Reading #1 – Luke 17
Reading #2 – Psalms 85
Reading #3 – Lamentations 5
Reading #4 – Isaiah 63
Reading #5 – 2 Chronicle 11
2 Chronicles 11 – Shemaiah’s Prophecy.When Rehoboam called his army together to fight Israel in an attempt to regain the kingdom of his father and Grandfather (1). Shemaiah prophecied to Rehoboam to “go home and do not fight the Israelites for this was from the Lord G_d (4).” Jeroboam also received a prophecy in which he would receive 10 kingdoms because of the mess that Solomon created ending with him abandoning the Lord G_d (1 Kings 11). If anybody should have understood the consequences of abandoning the Lord G_d, it should have been Jeroboam but he failed to fully grasp the message. The Levites whose property or inheritance fell in the northern kingdom that was under the control of Samaria, abandoned their homes and moved to Jerusalem because Jeroboam would not let them carry out their assigned mission (14). Because of this, Jeroboam hired his priests who would do what he asked and serve who he served (15). Jeroboam knew that if he did nothing to stop the evacuation of Israel, there would be nobody left to his kingdom. These idols, false gods, and pagan temples were portrayed as a “healthy alternative to traveling such a long-distance.” This sin would set the tone for the kingdom for the next 400 years. Jerusalem in Judah remained loyal to the Lord G_d just like Solomon and David. From all the tribes of Israel, those who sincerely wanted to worship the LORD, the God of Israel, followed the Levites to Jerusalem, where they could offer sacrifices to the LORD, the God of their ancestors. This strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and for three years they supported Rehoboam the son of Solomon, for during those years they faithfully followed in the footsteps of David and Solomon (16-17). Rehoboam would, in the end, do exactly what Solomon did and that was having too many marriages among them Maacah the granddaughter of Absalom whose failed coup cost him his life (2 Samuel 18:15). Abijah the son of Rehoboam through Maacah became the crown prince sort of like what happened with Solomon (22).
Psalms 85 – A Psalm of the Decendents of Korah. Forgiveness and restoration are some of the most beautiful moments in our lives and something we should treasure. Yet, not everybody gets to that point because forgiveness is more than “I am sorry” it is, “I repent by turning my life around 180 degrees. Unfortunately, even with our best words sin is still one step behind us or as far as the “east is from the west so far have I cast your sins behind you (psalms 103:12).” At issue is that the distance between east and west is 180 degrees turn around and then you run right back into temptation. Averting temptation is our responsibility. I listen carefully to what God the LORD is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, so our land will be filled with his glory (8-9). This is something the kings of old and present-day people forget. Yes, the LORD pours down his blessings. Our land will yield its bountiful harvest. Righteousness goes as a herald before him, preparing the way for his steps (12-13).
Isaiah 63 – Judgment against the Lord’s Enemies. Who is this who comes from Edom, from the city of Bozrah, with his clothing stained red? Who is this in royal robes, marching in his great strength? “It is I, the LORD, announcing your salvation! It is I, the LORD, who has the power to save (1)!” The nation’s deliverance from Babylon would not because of “how great Israel is” but because people were praying for the move of his hands. Edom had revolted against Israel hoping for a coup de’ tat but ended up being held responsible for the decimation of their kingdom. Israel had nothing to do with Edom’s demise and that was on purpose because if they received an ounce of credit, they would lay claim to the victory. Why are your clothes so red, as if you have been treading out grapes? “I have been treading the winepress alone; no one was there to help me. In my anger, I have trampled my enemies as if they were grapes. In my fury, I have trampled my foes. Their blood has stained my clothes (7-8). Sin and suffering displease the heart of G_d and cause him pain just like when a child sins and suffers for it. It is and has never been G_d’s best for his children to be trapped in a life of sin. G_d will not deliver us from our pits until we turn around and ask for forgiveness. In all their suffering he also suffered, and he rescued them. In his love and mercy, he redeemed them. He lifted them and carried them through all the years. But they rebelled against him and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he became their enemy and fought against them (9-10). When we are in trouble and/or in prison, we tend to seek G_d’s face so that we can get out of the place of discomfort (15-16). When we are not delivered from our physical jails, it is the heart of man to blame G_d for it “so much for this G_d who loves me”. G_d does not tempt anyone (James 1:13). Surely you are still our Father! Even if Abraham and Jacob would disown us, LORD, you would still be our Father. You are our Redeemer from ages past.
LORD, why have you allowed us to turn from your path? Why have you given us stubborn hearts so we no longer fear you? Return and help us, for we are your servants, the tribes that are your special possession (16-17). The first person we blame is G_d without considering our part in the problem nor taking responsibility for it.
Lamentations 5 – Prayer for Restoration. The events of 586BC weighed heavily upon the heart of Jeremiah the prophet. When we are in the pits of hell, the only place we can look to is where we came from and compare the current situation with the one that we enjoyed. Jeremiah’s lament unlike the priests and people of Jerusalem in the waning days of exile shows two things: first, the prophet does not blame G_d for the problems he is facing, and second, he does not give G_d credit for the “stubborn hearts”. We submitted to Egypt and Assyria to get enough food to survive. Our ancestors sinned, but they have died— and we are suffering the punishment they deserved (6-7)! It is a true statement that the people of the previous generations blazed the trail to sin and the people of the current generation followed it. Although Jeremiah lays out a credible argument for the people, they had the word of G_d and the laws of G_d from the time of Moses so they were without excuse (Romans 1:20). Solomon’s temple was a sight to behold when it was first dedicated but now it was a place where the jackals roamed and wild animals hunted. Slaves that once were ruled by Israel now are the leadership of the community and Israel was a slave in her land. Despite all of this, G_d never changed, never forgot His promise or his covenant but the people did and that is part of the problem. Restore us, O LORD, and bring us back to you again! Give us back the joys we once had! Or have you utterly rejected us? Are you angry with us still (21-22)?
Luke 17 – Teachings on Forgiveness and Faith. Forgiveness and faith are two difficult concepts because we are human and we have our perceptions. We see “forgiveness” as “everything is ok and you are let off of the hook”. We understand faith to mean “I ask G_d whatever I want and he will give it” (Mark 11:24). The root of the word forgiveness is “pardon” which means “to give freely without reservation” implying I will not hold it over your head. Nowhere in the description is the notion that “all is ok and life is back to normal; rather, we are held accountable for our actions and we must pay for our lapses in judgment. The Greek word for faith is “pistueo” or “firm belief or conviction.” While I will have to make things right with those I hurt and they may not be as forgiving, in the Kingdom of G_d, the matter is settled. We must forgive others because, if hold onto the debt against them, we will carry those same things into the Kingdom of G_d (Matthew 16:19). It takes faith to forgive others because the pain the repentant caused will always be just beneath the surface and you will be reminded of the pain every time you see that person’s face or hr their voice. Faith says, “I let it go just like Jesus’ blood covered our sins at calvary so we too can let that sin be covered by the blood and we then can go in joy (Psalms 118:15).