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Showing posts from December, 2020

bible reading jan 1

Bible reading for weekend Jan 1-3.  Jan 1 -- Ezra 1 and Acts 1 Jan 2 -- Ezra 2 and Acts 2 Jan 3 -- Ezra 3 and Acts 3 ================    NEW BEGINNINGS. In both of our readings this weekend we see new construction taking place: in Ezra the people of Israel are being rebuilt as a nation after the humiliation of their exile, and in Acts the church is being built up with believers from all nations. God is dealing largely with Israel in the OT, and with believers of all ethnicities in the NT, in fulfillment of Genesis 12:3 and other passages. In Ezra we see the rebuilding of the altar and temple, and in Acts we see the Lord fulfilling his word, "I will build my church" (Matt 16:18). God's divine plan for history, what we call redemptive history, can be viewed as a chiasm (or chiasmus ), with Jesus Christ at the center. [See my chart below.]   NAMES AND NUMBERS. There are three waves of Jews returning from exile: those with Zerubbabel (538 BC), those with Ezra (458), and tho

bible reading dec 31

Bible reading for Dec 31.  2 Chronicles 36. "He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years." (36:20-21)  A SAD ENDING, AND A NEW BEGINNING. The destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem occurred during the Babylonian siege in 586 BC. Many Jews were deported to Babylon. It was a tragic end, but God proved faithful to his word and would bring them back to the land. Along with their sins of idolatry and injustice, the people had not observed the Sabbatical years. By God's law, every seventh year the land was to lie fallow (Lev 25:1-7). The Babylonian exile not only humbled the Jews but also gave the land a much needed rest. God cares for his creation, and so should we.   ===

bible reading dec 30

Bible reading for Dec 30.  2 Chronicles 35. "And slaughter the Passover lamb, and consecrate yourselves, and prepare for your brothers, to do according to the word of the LORD by Moses." (35:6) THE GREAT PASSOVER. King Josiah initiates a Passover celebration like none before. The magnificent generosity, the involvement of many lay people (non-Levites, non-priests), and all the people helping one another, mark this as a unique and glorious event in the history of Israel. But this high point would not last. The unity and zeal of the people for the Lord would not endure. Instead, the Passover lamb pointed ahead to One who was yet to come (John 1:29; 1 Cor 5:7). He would be the one to gather and sanctify God's people forever (Ps 110:3; 1 Pet 2:5; Rev 5:9-10).  THE GREAT DEFEAT. Many generations before, the Patriarch Jacob prophesied that the tribe of Judah would be like a lion, the reigning power, to whom would belong the obedience of the peoples (Gen 49:9-10).  This is ech

bible reading dec 29

Bible reading for Dec 29.  2 Chronicles 34. "...because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this place and its inhabitants, and you have humbled yourself before me and have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the LORD." (34:27)  THE REDISCOVERED BIBLE.   Josiah, the last good king of Judah (see also 2 Kgs 22), had a heart to turn the nation back to serve the one true God, their Lord (Deut 5:6-10; 6:4-5). In the process of restoring the temple a scroll of the Scriptures, likely Deuteronomy, was found and read. God's word brings comfort and assurance, but also reproof and correction (2 Tim 3:16). Like the people of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost Josiah was "cut to the heart" (Acts 2:37), and he humbled himself before the Lord. In this Josiah exemplified what the Lord spoke through Isaiah, "But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit

bible reading dec 28

Bible reading for Dec 28.  2 Chronicles 33. "And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered."  (31:21) BEGINNING OF THE END. Hezekiah was one of the last good kings of Judah in her independence. Under his reign there was a revival of true worship with great joy and generosity among the people. The Lord blessed Hezekiah in many ways, and Jerusalem was delivered miraculously from an Assyrian siege. In his latter years, even though spared from death, he succumbed to kingly pride in his dealings with envoys from Babylon. It would not be long before Judah would feel the oppressive weight of Babylonian rule, and finally, exile there. King Manasseh succeeds Hezekiah and has an unusually long reign of fifty-five years, despite much evil on his part. The reason for this appears to be that later in life Manasseh repented and sought the Lord (2 Pet 3:9). M

bible reading dec 24

Bible reading for Dec 24.  Note: I will be taking a few days off from posting. May you have a blessed Christmas! 2 Chronicles 29. "Thus the service of the house of the LORD was restored. And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because God had prepared for the people, for the thing came about suddenly." (29:35-36) LONGING FOR GOD'S LEADER. Under Hezekiah we see a widespread revival of God's people, especially Levites and priests, coming back to God. One thing Chronicles is showing us, with each new king, is that people long for and need righteous rulers. The line of David would one day culminate with that Righteous King (Isa 9). Even today people yearn for good and righteous leaders who care for the people and lead with integrity. A nation groans under corrupt, self-serving leaders. Daniel and Revelation call them "beasts". The various kings in David's line -- whether they be good or bad examples -- are pointing us to that king who would one day be bor

bible reading dec 23

Bible reading for Dec 23.  2 Chronicles 27-28. "So Jotham became mighty, because he ordered his ways before the LORD his God." (27:6)  GOOD KING, BAD KING. The next two kings of Judah are polar opposites. Jotham (ch 27) and Ahaz (ch 28) each reigned sixteen years, but by different standards and with different consequences.  Jotham "ordered his ways before the Lord" (27:6), which reveals his priorities. Ahaz, on the other hand, did "not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord" (28:1). Under Jotham the nation experienced strength and blessing, though many of the people continued in pagan practices. Under Ahaz the nation suffered loss and defeat.  The moral of the story is not simply that God rewards good and punishes evil, but that he is being faithful to the terms of the Mosaic covenant stated in Deuteronomy chapters 27 and 28 (e.g., Deut 28:7, 25). Even in judgment God shows compassion to the nation of Judah. After war with the northern tribes the Judean

bible reading dec 21

Bible reading for Dec 22.  2 Chronicles 26. "He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him prosper." (26:5)  UZZIAH THE LEPER.   This is the same king that is named Azariah in 2 Kings 15. Uzziah is a variant spelling, perhaps to distinguish him from the high priest with the same name (vv 17, 20).  As you read Israel's history you will run into a number of names held in common by more than one individual. Already we have encountered three separate men named Joash. Also, two named Zechariah. Uzziah's mother was a Jerusalem native, and presumably an observant Jew. Uzziah has a very long reign of 52 years, and he ruled well, as long as he kept seeking the Lord (v 5). We also learn from the Chronicles' account that Uzziah was a farmer at heart: "he loved the soil" (v 10), and that he introduced catapults to Jerusalem's defense (v 15). The ministry of Isaiah the p

bible reading dec 21

Bible reading for Dec 21.  2 Chronicles 25. "And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, yet not with a whole heart." (25:2)  A HALF-HEARTED LIFE. King Amaziah demonstrated a divided heart and life before God.  The Lord blessed him and gave him a twenty-nine year reign.  Earlier he did well, but then turned away from biblical counsel and worshiped a false god. The prophet Elijah said that a divided heart was like walking with one good leg and one bad (1 Kings 19:21). The Lord recognizes and rewards the good his people do in faith (2 Cor 5:10). "God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do" (Heb 6:10).  But as we see, there's tragic loss and sadness in the end for Amaziah because of his divided heart.   REFLECT. The next time you have a flat tire or get one of those shopping carts that has a wheel with a mind of its own, think about the blessing of whole-heartedness. One fla

bible reading weekend dec 19

Bible reading for weekend Dec 19-20.  2 Chronicles 22-24. "And all the assembly made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And Jehoiada said to them, 'Behold, the king's son! Let him reign, as the LORD spoke concerning the sons of David.'" (23:3)  KINGS AND QUEENS, PRIESTS AND PROPHETS. These chapters give account of the fascinating history also recorded in 2 Kings 11 and following: the brief reign of Ahaziah; the murderous rampage of wicked Queen Athaliah; the faithful priest Jehoiada tutoring young King Joash; and the latter years of Joash, departing from the faith and killing a prophet, the son of his faithful master Jehoiada.  After I wrote this I thought, hey, this sounds like a plot from Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, and then I remember that this story came first. The biblical dramas with their stories of power and betrayal, murder and secrecy, loyalty and courage, echo down through history. These themes are timeless. As you read these epic accoun

bible reading dec 18

Bible reading for Dec 18.  2 Chronicles 21. "He was thirty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he departed with no one's regret..." (21:20)  NEXT UP. After Jehoshaphat's death Jehoram takes the throne and kills all of his royal siblings (v 4). He is acting like a pagan king, and in fact his wife is a daughter of Ahab (v 6). This is an example of influence which results from being unequally yoked (2 Cor 6:14-16). Despite all this evil God is faithful to his covenant with David and Jehoram will not rule long (v 7). "Whoredom" (vv 11, 13) means that Jehoram promoted the worship of other gods. Just as adultery is breaking the marriage covenant, so also the worship of other gods is being unfaithful to the covenant with the Lord. Also, sexual immorality often accompanied idolatry. This chapter includes the only mention of Elijah in Chronicles (v 20). His ministry was mainly to the northern tribes of Israel (the focus

bible reading dec 17

Bible reading for Dec 17.  2 Chronicles 19-20. "Consider what you do, for you judge not for man but for the LORD. He is with you in giving judgment. Now then, let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Be careful what you do, for there is no injustice with the LORD our God, or partiality or taking bribes." (19:6-7) THE MATTER OF JUSTICE (ch 19).   Chronicles gives us a nuanced view of the strengths and weaknesses of the kings of Judah. Jehoshaphat did well in certain areas and not well in others. (Much like many of the Lord's people today!) He had a compromising friendship with Ahab, which tacitly gave approval to attitudes and actions the Lord hated. For this he is reproved. Jehoshaphat did well, however, in having a heart for justice being exercised in the land. Biblical justice, as opposed to some notions of social justice today, generally did not involve actions for or against categories of people. It had to do with a fair application of the law of God. Specifically, indiv

bible reading dec 16

Bible reading for Dec 16.  2 Chronicles 18. "Ahab king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, 'Will you go with me to Ramoth-gilead?' He answered him, 'I am as you are, my people as your people. We will be with you in the war.'" (18:3) A LYING SPIRIT. How can God -- who is absolutely true, who speaks only the truth (Titus 1:2; Heb 6:18) -- send a lying spirit to deceive Ahab?  Sometimes the judgment for rejecting the truth is removal of the truth:  "....because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false" (2 Thess 2:9-12).  God does not delight in untruth or blindness, but he may send such as judgment upon those who do not want the truth or the light. Light rejected brings darkness. Read more about this on the 1 Kings 22 post on October 19 .   UNEQUALLY YOKED. One big lesson here is that, for all the good things that Jehoshaphat did, he was too accommodati

bible reading dec 15

Bible reading for Dec 15.  2 Chronicles 17. "His heart was courageous in the ways of the LORD. And furthermore, he took the high places and the Asherim out of Judah." (17:6)  JEHOSHAPHAT, a good king of Judea, is next in the Chronicles' account. He had a lengthy reign (25 years) and was noted for seeking the Lord and obeying his commandments. He built a strong military and fortified Judah from their enemies, which included Israel at times.  Further, Jehoshaphat was unique in that he had the courage to address the faith and practice of the people outside of Jerusalem. He sent out teachers of the Law to instruct people in the cities and towns of Judah, as well as shutting down the high places of worship (vv 6-9).  THE HIGH PLACES. At first there seems a discrepancy between the statement in verse 6 about removing the high places, and what's reported in 1 Kings 22:43, "Yet the high places were not taken away, and the people still sacrificed and made offerings on th

bible reading dec 14

Bible reading for Dec 14.  2 Chronicles 15-16. "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him." (16:9) A GOOD FIRST HALF. Chapters 15 and 16 fill in the blanks of the shorter account of King Asa's life given in 1 Kings 15. There he gets a good report on his 41-year reign, but here we learn that his earlier years were better than his latter. At first he was zealous to seek the Lord (15:2-12) and made many good reforms.  But later, when crisis came he began to rely more on human ability, ingenuity, and power. He was trusting man rather than seeking the Lord. Was he tired or disillusioned? Was he giving in to public pressure to be more pragmatic? For some reason his confidence faded and he did not seek the Lord with zeal.  KEEP SEEKING. Twice the Apostle Paul wrote, "Let us not grow weary of doing good" (Gal 6:9; 2 Thess 3:13). Over time we can lose our zeal to seek the Lord