Reading #1 – Matthew 18
Reading #2 – Psalms 42
Reading #3 – Proverbs 1
Reading #4 – Isaiah 20
Reading #5 – 2 King 22
2 Kings 22 – Josiah Rules in Judah. Josiah was 8 years old when he ascended to the throne of his father Amon and he reigned for 31 years. Unlike his father and grandfather, he did was right in the Lord’s eyes (1-2). In the 18th year of his reign, he commanded the High Priest, Hilkiah, to repair the temple which had been in disrepair from the time of Manasseh and Amon. Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the court secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the LORD’s Temple!” Then Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan, and he read it (8). When the king heard what was written in the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes in despair (11). Because Josiah responded when he heard what the Law of G_d required, he would be protected. The king sent his advisors and the High Priest to seek the face of G_d concerning this word. The Prophetess, Huldah, gave this message to be delivered back to the King. “But go to the king of Judah who sent you to seek the LORD and tell him: ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says concerning the message you have just heard: You were sorry and humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I said against this city and its people—that this land would be cursed and become desolate. You tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. And I have indeed heard you, says the LORD.So I will not send the promised disaster until after you have died and been buried in peace. You will not see the disaster I am going to bring on this city (18-20).’” So they took her message back to the king.
Psalms 42 – For the Descendents of Korah. Korah was the nephew of Moses. In Numbers 16 he and others banded together against Moses. Not all of Korah’s family was destroyed partly because they did not follow Korah in his rebellion. At issue is that the writer(s) was enduring a time of great persecution yet they remain faithful to the Lord and their vow. As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, “Where is this God of yours (1-3)?” When the church falls, everyone in it falls and everyone pays the price even if they had nothing to do with the failure. It is an easy thing to remain faithful in the company of like-minded individuals. Yet, break the people up and everyone scatters. When Jesus had been arrested, the disciples ran away. “Strike the Shephard and the flock will scatter (Matthew 26:31).” After the Shephard is gone, some of the flock will fall away but those who are rooted and grounded in the Word of G_d will remain faithful. Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you— even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar. I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. But each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life (6-8). The Devil uses “separation” to cast doubt in our minds. If we can be discouraged, we can be lied to. Finding “hope” is not G_d’s job, it is ours. Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God (11)!
Proverbs 1 – Purpose of Proverbs. Solomon was gifted with wisdom to guide his people. He was filling a big set of shoes after his father David had passed away. Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. These proverbs will give Simple insight, knowledge, and discernment to the young (2-4). Acting on wisdom is our job so we can either be like Josiah or like Manasseh, like Saul or like David; it is a matter of choosing the path we want to follow but whichever path we chose, we must know that there are consequences. “I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention. You ignored my advice and rejected the correction I offered. So I will laugh when you are in trouble! I will mock you when disaster overtakes you— when calamity overtakes you like a storm when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone, and anguish and distress overwhelm you (24-27).
Isaiah 20 – A Message About Egypt and Ethiopia. In 716BC, Sargon established outposts in Philistia (Gaza, Ashdod, and other cities) which bordered Judah and Egypt. Isaiah was told to take off his burlap coat, belt, and sandals to walk naked for 3 years (1). The purpose of doing this was a sign of being stripped of his dignity and I imagine that he was ridiculed and laughed at. Then the LORD said, “My servant Isaiah has been walking around naked and barefoot for the last three years. This is a sign—a symbol of the terrible troubles I will bring upon Egypt and Ethiopia. The king of Assyria will take away the Egyptians and Ethiopians as prisoners. He will make them walk naked and barefoot, both young and old, their buttocks bared, to the shame of Egypt (3-4). If mighty Egypt could be abased, Judah would not be too far off. They will say, ‘If this can happen to Egypt, what chance do we have? We were counting on Egypt to protect us from the king of Assyria (6).’”
Matthew 18 – The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.“And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me (2). Children are a gift from G_d. As parents, we can either mold our children or destroy them as to make them “just like us”, trim the light or dowse it, feed them the good food from the Word of G_d or feed them the bitter word from our heart. Our children will become a byproduct of what we feed ourselves.