Reading #1 – Matthew 25
Reading #2 – Psalms 49
Reading #3 – Proverbs 8
Reading #4 – Isaiah 27
Reading #5 – 1 Chronicles 4
1 Chronicle 4 – Other Decendents of Judah. Jabez the person whose birth was painful, turned his pain into prayer and G_d answered it (9-10) but we are not told how “G_d answered his prayer.” Jabez turned the pain of the past into a bold move forward. It is very easy to sit back and complain about how the actions of our past hamper us from moving forward. Gerar had been inhabited by the Hamites or the descendants of Ham the son of Noah since the time following the flood. Abraham had vowed to Abimelech that Israel would not deceive or occupy the land (Genesis 21:22-24). Gerar is located in the Negev or present-day Iraq. The Simeonites moved into the valley in the late Bronze age. But during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah, these leaders of Simeon invaded the region and destroyed the homes of the descendants of Ham and the Meunites. No trace of them remains today. They killed everyone who lived there and took the land for themselves because they wanted its good pastureland for their flocks (41). The Simeonites lived in the valley of Gerar until the time of the exile. The two major references (Jabez and Simeon) appear to be unrelated.
Psalms 49 – For the Decendents of Korah. Why should I fear when trouble comes, when enemies surround me? They trust in their wealth and boast of great riches. Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death by paying a ransom to God. Redemption does not come so easily, for no one can ever pay enough to live forever and never see the grave. Today, trouble rages in our nation yet, I am not afraid to face it. It was the same thing that Jesus spoke about when the disciples mentioned the “beautiful temple” (Matthew 24). Trouble will always occur and so will good times so we need to be encouraged to live our life to its fullest. So don’t be dismayed when the wicked grow rich and their homes become ever more splendid. For when they die, they take nothing with them. Their wealth will not follow them into the grave. In this life, they consider themselves fortunate and are applauded for their success. But they will die like all before them and never again see the light of day. People who boast of their wealth don’t understand; they will die, just like animals (16-20). Today, race and Class wars are going on in America. The trouble is, all that will be gained by the wars will be lost by the same method it was gained. After the wealth is stolen, it will be like a dirty stain on their hands that cannot be removed so it will die with them.
Proverbs 8 – Wisdom Calls for a Hearing. True wisdom does not come with “strings attached.” The world’s wisdom has strings attached that the listener does not see. The phrase “trust me” is subjective because it implies that “I need to trust that person” when they may or may not be right. Colleges teach students to do their research before submitting a report. We have before us the “Bible” which shows the worst and the best of mankind. Those who did no listen to wisdom, like Jeroboam, Ahab, and Ahaz led the subjects of the kingdom into trouble. Those who lived to please the Lord, like David and Josia, enjoyed times of peace and prosperity. Listen to me! I have important things to tell you. Everything I say is right, for I speak the truth and detest every kind of deception. My advice is wholesome. There is nothing devious or crooked in it. My words are plain to anyone with understanding, clear to those with knowledge. Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold (6-10).
Isaiah 27 – Restoration of Israel. One of the most highly regarded parts of scriptures is the “Restoration of Israel.” War will always precede restoration. Go home, my people, and lock your doors! Hide yourselves for a little while until the LORD’s anger has passed. Look! The LORD is coming from heaven to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will no longer hide those who have been killed. They will be brought out for all to see (Isaiah 26:20-21). Before the people of Israel left Egypt, death went through all of Egypt killing the 1st born. During that time, the Israelites were behind closed doors so they had nothing to do with the destruction. Prophecy must occur on G_d’s timeline, not ours. On that day the LORD will take his terrible, swift sword and punish Leviathan, the swiftly moving serpent, the coiling, writhing serpent. He will kill the dragon of the sea (1). The Word of G_d compels us to live for Him and not be afraid in times of trouble. Just like what happened in Israel, we too will not be unscathed because sin hurts everyone and there are consequences for sin. The people are like the dead branches of a tree, broken off and used for kindling beneath the cooking pots. Israel is a foolish and stupid nation, for its people have turned away from God. Therefore, the one who made them will show them no pity or mercy (11). By comparison, only a few returned to Jerusalem because many of them died or chose to stayed where they were. Yet the time will come when the LORD will gather them together like handpicked grain. One by one he will gather them—from the Euphrates River in the east to the Brook of Egypt in the west. On that day the great trumpet will sound. Many who were dying in exile in Assyria and Egypt will return to Jerusalem to worship the LORD on his holy mountain (12-13).
Matthew 25 – Parable of the 10 Bridesmaids. Understanding what the Kingdom of G_d is or is not about is like describing jello. We can use abstract words like thick, cold, and/or jiggles, for this reason, Jesus described it with something the people understood. The nation understood the concept of marriage, keeping their stock of oil replenished so that they had enough. The priests had the responsibility of keeping the fire burning which required a continuous infusion of oil (Leviticus 6:12). So, it made sense to use the reference. “Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’ “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’ “But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’ “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’ “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’ “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return (1-13). We are held accountable for keeping the light of the Spirit of G_d active and alive in our hearts. The world will always have its ways but we need to affect the world by the way we live for Christ instead of being infected by the world’s modicum of life. The “parable of the three servants” speaks to the choices we make. We have no earthly idea when our time will come so we must live for the Lord like “He is coming today” so that we are ready.