April 15, 1 Chronicles 1-9

 

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This may very well be the beginning of the most difficult reading so far in our Read the Bible through Series.  The difficulty is the result of the repetition of much of the same material and same lessons as Samuel and Kings.  But hangeth thou in there and persevere.  There is something that God wants us to learn.  For me, that something that He wants us to learn is summed up in one word:  perspective.

Chronicles cannot be understood properly without reading it from the right perspective. Scholars have traditionally attributed the writing of Chronicles to Ezra.  If this is correct, then we can begin to see the perspective of his writing.  Ezra’s passion was to rebuild the temple and resurrect right worship after the exile.  What better way to call people to action than to remind them of the glorious ancestry and the glory of the former temple.  For us, Chronicles provides an historical perspective of the temple, but for the original readers, the Chronicles were a call to action.

For some, chapters 1-9 might seem pointless, but if you have ever worked on your family genealogy, your opinion might be somewhat different.  For these post-exilic Jews, most who had never lived in the land of Israel, this list of ancestors should have been a great reminder of their glorious past and at the same time the reminder of why the exile occurred. (9:1)

Again, the purpose of Chronicles is to show the returning exiles of the plan that God has always had for them.  Maybe today we need to be reminded that God has a special plan for our lives.  Maybe you feel like you have been living in spiritual exile.  If so, take heart, God has a plan for your life.

Devotional by Steve Horn. Scripture links by www.biblegateway.com. Animated video by www.thebibleproject.com

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April 14

 

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Don’t miss the note of hope with which the book of Second Kings ends.  Hear the explanation of one Old Testament scholar. 

First and Second Kings end on a more hopeful note:  at Nebuduchadnezzar’s death, when Evil-merodach mounted the throne of Babylon (562 B.C.), Jehoiachin, still alive after thirty-seven years in captivity, was freed and accorded royal treatment (vv. 27-30).  This passage is a reminder that the final touches were not put on 2 Kings until well into the Exile, when full implications of the events recorded were perceived. 

Moreover, Jehoiachin’s release had its own theological message.  The necessary judgment, so long promised by the prophets and so ruthlessly executed by the Babylonians, had done its work.  Jehoiachin, whose captivity was the first chapter of the Exile, lived to see the last chapter begin.  The same God who sent the dove to signal the end of the Flood prompted the sacred writers to depict Jehoiachin, free from fetters and dining at the king’s table.  The storm was past; a better day was at hand.  That story, however, belongs not to Kings but to Ezra and Nehemiah.  (LaSor, William Sanford, and Hubbard, David Allan, and Bush, Frederic William Bush, Old Testament Survey:  The Message, Form, and Background of the Old Testament, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982, 287.)

The entire message of Christianity is a story of hope.  Think about the key to our faith—the resurrection of Jesus.  Let me give you two quick ideas.  First, there is the hope of our own resurrection.  Jesus said to Martha, brother of Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)  Second, there is the hope of the return of Christ.  Again the words of our Lord as recorded in Luke.  “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”  (Luke 21:28)

When I think about hope, I think about the little boy playing Little League baseball.  He is out in the field when his father arrives late for the game.  Through the fence his father asks, “What’s the score?”  “18-0!” says the little boy, “We’re losing.”  Trying to offer comfort his dad says, “I’m sorry, son.”  With the hope only a Little Leaguer could have, he answers back, “Don’t worry, Dad, we haven’t even got up to bat yet!”  Now that’s hope.

For someone who wasn’t privy to what was going on at Calvary, it might seem like Satan was ahead.  But, on that Sunday morning, God got up to bat and hit a homerun, and we who believe in Him have been ahead ever since.

Devotional by Steve Horn. Scripture links by www.biblegateway.com. Animated video by www.thebibleproject.com

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April 13, 2 Kings 22-25

 

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Chapters 18-25 tell the story of the fall of Judah and subsequent exile at the hands of the Babylonians.  The one difference (in Judah’s fall and Israel’s fall) that makes these chapters a bit more pleasant to read is the characters of Hezekiah and Josiah.  Each of these men were devoted to God, detested the pagan worship, and demanded reform which led to brief revival in Judah.

 Observations Concerning Revival:

 1.      Revivals often begin because of the work that God does in one or just a few persons.

 2.      Encounters with God in the Word of God ought to convict us of sin. Josiah’s reforms were initiated because the Book of the Law (probably the first five books of our Bible) was re-discovered.  When we neglect God’s word we fall victim to sin.  The slide was so great for Israel and Judah that they actually lost God’s Word as a result of neglecting God’s Word.

 3.      Revivals can happen only as the result of dealing seriously with sin.  Hezekiah and Josiah did something even the other “good” kings did not do.  They rid the nation of false gods and idol worship places.

 4.      Revival of worship towards God is only momentary if sin returns.

Devotional by Steve Horn. Scripture links by www.biblegateway.com. Animated video by www.thebibleproject.com

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April 12, 2 Kings 18-21

 

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With the fate of the northern tribes of Israel being fixed in exile, the attention now turns to the southern tribe of Judah.  Unfortunately by the end of today’s reading, we discover thatJudah is spiraling out of control toward the same fate as their Israelite brothers.  Judahshould have learned that God was serious about His warnings, but, as a whole, they seem not to get the message.

There is a bright spot with King Hezekiah.  My heart has always resonated with Hezekiah’s example as recorded in 2 Kings 19:14.  In the midst of a difficult time, Hezekiah received a letter from a rival king.  Hezekiah took the letter and spread the letter out before the LORD in the temple and prayed.  I love that.  Hezekiah was saying, “Here it is LORD.”

Is there something you need to spread out before the LORD today?  Maybe a letter or e-mail.  Maybe your checkbook or a bill.  Maybe your calendar.  Maybe the doctor’s diagnosis.  Maybe your teenager’s report card?  Whatever it is—take a moment and spread it out before the LORD.

Devotional by Steve Horn. Scripture links by www.biblegateway.com. Animated video by www.thebibleproject.com

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April 11, 2 Kings 13-17

 

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Let’s try not to get lost in the names and reigns of all of these kings.  Basically, each king in Israel leads the kingdom farther and farther away from God.  Chapter 17 provides a good summary of the invasion by Assyria and the subsequent exile of Israel.  Also, we should note that 17:7 reminds us of the reason that Israel fell into the hands of Assyria.  It was not the strength of the Assyrians, but rather the disobedience of Israel.

 Here are a couple of other things to note in chapter 17 especially.

 ·       2 Kings 17:15—Because they followed worthless idols, they became worthless.  So, I ask:  We don’t want to become worthless, do we?
·        2 Kings 17:23—We understand from this verse that 2 Kings is written to Israel while the nation is in exile.  This verse helps us to see the purpose of 2 Kings.  The book callsIsrael to turn from their sin and return to God, which would mean the return to their land.
·        2 Kings 17:38—Notice the word “covenant” in this verse.  The covenant is still in place.  If Israel would abide by the terms of the covenant, God would restore them to the land.
·        2 Kings 17:40—Unfortunately, Israel would not listen at this time.

 Are we any different?

Devotional by Steve Horn. Scripture links by www.biblegateway.com. Animated video by www.thebibleproject.com

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