Tuesday, July 25, 2017

July 25: 2 Chronicles 14 – 16; Psalm 19; Proverbs 20:1; Romans 9:1-21



Overview

            2 Chronicles: Abijah reigned 3 years and died. Asa, his son took over. He did right in the eyes of the Lord. He got rid of all the high places and other forms of idol worship. He fortified cities and had an army of 580,000 men. The Lord gave him peace for ten years then Zerah of Ethiopia came with one million men. Asa cried to the Lord and he defeated them.
            The prophet Azaria told Asa that the Lord was with him. If he seeks the Lord he will be found, if he forsakes the Lord he will have troubles like those before him, who, for a long time hadn’t followed the Lord and that is why they had problems and no peace. Asa was told to be courageous and work and he will be rewarded.
            Upon hearing the words of Azaria, Asa cleaned up Judah and Benjamin. He gathered the people of Judah, Benjamin and other tribes who had come to live there because they knew God was with Asa. They make a pact to serve the Lord and kill anyone who would not. They had a great feast. Asa removed his mother from being queen mother because she made an idol. There was no war until his 35th year of his reign.
            In the 36th year, Bsasha of Israel came against Judah to keep people from deserting to Asa by building Ramah. Asa sent treasures from the temple to Ben-hadad of Syria to break his treaty with Bsasha. Ben-hadad then captures several cities of Israel forcing Baasha to abandon Ramah.
            Hanani came and told Asa that he was foolish for not trusting the Lord. The Lord looks through the country to support those whose heart is blameless. Because of his foolishness, he would have wars. Asa put Hanani in stocks because he was angry. He then became cruel to people. In his 39th year, he got a disease in his feet but would not seek the Lord. He died in the 41st year of his reign.
            Psalm: Natural revelations of God are seen in creation, especially the cosmos (Ps 19:1-6). God’s special revelation is seen in his word and how it works in our lives (Ps 19:7-11). David’s response to God’s revelation is seen in a plea to be kept pure and acceptable to God, especially from sins that we often overlook or hide. He wants his heart to be acceptable (Ps 19:12-14).
            Proverbs: The pleasures of wine mock and stronger drink is blatant in its damage. Whoever succumbs to them is a fool.
            Romans: Paul expresses his sorrow that his fellow Jews have not come to Christ. He would do anything, including giving up his salvation if it would bring them to Jesus. He tells the benefits Jews have had from the patriarchs to Christ.
            But God’s word hasn’t failed because not everyone who is Abraham and Isaacs offspring are Jews but only those were from the promise, namely Isaac. Even from Isaac, only Jacob was chosen, not Esau. This choosing occurred before they were born and had a chance to do right or wrong.
            There is no injustice in this because it is God’s choice to have mercy on one person and not another. It doesn’t depend on our desires or our deeds but on God’s mercy. He even hardened Pharaoh to use him the way he wanted. We can’t try to blame God for finding fault in us because he made us the way we are and we can’t resist his will. Just like a potter has the right to use a lump of clay to make an honorable vessel or one used for a chamber pot, so God has the right do what he wants with us.

What Stood Out

            2 Chronicles: “If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you” (2 Chron 15:2).           
            Psalm: “Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults” (Ps 19:12).
            Proverbs: “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Prov 20:1).
            Romans: “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (Rom 9:16).

Insight

            2 Chronicles: It is always great to read about one of the kings of Judah who takes charge and makes sure that everyone is following the Lord. He had a great incentive as he was told that he would find the Lord if he looked for him. He was also warned that if he forsook the Lord, the Lord would forsake him. This warning became true when Asa looked at the circumstances of Israel’s aggression. Without even a blink of the eye, he took the treasures from the temple and sent them to an enemy to fight his battle for him.
            What an insult to the Lord! The Lord had protected him for 35 years. He had seen the miraculous defeat of the Ethiopians and yet he didn’t even ask for the Lord’s help against Baasha. This is what happen to us when we get used to prosperity and somehow forget that all we have is from the Lord. To make matters worse, he used the wealth that was dedicated to the Lord to accomplish his sinful plan. How many times do we face a financial problem and think we can take some of the money we would normally give to the Lord and instead use our tithe and offerings to pay off a debt or purchase something that we really don’t need? We can’t get too tough on Asa without condemning ourselves.
            Psalm: It’s really interesting to look at different versions of the Bible. Some capitalize pronouns of God so we know it refers to God. My ESV doesn’t and my NIV doesn’t. NAS does but I also read verse 12 in the NLT and it dawned on me that David wasn’t asking who could discern God’s errors but our own. What a difference a small change in the text makes. My hidden faults (sins) are the ones that I don’t really think are sins. They are the things that everyone else does and may cause others some pain but aren’t really bad enough to repent. Take irritability or impatience. Everyone has these and some of us have them more often than others. But they are both grumbling against God’s sovereign rule of our lives. We are irritable and impatient when things don’t go our way or in our timing. We believe our time is more valuable than others. It is basically putting me first instead of others (Phil 2:3-4).
            The problem with only relying on God’s natural revelation to know him is that it is possible to go out in nature and enjoy it, but never discern our hidden sins or even our need for a Savior. It is only through his specific revelation, the Bible, that we discover how dreadfully sinful we really are and that faith in Jesus is the only remedy.
            Proverbs: You swirl the wine in the glass, smell its bouquet, take a sip and extol its subtle flavors. You are a wine connoisseur. Then you drink the whole bottle. You then say and do things that you wouldn’t have done had you stopped at the sip. Whether you are an alcoholic or not, wine is mocking you. Or maybe you take a sip of that brandy or finely aged whisky. You throw down the drink and comment about how good it is as it burns down your esophagus. You learned to say that because people with a sophisticated palate say that in spite of the fact it really tastes awful. You drink that whole bottle, get in a rip-roaring fight with your wife or someone else or you fall flat on your face and black out. Either way, the proverb is proved true by anyone who drinks too much but denies it.
            Romans: Paul wades right into one of the thorniest problems in theology. Does God actually choose some for salvation and some for condemnation? According to his argument here and tomorrow, the answer must be yes. It was God’s choice to have Jacob become the heir to the promises and not Esau. His love of Jacob was established before he was born and his hatred of Esau was also before he was born (Mal 1:2-3). Paul draws this from the Old Testament to prove his point and adds what God said to Moses. God will have mercy and show grace to those he wants (Ex 33:19). We really chaff at this because it goes against our human reasoning. We try all sorts of arguments to defend God’s actions. After all, how could a loving God really send anyone to hell? We get that he does that for sinners, but to choose them for that before they were born seems harsh and ungodly.
            Right there is the problem. Once we have said that God seems ungodly, we have crossed over the line from wondering about how this can be to actually judging God. In other words, we believe we know what God should be doing better than what he has said in his Word and what he is and will be doing. What does that mean – it means we have put ourselves in the place of God.
            I’m not going to pretend to answer the question to anyone’s satisfaction. I’m simply going to trust the Lord and be thankful that he has chosen me. I’m going to tell others that they can place their trust in Jesus for salvation. The invitation is there, who accepts because they are chosen or not is not my problem. It is far too great of a question for my mind and if I completely understood it, then I would be like God.

Application

             This is a good reminder that God is God and I am not. I have enough secret sins to know that I am his only because he chose me, not because I’m good enough. I don’t’ want to get used to God’s care so that I forget him when tested.

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