Reading #1 – Matthew 19
Reading #2 – Psalms 43
Reading #3 – Proverbs 2
Reading #4 – Isaiah 21
Reading #5 – 2 King 23
2 Kings 23 – Josiah’s Righteous Acts of Obedience. Josiah was a bright light in the nation Judah. The first thing Josiah did was re-establish the covenant with the Lord G_d. And the king went up to the Temple of the LORD with all the people of Judah and Jerusalem, along with the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. There the king read to them the entire Book of the Covenant that had been found in the LORD’s Temple. The king took his place of authority beside the pillar and renewed the covenant in the LORD’s presence. He pledged to obey the LORD by keeping all his commands, laws, and decrees with all his heart and soul. In this way, he confirmed all the terms of the covenant that were written in the scroll, and all the people pledged themselves to the covenant (2-3). The people were like sheep following the shepherd. Under Josiah’s direction, every idol, altar, and temple that was built to honor the Sun, Moon, Stars, and heavenly beings were destroyed. The Asherah poles were burnt, crushed, and spread over the graves of the people who served them. Josiah tore down the living quarters of the male and female prostitutes and the ones who wove coverings for the Asherah poles. The priests of the Lord G_d were returned to Judah to carry out their responsibilities. Josiah destroyed the pagan altars that were built by Solomon, Jeroboam the son of Nebat, Ahaz, Manasseh, and Amon. In this way, the sin of Jeroboam son of Nebat had caused the people to sin was destroyed and wiped clean. King Josiah then issued this order to all the people: “You must celebrate the Passover to the LORD your God, as required in this Book of the Covenant.” There had not been a Passover celebration like that since the judges ruled in Israel, nor throughout all the years of the kings of Israel and Judah. But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah’s reign, this Passover was celebrated to the LORD in Jerusalem. Josiah also got rid of the mediums and psychics, the household gods, the idols, and every other kind of detestable practice, both in Jerusalem and throughout the land of Judah. He did this in obedience to the laws written in the scroll that Hilkiah the priest had found in the LORD’s Temple. Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since. When Josiah destroyed the altar built by Jeroboam, he had re-established the connection with Samaria/Israel and established rule over Israel. Josiah was killed in battle and buried in the tombs of the kings and would not see how the nation turned back to pagan worship and would end up in captivity.
Psalms 43 – The G_d I Serve. The G_d we serve is not honored only in times of our victories because “He is not on our side” we are on His. We are to preach and live the Word of G_d in season and out (2 Timothy 4:1). Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God (2-3)! Everybody can live for the Lord when life is at its very best but let the skies turn bronze and the earth turns to rock and people will fall away like what happened after Josiah’s death. 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 (5)!
Proverbs 2 – Fearing the Lord. In scripture we are exhorted to “Fear the Lord” but what does that mean? Does it mean to be afraid of Him, run from him, or mention His name? Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God (2-5). When we turn our hearts to him and not our backs, he will guide us in all righteousness. When we keep our eyes on the Lord, the hidden traps of the Devil will be seen and we will be able to sidestep them. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe (9-11). This does not mean we will be “prudes” or “hermits” rather, we will serve the Lord by our life, our choices, and our words. The world will not like us because we are not like them, they will not believe what we say but, the fruit will show who is right and who is wrong.
Isaiah 21 – The Message About Babylon. When this message was uttered, Babylon was in its infancy Nebuchadnezzar had not yet come to rule Babylon and the Judites had not yet gone into exile. Yet, he speaks of Babylon’s demise and the rule of the Medes and Persians. But, how can a nation like Babylon or the US be destroyed? Wouldn’t its mere size stop people from attacking? Look! They are preparing a great feast. They are spreading rugs for people to sit on. Everyone is eating and drinking. But quick! Grab your shields and prepare for battle. You are being attacked (5)! Israel was a huge nation and grew in population size yet, they remained as slaves in Egypt. The Egyptians ruled over Israel with whips to beat the people into subservience. I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. There I will wait to see what the LORD says and how he will answer my complaint (Habakuk 2:1). When you are comfortable in your situation, the change will occur around you but you will remain where you are. When we have our spiritual weapons (Ephesians 6:13-18) around us, we will remain ready for battle.
Matthew 19 – Discussion About Marriage and Divorce. There are many verses in scripture that are used to answer arguments but, the area we get into trouble is when leaders, like Moses, give decrees but they are not backed up by the whole Word of G_d. “Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?” they asked. Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended. And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful (7-9).” This is where the church gets into trouble when they concede to the people with hardened hearts. The leech has two suckers that cry out, “More, more (Proverbs 30:15)!” Jesus’ disciples then said to him, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!” “Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps. Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can (10-12).” Choosing to get married is not wrong nor is choosing not to get married. The real issues are “faithfulness” that is, being faithful in good times and bad, sadness and joyfulness, in plenty and famine, for this reason, many fail in a marriage covenant.