Reading Through The Bible — Week 33
7/8 Monday. Read 2 Kings 17:1-41
· If time is short focus on v.7-23
· In 722 B.C. the ten northern tribes are defeated, & deported to the most remote parts of the Assyrian empire. (Note: Joseph Smith in his Book of Mormon, claims these ten tribes migrated to America and are the Native Americans, a theory disproven today by genetics)
· Other peoples are transported into Israel bringing with them their heathen religions which they now mix with a little of the true faith. These people of mixed race and religion become the Samaritans, so despised by the Jews of Jesus’ day, yet brought the truth both by Jesus and the apostles in the book of Acts.
· Historians will talk about the cause of this fall being the fact that Israel is basically a little land bridge between two of the great empires of the ancient world, Egypt to the south and Assyria / Persia to the North. That may make sense politically, but the real reason these verses tell us was that they did not listen to the many prophets God sent, and that every king from Jeroboam to Hoshea let the people into gross idolatry.
· What might have been different if Hoshea, instead of seeking a treaty with Egypt, would have turned in repentance to the Lord!
7/9 Tuesday. Read 2 Kings 18:1—19:37
· If time is short focus on 18:5-16
· Hezekiah is a truly God-fearing king who now rules in the southern kingdom of Judah. As you read today carefully note his faith demonstrated itself even beyond what some other good kings did.
· We find an interesting note here (v.4) that the bronze serpent through which God rescued them from the poisonous snake bites of Numbers 21, had now become an object of idolatrous worship.
· Is it possible for us also to take perfectly good religious symbols and objects and make them into objects of superstition? Beware!
· Note the arrogance of the Assyrian war-lord. The Lord brings down the proud from their lofty heights!
7/10 Wednesday. Read 2 Kings 20:1-21
· If time is short focus on v.1-11
· Hezekiah’s complete trust in God is demonstrated in his prayer-life. The first thing he does in every crisis of life is to turn to God. Whether it is 185,000 dead Assyrians (last chapter), or adding years onto his life, each of Hezekiah’s prayers which the Scripture records him praying are granted. How his example encourages us to be bold in prayer.
· Talking about the “power of prayer” however, is a bit deceptive. Our confidence is not in prayer, but in our powerful God. Prayer simply is avenue through which we enter the presence of our powerful God.
7/11 Thursday. Read 2 Kings 21:1-26
· If time is short focus on v.1-16
· We’ll start with a little math lesson. If Hezekiah received 15 more years and his son Manasseh began reigning when he was 12, would it not seem that Manasseh was born shortly after Hezekiah was granted that “new lease on life”… literally. Could it be that is why Hezekiah prayed so fervently and that God granted his wish… that he did not have an heir to continue the line of David?
· But what happened? Obviously good king Hezekiah had little influence on his son, who was as wicked as Ahab had been. Was it his mother? … his youthful buddies? The point is, mothers and fathers, we have a small window to guide, influence, and inspire the lives of our children. If we miss that, heartache comes. The church is always only one generation from reverting to heathenism!
7/12 Friday. Read 2 Kings 22:1—23:37
· If time is short focus on 22:1-20
· A final bright light in Judah before the light goes out… Josiah’s reformation. There are three bright lights in the history of Judah: Joash, Hezekiah, and Josiah. It is interesting that both Joash and Josiah were “boy-kings” (ages 7 & 8). We know Joash was raised and guided by a godly priest… we wonder if the same is true of Josiah??? At least there was some godly influence on him (it certainly was not his father!)… note the power and influence of Christian education.
· It all began with temple repair and discovery of the “Book of the Law.” Reformation, yes also today, and in our individual lives has two elements… Listening to God’s powerful Word and a heart like Josiah’s that was soft and receptive to that Word. (22:18,19; 23:25)
· Pray today for success of our attempts to train up our children in the ways of the Lord. Pray for continued reformation of the church and openness to the Word.
· Note: the prophesy that was fulfilled when Josiah burnt the bones of the false prophets on the ungodly altars was made 300 years earlier (1 Kings 13:2)
7/13 Saturday. Read 2 Kings 24:1—25:30
· If time is short focus on 25:1-30
· Politically what has happened since the ten northern tribes were deported by Assyria, is that Assyria has now been conquered by Babylon. In 605 B.C. at the famous battle of Carchemish, Nebuchadnezzar defeated Pharaoh Neco of Egypt. It is at this time that Jehoiachin, King of Judah is also deported along with the influential of the land (including Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and the prophet Ezekiel) … along with the treasures from the temple. The final fall of Jerusalem and complete destruction of Solomon’s temple and final deportation of Judah’s inhabitants took place in 586 B.C. King Zedekiah’s sons were killed before his eyes and then his eyes were put out.
· During these last terrible days, the most prolific of the prophets (so-called Major Prophets) were speaking from God… God was not silent! Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Jeremiah foretold that Zedekiah would be led to Babylon, and Ezekiel said, “yet shall he not see it.” (Jer. 32:5; Ez. 12:13)
· This sad chapter was not just because Judah got caught inbetween (geographically and politically) the two great world powers of Babylon and Egypt, but because as the prophets kept warning they had rebelled against the LORD. They had broken the old covenant, but God had not forgotten them.
7/14 Sunday. We arrive at the 5th Sunday of Pentecost, and taking a brief break from reading in 2 Kings we focus on the lessons for the day:
Old Testament Lesson, Zechariah 13:7-9: In this prophetic vision of Jesus as the suffering Messiah, the Shepherd is struck and the flock is scattered. The sound of disciples’ feet fleeing into the darkness first fulfilled this prophesy in the Garden of Gethsemane. Yet God makes a promise: suffering for the Gospel is His wayof refining His children. As fire removes impurities from gold and silver, so persecution refines the faith of God’s people. Only with this knowledge can we understand what Luther meant when he said that the absence of persecution is total persecution.
Epistle Lesson, Galatians 3:23-29: How can a Christian rejoice even in the suffering and persecution? When we know that these sufferings are for the sake of Christ who bought us and made us His heirs. We confess Christ even in the face of persecution because we belong to Christ and look forward to an inheritance that no suffering, no evil, no attack can take away from us. Paul contrasts the harsh imprisonment of the law with the gracious freedom of the gospel that comes through faith. In this contrast we see how the Lord can use the trials of life and temptations of the heart to build deeper appreciation for his gracious salvation in Jesus Christ. Through baptism, we have been made equal and unified heirs of the promise, boldly claiming our inheritance from the Father.
Gospel Lesson, Luke 9:18-24: In a private moment, Jesus offers the disciples an opportunity to confess their faith. They confess Jesus as “the Christ of God.” These men so bold in faith have no idea what lies ahead. Jesus warns them of His impending suffering and glorious resurrection. But the suffering is not His alone. To all who confess Jesus as Lord and Savior come trials and suffering on account of His name. We bear His cross on our heads and hearts at the risk of our lives. But to him who overcomes is given the crown of eternal life.
Reading Through The Bible — Week 34
7/15 Monday. Read 1 Chronicles 1:1– 4:43
· If time is short focus on 3:10-16
· 1 & 2 Chronicles repeats the history of Samuel and Kings, but does so from a different perspective… a priestly, rather than an historic, perspective. Jewish tradition names Ezra as the author. The emphasis of the book would fit well with Ezra’s concerns for the remnant returned from Babylon as they wrestle with the rebuilding of the temple.
· Today and tomorrow’s reading may seem about as exciting as reading a phone book. It is the longest genealogy in the Bible. You may want to just skim the names and connect with those you are familiar with. Today we begin with Adam and the emphasis is on the tribe of Judah and descendants of David. Obviously the emphasis is on tracing the line of the Promised One. With each name they were one step closer to the fulfillment of the Promise of the ages! Even this part of your Bible is finally all about HIM!
7/16 Tuesday. Read 1 Chronicles 6:1—8:40
· If time is short focus on 6:1-49
· Our historical introduction continues with the sad story of the beginning of the tribe of Reuben who forfeited the rights of the first-born to Joseph’s family… and also records this tribe’s sad end.
· The lion’s share today is the Levites, (remember the author is intentionally writing a spiritual history of God’s people)
· Two things jumped out at me in the section of the priesthood: 1) the church musicians… how important this aspect of the work of the Levites was to David the great hymn-writer of the Old Testament! 2) The distribution of the Levites among all the other tribes so that they could be a strong spiritual influence to all. You are the salt of the earth sprinkled throughout the world make this world tasteful to the Lord.
· Pray today for the musicians of our church, that their hard work may inspire and lead our hearts in worship of God.
7/17 Wednesday. Read 1 Chronicles 9:1—12:40
· If time is short focus on 12:1-22
· Our reading today begins again with a whole list of unpronounceable names. Chapter 9 are those of Judah who returned after the Babylonian captivity to continue God’s plan for this nation… namely to ultimately produce THE King, the Messiah.
· Chapter 10 is the sad end of the unfaithful king Saul. Did you note the humor in v.9? (They had to inform their gods as to what they had done… praise God, our God is not such a wimpy impotent god!)
· Chapters 11 &12 is David’s ascent to the throne. Just a couple of notes. David was first king only of Judah (for 7 1/2 years) before all of Israel accepted him.
· Conquering Jerusalem was no small thing. It had remained in the hands of the Jebusites for four centuries. No one else had taken this fortress.
· “Behind every successful man….” In David’s case, there were obviously a lot of other very brave, powerful, skilled, and dedicated warriors… even ready to risk their life to get their leader a drink of water! (11:17-19)
7/18 Thursday. Read 1 Chronicles 13:1—14:17
· If time is short focus on 13:1-14
· David’s intentions were noble… to have the ark of the covenant in his new capital city of Jerusalem, but his methods were not. The Ark was to be carried by Levites not bounced around on an Ox cart (Numbers 4:15).
· Celebration like that of a wedding turns into a funeral dirge in an instant. One act of careless disobedience cost Uzzah his life… and David, a period of anger with God. How often haven’t we blamed God for our misery cause by our mistakes! (Did you also get a bit angry with God when you read this account? Why was God so picky, we ask, when Uzzah was only trying to do something good??? Are we perhaps forgetting that God is God… that His every demand is perfection… do we see our own sins as more serious?)
· David’s sinful humanness is also seen in his disobedient taking of many wives.
· But David’s faith and strength is seen in his consulting the Lord before each battle with the Philistine resistance… not taking for granted at all the Lord’s help and direction. Have you asked for the Lord’s direction and blessing on your day?
7/19 Friday. Read 1 Chronicles 15:1 –16:43
· If time is short focus on 15:1-29
· David has thought through his anger and realized that it should be directed to himself. He was at fault! (I suspect he didn’t get that from a vision, but from searching the Scriptures) And he prepares for the correct method of transportation of the Ark.
· Two chapters filled with rejoicing and praise that the Ark, the symbol and seal of God’s presence with them was present in Jerusalem.
· Is your worship joyful??? Why was David so exuberantly joyful? (Might that question involve a bit of soul-searching and attitude-adjusting?)
7/20 Saturday. Read 1 Chronicles 17:1-27
· If time is short focus on v.16-27
· Let’s first contemplate David’s motive: I live in a fancy house… God lives in a tent. The prophet Nathan agreed, something is not right with that. Is that also a question for us to contemplate? What is the balance between my standard of living... and the health of my church and God’s kingdom?
· God had a different plan; He would build a house for David. And that was not just a dynasty of generations of kings that came from David’s line; that would end. But there would be a forever king. We know Him as Jesus. Many in His day recognized Him as the fulfillment of this promise and cried out, “Jesus, SON OF DAVID, have mercy on me!
· In this promise was all the hopes that the faithful connected with “Messiah” (anointed one).
· David’s prayer recognized that all of this came God’s grace. I trust you do also… see you in church tomorrow where we will join David in praising our God from whom all blessings flow.
7/21 Sunday. It is the Lord’s Day again already, so we pause from our reading in Chronicles, join together with our church family and focus on the lessons for the day:
Gospel Lesson, Luke 9:51-62: Following Christ leaves no room for vengeance, self-preservation or wrong priorities. So many want to follow Jesus, but only if a life of faith can be lived as much of the world as in the world. Breathless excitement wasn’t enough; cultural conventions weren’t enough; not even seemingly loving acts were enough to change Jesus’ claim: Following Christ is all or nothing—it calls for total commitment.
Old Testament Lesson, 1 Kings 19:14-21: Elisha is called to follow Elijah in proclaiming the Word of the Lord to Israel. He answered the all or nothing call of God with total commitment by burning his oxen and plow. There would be no looking back. He promptly leads his family in a farewell thanksgiving celebration and then left them behind to follow Elijah. Let us put our hand to the plow and look only ahead to the eternal harvest.
Epistle Lesson, Galatians 5:1,13-25: We were once yoked in slavery to sin and the Law. Now, set free from evil, our new found freedom does not lead to waywardness or being yoked again by sin. We are called to leave behind our life of sin and not look back to it. Rather, we follow Christ completely and with willing hearts we joyfully serve the Lord, walking in step with the Spirit.