Friday, June 30, 2017

June 30: 2 Kings 17 – 18:12; Psalm 148; Proverbs 18:6-7; Acts 20



Overview

            2 Kings: In Israel: Hoshea reigned for nine years. He did evil but not as bad as previous kings. He was a vassal of the king of Assyria. Because Hoshea tried to break the alliance and serve Egypt, Assyria invaded Israel and carried them away. The Lord did it because Israel had sinned against God with their idolatry. The Lord warned them but they wouldn’t listen. Judah didn’t keep the Lord’s commands either. This idolatry went back to Jeroboam when he broke off from Judah.
            The king of Assyria brought people into Israel from many other nations to repopulate the land. They didn’t fear the Lord so he sent lions to kill many of them. The king of Assyria then sent priest back to teach the inhabitants “the laws of the god of the land” (2 Kings 17:27). Because Israel and their descendants disobeyed the Lord and worshiped other gods and they didn’t listen to the Lord, he handed them over to their enemies. These nations that repopulated and settled in the land learned to fear the Lord and they also worshiped their own gods.
            In Judah: Hezekiah began to reign at the age of 25. He reigned 29 years and did right in the eyes of the Lord. He removed the high places, Asherah pillars, broke the bronze snake Moses had made because the people made offerings to it. He trusted the Lord and the Lord was with him. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and fought the Philistines and prospered.
            In the fourth year of Hezekiah, the king of Assyria besieged Samaria and captured it after three years. He carried the Israelites away to Hala in Gozan on the Habor River and other cities of the Medes. He did his because Israel had violated the covenant the Lord had made with them through Moses.
            Psalm: The Lord’s praise comes from the heavens where all the angels praise him. It comes from the celestial objects because God made them all. They will always be around. The earth and all that is in it praise the Lord. Creatures, vegetation, and geological formations praise the Lord. Kings and peoples, men, women, and children all praise the Lord. They praise the Name of the Lord because it is exalted. His majesty is beyond the heavens and he has raised up a ruler for his people, his saints in Israel who are near to him.
            Proverbs: The biggest problem with a fool is his mouth. It gets him into fights and it even does harm to his soul.
            Acts: After the uproar in Ephesus, Paul continued traveling, encouraging believers in Greece. He then started back to Syria. Several brothers from different cities accompanied him. Others went ahead and all met at Troas. While there, they met and Paul talked until midnight. Eutychus fell asleep and fell out a third story window and died. But Paul picked him up and announced he was alive. Paul then broke bread with the disciples and talked with them until morning. Paul and his companions departed.
            Luke and other took a ship then met Paul at Assos. Paul decided to sail past Ephesus because he wanted to arrive in Jerusalem for Pentecost. So from Miletus he sent for the Ephesian elders. When they arrived, he reminded them how he had served the Lord, how Jews plotted against him. But he testified in public and house to house. He told them the Holy Spirit told him he would be imprisoned. He considered his life of no value if only he could finish his ministry to testify about the grace of God. He knew he would not see them again. He warned them to take care of their flock because wolves would come in among them and gave them instruction on teaching, working hard, and giving.
            He prayed with them. They then all cried and embraced. They went with Paul as he got back on the ship.

What Stood Out

            2 Kings: “He [Hezekiah] trusted in the Lord the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him” (2 Kings 18:5).
            Psalm: “Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven” (Ps 148:13).
            Proverbs: “A fool's mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul” (Prov 18:7).
            Acts: “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30).

Insight

            2 Kings: When reading about all the kings of Israel, it is refreshing to be able to read about Hezekiah. Because he trusted in the Lord, he was able to rebel against Assyria. Hoshea in Israel tried to do the same thing but he failed. He trusted in Egypt and all the other gods they worshiped. The result was the final destruction of the nation with the people being carried off to other nations. It was all that the Lord had told Moses and Joshua would happen if they followed other gods. What is amazing is that it took so long before the Lord let it happen.
            We are often just like Israel. We trust in things other than God. Usually, we trust ourselves. Sometimes we put our faith in our spouse, the government, a gifted speaker, or jobs. What is amazing is that the Lord lets us continue in this idolatry for a long time before disaster comes on us. Like many of the kings of Israel, we don’t see the disaster in our lifetime but our children suffer the consequences of our devastating lifestyle and belief system. Of course, when we look at the individual level and not the national level, we see that we all suffer, especially when our idols keep us from trusting Jesus for salvation. Then our eternity is sealed upon death and there is no opportunity for repentance. We should be like Hezekiah and trust the Lord and not serve the false gods of our culture.
            Psalm: Creation is awesome. It doesn’t matter if you are looking at outer space through the Hubel telescope or looking at a virus with an electron microscope. All creation is awesome. What is even more awesome is the Lord. He created it all. That means he has to have intimate knowledge of atomic particles as well as all the stars in all the galaxies. Consider all that and he cares for us. He has raised up Jesus for our salvation so we can have a relationship with the maker of the universe. He lives in our hearts because he has saved us and we belong to him. We can praise him for creation but the highest praise goes to him just because of who he is.
            Proverbs: How is it possible that what a fool says is harmful to his soul? It could be that he begins to believe the things he says. After all, what comes out of our mouths originates in our hearts. So his words repeated enough times reinforce his erroneous beliefs. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good” (Ps 14:1). That’s the problem with fools. They say there is no God, it is confirmed in their hearts and the result is corruption and that means their souls have ben ensnared. Unless the Lord changes their hearts, fools have no hope of salvation.
            Acts: Paul’s instructions to the Ephesian elders is something we can all take to heart. The first thing is to be examples of godly living. Paul lived out what he taught. Whether it was in service to the saints or in spreading the gospel. There wasn’t any area where he had to tell them do as he said instead of how he acted. His afflictions were a testimony that he considered obedience to his calling above personal safety or convenience.
            He also encouraged them to be careful in their ministry. They had the charge of being overseers of God’s people. Yet he also warned them that even among their own people, heretics would raise up their ugly heads teaching wrong doctrines to draw people away from the truth.
            Unfortunately, Paul’s warning is lost on many churches, if not most, in the western world. As western culture embraces homosexuality, divorce for any reason, and other sinful actions and attitudes, churches and denominations are following suit. Instead of basing their theology on the Bible, they are basing in on the cultural norm. We would all do well to pay attention to Paul’s warning and get back to the Christian basics.

Application

            I need to be careful about my theology. If I am wrong or slightly off base, and then repeat it often enough, I can be like the fool and imbed wrong theology in my heart. I become unteachable. If that happens, that unteachable spirit and wrong theology can lead to wrong practice of my faith. The result can lead others astray. If I’m not careful, I can become one of the wolves and won’t even realize it.

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