564.) 2 Chronicles 14

June 30, 2011

"King Asa Destroying the Idols" by Francois de Nome (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge)

2 Chronicles 14   (New Living Translation)

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Early Years of Asa’s Reign

1 When Abijah died, he was buried in the City of David. Then his son Asa became the next king. There was peace in the land for ten years. 2 Asa did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God. 3 He removed the foreign altars and the pagan shrines. He smashed the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah poles. 4 He commanded the people of Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his law and his commands. 5 Asa also removed the pagan shrines, as well as the incense altars from every one of Judah’s towns. So Asa’s kingdom enjoyed a period of peace. 6During those peaceful years, he was able to build up the fortified towns throughout Judah. No one tried to make war against him at this time, for the Lord was giving him rest from his enemies.

7 Asa told the people of Judah, “Let us build towns and fortify them with walls, towers, gates, and bars. The land is still ours because we sought the Lord our God, and he has given us peace on every side.” So they went ahead with these projects and brought them to completion.

The Chronicler includes this account, not previously recorded in 1 Kings, to encourage the people in his own day who had been allowed to rebuild the destroyed city of Jerusalem after its fall to the Babylonians.

–David Guzik

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8 King Asa had an army of 300,000 warriors from the tribe of Judah, armed with large shields and spears. He also had an army of 280,000 warriors from the tribe of Benjamin, armed with small shields and bows. Both armies were composed of well-trained fighting men.

9 Once an Ethiopian named Zerah attacked Judah with an army of 1,000,000 men and 300 chariots. They advanced to the town of Mareshah, 10 so Asa deployed his armies for battle in the valley north of Mareshah. 11 Then Asa cried out to the Lord his God, “O Lord, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in you alone. It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde. O Lord, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!”

Psalm 9:19   (TNIV)

Arise, LORD, do not let mortals triumph;
   let the nations be judged in your presence.

_________________________

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

Asa cried out to the Lord his God, and said, “Lord, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go.”    (2 Chronicles 14:11  NKJV)

The author of Chronicles portrays God as an actor on the human scene and in individual lives.  The book is a history of the kings of Judah.  In describing these kings’ lives, the writer occasionally indicates God’s involvement in human life.  Sometimes that involvement is in the form of natural forces and sometimes God acts supernaturally; either way, the chronicler wants to affirm that God is alive, present, and active in the nation of Israel.  We also need to think in terms of God being present with his activity, and we should expect him to work in our lives.

My mistake in too much of my life has been to simply look back and give God thanks for what I can see he has done instead of living in anticipation of what he is going to do.  I tend to see the dark clouds and not see the One who is behind and above those looming clouds.  However, if we take Scripture seriously, there ought to be an anticipation in our hearts that says, “I wonder what he is going to do today.  I have this massive problem; I wonder how he is going to work it out.”  We need to expect his action and presence in our lives.

We live in the most significant moments in human history.  Every barrier to the gospel either has been broken down or is permeable.  The great missionaries such as David Livingstone would have loved to have the opportunities and the open doors that we have.  Unfortunately, the Western church is spiritually bankrupt and largely apostate, so all we see is the death around us.  But God is at work in the world, and the opportunities are everywhere.  The devil wants us to be blind so we won’t take part in the greatest move of the gospel ever.

God is at work in the world, and he wants to use you and me to accomplish his purposes.  Are you anticipating him today?

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Music:

Like Paul says, I want to do that!  But I find myself not doing that!  Or like Casting Crowns says, “Somewhere in the Middle.”

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12 So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians in the presence of Asa and the army of Judah, and the enemy fled. 13 Asa and his army pursued them as far as Gerar, and so many Ethiopians fell that they were unable to rally. They were destroyed by the Lord and his army, and the army of Judah carried off a vast amount of plunder.

14 While they were at Gerar, they attacked all the towns in that area, and terror from the Lord came upon the people there. As a result, a vast amount of plunder was taken from these towns, too. 15 They also attacked the camps of herdsmen and captured many sheep, goats, and camels before finally returning to Jerusalem.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
de Nome.    http://www.wga.hu/art/n/nome/king_asa.jpg
town plans (Nuremberg, 1493).    http://www.swaen.com/os/Lgimg/12337.jpg
anticipation.     http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_zaNns1SqvOc/TSIHg_hSRPI/AAAAAAAAAC0/nwTC_hguO_U/s1600/anticipation-copy.jpg

563.) 2 Chronicles 13

June 29, 2011

2 Chronicles 13   (New Living Translation)

Abijah’s War with Jeroboam

Abijah began to rule over Judah in the eighteenth year of Jeroboam’s reign in Israel. 2He reigned in Jerusalem three years. His mother was Maacah, the daughter of Uriel from Gibeah.

Then war broke out between Abijah and Jeroboam. 3 Judah, led by King Abijah, fielded 400,000 select warriors, while Jeroboam mustered 800,000 select troops from Israel.

Outnumbered 2 to 1!

4 When the army of Judah arrived in the hill country of Ephraim, Abijah stood on Mount Zemaraim and shouted to Jeroboam and all Israel: “Listen to me! 5 Don’t you realize that the Lord, the God of Israel, made a lasting covenant with David, giving him and his descendants the throne of Israel forever? 6 Yet Jeroboam son of Nebat, a mere servant of David’s son Solomon, rebelled against his master. 7 Then a whole gang of scoundrels joined him, defying Solomon’s son Rehoboam when he was young and inexperienced and could not stand up to them.

This is quite a spin on the facts!  The “gang of scoundrels” were perhaps less to blame than the fool Rehoboam.  Yet even Rehoboam has some shining moments of faithfulness!  Praise God that “when we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”  So as God shows grace to us, we can extend it to others, even to the Rehoboams in our lives.

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8 “Do you really think you can stand against the kingdom of the Lord that is led by the descendants of David? You may have a vast army, and you have those gold calves that Jeroboam made as your gods. 9 But you have chased away the priests of the Lord (the descendants of Aaron) and the Levites, and you have appointed your own priests, just like the pagan nations. You let anyone become a priest these days! Whoever comes to be dedicated with a young bull and seven rams can become a priest of these so-called gods of yours!

10 “But as for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not abandoned him. Only the descendants of Aaron serve the Lord as priests, and the Levites alone may help them in their work. 11 They present burnt offerings and fragrant incense to the Lord every morning and evening. They place the Bread of the Presence on the holy table, and they light the gold lampstand every evening. We are following the instructions of the Lord our God, but you have abandoned him. 12 So you see, God is with us. He is our leader. His priests blow their trumpets and lead us into battle against you. O people of Israel, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your ancestors, for you will not succeed!”

Abijah did not consider his circumstances to be beyond the arm of the Lord!  But how many times do I wonder (in my deepest heart) if God is unable or unwilling to help me?  Far be it from any of us to think, even for a moment, that God has abandoned us!  The cross of Calvary shows us irrevocably that God cares for us, and deeply loves us, and will do whatever it takes to save us!

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Music:

An old, old hymn — “Leaning on the everlasting arms,”  sung here by Iris Dement after a couple minutes of piano solo.

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13 Meanwhile, Jeroboam had secretly sent part of his army around behind the men of Judah to ambush them. 14 When Judah realized that they were being attacked from the front and the rear, they cried out to the Lord for help. Then the priests blew the trumpets, 15 and the men of Judah began to shout. At the sound of their battle cry, God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel and routed them before Abijah and the army of Judah.

Psalm 22:5   (TNIV)

They cried to you and were saved;
   in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

16 The Israelite army fled from Judah, and God handed them over to Judah in defeat. 17 Abijah and his army inflicted heavy losses on them; 500,000 of Israel’s select troops were killed that day. 18 So Judah defeated Israel on that occasion because they trusted in the Lord, the God of their ancestors. 19 Abijah and his army pursued Jeroboam’s troops and captured some of his towns, including Bethel,

Bethel was one of the towns in which Jeroboam had placed a golden calf.  See, the idol could not even protect itself, much less the army of Israel!

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Jeshanah, and Ephron, along with their surrounding villages.

20 So Jeroboam of Israel never regained his power during Abijah’s lifetime, and finally the Lord struck him down and he died. 21 Meanwhile, Abijah of Judah grew more and more powerful.  He married fourteen wives and had twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters.

22 The rest of the events of Abijah’s reign, including his words and deeds, are recorded in The Commentary of Iddo the Prophet.

1 When Abijah died, he was buried in the City of David. Then his son Asa became the next king. There was peace in the land for ten years.

The profile of Abjiah in 1 Kings 15 is overwhelmingly negative. We read, he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him; his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David.(1 Kings 15:3) Yet the Chronicler says nothing good or bad about the overall reign of Abjiah.

This was because the Chronicler wanted to emphasize the good that happened under the reign of Abijah; namely, the great deliverance that came when Judah relied on God. The Chronicler assumes the reader knows the material about Abijah in 1 Kings; yet he wanted to show that even a bad man can be shown grace when he relies on the Lord. This would be a great encouragement to the returned exiles to whom the Chronicler first wrote.

–David Guzik

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New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Psalm 46:1.    http://wonders.wallpaperdave.com/ps46-01v.jpg
see good.    http://presentoutlook.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/see-good-in-others.gif
cross.    http://i.acdn.us/image/A7260/726001/300_726001.jpg
golden calf.    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_BKOmPZ2v6Gc/TB5Cf5lERWI/AAAAAAAAAuY/V5YxYBgZKYc/s1600/goldencalf.jpg

562.) 2 Chronicles 12

June 28, 2011

The Campaign of Shishak

2 Chronicles 12    (New Living Translation)

Egypt Invades Judah

1 But when Rehoboam was firmly established and strong, he abandoned the Law of the Lord, and all Israel followed him in this sin. 2 Because they were unfaithful to the Lord, King Shishak of Egypt came up and attacked Jerusalem in the fifth year of King Rehoboam’s reign. 3 He came with 1,200 chariots, 60,000 horses, and a countless army of foot soldiers, including Libyans, Sukkites, and Ethiopians. 4Shishak conquered Judah’s fortified towns and then advanced to attack Jerusalem.

Shishek smiting his prisoners, from the temple of Amun at Karnak, in Egypt

“Known in Egyptian history as Sheshonk I, he was the founder of the Twenty-Second Dynasty and its most energetic Pharaoh. This particular campaign is documented by a list of conquered Palestinian cities that stands to this day carved on the wall of his temple of Amon at Karnak, Thebes.”

–Payne

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5 The prophet Shemaiah then met with Rehoboam and Judah’s leaders, who had all fled to Jerusalem because of Shishak. Shemaiah told them, “This is what the Lord says: You have abandoned me, so I am abandoning you to Shishak.”

6 Then the leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “The Lord is right in doing this to us!”

7 When the Lord saw their change of heart, he gave this message to Shemaiah: “Since the people have humbled themselves, I will not completely destroy them and will soon give them some relief. I will not use Shishak to pour out my anger on Jerusalem.

Psalm 78:38   (TNIV)

Yet he was merciful;
he forgave their iniquities
and did not destroy them.
Time after time he restrained his anger
and did not stir up his full wrath.

8 But they will become his subjects, so they will know the difference between serving me and serving earthly rulers.”

9 So King Shishak of Egypt came up and attacked Jerusalem. He ransacked the treasuries of the Lord’s Temple and the royal palace; he stole everything, including all the gold shields (500 in all — 200 large and 300 small) Solomon had made.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.   Silver was ordinary in King Solomon’s time — “as common as stones” (2 Chronicles 9:26).  That is because he had tons and tons of gold!  But his son’s court had to be careful to guard the bronze.

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10 King Rehoboam later replaced them with bronze shields as substitutes, and he entrusted them to the care of the commanders of the guard who protected the entrance to the royal palace. 11 Whenever the king went to the Temple of the Lord, the guards would also take the shields and then return them to the guardroom. 12 Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the Lord’s anger was turned away, and he did not destroy him completely. There were still some good things in the land of Judah.

A reign in which there had been a limited measure of faithfulness is rewarded by a limited measure of blessing.  The case of Rehoboam has shown particularly clearly how much the Chronicler is concerned to show that obedience and blessing, disobedience and impoverishment are closely linked.  The problem for the modern reader is that this presentation of human experience neither rings true, nor is it a view uniformly taken by the Bible.  The authors of Job and Psalm 73, for example, knew that there was not always a direct connection between righteousness and blessing.

Christian readers know from the New Testament that the equations of righteousness and blessing, sin and punishment are only finally worked out beyond the present life in a great universal judgment.  The Chronicler did not know this.  (Nor, by and large, did the other OT authors—hence the perplexity of Job and Psalm 73.)  God does look for faithfulness in people, but the only righteousness that can ever be acceptable to God is that of Jesus Christ.

–J. G. McConville

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Summary of Rehoboam’s Reign

13 King Rehoboam firmly established himself in Jerusalem and continued to rule. He was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city the Lord had chosen from among all the tribes of Israel as the place to honor his name. Rehoboam’s mother was Naamah, a woman from Ammon. 14But he was an evil king, for he did not seek the Lord with all his heart.

“You see how readily Rehoboam went, first towards God, then towards idols, and then back again, towards God; he was always ready to shift and change, he wrought no great reforms in the land; we do not read that, he held a great passover, as Hezekiah did, or that the high places were taken away; but, as soon as Shishak was gone, he felt perfectly content. There was not anything real and permanent in his religion; it did not hold him. He held it sometimes, but it never held him.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

15 The rest of the events of Rehoboam’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded in The Record of Shemaiah the Prophet and The Record of Iddo the Seer, which are part of the genealogical record. Rehoboam and Jeroboam were continually at war with each other. 16 When Rehoboam died, he was buried in the City of David. Then his son Abijah became the next king.

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Music:

“Simple Gifts”  performed beautifully here by Yo-Yo Ma  and Alison Krauss.

. . . by turning, turning, we come ’round right.  (Are you listening, Rehoboam?  Are you listening, Self?)

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
map of Shishak’s campaign.    http://prophetess.lstc.edu/~rklein/images/megmap.jpg
from the temple of Amun.    http://prophetess.lstc.edu/~rklein/images/megprisoner.jpg
shields of gold.    http://thebiblerevival.com/clipart/2%20chron%2012%20-%209%20he%20carried%20away%20also%20the%20shields%20of%20gold.jpg
I am the righteousness of God . . .      http://www.tlfm.org/I_am_God%27s_righteousness.JPG

561.) 2 Chronicles 11

June 27, 2011

King Rehoboam listens to Shemaiah (from COTTAGE PICTURES FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT, 1857).

2 Chronicles 11   (New Living Translation)

Shemaiah’s Prophecy

1When Rehoboam arrived at Jerusalem, he mobilized the men of Judah and Benjamin—180,000 select troops—to fight against Israel and to restore the kingdom to himself.

2 But the Lord said to Shemaiah, the man of God, 3 “Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all the Israelites in Judah and Benjamin: 4 ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not fight against your relatives. Go back home, for what has happened is my doing!’” So they obeyed the message of the Lord and did not fight against Jeroboam.

This seems amazing to me!  Here is Rehoboam, having just lost the majority of his kingdom and subjects, with thousands of troops ready to fight and win it all back, and this guy whom we have not heard of before shows up and says, “God says to let it go” — and Rehoboam lets it go. 

How willing am I to listen to Jesus?  How willing am I to give up my plans when I receive opposite counsel from the Lord?

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Music:

“I heard the voice of Jesus say” with an Irish lilt.

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Rehoboam Fortifies Judah

5 Rehoboam remained in Jerusalem and fortified various towns for the defense of Judah. 6 He built up Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, 7 Beth-zur, Soco, Adullam, 8 Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, 9 Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, 10 Zorah, Aijalon, and Hebron. These became the fortified towns of Judah and Benjamin. 11 Rehoboam strengthened their defenses and stationed commanders in them, and he stored supplies of food, olive oil, and wine. 12He also put shields and spears in these towns as a further safety measure. So only Judah and Benjamin remained under his control.

13 But all the priests and Levites living among the northern tribes of Israel sided with Rehoboam. 14 The Levites even abandoned their pasturelands and property and moved to Judah and Jerusalem, because Jeroboam and his sons would not allow them to serve the Lord as priests. 15 Jeroboam appointed his own priests to serve at the pagan shrines, where they worshiped the goat and calf idols he had made.

Jeroboam-who-made-Israel-to-sin, as he is known throughout the remainder of Israel's history.

16 From all the tribes of Israel, those who sincerely wanted to worship the Lord, the God of Israel, followed the Levites to Jerusalem, where they could offer sacrifices to the Lord, the God of their ancestors. 17 This strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and for three years they supported Rehoboam son of Solomon, for during those years they faithfully followed in the footsteps of David and Solomon.

So for a short time, Rehoboam was faithful to the Lord, aided by the priests and Levites and other people who moved out of the Northern Kingdom in order to resist the institution of idolatry that Jereboam had chosen. 

Rehoboam’s Family

18 Rehoboam married his cousin Mahalath, the daughter of David’s son Jerimoth and of Abihail, the daughter of Eliab son of Jesse. 19Mahalath had three sons—Jeush, Shemariah, and Zaham.

20 Later Rehoboam married another cousin, Maacah, the daughter of Absalom. Maacah gave birth to Abijah, Attai, Ziza, and Shelomith. 21 Rehoboam loved Maacah more than any of his other wives and concubines. In all, he had eighteen wives and sixty concubines, and they gave birth to twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters.

22 Rehoboam appointed Maacah’s son Abijah as leader among the princes, making it clear that he would be the next king. 23 Rehoboam also wisely gave responsibilities to his other sons and stationed some of them in the fortified towns throughout the land of Judah and Benjamin. He provided them with generous provisions, and he found many wives for them.

Rehoboam imitated his father’s practice of delegation of royal authority by means of district governors (cf. 1 Kings 4:7-19) but made these appointments from among his own sons.  This policy prevented infighting among prospective successors to the throne, solidified the king’s position, guarded against coup attempts, ensured an heir for the continuation of the dynasty (since housing the princes in one location would have made it easier for a usurper to execute all rivals), and extended the influence of the royal family to outlying districts.

–note from The Archaeological Study Bible

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New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Rehoboam and Shemaiah.     http://cache2.asset-cache.net/xc/50701184.jpg?v=1&c=IWSAsset&k=2&d=E41C9FE5C4AA0A144ED68B622F689AFB5C1277652B6C01226CF6A11E7881C289B01E70F2B3269972
Jeroboam’s idolatry.    http://ookaboo.com/o/pictures/picture/25102625/Jeroboams_Idolatry
many wives.    http://a4.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/205594_186512991394805_122764197769685_451822_4284374_n.jpg

560.) 2 Chronicles 10

June 24, 2011

Israel Rebels Against Rehoboam

2 Chronicles 10   (New Living Translation)

The Northern Tribes Revolt

Rehoboam went to Shechem, where all Israel had gathered to make him king.

Thus the Davidic dynasty continues:  David, to his son Solomon, to his son Rehoboam.  It is interesting that although Solomon had 1000 wives and concubines, Rehoboam is the only son of his mentioned by name in the Bible.

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2 When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard of this, he returned from Egypt, for he had fled to Egypt to escape from King Solomon. 3 The leaders of Israel summoned him, and Jeroboam and all Israel went to speak with Rehoboam. 4“Your father was a hard master,” they said. “Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us. Then we will be your loyal subjects.”

They asked for change.  But sadly, not a word for change regarding all the idolatry going on under Solomon.

5 Rehoboam replied, “Come back in three days for my answer.” So the people went away.

6 Then King Rehoboam discussed the matter with the older men who had counseled his father, Solomon. “What is your advice?” he asked. “How should I answer these people?”

7 The older counselors replied, “If you are good to these people and do your best to please them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your loyal subjects.”

8 But Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older men and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him and were now his advisers.

Poor Rehoboam, foolish son of the wisest man on earth!  Do you know foolish people like this?  They consult you and you give them sensible, wise advice.  But it isn’t what they wanted to hear, so they go to someone else, and someone else again — until at last they find someone who will tell them what they want to hear, which is often neither sensible nor wise.

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9 “What is your advice?” he asked them. “How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?”

10 The young men replied, “This is what you should tell those complainers who want a lighter burden: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! 11 Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!’”

12 Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to hear Rehoboam’s decision, just as the king had ordered. 13 But Rehoboam spoke harshly to them, for he rejected the advice of the older counselors 14 and followed the counsel of his younger advisers. He told the people, “My father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!”

15 So the king paid no attention to the people.

Rehoboam was a fool. Ironically, his father Solomon worried about losing all he worked for under a foolish successor: Then I hated all my labor in which I had toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will rule over all my labor in which I toiled and in which I have shown myself wise under the sun. This also is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19)

–David  Guzik

This turn of events was the will of God, for it fulfilled the Lord’s message to Jeroboam son of Nebat through the prophet Ahijah from Shiloh.

“Notice also, dear friends, that God is in events which are produced by the sin and the stupidity of men. This breaking up of the kingdom of Solomon into two parts was the result of Solomon’s sin and Rehoboam’s folly; yet God was in it: “This thing is from me, saith the Lord.” God had nothing to do with the sin or the folly, but in some way which we can never explain, in a mysterious way in which we are to believe without hesitation, God was in it all.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

16 When all Israel realized that the king had refused to listen to them, they responded,

“Down with the dynasty of David!
We have no interest in the son of Jesse.
Back to your homes, O Israel!
Look out for your own house, O David!”

So all the people of Israel returned home. 17 But Rehoboam continued to rule over the Israelites who lived in the towns of Judah.

So the United Kingdom becomes the Divided Kingdom.  The larger portion, the ten tribes that seceded, are from now on known as Israel, or the Northern Kingdom.  The two tribes that remain with Rehoboam are smaller in geographic area and known as the Southern Kingdom.  Those two loyal tribes are Judah (the family of David-Solomon-Rehoboam) and Benjamin (the land in which the city of Jerusalem is located).  Since Judah was large and Benjamin was tiny, they all end up going by the name Judah.

__________________________

18 King Rehoboam sent Adoniram, who was in charge of the labor force, to restore order, but the people of Israel stoned him to death.

A costly example of the king’s immaturity and lack of understanding.

When this news reached King Rehoboam, he quickly jumped into his chariot and fled to Jerusalem. 19 And to this day the northern tribes of Israel have refused to be ruled by a descendant of David.

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Music:

What a foolish man, Rehoboam!  And to go with today’s foolishness, “My Foolish Heart,” written in 1949, and sung here by Tony Bennett and accompanied by Bill Evans. 

“There’s a line between love and fascination . . . “

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Israel rebels.    http://www.biblical-art.com/extra/ownpub/children/087.jpg
King David, stained glass.    http://www.torahatlanta.com/King%20David%20Cropped.jpg
fool.     http://www.zelzee.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/april-fool.jpg
Romans 8:28.  http://3.bp.blogspot.com/–GnOKvzuyXs/TYMNPqCjo_I/AAAAAAAACk4/C4dpNQHUJ8c/s1600/Romans8-28-Bible-Quote.jpg
map of Israel and Judah.     http://www.preceptaustin.org/IsraelJudah775BCE.jpg

559.) 2 Chronicles 9

June 23, 2011

“Solomon and the Queen of Sheba” by Giovanni Demin (1789-1859)

2 Chronicles 9   (New Living Translation)

Visit of the Queen of Sheba

1 When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, she came to Jerusalem to test him with hard questions.

“Hard questions” may refer to riddles, which were a popular part of the entertainment at feasts and special occasions in the ancient world.  We remember that Samson, in Judges 14, presented a riddle to his Philistine guests at his wedding; only his wife’s betrayal enabled them to guess the correct answer. 

Here are two more ancient riddles.  Can you guess them?  Answers are at the end of this blog entry!

1)   “At night they come without being fetched,
And by day they are lost without being stolen.”  

2)   “I never was, am always to be,
No one ever saw me, nor ever will,
And yet I am the confidence of all
Who live and breathe on this terrestrial ball.”

_________________________

She arrived with a large group of attendants and a great caravan of camels loaded with spices, large quantities of gold, and precious jewels.

_________________________

Music:

“The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba”  from the oratorio Solomon (written in 1749) by George Frideric Handel.

_________________________

When she met with Solomon, she talked with him about everything she had on her mind. 2 Solomon had answers for all her questions; nothing was too hard for him to explain to her. 3 When the queen of Sheba realized how wise Solomon was, and when she saw the palace he had built, 4she was overwhelmed.

Luke 11:31   (TNIV)

The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom; and now one greater than Solomon is here.

She was also amazed at the food on his tables, the organization of his officials and their splendid clothing, the cup-bearers and their robes, and the burnt offerings Solomon made at the Temple of the Lord.

5 She exclaimed to the king, “Everything I heard in my country about your achievements and wisdom is true! 6 I didn’t believe what was said until I arrived here and saw it with my own eyes. In fact, I had not heard the half of your great wisdom! It is far beyond what I was told. 7 How happy your people must be! What a privilege for your officials to stand here day after day, listening to your wisdom! 8 Praise the Lord your God, who delights in you and has placed you on the throne as king to rule for him. Because God loves Israel and desires this kingdom to last forever, he has made you king over them so you can rule with justice and righteousness.”

This Queen of Sheba doll features authentic Ethiopian fabric and jewelry designs.

9 Then she gave the king a gift of 9,000 pounds of gold, great quantities of spices, and precious jewels. Never before had there been spices as fine as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

10 (In addition, the crews of Hiram and Solomon brought gold from Ophir, and they also brought red sandalwood and precious jewels. 11 The king used the sandalwood to make steps for the Temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and to construct lyres and harps for the musicians. Never before had such beautiful things been seen in Judah.)

12 King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba whatever she asked for—gifts of greater value than the gifts she had given him. Then she and all her attendants returned to their own land.

My favorite “portrait” of the Queen of Sheba, by Rita Ria.

Solomon’s Wealth and Splendor

13 Each year Solomon received about 25 tons of gold.

2 Chronicles 9:13   (English Standard Version)

Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold.

This is a vast amount of gold, which came to Solomon yearly. One commentator sets the value of the 666 talents of gold at $281,318,400. This speaks not only to the great wealth of Solomon, but it also makes him the only other person in the Bible associated with the number 666.

 The other Biblical connection to 666 is the end-times world dictator and opponent of God and His people often known as the Antichrist (Revelation 13:18). In fact, the Revelation passage specifically says that the number 666 is the number of a man, and the man may be Solomon.

 This isn’t to say that Solomon was the Antichrist or that the coming Antichrist will be some weird reincarnation of Solomon. But it may indicate that the Antichrist may not be someone purely evil from the very beginning. Instead, he may be like Solomon – a good man corrupted.

–David Guzik

_________________________

14This did not include the additional revenue he received from merchants and traders. All the kings of Arabia and the governors of the provinces also brought gold and silver to Solomon.

15 King Solomon made 200 large shields of hammered gold, each weighing more than 15 pounds. 16 He also made 300 smaller shields of hammered gold, each weighing more than 7½ pounds. The king placed these shields in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon.

A model of the ceremonial gold shield of Achilles, the Greek hero of the Trojan War and the central character in Homer’s “Iliad.”  Beautiful! — but only for show.  Gold is too heavy and too soft to be useful as a shield in battle.

_________________________

17 Then the king made a huge throne, decorated with ivory and overlaid with pure gold. 18 The throne had six steps, with a footstool of gold. There were armrests on both sides of the seat, and the figure of a lion stood on each side of the throne. 19 There were also twelve other lions, one standing on each end of the six steps. No other throne in all the world could be compared with it!

20 All of King Solomon’s drinking cups were solid gold, as were all the utensils in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon. They were not made of silver, for silver was considered worthless in Solomon’s day!

21 The king had a fleet of trading ships manned by the sailors sent by Hiram. Once every three years the ships returned, loaded with gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks.

Do you remember the first time you saw a real live peacock fan its tail feathers?  Imagine that moment for Solomon and the other Israelites!

_________________________

22 So King Solomon became richer and wiser than any other king on earth. 23 Kings from every nation came to consult him and to hear the wisdom God had given him. 24 Year after year everyone who visited brought him gifts of silver and gold, clothing, weapons, spices, horses, and mules.

25 Solomon had 4,000 stalls for his horses and chariots, and he had 12,000 horses. He stationed some of them in the chariot cities, and some near him in Jerusalem. 26 He ruled over all the kings from the Euphrates River in the north to the land of the Philistines and the border of Egypt in the south. 27 The king made silver as plentiful in Jerusalem as stone. And valuable cedar timber was as common as the sycamore-fig trees that grow in the foothills of Judah. 28 Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and many other countries.

King Solomon:  Wealthy?  Yes.  Important?  Yes.  Obedient to God?  No.

Deuteronomy 17:14-20   (TNIV)

The King

When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,”  be sure to appoint over you the king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from among your own people. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not an Israelite.  The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.” He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.

When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests.  It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees  and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.

_________________________

Summary of Solomon’s Reign

29 The rest of the events of Solomon’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded in The Record of Nathan the Prophet, and The Prophecy of Ahijah from Shiloh, and also in The Visions of Iddo the Seer, concerning Jeroboam son of Nebat. 30 Solomon ruled in Jerusalem over all Israel for forty years. 31 When he died, he was buried in the City of David, named for his father. Then his son Rehoboam became the next king.

_________________________

Riddles:   1) stars   and   2) tomorrow.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Demin.    http://www.artrenewal.org/pages/artwork.php?artworkid=10389&size=large
riddle – question.    http://www.funnytunky.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/riddle.jpg
doll.     http://www.ethidolls.com/site_images/fullMakeda.jpg
My favorite Queen of Sheba.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_8vf8GSnT0d4/SxWEnuvpk2I/AAAAAAAAAEc/VIJ06I93ueo/s1600/QueenSheba22.jpg
gold shield.     http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_4Oy_7FFvAeg/SbaT0ZWhNfI/AAAAAAAACiA/XY5dQSHhoS4/s400/achilles.gold.shield.FlaxmanShield.gif
peacock.     http://www.itsnature.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/peacock-baby.jpg
Egyptian horse.   http://media.photobucket.com/image/horses%20from%20Egypt/etc_trvl/festival/ed1abcb805547ac4daad1fd7614ccd76.jpg

558.) 2 Chronicles 8

June 22, 2011

David and Solomon at dinner when Sol was in high school .

2 Chronicles 8   (New Living Translation)

Solomon’s Many Achievements

1 It took Solomon twenty years to build the Lord’s Temple and his own royal palace. At the end of that time, 2Solomon turned his attention to rebuilding the towns that King Hiram had given him, and he settled Israelites in them.

Bob the Builder? Not in this chapter! SOLOMON the Builder!

3 Solomon also fought against the town of Hamath-zobah and conquered it. 4 He rebuilt Tadmor in the wilderness and built towns in the region of Hamath as supply centers. 5 He fortified the towns of Upper Beth-horon and Lower Beth-horon, rebuilding their walls and installing barred gates. 6 He also rebuilt Baalath and other supply centers and constructed towns where his chariots and horses could be stationed. He built everything he desired in Jerusalem and Lebanon and throughout his entire realm.

7 There were still some people living in the land who were not Israelites, including the Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. 8 These were descendants of the nations whom the people of Israel had not destroyed. So Solomon conscripted them for his labor force, and they serve in the labor force to this day. 9 But Solomon did not conscript any of the Israelites for his labor force. Instead, he assigned them to serve as fighting men, officers in his army, commanders of his chariots, and charioteers. 10 King Solomon appointed 250 of them to supervise the people.

11 Solomon moved his wife, Pharaoh’s daughter, from the City of David to the new palace he had built for her. He said, “My wife must not live in King David’s palace, for the Ark of the Lord has been there, and it is holy ground.”

After reading much in these chapters prior about the extraordinary celebration as the temple was dedicated, this portion brings us round to the on-going regular worship.  No community can exist on great occasions alone.  The temple was built to be the center of routine worship for Israel.  Solomon is meticulous and makes sure all the ordinary, daily activities are done correctly.

So much of our lives is lived in the routine!  Up — to work — home — supper — to bed.  Yet even in these “days of small things” (Zechariah 4:10), our hearts can be praising and thanking God for the blessings of the day, and we can be witnessing to those in our circle of influence about the kindness of our Lord Jesus.

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
—Mother Teresa

_________________________

12 Then Solomon presented burnt offerings to the Lord on the altar he had built for him in front of the entry room of the Temple. 13 He offered the sacrifices for the Sabbaths, the new moon festivals, and the three annual festivals—the Passover celebration, the Festival of Harvest, and the Festival of Shelters—as Moses had commanded.

14 In assigning the priests to their duties, Solomon followed the regulations of his father, David. He also assigned the Levites to lead the people in praise and to assist the priests in their daily duties. And he assigned the gatekeepers to their gates by their divisions, following the commands of David, the man of God. 15 Solomon did not deviate in any way from David’s commands concerning the priests and Levites and the treasuries.

16 So Solomon made sure that all the work related to building the Temple of the Lord was carried out, from the day its foundation was laid to the day of its completion.

17 Later Solomon went to Ezion-geber and Elath, ports along the shore of the Red Sea in the land of Edom. 18 Hiram sent him ships commanded by his own officers and manned by experienced crews of sailors. These ships sailed to Ophir with Solomon’s men and brought back to Solomon almost seventeen tons of gold.

A Phoenician ship from the general era of Solomon.

This is new for Israel.  Although we think of their land as bordering the Mediterranean, ancient Israelites were not known as sailors or sea faring people.  That skill belonged to the Phoenicians.  Ezion-geber and Elath have often been identified as ports at the north end of the Gulf of Aqaba; from there ships could sail to the Red Sea and beyond.  Modern scholars are uncertain as to the location of Ophir and all its gold.

_________________________

Music:

This song was popular in Israel during Solomon’s building phase!  Maybe it can encourage us today!

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
most likely to succeed cartoon.    http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/kmh/lowres/kmhn325l.jpg
Bob the Builder.     http://www.infobarrel.com/media/image/15873.jpg
Keep on.    http://www.piwear.com/images/dsn-keepon.gif
Phoenician ship.    http://www.kidspast.com/images/Phoenician-ship.jpg

557.) 2 Chronicles 7

June 21, 2011

2 Chronicles 7   (New Living Translation)

The Dedication of the Temple

1 When Solomon finished praying, fire flashed down from heaven and burned up the burnt offerings and sacrifices, and the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple. 2 The priests could not enter the Temple of the Lord because the glorious presence of the Lord filled it. 3When all the people of Israel saw the fire coming down and the glorious presence of the Lord filling the Temple, they fell face down on the ground and worshiped and praised the Lord, saying,

“He is good!
His faithful love endures forever!”

“O Spirit, sent from heaven
On that day long ago,
Rekindle faith among us
In all life’s ebb and flow.
O give us ears to listen
And tongues aflame with praise,
So folk in every nation
Glad songs of joy shall raise.”

–Jane Parker Huber, 1981

_________________________

4 Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices to the Lord. 5 King Solomon offered a sacrifice of 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats. And so the king and all the people dedicated the Temple of God.

This huge amount of meat would have perhaps been used in part for the people as the nation feasted together for two weeks — the dedication of the temple and the Feast of Tabernacles/Shelters.  What a joyful celebration!

6 The priests took their assigned positions, and so did the Levites who were singing, “His faithful love endures forever!” They accompanied the singing with music from the instruments King David had made for praising the Lord. Across from the Levites, the priests blew the trumpets, while all Israel stood.

7 Solomon then consecrated the central area of the courtyard in front of the Lord’s Temple. He offered burnt offerings and the fat of peace offerings there, because the bronze altar he had built could not hold all the burnt offerings, grain offerings, and sacrificial fat.

8 For the next seven days Solomon and all Israel celebrated the Festival of Shelters. A large congregation had gathered from as far away as Lebo-hamath in the north and the Brook of Egypt in the south. 9 On the eighth day they had a closing ceremony, for they had celebrated the dedication of the altar for seven days and the Festival of Shelters for seven days. 10 Then at the end of the celebration, Solomon sent the people home. They were all joyful and glad because the Lord had been so good to David and to Solomon and to his people Israel.

The Lord’s Response to Solomon

11 So Solomon finished the Temple of the Lord, as well as the royal palace. He completed everything he had planned to do in the construction of the Temple and the palace. 12Then one night the Lord appeared to Solomon and said,

Commentators say this conversation with God may have occurred years after the temple was completed.

“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this Temple as the place for making sacrifices. 13 At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. 14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 15 My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place. 16 For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy—a place where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart.

Verse 14.  It’s a familiar verse and easy for us to think we know it.  Plus, I have seen this verse so often with an American flag behind it that it almost sounds political.  But let’s take a fresh look and examine ourselves in the light of this verse:

humble ourselves:  a change in attitude in regard to one’s self, a change from an arrogant rejection of God
Where am I still arrogantly doing what I want to do even when in my fine Christian humility I pretend I am being obedient?

pray:  to recognize the right of God over one’s life
What inadequate concept of God do I have which prevents me from fully trusting God with every detail of my life?

seek my face:  the desire to determine what God wants
Can I turn my back on my cherished hopes and dreams for myself?  for my children?  for my future? — and give it all to God?

turn:   the will to do what God wants
Can I say with Mary, “Be it unto me according to thy word”?  Can I say with Jesus, “Yet not what I will, but what You will”?

__________________________

Music:

Avalon sings “If My People Pray.”

_________________________

17 “As for you, if you faithfully follow me as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations, 18 then I will establish the throne of your dynasty. For I made this covenant with your father, David, when I said, ‘One of your descendants will always rule over Israel.’

After a positive promise comes a negative promise . . .

19 “But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the decrees and commands I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods, 20 then I will uproot the people from this land that I have given them. I will reject this Temple that I have made holy to honor my name. I will make it an object of mockery and ridicule among the nations. 21 And though this Temple is impressive now, all who pass by will be appalled. They will ask, ‘Why did the Lord do such terrible things to this land and to this Temple?’
22 “And the answer will be, ‘Because his people abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and they worshiped other gods instead and bowed down to them. That is why he has brought all these disasters on them.’”

In the end, we will all have chosen one or the other:

2 Kings 17:15   (NIV)

They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.

Colossians 1:9-11   (TNIV)

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,  so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
2 Chron. 7:14 (Glacier National Park).     http://freechristimages.org/images_oldtestament/2_Chronicles_7_14_Glacier_National_Park.jpg
flame.     http://www.freemethodistchurch.org/graphics/news/stories/flame.jpg
“if my people . . .”    http://erlc.com/images/article_photos/misc/imp-logo.jpg
“Only one life . . .”     http://www.calledintowork.com/Editor/assets/pictureframe.jpg

556.) 2 Chronicles 6

June 20, 2011

2 Chronicles 6   (New Living Translation)

Solomon Praises the Lord

1 Then Solomon prayed, “O Lord, you have said that you would live in a thick cloud of darkness. 2Now I have built a glorious Temple for you, a place where you can live forever!”

A sense of fulfillment:  The temple has been built!  It is a beginning as well as an end, for it not only signals a fulfillment for God’s plans for Israel, but also it becomes a reference point for the stories of subsequent kings.  Will they be able to secure the blessings of God through obedience?  That is the challenge for the community of Israel then — and for us as Christian believers now.  If we love the Lord, John 14:15 says, we will keep his commandments.

_________________________

3 Then the king turned around to the entire community of Israel standing before him and gave this blessing: 4 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who has kept the promise he made to my father, David. For he told my father, 5 ‘From the day I brought my people out of the land of Egypt, I have never chosen a city among any of the tribes of Israel as the place where a Temple should be built to honor my name. Nor have I chosen a king to lead my people Israel. 6 But now I have chosen Jerusalem as the place for my name to be honored, and I have chosen David to be king over my people Israel.’”

7 Then Solomon said, “My father, David, wanted to build this Temple to honor the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 8 But the Lord told him, ‘You wanted to build the Temple to honor my name. Your intention is good, 9 but you are not the one to do it. One of your own sons will build the Temple to honor me.’

10 “And now the Lord has fulfilled the promise he made, for I have become king in my father’s place, and now I sit on the throne of Israel, just as the Lord promised. I have built this Temple to honor the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 11 There I have placed the Ark, which contains the covenant that the Lord made with the people of Israel.”

__________________________

Music:

“You Are Worthy of My Praise.”

_________________________

Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication

12 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the entire community of Israel, and he lifted his hands in prayer. 13 Now Solomon had made a bronze platform 7½ feet long, 7½ feet wide, and 4½ feet high and had placed it at the center of the Temple’s outer courtyard. He stood on the platform, and then he knelt in front of the entire community of Israel and lifted his hands toward heaven. 14He prayed,

The subject of this prayer is, in a sense, prayer itself (vv. 19-21).  It envisages Israel, in future generations and as a matter of habit, seeking God in prayer in the Temple.  Prayer is to be the essential instrument in the continuing relationship between God and his people.  Notice how Solomon’s first petition is that God would keep the promises that he has already made.  This says much about the role of prayer in the relationship between God and man.  If we feel that prayer is not worth while on the grounds that God is sovereign and will do what he pleases in any case, we fail to perceive that it belongs fundamentally to God’s purposes for humanity that we should identify and come to desire the things which he desires for us.  When Solomon pictures future generations at prayer, it is for them to be laying claim to things God promised long ago.

–J. G. McConville

Here are the words of a chorus my mother taught me when I was a small child, back in the last century:

Every promise in the Book is mine,
Every chapter, every verse, every line,
All the blessings of His love divine,
Every promise in the Book is mine.

_________________________

“O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in all of heaven and earth. You keep your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before you in wholehearted devotion. 15 You have kept your promise to your servant David, my father. You made that promise with your own mouth, and with your own hands you have fulfilled it today.
16 “And now, O Lord, God of Israel, carry out the additional promise you made to your servant David, my father. For you said to him, ‘If your descendants guard their behavior and faithfully follow my Law as you have done, one of them will always sit on the throne of Israel.’ 17 Now, O Lord, God of Israel, fulfill this promise to your servant David.
18 “But will God really live on earth among people?


Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built! 19 Nevertheless, listen to my prayer and my plea, O Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is making to you. 20 May you watch over this Temple day and night, this place where you have said you would put your name. May you always hear the prayers I make toward this place. 21 May you hear the humble and earnest requests from me and your people Israel when we pray toward this place. Yes, hear us from heaven where you live, and when you hear, forgive.

It is as if Solomon has an intimation, or even a foreboding, that the normal behavior of future generations will be of unfaithfulness rather than obedience.  Solomon knows that God will certainly keep his covenant and show steadfast love.  Paul says it another way:  “If we are faithless, he remains faithful — for he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).

22 “If someone wrongs another person and is required to take an oath of innocence in front of your altar at this Temple, 23 then hear from heaven and judge between your servants—the accuser and the accused. Pay back the guilty as they deserve. Acquit the innocent because of their innocence.
24 “If your people Israel are defeated by their enemies because they have sinned against you, and if they turn back and acknowledge your name and pray to you here in this Temple, 25 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and return them to this land you gave to them and to their ancestors.

Drought.

26 “If the skies are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and if they pray toward this Temple and acknowledge your name and turn from their sins because you have punished them, 27 then hear from heaven and forgive the sins of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them to follow the right path, and send rain on your land that you have given to your people as their special possession.

Famine.

28 “If there is a famine in the land or a plague or crop disease or attacks of locusts or caterpillars, or if your people’s enemies are in the land besieging their towns—whatever disaster or disease there is—29 and if your people Israel pray about their troubles or sorrow, raising their hands toward this Temple, 30 then hear from heaven where you live, and forgive. Give your people what their actions deserve, for you alone know each human heart. 31 Then they will fear you and walk in your ways as long as they live in the land you gave to our ancestors.

32 “In the future, foreigners who do not belong to your people Israel will hear of you. They will come from distant lands when they hear of your great name and your strong hand and your powerful arm. And when they pray toward this Temple, 33 then hear from heaven where you live, and grant what they ask of you. In this way, all the people of the earth will come to know and fear you, just as your own people Israel do. They, too, will know that this Temple I have built honors your name.
34 “If your people go out where you send them to fight their enemies, and if they pray to you by turning toward this city you have chosen and toward this Temple I have built to honor your name, 35 then hear their prayers from heaven and uphold their cause.

Exile. Painting by Gunnar Bay.

36 “If they sin against you—and who has never sinned?—you might become angry with them and let their enemies conquer them and take them captive to a foreign land far away or near. 37 But in that land of exile, they might turn to you in repentance and pray, ‘We have sinned, done evil, and acted wickedly.’ 38 If they turn to you with their whole heart and soul in the land of their captivity and pray toward the land you gave to their ancestors—toward this city you have chosen, and toward this Temple I have built to honor your name—39 then hear their prayers and their petitions from heaven where you live, and uphold their cause. Forgive your people who have sinned against you.
40 “O my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to all the prayers made to you in this place.

41 “And now arise, O Lord God, and enter your resting place,
along with the Ark, the symbol of your power.
May your priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation;
may your loyal servants rejoice in your goodness.
42 O Lord God, do not reject the king you have anointed.
Remember your unfailing love for your servant David.”

_________________________

Let us praise God today that he DOES dwell among us as we live out our salvation in the power of our risen Lord!

Let us rejoice in his everlasting goodness and thank him for always hearing and answering our prayers!

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Praise, thanks, honor.    http://eastsunshine.org/Websites/Eastsunshine/Images/handsinworship_thumb.jpg
Solomon’s temple.    http://www.templemount.org/templesolomon.jpg
Pray without ceasing.     http://madeforjesus.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Prayblack.gif
John 1:14.    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_M6Cfuqmh9A0/TQ-vm4g0lMI/AAAAAAAAFNk/G8d6va_qGsE/s1600/dwelt.jpg
Drought.    http://www.internetmonk.com/wp-content/uploads/drought330.jpg
Famine.    http://scrapetv.com/News/News%20Pages/Science/images-4/famine.jpg
Bay.    http://www.exile-exhibition.com/Exile2009/GBay-Exile-s%F8m-web-01.jpg

555.) 2 Chronicles 5

June 17, 2011

The glory of God in the temple!

2 Chronicles 5   (New Living Translation)

1 So Solomon finished all his work on the Temple of the Lord. Then he brought all the gifts his father, David, had dedicated—the silver, the gold, and the various articles—and he stored them in the treasuries of the Temple of God.

The Ark Brought to the Temple

2 Solomon then summoned to Jerusalem the elders of Israel and all the heads of tribes—the leaders of the ancestral families of Israel. They were to bring the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant to the Temple from its location in the City of David, also known as Zion. 3So all the men of Israel assembled before the king at the annual Festival of Shelters, which is held in early autumn.

4 When all the elders of Israel arrived, the Levites picked up the Ark. 5 The priests and Levites brought up the Ark along with the special tent and all the sacred items that had been in it. 6 There, before the Ark, King Solomon and the entire community of Israel sacrificed so many sheep, goats, and cattle that no one could keep count!

7 Then the priests carried the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant into the inner sanctuary of the Temple—the Most Holy Place—and placed it beneath the wings of the cherubim. 8 The cherubim spread their wings over the Ark, forming a canopy over the Ark and its carrying poles. 9 These poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the Temple’s main room—the Holy Place—but not from the outside. They are still there to this day. 10 Nothing was in the Ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Mount Sinai, where the Lord made a covenant with the people of Israel when they left Egypt.

At an earlier point in Israel’s history there were three items in the ark of the covenant:  the golden pot containing manna (Exodus 16:33), Aaron’s rod that budded (Numbers 17:6-11), and the tablets of the covenant (Exodus 25:16).  I wonder where those things are now!

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11 Then the priests left the Holy Place. All the priests who were present had purified themselves, whether or not they were on duty that day. 12 And the Levites who were musicians—Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and all their sons and brothers—were dressed in fine linen robes and stood at the east side of the altar playing cymbals, lyres, and harps. They were joined by 120 priests who were playing trumpets. 13 The trumpeters and singers performed together in unison to praise and give thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments, they raised their voices and praised the Lord with these words:

“He is good!
His faithful love endures forever!”

At that moment a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. 14 The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of God.

This was the cloud of glory, seen often in the Old and New Testaments, sometimes called the cloud of Shekinah glory. It is hard to define the glory of God; we could call it the radiant outshining of His character and presence. Here it is manifested in a cloud.

  • This is the cloud that stood by Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21-22).
  • This is the cloud of glory that God spoke to Israel from (Exodus 16:10).
  • This is the cloud from which God met with Moses and others (Exodus 19:9, 24:15-18, Numbers 11:25, 12:5, 16:42).
  • This is the cloud that stood by the door of the Tabernacle (Exodus 33:9-10).
  • This is the cloud from which God appeared to the High Priest in the Holy Place inside the veil (Leviticus 16:2).
  • This is the cloud of Ezekiel’s vision, filling the temple of God with the brightness of His glory (Ezekiel 10:4).
  • This is the cloud of glory that overshadowed Mary when she conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35).
  • This is the cloud present at the transfiguration of Jesus (Luke 9:34-35).
  • This is the cloud of glory that received Jesus into heaven at His ascension (Acts 1:9).
  • This is the cloud that will display the glory of Jesus Christ when He returns in triumph to this earth (Luke 21:27, Revelation 1:7).

–David Guzik

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 “We can never expect to have God in this house, or in our own houses, or in our own hearts, until we begin to praise him. Unless as a people we unanimously, with one heart, though with many tongues, extol the King of kings, farewell to the hope that he will give us his presence in the future.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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Music:

One of my most favorite hymns, sung at my wedding and I hope at my funeral, too!  Here is the choir of First Baptist Church in Wichita Falls, Texas.  “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation” was written in 1680 by Joachim Neander.  It is a free paraphrase of Psalm 103:1-6.  His lyrics, including verses which do not appear in most hymnals, follow.  Neander, a pastor, died at age 30 of tuberculosis.

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who hath fearfully, wondrously, made thee;
Health hath vouchsafed and, when heedlessly falling, hath stayed thee.
What need or grief ever hath failed of relief?
Wings of His mercy did shade thee.

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,
Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.

Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
Sheddeth His light, chaseth the horrors of night,
Saints with His mercy surrounding.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

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New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Shekinah glory in the temple.    http://mudpreacher.org/2009/11/23/sex-and-the-shekinah-glory/
bringing in the ark.    http://www.biblical-art.com/extra/ownpub/public/pd145.jpg
Moses and the stone tablets.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Pru8A3vSH0c/S8xtGzYJPhI/AAAAAAAABVM/ha8ZFdxTPQ4/s400/ArtBook__014_014__TheTenCommandments_Sm___.jpg
Shekinah.     http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_11-nzoYFuQU/Si0Hd0x_K9I/AAAAAAAAFno/tf4CFgI6l8I/s400/shekinah.jpg
Lift up your hearts in praise.     http://www.brickpresby.com/files/praise_2012c.jpg