Wednesday, June 21, 2017

June 21: 2 Kings 1 – 2; Psalm 139; Proverbs 17:19-21; Acts 13:44-14:7



Overview

            2 Kings: In Israel: Ahaziah the king fell and was badly injured so he sent to ask Baal-zebub the god of Ekron if he would recover. The Lord had Elijah intercept the messengers and tell Ahaziah he would die because he asked from Baal-zebub. The king realized it was Elijah and sent a captain and his 50 men to bring Elijah.
            The captain found Elijah on top of a hill. He addressed Elijah calling him a man of God and commanded him to come down by the king’s order. But Elijah replied that if he was a man of God, for fire to come down and consume them. A second captain was sent with the same results.
            A third captain was sent and he begged for his life and the fifty. The angel of the Lord told Elijah to go with him and not be afraid. When Elijah met the king, he told him that he would die because he didn’t inquire of the Lord but sent messengers to Baal-zebub. Ahaziah died and Jehoram took his place because Ahaziah didn’t have a son.
            Elijah was about to be taken to heaven and he told Elisha to wait in Gilgal while he went to Bethel. Elisha was adamant about staying with Elijah. At Bethel, the prophets asked Elisha if he knew the Lord was going to take Elijah and Elisha said he knew.
            Elijah said the Lord was sending him to Jericho and for Elisha to stay at Bethel. The same thing happened as at Bethel. Then Elijah said the Lord was sending him across the Jordan. Elisha would not leave him. In the sight of 50 prophets, Elijah hit the water with his rolled-up cloak and it parted so the two crossed on dry ground.
            Elijah told Elisha to ask what Elijah could do for him before he left. Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Elijah replied it was difficult but if he saw him depart then it would be given to Elisha. Then chariots and horses of fire separated them and Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind. Elisha grieved and picked up Elijah’s cloak, which had fallen.
            When Elisha arrived back at the Jordon, he rolled up the cloak and struck the water and asked where the Lord, the God of Elijah was. The water parted and the 50 prophet realized Elijah’s spirit rested on Elisha. They asked Elisha if they could look for Elijah. He didn’t let them go but they kept begging him so he let them go. When they finally returned without Elijah, Elisha said, “I told you so.”
            The men of Jericho told Elisha that the land was good but unfruitful because the water was bad. Elisha threw salt in the water and spoke by the Lord that the water would always be good and it was.
            Elisha returned to Bethel. On the way, some boys taunted him. He cursed them and two she-bears came out to the woods and mauled 42 of them. He then went to Mount Carmel and then to Samaria.
            Psalm: David declares the attributes of God. He is omniscient in knowing our actions and even our thoughts before we say or do anything. He is sovereign in all our plans. It is awesome but we can’t really understand this.
            He is omnipresent and is with us no matter where we go. He is always with us in the light or in the dark because he sees all.
            He is our creator on a personal level. He has made us exactly the way he wants. His plan for our lives is already determined even before he made us.
            It is awesome to ponder that God is always thinking about us. We go to sleep but he keeps he is still thinking about us when we wake.
            David then wants the Lord to wipe out the wicked and keep them away from him. They are physically and verbally nasty. He hates those who hate God and considers them his enemies.
            David then asks God to search him to if there is anything wrong in him and then lead him in the everlasting way.
            Proverbs: People who like to sin have discord in their lives and the things they build to keep it out usually brings more. Sinful lives don’t bring about good and lying also brings calamity. If any of your kids is a fool, you will have sorrow in your life.
            Acts: On the next Sabbath, the whole city went to hear Paul but some Jews were jealous and contradicted Paul. Both Paul and Barnabas were bold and told them that they were judging themselves unworthy of eternal life so they will tell Gentiles. They quoted several Old Testament Scripture to show this is what they need to do.
            The Gentiles were overjoyed and many who were appointed to eternal life believed. The word spread. Some Jews stirred up devout leaders and brought persecution against Paul and Barnabas. They were driven out and went to Iconium.
            At Iconium, they went to the synagogue where many Jews and Greeks believed. The unbelievers stirred up Gentiles poisoning their minds against Paul and Barnabas. Paul and Barnabas spent a long time there speaking and performing signs and wonders. The people were divided and the ones against them plotted to stone them. When they found out, they fled to Lystra and Derbe and surrounding areas where they preached.

What Stood Out

            2 Kings: “Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron—is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of his word?—therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die” (2 Kings 1:16).
            Psalm: “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether” (Ps 139:4).
            Proverbs: “He who makes his door high seeks destruction” (Prov 17:19).
            Acts: “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48).

Insight

            2 Kings: How often do we turn to our own devices instead of asking the Lord? Ahazaiah knew that the Lord is God, yet he had the audacity to try and ask a false god or demon if he was going to recover from his fall. He didn’t ask Baal-zebub for healing, only for knowledge of the future. What makes it ridiculous is that only the Lord heals and only the Lord knows the future because he is in control.
            We don’t normally ask the Lord if we will recover from an illness. We ask for healing, but we seldom ask if that is his will. Then we go to the doctors. I don’t think it is wrong for us to go to doctors after we pray, but again when we get there, we expect them to have the answers. “What’s the prognosis, Doc? How long will it take this break or operation to heal? Do I have long to live?” For the doctor, it is an educated guess. The Lord is the only one that really knows and he often surprises us by doing it sooner or later.
            Ahaziah sent a strong message to the people of Israel when he sent messengers to Baal-zebub instead of asking a prophet of the Lord what would happen. He was telling them that the Lord was incapable of providing the information much less the healing. He was thumbing his nose at God and he paid the price. I think our attitude about our prayers, whether it is for health or other issues can send a huge message to people around us. We can be a witness of our trust in God’s sovereignty but when we exhibit fear or anxiety after our prayers, we show that we don’t really trust him. When we are ill, we can explain that we’ve prayed and we are content with what will happen at the doctor’s office, in physical therapy, in the operating room, at the employment office, or in what other circumstances would normally cause a person anxiety and fear.
            Psalm: How much have you thought about God’s omniscience and sovereignty? When you put these two together as David did in this Psalm, there are some mind-blowing conclusions. If God knows everything, including our thoughts before we turn them into words, then he must even know them before we have them. His sovereignty is demonstrated in planning and writing down his plan for us in his book. That means he knows our thoughts, words, and actions even before we were born or conceived. People have written books on this arguing for and against much of what David presents in this Psalm. The bottom line is that we will never understand it because we are finite and God is infinite. David says that is too wonderful for him and he can’t really understand it (Ps 139:6).
            We may not be able to understand it and answer all the questions these concepts spark. However, if we trust what David has said, and it is God’s word to us, then we can have trust and peace about every circumstance of our lives. If we fight it, and many even end up rebelling against God by having turmoil, anxiety, and fear.
            Proverbs: Sometimes proverbs are hard to understand. Part of the problems is that the culture is unknown to us and the idioms don’t make sense when translated word for word. So today, I read in the ESV, “He who makes his door high seeks destruction” (Prov 17:19). The NLT translation reads, “Anyone who trusts in high walls invites disaster” (Prov 17:19). In the context of the beginning of the proverb talking about loving transgressions or quarrels, I think about some of the phycological high walls or doors that some people use trying to keep strife out of their lives. There must be a million self-help books that push worldly solutions to dysfunctional relationships. These are just high walls that people trust instead of good biblical advice. Trusting those instead of biblical counsel never accomplishes God’s purpose for us.
            Acts: We found out about the extent of God’s sovereignty in Psalm 139. Now, in Acts, we find it again in regard to salvation. Paul and Barnabas are preaching the word of God to the Jews. Some believe but not the majority. When they speak to the Gentiles and let them know that it was God’s plan for them to preach to the Gentiles, the Gentiles are joyful. The Bible says that as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. It is impossible to read anything into this verse other than what it says.
            God is sovereign in determining who is saved. He has appointed some to be saved and they believe. The ones who are not appointed do not believe. In context, these are the ones that persecute those who do believe. We can’t understand exactly the way God handles this because we are upset over the idea that the opposite is also true; that God therefore appoints others to condemnation. According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, the Greek word means, “to appoint, ordain.” This doesn’t feel right to us so we invent the concept that “appoint” means God gives people the ability to believe but it is their choice. That’s not what the Bible says here or elsewhere. Ephesians 1:4 says we were chosen. The Greek word here is “to pick out, choose” (Thayer’s).
            According to God’s sovereignty, some believe and some don’t. That’s the way it is. When we accept that, we must be thankful for being chosen and given the ability to believe. If we don’t accept that then we can pat ourselves on the back and say how we chose God. Who is in charge in the latter case? Who is sovereign? Not God. Are we really grateful if we think we are the ones who chose to be saved?

Application

             I, for one am very thankful for God’s sovereignty and that he chose me long before I was even conceived. I’m a sinner, who would still be condemned to hell had God not chosen me for eternal life. It is mind boggling but that is the way it is and I accept that.

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