Reading #1 – John 11
Reading #2 – Psalms 103
Reading #3 – Proverbs 6
Reading #4 – Jeremiah 15
Reading #5 – 2 Chronicle 29
2 Chronicles 29 – Hezekiah Succeeds Ahaz in Judah. Hezekiah, the first son of Ahaz became Judah in 686 BC about 100 years before the nation’s exile to Babylon (1). Hezekiah, unlike his father, was a righteous king who set out to undo his father’s errors in judgment. In his father’s time, Pekah the son of Remaliah and Rezin the king of Aram attacked Judah and carried off the women, men, and children to be slaves in Samaria. King Ahaz stripped the gold from the temple doors and all the treasures to take to the king of Assyria, as a ploy to garner support. Unfortunately, it would lead to further complications because the nation would be a vassal to Assyria until the Hezekiah became the king of Judah. He did right in the sight of the LORD, following everything that David his father (forefather) had done. In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD [which his father had closed]and repaired them [and replaced the gold overlay] (2-3). The Levitical priests had abandoned Judah because of the attacks from the now-deceased king Ahaz. King Hezekiah knew the law of the Lord and sought with fervor to always honor Him. Part of honoring him was getting the right staff back in Judah to hold the sacrifice per Mosaic law. For behold, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity because of this. Now it is in my heart to make a covenant (solemn agreement) with the LORD God of Israel so that His burning anger will turn away from us. My sons, do not be negligent and careless now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand in His presence, to attend to His service, and to be His ministers and burn incense (9-11).” Because of the neglect and willful disobedience on behalf of the nation, there were not enough priests who had consecrated themselves so the Levites had to help with the sacrifice until more of the priests had been properly consecrated. The temple itself had fallen into disrepair and would need to be cleaned out before the sacrifice could be held. Once this was done, temple worship could be held again.
Psalms 103 – Prayer for Mercy. There is a part about G_d that is often hard to reconcile and that is, how He can forgive. Mankind, on the other hand, struggles with it especially when it is against us. Sin separates man from G_d, family members, coworkers, and church families. When Ahaz reigned in Judah, he led the nation into sin, struck a bargain with Assyria, and sacrificed his son in the fire to Baal. When Hezekiah came to power, he changed the direction of the country albeit with some difficulties; he broke the agreement with Assyria and refused to pay the ransom his father agreed to. The temple had been left in disrepair, the articles of Baal worship were still in the temple so they had to go out. By cleansing the temple, the spirit of G_d could once again inhabit the temple. Forgiveness and mercy require the perpetrator(s) to make amends (Acts 2:37-41). The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in compassion and lovingkindness (8). G_d is compassionate, loving, and kind but, He is also “Just” and all who come before him must acknowledge that He is sovereign and holy. While it is true that mankind is sinful and people get away with sin regularly without considering who they are hurting or who will have to pay for their crimes, it is also true that “e will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever (9).” It is with the same mindset that parents love their children, care for them, and provide for them, when the parent’s warning is ignored long enough, the child will see another side of the parents that will cause fights. When we come to G_d with the same heart as Hezekiah, the sins that kept us at bay from G_d will be removed and healing can begin. He has not dealt with us according to our sins [as we deserve], Nor rewarded us [with punishment] according to our wickedness. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear and worship Him [with awe-filled respect and deepest reverence] (10-11).
Proverbs 6 – Parental Counsel. When a child leaves home for the first time, he or she will face enormous troubles some of which he or she will not be ready for. While Solomon wasn’t leaving home, perse, he was ascending to the throne of the combined nation. David was a good king albeit with a couple of major mistakes, Solomon was going to be stepping into a big set of shoes. So David is giving Solomon some clear guidance for properly ruling over the nation. These guidelines or pearls of wisdom are valuable because they tell the reader what must be done to have peace in life. Debt, just like sin, weighs a person down and affects good judgment. Not everyone who commits a crime does so out of malicious behavior sometimes, it is to meet a need; however, “People do not despise a thief if he steals To satisfy himself when he is hungry; But when he is found, he must repay seven times [what he stole]; He must give all the property of his house [if necessary to meet his fine] (30-31).” Being the king of a country just like being a peasant doesn’t mean that we get absolved because of our current position. But whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks common sense and sound judgment and an understanding [of moral principles]; He who would destroy his soul does it. Wounds and disgrace he will find, And his reproach (blame) will not be blotted out (32-33).
Jeremiah 15 – Judgment Must Come. The nation Judah had gone as far to the right as they could go, they had turned away from the true G_d and refused to honor Him. For the Spirit of the Lord to say, “Even though Moses and Samuel were to stand before Me [interceding for them], My heart would still not be [turned with favor] toward these people [Judah]. Send them away from My presence and out of My sight and let them go (1)!” Of course, the question would be asked, “if you don’t want us, where can we go?” “Those [destined] for death, to death; Those for the sword, to the sword; Those for famine, to famine; Those for captivity, to captivity (2).”‘ When a nation is cast off from the Lord, every benefit of being a child of G_d is stripped away and destruction becomes our lot. By the end of year 586, there would be nothing left of Jerusalem to hold on to. It was understandable that Jeremiah would lament Jerusalem’s falling because he lived in Jerusalem, he was a member of the kingdom, and had done nothing wrong other than to complain. Therefore, thus says the LORD [to Jeremiah], “If you repent [and give up this mistaken attitude of despair and self-pity], then I will restore you [to a state of inner peace] So that you may stand before Me [as My obedient representative]; And if you separate the precious from the worthless [examining yourself and cleansing your heart from unwarranted doubt concerning My faithfulness], You will become My spokesman (19).
John 11 – Death and Resurrection of Lazarus. The Sanhedrin wanted Jesus dead and they did not care how or by who. When Jesus raised Lazarus, their problems became bigger than they were able to deal with. One person was bad enough to deal with but, whoever heard of raising a person from the dead except in the time of Elijah and Elisha who were well-known and respected prophets. Yet this character Jesus was an odd-ball because he neither spoke like the Sanhedrin nor echoed their words yet he did miracles that could not be refuted. But one of them, Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year [the year of Christ’s crucifixion], said to them, “You know nothing at all! Nor do you understand that it is expedient and politically advantageous for you that one man dies for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” Now he did not say this [simply] on his initiative; but being the high priest that year, he [was unknowingly used by God and] prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation but also to gather together into one body the children of God who have been scattered abroad. So from that day on they planned together to kill Him (49-53).