Our Bible reading plan took us through 2 Chronicles 17 on Friday, into the reign of Jehoshaphat―a great-great-great-grandson of King David―a man whose “heart was courageous in the ways of the LORD” (17:6). He purged Judah of idolatry and was determined to lead the people in faithfulness to God. Notice what we’re told about his approach in 2 Chronicles 17:7-9:
In the third year of his reign he sent his officials, Ben-hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah; and with them the Levites, Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tobadonijah; and with these Levites, the priests Elishama and Jehoram. And they taught in Judah, having the Book of the Law of the LORD with them. They went about through all the cities of Judah and taught among the people.
Jehoshaphat realized that if real change for good was going to happen, he had to do more than tear down the high places and kick the idols out. His people had to be taught the truth. He sent officials, Levites, and priests across his kingdom to teach among the people. “And they taught in Judah, having the Book of the Law of the LORD with them.”
I spent most of last week in Ohio. Three weeks ago I was in West Virginia. Roger was in rural Ohio four weeks ago. This has been a busy season and a very busy 2019. Combined, we’ve spent a considerable amount of time in Alabama, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Texas, and West Virginia, not to mention various parts of Indiana. When I travel, I have a routine. I always make sure certain things are in my suitcase. I’m sure Roger is the same way (and confident that the inside of his suitcase is consistently more colorful than mine). But one thing I know with certainty: wherever we go, we take the same book. The Book.
Our church family has been blessed to have thirteen different guest speakers in 2019: men from Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas. Some drove, some flew. Some were younger, some older. They addressed different topics. They had diverse backgrounds, unique insights, and distinct styles. But one thing they all had in common? The Book. Like Jehoshaphat’s messengers, they came to teach, “having the Book of the Law of the LORD with them.”
That Book tells us that “there is one body and one Spirit―just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call―one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph 4:4-6). How remarkable that any of us can go to the hills of West Virginia, the plains of Kansas, the coast of South Africa, or the jungles of the Philippines and find brothers and sisters in Christ “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” How? Someone has taken the time to “teach among the people, having the Book of the Law of the LORD with them.”
In our travels this year, Roger and I have seen lost people baptized. We’ve seen weary disciples request prayers and prodigal children take steps toward home. We’ve used the Book to teach, encourage, correct, and train. And even though you haven’t been with us in person, we want you to realize what we so deeply appreciate:
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? (Rom 10:14-15)
So much of what we do wouldn’t be possible without you. A great many responsibilities have been covered here by you while we’ve been working abroad. Thank you for your help, support, encouragement, and prayers. People often say, “It’s a small world.” More than that, it’s a big family―the family of God―built by and dedicated to the Book.