Monthly Archives: June 2013

1 Chronicles 5: Keep the Light Switch on

1 Chronicles 5 provides another family profile of the lineage of Reuben. His family was not quite as honorable all the way through, but we can learn something interesting about them.

They were mighty warriors. They went to battle and were generally successful. They had God on their side, and apparently everybody knew it.

1Ch 5:22  For there fell down many slain, because the war was of God. And they dwelt in their steads until the captivity.

Trusting God in the middle of war takes a lot of faith and courage. War is not a pleasant experience, and I think that it must have been a challenge for them to really believe that God would deliver them. Nevertheless, He did follow through on His promise, and the main point I want to make sure I emphasize is the fact that God was in the battle, and people were willing to acknowledge that He was there. They had some measure of faith.

Unfortunately, that faith does not always translate into action.

1Ch 5:25  And they transgressed against the God of their fathers, and went a whoring after the gods of the people of the land, whom God destroyed before them.

Even though it appears that they had some concept of the idea that God was right there with them, this tribe was rebellious. They continued trying to follow other gods.

I think that we can sometimes fall into this type of trap. For example, we know that God is there, and we don’t necessarily want to or intend to ignore Him. However, we occasionally do just that. We forget everything that happened, and even though we have faith, it is like someone hit a light switch only to make us forget all about it. I hope this doesn’t happen very often, and I hope that we are able to recognize when it begins to happen so that we can stop it and return back to God.

1 Chronicles 4: The Prayer of Jabez

1 Chronicles 4 is yet another family tree. This time we get to read about Judah. However, embedded in the middle of this long list of names is a pretty great breakdown of how to pray.

1Ch 4:9  And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.

1Ch 4:10  And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.

What do we know about Jabez? For one thing, we know that he was honorable. When people have their lives together and are doing things that please God, I would be willing to bet that they already have a pretty good prayer life. It is not a prosperity gospel; I am simply saying that being in touch with God helps us make good decisions in terms of how “honorable” we are.

We then get to have a glimpse into his actual prayer life. Right off the bat he asked God for blessing. He knew that God can do it, and he was not afraid to ask. Sometimes, I wonder if we are afraid to ask God for what we want. I don’t know why we are afraid, but God wants to help us and give us what we need. Sometimes we need to be willing to ask.

However, he doesn’t want to do it alone. He wants God’s hand to be with him. He wants help avoiding evil, and he wants help keeping evil away from him. I think that the first one applies to his conscious decisions, and I think that a second one applies to keeping temptation away. Of course, giving into temptation becomes a conscious sin, but if God can help us keep temptation away in the first place, it makes life easier.

Remember, when we are praying, we should be doing both of these things. We should be telling God our problems and where we need extra help, but we can certainly also ask for blessings. We can ask that certain good or desirable things happen. Of course, God will ultimately grant whatever requests are in His will, but we need to make sure that we are keeping the lines of communication open.

1 Chronicles 3: God’s Wisdom Is Not Always Our Wisdom

Guess what? In 1 Chronicles 3, we get another family tree. In this case, we get to hear all about the sons of David. It is rather remarkable how many children both David and his son Solomon had, but something else stood out to me today that I guess I realized before, but I do not believe I have written about.

Solomon was by no means the oldest son that David had. Of course, we remember all of the headache that happened because of Ammon and Absalom, but even if you take them out of the picture, Solomon was still not the oldest son. In fact, Solomon was obviously born to Bathsheba, and that was a pretty shameful affair for David. After all, he essentially sent a man to the front line in hopes that he would be killed in battle and David could then marry his wife.

Solomon did not have an awful lot going for him, but God chose him to be king and chose him to build the Temple. By all the conventional wisdom of the world, you probably could not have predicted this outcome.

However, God never claimed to operate by conventional wisdom. He operates by His own wisdom which trumps conventional wisdom every time.

Isa 55:8  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

Isa 55:9  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

I obviously read about David and Solomon in the past as we read through their literal stories, but I guess that stood out to me today for some bizarre reason. Maybe it is because we need to think about the fact that everything happens for a reason. As the Master Architect of the universe, you can be assured that God does indeed have a plan even if we don’t always understand it at the time.

1 Chronicles 2: Remembering the Past

1 Chronicles 2 is a tough one to write about. We have the family tree of Jacob for a very long time here, and you probably noticed that there are some very big names on the list.

Israel had a great heritage. You have men like Jacob himself, but you also see some of his prominent descendants like David.

However, as we have seen in so many of the chapters we just read in 2 Kings, for every good person on this list, there were several bad ones. Israel and Judah were constantly wandering away from God. I have to admit that I got a little bit frustrated by them. It quite simply doesn’t make sense. After all, they were able to witness what happened when one of their rulers followed God. Shouldn’t that have been a good enough reason to follow God?

For a recent example that I wrote about a little while ago, think about Josiah. He was a great king who the Bible said is unparalleled in history. However, immediately after he died, the next king in line was evil and turned away from God.

You would think that they would have learned from the good ones, but it was incredibly rare for either Israel or Judah to find two good kings in a row.

For me, that is the power of these types of family trees that are in the Bible every once in a while. They allow you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. You get to remember people who you read about before, and you can remember what was going well or not in each situation.

I think that is why God gives us history. We can learn a lot from the past, and I think it is good for us to remember the good and the bad. From the good, we can learn what we ought to do, and from the bad we can learn about what to avoid.

1 Chronicles 1: God Loves Us All

Welcome to our 13th book of the Bible. 1 Chronicles starts out with a family history all the way from the beginning. Adam is the first word of the chapter. However, it is somewhat interesting that most of chapter 1 is just a list of names. You see the names of Noah and Abraham, but they come without any description; they are just names. One man has a little bit of a description though.

1Ch 1:10  And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be mighty upon the earth.

We get to see our friend Nimrod again. I wrote an entire post about him a long time ago, so you can refer back to that if you want a little bit more background.

The interesting question is why does he receive this kind of designation? You would think that someone like Abraham would get singled out because he was such a strong follower of God.

Nimrod was a king who developed the cities of Babylon and Nineveh. After seeing what those two turned into, he was obviously pretty good at his job, but the cities did not follow God which might be indicative of the tone that he set at the beginning. That being said, we never really find out how close he was with God. The best clue we have is that the cities became wicked not too long after he was there.

So, why did I bother pointing this out?

We are talking about the Bible here, and the Bible is a book that is largely about showing us how to develop a relationship with God. Again, you would wonder why we’re spending extra time on a city developer.

This is kind of like how God uses people in our everyday lives. We don’t always understand why some people seem to get more attention. Sometimes you might have a terrible day, but your friend had the best day ever. You wonder how that can be. However, it doesn’t mean that God loves anyone any less.

2 Kings 25: Tearing down the Temple

2 Kings 25 allows us to see what happened in the immediate aftermath of the Babylonian captivity. Obviously, Babylon came in and was not necessarily kind to their new subjects. One thing in particular stood out to me.

2Ki 25:8  And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem:

2Ki 25:9  And he burnt the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man’s house burnt he with fire.

They tore down the Temple. With their entire pantheon of deities, I guess they really didn’t care too much about the God of Israel.

The reason that it stood out to me in particular was because it made me think about Jesus. He also talked about tearing down the temple, but He had a reason for it.

Joh 2:19  Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

Joh 2:20  Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?

Joh 2:21  But he spake of the temple of his body.

Of course, this is a very strong reference to the upcoming resurrection of Jesus Christ, but I was thinking about this because even though the Babylonians were able to burn down the Temple, they could not hinder the will of God. They could burn down His house, but if He wanted another one (and one was eventually rebuilt for the second Temple), there’d be nothing they could do to stop that. After all, even death couldn’t stop Jesus from rising again.

As we come to the end of this book, I think the chapter is appropriate. People can do whatever they want here on earth, but it is not going to slow down the purposes of God.

2 Kings 24: God Needs to Pull Us Back in

The Israelites finally got themselves in some pretty big trouble. In 2 Kings 24, Babylon marches in and conquers Judah. Nebuchadnezzar brought his armies and captured the entire city to bring back to Babylon except for the poorest people.

Of course this was kind of the final straw. Jerusalem had been attacked by numerous people throughout the course of this chapter, and there is really no doubt as to the reason that God was allowing this series of trials to happen even though this particular verse does come at the beginning of the chapter.

2Ki 24:3  Surely at the commandment of the LORD came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did;

We are still hearing about Manasseh. You remember how wicked he was, right? Even this many generations down the line, the repercussions of his evil actions were being felt.

I think that this is a very cautionary tale for all of us. It is not that God holds a grudge, but people are ultimately responsible for their actions. If you wander too far away from God, He very well might use some type of trial to get you back to where you need to be.

The best example of this is probably Jonah. He was trying to run away from God, but the terrible weather and the giant fish had other plans. It wasn’t that God was holding a grudge about Jonah running away from the Nineveh, but He was going to allow problems to come into Jonah’s life to bring him back to where he really needed to be which was indeed in Nineveh.

Judah was in a rough spot. There were some great kings, but the evil ones seemed to come about a little more often. They needed to be brought back to God, and sometimes a hard time is the best way to do that.

2 Kings 23: Going All out for God

Josiah was a pretty amazing guy. Actually, it might be more accurate to say that Josiah actually believed and followed our pretty amazing God.

In 2 Kings 23, Josiah went about getting everything out of Judah that was not God honoring. I will not copy all of the verses, but if you remember nothing else about this chapter, remember that it was pretty much a systemic reform. The whole system that had been put in place by Manasseh, who was a pretty terrible king, got thrown away.

After all this was done, here is what the Bible says about Josiah.

2Ki 23:25  And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.

There was never another king like him. He had some pretty tough competition. David was obviously a man who followed God, and there are plenty of other kings who did good things. However, Josiah was designated as the best.

I think that it is exactly how we want to live our lives. In fact, this is very similar to something that Jesus said.

Mat 22:36  Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

Mat 22:37  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

Josiah was special because that is what he did, and Jesus is telling us that we need to do the same thing. We need to love God and do what God wants. Josiah did that like no one else in history, and I think that we can learn a lot from his example.

2 Kings 22: Search and Destroy

When you were a little kid and broke the rules, one of the most common excuses I bet you used was, “But I didn’t know.” We always like to plead ignorance because we somehow think that that will remove the consequences.

2 Kings 22 talks about King Josiah of Judah. He is famous because he began ruling at eight years old, but I think that there is something a lot cooler about him.

He had ordered some repair work to be done on the temple, and one of his workers found the book of the law. I don’t know why the king didn’t have it already, but apparently it was hidden away in the temple. The servant brought it to the king, and he wanted it read.

2Ki 22:10  And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.

2Ki 22:11  And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.

2Ki 22:12  And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asahiah a servant of the king’s, saying,

2Ki 22:13  Go ye, enquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.

There were no excuses there. Josiah had his eyes opened and was all of a sudden aware of all the problems that the people of Judah had caused. He immediately went to God to figure out how to fix it. He didn’t say, “Well, it wasn’t my fault,” or, “I just don’t really care.” He said that he was going to fix the problem because it wasn’t right.

I think that we need to take that attitude. We need to make sure that we don’t gloss over problems because it has always been done that way or it wasn’t our fault. Problems are problems, and as Christians we have a responsibility to walk with God. I hope that we do that to the best of our abilities.

2 Kings 21: Use What You Have Been Given

As we have been going through the Bible, it is not hard to realize that Israel had its share of bad kings. However, in 2 Kings 21, it sounds like Manasseh was the worst one yet.

2Ki 21:11  Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols:

That is really something. The king who was supposed to be ruling God’s chosen people was doing things that were worse than even all of the pagan kings before him. That is a pretty sad commentary. It makes me think of a parable told by Jesus.

This story is in Matthew 25. The concept is that a very rich man gave talents to his three servants to use. Two of them took the money that they were given and used it to generate a profit. The third buried his money and refused to do anything.

The main moral of the story is that we need to do a lot if we have been given a lot. We can’t just disappear and hide what we have been given; we need to use it.

The problem is that Manasseh had been given a lot in theory. He had a good upbringing from a family that followed God, and he certainly had God’s law. He knew how to be a Godly leader, but he didn’t do it.

I think this is why God was so angry at him near the end of the chapter. Obviously there have been plenty of wicked kings in the history of the world. They are still wicked kings today.

However, Manasseh had been blessed in so many ways that he should have done a lot more for God. I am not talking about any type of work-based salvation, but I am saying that God does expect us to work for Him. We are supposed to use what we have been given to reflect the glory of God.