Reading #1 – John 15
Reading #2 – Psalms 107
Reading #3 – Proverbs 10
Reading #4 – Jeremiah 19
Reading #5 – 2 Chronicle 33
2 Chronicles 33 – Mannessah Succeeds Hezekiah in Judah. Mannesah became the king of Judah at the age of 12. We are told that he did that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord G_d (2). When his father, Hezekiah, was ill and told “For the LORD says this, ‘Set your house in order and prepare a will, for you shall die; you will not live (Isaiah 38:1).” Hezekiah asked for a sign that he would be completely healed so the Lord gave him two options: have time go back 15 steps to the time of Ahaz or go 10 steps forward. Hezekiah wanted the clock to go back 10 steps to the time of Ahaz (2 Kings 2:8-11). The problem with this incident is that by asking for the Lord to move the clock back 15 years Judah would go back to the time of Ahaz who wickedly destroyed the nation by drawing an alliance with Assyria (2 Kings 18:13-18). When Manasseh came to power, he rebuilt all the altars, burned his child in the fire to the pagan god Baal (1-6). After Manasseh was taken captive only then did he humble his heart and seek the face of the Lord. When he prayed to Him, He was moved by his entreaty and heard his pleading, and brought him back to Jerusalem to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD is God (13). In the remaining years of his life, Mannaseh tore down the altars he erected, removed the vile idols from the House of the Lord, and then he sacrificed peace offerings to the Lord G_d. Manasseh’s son Amon was a co-regent with his father during the time Mannaseh was enslaved in Assyria; so, Amon started his co-regency around 650BC. Amon learned the wicked ways of his father and mother and would not turn from them. At the age of 22, Amon became the king in place of his deceased father unfortunately, he would only reign for 2 years before he was assassinated by his servants (21-25).
Psalms 107 – The Lord Rescues People from Many Troubles. Israel’s story is laden with good and bad memories. This prayer was uttered by David the man after G_d’s own heart somewhere around 1050 BC when the nation was coming together. As you may have noticed, scripture does not skirt around the wicked actions of the people. The reason for this is to show the reader (you) that G_d doesn’t call perfect people to the Kingdom, he calls “whosoever”; sometimes, “whosoever” is a vile person who turns from their wicked ways. When we turn from our wicked ways and seek the face of the Lord, he is found and the Devil loses a foothold in our life. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary And gathered them from the lands, From the east and the west, From the north and the south (2-3). We are set free by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony (Revelations 12:11). Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness And His wonderful acts to the children of men (8)! Our memories can either hinder us or give us reason to praise the Lord depending on our outlook. We are set free from our bondage not to be a showcase item for the Lord but that we would be enabled to live free which is G_d’s greatest desire for us (1 Timothy 2:3-4). Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness And His wonderful acts to the children of men (15,21)!
Proverbs 10 – Contrast Between Righteousness and Wickedness. Israel/Judah got to see the fruit of both righteous and wicked kings. Both ends of the spectrum bring about fruit some of which is unintentional. When we read this passage, we can put ourselves in the picture and see where our actions will either bring glory to G_d or disdain. Living in the middle that is, not living to fully honor the Lord but not completely wicked may seem preferable but then again, we become lukewarm water (Revelations 3:16). Living a righteous life does not mean “you never make a mistake in judgment” but it does say, “you will reap what you sow” (Galatians 6:7-9). Sin causes us grief and consequently, it also causes our family grief whether we intended it or not (Proverbs 11:28). The [consistently] righteous will never be shaken, But the wicked will not inhabit the earth (30). People like David, Solomon, Hezekiah, and Josia were not “perfect people born and bred”, they were imperfect people called at a time when the nation needed them the most. What these men and others did with the time they were given spoke volumes about which one was G_d and which one was a mere idol. The lips of the righteous know (speak) what is acceptable, But the mouth of the wicked knows (speaks) what is perverted (twisted) (32).
Jeremiah 19 – The Broken Jar. Jeremiah was sent to buy an earthenware jar or “pottery”. The jar was used as one would stand in the gap (Ezekiel 22:30). The jar stood for G_d’s covenant which the people broke. Earthen jars were used to store water and food. According to a web page, the jars are made from clay, phosphorous, iron, magnesium, and sulfur; clay also consists of alkaline which helps with digestion. So, the reference to the earthen jar made sense because it consisted of the minerals that we need for daily life. Ben-Hinnom or the “son of Hinnom” is the place that Manasseh burned his son to the pagan god Baal (2 Chronicles 33:1-6). Not everybody in the town of Jerusalem or the kingdom of Judah was vile but everyone would go into exile. Because the people [of Jerusalem] have abandoned (rejected) Me and have made this an alien and profaned place by burning sacrifices and incense in it to other gods, that neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah ever knew, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind (heart); therefore, listen very closely, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “when this place shall no longer be called Topheth or the Valley of Ben-Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter (4-6). When the jar was broken, it could not be mended any more than when a glass jar is smashed on the ground (10-11). In a nutshell, the actions of the few dictated the outcome for the many. Then Jeremiah came from Topheth, where the LORD had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the LORD’S house and said to all the people: “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am going to bring on this city and on all its towns, all the devastation that I have declared against it, because they have become stiff-necked and refused to hear and obey My words (14-15).'”
John 15 – Jesus Is the Vine – Followers Are Branches. Just as Jeremiah was sent to get an earthen vessel and break it, so Jesus is presenting a new jar that is filled with the blood of the covenant. This new jar would be used to develop the followers or “branches from the vine” so that they would be prepared for ministry. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that continues to bear fruit, He [repeatedly] prunes, so that it will bear more fruit [even richer and finer fruit] (2). The prominent temple would be destroyed about AD70. The writer was reminding the people what Jesus said and did so that they would be prepared for the coming destruction. “Remaining in Jesus” sounds easier than it is. Remember the serpent or Devil never stops working; both Jesus and the Devil are considered vines and each one grows its fruit and both fruits appear to be delicious but the taste of the Devil’s fruit brings death whereas Jesus’ fruit brings life and that more abundantly (John10:10). So the decisions the disciples had to make would require diligence to keep the garden clean. If you keep My commandments and obey My teaching, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love. I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made complete and overflowing (10-11). Following Jesus does not mean that we will have an easy road nor does it mean “everyone will laud our decision” it means, we will live for him even if nobody chooses to follow. “But when the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of Truth who comes from the Father, He will testify and bear witness about Me. But you will testify also and be My witnesses because you have been with Me from the beginning (26-27).