Reading #1 – Luke 13
Reading #2 – Psalms 81
Reading #3 – Lamentations 1
Reading #4 – Isaiah 59
Reading #5 – 2 Chronicle 7
2 Chronicles 7 – The Dedication of the Temple. So Solomon completed the building of the temple by his 7th year. When Solomon finished praying, fire flashed down from heaven and burned up the burnt offerings and sacrifices, and the glorious presence of the LORD filled the Temple. The priests could not enter the Temple of the LORD because the glorious presence of the LORD filled it. When all the people of Israel saw the fire coming down and the glorious presence of the LORD filling the Temple, they fell face down on the ground and worshiped and praised the LORD, saying, “He is good! His faithful love endures forever (1-3)!” Since the time of Moses, the outpouring of the Spirit of G_d had not come as powerfully as it did the day the temple was dedicated. G_d would not have listened to Solomon if his prayer and his heart were not fully dedicated to the Lord (John 9:33). The Lord G_d heard Solomon’s prayer and made a covenant with Solomon that hinged upon “obedience” and “faithfulness”. “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this Temple as the place for making sacrifices. At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place. I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy—a place where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart. “As for you, if you faithfully follow me as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations, then I will establish the throne of your dynasty. For I made this covenant with your father, David, when I said, ‘One of your descendants will always rule over Israel’ (12-18). This was a defining moment in Solomon’s reign. It is said in an interview that “what you see about the interviewee is the best you will ever see” and this was particularly true about Solomon. nd though this Temple is impressive now, all who pass by will be appalled. They will ask, ‘Why did the LORD do such terrible things to this land and this Temple?’ And the answer will be, ‘Because his people abandoned the LORD, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and they worshiped other gods instead and bowed down to them. That is why he has brought all these disasters on them (21-22).’”
Psalms 81 – A Psalm of Asaph. Asaph recounts the nation’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt some 700 years earlier. The purpose of talking about this again was to give the reader groundwork to understand where they came from. G_d had made a covenant with the people when they came out of Egypt that they would honor and serve the Lord G_d who rescued them. For it was I, the LORD your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it with good things (10). Solomon’s heartfelt desire for the Temple is that would always be the place where G_d would be honored by the people. When they sinned and later repented in this house, He would hear their prayer and heal the land. Before the nation being exiled to Babylon, King Manasseh led the people into sinful practices by bowing down to the starry hosts, Asherah, and Baal something his father Josiah would have ardently opposed. “But no, my people wouldn’t listen. Israel did not want me around. So I let them follow their stubborn desires, living according to their ideas. Oh, that my people would listen to me! Oh, that Israel would follow me, walking in my paths! How quickly I would then subdue their enemies! How soon my hands would be upon their foes (11-14)! G_d always wants the best for his children but His children (those called by his name) do more damage than any force or enemy could ever do. This was part of the reason that I believe the orchestrators of the Temple’s destruction were the kings and priests who refused to follow G_d’s laws the Babylonians were just the icing on the cake.
Isaiah 59 – Warnings against Sin. Sin is a blight upon the nation (Proverbs 14:34). Lord G_d has spoken on many occasions about the destructive power of sin. In its early stages, sin is an ally that encourages people to participate. IT is like the child who grew up listening to the Word of G_d and seeing it portrayed in his/her parent’s life. As the child grew up, the world beckoned the child and encouraged him/her to forget their parent’s words and have some fun. Listen! The LORD’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call. It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore (1-2). When the child, just like when the parent(s) sin, G_d’s model of righteousness does not change, and nor is G_d arm too short to save us; basically, the only thing that has changed is the sin that separates the family. This was an indictment on the nation Israel in its totality. G_d’s Word does not command the world to obey Him, He commands his church to obey him so that the world would see the good that they do and give glory to G_d (Matthew 5:16). Sin is a snake and an offspring of the Devil. Sin is anything that runs contrary to G_d’s best for our life. G_d’s best for our life is that we would live productive lives with our eyes on Him. Sin says, “Look at me. See how much fun I am having!” So the world turns its eyes to the Devil and the people follow his pathway to their destruction. They don’t know where to find peace or what it means to be just and good. They have mapped out crooked roads, and no one who follows them knows a moment’s peace (8). The Devil will raise such a ruckus that the world cannot possibly calm their hearts to listen to the voice of G_d. The truth is, we always need Jesus. Our moral compass is constantly being blocked by sin’s magnetic pull.
Lamentations 1 – Sorrow in Jerusalem. Jerusalem, once so full of people, is now deserted. She who was once great among the nations now sits alone like a widow. Once the queen of all the earth, she is now a slave (1). The nation Israel that went into slavery in Babylon was not the same Israel of King David’s time. Israel was catered to in David and Solomon’s time but laughed at in Nebuchadnezzar’s time. So what changed? The answer is, “sin”. Solomon desired that his temple would be the place for G_d’s name and G_d honored that prayer with a warning. As for you [Solomon], if you will walk before Me as your father David walked, and do everything that I have commanded you, and observe My statutes and My ordinances, then I will establish your royal throne just as I covenanted with your father David, saying, ‘You will not fail to have a man as ruler in Israel (2 Chronicles 7:17-18).’ So now Israel the Northern kingdom was destroyed and Judah the southern kingdom would be without a king and no longer have its autonomy. Judah has been led away into captivity, oppressed with cruel slavery. She lives among foreign nations and has no place of rest. Her enemies have chased her down, and she has nowhere to turn (3). This is a sad epitaph to the once-powerful kingdom whose slaves became the nation’s masters.
Luke 13 – A Call to Repentance. When it comes to sin, no one is exempt from its influence and no one is a greater or lesser sinner than anyone else. No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too (5).” The US is linked to Israel but so are the other nations around it. The truth is, we need each other and we all need G_d whether we chose to believe it or not. The Sabbath was important but so were the people. Jesus healed people on the Sabbath which brought on the ire of the leadership. But the leader in charge of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath day. “There are six days of the week for working,” he said to the crowd. “Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath.” But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water? This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath (14-16)?” What Jesus said to the religious leaders shamed them but it pleased the people because of the wonderful things he did (17). Jesus did not rebuke the leadership to “rally the base”, he did it to point out the leadership’s duplicity.