Reading #1 – Luke 16
Reading #2 – Psalms 84
Reading #3 – Lamentations 4
Reading #4 – Isaiah 62
Reading #5 – 2 Chronicle 10
2 Chronicles 10 – Northern Kingdom Revolts. During the reign of Solomon, the nation was heavily taxed and heavily involved in Solomon’s construction program. The “construction program” brought about increased taxes and harsh labor. The slaves were treated the same way Israel was treated in Egypt. Ahijah the Shilonite prophesied to Jeroboam the son of Nebat that he would get 10 tribes or the Northern kingdom after Solomon died (1 Kings 11:29-34). Rehoboam the son of Solomon was confronted by the tribal leaders to find out how he would rule the kingdom. “Your father was a hard master,” they said. “Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us. Then we will be your loyal subjects (4).” This was Rehoboam’s chance to heal the wounds his father incurred and restore order in the kingdom. His father’s advisors recommended lightening the taxes and speak kindly to the people so that the kingdom would remain intact. But Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older men and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him and were now his advisers (8). In turn, Rehoboam answered the people harshly causing the leaders to break the union of the two nations. Jeroboam son of Nebat returned from exile (1 Kings 12) to become the king of the Northern Kingdom. And to this day the northern tribes of Israel have refused to be ruled by a descendant of David (19).
Psalms 84 – A Psalm of Asaph and Korah. When we are saved from the pit we were in, everything we lost becomes unimportant. In life, we build our kingdom and, like Solomon, we get ourselves into trouble. The nation was sent into exile stripped naked, beaten, and humiliated. So when the delegation returned to Jerusalem, it was a day of rejoicing despite the condition of the physical walls and temple. Physical walls could be rebuilt all they consisted of was brick and mortar. The spiritual walls required a covenant with the G_d of the Universe (Psalms 127:1). How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of Heaven’s Armies? I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the LORD. With my whole being, body, and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God (1-2). Healing the wounds took faith on the part of Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and a cast of thousands. What joy for those whose strength comes from the LORD, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem (5-7). Trusting in the Lord through the healing process is important because we will face our sins and come to grips with them. Restoring Jerusalem, just like restoring our relationship, is a daunting task because we will, like Paul, see things that will cause us pain. But if we can keep our eyes on G_d, the pain will lead us from brokenness to healing (10-12).
Isaiah 62 – Isaiah’s Prayer for Jerusalem. While this passage speaks about “Jerusalem”, there is an unwritten implication in that we should pray for our nation as the prophet prayed. When we stop praying for our nation, we tell G_d “I don’t care” and “do as you please”. Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch (1). Praying for our land does not mean, “I agree with what is going on in the land” it means “I desire the very best for my land and I want Jesus to be King over the land.” Praying for our nation means asking for G_d’s best not ours. The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory. And you will be given a new name by the LORD’s mouth. The LORD will hold you in his hand for all to see— a splendid crown in the hand of God (2). G_d’s desire for us is that we would be his bride the one He places his covenant. When the Lord has his hands on the nation, wars cease, lives are restored, and healing occurs in the land (4-5). Sadly, many begin the pilgrimage but few cross the finish line (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
Lamentations 4 – G_d’s Anger Satisfied. The nation at one time was riding a crest of the wave of David yet, sin found its way into the kingdom. By the time Jehoiachin was taken captive, the people of Jerusalem were gaunt, broken, empty, and desolate. In its hay-day, it was the kingdom to garner a treaty with just like Babylon. Like Edom, it too held power in its hands but sin stole it from them by deceit and intrigue. See how the precious children of Jerusalem, worth their weight in fine gold, are now treated like pots of clay made by a common potter (2). There was no “safe place” for the people of Judah because every place they went the enemy followed them. When they thought that Egypt would protect them, Babylon attacked Egypt. For Egypt’s help is worthless and good for nothing. Therefore, I have called her “Rahab Who Has Been Exterminated (Isaiah 30:7).” It is hard to comprehend how a powerful kingdom can be reduced to rubble when it was so prominent among the kingdoms. Solomon’s temple was the pride of the nation and it was believed “no enemy will ever enter this holy place” but they did. Babylon would be accredited with burning the temple but that was just the “icing on the cake” the nation had already desecrated it by the work of the kings, priests, and false prophets. Not a king in all the earth— no one in all the world— would have believed that an enemy could march through the gates of Jerusalem. Yet it happened because of the sins of her prophets and the sins of her priests, who defiled the city by shedding innocent blood (12-13). The world will always rejoice when the church falls just like the nations Edom and UZ rejoiced at Jerusalem’s fall because it was a thorn in their side. Every time the two kingdoms thought “Judah is finished” it would rise from the ashes because of righteous kings like Hezekiah and Josiah. Are you rejoicing in the land of Uz, O people of Edom? But you, too, must drink from the cup of the LORD’s anger. You, too, will be stripped naked in your drunkenness. O beautiful Jerusalem, your punishment will end; you will soon return from exile. But Edom, your punishment is just beginning; soon your many sins will be exposed (21-22).
Luke 16 – Parable of the Shrewd Manager. The resources we earn by the skills we are given, need to be used to help people not hoard them. So this manager was just about to be fired for his scrupulous behavior. Being fired meant he would have to do some other work but if he was seen in a bad light among the people, no one would hire him let alone give him lodging. To avert disaster, he came up with a scheme to garner favor in the eyes of the populous. While it meant his master getting less than what he was owed, the people loved this manager and the Master congratulated him. Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home. “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities (9-10). The Pharisees were wealthy mostly because of scrupulous behavior which is why they had the funds to bribe Judas. Being told about “enduring wealth” was laughable to the Pharisees. The problem with earthly wealth is that it can disappear as quickly as it came but enduring wealth in G_d’s Kingdom is eternal. “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honor is detestable in the sight of God (15). What the Pharisees believed in (the Mosaic Law) was not without power nor authority just because of what Jesus taught. “Until John the Baptist, the law of Moses and the messages of the prophets were your guides. But now the Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is eager to get in. But that doesn’t mean that the law has lost its force. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest point of God’s law to be overturned (16-17). The problem was not in what they taught but how they lived out the teaching. The parable of the Rich man and Lazarus brings this point to the forefront (19-31).