Reading #1 – John 1
Reading #2 – Psalms 93
Reading #3 – Ecclesiastes 8
Reading #4 – Jeremiah 5
Reading #5 – 2 Chronicle 19
2 Chronicles 19 – Jehoshaphat Appoints Judges. Jehoshaphat had made an agreement or treaty with the king of Israel Ahab and selected the princess of Israel for his son the Crown Prince of Judah which opened the door for trouble in the succeeding generation. Judah and Israel went into battle together against Ramoth-Gilead which displeased the Lord in part due to the righteous king not asking the Lord for His guidance before the journey to Israel. Jehu son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him. “Why should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD?” he asked the king. “Because of what you have done, the LORD is very angry with you. Even so, there is some good in you, for you have removed the Asherah poles throughout the land, and you have committed yourself to seek God (2-3).” King Judah made it his goal to encourage people to return to the Lord and serve Him only. The encouragement to the judges was, “Always think carefully before pronouncing judgment. Remember that you do not judge to please people but to please the LORD. He will be with you when you render the verdict in each case. Fear the LORD and judge with integrity, for the LORD our God does not tolerate perverted justice, partiality, or the taking of bribes (6-7).” The good thing about King Jehoshaphat was that he lived what he believed and preached (Matthew 7:1-3) which enhanced his message to the nation because the people could trust that he would not be duplicitous. “Take courage as you fulfill your duties, and may the LORD be with those who do what is right (11c).”
Psalms 93 – Greater than the Greatest. Above all of mankind, above every ruler, and stronger than the strongest is the Lord G_d who made Heaven and Earth. Your throne, O LORD, has stood from time immemorial. You are from the everlasting past. The floods have risen, O LORD. The floods have roared like thunder; the floods have lifted their pounding waves (2-3). There are people in this world that believe the sun rises and sets on their ways and they boast of their great power but the grave, which everyone will go to, is greater than man’s very best. Solomon addressed this concern in the book of Ecclesiastes (Ecclesiastes 2:18). Although the grave has taken down the mightiest of rulers, the most arrogant of mankind, and the greatest servant of the Lord G_d, there is one that is mightier than the grave, the Lord G_d (4). G_d’s laws have never changed in the over 4000 years that mankind has dwelled in the land. Your royal laws cannot be changed. Your reign, O LORD, is holy forever and ever (5).
Ecclesiastes 8 – Obedience to the King. In the time before Samson was born, his mother received a messenger heralding the boy’s birth. Receiving a message of that magnitude was great but it was what his father did that set the tone for the child’s birth and early years. Of course, as we will find out, Samson did not obey his parents as he should have which would cause problems for the nation. Entering into a covenant with the Lord G_d is not as important as honoring the covenant with wholehearted devotion. Obey the king since you vowed to God that you would. Don’t try to avoid doing your duty, and don’t stand with those who plot evil, for the king can do whatever he wants (2-3). Honoring the King’s headship by being obedient meant the King also had to honor his headship, the Lord G_d. Those who obey him will not be punished. Those who are wise will find a time and a way to do what is right, for there is a time and a way for everything, even when a person is in trouble. Indeed, how can people avoid what they don’t know is going to happen (5-7)? Death will take people when they least expect it so, as Paul said to the church at Thessalonica, “I come as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4). Our choice to honor G_d must occur while we live because, after we are gone, there is no more time to do “what is right” everything that we have done will be written. If we dishonor G_d, how can we expect the world to honor what we say is from the Lord G_d or that our beliefs should be trusted? The world’s perception of us is not all that important in the grand scheme of things because the world’s perception changes like the winds that blow one way and then another.
Jeremiah 5 – The Sins of Judah. The day King Jehoshaphat gave the crown prince of Judah to marry the princess of Israel, a fire was started that would burn to the time of the exile. “Run up and down every street in Jerusalem,” says the LORD. “Look high and low; search throughout the city! If you can find even one just and honest person, I will not destroy the city. But even when they are under oath, saying, ‘As surely as the LORD lives,’ they are still telling lies (1-2)!” For G_d to make this bargain, He knew there was not a single person in Judah, other than Jeremiah, who was righteous either that or, he knew there was at least one righteous person and would not have to destroy the land. Jeremiah understood that if the nation were to be destroyed, he too would be destroyed. Then I said, “But what can we expect from the poor? They are ignorant. They don’t know the ways of the LORD. They don’t understand God’s laws. So I will go and speak to their leaders. Surely they know the ways of the LORD and understand God’s laws.” But the leaders, too, as one man, had thrown off God’s yoke and broken his chains (4-5). So the nation had no hope and soon no autonomy (6). When we turn our back on G_d as Judah did, we must keep it in the forefront of our mind that G_d does not speak without having a plan to fulfill His promise(s). “How can I pardon you? For even your children have turned from me. They have sworn by gods that are not gods at all! I fed my people until they were full. But they thanked me for committing adultery and lining up at the brothels (7). When the nation followed the path paved by the wicked kings, it never went back to the righteousness that was noted in King David’s time and this is problematic because it sets the stage for the next generation. Respect for someone is shown by our words coupled with our actions (22-23). When we disrespect the G_d who delivers us from every trouble, we deprive ourselves of the blessings that could have been ours (25) thinking that “I am just expressing my will”. A horrible and shocking thing has happened in this land— the prophets give false prophecies, and the priests rule with an iron hand. Worse yet, my people like it that way! But what will you do when the end comes (30-31)?
John 1 – Prologue: Christ, the Eternal Word. It was a time unlike any other time in the little town of Jerusalem. The people heard the message bout this mythical messiah of G_d to the exclusion of all else. The book of John was initially written to the diaspora a hold-over from the time of the exile in 586. In Jerusalem was the “Hellenized Jews” who had learned the ways of the Greeks through “compromise” and there was the ever-dwindling group of the diaspora who waited for the King. Two men would come one was this John the Baptist and the other the Messiah. When John started his ministry, there was a spiritual awakening going on. God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him (6-9). It was no surprise that John didn’t physically recognize him or, the Devil would intervene to help John see another Messiah and worship him. So, G_d sent his angel to tell John who this character was that he would not be worthy to by his servant. o the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me (14-15).’”