Reading #1 – Matthew 12
Reading #2 – Psalms 36
Reading #3 – Ecclesiastes 13
Reading #4 – Isaiah 14
Reading #5 – 2 King 16
2 Kings 16 – King Ahaz Rules in Judah. King Ahaz was a vile king who gave away the things he did not work for. Instead, he followed the example of the kings of Israel, even sacrificing his son in the fire. In this way, he followed the detestable practices of the pagan nations the LORD had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites (3). Ahaz married Zechariah’s daughter Abijah who should have been a good example for the king. Ahaz made a deal with the Devil to avoid dealing with an unpleasant event. King Ahaz sent messengers to King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria with this message: “I am your servant and your vassal. Come up and rescue me from the attacking armies of Aram and Israel (7).”Once the Assyrian commander received a bribe to leave the land and conquer the nation that was bent on destroying Judah, Once the deed was done, the king was summoned to Assyria to discuss the terms of the agreement. The term “vassal” implied “I yield my throne and my kingdom to you.” By yielding his throne and the kingdom, he implicated the entire populace of Judah to Assyria; this would create problems for the future kings until the time Assyria was defeated by Babylon in 612BCE at the battle of Nineveh. While in Assyria, Ahaz took note of the country’s prescribed temple and wanted one just like it in Judah so the kingdom became “like all of the other kingdoms around them” (1 Samuel 8:5) broken, beaten, and lost.
Psalms 36 – A Psalm of David. Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts. They have no fear of God at all. In their blind conceit, they cannot see how wicked they are. Everything they say is crooked and deceitful. They refuse to act wisely or do good. They lie awake at night, hatching sinful plots. Their actions are never good. They do not attempt to turn from evil (1-4). If we are waiting on the world’s approval shall be the king of our life, we will be waiting for an eternity. True change always begins in the heart and then flows to the flesh. G_d is not interested in numbers, dazzle, or “pomp and circumstance”, he is interested in one person and that is “You”. Pour out your unfailing love on those who love you; give justice to those with honest hearts. Don’t let the proud trample me or the wicked push me around. Look! Those who do evil have fallen! They are thrown down, never to rise again (10-12).
Ecclesiastes 12 – Living for G_d in Our Youth. Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore (1).” There is a common belief that “there is a right time” to accept the Lord G_d into your heart. Many people wait until their dying breath to ask for forgiveness and repent from their evil behavior. While G_d forgives, a life is lost for the kingdom that could have made a difference in the world around them; instead, it will be said of them “they lived and then they died” like so many before and after them. Remember him before your legs—the guards of your house—start to tremble; and before your shoulders—the strong men—stoop. Remember him before your teeth—your few remaining servants—stop grinding; and before your eyes—the women looking through the windows—see dimly (3). Our life is but a whisp that passes (James 4:14). Knowing this should compel us to live for him and make good use of the “whisp of life”. But, my child, let me give you some further advice: Be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out. That’s the whole story. Here now is my conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad (12-14).
Isaiah 14 – A Taunt Against Babylon. The “King of Babylon” is a reference to King Sargon II of Assyria who had his kingdom in Babylon. In 2 Kings 16, Ahaz or Joahaz II yielded his kingdom to Assyria to save his hide from the pending invasion of Aram and Israel (2 Kings 16: 5). Sargon II ascended the throne of Assyria in 721BCE and built his kingdom amid a countrywide rebellion in the city that would be known as Babylon. Assyria held the key to Judah thanks to Joahaz II (Ahaz). The move to Babylon set the stage for the nation to become very powerful. The problem with “power” is that it can be taken away as quickly as it came into place. The “taunt” (4-23) points out how the mighty man Sargon II thought he held the world in his hands only to have it taken away from him. The reference to the Devil’s fall from Heaven to Earth was symbolic of Sargon II’s fall. Everyone, there will stare at you and ask, ‘Can this be the one who shook the earth and made the kingdoms of the world tremble? Is this the one who destroyed the world and made it into a wasteland? Is this the king who demolished the world’s greatest cities and had no mercy on his prisoners (16-17)?’ This message was an encouragement to Judah and its king, Hezekiah, to remain strong and not be afraid of the soon fallen kingdom of Babylon.
Matthew 12 – A Discussion About the Sabbath. The Sabbath day, according to the law of Moses was to be kept “Holy” (Exodus 20:8-11) which meant the people in the house had to cease from work. What Jesus is introducing is a “loophole”. “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God, and he and his companions broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. And haven’t you read in the law of Moses that the priests on duty in the Temple may work on the Sabbath? I tell you, there is one here who is even greater than the Temple (3-6)! The parallel verses of Jonah and the Queen of Shebah were part of Israel’s history and are being used as an example to point out the duplicity of the religious leaders. When the leaders scoffed at the man being healed by saying “Jesus cast them out by the Prince Satan, Jesus said “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart. And if Satan is casting out Satan, he is divided and fighting against himself. His kingdom will not survive. And if I am empowered by Satan, what about your exorcists? They cast out demons, too, so they will condemn you for what you have said. But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you (25-28). The leaders did not like Jesus because he was not one of them nor did he fly their banner rather, he was a lightning rod that pierced their darkness and showed the world their duplicity. The populace feared the religious leaders because of the power the world believed they held when, in truth, the leaders held no power just an illusion.