Tuesday, July 4, 2017

July 4: 2 Kings 23:31 – 25; Psalm 2; Proverbs 18:14; Acts 22:17-23:10


            2 Kings: Jehoahaz was 23 when he started to reign and lasted three months when Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim, Josiah’s son king and changed his name to Jehoiakim. He taxed silver and gold from the people so that he could pay tribute to Nico.
            Jehoikim was 25 when he started and lasted 11 years. He did evil in the sight of the Lord, like his fathers. During his reign, Nebuchadnezzar came and Jehoiakim was under him for three years. Jehoiakim rebelled from Nebuchadnezzar and the Lord sent raiders from Chaldea, Syria, Moab, and Ammon to destroy Judah. This was because of the sins of Manasseh and the Lord would not pardon. Jehoikim died and Jehoiachin, his son took over. The king of Egypt did not come again because the king of Babylon took over everything from the Euphrates to the brook of Egypt.
            Jehoichin was 18 and reigned three months. Nebuchadnezzar came and besieged Jerusalem and Jehoichin surrendered. Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoichin captive to Babylon along with his treasures and the vessels from the temple. He took 10,000 captives except the poorest of the land. He made Mattaniah king at 21 years old, changed his name to Zedekiah. He reigned 11 years. He did evil in the sight of the Lord just like Jehoikim, his brother.
            In the ninth year of Zedekiah, Nebuchadnezzar came back and captured Jerusalem after a siege. His army captured Zedekiah and took him to Riblah where Nebuchadnezzar killed his sons in front of him and put out his eyes.
            Nebuchadnezzar’s commander came back and burned the temple and all the great houses in Jerusalem. He broke down the wall. And took more captives to Babylon along with the bronze from the temple. He also took many of the priests and officials to Riblah where Nebuchadnezzar killed them. He made Gedaliah governor but after 7 months, Ishmael killed him along with Jews and Babylonians who were with him. They were then afraid of the Babylonians so they fled to Egypt.
            In the 37th year of the captivity, Evil-merodach, king of Babylon freed Jehoichin and gave him a position above the other kings with him. He had an allowance from Evil-merodach as long as he lived.
            Psalm: People, nations, and rulers of the earth all try to rebel against God. Some plot together. God laughs at all this and will let them know his opinion of them in his wrath and he will terrify them. He has set his king in Zion and calls him his Son. He will give all the nations to his son and he will break them and shatter them. So, kings and ruler should serve the Lord in fear and even rejoice as they serve him. They need to pay homage to him because his wrath is quick and they will perish. But all who take refuge in him are blessed.
            Proverbs: It’s easier to get through an illness than it is a broken heart.
            Acts: Paul continued to speak to the crowd in Jerusalem that tried to kill him. They were quietly listening. He told of returning to Jerusalem after his conversion to Christianity and he was praying in the temple when Jesus spoke to him to leave Jerusalem because they wouldn’t accept his testimony about Jesus. Jesus told Paul that he would send him to the Gentiles.
            When he said this, the crowd started to shout to have him killed. The commander took Paul into the barracks and was going to scourge him to learn the truth. But Paul told him he was a Roman citizen and it was unlawful to do that. The commander took him to the Jewish council the next day. Paul told them he had lived with a good conscience and the high priest wanted him struck on the mouth. Paul responded that to do that was not according to the Law and he was a whitewashed wall for judging him according to the Law that the high priest was disobeying. When he found out he was the high priest, he apologized.
            Paul saw that the council was made up of Sadducees who say there is no resurrection, angels, or spirits and Pharisees who acknowledge them all. So, he said he was a Pharisee and he was on trial because he believed in the resurrection. The ensuing debate between Pharisees and Sadducees was getting ugly so the commander whisked him away to the barracks.

What Stood Out

            2 Kings: “Surely this came upon Judah at the command of the Lord, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh … and the Lord would not pardon” (2 Kings 24:3-4).
            Psalm: “Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Ps 2:12).
            Proverbs: “A man's spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?” (Prov 18:14).
            Acts: “It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial” (Acts 23:6).


            2 Kings: The Lord promised that Judah would pay for the sins of Manasseh. It didn’t happen in the days of Josiah because of his repentance. When the Lord promises, for good or disaster, it will come to pass. It may seem unjust to punish people for the sins of their leaders and even those of a leader that reigned many years before, but as we read about this, it becomes evident that the people who were punished were deserving of their punishment. It wasn’t just the leaders, but the people were all wicked. When we get to Jeremiah, their evil will be seen.
            2 Kings 24:4 says that the Lord would not pardon. Why won’t the Lord pardon sin? The biggest reason is that no one was asking him to pardon them. Certainly not the kings of Judah after Josiah. We are blessed because we know that when we confess our sins, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
            Psalm: The way people want to believe there is no God and there is no accountability to him today isn’t new. Even before this Psalm was written, going back to Adam and Eve, people have wanted to be their own sovereigns. They want to be able to control their lives and not have to answer to anyone one else. It applies to kings as well as everyone of us. What is God’s response to those who will even attempt to do battle with the Lord? He laughs at them; he holds them in contempt (Ps 2:4). I only know of two places in Scripture where the Lord shows this kind of contempt, here for those who think they can thwart his plans and simpletons and fools who ignore God and his counsel (Pr 1:26).
            It is a whole lot better to turn to the Jesus, for that is to whom this Psalm refers when speaking of God’s Son. When we take our refuge in him, we are blessed, not scorned.
            Proverbs: Sometimes emotional stress is harder to endure than physical ailments. That may be because we are used to physical pain and it usually passes over time, though not always. On the other hand, emotional stress is in many ways mysterious. We don’t always know why we are feeling the negative emotions. It could be the loss of a loved one or just feeling of foreboding. Where to they come from and how can we heal from them? Just look back at Psalm 2 we find a reason behind much of it. Instead of submitting to the Lord in all things, much of our emotional problems come from looking for satisfaction and fulfilment in people or things instead of the Lord.
            Acts: Paul’s defense before the Jewish council was brief because he shrewdly caused them to argue with one another instead of addressing the issue that he was preaching against the Law of Moses. What Paul said was only part of the truth and not even the main focus of it. So, he brought out only the part that would keep him from the Jews who wanted him killed.
            In this situation, Paul could see that he wasn’t going to get a fair trial as the high priest had already demonstrated that he was willing to go against the Law by having Paul struck. In addition, Paul was not so much concerned with proving his innocence to the council as he was the Roman commander ( Barnes' Notes, Acts 23:6). Sometimes, we have to pick our fights and use ingenuity, but we should not resort to distorting the facts or lying to get us off the hook. As Paul had said earlier, he was willing to die for the name of Jesus. This just wasn’t the right time.      


            Sometimes we may lie to get out of a dreadful situation. That isn’t trusting God. It is a tendency we all have. Paul came precariously close to doing that when he escaped the Jewish council. I want to be so dependent on the Lord that I will always tell the truth. I don’t want to trust in anything else and I don’t want my spirit crushed because my wants and desires are different than what God wants for me.

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