Reading #1 – Luke 21
Reading #2 – Psalms 89
Reading #3 – Ecclesiastes 4
Reading #4 – Jeremiah 1
Reading #5 – 2 Chronicle 15
2 Chronicles 15 – Asa’s Religious Reforms. The message that the prophet Oded spoke to Asa and the people in the kingdom addressed a familiar refrain “The LORD will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek him, you will find him. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you (2)”. Asa and the people entered into a covenant to honor the true Lord with the blowing of the shofar (14). For about 35 years, the kingdom enjoyed a time of peace that had not occurred since the middle of Solomon’s reign. ll in Judah were happy about this covenant, for they had entered into it with all their heart. They earnestly sought after God, and they found him. And the LORD gave them rest from their enemies on every side (15). When a kingdom or nation’s heart is set on serving the Lord G_d, people will throng to the nation to be a part of the bounty (9).
Psalms 89 – A Psalm of Ethan the Ezrahite. This rather lengthy Psalm addresses two different kingdoms but one nation. Under King David’s leadership, the nation enjoyed prosperity and growth. David finished what Joshua started and that was, “conquer the land (Joshua 1:3).” David was a competent and confident leader and instilled pride in his people as the Psalms about his life bring out. The LORD said, “I have made a covenant with David, my chosen servant. I have sworn this oath to him: ‘I will establish your descendants as kings forever; they will sit on your throne from now until eternity (3-4).’” The problem with making covenants with the Lord G_d is that the success or failure hinges on the people being obedient to what He commands. This Psalm is a “Maskil” or “teaching psalm”. If the student is wise, he or she will understand the gravity of his/her actions and how it affects future generations and cause gradual slides into destruction. Everything belongs to G_d and puts it at our disposal as long as we remain faithful. The land the nation lived in did not change but, what it produced did (9-18). As it was in Eden, so it is on earth that the Lord planned long ago for his people to have the best of the land. Sin by its very nature promises what it will never give and, like one would hold a carrot in front of a donkey, it leads its victim to do the unthinkable to end up with the predictable. G_d will never contend with man to help him when he chooses to be disobedient (Genesis 6:3). But now you have rejected him and cast him off. You are angry with your anointed king. You have renounced your covenant with him; you have thrown his crown in the dust (38-39). Lord, where is your unfailing love? You promised it to David with a faithful pledge. Consider, Lord, how your servants are disgraced! I carry in my heart the insults of so many people. Your enemies have mocked me, O LORD; they mock your anointed king wherever he goes (49-51).
Ecclesiastes 4 – Futility. In the eyes of mankind, power is sought out because, if the person has power they will be able to hold sway over the harmless. The harmless are used as pawns to obtain the prominence their heart desires. The funny part is, without peace in heart we will never find the contentment we are looking for. A person’s wealth will give them no rest once it takes a hold of him or her (Ecclesiastes 5:12). Solomon was an example of what happens when wealth and prestige get a hold of you. Companionship meets one of the needs of mankind and that is “Belongingness” (Maslow). When we are isolated, the Devil has a greater potential for bringing us down which is where suicidal tendencies come into play. A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken (12).
Jeremiah 1 – Jeremiah’s Commission. Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah the Priest. Hilkiah, as you may remember, found the book of the law in the Temple and brought it to Josiah (2 Kings:22:8-20). Jeremiah was raised as a priest and would in the future take over the responsibility for preparing the sacrifice but G_d had a different plan for him. Then the LORD reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth! Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build-up and plant (9-10).” Jeremiah would be speaking a message to the nation that would not be popular and it would bring about the ire of King Jehoiachin. Then the LORD said to me, “Look, Jeremiah! What do you see?” And I replied, “I see a branch from an almond tree.” And the LORD said, “That’s right, and it means that I am watching, and I will certainly carry out all my plans.” Then the LORD spoke to me again and asked, “What do you see now?” And I replied, “I see a pot of boiling water, spilling from the north.” “Yes,” the LORD said, “for terror from the north will boil out on the people of this land. Listen! I am calling the armies of the kingdoms of the north to come to Jerusalem. I, the LORD, have spoken (11-15)! The false prophets and priests had been spewing lies to the people causing a sense of false security. This scene would play out again in the time of Jesus. “Get up and prepare for action. Go out and tell them everything I tell you to say. Do not be afraid of them, or I will make you look foolish in front of them. For see, today I have made you strong like a fortified city that cannot be captured, like an iron pillar or a bronze wall. You will stand against the whole land— the kings, officials, priests, and people of Judah. They will fight you, but they will fail. I am with you, and I will take care of you. I, the LORD, have spoken (17-19)!”
Luke 21 – The Future of Jerusalem. This message about the future has been subject for Biblical scholars to haggle over for centuries. The thing that must be kept in mind at all times is that the message was not speaking to future generations, it was spoken to the disciples who would be left to carry on the ministry. Jerusalem and the temple would get sacked in 70AD during the Jewish Roman wars that raged between 66 and 629 AD. When we read things through the lens of 21st-century thinking, we lose sight of the true intention of the message. Jesus laid out some key elements for the disciples to remember: “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and saying, ‘The time has come!’ But don’t believe them. And when you hear of wars and insurrections, don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place first, but the end won’t follow immediately (8-9).” Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man (36).”