Reading #1 – Ruth 1
Reading #2 – Psalms 21
Reading #3 – Proverbs 28
Reading #4 – Acts 24
Reading #5 – 2 King 1
Ruth 1 – Introduction to Ruth. The book of Ruth was written sometime around 1294 BC. Ruth was from Moab “NO god is G_d no king is king”. The nation of Moab came through Abraham’s nephew Lot’s older daughter (Genesis 19:30-36) which is a story for another time. Elimelech “My G_d is King” took his wife and two sons Mahlon “strength” or “first sign of my strength” and Kilion “complete” out of Judah due to a great famine. This is the point where faith breaks down. For a little while, things were probably good or as good as could be had in the heathen town of Moab. When Naomi’s husband and later two sons die, this woman whose name means “pleasantness” becomes bitter and angry and she blames the Almighty for her hardship (20). Going back to Judah made sense because “The Lord had come to their rescue” as the famine had ended as famine usually does. Naomi tries to persuade her two daughters to go back to Moab and find new husbands as it would make no sense to wait until them to wait until Naomi had more sons. Interestingly enough, the two daughters were daughters of the king of Moab. Orpah which is not her real name sort of like saying “old what’s her name” went back to Moab and would become the grandmother of Goliath. Ruth which means “compassion” or “companion” chose to go with Naomi back to Judah and forsake her old citizenship. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more (17-18).
2 Kings 1 – Elijah Confronts Ahaziah. King Ahaziah of Israel had fallen through the latticework in his palace and wanted to hear from Baal Zebub the god of Ekron whether or not he would live so he sent messengers to find out. Israel’s had a long history with the G_d of gods. But the angel of the LORD told Elijah, who was from Tishbe, “Go and confront the messengers of the king of Samaria and ask them, ‘Is there no God in Israel? Why are you going to Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, to ask whether the king will recover? Now, therefore, this is what the LORD says: You will never leave the bed you are lying on; you will surely die.’” So Elijah went to deliver the message (3-4). IT is interesting to me that as humans we have gods that will not answer us when we are ill, wounded, or in trouble; as a matter of fact, they do nothing just a figure to pour out oblations to as the contest on Mount Carmel brought out (1 Kings 18). When the two Captains and their guards were sent to bring Elijah to the king, fire fell from heaven at Elijah’s words “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and destroy you and your fifty men!” Then the fire fell from heaven and killed them all (10, 12). The third captain remembered what happened to the previous two and approached Elijah respectfully. In the end, Elijah goes with the captain and tells the king face-to-face “This is what the LORD says: Why did you send messengers to Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, to ask whether you will recover? Is there no God in Israel to answer your question? Therefore, because you have done this, you will never leave the bed you are lying on; you will surely die (16).” So Ahaz died just as Elijah was told by the Lord G_d.
Psalms 21 – A Psalm of David. How the king rejoices in your strength, O LORD! He shouts with joy because you give him victory. For you have given him his heart’s desire; you have withheld nothing he requested (1-2). This was one in the same message that Jesus spoke to the disciples hours before his death on the cross of Calvary. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted (John 15:7)! David understood just as the disciples understood that when their hearts were in right standing before the G_d of the Universe, they would desire to please him by asking for wisdom like Solomon did (1 Kings 3). David had just returned after running from Absalom (2 Samuel 19:15-38) and was eternally grateful. Coming back to the kingdom and Jerusalem, to David, was a “privilege”, not a “right”. Your victory brings him great honor, and you have clothed him with splendor and majesty. You have endowed him with eternal blessings and given him the joy of your presence.
For the king trusts in the LORD. The unfailing love of the Most High will keep him from stumbling (5-7).
Proverbs 28 – Characteristics of Moral Rot. In world history, many nations like Babylon, Moab, and Lodebar are no longer in existence. In their time, many nations flocked to them but over time, moral rot set in, and the foundations that held the nation up gave up under the strain. When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability (2). In the time of Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon flourished and it was the zenith for the nation. Yet, by the time the Medes and Persians invaded Babylon, nothing was holding the nation up except for Daniel and his friends. Moral rot always begins “small” almost insignificant but over time it grows and takes over everything good and bad alike. Wickedness usually starts at the top and works its way down. A wicked ruler is as dangerous to the poor as a roaring lion or an attacking bear (15). In the time of David king of Israel, the nation enjoyed a long period of peace and contentment that would end about the last years of Solomon. From the time of Solomon to the end of Josia’s reign, the nation began a slow descent into darkness. By the time of exile, the only that was left of the once majestic temple was a mere shell with relics so it didn’t take much for Babylon to destroy the town of Jerusalem. When you consider a broken down building that is an eyesore, it wasn’t always an “eyesore” in fact, it was once a useful building and people worked in it and took pride in it. One day, that building was abandoned and kids threw rocks at the windows and wrote graffiti on it. When the wicked take charge, people go into hiding.When the wicked meet disaster, the godly flourish (28).
Acts 24 – Paul Before Felix. Paul had been put in prison for two years without a firm judgment which was against Roman law. Paul’s arrest happened when he returned to Jerusalem with gifts for the hungry (17). Paul’s message, like Christ Jesus’ message, was like ice-water in the veins of the religious leaders of the time. Those who were inciting the revolt were not standing around during the trial mainly because they didn’t want to be caught in their duplicity. But some Jews from the province of Asia were there—and they ought to be here to bring charges if they have anything against me (19)! In the same way, when the Devil raises his ugly head against us, he will incite the ignorant ear to bring charges against the elect and then disappear to leave his stooge to take the fall. For two full years, Paul was called to the throne room to get Paul to offer a bribe (26). Paul never lost his ethical edge and always preached the good news of the kingdom of G_d.