Reading #1 – Matthew 11
Reading #2 – Psalms 35
Reading #3 – Ecclesiastes 11
Reading #4 – Isaiah 12
Reading #5 – 2 King 15
2 Kings 15 – Uzziah Reigns in Judah. This was the beginning of Isaiah’s ministry (Isaiah 1:1). The northern kingdom (Judah) and the Southern Kingdom (Israel) had been divided for about 200 years. In that time the southern kingdom had experienced multiple civil wars vying for control of the kingdom. Menahem was a soldier n Israel’s army from Tirzah. After assassinating King Jeroboam, he took the throne to increase his control of the throne, he gave 37 tons of silver to the Assyrian army; the 37 tons of silver came from the rich who also wanted to remain in influential circles (20). The teacher, Solomon, said, “money is the answer for everything” (Ecclesiastes 10:19). In this case, the money bribed the Assyrian army to look elsewhere to regain power. The problem with bribes is that the person extorting the money will come back for more (29). This was a very dismal time for both the northern and southern kingdoms. The good kings of Judah Amaziah, Uzziah, and Jotham did what was right in the eys of G_d for the most part they allowed the pagan worship to continue probably because they wanted to maintain the peace.
Psalms 35 – The Lord Our Banner. Serving G_d and honoring Him with our life doesn’t stop trouble, it increases it. David, like those who followed his pathway, were criticized, dishonored, and threatened; yet, it was their viewpoint that carried the day. O LORD, oppose those who oppose me. Fight those who fight against me. Put on your armor, and take up your shield. Prepare for battle, and come to my aid. Lift your spear and javelin against those who pursue me. Let me hear you say, “I will give you victory (1-3)!” The writer, most likely David, references the work that he did (12-14) for those who opposed him and how they responded (11, 15-21). The Devil uses these opportunities to plant seeds of bitterness, anger, and frustration. Because of this, we need to always keep our eyes on the G_d we serve. May those who rejoice at my troubles be humiliated and disgraced. May those who triumph over me be covered with shame and dishonor. But give great joy to those who came to my defense. Let them continually say, “Great is the LORD, who delights in blessing his servant with peace!” Then I will proclaim your justice, and I will praise you all day long (26-28). The question to ask is, “If He doesn’t stop the onslaught of criticism, will you remain faithful (Habakuk 3:17-19)?”
Ecclesiastes 11 – The Uncertainties of Life. This valuable piece of wisdom speaks to “Investing”. It is true that “money gained” can also be lost and vice versa. This should never stop us from using our skills, investing money, or meeting the needs of people. Rather, it should compel us to do so and more abundantly (John 10:10). Send your grain across the seas, and in time, profits will flow back to you. But divide your investments among many places, for you do not know what risks might lie ahead (1-2). The illustration of the fearful farmer addresses the point about “worry” and how to conquer it. Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest (4). How long we will live is uncertain because, although we are young, strong, and fertile, it can be taken away at a moment’s notice. So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy. But remember that youth, with a whole life before you, is meaningless (10).
Isaiah 12 – The Day of the King. In this chapter, we read about the coming Messiah of G_d. On that day you will sing: “I will praise you, O LORD! You were angry with me, but not anymore. Now you comfort me. See, G_d has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The LORD G_D is my strength and my song; he has given me victory (1-2).” Having the mark of G_d on our heart does not make us immune to the alterations of the world rather, it draws out the courage to face the troubles with our eyes firmly fixed on the Sovereign Lord. With joy, you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation! In that wonderful day, you will sing: “Thank the LORD! Praise his name! Tell the nations what he has done. Let them know how mighty he is (3-4)! While we live, we have the power to change the world around us by living for Him and telling the world what he has done for us. Sing to the LORD, for he has done wonderful things. Make known his praise around the world. Let all the people of Jerusalem shout his praise with joy! For great is the Holy One of Israel who lives among you (5-6).”
Matthew 11 – Jesus and John the Baptist. From the moment John came on the scene, he dressed in the fashion of Elijah the Tishbite. From the time of Daniel to the exile to the 1st century, the people had heard about the coming of Elijah. When John showed up and began to baptize people, many thousands of people came to find out about this character. After Jesus was baptized, John faded to the background and we hear very little about him. The last we heard about him was his imprisonment for daring to call out Herod and Herodias for their illicit marriage and subsequent beheading. While John was in prison, he sent his disciples to ask if Jesus was the Messiah or should they search for another. In modern-day language, “Jesus are you the Messiah or should I look for another” in essence, “is what I am going through really worth it”? “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me (4-6).” Living for Jesus will not guarantee a “trouble-free life”, it opens the door for trouble and it is easy to become bitter, angry, and frustrated. We can either become like the teacher and think “why not do what the Romans do” or do like Jesus did “Live for the Father as a light in a dark place knowing that we will be held accountable for our actions. ‘We played wedding songs, and you didn’t dance, so we played funeral songs, and you didn’t mourn.’ For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results (17-19).”