Reading #1 – John 5
Reading #2 – Psalms 97
Reading #3 – Ecclesiastes 12
Reading #4 – Jeremiah 9
Reading #5 – 2 Chronicle 23
2 Chronicles 23 – Revolt against Athaliah. Queen Athaliah the wife of Jehoram took control of the kingdom after her son, Ahaziah, was killed. She took out her vengeance on the kingdom by putting death all of Ahaziah’s sisters and brothers however, like everything that G_d does, a door was left open in this case, it was Joash under the direction of Jehoiada the priest. Joash was a baby when he was taken into protective custody of Jehoiada. At the age of 6, he has crowned king of Judah a position that remained open since his father was slain. Jehoiada said to them, “Here is the king’s son! The time has come for him to reign! The LORD has promised that a descendant of David will be our king (6). Crowning Joash was the easy part dealing with Athaliah would be the most difficult part. When Athaliah found out what was going on behind her back, it was too late because the new King Joash was standing by the pillars with a copy of the law in his hands (2 Kings 11:12). Athaliah alongside her compatriots the priests of Baal. The beloved temple erected to honor Baal was torn down. So all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was peaceful because Athaliah had been killed (21).
Psalms 97 – A Sabbath Prayer (Continued). In the same way that Athaliah usurped the crown, so did the Devil. The Devil was conniving and quick with his wits because of it, he was able to trick Adam and Eve into surrendering control. Many of the Devil’s plans were upended because of people like the writer of this Psalm, Moses. Moses yielded control of his life, despite his foibles, to the Lord G_d and sought to honor Him. Of course, as we read in scripture, Moses made a mistake in judgment and it cost him dearly. Although Moses failed, it did not mean he stopped honoring the Lord or that the Lord was no longer the King. The LORD is king! Let the earth rejoice! Let the farthest coastlands be glad (1). The Sabbath day closes the door on the previous week and is a time to stop and reflect on the Lord G_d and all that He has done in and through our lives. “Sin” is not the end of the story of our lives, it is the end of the chapter and a new one begins. Dark clouds surround him. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire spreads ahead of him and burns up all his foes. His lightning flashes out across the world. The earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness; every nation sees his glory (2-6). The world sees G_d’s glory when they see our lives transformed from destruction to being made whole again. You who love the LORD, hate evil! He protects the lives of his godly people and rescues them from the power of the wicked. The light shines on the godly, and joy on those whose hearts are right. May all who are godly rejoice in the LORD and praise his holy name (10-12)!
Ecclesiastes 12 – The Preacher. The most important part of our life needs to be focused on serving the Lord in a way that is natural for us. King Joash was brought up in the Temple, taught by Jehoiadah, presented with a copy of G_d’s laws, however that would make him a “righteous King”. When we come to the Lord G_d, He does not say “Serve according to ____ fashion”. The teacher/preacher teaches the Word of the Lord but it is incumbent on the student to take the word on board and make it fit according to who we are not what we think we should be. The child is admonished to live according to the law of the Lord from his/her youth so that when he/she gets old they will have something to show for their life (1-4). Many say, “I will wait until I _____ before coming to the Lord” or, “let me sow my wild oats”. The danger is that we do the ungodly and then “regret” sets in. Trusting in the Lord compels us to live life fearlessly, love fully, and give generously. Furthermore, they are afraid of a high place and dangers on the road; the almond tree (hair) blossoms [white], and the grasshopper (a little thing) is a burden, and the caperberry (desire, appetite) fails. For man goes to his eternal home and the mourners go about the streets and market places (5). Sad times, like bad times, come when we least expect it and when it happens, we are caught off-guard. “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher. “All [that is done without God’s guidance] is vanity (futility) (8).” We are given the choice about which entity we will serve, will it be the Devil or G_d? So how do we honor G_d? If he doesn’t want the long meaningless prayers or the repeated prayers (Matthew 6:5-8), what does He want of us? hen all has been heard, the end of the matter is: fear God [worship Him with awe-filled reverence, knowing that He is almighty God] and keep His commandments, for this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, every hidden and secret thing, whether it is good or evil (13-14).
Jeremiah 9 – Lament over Zion. Zion was the hill on which the city of David (Jerusalem) was built. David took his life in his hands when he and Joab captured the city from the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5:6-10). While David certainly set the wheels in motion by his indiscretions, he understood how important it was to never break faith with the Lord G_d. In essence, what has happened at this juncture was that the people took what G_d so graciously provided and through it back in G_d’s face. When we break faith with G_d, it breaks his heart because he knows who perpetrated the action and how the picture came into place. Oh, that my head were waters And my eyes a fountain of tears, That I might weep day and night For the slain of the daughter of my people (1)! Why does G_d care so much for mankind that He weeps over our broken lives? G_d’s greatest desire for our lives is that we would be free, joyful, and content. the Devil, on the other hand, wants us to live marginal lives so that he controls us and that is why he comes across as a “concerned citizen.” Oh, that I had in the wilderness A lodging place (a mere shelter) for wayfaring men, That I might leave my people And go away from them! For they are all adulterers [worshiping idols instead of the LORD], [They are] an assembly of treacherous men [of weak character, men without integrity] (2). Once we go down the road towards the Devil’s kingdom (sin), many traps are waiting to be sprung, many briars to dig into our soul, and more than enough souls to ridicule us. When a community is under the control of the Devil, you will never know who you can trust and who should not trust and this creates a dilemma for us. The problem is, not everybody is bad therefore, not everybody is good depending on which side of the mirror you are looking at. So if we should trust nobody no matter how close in relationship to us they are, then we learn to rely on the Lord G_d (4-6) and this is why it is so important to know intimately the Word of the Lord and apply it to our lives. “I will take up a weeping and wailing for the mountains, And a [funeral] dirge for the pastures of the wilderness, Because they are burned up and desolated so that no one passes through [them]; Nor can anyone hear the lowing of cattle. Both the birds of the air and the beasts have fled; they are gone. “I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, A haunt and dwelling place of jackals; And I will make the cities of Judah a desolation, without inhabitant (10-11).” When sin is in its element, the party rages and the party-goers revel in it thinking there will be no end. The reason it is like this is to entice the people on the fence into joining the revelry; to do that, the party must fulfill the physical man’s desires. When the “desires of the heart” trap us, they will never let go of us until the Spirit of the Lord is allowed to take control once again (Psalms 51 epitaph).
John 5 – The Healing at Bethesda. The young man who waited in line for 38 years to be healed was asked, “don’t you want to be healed”? This was an ostentatious question because of course, he wanted to be healed. Every time the waters were troubled by the angel, someone always got ahead of him so he waited. The man was told, “get up and pick up your mat” on a sabbath. The people were not awed by the healing, they were angry because he violated the sabbath order (. Sometimes, sin is at the root of our infirmities like alcohol, drugs, sexual promiscuity, and the like. Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you (14).” Jesus was not ashamed to call G_d his Father because that is what G_d was, is, and will always be. Not every person on planet earth receives healing and some go from illness to illness thinking “that is all that G_d has in mind for me (21-22).” G_d desires so much more for us than we can conceive but we refuse to believe in Him and so we stay in sin. “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, the person who hears My word [the one who heeds My message], and believes and trusts in Him who sent Me, has (possesses now) eternal life [that is, eternal life begins—the believer is transformed], and does not come into judgment and condemnation, but has passed [over] from death into life (24). When we think of the word “Ressurection”, we think of a physical resurrection like what happened to Jesus. Sin, though, is like a grave, the person dead in sin lies in that tomb abandoned to Sheol. Yet, like Lazarus, Jesus cries out “___ come out” and the person is released from sin. Jesus spoke about three different testimonies but all pointed to the Father. John’s testimony was “I am a lamp. Prepare the way of the Lord to make straight his paths” (Mark 1:3). Jesus’ work testimony is, “Look at what has been accomplished like the healing of the sinful man” (36). The testimony of the Father is, “The Father has sent me and the power he has given me is proof” (37). Jesus came not with clever words nor worn-out phrases but with the power and authority of G_d and this caused great ire among the people who were used to stale bread labeled “Word of G_d”.