Reading #1 – Luke 19
Reading #2 – Psalms 87
Reading #3 – Ecclesiastes 2
Reading #4 – Isaiah 65
Reading #5 – 2 Chronicle 13
2 Chronicles 13 – Abijah becomes King. The armies of Judah faced the armies of Israel in battle. The armies of Israel were more in numbers than Judah’s armies which should have scared Judah. Abijah’s speech to Jeroboam and the armies of Israel the differences between the two nations, the two kings, and the two different types of priests. King Jeroboam hired anybody who wanted to be a priest as long as they had the necessary supplies (9). The priests of the Lord G_d were chased from Israel to the Temple in Jerusalem. When the armies of old met in battle lines, they brought their gods with them with the hopes of being protected; which, we will find out that Israel’s gods were not able to save anything. Meanwhile, Jeroboam had secretly sent part of his army around behind the men of Judah to ambush them. When Judah realized that they were being attacked from the front and the rear, they cried out to the LORD for help. Then the priests blew the trumpets, and the men of Judah began to shout. At the sound of their battle cry, God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel and routed them before Abijah and the army of Judah (13-15). Victories like this do not occur simply because we “call on the Lord”. Judah had been honoring the Lord G_d by adhering to his laws before the battle occurred. Before the battle, Abijah had one wife in later years, he married multiple wives who turned him from the Lord leading to his demise (21). Sadly Abijah reigned only for 3 years (2).
Psalms 87 – A Psalm of the Descendents of Korah. On the holy mountain stands the city founded by the LORD. He loves the city of Jerusalem more than any other city in Israel. O city of God, what glorious things are said of you (1-3)! To the descendants of Korah, Jerusalem was the city of the Lord and they made room for him. The people will play flutes and sing, “The source of my life springs from Jerusalem (7)!”
Ecclesiastes 2 – Futility. Solomon was the richest man on planet earth of that time. The wealth of nations were brought to Solomon to the point that silver became worthless. Whatever Solomon wanted, he got or he built. At issue, though, he learned that stuff will never make people happy. So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind (17). Solomon would lose everything in death no matter how powerful he became and someone else would inherit it. I came to hate all my hard work here on earth, for I must leave to others everything I have earned. And who can tell whether my successors will be wise or foolish? Yet they will control everything I have gained by my skill and hard work under the sun. How meaningless! So I gave up in despair, questioning the value of all my hard work in this world (18-20). “Chasing the wind” is futile because it does not follow a direct course and it changes direction when we least expect it. God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him. But if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away and gives it to those who please him. This, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind (26).
Isaiah 65 – Judgment and Final Salvation. G_d has great plans for mankind but he and/or she are not always willing to come to him. So the good that he planned would not occur. “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name. All-day long I opened my arms to rebellious people. But they follow their own evil paths and their crooked schemes (1-2). G_d’s plan for our life is not some illusion that he is glad he does not have to give, it is right in front of us but we do not see it. We cannot live one foot in G_d’s kingdom and one foot in the world just as you cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24) because the two kingdoms are 180 degrees out of sync with the other. At night they go out among the graves, worshiping the dead. They eat the flesh of pigs and make stews with other forbidden foods. Yet they say to each other, ‘Don’t come too close or you will defile me! I am holier than you!’ These people are a stench in my nostrils, an acrid smell that never goes away (4-5). G_d is never silent on matters of righteousness and no one is exempt from judgment. We are not saved just because we say “I serve the Lord see my temple”? We are not saved no matter how many Bibles we possess or many verses we can quote. We are saved by remaining in Him and honoring him with our heart, not our mouth (6-7)! The “new heavens and the new earth” (17) speak to “results”. If despite all this you still will not listen to Me and be obedient, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. I will break your pride in your power, and I will make your skies like iron [giving no rain and blocking all prayers] and your ground like bronze [hard to plow and yielding no produce]. Your strength will be spent uselessly, for your land will not yield its produce and the trees of the land will not yield their fruit (Leviticus 26:18-20).
Luke 19 – Jesus and Zacchaeus. This man Zacchaeus was the worst sort of individual in the eyes of the people because he was a “tax collector”. He wanted to get a look at this man Jesus that he had heard so much about. So he climbed up into a tree. When Jesus saw him, he said “come on down Zacchaeus I want to be your guest today” (5). So Jesus did the unthinkable in the eyes of the self-righteous, “he had a meal with a sinner”. Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost (8-10).” Jesus’ life and death were recorded in the book of the prophets before he was born so that the world would know the true Messiah of G_d. So, his entry into Jerusalem riding on the back of a donkey was a signal that his man was a king. The priests wanted Jesus to silence the people from proclaiming him “king” because it would infuriate Caesar but more importantly, it would change the people’s perception of the religious leaders. Sort of like being served a wonderful healthy meal instead of the fast-food you have been eating and seeing and feeling the difference. Many religious people have separated themselves from G_d thinking they were the “best thing ever” so when the true message is preached, they call it foul. Conversely, there are the few who have been adhering to G_d’s word and have fruit to show for it (11-27). Jesus’ prayer for the city was that they would open their eyes and hearts but they would have nothing to do with it (42-44).