Saturday, July 1, 2017

July 1: 2 Kings 18:13 – 19; Psalm 149; Proverbs 18:8; Acts 21:1-16


            2 Kings: Sennacherib, king of Assyria captured the fortified cities of Judah. Hezekiah sent messengers to Sennacherib repenting of his rebellion against him. Sennacherib enforced a monetary penalty and Hezekiah took gold and silver from the temple even stripping gold from the doors to pay. Even after that, Sennacherib sent his officials to Jerusalem. The Rabshakeh taunted Hezekiah for rebelling and trusting in the Lord as well as Hezekiah’s feeble army. He spoke in Hebrew so all the people on the wall could hear him. He told them not to listen to Hezekiah who said the Lord would deliver them. None of the gods of the other countries had delivered them from Assyria. He said no god could deliver a land from the Assyrians.
            When Hezekiah heard, he tore his robes, put on sackcloth, went to the temple, and sent messengers to Isaiah. The Lord said through Isaiah not to fear because the servants of the king of Assyria had reviled him, he would put a spirit in him to make him act on a rumor and leave. He would be killed in his own land.
            The Rabshakeh returned to Sennacherib and found it true what the Lord said through Isaiah. Still, the king of Assyria sent a message to Hezekiah repeating what the Rabshakeh had said before.
            When Hezekiah got the letter, he went to the temple and spread it out before the Lord and prayed. He voiced his faith in God being the only God, Lord of all kingdoms, and Creator. He admitted Assyria’s feats and power but all those other gods were not gods but idols. He then asked for God to save them so that all nations would know that the Lord alone is God.
            The answer that Hezekiah got from Isaiah was God’s answer to Sennacherib. The Lord told him that Zion only scorned him. The Lord explained that Sennacherib had mocked the holy one of Israel and exalted himself. But it was the Lord who enabled Sennacherib to do all he had boasted about. In fact, the Lord had planned it all. The Lord knows everything about Sennacherib including his raging against the Lord. So the Lord will turn him around and send him back. Judah will recover from the Assyrians in three years and the remnant will survive and take root. The Lord said that Sennacherib will not attack Jerusalem because the Lord will defend it.
            That night the angel of the Lord killed 185,000 Syrians in their camp. Sennacherib went home to Nineveh and was killed by two of his sons while he worshiped Nisroch, his god.
            Psalm: We are to praise the Lord and do it with new songs, musical instruments, dancing, in the assembly and even on our beds. These are ways of rejoicing in our Maker. When going to war to execute vengeance for the Lord, this is also a time to praise the Lord.
            Proverbs: Rumor, gossip, and other words spoken in secret have an enticement to us that affects our hearts.
            Acts: On the way to Jerusalem, Paul and company stopped at Tyre while the ship unloaded. They looked up the local disciples and spent seven days with them. The Spirit worked through the disciples and told Paul not to go to Jerusalem. When they left, they all kneeled on the beach and prayed.
            At Ptolemais, they also stayed for a day with Christians. They then arrived in Caesarea and stayed with Philip the evangelist and his four unmarried prophetess daughters. Agabus came from Judea and bound his hands and feet with Paul’s belt. He said the Holy Spirit was telling Paul that he would be bound by the Jews in Jerusalem and handed over to the Gentiles. Everyone urged Paul not to go to Jerusalem, but he said their urging was breaking his heart. He said he was willing to die for the name of the Lord Jesus. They stopped urging him when they saw he wasn’t going to change his mind.

What Stood Out

            2 Kings: “And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord and said: ‘O Lord the God of Israel, who is enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth’” (2 Kings 19:15).
            Psalm: “For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation” (Ps 149:4).
            Proverbs: “The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body” (Prov 18:8).
            Acts: “And through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem” (Acts 21:4).


            2 Kings: Hezekiah was a pretty wise king. He walked with the Lord and got rid of the high places. This is something that even David didn’t get gone, neither did Solomon, or any other of the kings in between them. However, Hezekiah still had a lesson to learn. When he rebelled against Sennacherib and then Sennacherib took the fortified cities of Judah, Hezekiah tried to bribe Sennacherib into forgiving him. He took the treasures from the temple for the bribe. Then Sennacherib still continued to threaten Jerusalem. The lesson he learned is that human solutions without the Lord don’t work as well as going to the Lord first.
            When Hezekiah turned to the Lord, the only the true God, the battle went favor to Jerusalem. It was favorable to Jerusalem because the Lord’s honor was at stake, not Hezekiah’s. Sennacherib had insulted the Lord. This was a double lesson. When we turn to the Lord first and seek his guidance, the solution to problems will honor the Lord. Our Jerusalem may not be miraculously saved, but we will know that the Lord has a greater purpose and we will have honored him. The second lesson is that our honor isn’t nearly as important as the Lords. When someone insults us, we can count it as a blessing. When someone insults the Lord, they are in trouble.
            Psalm:  There are many ways to praise the Lord and we shouldn’t get all excited about one to the exclusion of others or condemn one method over the other. Even going to war is a time to praise the Lord when it a God-honoring war. Not all wars are God-honoring and it is harder to determine now than when the Lord worked directly with Israel. When we see the atrocities like the Holocaust and war in Rwanda, where people are being wiped out because of their authenticity and religion, we can be fairly certain that is a justifiable and even God-honoring war when we try to stop it. Others are not so easy to identify. We need to be careful not to think that if we praise the Lord, it justifies whatever we do.
            Proverbs: There is something about gossip and rumors that make us want to hear more. When someone whispers, “Don’t tell anyone else, but …” it creates a real lust to hear what that person is going to say. It is a heart issue for us. These things are like a catalyst to bring our desire to hear and repeat gossip and rumors. Then you feel like it would be insulting or being holier-than-thou to tell them to stop. Or, once that far, your appetite has been whetted and you want to hear the rest. It’s not easy to stop, but we should, for our own heart’s sake as well as the other person.
            Acts: What’s going on with Paul? Acts 21:4 clearly says the Holy Spirit was telling Paul not to go to Jerusalem. As Paul continues to go to Jerusalem, he is told by the Holy Spirit that he will be delivered to the Gentiles. I have to understand this from the plain and simple reading of this passage, that Paul decided to disobey the Holy Spirit. When he continued in is disobedience, he is told that it will result in being delivered to the Gentiles. I looked in three commentaries and they all appear to agree that Paul was not disobedient. After all, this is Paul. He wouldn’t disobey God. So they argue that this was not a command of the Spirit but if he regarded his personal safety, he should not go to Jerusalem (Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database, Acts 21:4). Another thought is that it should be considered “simply as an inspired prophetic warning” (Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database, Acts 21:4) rather than a command.
            There is presumption in these commentaries that Paul would obey the Spirit if he understood it to be a command. That is a faulty presumption. Read Romans 7 and you will see that Paul struggled with sin just like everyone else. It is possible that Paul’s pride got in the way and he was determined to do something that the Holy Spirit told him not to do. Then the Holy Sprit warns him of the consequences and he continues in his desire to do what he thinks best. It is a pride issue when he says he is ready to die for Jesus. Paul had made up his mind he was going to Jerusalem long before and it broke his heart that they tried to convince him that God had told him not to go.
            Barnes' Notes goes on to say that Acts 21:14 where everyone gave up trying to dissuade Paul from going to Jerusalem that it proves that it was God’s will that he should go to Jerusalem. I say this points out that in a human response, the other disciples gave up and knew it was God’s will that he be imprisoned if he went, not necessarily that it was God’s will that he go.
            Yes, I disagree with the commentaries. I believe the bigger lesson is that we should not make presuppositions when approaching Scripture. Another lesson unfolds as we see God’s prophecy fulfilled and Paul is imprisoned. What happen is that God still used Paul’s disobedience for much good. Paul was refined, people in high places heard the gospel, and books of the Bible were written. We have no idea what it would have been like, had Paul obeyed.


            I need to turn to the Lord before jumping into my own problem-solving skills. I also need to be careful about listening to gossip and rumors. It’s too easy to enjoy it. I also need to be obedient to the Lord’s leading but recognize that comes through others also.

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