Detestable Practices

2 Chronicles 33-34

I have two dramatically different directions I’d like to go with today’s reading, and decided I’d share them both.

In 2 Chronicles 33:1-2, 6, we find, “Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years.  He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. … He sacrificed his sons in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced sorcery, divination, and witchcraft, and consulted mediums and spiritists.  He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking him to anger.”

Did you catch that, he sacrificed his sons in the fire.  As repulsive as everything else is that he did, in my mind, nothing can compare with that.  That sounds horrible, and in my mind, he deserved a horrible punishment.

2 Kings 24: 1-4 tells the end of that story.  It goes like this, “During Jehoiakim’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded the land, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. But then he turned against Nebuchadnezzar and rebelled. The Lord sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the Lord proclaimed by his servants the prophets. Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord was not willing to forgive.”

God annihilated the nation of Judah because of all the innocent blood Manasseh had shed.  God wasn’t willing to forgive.   As I read this, I have to agree that God was right in his judgement against Judah.  They deserved everything they got.

But this makes me wonder, how are we different from Judah?  We may not sacrifice our children in the fire, but we do have rampant abortion in our nation.  I wonder, in God’s eyes, how do those two ways of shedding innocent blood differ?  Which makes me wonder how much we are provoking God to anger, and what will be the end of our story as a nation.  I see parallels, and they concern me. 

The second thing that jumps out at me from today’s reading is that Manasseh was born during the additional 15 years that God had extended Hezekiah’s life.  If Hezekiah had died when he was originally very sick, Manasseh would not have been born, and someone else would have been king.  It may have been that Judah would have existed as a nation far longer.  In this case, I think we can agree that for the greater good, it probably would have been better if Hezekiah had died young, so Manasseh would not have been born.

I know probably more than most, how we long to have life extended, and how we may plead with God to spare life.  But I’m reminded of Isaiah 57:1-2, “The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart, devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.  Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.”

We don’t often think that sometimes the righteous die, basically for their own good.  We view death as the enemy, and rightly so, but this life isn’t our final reward.  This life is the test to see which eternal reward we will receive, life or death.  It’s easy to say, but hard to put into practice that we should live so sold out for God, that we shouldn’t be concerned about our life or our death.  We need to seek first God’s kingdom, and God will take care of everything else.


–Steve Mattison

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at Bible Gateway here – 2 Chronicles 33-34 and Romans 16

Fully Proclaim the Gospel of Christ

2 Chronicles 31-32 and Romans 15

Today’s reading is packed with so much good stuff, it’s hard to know what to write about.

I could comment about the overflowing generosity of King Hezekiah and the people when giving to the Lord, as found in 2 Chronicles 31.  But I won’t.

I could stress how God blessed another faithful king, as found in 2 Chronicles 31:21, which says, “In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly.  And so he prospered.”  But I won’t.

I could comment extensively on how Hezekiah trusted God completely when attacked by the Assyrians, and then God sent the death angel, who killed 185,000 of the Assyrian army.  But I won’t.  (Besides, I prefer the accounts in 2 Kings 18-19 and Isaiah 36-37.)

I could talk about how Hezekiah cried out to God when he was about to die, and God added 15 years to his life, as recorded in 2 Chronicles 32.  But I won’t.  (Again I prefer the 2 Kings 21 and Isaiah 37-38 accounts.) 

I could even expound on 2 Chronicles 32:31, “…God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart.”  But I won’t.

Since I already commented yesterday about doing things to build up our neighbor, I won’t comment on that even though it is recorded again in the beginning of Romans 15.

Instead, I’d like to point out Paul’s faithfulness in evangelism.  You may remember that Paul had a vision, where Jesus commanded him to spread the gospel to the Gentiles.  In Romans 15:19-22, we read, “… So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.  It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. … This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.”

It’s easy to pass over what Paul just said, so I’ll point out that according to The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, “from Jerusalem to Illyricum” covers about 14,000 miles (yes, fourteen thousand miles).  When you consider Paul’s mode of travel, and the difficulties he endured (read 2 Corinthians 11:23-27), you can understand the immense achievement of Paul’s missionary work.

For your convenience, I’ll include 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 here:

… I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.  Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,  I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.  I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

The real clincher comes in Romans 15:23, “But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions…”  Did you catch that?  Paul has traveled 14,000 miles and told everyone he could about Jesus.  Paul is basically saying, “But since there’s nobody else to tell (because they’ve all heard now); I’m done here; so I’ll finally come to visit you.”

What an astounding accomplishment.  What an astounding example.

Jesus commanded His disciples to go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commanded.  And part of what was commanded includes making more disciples.  So, through the Great Commission, Jesus commanded you and me to share the good news about Jesus with the whole world.  Maybe we weren’t told as directly as Paul was, but we were told.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t say, “since I’ve told everybody I know about Jesus, I need to move on to find more people to tell.”  I think all of us need a good reminder that God still expects us to make disciples today.
–Steve Mattison

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 31-32 and Romans 15

Governing Authorities

2 Chronicles 27-28 and Romans 13

In today’s reading, we read about Jotham, in 2 Chronicles 27:6, that “Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God.”  Then about his successor, Ahaz, in 2 Chronicles 28:19, “The Lord had humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had promoted wickedness in Judah and had been most unfaithful to the Lord.”

Then in Romans 13:1, we read, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

Wait a minute, in the Old Testament reading, we read about a good king, and the blessings that came because of his faithfulness, then we read about a wicked king, and the punishment that came because of his unfaithfulness.  And then in the New Testament reading, we’re told to submit to all governing authorities, because God has established them?  This doesn’t seem to make sense.  Shouldn’t we submit to good rulers, and rebel against bad rulers?

As intuitively right as this seems, this isn’t what God commands us to do.  By submitting to authority, God isn’t telling us to take part in their sins, or even endorse their sins.  But we do need to submit to governing authorities.  Period.  I have known of Christians who refused to pay taxes, because they alleged those taxes went to fund wicked practices.  But God demands submission.  We, as Christians, need to submit to ruling authorities.  We must pay our taxes (in this example), because that is our responsibility.  We aren’t responsible for how those taxes are spent.  Judgement for that will fall on someone else’s head.

Romans 13:2 goes on to say, “Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves.”  You may complain about my pointing this out, but God is the one who said it, so if you have a complaint, take it up with Him.  This clearly says that civil disobedience is sin.  Period.

Romans 13 goes on to say in verse 7, “Give everyone what you owe him.  If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”  I’ve seen Christians who have a bumper sticker that says, “Not my president.”  I think that bumper sticker should really say, “I claim to be a Christian, but I am a hypocrite.” or “I refuse to obey God.”  

The problem is, many Christians think that this or that political party will save them.  They don’t seem to realize that all human rulers are wicked.  Instead of getting so worked up about politics, we should focus on the end of Romans 13, where we’re told in verse 11, “The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”

The bottom line is this… Jesus is coming soon.  Don’t get so worked up about politics, or following this leader or that leader.  Wake up.  Follow Jesus.  His return is very soon.  Don’t love this world or the things of this world.  Be zealous for Jesus!

I’ll close with Luke 21:28, “…Stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”


–Steve Mattison

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 27-28 and Romans 13

Uzziah and I

2 Chronicles 25-26 and Romans 12

Good ol’ King Uzziah.  We’re told that he had a lot of livestock, and people working his fields and vineyards, for he loved the soil.  I can relate, because I too love the soil.  I have animals, an orchard, a garden, and am working on a vineyard.  Hey, here’s a guy I can identify with.

In 2 Chronicles 26:5, We read that king Uzziah, “… sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God.  As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success.”

Nice, I’m trying to follow God too, and God is giving me success.  I’m still tracking with Uzziah.  I like this guy.

We see in 2 Chronicles 26: 15 that “his fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful.”  Well, I wouldn’t say this is true of me quite yet, but maybe, given enough time…  maybe?

Then in verse 16, we read, “But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall.  He was unfaithful to the Lord his God…”  No!  He had everything going for him.  Life was good.  Why did he blow it by turning away from God?  And he was so much like me, too.  I could relate to this guy.  What happened?

But that’s the problem.  All of us are in danger of being a lot like Uzziah, too.  All of us need to be careful that we don’t fall, regardless of how strong of a Christian we perceive ourselves.  I’m reminded of Hebrews 3: 12-13, which says, “See to it brothers, that no one of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

And this ties into the Romans 12 reading for today.  Romans 12:1-2 says, “I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Here we find the answer.  In Romans 12:1, we have to surrender our body to God.  And this means once and for all.  This is the right response 1) because of all that God has done for us (in view of God’s mercy), and 2) because it is the way we really worship God.

Then, in verse 2, we have to surrender our mind to Him.  The word here is metamorphosis, like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.  It is a total and complete transformation, and there is no going back.  Only once we have surrendered our body and mind to God, God will transform our will, to make us want to live for him.  

And this is the only way we can avoid becoming another Uzziah.

So, now go build your crystalis and start your transformation.  Get into God’s word, pray, and emerge changed.


–Steve Mattison

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 25-26 and Romans 12

Who Do You Listen To?

2 Chronicles 23-24

From yesterday’s reading, we learned that a baby named Joash was hidden when his grandmother attempted to wipe out the whole royal line, so she could rule unopposed.  Joash was abducted by his aunt, and her husband, Johoiada, the high priest.  (The fact that his aunt was godly, coming from such a wicked family is nothing short of miraculous.)  Joash was hidden in the temple for 7 years.  (What better place to hide someone from the wicked queen, Athaliah?  She would never go there!)

When Joash was 7, Jehoiada arranged for Joash to be crowned king, and had Athaliah killed.  We’re told in 2 Chronicles 24:3, “Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years of Jehoiada the priest.”  Jehoiada chose two godly wives for Joash.  Joash also commanded that God’s temple be repaired.  Because of this, many people consider Joash a godly king.  

When Jehoiada died, he was buried with the kings because of all the good he had done for God and his temple.  I wish the story stopped here, but it doesn’t.  After Joash’s godly mentor died, he listened to the officials of Judah, and abandoned the God of their fathers to worship Asherah poles and idols.  God sent prophets, but the king wouldn’t listen.  Joash even killed Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada (who had raised Joash).

As punishment, God sent Aram raiders to plunder Judah.  We’re told in 2 Chronicles 24:24, “Although the Aramean army had come with only a few men, the Lord delivered into their hands a much larger army because Judah had forsaken the Lord …)  

Joash was wounded in the battle, and some of his own officials conspired to kill Joash for murdering the son of Jehoiada.  Joash was not buried with the kings because of the evil he had done.

In this story, we see an example of someone who started out zealously serving the Lord.  As long as his godly mentor was there to remind him to follow God, he did follow God.  Once that godly influence was dead, Joash was enticed away from God through peer pressure. His life was a downward spiral after that, then he died.

This highlights the importance of surrounding ourselves with godly mentors and godly friends.  It’s so easy to be enticed away from God.  I picture sin sort of like an addiction.  Every one of us should think of ourselves as needing to join a program so we do not relapse.  Every one of us can say, “Hi, I’m Steve (substitute your name here), and I have a problem.”  We need godly friends to hold us accountable to live for God.  And we have to be vigilant ourselves.

If we’re surrounded by worldly friends, we will almost certainly crash and burn like Joash.

I’d like to encourage you to think about each of your close friends, and think about how each of them is helping you draw closer to God or is drawing you away from God.  And while you’re at it, how are you influencing your friends?

I understand that if someone has an addiction, one important step in the recovery process is to cut ties with old friends who would cause you to relapse.  After all, if they cause you to relapse, they are helping destroy you, so are they really a friend?

I’ll close with James 4:4, which says, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

-Steve Mattison

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 23-24 and Romans 11

Following Evil

2 Chronicles 21-22

Even though King Jehoshaphat “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.”  He was sure stupid when it came to raising his kids.  He had arranged a marriage between his son, Jehoram, and  Athaliah, Israel’s evil king Ahab’s daughter.  This was a stupid arrangement for two reasons.  First, this would virtually guarantee Jehoram would be evil and lead Judah into evil.  Second, the future of God’s plan of salvation depended on the continuation of David’s dynasty through Jehoram, and as we will see, that came into peril.

Anyway, 2 Chronicles 21 starts with Jehoshaphat’s death, and Jehoram’s ascension to the throne.  Once he established himself as king, Jehoram killed all of his brothers and some of the princes of the land – basically, anyone who may challenge his authority.  (Presumably, he wanted them out of the way so they couldn’t oppose his promoting the worship of Baal.)  Then he proceeded to follow the evil ways of the evil King Ahab, because he had married Ahab’s daughter.  

Jehoram received an astounding warning.  He received a letter from Elijah pronouncing judgment on him because of his sins.  This is astounding, because this is several years after Elijah was caught up to heaven in a whirlwind (as recorded in 2 Kings 2:11).  This passage in 2 Chronicles 21 corresponds to events recorded in 2 Kings 8.  Elijah had obviously written this prophetic letter and had directed it to be delivered at a particular future date.  Anyway, this letter declared a curse on Jehoram because of all of his sins and the sins he caused Judah to commit.  According to the letter, he was going to be inflicted with a disease of his bowels until his bowels came out.  And two years later, that’s exactly what happened, and how he died.

As the story continues, Jehoram’s son, Ahaziah, became king but only reigned one year.  After his death, Athaliah (remember her from the first paragraph?) killed all her kids and grandkids so she could rule the nation.  (Remember my comment in the first paragraph about David’s dynasty being in peril?).  Athaliah was no descendant of David!  As it turned out, her infant grandson, Joash, was whisked away while everybody else was being killed.

The main thing that jumps out at me from today’s reading is the importance of not only following the Lord ourselves wholeheartedly, but also how imperative it is to pass along a love for the Lord to our children (both physical and spiritual children).  I’m convinced Jehoram could have been a great king, who loved the Lord, and had a blessed reign, if only Jehoshaphat had stressed the importance of following the Lord, and if Jehoshaphat had chosen a godly wife for Jehoram.

The second thing that jumps out to me is the importance of choosing a godly spouse.  This is literally the second most important decision any of us can ever make (after the decision to follow the Lord).  And this will either make it easier to live for God, or will make it harder – and the implications are eternal.

The third thing that strikes me is how God alerted Elijah in advance, so he could write a letter to be delivered to Jehoram years later, declaring his downfall.  And then Elijah had to have someone deliver this letter on a specific future date, at just the right time.  God really does know everything.  (Maybe He knows a thing or two about how we should live, and maybe I should read His word to find that out, and maybe I should live for Him.)

The final thing that I see is that God saved exactly one descendant of David – and that was a baby – so he could continue David’s line, and fulfill His promise to David.  Despite everything seeming to go wrong, God was still in control.  And much later, He would ultimately fulfill His promise to David through another baby, Jesus.

I want to be on God’s side – since God can still be in control, even when everything seems to be falling apart.  How about you?


–Steve Mattison

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at Bible Gateway here – 2 Chronicles 21-22 and Romans 10

Consider Your Allies

2 Chronicles 19-20 & Romans 9

When your life is over, how would you like to be remembered? After ruling over the Kingdom of Judah for 25 years, it was written that Jehoshaphat “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” As we have learned, the king was not perfect, but he set his heart on seeking God. He went out and turned people back to the Lord. He appointed judges and setup a judicial system based on God’s Law. He also humbly sought God’s deliverance against a vast army. God delivered the King and his people. It would be great if that were the end of the story. The King was good-the end. But no, in the truthfulness of the scriptures we find out a huge blunder made by Jehoshaphat near the end of his life. He once again makes an alliance with another wicked king of Israel. This time he agreed to construct a fleet of trading ships. Of course, the ships were wrecked and these trading ships were never used.

From Jehoshaphat’s example, we should realize that it is so important that we use godly discernment in forming our relationships with others. Paul the apostle’s warning is “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) We want to influence others for good and to show them the way to God. We never want them to adversely affect our relationship with God. It is easy to pick up habits and behaviors from our social group, but we are to be imitators of the Lord. Our relationship with God and Christ should be the most important relationship in our lives. May you be blessed as you read the scriptures and spend time with our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

-Rebecca Dauksas

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at Bible Gateway here – 2 Chronicles 19-20 and Romans 9

No Condemnation

2 Chronicles 17-18 & Romans 8

Jehoshaphat was the fourth king of the Kingdom of Judah. We are told that he “sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel.” Jehoshaphat sent out leaders throughout Judah to teach the people from the Book of the Law of the LORD. He was a good king, but we are informed of a couple of mistakes he made in his life. In one instance, he allied himself with Ahab, the evil king of Israel. He even joined forces with Ahab to enter a war even though they were warned by God’s prophet that they would lose that battle. When he returns, he accepts the correction from Jehu the seer. We can learn so much from this.

When we find that we have sinned and realize that we have messed up in our spiritual lives, it is so important for us to repent and offer our situation up to God. He will forgive and restore us. Of course, no one wants to deal with the consequences of sin, but God will also give us the courage and strength to face the consequences as well. Paul assures us that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Let’s remember:

We are God’s children. (Romans 8:14-17)

God is for us. (Romans 8:31)

God gave up his own son for us so He will graciously give us all that we need. (Romans 8:32)

God has forgiven us. He justifies us, declares us righteous in Christ. Do not doubt, because no one condemns us. We are in Christ. (Romans 8:33)

Christ is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)

Christ loves us and there is nothing that can separate us from His love. (Romans 8:35-39)

God and Christ will help you overcome. We are told that in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. What does it mean to you to be “more than a conqueror” through him who loves you? Trust Him to lead you to victory!

-Rebecca Dauksas

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 17-18 and Romans 8

What is Your Heart Set on Seeking?

2 Chronicles 11-12

Solomon died and his son, Rehoboam became king. The people requested that he lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke that the king was requiring of them and they would serve him. It takes a lot of taxes and hard work to support the extravagant lifestyles of a family of 700 wives and 300 concubines.   By following the poor advise of his peers, he unwisely threatened to increase the harsh labor and make the peoples’ yoke heavier. He arrogantly pronounced “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier.” Nope. That was it. No more. The people had enough. They refused to support the king any longer.

The united kingdom of Israel was divided. There was now a northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah which included Jerusalem and was ruled by Rehoboam. Jeroboam, the king’s rival becomes the king of Israel.

We can learn a lot from Rehoboam’s mistakes.  We can take advice from godly individuals with more life experience and we can sympathize with others who are experiencing difficulties especially if we are leading those individuals. But perhaps the most important thing we should learn from his example is that Rehoboam “did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the LORD.” Our life purpose should be to experience a loving relationship with God through Jesus. What portions of our lives might be torn apart because we reject God? What portions of our lives will receive blessings by seeking the LORD?

-Rebecca Dauksas

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 11-12 and Romans 5

Sharing Treasures

Godly Wisdom and the Coming Resurrection

2 Chronicles 9-10

Imagine the excitement as the very great caravan of the queen of Sheba arrived in Jerusalem. Envision the camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold and precious stones. The queen brought amazing treasures, but she was in search of a different kind of treasure from Solomon. She had questions and she wanted answers. Solomon was able to answer all her questions through the God-given wisdom he possessed. She experienced the blessings that God had given to this king and his people which made her feel overwhelmed. She offered praise to the LORD and understood that God loved Israel. She discovered that out of this love, God had provided the people with a king that could maintain justice and righteousness. Her encounter with Solomon, the people and her time of worship in the temple made a lasting change for this queen.

Even Jesus states that the queen will rise at the judgment with his generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon was there. Of course, that something greater was our Lord Christ Jesus. It is great to imagine meeting and talking with this queen in the resurrection. It is incredible to think of the people that have the opportunity to experience this resurrection because of sharing our love and faith in our God. Just as the queen encountered the LORD through the Israelites, we have the opportunity to share how amazing God is with those in our world today. What a celebration that will be when all of us are together at the resurrection!

-Rebecca Dauksas

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 9-10 and Romans 4