Archive for : June, 2018

06/30/2018 — 2 Chronicles Chapters 19-23

As I read through these chapters I was, again, reminded of the cycle of following/not following the Lord the nation of Judah performed.  And, again, I was  reminded of the blessings the Lord extends to His people when they obey.  I think an excellent example is Jehoshaphat in Chapters 19 and 20.  We see the prophet Jehu inform Jehoshaphat that the “wrath of the Lord is upon you” (v. 19:2) for aligning with Ahab.  However, in Chapter 20:3-12  we see Jehoshaphat the people fast and re-dedicate themselves to the Lord.

And at that point the Lord fought  and won the battle for His people.                   2 Chronicles 20:22-24

22 As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23 The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.  24 When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped

 

06/29/2018 — 1 Kings Chapter 22 and 2 Chronicles Chapter 18

As we read these chapters I think we saw the same event described almost word-for-word.   And there was one set of characters that I think remains with us today — the “Yes Men.” From 1 Kings 22:

So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?” “Go,” they answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”

and

 11 Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns and he declared, “This is what the Lord says: ‘With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.’”12 All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. “Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,” they said, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”

And in opposition there was one man not afraid to speak the truth — Micaiah.  Even when advised by others to “go along with the crowd” Micaiah without regard for his personal safety remained true to God’s will.  I am reminded of Paul’s instruction to the church in Phillipi.

Philippians 4:1: Therefore, my brothers and sisters whom I love and miss, who are my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord.

06/28/2018 — 1 Kings Chapters 20-21

Reading through these passages a few things popped out.  First, after all that they had connived  together I find it ironic that Ahab was willing to give Jezebel (the real motivator of the family) along with the rest of his wives to King to  King Ben-Hadad (re: 2 Kings 20: 2-4.)

He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, saying, “This is what Ben-Hadad says: ‘Your silver and gold are mine, and the best of your wives and children are mine.’” The king of Israel answered, “Just as you say, my lord the king. I and all I have are yours.”

Secondly, I am always amazed at the forgiveness of God and that it even applied to the most evil of characters, including Ahab.

27 When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly. 28 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: 29 “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.”

But then, His forgiveness also applies to me … & and am I any better?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

06/27/2018 — 1 Kings Chapters 17-19

Now, if you are like me, isn’t it hard to envision 3 consecutive  chapters of Scripture that would make a better holiday movie or television reality show — the miracles Elijah performed with the widow of Zarephath; the challenge given to & the results the Lord provided for the prophets of Baal; and the angel the Lord sent to revive and encourage Elijah for the continuance of his mission.

Of all of these can you envision a reality show entitled “Battle of the Prophets” based on 1 Kings 18:21-40.   And then watching the contest between the single prophet of the Living God, Elijah, and the 450 prophets of Baal.  Even the people of Israel who had been living apart from God’s will were overcome for the moment with the power of the Lord:

38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.  39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”  40 Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.

 

 

 

06/26/2018 — 1 Kings Chapter 16; & 2 Chronicles Chapter 17

As you read the historical accounts of the Northern Tribes (Israel) and the Southern Tribes (Judah) do you see a pattern?  While certainly not all of the kings of Judah followed the Lord there were at least a few.  However, Israel has yet to have a king who is not described as doing “evil in the eyes of the Lord.”

And in 1 Kings 16:29 we see the introduction of one of the most evil & whose family will be ingrained in the loves of some of the prophets we will read about in the coming months:

29 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. 30 Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. 31 He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him

 

06/25/2018 1 Kings Chapter 15; 2 Chronicles 1 Chapters 3-16

As we read through these chapters I hope you are paying close attention to which kings are from the 10 Northern Tribes (Israel) and which are from the 2 Southern Tribes (Judah.)  We must understand this reality before we can see God’s plan for the nations unfold.  So, to help a bit I have attached a document I used years ago when we did a study of the “minor” prophets.

The document provides the chronological listing of each nation’s kings and the corresponding prophet(s.)  I find the document useful when all of the names and battles start “running together.

prophetsum

 

 

06/24/2018 2 Chronicles Chapters 10-12

These Chapters in 2 Chronicles pretty much repeat what we read yesterday in 1 Kings.  As with yesterday’ s reading we see the division between Israel and Judah and the creation of the “Divided Kingdom.”

But we also see the grace of God in that when Rehoboam “humbled himself” the Lord prevented the destruction of Judah:  2 Chronicles 12:7-8

 When he Lord saw that they humbled themselves, this word of the Lord came to Shemaiah: “Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance. My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak. They will, however, become subject to him, so that they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands.”

Note, however, that even though they were spared from destruction Judah still had to endure hardship as a result of their disobedience.

I think this speaks loudly to us.  We can be forgiven of our sin, but we still may suffer the consequences of our disobedience.

 

06/23/2018 — 1 Kings Chapters 12-14

As we enter into this point in the history of Israel we need to keep in mind a reality that will “play-out” over the remainder of our readings.  This event is so critical I think we should “set the stage” a bit.

David had joined and Solomon had ruled over all of the 12 Tribes of the Israelites.  However, there had always been “friction” between the 10 Northern Tribes and the two Southern Tribes .

The Northern Tribes were Asher, Dan, Ephraim, Gad, Issachar, Manasseh, Naphtali, Reuben, Simeon, and Zebulun—all sons or grandsons of Jacob. These ten tribes were collectively known as Israel.

The Southern Tribes were Judah and Benjamin.  Collectively they were know as Judah.

So, in 1 Kings 12 we see Rehoboam (selected as king by Solomon) from the Southern Kingdom (Judah) going to Shechem to meet with the ten Northern Tribes (Israel) with the purpose of maintaining a united nation.

Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone there to make him king.

However, before entering into unity with Judah the the Northern Tribes (Israel) had a request:

“Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.”

But what we see is a decision that lead to the creation of the “Divided Kingdom.” Rehoboam not only refuses this request but throws “gasoline on the fire.”  As a result in 1 Kings 12:16-17 we see the division of the nation and the beginning of the “Divided Kingdom.”

13 The king answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, 14 he followed the advice of the young men and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.”

16 When all Israel [the ten northern tribes] saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king:

“What share do we have in David,
    what part in Jesse’s son?
To your tents, Israel!
    Look after your own house, David!

So the Israelites went home. 17 But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, [the two southern tribes] Rehoboam still ruled over them.

 

 

06/22/2018 — Proverbs Chapters 30-31

As we covered in the introduction to Proverbs Solomon did not pen Chapters 30-31.  Agur wrote Chapter 30 and King Lemuel; Chapter 31.  Interestingly, Proverbs 30 is the only scripture where Agur is mentioned & Chapter 31  the only scripture referencing King Lemuel.  Some scholars feel that since King Lemuel is not recorded in any list of the kings of Judah or Israel, King Lemuel may have even been a foreign (pagan) king or that Lemuel maybe a “pen name” for another author.

Surely Psalm 31:10-31 the inspired tribute to the Wife of Noble Character has been and should always be on a routine reading list.  Yet there is another very practical inspired passage in Proverbs 30:7-9 that we should remember when we are making plans for or thinking upon material gain:

“Two things I ask of you, Lord;
    do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
    give me neither poverty nor riches,
    but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
    and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
    and so dishonor the name of my God.

And we recognize the same precept spoken hundreds of years later by Christ in the “Lord’s Prayer,” (Matt 6:11)

06/21/2018 — 1 Kings Chapters 10-11 & 2 Chronicles Chpt 9

About 5 days ago we read about the marvelous expansion of Solomon’s kingdom.  Yet we recognized that there were some “harbingers” that all was not well with his “heart-relationship” with the Lord.

In 1 Kings 10 and 2 Chronicles 9 we continue to be awed with the wealth and wisdom that is described.   Solomon was truly blessed!  Then in 1 Kings 11:1 we see a small but very significant “conjunctive adverb” — the word “HOWEVER.”

1 Kings 11:1 King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites.

In this verse the inspired author of Kings (scholars think the author may have been Ezra, Ezekiel or Jeremiah) states the reason behind the eventual fall of Solomon’s empire, and the Lord’s pronouncement in 1 Kings 11:11

11 So the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates.

I admit that I am perplexed as the why the “wisest man” in the entire known world could not have recognized the utter contempt for the Lord that was shown by entering into union with women for whom intermarriage was forbidden (re: Exodus 34:16 and Deuteronomy 7:3-4.)

But then I reflect on the reality of how many times has/does my own personal desires  overcome my respect for the Lord’s will? 

I am grateful for a loving and merciful God who since the beginning of time has set a path by which I can be forgiven through His grace.

 

 

06/20/2018 — Ecclesiastes Chapters 7-12

After 12 inspired chapters of musings in Chapter 12 we come to Solomon’s inspired conclusion to the purpose of life in just one verses:

13 Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.

Also, in this day’s reading one verse reminded me of what I feel is an important reminder for our lives.

Ecclesiastes 7:7  Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”  For it is not wise to ask such questions.

While it is certainly important to remember the past to dwell in the past is destructive.  As Paul wrote we are to not dwell in our regret about the past mistakes or successes but to continue to move forward in our Christian walk:

Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

When I am tempted to “go back” I am reminded of the lyrics of a Dolly Parton song, “In the Good Ol’ Days when Times Were Bad.”

No amount of money could buy from me
The memories that I have of then
No amount of money could pay me
To go back and live through it again

 

06/19/2018 — Ecclesiastes Chapters 1-6

In college I remember needing a few credits in a “social science,” so I took an “Introduction to Philosophy” class (based on what I gained I only took the one...)       In the class I was introduced to the teachings on “nihilism.”  Nihilism is a philosophy based on the concept  of “the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless.”

As we begin to read these musings of Solomon how does “nihilism” not enter our thoughts?

Ecclesiastes 1:12-14    I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind!  14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind

However, unlike the nihilist we will see that Solomon does have the inspired answer, and this answer is sprinkled throughout the book, such as:

Ecclesiastes 3:11  He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

 

So take heart and keep reading (no matter how initially frustrated you may feel…)

 

 

 

 

06/18/2018 Proverbs Chapters 27-29

As you read the very first verse in today’s reading does it remind you of another verse:

Proverbs 27:1 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

What about James 4:13-14?

James 4:13-14  Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 

 

06/17/2018 — Proverbs Chapters 25-26

Just a couple of real-world points that struck me in these verses — first I think English majors would crown Solomon the “king of similes” for the creative ways he uses “like” to make wonderful points of comparison.

Secondly I believe that Proverbs 25:24 is the third time at this point  in our reading (one more to go) that Solomon references the discomforts of living with a quarrelsome/nagging woman.  I  do have to smile when I read these Proverbs knowing that supporting 700 wives (not even including 300 concubines) Solomon may have been a bit of an expert in this area!

Proverbs 25: 24  Better to live on a corner of the roof
    than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

Proverbs 19:13   A foolish child is a father’s ruin,
    and a quarrelsome wife is like
    the constant dripping of a leaky roof.

Proverbs 21:9  Better to live on a corner of the roof
    than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

06/16/2018 — 1 Kings Chapter 9; & 2 Chronicles Chapter 8

In these chapters we certainly see the expansion of Solomon’s kingdom but we also begin to have more insight and foreshadowing that all was not “well” in this kingdom.  For example:

  • In 1 Kings 9:11 we see Solomon try to “pawn off” some “worthless cities” to Hiram (interestingly 2 Chronicles 8:2 indicates that Hiram gave these cities back;)
  • 1 Kings 9:20-21  The enslavement of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites
  • 1 Kings 9:25. — The possibility that Solomon defied the sacrificial Laws of the Lord and directly offered sacrifices (neglecting the priests)
  • 2 Chronicles 8:11 — The acceptance of Pharaoh’s daughter (a pagan nation) as his wife

As with any leader the sum of the “small” will begin to impact the “whole” of the individuals character.

 

06/15/2018 — Psalms Chapters 134, & 146-150

So, after reading the first word of the verse verse would we all agree that these are Psalms of praise?  But did you denote that one of our favorite hymns is, basically one of these Psalms set to music?  I admit that I did not until a commentary made the reference.  It is Psalm 148 and of course the song is Kirkpatrick’s marvelous hymn, “Hallelujah! Praise Jehovah.”  When you have a chance … compare them: 

Psalm 148

Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord from the heavens;
    praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels;
    praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon;
    praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens
    and you waters above the skies.

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for at his command they were created,
and he established them for ever and ever—
    he issued a decree that will never pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
    stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills,
    fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all cattle,
    small creatures and flying birds,
11 kings of the earth and all nations,
    you princes and all rulers on earth,
12 young men and women,
    old men and children.

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for his name alone is exalted;
    his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
14 And he has raised up for his people a horn,[b]
    the praise of all his faithful servants,
    of Israel, the people close to his heart.

Praise the Lord.

Hallelujah, Praise Jehova

  1. Hallelujah, praise Jehovah,
    From the heavens praise His name;
    Praise Jehovah in the highest,
    All His angels praise proclaim.
    All His hosts together praise Him,
    Sun, and moon, and stars on high;
    Praise Him, O ye heav’n of heavens,
    And ye floods above the sky.

    • Refrain:
      Let them praises give Jehovah,
      For His name alone is high,
      And His glory is exalted,
      And His glory is exalted,
      And His glory is exalted,
      Far above the earth and sky.
  2. Let them praises give Jehovah,
    They were made at His command,
    Them forever He established;
    His decree shall ever stand.
    From the earth, oh, praise Jehovah,
    All ye floods, ye dragons all;
    Fire, and hail, and snow, and vapors,
    Stormy winds that hear His call.
  3. All ye fruitful trees and cedars,
    All ye hills and mountains high,
    Creeping things, and beasts, and cattle,
    Birds that in the heavens fly.
    Kings of earth, and all ye people,
    Princes great, earth’s judges all,
    Praise His name, young men and maidens,
    Aged men and children small.

 

06/14/2018 — 2 Chronicles Chapters 6-7 and Psalm 136

We see in Chronicles and will see in our return to 1 Kings that the Lord accepts & His glory fills  “Solomon’s” temple.   Yet, we also see a foreshadowing of what will happen to the nation 2 Chronicles 7:19-22

19 “But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. 21 This temple will become a heap of rubble. All[ who pass by will be appalled and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ 22 People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why he brought all this disaster on them.’

The Lord has always and continues to demand obedience from His chosen people.

06/13/2018 — 1 Kings Chapter 8; & 2 Chronicles Chapter 5

As I read these concurrent passages I was struck at how magnificent the pageantry of the celebration must have been, even greater than last month’s Royal Wedding.  But I was also taken by another reality in 1 Kings 8:5  —

When all the elders of Israel had arrived, the priests took up the ark, and they brought up the ark of the Lord and the tent of meeting and all the sacred furnishings in it. The priests and Levites carried them up, and King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel that had gathered about him were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted.

… the amount of blood that was involved in the coming of the presence of the Lord.   Of course the sacrifices were required to cover the sins of the people.

Now, we are truly blessed — and should we not be humbled and awed that the entire world-wide Body of Believers is allowed to enter into the presence of the Lord God Almighty through the shedding of a single “man’s” blood? — We are all part of God’s plan …

06/12/2018 — 1 Kings Chapter 7; & 2 Chronicles Chapter 4

In these chapters we see King Solomon complete the furnishings of the Temple and they are magnificent!

Another concept:

1 Kings 7:  It took Solomon thirteen years, however, to complete the construction of his palace.

Note that the details in Kings and Chronicles relay that his own house took longer to build and was larger than the temple.  This may cause us to believe that Solomon was more interested in his own splendor that that of the Lord.  However, keep in mind that neither the materials (assembled by David) nor the total manpower was spent on his home.  Still, as we will see later Solomon is beginning to separate his own needs and glory from that of the Nation.

06/11/2018 — 1 Kings 5-6; & 2 Chronicles 2-3

OK — so now that we have completed several of the writings of Solomon (Song of Solomon and Proverbs) we now return to the history of Solomon and God’s chosen nation.

And what an impressive way to start — Solomon’s construction of the temple.  David had set aside the materials and for the construction Solomon used:  70,000 men as “carriers;” 80,00o men as stone cutters in “the hills” and 3,600 foreman.  That is a total of 158,600 known workers on this God-dedicated project.

I once worked on a project with 11,000 workers and even with today’s communication and advanced technical tools the complexity was immense & often delayed.  So, from a “real world” construction management perspective the building of the House of the Lord was certainly a God inspired project.

Another marvel also caught my eye:  1 Kings: In building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built.

Can you envision the precision that must have been exercised at the quarry that the cut blocks did not even require “adjusting” at the job site?