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

What do you want to be known for?

2 Kings 23-25; Proverbs 16

Life is fleeting. We’re all passing through this age like the grass of the field. Today we live. God holds tomorrow.

As I’ve finished the last three chapters of the book of 2nd Kings and read another chapter in Proverbs, I’ve thought about our time in this age. This age is short compared to eternity. What we do in it matters.

The lives of the final kings of Judah mattered and were recorded for us all to see. We know what each of those last 5 kings was forever known for. They can be summed up into two basic categories. A good king and evil kings.  

All but one of the last 5 kings of Judah were known for doing evil in the sight of Yahweh. If we included the whole lot of the kings of Judah and Israel to this list, there wouldn’t be a significant pendulum swing in the opposing direction towards Yahweh God.

When we come to the end of our earthly lives, what will we be known for? Will we be known for doing good or evil in the sight of God through Jesus Messiah?

The good kings, like Josiah were known for their hearts and humility, practicing obedience to God’s Law. Good kings did stumble but when they repented, they renewed their status with God.

If we want to be known for doing good in our day and age, similar qualifications apply. Good disciples of Jesus will be known for their hearts and humility, practicing obedience to the Law of Christ (aka producing fruit). 

The whole law can be summed up with one word. Love. Our “goodness” can be measured to the extent that we love as Christ loved. How did he love? He loved his God and served him alone with all of his heart, with all of his soul, with all of his mind, and with all of his strength. He loved his neighbor to the point of death on the cross.

When I come to the end of my life, I want to be known as a good disciple of Jesus Messiah. I want to hear my master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” If this is my heart, my life will reflect that.

-Juliet Taylor

Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Kings 23-25 and Proverbs 16

His Story

1 Kings 15:1-24 & 2 Chronicles 13-16

2 Chronicles 15 15b NIV sgl

History is a curious thing.  Today’s reading covers two different kings of Judah, Abijah and Asa, from the perspective of two different writers.  It is quite interesting to see what is remembered and omitted and concluded from the lives of these two kings from the two different authors writing at different time periods for different purposes.

Let’s look at Abijah, King David’s great grandson.  It is easy to love the Abijah recorded in 2 Chronicles 13.  King Jeroboam of Israel is closing in with an army twice the size of King Abijah’s of Judah.  But Abijah responds with courage, faith in God and a rousing speech.  He speaks of Israel’s united history under David and God and then records the sins of Jeroboam (& Israel) in breaking with God, the God-ordained priests, and the house of David.  He concludes that, “As for us (Judah), the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him….God is with us, he is our leader.” (2 Chronicles 13:10,12). And then, even though an army twice their size is before and behind them, God gives the victory and Abijah’s army wipes out over half of Jeroboam’s fleeing and destroyed army.  It’s exciting to see how God shows His strength through Abijah.

And then we read the account of King Abijah as recorded in 1 Kings 15.  The details of his life agree completely with what is recorded in 2 Chronicles: reigned 3 years, son of Rehoboam and Maacah, there was war between him and Jeroboam, and his son Asa would rule after his death.  But, absolutely nothing is said of the moving speech or victorious battle or God as his leader.  Instead, the writer of Kings sums up Abijah’s life by saying, “He committed all the sins his father had done before him; his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his forefather had been.” (1 Kings 15:3).

Oh, Abijah, we had such hope for you from that one outstanding snapshot of your life.  Your sermon that day was so full of convicting truth – that you forgot?  What went wrong?  How was your heart divided that sin won out?  Didn’t you daily recall how God fought for you?  Did you think you did that on your own?  It is discouraging to see what could have been, or once was, a strong testimony for God crumble and cave to sin and a divided heart.

But, it is also encouraging to see what God can do for His purposes – even when He’s working with and through sinful, broken people.  He can use the Joshua’s, the David’s and the Abijah’s and you and me.  He has and can and will have the victory any time He wants – and He can do it using any one He wants.

It is also interesting to see what one chooses to remember when looking back on history.  How do we portray and ultimately judge the heroes and the villains?  Which statues do we decide to pull down, if any, or why not all?  Everyone is certainly a mix of wise and foolish choices.  Some of our forefathers had some really good, faithful days (like Abijah’s) and these can still be celebrated today.  Remember the Chronicles were written long after these events took place and were written to encourage the returning exiles.  They needed to remember the faithful God who worked through the house of David and the priestly line.  They were being prepared for the coming arrival of a Messiah from the house of David who would be a priest like none before.  It would be helpful for them to remember their history as they prepared for their future.  It was time to bolster their courage and faith and remind them that God is their leader.  They needed the story of Abijah’s Really Good Day and the God who supplied it.

And, it is also valuable to consider the bigger picture of someone’s life to see what to avoid in order to get us where we want to go.  Rather than using our own flawed measuring stick to judge (popularity, wealth, good speaker, etc…), whenever possible it is helpful to know what God thought of the man.  That is going to be what really counts, so that is what I want to pay attention to so I am not setting up heroes for my life that God would disapprove of.

All that and we finally get to Asa – one of the few kings recorded as, “good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God” (2 Chronicles 14:2).  And the writer of Kings agrees completely.  There are some beautiful passages you won’t want to miss about God’s provision and Asa’s seeking and working for God wholeheartedly, even when it meant going against some of his family.  Although, for all his wise and courageous decisions, he still had a rough spot towards the end of his reign when he chose to rely on man instead of God – and there was a price to pay for that error.  But it would be a mistake for us to judge and remember Asa only for that sin that sadly would affect him and many others for years to come.

History is interesting, as is our record of it, and our judgement of those who have come before.  But first and foremost lets learn to us it to grow closer and closer to living a life seeking and serving with an undivided heart the God who created all history and present and future.  What would He have you learn from His Story today in order to live better today and prepare yourself for His Future?

Keep Reading His Word and Seeking Him

Marcia Railton

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+15%3A1-24%2C+2+Chronicles+13-16&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be 1 Kings 15:26-16:34 & 2 Chronicles 17 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan