures unto their own destruction. Ye therefore beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware, lest ye be also plucked away with the error of the wicked, and fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: to him be glory both now and for evermore. Amen. 2 Peter 3:14–18
- Praise thou the Lord, O my soul. I will praise the Lord during my life; as long as I have any being, I will sing unto my God. Put not your trust in Princes, nor in the son of man, for there is no help in him. His breath departeth, and he returneth to his earth; then his thoughts perish. Blessed is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose help is in the Lord his God, Which made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that therein is; which keepeth his fidelity forever, Which executeth justice for the oppressed, which giveth bread to the hungry; the Lord looseth the prisoners. The Lord giveth sight to the blind: the Lord raiseth up the crooked: the Lord loveth the righteous. The Lord keepeth the strangers: he reliveth the fatherless and widow: but he overthroweth the way of the wicked. The Lord shall reign forever, O Zion, thy God endureth from generation to generation. Praise ye the Lord. Psalm 146:1–10