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Friday, May 16, 2014
From 2 Chronicles 21-24
2 Chr 21.1-20; Jehoram; Jehoram Reigns in Judah
2 Chr 22.1-9; Jehoram; Ahaziah Reigns in Judah
2 Chr 22.10-12; Athaliah; Athaliah Reigns in Judah
2 Chr 23.1-11; Jehoash; Joash Made King
2 Chr 23.12-15; Jehoash; Athaliah Executed
2 Chr 23.16-21; Jehoash; Jehoiada’s Reforms
2 Chr 24.1-19; Jehoash; Joash Repairs the Temple
2 Chr 24.20-22; Jehoash; Joash’s Treachery
2 Chr 24.23-27; Jehoash; Joash Assassinated
Passage and Comments
Jehoshaphat dies, he did right in the sight of the LORD but he did not remove the high places of foreign worship. His son Jehoram. Jehoram adopts the worship of other gods like Israel did. He did evil in the sight of the LORD. But the LORD remained faithful to the promises he made David and would not destroy his house. Following Jehoram was Ahaziah. He also walked as the house of Israel did. Ahaziah was killed by Jehu and his house had no one to rule (2 Chr 22.7-9). His mom Athaliah takes control. She goes nuts and tries to wipe out the whole house of Judah. A young boy Joash was secreted away and protected.
Joash is taught by a faithful priest named Jehoiada. When Joash grows up he is made king. He promptly puts Athaliah to death. Jehoiada makes a covenant with the people and king Joash that they will follow the LORD. The people then begin to clean up all the foreign worship in Judah. The following passage describes what happened after Joash had repaired the temple and Jehoiada dies.
15 But Jehoiada grew old and full of days, and died. He was 130 years old at his death. 16 And they buried him in the city of David among the kings, because he had done good in Israel, and toward God and his house. (2 Chr 24.15-22)
Joash’s mentor Jehoiada is dead. He lives a very long time. A sign of the LORD’s favour. He is commended for his life and the good he has done. What will Joash do?
17 Now after the death of Jehoiada the princes of Judah came and paid homage to the king. Then the king listened to them. 18 And they abandoned the house of the LORD, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and the idols. And wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this guilt of theirs. 19 Yet he sent prophets among them to bring them back to the LORD. These testified against them, but they would not pay attention. (2 Chr 24.17-19)
Joash, eager to please the princes of Judah (I suspect the leaders of significant families) abandons the LORD, his house and serves other gods! What a shocker. The LORD sends prophets to turn him around. He ignores them.
20 Then the Spirit of God clothed Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, and he stood above the people, and said to them, “Thus says God, ‘Why do you break the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you.’ ” 21 But they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the LORD. (2 Chr 24.20-21)
The Spirit works in Zechariah and he stands up for the LORD. He speaks out against their apostasy. But, they stone him to death. Stoning does not have to be quick. People can slow down the torture by avoiding the head. Being stoned is a horrible way to die.
22 Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness that Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, had shown him, but killed his son. And when he was dying, he said, “May the LORD see and avenge!” (2 Chr 24.22)
The prophets calls out for justice and vengeance. Joash will eventually be assassinated.
Story of Israel
Looking back to Israel’s past Jesus condemns the religious of his day describing events like this.
29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? (Mt 23:29–33)
There will be vengeance for those who kill God’s people. But God will continue to send his prophets to command people to repent. How will they be treated?
34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. (Mt 23:29–36)
Story of Jesus
Is there hope? Yes. At the time one might least expect. When the prophet Zechariah died he called upon the LORD for vengeance. That justice be served. But when Jesus was crucified. Another form of torture, what did he say?
33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” 39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” (Lk 23:33–39)
Jesus took upon himself the punishment we deserve for living in rebellion against the LORD. When he was about to die, he didn’t call for vengeance. He called out for forgiveness. God’s just vengeance and loving salvation come together in Jesus. Is this the person you would call your Christ? Is he the Chosen One? Is he your King? He is risen from the dead, will you follow him?
Thursday, May 15, 2014
From 2 Chronicles 18-20
2 Chr 18.1-27; Jehoshaphat; Jehoshaphat Allies with Ahab
2 Chr 18.28-34; Jehoshaphat; The Defeat and Death of Ahab
2 Chr 19.1-11; Jehoshaphat; Jehoshaphat’s Reforms
2 Chr 20.1-23; Jehoshaphat; Jehoshaphat’s Prayer
2 Chr 20.24-34; Jehoshaphat; The LORD Delivers Judah
2 Chr 20.35-37; Jehoshaphat; The End of Jehoshaphat’s Reign
Passage and Comments
Jehoshaphat joins forces with Ahab to defeat the king of Ramoth-gilead. The plan backfires for Ahab though because he gets shot by a random arrow and bleeds to death. Jehoshaphat draws criticism though for allying himself with Ahab.
2 But Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him and said to King Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Because of this, wrath has gone out against you from the Lord. 3 Nevertheless, some good is found in you, for you destroyed the Asheroth out of the land, and have set your heart to seek God.” (2 Chr 19.2-3)
You may remember the scriptures generally denote those reject the LORD and do not make a practice of the Jewish law as 'wicked'. Ahab did evil in the sight of the LORD and encouraged the worship of false gods in his kingdom. Jehoshaphat by way of comparison is described as having some good and seeks the LORD.
Some time after this a large army from Edom invades Judah and besieges Judah. Jehoshaphat is afraid and seeks the LORD in prayer (2 Chr 20.6-12). This is where our passage starts.
13 Meanwhile all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. 14 And the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.” (2 Chr 20.13-17)
They will not need to fight, only trust in the LORD. The LORD requires a little demonstration that they do trust him. They have to go out and watch what the LORD will do.
18 Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD, worshiping the LORD. 19 And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. (2 Chr 20.18-19)
They believe and worship. The LORD is good.
20 And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” 21 And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the LORD and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say,
“Give thanks to the LORD,
for his steadfast love endures forever.” (2 Chr 20.20-21)
Jehoshaphat goes out and tells more people about the LORD's faithfulness. The LORD's steadfast love is his covenant love which he bestows upon this covenant people. In this case he will save Judah from her enemies.
22 And when they began to sing and praise, the LORD set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. 23 For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another. (2 Chr 20.22-23)
So the Edomites attack Judah's other enemies the Ammonites and the Moabites. In the end Judah's enemies destroy one another. Note how the LORD is perceived to act through human movements.
The passage today brings together three celebrated concepts. These are covenant, salvation and belief.
Story of Israel
These three are repeatedly tied together through the Psalms. The LORD and Israel are in covenant relationship. Trusting in the LORD and taking refuge in him is commonly associated with those who are called righteous. The LORD fulfilling his covenant obligations looks after and saves the righteous.
5 There they are in great terror,
for God is with the generation of the righteous.
6 You would shame the plans of the poor,
but the LORD is his refuge.
7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad. (Ps 14:5–7)
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.
2 The Lord has made known his salvation;
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
3 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. (Ps 98.1-3)
However Israel does not always prove to be righteous. They do not always rely on the LORD and keep his commands. This presents a problem for the LORD. He must remain faithful to his promises, but Israel will not keep her end of the agreement. Israel herself needs saving. The LORD will sent another Israelite, to accomplish this.
Story of Jesus
It happens of course in the gospel. The death and resurrection of Jesus as reflected in the story of Jesus have fulfilled God’s covenant promises (Acts 13.32-33; 2 Cor 1.20).
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Rom 1:16–17)Thus God is righteous because he has fulfilled his covenant promises in the gospel by saving all those who believe Jesus who was crucified has risen from the dead and is the Christ (Acts 17.2-3).
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
From 2 Chronicles 13-17
2 Chr 13.1-22; Abijah; Abijah Reigns in Judah
2 Chr 14.1-15; Asa; Asa Reigns in Judah
2 Chr 15.1-19; Asa; Asa’s Religious Reforms
2 Chr 16.1-14; Asa; Asa’s Last Years
2 Chr 17.1-19; Jehoshaphat; Jehoshaphat Reigns in Judah
Passage and Comments
Judah and Israel are still enemies and fighting one another. The following passage describes one of their early confrontations.
13 In the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam, Abijah began to reign over Judah. 2 He reigned for three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Micaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. Now there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. 3 Abijah went out to battle, having an army of valiant men of war, 400,000 chosen men. And Jeroboam drew up his line of battle against him with 800,000 chosen mighty warriors. (2 Chr 13.1-3)
Two to one odds in favour of Israel. This is hardly surprising since under Israel there are ten tribes and under Judah there are two. The outcome doesn’t look good for Abijah and Judah unless they are all Spartans or even better the LORD is with them.
4 Then Abijah stood up on Mount Zemaraim that is in the hill country of Ephraim and said, “Hear me, O Jeroboam and all Israel! 5 Ought you not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt? 6 Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, a servant of Solomon the son of David, rose up and rebelled against his lord, 7 and certain worthless scoundrels gathered about him and defied Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and irresolute and could not withstand them. (2 Chr 13.4-7)
‘When Rehoboam was young and irresolute and could not withstand them’? Its interesting how people colour different events to make themselves look good. Rehoboam said, ‘My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions’ (2 Chr 10:11). Abijah has neglected to give the real reason why they split. But they did break the covenant and they are idolaters. They have abandoned the LORD.
8 “And now you think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David, because you are a great multitude and have with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made you for gods. 9 Have you not driven out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and made priests for yourselves like the peoples of other lands? Whoever comes for ordination with a young bull or seven rams becomes a priest of what are no gods. (2 Chr 13.8-9)
Abijah knows about their idolatry. They are neighbours after all. He ridicules them for abandoning the LORD and turning to other gods.
10 But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him. We have priests ministering to the LORD who are sons of Aaron, and Levites for their service. 11 They offer to the LORD every morning and every evening burnt offerings and incense of sweet spices, set out the showbread on the table of pure gold, and care for the golden lampstand that its lamps may burn every evening. For we keep the charge of the LORD our God, but you have forsaken him. (2 Chr 13.10-11)
Abijah boasts that Judah still continues its ritual worship in the temple of the LORD. Its interesting, this is how they prove their faithfulness to the LORD.
12 Behold, God is with us at our head, and his priests with their battle trumpets to sound the call to battle against you. O sons of Israel, do not fight against the LORD, the God of your fathers, for you cannot succeed.” (2 Chr 13.12)
Abijah warns them off.
13 Jeroboam had sent an ambush around to come upon them from behind. Thus his troops were in front of Judah, and the ambush was behind them. 14 And when Judah looked, behold, the battle was in front of and behind them. And they cried to the LORD, and the priests blew the trumpets. (2 Chr 13.13-14)
But Jeroboam is not turned from conflict. He works to surround them in battle. Its hard to defend against people in front and behind you. 800000 vs 400000, this doesn’t look good.
15 Then the men of Judah raised the battle shout. And when the men of Judah shouted, God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. 16 The men of Israel fled before Judah, and God gave them into their hand. 17 Abijah and his people struck them with great force, so there fell slain of Israel 500,000 chosen men. 18 Thus the men of Israel were subdued at that time, and the men of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the LORD, the God of their fathers. (2 Chr 13.15-18)
The LORD steps in and transforms Judah’s men into fighting machines. Thus God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel through them. Judah prevailed because they relied on the LORD. The best we have of their reliance is their boasting that they continue with the temple rituals. I would suggest in part the LORD enabled them to win this victory because his name was at stake. There is an implicit battle between gods. The LORD and the false gods Jeroboam were bowing down too. Secondly, its safe to assume if they relied on the LORD then, behind their continued practice of temple ritual, they still trusted him, sought his presence, etc. Lastly, in the battle itself they relied on the LORD to secure them victory.
Israel does not recover from this defeat. The LORD will eventually strike Jeroboam down. Abijah will pass away. His son Asa follows him and reigns over Judah. Asa initially does what is good and right in the eyes of the LORD (2 Chr 14.2). He cuts down all the places of foreign worship in Judah which suggests not all Judah was as faithful to the LORD as Abijah claimed above. Asa has a significant battle against an Ethiopian with one million men.
11 And Asa cried to the LORD his God, “O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O LORD, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.” 12 So the LORD defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. (2 Ch 14:11–12)
They relied on the LORD and the LORD defeated their opponents. But later on, Asa will not continue to rely on the LORD (2 Chr 16.7-9). Asa turns away from him. Jehoshaphat his son reigns in his place.
Story of Israel
Do many of the kings of Israel rely on the LORD? Perhaps some. Jehoshaphat proves to be better than his father and grandfathers. I would says Hezekiah also relies on the LORD. They relied in the LORD despite the situation around them. The prophet Hanani gives some more information on how the LORD regards those who rely on him.
‘Yet because you relied on the LORD, he gave them into your hand. 9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.’ (2 Chr 16:8–9).
There is assurance for those who rely on the LORD to save them. Assurance that the LORD will give them strong support and consider them blameless in his eyes. I'll take that thank you!
Story of Jesus
I sometimes consider Romans 8 to be the Big Mac of Romans. In the Big Mac Paul gives some strong words of assurance to those who believe Jesus is the crucified and risen Christ. They too can rely on the LORD.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:31–39)