1928.) 2 Chronicles 16

September 21, 2016

Asa started well . . . somehow lost his focus . . . and finished poorly.

2 Chronicles 16   (NLT)

Final Years of Asa’s Reign

Asa, having passed the sternest of tests first (by withstanding the mighty Ethiopian army), fails a comparatively trivial one. Such irony — and also such psychological truth. There is that in us which runs to accept great challenges, because they flatter us and will bring us celebrity, while we jib at those tasks where there seems to be little to gain and everything to lose. Naaman almost squandered his opportunity to be healed for such ignoble reasons, until his servants took courage and pointed out his folly (2 Kings 5:13f). Many who have been faithful in great things have found it hard to keep faith in smaller matters.

–J. G. McConville

Matthew 25:21  (ESV)

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

1In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign, King Baasha of Israel invaded Judah and fortified Ramah in order to prevent anyone from entering or leaving King Asa’s territory in Judah.

one point perspective

It’s all a matter of perspective.  What Asa saw as disaster was actually an opportunity for him — to trust God!

2 Asa responded by removing the silver and gold from the treasuries of the Temple of the Lord and the royal palace. He sent it to King Ben-hadad of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus, along with this message:

3 “Let there be a treaty between you and me like the one between your father and my father. See, I am sending you silver and gold. Break your treaty with King Baasha of Israel so that he will leave me alone.”

“I will say nothing about what belonged to his own house. He might do as he liked with that so long as he did not spend it upon sin, but he took of the treasure that belonged to the house of the Lord, and gave it to Ben-hadad to bribe him to break his league with Bassha, and be in league with himself. Thus God was robbed that the unbelieving king might find help in an arm of flesh.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

4 Ben-hadad agreed to King Asa’s request and sent the commanders of his army to attack the towns of Israel. They conquered the towns of Ijon, Dan, Abel-beth-maacah, and all the store cities in Naphtali. 5 As soon as Baasha of Israel heard what was happening, he abandoned his project of fortifying Ramah and stopped all work on it. 6 Then King Asa called out all the men of Judah to carry away the building stones and timbers that Baasha had been using to fortify Ramah. Asa used these materials to fortify the towns of Geba and Mizpah.

Well, it seems Asa’s plan is working . . . at least in the short term . . . but in God’s eyes?

7 At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, “Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the Lord your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram.

This was a complete surprise to Asa. He believed that the main enemy was Israel, because of King Baasha’s aggressive building of the Ramah fortress. He succeeded in gaining Syria’s help against Baasha and Israel, but he failed to see what God saw: that the bigger enemy was Syria, and God wanted to give him victory over the greater enemy.  Compromise blinds us to who our true enemies are and it leads us into alliances with those whom God would rather give us victory over.

–David Guzik

8 Don’t you remember what happened to the Ethiopians and Libyans and their vast army, with all of their chariots and charioteers? At that time you relied on the Lord, and he handed them over to you. 9 The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

A LOYAL HEART

If your heart is loyal to God, you do not have to look for Him, He is already looking for you!  God told King Asa that He continuously watches for those who are steadfast in their commitment to Him.  When He finds them, He makes His presence powerfully evident to them.  King Asa had experienced God’s awesome power when he faced a menacing army from Ethiopia (2 Chron. 14:9).  God gave Asa victory, despite the overwhelming odds he faced.  In spite of this miracle, the next time Asa faced a enemy he failed to trust God.  Even though the army Asa faced was smaller than the one God had previously defeated, Asa’s faith in God faltered.  God encouraged Asa to take courage in knowing that God never rests or sleeps.  He is never distracted, bu diligently seeks individuals whose hearts are completely committed to Him.

Life’s challenges sometimes seem impossible.  Do you feel you are too weak to fight the battle?  Don’t give up!  Keep your heart loyal to God, for He constantly watches over you, and He desires to demonstrate His strength in victory in your life.  God is willing and just as capable of giving you victory in your current challenge as He was with those in times past.  The questions is not whether God is looking for His people, but whether His people are seeking Him.  Take comfort in God’s promise that He watches over you and He wants to give you victory.

What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.”

10 Asa became so angry with Hanani for saying this that he threw him into prison and put him in stocks. At that time Asa also began to oppress some of his people.

Summary of Asa’s Reign

11 The rest of the events of Asa’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded in The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa developed a serious foot disease.  (One commentator suggests that it was “gout with ensuing gangrene.”)

two point perspective

And here is another opportunity for Asa to trust God!

How many “opportunities” have I missed recently, seeing only my present difficulty and not God’s willingness to show Himself mighty on my behalf?

Yet even with the severity of his disease, he did not seek the Lord’s help but turned only to his physicians. 13 So he died in the forty-first year of his reign. 14 He was buried in the tomb he had carved out for himself in the City of David. He was laid on a bed perfumed with sweet spices and fragrant ointments, and the people built a huge funeral fire in his honor.

_________________________

Music:

Unlike Asa, I want to finish strong!  Let’s finish strong together, wholly devoted to the Lord all of the days of our lives.

HERE  is “Cry of My Heart”  by Terry Butler.

_________________________

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:
finish strong.   http://www.teachersparadise.com/images/productsarch/Learning-Materials–Start-Now-Stay-Focused-Finish-Strong-Poster–T-A67326_L.jpg
perspective.    http://www.olejarz.com/arted/perspective/images/intro.gif
Proverbs 15:3.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/proverbs15vs3.jpg
two point perspective.    http://www.how-to-draw-funny-cartoons.com/image-files/two-point-perspective-6.gif

1927.) 2 Chronicles 15

September 20, 2016

“Passion VI” by Randy Loubier.

2 Chronicles 15   (NLT)

(To subscribers who have trouble getting the links to work, here is a suggestion. When you open your new email of DWELLING, click on the top line, which is the number and text of the day’s posting — today’s is  1927.) 2 Chronicles 15. Or hit the URL link at the far right just above the opening picture. Either one will take you to the DWELLING site. You will find the page looks better, all the links work, and you can make and read comments!)

Asa’s Religious Reforms

1 Then the Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded, 2 and he went out to meet King Asa as he was returning from the battle. “Listen to me, Asa!” he shouted. “Listen, all you people of Judah and Benjamin! The Lord will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek him, you will find him.

2Chr15 Draw near

But if you abandon him, he will abandon you. 3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach them, and without the Law to instruct them.

The Prophet Azariah describes the bad state of Israel in their overconfidence and distance from God. They had rejected God, those who teach them the Word of God, and the law itself.

4But whenever they were in trouble and turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him out, they found him.

5 “During those dark times, it was not safe to travel. Problems troubled the people of every land. 6 Nation fought against nation, and city against city, for God was troubling them with every kind of problem. 7 But as for you, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded.”

2Chr15 be strong

8 When Asa heard this message from Azariah the prophet, he took courage and removed all the detestable idols from the land of Judah and Benjamin and in the towns he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. And he repaired the altar of the Lord, which stood in front of the entry room of the Lord’s Temple.

Not this:

2 Chr15 bike

“When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle.  Then I realised that the Lord doesn’t work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.”

–Emo Philips

_________________________

This!

Some believe that the forgiving nature of God gives one a reason to sin, based on the idea that we can sin now and simply ask forgiveness later. Asa’s reaction to the word of the prophet shows the correct response to the forgiving nature of God – to respond with a greater love and a greater passion for obedience.

 We should notice that this took courage for King Asa to do. He had to combat against:

  • The entrenched interests in favor of idolatry
  • The unseen spiritual forces in favor of idolatry
  • The example of his predecessors and neighbor tribes to the north in favor of idolatry
  • His own fleshly inclinations in favor of idolatry and compromise
  • The lethargy of compromise and indifference that supports idolatry

–David Guzik

9 Then Asa called together all the people of Judah and Benjamin, along with the people of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who had settled among them. For many from Israel had moved to Judah during Asa’s reign when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.

ink painting of Jerusalem, by Mira Kunz

Remember that the writer of Chronicles is addressing the exiles who have returned to Jerusalem after their exile at the hands of the Babylonians.  This story, of Jews from previous generations who had moved “home,” would be an encouragement to the faithful remnant now trying to rebuild Jerusalem.

10 The people gathered at Jerusalem in late spring, during the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign.

11 On that day they sacrificed to the Lord 700 cattle and 7,000 sheep and goats from the plunder they had taken in the battle. 12 Then they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul. 13 They agreed that anyone who refused to seek the Lord, the God of Israel, would be put to death—whether young or old, man or woman. 14 They shouted out their oath of loyalty to the Lord with trumpets blaring and rams’ horns sounding. 15 All in Judah were happy about this covenant, for they had entered into it with all their heart. They earnestly sought after God, and they found him. And the Lord gave them rest from their enemies on every side.

16 King Asa even deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother because she had made an obscene Asherah pole. He cut down her obscene pole, broke it up, and burned it in the Kidron Valley.

As I read the commentators:  the “obscene” pole was likely some kind of exaggerated phallic symbol associated with the worship of Asherah. As it says in 2 Kings 17:15 — They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.

17 Although the pagan shrines were not removed from Israel, Asa’s heart remained completely faithful throughout his life. 18 He brought into the Temple of God the silver and gold and the various items that he and his father had dedicated.

19 So there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Hosanna”  by Paul Baloche.

_________________________

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:
Loubier.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/seek-him.jpg
James 4:8.   http://66.media.tumblr.com/79b5c8d213ef69e5092a31fc7007c5a4/tumblr_o3aw0rsBbK1tjj2sjo1_1280.jpg
Be strong.   https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CQ-HrP7UcAAFvC6.jpg
bicycle.    http://hardnewscafe.usu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/bike_blue.png
Kunz.    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2648/3897158783_9c993b054f.jpg

1926.) 2 Chronicles 14

September 19, 2016

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

2 Chronicles 14   (New Living Translation)

(To subscribers who have trouble getting the links to work, here is a suggestion. When you open your new email of DWELLING, click on the top line, which is the number and text of the day’s posting — today’s is  1926.) 2 Chronicles 14. Or hit the URL link at the far right just above the opening picture. Either one will take you to the DWELLING site. You will find the page looks better, all the links work, and you can read and make comments!)

Early Years of Asa’s Reign

2Chr14 lean

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

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?

_________________________

Music:

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

_________________________

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.

Ethiopian warriors

Ethiopian warriors

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
Help us, O Jehovah.   https://www.bennettcards.co.uk/shop/images/FM37.jpg
town plans (Nuremberg, 1493).    http://www.swaen.com/os/Lgimg/12337.jpg
anticipation.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/anticipation-copy.jpg
Ethiopian warriors.   http://amazingbibletimeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Asa_King_of_Judah_Defeats_Ethiopians_revised-300×190.jpg

1925.) 2 Chronicles 13

September 16, 2016

2 Chronicles 13   (NLT)

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” (2 Timothy 2:13). So as God shows grace to us, we can extend it to others, even to the Rehoboams in our lives.

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!”

2Ch13 Cross-Clouds

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!

_________________________

Music:

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

The story of this hymn:  Anthony Showalter was leading a singing school in an Alabama church in 1887. When he returned to his boardinghouse room one night, two letters awaited him. Both were from former students, and both men told of the recent loss of their wives. Mr. Showalter wrote back, seeking to comfort the young men in the midst of their grief.

But what to write? When he came to the end of each letter, he wanted to include a Bible verse. He picked Deuteronomy 33:27, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms ….”

He pondered the words of that verse as he penned them into the letters, and the lyrics of the chorus of Leaning on the Everlasting Arms came to his mind. He wrote to his friend, Elisha Hoffman, explaining that he had a chorus, but no verses. Mr. Hoffman wrote back with the rest of the words of this famous hymn.

–Hymns We Love

_________________________

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   (NIV)

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!

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

_________________________

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://www.soldiersforfaith.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Cross-Clouds.jpg
golden calf.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/goldencalf1.jpg

1924.) 1 Kings 15

September 15, 2016

“King Asa of Judah Destroys the Idols” by Francois de Nome (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK)

1 Kings 15   (NIV)

Abijah King of Judah

The two new kings whom we meet in 1 Kings 15 represent, respectively, the two main kinds of kings we will read about during the age of Judah’s kings. On the one hand, we have the wicked Abijah, who “walked in all the sins that his father did before him, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father” (1 Kgs. 15:3). Then, on the other hand, we have Asa, who “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as David his father had done.…the heart of Asa was wholly true to the LORD all his days” (1 Kgs. 15:11, 14). These stories are not merely historical trivia—the biblical narrator has much deeper theological principles to teach us.

In Abijah, we read a description of what will become a pattern for Judah’s wicked kings. Abijah walks in the sins of his father, Rehoboam, rather than obeying Yahweh with a whole heart as David had done (1 Kgs. 15:3). Just as Israel’s kings all drag the northern ten tribes down toward their eventual exile at the hands of the Assyrians, so kings like Rehoboam and Abijah pave the way for Judah’s exile into Babylon.

In Asa, however, we find hope that Yahweh can raise up another king after his own heart. It is important to understand, however, that Yahweh provides godly kings to his people not out of obligation but out of grace. The critical line for understanding the theology of the books of Kings comes in 1 Kings 15:4–5: “Nevertheless, for David’s sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, setting up his son after him, and establishing Jerusalem, because David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.”

1K15 lamp

Justice would have required Yahweh to wipe out Judah at the first sign of kings like Rehoboam and Abijah, but Yahweh nevertheless remembers the covenant he had promised David, and so he remains faithful to his people for the sake of David, his servant.

Ultimately, this covenant logic takes on more importance as we see Yahweh continue to be faithful to his people, even now. It is not because we deserve God’s kindness that we continue to receive the gracious provision of a godly ruler. Instead, it is that God treats us kindly for the sake of the Son of David, Jesus Christ. No matter what sins we have committed or what idols we surround ourselves with, Jesus Christ stands ready through sheer grace to save his people and to preserve them for the day when he will return to establish his kingdom on this earth.

–Jacob D. Gerber

1 In the eighteenth year of the reign of Jeroboam son of Nebat, Abijah became king of Judah, 2 and he reigned in Jerusalem three years. His mother’s name was Maakah daughter of Abishalom.

3 He committed all the sins his father had done before him; his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his forefather had been.

1K15 heart

This was the real problem with Abijam’s reign — his lack of a real personal relationship with God. What choice are we making and displaying day by day with the words we speak and the things we do?

4 Nevertheless, for David’s sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem by raising up a son to succeed him and by making Jerusalem strong. 5 For David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not failed to keep any of the LORD’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.

6 There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam throughout Abijah’s lifetime.

2 Chronicles 13 (we will read this chapter tomorrow) fills in more interesting details about the reign of Abijah. It tells us how there was war between Jeroboam of Israel and Abijah of Judah, and how Abijah challenged Jeroboam on the basis of righteousness and faithfulness to God. Jeroboam responded with a surprise attack, and victory seemed certain for Israel over Judah — but Abjiah cried out to the Lord, and God won a victory for Judah that day. 2 Chronicles 13:18 says of that war, Thus the children of Israel were subdued at that time; and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the Lord God of their fathers.

–David Guzik

7 As for the other events of Abijah’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. 8 And Abijah rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. And Asa his son succeeded him as king.

Asa King of Judah

9 In the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Asa became king of Judah, 10 and he reigned in Jerusalem forty-one years. His grandmother’s name was Maakah daughter of Abishalom.

11 Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as his father David had done.

“His father David”  is actually Asa’s great-great-grandfather. In Hebrew, “his father” is a term which can be used to mean ancestor, a loose use of the word, according to our Western minds.

12 He expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his ancestors had made. 13 He even deposed his grandmother Maakah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive image for the worship of Asherah. Asa cut it down and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 14 Although he did not remove the high places, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the LORD all his life. 15 He brought into the temple of the LORD the silver and gold and the articles that he and his father had dedicated.

1K15 Reformation_under_Asa

Finally a good king for Judah! Asa banished prostitutes from worship, removed his idolatrous grandmother from the throne, and burned the idols. He also restored the silver and gold items to the temple. He is off to a good start, doing right in the Lord’s eyes!

16 There was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel throughout their reigns. 17 Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and fortified Ramah to prevent anyone from leaving or entering the territory of Asa king of Judah.

18 Asa then took all the silver and gold that was left in the treasuries of the LORD’s temple and of his own palace. He entrusted it to his officials and sent them to Ben-Hadad son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion, the king of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus. 19 “Let there be a treaty between me and you,” he said, “as there was between my father and your father. See, I am sending you a gift of silver and gold. Now break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so he will withdraw from me.”

But here he falters. Asa used this treasure to buy the favor of Ben-Hadad of Syria, so that he would withdraw support from Israel. Apparently, Baasha of Israel could not stand against Judah by himself – he needed the backing of Syria. And evidently Asa did not trust God enough to rely on the Lord’s protection for Judah.

20 Ben-Hadad agreed with King Asa and sent the commanders of his forces against the towns of Israel. He conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel Beth Maakah and all Kinnereth in addition to Naphtali. 21 When Baasha heard this, he stopped building Ramah and withdrew to Tirzah. 22 Then King Asa issued an order to all Judah—no one was exempt—and they carried away from Ramah the stones and timber Baasha had been using there. With them King Asa built up Geba in Benjamin, and also Mizpah.

1 Corinthians 9:24 (New Living Translation)

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!

2 Chronicles 16 says that the Lord was not pleased with Asa for relying on the king of Syria for relief, rather than turning to God. So it seems that Asa started well, but did not finish well.

Eugene Peterson wrote a book on discipleship called,  “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.” The title is actually a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche who wrote, “The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is . . . that there should be long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.”

The Bible speaks of “a long obedience in the same direction,” calling it steadfastness, or faithfulness, or perseverance. It means to hang in there, through it all, to the end. As Asa, it seems, did not quite do. We understand, do we not?  God grant us all grace to render him a long obedience, and God give us mercy when we do not.

23 As for all the other events of Asa’s reign, all his achievements, all he did and the cities he built, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? In his old age, however, his feet became diseased. 24 Then Asa rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the city of his father David. And Jehoshaphat his son succeeded him as king.

_________________________

Music:

“When It’s All Been Said and Done”  sung  HERE  by Don Moen.

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Nadab King of Israel

25 Nadab son of Jeroboam became king of Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years. 26 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the ways of his father and committing the same sin his father had caused Israel to commit.

27 Baasha son of Ahijah from the tribe of Issachar plotted against him, and he struck him down at Gibbethon, a Philistine town, while Nadab and all Israel were besieging it. 28 Baasha killed Nadab in the third year of Asa king of Judah and succeeded him as king.

29 As soon as he began to reign, he killed Jeroboam’s whole family. He did not leave Jeroboam anyone that breathed, but destroyed them all, according to the word of the LORD given through his servant Ahijah the Shilonite. 30 This happened because of the sins Jeroboam had committed and had caused Israel to commit, and because he aroused the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel.

1K15 Jeroboam__sin

This was the end of the dynasty of Jeroboam, the man who made Israel to sin by building idols for them to worship. Had Jeroboam remained obedient to the Lord, God promised him a lasting dynasty like the house of David (1 Kings 11:38). Because of Jeroboam’s sin, though he enjoyed a long reign, his son only reigned two years before assassination of Nadab and the murder of all Jeroboam’s descendants.

“Thus God made use of one wicked man to destroy another” (Clarke).

–David Guzik

31 As for the other events of Nadab’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 32 There was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel throughout their reigns.

Baasha King of Israel

33 In the third year of Asa king of Judah, Baasha son of Ahijah became king of all Israel in Tirzah, and he reigned twenty-four years. 34 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the ways of Jeroboam and committing the same sin Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit.

Who is surprised?  He assassinated his way to the throne.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
de Nome.    http://www.wga.hu/art/n/nome/king_asa.jpg
Nevertheless, for David’s sake.   https://freedailybiblestudy.com/october-12th-bible-meditation-for-1-kings-15/
My heart belongs to Jesus.   http://image.spreadshirtmedia.com/image-server/v1/designs/12274459,width=280,height=280?mediaType=png
Asa pulls down idols.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/584c4-12bkings2b152breformation_under_asa.jpg
finishing the race.    http://www.livingforimprovement.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/finish-strong.gif
Jeroboam-who-made-Israel-to-sin.   http://bibleencyclopedia.com/picturesjpeg/jeroboam_leads_israel_into_sin_2.jpg

1923.) 2 Chronicles 12

September 14, 2016

The Campaign of Shishak

2 Chronicles 12    (NLT)

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.

2Chr12 follow leader

Yes, we have seen this before! First Jeroboam in the Northern Kingdom, now Rehoboam in the Southern Kingdom. Rehoboam did this when he was strong and secure. He trusted in God so long as he felt he needed Him, but he grew independent of God instead of more dependent on Him.

–David Guzik

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.”

–David F. Payne (Senior Lecturer in Semitic Studies at Queen’s University of Belfast and Academic Dean of London Bible College)

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   (NIV)

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.

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.

2Ch12 righteousness

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

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
follow the leader.    http://fc05.deviantart.net/images/i/2002/43/6/1/Follow_the_Leader.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
righteousness.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/59/c7/05/59c705cf70a5aaf7dfdfe73aaf33195c.jpg

1922.) 1 Kings 14

September 13, 2016

“Jeroboam and Rehoboam” by Jack Pittman

1 Kings 14   (NIV)

Ahijah’s Prophecy Against Jeroboam

1 At that time Abijah son of Jeroboam became ill, 2 and Jeroboam said to his wife, “Go, disguise yourself, so you won’t be recognized as the wife of Jeroboam. Then go to Shiloh. Ahijah the prophet is there—the one who told me I would be king over this people.

Again we see that Jeroboam has no faith in his golden calves. Instead, in times of sickness and need he turns to the God of Israel. So he leads his nation to worship “gods” that he knows are false!

3 Take ten loaves of bread with you, some cakes and a jar of honey, and go to him. He will tell you what will happen to the boy.” 4 So Jeroboam’s wife did what he said and went to Ahijah’s house in Shiloh.

Now Ahijah could not see; his sight was gone because of his age. 5 But the LORD had told Ahijah, “Jeroboam’s wife is coming to ask you about her son, for he is ill, and you are to give her such and such an answer. When she arrives, she will pretend to be someone else.”

6 So when Ahijah heard the sound of her footsteps at the door, he said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why this pretense? I have been sent to you with bad news. 7 Go, tell Jeroboam that this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I raised you up from among the people and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. 8 I tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, but you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commands and followed me with all his heart, doing only what was right in my eyes. 9 You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made for yourself other gods, idols made of metal; you have aroused my anger and turned your back on me.

10 “‘Because of this, I am going to bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam. I will cut off from Jeroboam every last male in Israel—slave or free. I will burn up the house of Jeroboam as one burns dung, until it is all gone. 11 Dogs will eat those belonging to Jeroboam who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country. The LORD has spoken!’

We will see this prophecy fulfilled in the next chapter.

12 “As for you, go back home. When you set foot in your city, the boy will die. 13 All Israel will mourn for him and bury him. He is the only one belonging to Jeroboam who will be buried, because he is the only one in the house of Jeroboam in whom the LORD, the God of Israel, has found anything good.

We will see this prophecy fulfilled in just a few verses.

14 “The LORD will raise up for himself a king over Israel who will cut off the family of Jeroboam. Even now this is beginning to happen. 15 And the LORD will strike Israel, so that it will be like a reed swaying in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land that he gave to their ancestors and scatter them beyond the Euphrates River, because they aroused the LORD’s anger by making Asherah poles. 16 And he will give Israel up because of the sins Jeroboam has committed and has caused Israel to commit.”

We will see this prophecy fulfilled in the book of 2 Kings.

17 Then Jeroboam’s wife got up and left and went to Tirzah. As soon as she stepped over the threshold of the house, the boy died. 18 They buried him, and all Israel mourned for him, as the LORD had said through his servant the prophet Ahijah.

“Visitation” by Mariotto Albertinelli, 1503 (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy)

The quick fulfillment of one prophecy serves to indicate that the remaining prophecies will also come true. Another example:  The angel Gabriel comes to Mary and tells her she will bear the Son of God, and that her cousin Elizabeth is pregnant. When Mary visits Elizabeth and sees that she is no longer barren, Mary can be certain that her child is in fact the Messiah.

19 The other events of Jeroboam’s reign, his wars and how he ruled, are written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel. 20 He reigned for twenty-two years and then rested with his ancestors. And Nadab his son succeeded him as king.

Trivia for you! A Jeroboam (pictured above) is the name for a size of wine bottle, used for Champagne and Burgundy, that holds 3 liters, which is four times the amount of a standard wine bottle. (It is also known as a Double Magnum.) A Rehoboam is slightly larger, holding 4.5 liters.

Rehoboam King of Judah

21 Rehoboam son of Solomon was king in Judah. He was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel in which to put his Name. His mother’s name was Naamah; she was an Ammonite.

22 Judah did evil in the eyes of the LORD. By the sins they committed they stirred up his jealous anger more than those who were before them had done. 23 They also set up for themselves high places, sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. 24 There were even male shrine prostitutes in the land; the people engaged in all the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites.

25 In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem.

Egypt and Israel had been allies in Solomon’s day; the king had married Pharaoh’s daughter. How quickly things change!

26 He carried off the treasures of the temple of the LORD and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made.

Some scholars theorize that Rehoboam gave Shishkak the treasures as a ransom to spare the city of Jerusalem. Regardless of how it happened, the treasures are now gone.

27 So King Rehoboam made bronze shields to replace them and assigned these to the commanders of the guard on duty at the entrance to the royal palace.

a bronze shield from 1200-900 BCE, recovered from the River Thames

The gold is replaced with bronze. The precious is replaced with the usual. The valuable is replaced with the ordinary.

That’s how Rehoboam did it. Now let’s see how I do it. I am too busy for personal devotions and a golden hour with the Lord, but I have time to watch an hour of television. I am too occupied to call a friend who is in a tough situation and pray with him or her to God on his golden throne, but I have time to check my email and Facebook and watch a couple things on youtube. I can’t find the energy to write that encouraging letter/make that hospital visit/volunteer for that ministry/pray for things beyond my own little world, but I can complain about how busy and stressed I am. Oh, I am pretty good at replacing gold with bronze.

28 Whenever the king went to the LORD’s temple, the guards bore the shields, and afterward they returned them to the guardroom.

29 As for the other events of Rehoboam’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?

The “book of the annals of the kings” of both Israel and Judah are unknown to us now. Perhaps they were the official court records. Or perhaps they were accounts of the reigns of the various kings compiled by prophets. Clearly the writer refers to them to attest to the veracity of his report.

30 There was continual warfare between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. 31 And Rehoboam rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the City of David. His mother’s name was Naamah; she was an Ammonite.

So the blame goes back, in part, to Solomon and his unwise marriages to foreign women.

And Abijah his son succeeded him as king.

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Music:

Not a very cheerful chapter.  So let’s listen to something uplifting — a lovely and encouraging song by one of my favorite artists.  HERE  Twila Paris praises the Lord in “I Can Do All Things.” The promise is sure in Christ!

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New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Pittman.    http://www.jptoonist.com/portfolio/Jeroboam-Rehoboam.htm
worshiping the golden calf.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/goldencalfworshipers.gif
Albertinelli.    http://www.wga.hu/art/a/albertin/visitat.jpg
Jeroboam bottle.   http://www.weimax.com/food&wine_115.htm
Egypt-Israel flags.   http://www.crossed-flag-pins.com/Friendship-Pins/Egypt/Flag-Pins-Egypt-Israel.jpg
bronze shield.    http://www.sheshen-eceni.co.uk/images/thames%20bronze%20shield%201200_900BC%20no2.jpg
Solomon and some of his wives.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/solomonwives1.jpg