Reading #1 – John 10
Reading #2 – Psalms 102
Reading #3 – Proverbs 5
Reading #4 – Jeremiah 14
Reading #5 – 2 Chronicle 28
2 Chronicles 28 – Ahaz Succeeds Jotham in Judah. Ahaz had aligned himself with the practices of the nations that surrounded Judah (2-4). The invasion that had started in his father’s time (2 Kings 15:37) led to a full-scale invasion. 200,000 men, women, and children were taken captive to Samaria along with treasures from the temple and the people (5-8). But the Prophet Oded stood up to castigate the returning army for taking captives when the nation had been handed over to them from the Commander of the Armies of Heaven. When a nation is in the throes of sin, the Lord G_d will not help the nation nor will He hinder the invading armies. Where the Samarian army got into trouble was when they destroyed in fierce anger and brought the captured people of Judah back to be slaves. Enslaving fellow Jews was against G_d’s law (Leviticus 25:44-46, 10). So, the prophet warned the armies to cloth the people and return them to Judah. Then some of the heads of the Ephraimites (Israel)—Azariah the son of Johanan, Berechiah the son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah the son of Shallum, and Amasa the son of Hadleigh—took a stand against those who were returning from the battle, and said to them, “You must not bring the captives in here; for we are guilty before the LORD already, and what you intend to do will add more to our sins and our guilt. For our guilt is so great that His burning anger is against Israel.” So the armed men [of Israel] left the captives and the spoil [of Judah] before the officers and all the assembly (12-13). Certain men were designated to cloth the slaves and be proper hosts by anointing the people with oil. The captured people were taken to Jericho or the City of Palm Trees and the armies returned to Samaria (15). These events should have stopped Ahaz in his tracks but, instead, he hired the armies of Assyria to come to the nation’s aid (16). The Edomites who were defeated in the Salt mines in the time of Amaziah (2 Chronicles 25:5) and the Philistine who were enemies of Israel for centuries rose against Judah (17-18). Tilgath-Pilneser was hired to come to the aid of Judah which was a mistake in judgment on behalf of Ahaz because the nation would then be a vassal to Assyria. To make matters worse, Ahaz worshiped the idols of the nation Assyria because he believed the idols saved Assyria. Then Ahaz collected the utensils of the house of God and he cut them in pieces, and he shut the doors of the house of the LORD and made altars for himself in every corner of Jerusalem. In every city of Judah, he made high places to burn incense to other gods, provoking to anger the LORD, the God of his fathers (24-25). After Ahaz died, he was not buried in the tombs of the kings which was a dishonor Ahaz rightly deserved.
Psalms 102 – Prayer for the Afflicted. The writer, quite possibly Hezekia, was dealing with an affliction (2 Kings 20:1-7). Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline Your ear to me; In the day when I call, answer me quickly (2). Affliction whether is not pleasurable (5-11). The writer understands that how he deals with this affliction and who he turns to, will either encourage the people to serve the Lord G_d or turn them to serve the idols of the nation. G_d hears and sees us in our afflictions and if we can just hold on and see the pain through, He will come to our aid. Some afflictions are self-inflicted others come by the course of a plague in either case, we need not fear (Psalms 23, 18-21). “But You remain the same, And Your years will never end. “The children of Your servants will continue, And their descendants will be established before You (27-28).”
Proverbs 5 – Immorality’s Downfall. My son, be attentive to my wisdom [godly wisdom learned by costly experience], Incline your ear to my understanding; That you may exercise discrimination and discretion (good judgment), And your lips may reserve knowledge and answer wisely [to temptation]. Solomon unlike his deceased brother was born by the marriage with Bathsheba. Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, was killed at the hands of David to cover up a great sin. From the “great sin learned by costly experience”, David can warn Solomon. Immoral women just like immoral men cause problems for families. David’s family was plagued by sin after David’s grievous mistake in judgment. So Solomon is sharing what his father taught him. Now then, my sons, listen to me And do not depart from (forget) the words of my mouth (7). In essence, “do what I say not what I do”. Solomon was granted the wisdom of Heaven so he knew what his father taught him was right. For the ways of man are directly before the eyes of the LORD, And He carefully watches all of his paths [all of his comings and goings] (21).
Jeremiah 14 – Drought and a Prayer for Mercy. Judah would become desolate and stand in contrast to its former glory. Once the nation stepped over the threshold into sin, there was no going back or rewinding the clock to undo the sin. “The ground is cracked Because there has been no rain on the land; The farmers are distressed, And they have covered their heads [in shame] (4). Sin brings about a spiritual drought that spreads into our life and touches everything around us. This would have been a great time for Jeremiah to ridicule the people and say, “I told you so” however, the destruction of Judah would also cause problems for Jeremiah and for the people who served the Lord G_d in that time. “O LORD, though our many sins testify against us” [prays Jeremiah], “Act now [for us and] for Your name’s sake [so that the faithless may witness Your faithfulness]! For our backslidings are countless; We have sinned against You (7). The false prophets had proclaimed “good news” and the people glommed onto it not knowing that G_d had not sent them and that the reverse of their prophecies would come about. Then the LORD said to me, “The [counterfeit] prophets are prophesying lies in My Name. I have neither sent them nor authorized them nor spoken to them. They are prophesying to you made-up visions [pretending to call forth responses from handmade gods], worthless divination, and the deceit of their mind (14). Some of the false prophets were henchmen of the king or “hired hands” (John 10:12). The job of the Priest and Prophet is to warn the people. Instead, these so-called religious people did more harm to the nation than any invading army could do. And the people to whom they are prophesying will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword; and they will have no one to bury them—neither them, nor their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters. For I will pour out their [own] wickedness on them [and not only on the imposters posing as prophets, for the people could not have been deceived without their consent] (16). The foolish people thought the word that was spoken by the Prophets was true because it sounded like the stories they had heard about Him. The idols of the nation would only serve to be dead-weight and useless to a purpose. Are there any among the idols of the nations who can send rain? Or can the heavens [of their own will] give showers? Is it not You, O LORD our God? Therefore we will wait and hope [confidently] in You, For You are the one who has made all these things [the heavens and the rain] (22).
John 10 – Parable of the Good Shepherd. The good shepherd or the one from G_d, speaks the true word and his disciples follow him willingly. The shepherd stands watch over the flock so that when one runs away, he will go find the lost one and return to the flock. When he has brought all his sheep outside, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice and recognize his call. They will never follow a stranger, but will run away from him because they do not know the voice of strangers (4-5).” When the thief comes in, his purpose is to steal, kill and destroy every square inch of G_d’s temple so that it will be unusable and a rag for the Devil to wave under G_d’s nose. Jesus came that we may have life and that more abundantly (10). When we follow the Devil’s plan, either knowingly or unknowingly, he will abandon us when we are in up over our heads and we are on the verge of drowning. For this reason, the Father loves Me, because I lay down My [own] life so that I may take it back. No one takes it away from Me, but I lay it down voluntarily. I am authorized and have the power to lay it down and to give it up, and I am authorized and have the power to take it back. This command I have received from My Father.”