Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful

O. T. #1008  "The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful"
June 21, 2017
Summary of 2 Chronicles
If My people, which are called by name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14

LET IT GLOW

People are so different. While a family may have some who are a good influence, some who are a bad influence, there usually are a few who are beautiful. By that I mean those beautiful folks rise up above their rough circumstances and hard times, showing faith in God as they serve Him and others. Those are the Christians that shine through with the ray of hope-God is faithfully with them, in control, and is victorious. Judah seemed to have had some of each kind.

I always like to review what was covered in the book that we finished studying. It seems to put things in perspective, especially since we have covered so much of Judah's history. The Priest Ezra was the author. He lead the second group of Jews out of Babylon and back to Jerusalem to help rebuild their city, its walls, and the Temple. He wrote this book so this new generation would in fact know their history, both good and bad.

King David's son Solomon became king after his father's death. David had prepared the materials and the intricate plans for the Temple. Then Solomon implemented those plans. He built a magnificent Temple for the worship of Israel's God, including the sacrificial system. (Israel had not split then.)
It took him 7 years to build the Temple  and 13 years to build the palace. So Israel was in a 20 year building program.

Solomon wrote 2 Psalms, 72 and 127. In Psalm 27:17, Solomon refers to Jesus: His name shall endure forever: His name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in Him: all nations shall call Him blessed.

Jesus is our Beautiful One. He shines as the Savior who endured so much so we could have the free gift of salvation and grace. He is always with us, always loves us, and is always going to be, as the song goes.

Solomon's dedicatory prayer was sincere and lengthy as we read in chapter 6. After all the splendor of the day, God spoke to Solomon informing him that God had chosen that Temple and Jerusalem for His dwelling place. Then He added some conditions to be met when Israel strayed away, found in our key verse. Solomon had 49 years of peace and prosperity during his reign. His purpose of centralizing and unifying Israel in the worship of God was accomplished. Wealth, fame, and political power were the greatest during this time.
However this did not last, sadly to say.

LET IT GROW

It was happened-the downward spiral. It was  during the reign of David's grandson and Solomon's son Rehoboam that Israel split into two kingdoms-the northern kingdom known as Israel, whose history is recorded in the first part of 2 Kings. They were taken captive by Babylon 135 years before Judah was.

Judah's problem (sin) was their worship of idols instead of worshiping God. Out of the 20 kings they had, there were only about 5 who were considered good kings, the ones who brought back revival into the land. this list included: Asa (chapters 14-16), Jehoshaphat (chapters 17-20), Uzziah (chapter22) , Josiah (chapters 22-24) Hezekiah (chapters 29-33).

On the other hand, Manasseh was the most wicked and longest reigning king over Judah (chapters 33-36). He had been born during the 15 extended year of life of his father Hezekiah.

So we do not end on a sour note, remember the ray of hope Judah had as Cyrus, king of Persia, who had conquered Babylon, released the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem, its wall, and Temple.

You know, as I consider all of this, we are not any different from Judah. We get into the same cycle of worshiping God with complete commitment, then fall into sin and stray away, finally we return back to God, usually after His discipline us. do I hear an amen?

Thank God for His mercy and grace! All we need to do is humble our self, pray, seek God's face, and turn from our wicked ways, then God promises to hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land.

I am looking forward to studying the book of Ezra next. Restoration is coming, so don't miss out, dear ones. There was a remnant who stayed faithful to God during those 70 years of captivity and they are rising up. 

LET IT GO

Stay faithful to God.

Love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Bless the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Ray of Hope


O. T. #1,007  "A Ray of Hope"
June 20, 2017
2 Chronicles 36-Part 5
To fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate and she kept Sabbath, to fulfill three score and ten years.

LET IT GLOW

Have you seen lately a beautiful sunset in which clouds hide the bright sun, allowing the rays to shine through? What a gorgeous sight! Anyone need a ray of hope? For sure! Our God always comes through for us friends. Oh, it may not be in the way we expect or in the time we wish, but He is faithful. That is one thing we can know for certain.
Judah had a ray of hope after 70 years of captivity, of servant hood away from their homeland. Join me as we find out the source through whom this ray shone.

Judah's people remained in captivity of the Babylonians until the land was compensated for the years (dating from the beginning of the monarchy) when the sabbatical years had not been observed as the Law said.
Leviticus 25 and 26 allowed Israel to sow the fields and prune their vineyard, and gather their fruit for 6 years. Then they were to allow the land to rest, by not planting and harvesting it. However, their greed caused them to disobey the Law. For 490 years this was done, so they thought they got away with it. but not so-God rested the land 70 years, which was one year out of 7 required.

Galatians 6:7 tells us, Do not be deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Ezra, the author of this book, passed over those 70 years of exile for Judah in his writings. The people were out of the land and out of God's will.
God's clock is not spelled B-U-L-O-V-A  or G-R-U-E-N; it is spelled I-S-R-A-E-L, and it only runs while Israel is in the land. (McGee)
The clock of judgment began in 605 B.C. until the first deportation in 536 B.C. when the first group of Jews returned to Jerusalem and started to rebuild the Temple, found in Ezra 3:8.  (MacArthur)

Throughout this book, we read of 5 periods of revival, renewal, and reformation in Judah. Within each period, Judah returned to worship God and His sacrificial system, in obedience to the Word of God, which lead to repentance and temporary reformation of the nation: Kings Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Hezekiah, and Josiah. (Sadly the other 15 kings did not do so.)

LET IT GROW

As we read the conclusion of Second Chronicles, we find a bright hope, with a ray of hope for the future of Judah.
King Cyrus of Persia made this proclamation for the Jews in captivity after the Temple:
  • This was the Word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah the prophet.
  • So the Lord put His hand upon Cyrus for this proclamation.
  • It said: The LORD , the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has appointed me to build Him a temple at Jerusalem in Judah. Whoever among you of His people may go up, and may the LORD his God be with him.
The next book which we will study is called Ezra, entitled by its author, who is the same one for the books of Chronicles. In it he tells the story of this proclamation and the return of the exiles of Judah.

The nation of Judah was stripped off its foundation-kings were gone, the Temple was destroyed, and the people were removed from their Promised Land. God is a firmer foundation, however. When everything in life is stripped away from us, we too still have God-His Word, His presences, and His promises. (Life Application Study Bible)

How gracious God is! We will be reading of the lamenting and broken heart of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, the trouble Daniel and the remnant encountered while captives in Babylon. Let us not forget that God is sovereignly in control and faithful to His children.

If God is with me, whom then shall I fear? The song goes.

LET IT GO
                              ... and remain faithful to God.
                               ... of my focus on surrounding circumstances and focus on God.
                               ... and ask Him for a ray of hope, letting go of my dreams.
                               ... as I allow God's ray of hope to shine through me.

Monday, June 19, 2017

No Knock at the Door

O. T. #1,006 "No Knock at the Door"
June 19, 2017
2 Chronicles 36-Part 4
And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof.  2 Chronicles 36:19

LET IT GLOW

Family is welcome at our house. There's no need for them to knock at the door and wait for us to open it, then invite them inside. And that is the way we want it. Usually they holler to make their presence known, though. That way I am presentable. They are welcome to go into the kitchen and check out the snack drawer or raid the frig anytime.That's the way it is with family, right?

It wasn't that way at Judah though. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon did not knock on the King Zedekiah's palace door and wait for a invitation to enter. No, he rushed in, pushed over the wall, and burned Jerusalem, including the palace, then took Judah into captivity for 70 years.

We knew it was coming didn't we? Judah knew it, also, for God had sent His prophets to warn them to repent and only worship Him or else. (Jeremiah and Ezekiel)

But the people mocked these messengers of God, and despised their words. They scoffed at their words until the LORD's anger could no longer be restrained and nothing could be done.
2 Chronicles 36:16 NLT

Ezekiel 22:30 NLT says I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn't have to destroy the land, but I found no one. So now I will pour out My fury on them, consuming them with the fire of My anger. I will heap on their heads the full penalty for all their sins. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken.

It was because of the sins of Manasseh, turning Judah to idol worship and away from God. Following Josiah, the good king, were the last 4 bad kings. Time had run out for Judah.

Parents are often patient with their children, warning them to stop their wrong, disobedient behavior. However, when the warning is not heeded, punishment comes in order for the correction of the behavior to take place. So it was with Judah and with us. God chastens His children. He wants us to do right. He desires the best for us and knows that comes with obedience.

LET IT GROW

What did the Babylonians do in Judah?
  • They killed Judah's young men, even chasing them into the Temple.
  • Having no pity on the people, they killed both young men and women, the old.
  • Neb took home all the large and small articles used in the Temple of God. Remember they were made of valuable gold, silver, and bronze.
  • Included were the treasures found in the king's palace and the officers' as well.
  • Then the Babylonian army burned the Temple, tore down the walls of Jerusalem, burned all the palaces, and completely destroyed anything of value.
  • The few who survived were taken as exiles to Babylon, the world empire reigning. They became servants to the king and his sons until the kingdom of Persia came to power.
Jeremiah wrote Lamentations to mourn the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. and the beginning of the exile.
He wrote in 3:22, The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.
In verse 38 we read, Does not the Most High send both calamity and good? Then why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins?

Amen.

LET IT GO

Accept the disciplining of the Lord God in my life.

Let it bring me to my knees of repentance.

Be encouraged that God's mercies never cease and are new every morning.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O LORD God!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Doing the Popular Thing

O. T. #1005  "Doing the Popular Thing"
June 16, 2017
2 Chronicles 36-Part 3
You won't be handed over to them if you choose to obey the LORD. Your life will be spared, and all will go well for you.  Jeremiah 38:20

LET IT GLOW

Well, here we are folks, studying about the last king of Judah, Zedekiah, before Babylon conquers them. The prophet Ezekiel had already been taken away captive in 597 B.C. and Jerusalem would soon fall to Babylonian captivity in 586 B.C. If only Zedekiah had not done the popular thing, worshiping idols, and did the right thing, which was worshiping God. The people would have followed him and they would not have gone into captivity and the Temple destroyed.

What do we know about this Zedekiah?
  • He was 21 when he became king and reigned for 11 years. (verse 11)
  • He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God.  (verse 12)
  • Zedekiah refused to humble himself when the prophet Jeremiah spoke to him directly from the LORD.
  • He rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, even though he had taken an oath of loyalty in God's name. (verse 13)
  • While Jeremiah was in prison for being falsely accused of supporting the Chaldeans (in the land of Benjamin), King Zedekiah inquired from him if there was a word from the Lord. (Jeremiah 37:17) He was lowered into a cistern in the prison yard. Although doom was coming, Jeremiah requested more humane conditions than in his dungeon. The king transferred him to a more suitable prison. (Falwell)
  • Zedekiah was a hard and stubborn man, refusing to turn to the Lord, the God of Israel. He stiffened his neck and hardened his heart, as KJV states. (verse 13)
Friends, let us not harden our heart toward God in spite of our situation. Job asked if we should only accept good from God and not bad. Look at what all he went through-loss of children, animals (financial), support of friends, and health. Yet, God spoke with him and restored his losses.
Let us not be stubborn in our own sinful ways. Jonah refused to preach to Nineveh and ran away, but God brought him back and to the point of obedience. Such a great revival occurred. God can use extreme measures in lives as He brings His people back to Him.


LET IT GROW

All the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful. They followed all the pagan practices  of the surrounding nations, desecrating the Temple of the LORD that had been consecrated in Jerusalem. (verse 14 NLT)

The people of Judah turned from worshiping God to worshiping idols of false gods. Moses, prophets, and others warned them not to turn to the gods of their enemies. At first they did it secretly, then openly. As the king lead his people, they followed the popular thing to do, though wrong.The Lord chastened His beloved ones, and they repented. It seemed to have been a continuous cycle of sin.

But they would not turn back to God, so God had to turn against them.  (Wiersbe)

Do we ask our teenagers if the popular thing to do is the right thing to do? The "jumping off the cliff" thing. Although it is difficult to go against the flow, it is better than to not drown in sin.

God did raise up prophets and leaders faithfully serving Him during those difficult times. Some suffered for their faithfulness-Jeremiah, the weeping prophet and Ezekiel and Daniel taken captive.


LET IT GO

Keep a soft heart toward God and His Word.

Discern whether the popular thing is the right thing to do.

Help others return to God.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

When Plans Are Dashed

O. T. #1,004  " When Plans Are Dashed"
June 15, 2017
2 Chronicles 36-Part 2

LET IT GLOW

Even though Josiah was a good king of Judah who brought her back to worshiping God in His Temple with the reading of His Word, his two sons did not follow in his footsteps. Jehoahez was taken prisoner by Pharoah Necho II after only reigning 3 months over Judah. He died in Egypt.

Jehoikim, his older brother, was made king by the king of Egypt. He taxed the people severely in order to pay tribute to Egypt since his brother had emptied the royal treasury paying Egypt. Both brothers did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. Then came Nebuchadnezzar from Babylon.

Notice this which Falwell tells us:
Neuchadnezzar was actually the crown prince and coregent with his father Nabopolasser. While in Jerusalem, he received word of his father's death; he was called home to Babylon for immediate for coronation as sole king.
Before he left, Neb took the vessels in the Temple with him.
Jehoikim's son, Jehoiachin was made king of Judah, but he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, also. He only lasted 3 months as king. Neb besieged Jerusalem and took Jehoiachin and the royal family as permanent captives to Babylon, the second deportation. The third group captured was 10,000 leading citizens. This only left the poorest people to be puppets in Babylon's hands. This was the beginning of the 70 year of captivity of Judah by Babylon.

LET IT GROW

Reading in Jeremiah 36, we find that King Jehoiakim cut off a section of the scroll read to him by Jehudi, the messenger of Jeremiah, which the Lord had given, and burned it. Thus the Lord's Word came to Jeremiah-Jehoiakim will have no heirs to sit on the throne of David.

How can we find encouragement in all of this mess? It's there in Jeremiah 45:1-5. The Lord gave Jeremiah a message for Baruch, the one to whom he dictate God's Word. He had been serving this unpopular prophet for a long time, writing his boo of struggles and judgments.

You have said, "I am overwhelmed with trouble! Haven't I had enough pain already? And now the LORD has added more! I am worn out from sighing and can find no rest."
Baruch, this is what the LORD says:" I will destroy this nation that I built. I will uproot what I planted. Are you seeking great things for yourself? Don't do it! I will bring great disaster upon all these people; but I will give you your life as a reward wherever you go. I, the LORD, have spoken."

Can you imagine living during this time in Judah? Would we have been like Baruch, anxious about our plans for a bright future that are being dashed? Did he set his expectations too high so disasters were hard to bear? Have we taken our eyes off of God and put our focus on our self? Look for God's purposes instead of what we are giving up. It easy to loose the joy of serving Him.

Dash, in Webster's Dictionary, has several meanings, including:  to affect by mixing in something different; to knock, hurl, or thrust violently.

Sometimes life hurls at us the unexpected. Our future plans are changed and we are knocked down as discouragement and reality hits us head on. But for the believer, God is in control, sees what is going on, and will be our strength as we trust His will. His love never ends!

LET IT GO

Stay focused on God; don't seek great things for myself.

Trust His ways to be higher than my ways.

Know that God never fails.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Which Road Will We Walk Down?

O. T. #1,003  "Which Road Will We Walk Down?
June 14, 2017
2 Chronicles 36
Turn from the evil road you are traveling and from the evil things you are doing. Only then will I let you live in this land that the LORD gave you and your ancestors forever. Do not provoke My anger b worshiping idols you made with your own hands. Then I will not harm you. Jeremiah 25:5-6

LET IT GLOW

What do people think they will gain by traveling down an evil road? It only leads to destruction. Are they trying to gain the whole world, yet loose their soul, as Tobby Mac sings? Is it worth it in the long run? I think not. Good shall prevail, for God is in control. Will we pray for revival and repentance? Let us continue on the road of faith God, dear friends.

Well, after King Josiah's death, his son Jehoahaz was made the next kin in Jerusalem.
What do we find out about him? There are just 4 verses in this chapter and  in 2 Kings 23 which give us answers:
  • He was 23 years old whenever Jehoahaz began to reign over Judah.
  • He only reigned 3 months.
  • He did what was evil in the LORD's sight.
  • Jehoahaz was put into prison by the Pharaoh Necho of Egypt. First he was taken in bondage to Syria and then taken later to Egypt, where he died. This was done to prevent him from ruling in Jerusalem.
  • Necho demanded Judah pay 7,500 pounds of silver and 75 pounds of gold.
  • Necho replaced Jehoahaz with his son Eliakim, which means God has established, and changed his  name to Jehoiakim, which means the Lord has established. This showed that Necho was lord over the land. (It was the way of those in the ancient Near East as a sign of authority.
  • In order to get the silver and gold that Pharaoh Necho demanded, Jehoiakim collected a tax from the people of Judah. He required them pay a proportion to their wealth.
  • Jeremiah continued to prophesy during this time.
Need I say that the last 4 kings of Judah, following Josiah, were bad kings? You know, if this rascal Josiah had only listened to Necho and not gone to war with Egypt, but allowed them to pass through Judah on their way to fight Babylon, this would not have happened. Not only did Josiah pay for his mistake with his life, but his descendants paid for his mistake also.

Let us keep in mind that the evil ones will pay for their sins, if not in this life, then in the next, if they do not repent. It is sad to say, but true.

Which road will we choose to walk down in our life?

LET IT GROW

For a little history during this time:
  • Jehoiakim taxed his people severely to pay tribute to Egypt, though he still had enough to build a magnificent palace for himself. (Jeremiah 22:13-14) Daniel was taken captive to Babylon in 605 B.C. Jeremiah and Habakkuk likely appeared on the scene at this time of kingly abominations. (MacArthur)
  • Nebuchadnezzar was the son of the founder of the Babylonian Empire. In 605, he became king and won the battle at Carchemish. That loss crushed Assyria. (Life Application Study Bible)
  • Ezekiel predicted the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.
  • King Nebuchadnezzar burned the Temple and every substantial building in Jerusalem. More Jews were deported to Babylon that year.
  • Then Babylon falls to Persia in 539.
  • Persian King Cyrus allowed Jews to return to rebuild Jerusalem in 538.
  • Esther became queen of Persia in 478.
  • Ezra the priest was sent to Judah in 457. He is the author of 2 Chronicles.

Even though Judah will soon go into captivity in our reading due to their idolatry, God allows Jerusalem and the Temple to be rebuilt by a remnant of believers.

Will our nation turn from the evil road on which it is traveling and turn from the evil things it is doing? Only today I heard of a shooting of an official and his body guards. Rebellion has turned to hate, which  has turned into an attempt of murder? Really? And this is happening in America.
Let us pray, my friends.


LET IT GO

Walk on the road of faith in Jesus, not on the road of evil.

Pray for our national leaders.

Pray for the evil ones to have a change of heart.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Heeding Wrnings

O.T. #1,002  "Heeding Warnings"
June 13, 2017
2 Chronicles 35-Part 2

LET IT GLOW

He should have stayed at home. He should have stayed out of the fight. He had no business engaging in this war. Josiah was a good king of Judah. He was the man responsible for the return of the Word of God and the Passover observance. Why did he not heed the warning?

Let's se what was going on:
  • The Assyrian capital of Nineveh had fallen to the Babylonians in 612 B.C.
  • Egypt, who wanted to be a world power, was going down to aide her ally, Assyria, in 609 B.C.
  • Assyria regrouped at Carchemish and Haran.
  • Egypt went to fight at Carchemish by the Euphrates River because it was to their advantage to her to have a weak Assyria as a buffer against Babylon.
  • However, Josiah saw Egypt's potential power as his newly gained independence, so he tried to prevent Necho from passing through Judah and he went up against Necho of Egypt in war.
Do you know people who want to always be in charge? What about those who do not want counsel; those who do not want to submit to authority; those who always want to do things their way? When their projects turn out to be a mess they can't figure out why. But do they ever learn from their mistakes?

LET IT GROW

Josiah was warned by Necho, as he sent messengers to the king of Judah. In verse 21 we read, forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that He destroy thee.

In other words, and New Living Translation puts it:
What do you want with me, king of Judah? I have no quarrel with you today! I am on my way to fight another nation, and God has told me to hurry! Do no interfere with God, who is with me, or He will destroy you.

Do you think this godly king headed the warning?
  • He refused to listen to Necho, to whom God had indeed spoken. He rejected divine prophecy.
  • Josiah disguised himself and led his army into battle. 
  • Enemy archers hit King Josiah with their arrows and wounded him.
  • Josiah commanded his men to take him from the battle, for he was baldy wounded.
  • Josiah was taken out of his chariot and placed in another chariot.
  • He was brought back to Jerusalem, where he died.
Pharoah Necho was a pagan king who served as a spokesman for God, though momentarily.
Even though Josiah had followed the Lord, God did not turn His judgment on Judah, but because of Manasseh's sin of idolatry, the die had been cast.

Necho went on to Carchemish and held off the Babylonians for  years, but in 605 he was soundly defeated, and Babylon moved into dominating world power.

What can we learn from this?
God's messages may come in unexpected ways. Let us not allow prejudice or false assumptions to blind us to God's message, but have an open, listening ear. Heed godly advice.


LET IT GO

Listen to God's warnings.

Watch out for pride and prejudice.