Reading #1 – Matthew 9
Reading #2 – Psalms 33
Reading #3 – Ecclesiastes 9
Reading #4 – Isaiah 10
Reading #5 – 2 King 13
2 Kings 13 – Elisha’s Final Prophecy. Jehoahaz son of Jehu became king in Israel. The sin that Jeroboam started with the two golden calves continued to be a problem decades after Jeroboam passed away. As we’ll find out, sinful practices do not die out as easily as righteousness does. Then Jehoahaz prayed for the LORD’s help, and the LORD heard his prayer, for he could see how severely the king of Aram was oppressing Israel. So the LORD provided someone to rescue the Israelites from the tyranny of the Arameans. Then Israel lived in safety again as they had in former days (4-5). This incident is a testament to the heart of man. Jehoahaz passed away and his Jehoahash ascended the throne in 775 BCE. Elisha was dying when King Jehoash of Israel visited him. Elisha’s passing would not be good news because he was a light in Israel and he was a dying breed. Elisha’s prophecy to the king was self-directed that is, the king’s actions dictated the outcome. Then he commanded, “Open that eastern window,” and he opened it. Then he said, “Shoot!” So he shot an arrow. Elisha proclaimed, “This is the LORD’s arrow, an arrow of victory over Aram, for you will completely conquer the Arameans at Aphek.” Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times (17-19).” Once when some Israelites were burying a man, they spied a band of these raiders. So they hastily threw the corpse into the tomb of Elisha and fled. But as soon as the body touched Elisha’s bones, the dead man revived and jumped to his feet (21)!
Psalms 33 – Continuation of Psalms 32. Praising G_d is a “choice” not a command. Praise that is “forced” can also be “misdirected”. Let the godly sing for joy to the LORD; it is fitting for the pure to praise him (1). Praise flows from the condition of the heart. When the heart is filled with greed, praise flows to the item, not the creator. G_d formed this world and everything in it. The LORD frustrates the plans of the nations and thwarts all their schemes. But the LORD’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken (10-11). Mankind sets war plans into action punish other men and women and develops his/her arsenal not knowing nor considering who holds the power and who does not. The LORD looks down from heaven and sees the whole human race. From his throne, he observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do. The best-equipped army cannot save a king, nor is great strength enough to save a warrior. Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory— for all its strength, it cannot save you (13-17). Our hope, oh USA, is in the Lord the creator of Heaven and Earth. hat joy for the nation whose God is the LORD, whose people he has chosen as his inheritance (12).
Ecclesiastes 9 – The Same Destiny. It seems so wrong that everyone under the sun suffers the same fate. Already twisted by evil, people choose their mad course, for they have no hope. There is nothing ahead but death anyway. There is hope only for living. As they say, “It’s better to be a live dog than a dead lion (3-4)!” This is the ultimate tragedy! While we are alive, we can build huge buildings, develop vast wealth, lead conquests, and judge others for the quality of their lives. Despite all that we do in our lifetime, we all die and all of the stuff we accumulated will either be put in the trash or given to a person who did not work for it. I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time. People can never predict when hard times might come. Like fish in a net or birds in a trap, people are caught by sudden tragedy (11-12). The good news is, “stay connected to the G_d of the universe in season and out. Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom (12).
Isaiah 10 – Judgement Against Assyria. Assyria was a powerful nation that conquered other nations as easily as one puts on his or her pants. A tool, no matter how powerful or destructive it might be, still require a hand to move it. But the king of Assyria will not understand that he is my tool; his mind does not work that way. His plan is simply to destroy, to cut down nation after nation (7). Assyria became very full of itself thinking “I am the power and there is no other besides me”; but, G_d is the Lord of lords and King of kings (1 Timothy 6:15, Revelations 19:16, Psalm 136:3) so, all kings weak or powerful will bow before him. Assyria, like Samaria, would be destroyed in due course. So this is what the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, says: “O my people in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians when they oppress you with rod and club as the Egyptians did long ago. In a little while, my anger against you will end, and then my anger will rise to destroy them.” The LORD of Heaven’s Armies will lash them with his whip, as he did when Gideon triumphed over the Midianites at the rock of Oreb, or when the LORD’s staff was raised to drown the Egyptian army in the sea (24-26). In our current battles, we need to always remind ourselves about what G_d has done for us in the days past or we will be fearful and beaten. G_d will fight our battles but, he will not fight us for control so either we yield control or the battle that faces us will control our spiritual and mental well-being.
Matthew 9 – Jesus Heals People. In the gospels, there are many incidents of healing some of which were not recorded or “fluffed up”. The secret ingredient is always “faith”. We can go to healing services but if we do not believe it is possible, we are not healed. Jesus is the “great physician” but our heart and mind are the “great wall”. Sin binds our heart and mind so that we are incapable of getting up from where we are laying and be healed. Some people brought to him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven (2).” Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe, for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment (20-21). Without faith, it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is a seed that needs continual watering for it to mature in our life.