2195.) Psalm 122

September 29, 2017
Let us go unto the house of the Lord!

Let us go unto the house of the Lord!

Psalm 122   (NRSV)

Song of Praise and Prayer for Jerusalem

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

Psalm 122 carries the title, A Song of Ascents. Of David. It is one of the four Songs of Ascents that is specifically attributed to King David. He wrote it both for what Jerusalem was in his day, and for what it would become under his son and their successors. David perhaps never made pilgrimage from a great distance to one of the major feasts, but he wrote Psalm 122 in the voice of one who did, and who has arrived at the Holy City.

“David wrote it for the people to sing at the time of their goings up to the holy feasts at Jerusalem. It comes third in the series, and appears to be suitable to be sung when the people had entered the gates, and their feet stood within the city.” (Charles Spurgeon)

–David Guzik

I was glad when they said to me,
    “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
Our feet are standing
    within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem

I lived in Jerusalem for the school year 1978-1979, working as an English teacher at the Anglican International School. (I remember in my 7th grade class; it was made up of 11 students who spoke 11 different languages at home; we all spoke English at school.) In addition to teaching, I also played the organ every week for the English speaking services at Redeemer Lutheran Church in the Old City.

My apartment was in Rehavia, a lovely section of the New City. So every Sunday morning I traveled (usually walked) to the Old City, through Jaffa Gate. I got into the habit of saying the first two verses of Psalm 122 whenever I entered the city on Sunday morning. And it is a habit I have kept up for all these years — most Sunday mornings, when I wake up and begin to get ready to go to church, I say these verses to myself.

I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
 Our feet have stood
within your gates, O Jerusalem!

Jerusalem—built as a city
    that is bound firmly together.

“During David’s reign and for some time thereafter, Jerusalem was a small city located on the crest of Mount Zion and Mount Moriah, bounded on two sides by steep descents to the Kidron and Tyropaeon valleys, and thus no more than half a mile in breadth. It had a dramatic setting for one approaching it from a distance, and its tight structure would have impressed anyone observing it.”

–James Montgomery Boice

To it the tribes go up,
    the tribes of the Lord,
as was decreed for Israel,
    to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
For there the thrones for judgment were set up,
    the thrones of the house of David.

The grey dome on the right is part of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The tower on the right is the Lutheran church where I played organ.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
    “May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls,
    and security within your towers.”
For the sake of my relatives and friends
    I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek your good.

The name “Jerusalem” means city of peace. We pray for peace in the city of peace. The benediction of peace rests upon all who love the city of the Great King.

–William MacDonald

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing “I Was Glad When They Said Unto Me”  by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918).

_________________________

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
Let us go unto the house of the Lord.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/47392-psalm-122.jpg
Jaffa Gate.   https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/81/Jerusalem_Jaffa_Gate_BW_1.JPG
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/p122-pray-for-peace.jpg
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2194.) Zephaniah 3

September 28, 2017

zephaniah 3 17

Zephaniah 3   (NRSV)

The Wickedness of Jerusalem

The wicked city . . .

Ah, soiled, defiled,
    oppressing city!
It has listened to no voice;
    it has accepted no correction.
It has not trusted in the Lord;
    it has not drawn near to its God.

I like the translation/repetition of verse 2 from the Holman Christian Standard Bible:

She has not obeyed;
she has not accepted discipline.
She has not trusted in Yahweh;
she has not drawn near to her God.

The officials within it
    are roaring lions;
its judges are evening wolves
    that leave nothing until the morning.
Its prophets are reckless,
    faithless persons;
its priests have profaned what is sacred,
    they have done violence to the law.

The righteous God . . .

The Lord within it is righteous;
    he does no wrong.

Jeremiah 23:6  (NIV)

In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteous Savior.

Every morning he renders his judgment,
    each dawn without fail;
    but the unjust knows no shame.

This makes the unrighteousness of His people even more criminal and tragic. God has been nothing but righteous to them, yet they respond with sin. Eventually they put themselves on the wrong side of God’s righteousness and face His justice.

–David Guzik

I have cut off nations;
    their battlements are in ruins;
I have laid waste their streets
    so that no one walks in them;
their cities have been made desolate,
    without people, without inhabitants.
I said, “Surely the city will fear me,
    it will accept correction;
it will not lose sight
    of all that I have brought upon it.”
But they were the more eager
    to make all their deeds corrupt.

Punishment and Conversion of the Nations

First judgment . . .

Therefore wait for me, says the Lord,
    for the day when I arise as a witness.
For my decision is to gather nations,
    to assemble kingdoms,
to pour out upon them my indignation,
    all the heat of my anger;
for in the fire of my passion
    all the earth shall be consumed.

Deuteronomy 32:35 (NIV)

“It is mine to avenge; I will repay.
    In due time their foot will slip;
their day of disaster is near
    and their doom rushes upon them.”

At that time I will change the speech of the peoples
    to a pure speech,
that all of them may call on the name of the Lord
    and serve him with one accord.
10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia
    my suppliants, my scattered ones,
    shall bring my offering.

11 On that day you shall not be put to shame
    because of all the deeds by which you have rebelled against me;
for then I will remove from your midst
    your proudly exultant ones,
and you shall no longer be haughty
    in my holy mountain.
12 For I will leave in the midst of you
    a people humble and lowly.
They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord
13     the remnant of Israel;
they shall do no wrong
    and utter no lies,
nor shall a deceitful tongue
    be found in their mouths.
Then they will pasture and lie down,
    and no one shall make them afraid.

A Song of Joy

Then mercy . . .

14 Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;
    shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
    O daughter Jerusalem!

Elizabeth Browning, in her poem, The Seraphim, describes the angels watching the work of the Son of God on earth.  At last, seeing with stupefied amazement the incarnation and ultimately the cross, one angel looks at this host of ransomed souls and says to the other,

“Hereafter shall the blood bought captives raise their passion song of blood.”

And the other angel replies,

“And we extend our holy vacant hands toward the throne and cry, ‘We have no music.'”

You see, only the redeemed can sing like this. After the darkness, after the slaughter, after the terrible destruction comes the time of the singing. That is what God is after in your life. That is possible on the level of the Spirit right now when God deals death’s stroke against the flesh within us and brings us through that painful experience of saying no to the ego and the self-life. There follows the time of the singing, the time that he is after, the reason he takes us through the pain and the darkness. What you see to be true of the individual life will also be true on the whole wide canvas of history as God brings human history to an end.

–Ray Stedman

15 The Lord has taken away the judgments against you,
    he has turned away your enemies.
The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
    you shall fear disaster no more.
16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, O Zion;
    do not let your hands grow weak.
17 The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
    a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
    he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing

Zephaniah3.17 flower

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love; He will joy over thee with singing.

Love cannot help loving, any more than water can help flowing.  It is pure joy just to love.  The love of God follows us wherever we go and whatever we are doing.  That we know nothing of it does not matter.  That we are wholly occupied in our work does not matter.

I am my Beloved’s, and His desire is toward me (Song of Solomon 7:10).

Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

Is it not utterly wonderful?  He finds pleasure in loving us.  To love is the joy of God.  And this love, this very love, is the love He sheds abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit He has given us (Romans 5:5).

Is there one of us who would wish to hurt or to ignore love like that?

18 as on a day of festival.
I will remove disaster from you,
    so that you will not bear reproach for it.
19 I will deal with all your oppressors
    at that time.
And I will save the lame
    and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
    and renown in all the earth.
20 At that time I will bring you home,
    at the time when I gather you;
for I will make you renowned and praised
    among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
    before your eyes, says the Lord.

We often underestimate the joy God has in His people, and too often think God is annoyed or irritated with us:

“Faulty as the church is, the Lord rejoices in her. While we mourn, as well we may, yet we do not sorrow as those that are without hope; for God does not sorrow, his heart is glad, and he is said to rejoice with joy — a highly emphatic expression. Think of the great Jehovah singing! Can you imagine it? Is it possible to conceive of the Deity breaking into a song: Father, Son and Holy Ghost together singing over the redeemed? God is so happy in the love which he bears to his people that he breaks the eternal silence, and sun and moon and stars with astonishment hear God chanting a hymn of joy.”

David Guzik, quoting Spurgeon

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is Zephaniah 3:17 put to music.  Good encouragement for us today!

_________________________

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
Zephaniah 3:17.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/e47ba-zephaniah317copy.jpg
Sing, a daughter of Zion!   https://thepassionists.org/uploads/post/image/757/hadassah__zephaniah_3_14_15__by_shoshanahgrace-d761dq5.jpg
Zephaniah 3:17 flower.    http://m5.i.pbase.com/u47/roberta/upload/35424535.Zephaniah3.17.jpg

2193.) Zephaniah 2

September 27, 2017

Zephaniah 2

Zephaniah 2   (NRSV)

Judgment on Israel’s Enemies

Gather together, gather,
    O shameless nation,
before you are driven away
    like the drifting chaff,
before there comes upon you
    the fierce anger of the Lord,
before there comes upon you
    the day of the Lord’s wrath.


Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land,
    who do his commands;
seek righteousness, seek humility;
    perhaps you may be hidden
    on the day of the Lord’s wrath.

God looks west to the Philistines:

For Gaza shall be deserted,
    and Ashkelon shall become a desolation;
Ashdod’s people shall be driven out at noon,
    and Ekron shall be uprooted.

Ah, inhabitants of the seacoast,
    you nation of the Cherethites!
The word of the Lord is against you,
    O Canaan, land of the Philistines;
    and I will destroy you until no inhabitant is left.
And you, O seacoast, shall be pastures,
    meadows for shepherds
    and folds for flocks.
The seacoast shall become the possession
    of the remnant of the house of Judah,
    on which they shall pasture,
and in the houses of Ashkelon
    they shall lie down at evening.
For the Lord their God will be mindful of them
    and restore their fortunes.

Now He looks to the east and sees the Moabites and the Ammonites:

I have heard the taunts of Moab
    and the revilings of the Ammonites,
how they have taunted my people
    and made boasts against their territory.
Therefore, as I live, says the Lord of hosts,
    the God of Israel,
Moab shall become like Sodom
    and the Ammonites like Gomorrah,
a land possessed by nettles and salt pits,
    and a waste forever.
The remnant of my people shall plunder them,
    and the survivors of my nation shall possess them.
10 This shall be their lot in return for their pride,
    because they scoffed and boasted
    against the people of the Lord of hosts.
11 The Lord will be terrible against them;
    he will shrivel all the gods of the earth,
and to him shall bow down,
    each in its place,
    all the coasts and islands of the nations.

Now God looks to the south, announcing judgment against the Ethiopians:

12 You also, O Ethiopians,
    shall be killed by my sword.

God completes the circle of judgment against Israel’s neighbors by looking north at Assyria and her capital city of Nineveh:

13 And he will stretch out his hand against the north,
    and destroy Assyria;
and he will make Nineveh a desolation,
    a dry waste like the desert.
14 Herds shall lie down in it,
    every wild animal;
the desert owl and the screech owl
    shall lodge on its capitals;
the owl shall hoot at the window,
    the raven croak on the threshold;
    for its cedar work will be laid bare.
15 Is this the exultant city
    that lived secure,
that said to itself,
    “I am, and there is no one else”?
What a desolation it has become,
    a lair for wild animals!
Everyone who passes by it
    hisses and shakes the fist.

_________________________

Music:

Zeph2 presence

How different our concept of God once we know Jesus as our Savior!  No longer is He the destroyer.   HERE  is Israel Houghton and “Your Presence Is Heaven.”

_________________________

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
Judgment – Repentance – Hope.    http://www.calvaryhelena.com/uploads/5/2/9/7/5297923/1521660.jpg
Seek the Lord.    http://www.jesusismyredpill.com/Zephaniah%202%203%20-%20Seek%20the%20Lord%20Always%20-%20Psalm%20105%204.jpg
Psalm 41:12.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/fada5-6a00d8341c72ee53ef017ee5661d96970d-300wi.jpg

2192.) Zephaniah 1

September 26, 2017

Zephaniah 1

Zephaniah 1    (NRSV)

The 12 Minor Prophets are divided into two groups: pre-exilic and post-exilic. The first 9 are pre-exilic, writing before the Babylonians conquered and exiled Judah. The last 3 are post-exilic, writing during and after the return of Israel from Babylon to the Promised Land. Zephaniah is the last of the pre-exilic prophets, and can be said to “sum up” the messages of the previous 8. This is why Zephaniah seems unoriginal to some scholars, because he quotes the words and ideas of many previous prophets.

–David Guzik (and all comments in red)

Three books of the Minor Prophets are contemporary with Jeremiah’s ministry, especially in its early years.  Zephaniah, Nahum, and Habakkuk reflect the circumstances and outlook in Judah during Josiah’s reign (630-609) and the days immediately following his death.  They depict the imminent rise of Babylon and the subsequent collapse of Assyria.  Above all, they set in bold relief the justice of God at work in Judah and the world.  They discern the divine hand in the changing of the guard internationally, they call attention to the need for reform internally, and they anticipate divine reckoning with persistent rebellion where reform is rejected.

–Old Testament Survey, by LaSor, Hubbard, and Bush, c. 1982 (all from Fuller Theological Seminary)

The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi son of Gedaliah son of Amariah son of Hezekiah, in the days of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah.

Zephaniah traces his family generations back to King Hezekiah. Such insider status may give him a close up view of the sins of the leadership in Jerusalem.

The Coming Judgment on Judah

I will utterly sweep away everything
    from the face of the earth, says the Lord.
I will sweep away humans and animals;
    I will sweep away the birds of the air
    and the fish of the sea.
I will make the wicked stumble.
    I will cut off humanity
    from the face of the earth, says the Lord.
I will stretch out my hand against Judah,
    and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem;
and I will cut off from this place every remnant of Baal

King Josiah inherited a corrupt nation from his father Amon and grandfather Manasseh, a nation almost wholly given over to idolatry (2 Kings 21:3-7). Here God announces judgment against the idol worshipers in Israel. Apparently both the leadership and the people heeded this announcement of judgment, because in the days of Josiah this kind of gross idolatry was put away (2 Kings 23:4-15).

    and the name of the idolatrous priests;
those who bow down on the roofs
    to the host of the heavens;
those who bow down and swear to the Lord,
    but also swear by Milcom;
those who have turned back from following the Lord,
    who have not sought the Lord or inquired of him.

Be silent before the Lord God!


    For the day of the Lord is at hand;
the Lord has prepared a sacrifice,
    he has consecrated his guests.
And on the day of the Lord’s sacrifice
I will punish the officials and the king’s sons
    and all who dress themselves in foreign attire.
On that day I will punish
    all who leap over the threshold,
who fill their master’s house
    with violence and fraud.

10 On that day, says the Lord,
    a cry will be heard from the Fish Gate,
a wail from the Second Quarter,
    a loud crash from the hills.
11 The inhabitants of the Mortar wail,
    for all the traders have perished;
    all who weigh out silver are cut off.

12 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps,

Jacob Jordaens, Diogenes Searching For An Honest Man, ca. 1642 (Gemaldgalerie Alte Meister, Dresden)

Jacob Jordaens, Diogenes Searching For An Honest Man, ca. 1642 (Gemaldgalerie Alte Meister, Dresden)

Remember the old Greek philosopher, Diogenes of Sinope? He was said to carry a lamp during the daytime, claiming to be searching for an honest man. Here is a picture of God, searching with a lamp, but looking for sinners, that He may confront them with the truth about Himself and their corrupt and apathetic lives.

    and I will punish the people
who rest complacently on their dregs,
    those who say in their hearts,
“The Lord will not do good,
    nor will he do harm.”

Those who believe there is no God, or if He is He has nothing to do with man are terribly and tragically wrong.

Edward Gibbon in his book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire described the attitude towards religion in the last days of the Roman Empire, attitudes remarkably like our own today:

· The people regarded all religions as equally true

· The philosophers regarded all religions as equally false

· The politicians regarded all religions as equally useful

13 Their wealth shall be plundered,
    and their houses laid waste.
Though they build houses,
    they shall not inhabit them;
though they plant vineyards,
    they shall not drink wine from them.

The Great Day of the Lord

14 The great day of the Lord is near,
    near and hastening fast;

The term day of the Lord (used more than 25 times in the Bible) does not necessarily refer to one specific day; it speaks of “God’s time.” The idea is that now is the day of man, but the day of man will not last forever. One day, the Messiah will end the day of man and bring forth the day of the Lord.

the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter,
    the warrior cries aloud there.

15 That day will be a day of wrath,
    a day of distress and anguish,
a day of ruin and devastation,
    a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness,

16     a day of trumpet blast and battle cry
against the fortified cities
    and against the lofty battlements.

17 I will bring such distress upon people
    that they shall walk like the blind;
    because they have sinned against the Lord,
their blood shall be poured out like dust,
    and their flesh like dung.
18 Neither their silver nor their gold
    will be able to save them
    on the day of the Lord’s wrath;
in the fire of his passion
    the whole earth shall be consumed;
for a full, a terrible end
    he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.

_________________________

Music:

Attributed to Hans Memling (c. 1440-1494) “Last Judgement Triptych” (central panel) in Muzeum Narodowe, Gdansk, Poland.

The hymn “Dies Irae” was used in the Roman liturgy as the sequence for the Requiem Mass for centuries, as evidenced by the important place it holds in musical settings such as those by Mozart and Verdi.

A major inspiration of the hymn seems to have come from the Vulgate translation of Zephaniah 1:15–16:

“That day is a day of wrath, a day of tribulation and distress, a day of calamity and misery, a day of darkness and obscurity, a day of clouds and whirlwinds, a day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high bulwarks.” (Douay-Rheims Bible)

So what is your choice?  HERE  is “Dies Irae” from Mozart’s Requiem (lovely), and  HERE  it is from Verdi’s (high drama!).

_________________________

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
A message of terror and hope.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/zephaniah-1.jpg
verse 2.   https://michellelesleybooks.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/zeph-1-2.jpg?w=640&h=430
Shut up and listen.   https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/634923495730884608/cspJvwJE.jpg
Jordaens.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/8357c-diogenes_jordaens.jpg
day of the Lord.   https://i.pinimg.com/originals/e0/c0/b8/e0c0b89e797e1d76220a9cc78a7a3076.jpg
Memling.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dies_irae#/media/File:MemlingJudgmentCentre.jpg

2191.) 2 Chronicles 34

September 25, 2017

2 Chronicles 34   (NLT)

Josiah Rules in Judah

Josiah was eight years old when he became king,

So young a king because his father had been assassinated.

and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. 2He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn away from doing what was right.

3 During the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, Josiah began to seek the God of his ancestor David. Then in the twelfth year he began to purify Judah and Jerusalem, destroying all the pagan shrines, the Asherah poles, and the carved idols and cast images. 4 He ordered that the altars of Baal be demolished and that the incense altars which stood above them be broken down. He also made sure that the Asherah poles, the carved idols, and the cast images were smashed and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. 5 He burned the bones of the pagan priests on their own altars, and so he purified Judah and Jerusalem.

The variety of idols described:  This shows how deep idolatry was in Judah. There were idols dedicated to Baal and to Asherah (2 Kings 23:4) and to all the host of heaven (2 Kings 23:5) in the very temple itself (2 Kings 23:4). From the 2 Kings account, it seems that Josiah began the cleansing reforms at the center and worked outwards.

–David Guzik

6 He did the same thing in the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, even as far as Naphtali, and in the regions all around them. 7 He destroyed the pagan altars and the Asherah poles, and he crushed the idols into dust. He cut down all the incense altars throughout the land of Israel. Finally, he returned to Jerusalem.

By now, the northern kingdom of Israel had fallen to the Assyrians.  Josiah was able to extend his reforms to those Israelites who were still remaining.

8 In the eighteenth year of his reign, after he had purified the land and the Temple, Josiah appointed Shaphan son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the governor of Jerusalem, and Joah son of Joahaz, the royal historian, to repair the Temple of the Lord his God. 9 They gave Hilkiah the high priest the money that had been collected by the Levites who served as gatekeepers at the Temple of God.

Josiah directs the workers to rebuild the Temple.

Josiah understood that the work of repair and rebuilding the temple needed organization and funding. He paid attention to both of these needs when he gave Hilkiah oversight over this restoration work of the temple. As a result, the work was done in an organized and faithful manner.

According to Jeremiah 1:1-2, the prophet Jeremiah was the son of this particular priest Hilkiah.  

The gifts were brought by people from Manasseh, Ephraim, and from all the remnant of Israel, as well as from all Judah, Benjamin, and the people of Jerusalem.

10 He entrusted the money to the men assigned to supervise the restoration of the Lord’s Temple. Then they paid the workers who did the repairs and renovation of the Temple. 11 They hired carpenters and builders, who purchased finished stone for the walls and timber for the rafters and beams. They restored what earlier kings of Judah had allowed to fall into ruin.

12 The workers served faithfully under the leadership of Jahath and Obadiah, Levites of the Merarite clan, and Zechariah and Meshullam, Levites of the Kohathite clan. Other Levites, all of whom were skilled musicians, 13 were put in charge of the laborers of the various trades. Still others assisted as secretaries, officials, and gatekeepers.

Hilkiah Discovers God’s Law

14 While they were bringing out the money collected at the Lord’s Temple, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord that was written by Moses. 15Hilkiah said to Shaphan the court secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the Lord’s Temple!” Then Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan.

Traditionally this scroll has been thought to be (part of) the book of Deuteronomy.  Huldah’s upcoming reference to all the curses could correspond to Deut. 27:15ff.  Josiah’s celebration of the Passover could arise from Deut. 16.

16 Shaphan took the scroll to the king and reported, “Your officials are doing everything they were assigned to do. 17 The money that was collected at the Temple of the Lord has been turned over to the supervisors and workmen.” 18 Shaphan also told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a scroll.” So Shaphan read it to the king.

19 When the king heard what was written in the Law, he tore his clothes in despair. 20 Then he gave these orders to Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the court secretary, and Asaiah the king’s personal adviser: 21 “Go to the Temple and speak to the Lord for me and for all the remnant of Israel and Judah. Inquire about the words written in the scroll that has been found. For the Lord’s great anger has been poured out on us because our ancestors have not obeyed the word of the Lord. We have not been doing everything this scroll says we must do.”

John 16:8   (NIV)

When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.

22 So Hilkiah and the other men went to the New Quarter of Jerusalem to consult with the prophet Huldah. She was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, the keeper of the Temple wardrobe.

We know little of this woman other than this mention here (and the similar account recorded in 2 Kings 22:14). With the apparent approval of King Josiah, Hilkiah the priest consulted this woman for spiritual guidance. It wasn’t only because of her own wisdom and spirituality; she was recognized as a prophetess and could reveal the heart and mind of God. Certain Jewish traditions indicate that a woman was chosen to speak this prophecy since she would deliver the message with compassion.

The picture of Huldah above is actually a quilt by Julie Duschack.

23 She said to them, “The Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken! Go back and tell the man who sent you, 24 ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this city and its people. All the curses written in the scroll that was read to the king of Judah will come true. 25 For my people have abandoned me and offered sacrifices to pagan gods, and I am very angry with them for everything they have done. My anger will be poured out on this place, and it will not be quenched.’

26 “But go to the king of Judah who sent you to seek the Lord and tell him: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the message you have just heard: 27 You were sorry and humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this city and its people. You humbled yourself and tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. And I have indeed heard you, says the Lord. 28 So I will not send the promised disaster until after you have died and been buried in peace. You yourself will not see the disaster I am going to bring on this city and its people.’”

So they took her message back to the king.

The tenor of Huldah’s words is that a judgment will fall on Judah because of her chronic sinfulness.  Because of Josiah’s eager submission to God, however, it will not come during his reign.  Josiah’s response to this word is to gather Judah for a great act of covenant renewal, determined that the people be worthy of the mercy received.

–J. G. McConville

Josiah’s Religious Reforms

29 Then the king summoned all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 30 And the king went up to the Temple of the Lord with all the people of Judah and Jerusalem, along with the priests and the Levites—all the people from the greatest to the least. There the king read to them the entire Book of the Covenant that had been found in the Lord’s Temple.

How wonderful! The king did this himself! — and especially  since he knew that the revival he was leading would be ineffectual in the long run. Even so, he wanted to do what he could with the time he had.

31 The king took his place of authority beside the pillar and renewed the covenant in the Lord’s presence. He pledged to obey the Lord by keeping all his commands, laws, and decrees with all his heart and soul. He promised to obey all the terms of the covenant that were written in the scroll. 32And he required everyone in Jerusalem and the people of Benjamin to make a similar pledge. The people of Jerusalem did so, renewing their covenant with God, the God of their ancestors.

33 So Josiah removed all detestable idols from the entire land of Israel and required everyone to worship the Lord their God. And throughout the rest of his lifetime, they did not turn away from the Lord, the God of their ancestors.

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Music:

The power of the Word of God! Reading it, speaking it, singing it — I am not a big country music fan, but I lived for several years in the Georgia hometown (Newnan) of country music star Alan Jackson.  HERE  he is singing gospel — “Standing on the Promises of God.” I remember singing this song in a small Lutheran church in Iowa when I was the age of little King Josiah.

Standing on the promises of Christ, my King
Thru eternal ages, let His praises ring
“Glory in the highest,” I will shout and sing
Standing on the promises of God

Chorus

Standing, standing – Standing on the promises of God, my Savior
Standing, standing – I’m standing on the promises of God

Standing on the promises that cannot fail
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail
By the Living Word of God, I shall prevail
Standing on the promises of God

Standing on the promises of Christ, the LORD
Bound to Him eternally by Love’s strong cord
Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword
Standing on the promises of God

Standing on the promises, I cannot fall
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call
Resting in my Savior as my “All in All”
Standing on the promises of God

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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:
King Josiah and the Law.  http://www.nicholasjackson.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/king-josiah.jpg
Josiah directs the workers.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/josiah-directs.gif
Dead Sea Scroll.   https://images.fineartamerica.com/images/artworkimages/mediumlarge/1/the-ten-commandments-on-the-dead-sea-scrolls-c-h-apperson.jpg
Huldah quilt.   https://dailyoffice.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/huldah-figurativequilt-julieduschack-2004-500.jpg
King Josiah reads the law.   http://www.roadtodamasc.us/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Second_Book_of_Chronicles_Chapter_34-5_Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media.jpg

2190.) Psalm 123

September 22, 2017

P123 v1

Psalm 123   (NRSV)

Supplication for Mercy

The scene is the land of captivity—an all-too-familiar setting for the oppressed people of Israel. They found themselves there in Egypt, in Babylon, in Nazi Germany, in the Warsaw ghetto and the Siberian slave-labor camps. Their urgent plea is for mercy. They pour out their prayer to the One who is their only refuge and security, to the Friend of the oppressed and downtrodden.

–William MacDonald

A Song of Ascents.

To you I lift up my eyes,
    O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
As the eyes of servants
    look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maid
    to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
    until he has mercy upon us.

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
    for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than its fill
    of the scorn of those who are at ease,
    of the contempt of the proud.

What is the most difficult thing in your life right now? What weighs you down? The most broken relationship? The most nagging fear? The part of you that feels hopeless or faithless? Read this psalm again with that in mind and ask God for mercy for you. Isaiah 30:18 says, Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.  Blessed are all who wait for him!

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Music:

HERE  is Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant with “Lord, have mercy.”

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New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
http://i116.photobucket.com/albums/o8/Jessdad/psalm123_1.jpg
Have mercy on me.   https://i.pinimg.com/736x/f9/40/c5/f940c55c0ca9bc6f2e26920d58c0972a–psalm–bible-scriptures.jpg

2189.) Acts 12:20-25

September 21, 2017
theater

According to Josephus, Herod Agrippa died here in the theater at Caesarea Maritima.  Photograph by Ferrell Jenkins.

Acts 12:20-25   (NLT)

The Death of Herod Agrippa

Herod the Great was ruler when Jesus was born (Matthew 2:1-16). His grandson is this Herod, Herod Agrippa I. And there is also Herod Antipas, who was there at Jesus’ trials (Luke 23:7-12).  Herod Antipas is an uncle to this man, Herod Agrippa I. And later in Acts we will meet Herod Agrippa II, this man’s son. Too many Herods!

20 Now Herod was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they sent a delegation to make peace with him because their cities were dependent upon Herod’s country for food. The delegates won the support of Blastus, Herod’s personal assistant, 21 and an appointment with Herod was granted. When the day arrived, Herod put on his royal robes, sat on his throne, and made a speech to them. 22 The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, “It’s the voice of a god, not of a man!”

23 Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died.

The diademed head of Herod Agrippa I on this ancient coin from Judea.

The ancient Jewish historian Josephus described the death of Herod in gory detail (Antiquities, XIX.8.2).

“He put on a garment made wholly of silver, and of a contexture truly wonderful, and came into the theatre early in the morning; at which time the silver of his garment, being illuminated by the fresh reflection of the sun’s rays upon it, shone out after a surprising manner, and was so resplendent as to spread a horror over those that looked intently upon him; and presently his flatterers cried out, one from one place, and another from another (though not for his good), that he was a god . . . A severe pain also arose in his belly, and began in a most violent manner . . . when he had been quite worn out by the pain in his belly for five days, he departed this life.”

24 Meanwhile, the word of God continued to spread, and there were many new believers.

25 When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission to Jerusalem, they returned to the church at Antioch, taking John Mark with them.

Acts can be neatly divided into two sections, the first dealing primarily with the ministry of Peter in Jerusalem and Samaria (Acts 1-12) and the second following Paul on his missionary journeys throughout the Roman Empire (Acts 13-28). Acts is significant for chronicling the spread of the gospel, not only geographically but also culturally. It records the transition from taking the gospel to an exclusively Jewish audience—with Peter preaching to a small group in the Upper Room—to the gospel going out among the Gentiles, primarily under the ministry of the apostle Paul. The transition is best illustrated by Peter’s vision in which he heard a voice telling him, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy” (10:15). This led Peter to then share the gospel with many Gentiles. The lesson? God wants His message of hope and salvation to extend to all people—“in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (1:8).

–Charles R. Swindoll

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Music:

Verse 23 tells us that Herod was struck dead because “he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God.”  Let’s join in a song in which we give the glory to God! Two versions of “To God Be the Glory” follow, so take your choice!

HERE  is a big production from the Royal Albert Hall, stage choirs and audience. This is the Fanny Crosby hymn.

HERE is Sissel Kyrkjebø, a Norwegian soprano. (The first name ‘Sissel’ is a Norwegian variant of ‘Cecilia,’ from St. Cecilia, the patron saint of church music.) This is the Andre Crouch song, also known as “My Tribute.”

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Images courtesy of:
Jenkins.     http://ferrelljenkins.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/caesarea_theater-t.jpg?w=500&h=340
Herod coin.    http://www.wildwinds.com/coins/greece/judaea/agrippa_I/Hendin_546.jpg
You will be my witness.   http://www.parkwoodbaptist.com/files/419/Pictures/Clipart/Acts-1.png