Reading #1 – Matthew 6
Reading #2 – Psalms 30
Reading #3 – Ecclesiastes 6
Reading #4 – Isaiah 7
Reading #5 – 2 King 10
2 Kings 10 – Jehu King of Israel. Jehu was sent to assassinate the royal family of Ahab. All 70 sons and every relative and friend of Ahab were killed according to the word of Elijah the Tishbite. He called for the worship of Baal as a ruse to attract every priest of Baal. When every priest was killed, Jehu went in and desecrated the temple by smashing and burning the altars. Unfortunately, he left the two golden calves which were a relic from the time of Jeroboam the son of Nebat which started the whole process of pagan worship. Jehu would be king of Israel for 28 years and his sons would reign for 4 generations. We are not told why he did not destroy the two calves probably because of its historic value.
Psalms 30 – Prayer for the Dedication of the Temple. The first Temple which was completed in 986 BCE under King Solomon, was a time of great celebration. In the backdrop of this great celebration was the knowledge of what David had done, his repentance, and his restoration. In the same way, when we come to the Lord and repent of our sins and we are restored, the temple of our heart is cleansed and the Holy Spirit fills our heart. I will exalt you, LORD, for you rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me. O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you restored my health. You brought me up from the grave, O LORD. You kept me from falling into the pit of death (1-3). Being restored doesn’t make our past “mysteriously disappear” as the prayer of Paul addresses (2 Corinthians 12:6-10). When we become proud of our spirituality, the Devil will always arise to point out our failures (6-7). I cried out to you, O LORD. I begged the Lord for mercy, saying, “What will you gain if I die if I sink into the grave? Can my dust praise you? Can it tell of your faithfulness? Hear me, LORD, and have mercy on me. Help me, O LORD (8-10).”
Ecclesiastes 6 – Enjoying the Days. The Teacher speaks about enjoying the days we have and the things that G_d has so richly blessed us with. Each of us has a destiny and that is the grave. There is another serious tragedy I have seen under the sun, and it weighs heavily on humanity. God gives some people great wealth and honor and everything they could ever want, but then he doesn’t give them the chance to enjoy these things. They die, and someone else, even a stranger, ends up enjoying their wealth! This is meaningless—a sickening tragedy (1-2). What we fail to understand is that we are not granted many days, just one. What we do with this “one day” speaks to our ethics, moral compass, and where we are truly focused on. A man might have a hundred children and live to be very old. But if he finds no satisfaction in life and doesn’t even get a decent burial, it would have been better for him to be born dead. His birth would have been meaningless, and he would have ended in darkness. He wouldn’t even have had a name, and he would never have seen the sun or known of its existence. Yet he would have had more peace than in growing up to be an unhappy man (3-5). In the few days of our meaningless lives, who knows how our days can best be spent? Our lives are like a shadow. Who can tell what will happen on this earth after we are gone (12)?
Isaiah 7 – A Message for Ahaz. The king of Judah along with the people was afraid of a pending combined attack from Syria and Samaria. But this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “This invasion will never happen; it will never take place; for Syria is no stronger than its capital, Damascus, and Damascus is no stronger than its king, Rezin. As for Israel, within sixty-five years it will be crushed and destroyed. Israel is no stronger than its capital, Samaria, and Samaria is no stronger than its king, Pekah son of Remaliah. Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm (7-9).” This message should have strengthened Ahaz and fortified Judah but it didn’t. The Lord offered King Ahaz the opportunity of a lifetime, “Ask the LORD your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want—as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead (11).” Ahaz refused this offer primarily because he probably didn’t think what Isaiah was saying was from the Lord and didn’t want to embarrass the prophet (12). All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). By the time this child is old enough to choose what is right and reject what is wrong, he will be eating yogurt and honey. For before the child is that old, the lands of the two kings you fear so much will both be deserted (14-16) this would be over 700 years. This would be the same message that Elisha gave to king Joash (2 Kings 13:14-19).
Matthew 6 – Sermon on the Mount (Continued). These Beatitudes, as I said yesterday, are nothing new because they come from the treasury of wisdom (Proverbs and Ecclesiastes). The people had not heard this message before the time of Jesus because they had received the “approved Word of G_d” from the mouths of the scribes and teachers. This message was not popular with the religious leaders because it told the people the truth and it was fresh bread over stale bread (John 6:53-58). When people get used to “stale bread” they think it is a staple so when fresh bread is given, it is treated like “stale bread”.