Make a Choice! – 2 Chron. 34

 

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This picture is from the Memorial Scrolls Trust (http://www.memorialscrollstrust.org/), a collection of 1600 Czech Torah scrolls saved from the destruction of the Holocaust.

 

Wow! This week has been such a great reminder for me about the importance of scripture! We began this week by looking at our memory verse from Deut. 30:19-20:

 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

We’ve learned how we can choose life through desiring and studying God’s word this week. What does choosing life look like?

Let’s pause for a moment this Saturday morning and turn to 2 Chronicles 34, our key text. The Israelites in the Old Testament always seem to be getting into trouble and turning away from God’s paths. At this point in 2 Chronicles, the kingdom of Israel that Saul and David had established had been divided in two, with the ten tribes in the north making up Israel and the two in the south, Judah. The nation of Israel had become so wicked that God had sent them into exile. The kingdom of Judah had not gotten that bad, yet. But still, the people, under the king’s directions, had begun to worship other gods and neglected the one true God. In 2 Chronicles 33, we find the temple in disrepair and the law of God lost. The nation of Judah was choosing death.

But, in 2 Chronicles 34, we find hope in the form of a boy named Josiah, anointed king at only 8 years old. The Bible said that “he did what was right in the LORD’s sight and walked in the ways of his ancestor David; he did not turn aside to the right or the left” (v. 2). Josiah according to this verse was obviously choosing the path of life. But, what does that actually mean? What did he do that was so righteous?

The rest of this chapter goes on to say that he tore down the false gods that his people were worshiping and cleansed the land. Then, he began to restore God’s temple to how it should be. While the priests were looking through the temple and cleaning it out, they found something pretty important. In verse 14, it says that “Hilkiah the priest found the book of the law of the LORD written by the hand of Moses.” The people of Judah had walked so far down the path of unrighteousness that they totally neglected the law of God and lost it. Later on, it says that the court secretary, Shapan, just told King Josiah, “Hilkiah the priest gave me a book.” The law to him was nothing more than an old book!

Shapan read the law aloud to Josiah and when Josiah heard this, he got so upset that he tore his clothes! He realized that his people hadn’t been choosing the way of life; they hadn’t been keeping “the word of the LORD in order to do everything written in [it]” (v. 21).

choose life

This week, we’ve been meditating on the importance of scripture. We have a wonderful gift already because we have such easy access to the word of God! But, just like the people of Judah, we may neglect it to chase after other things. This year, we have another opportunity to commit ourselves to learning how to choose life from God’s word, both through these devotions and more simply through dedicating ourselves to God. Beginning tomorrow, we will learn more Godly wisdom from the book of Proverbs. Make a choice now to dedicate yourself like Josiah did to the daily reading of God’s word so that we can follow the paths of righteousness that lead to life.

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What Causes the People to Perish? (2 Kings 21-23)

Saturday, November 12

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Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh, is the next king of Judah.  And he does not take after his father.  Manasseh built pagan altars in the Lord’s temple and even sacrificed his own son in the fire to Molek – a pagan practice to a foreign false god.  Judah did more evil under Manasseh than the nations that were removed from the land before God established Judah (2 Kings 21:9).  God is not pleased and he foretells a coming “cleansing” of the land: “I will wipe out Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. I will …give them into the the hands of enemies.” (2 Kings 21:13,14).

Manasseh’s son, Amon, is the next wicked ruler.  He is assassinated.  His assassinators are then assassinated and his 8 year old son, Josiah, is given the crown.  It seems a certain recipe for disaster – civil unrest, kingly assassinations, violence, the son and grandson of some of the worst kings is handed the kingship at the age of 8.  However, somehow, with all these strikes against him, Josiah rises above his past and current circumstances.  It appears he has the benefit of some godly advisors, for we learn, “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord… not turning aside to the right or to the left.” (2 Kings 22:2).  Eighteen years into his reign he commissions the cleaning of the temple.  A most valuable treasure is found – the forgotten, neglected, Book of the Law.  When it is read to Josiah he tears his robes, humbles himself and seeks the Lord for he sees how far the people had strayed from God’s will as well as realizing that punishment was getting closer.  Josiah leaps to action.  He calls together all of Judah and reads the holy words to them.  He calls for the people to repent and renew their covenant to the Almighty.  He jumps into action, purging Judah of idolatry and replacing it with the worship of the One True God.

Without God’s Word the people perish – both then and now.  In many communities and lives today God’s Word is forgotten, neglected, absent, dusty.  People are busy serving themselves and false gods.  They will be caught completely unprepared for the “cleansing” that will come.  How can you respond like Josiah?  After reading God’s words – who will you share them with?  How will you jump into action seeking to purge idolatry (in your own life first) and to then replace it with sincere and pleasing  worship of God Almighty?

Seek Him – Seek His Word – And Do it

Marcia Railton

Learning From Joshua (Joshua 1-4)

Friday, September 23

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By Jill McClain

With the death of Moses, Joshua becomes the new leader of God’s chosen people.  The book of Joshua records Israel’s conquest of the Promised Land.  God quickly reminds Joshua that it is imperative that Joshua and his people remain faithful and then they will succeed in finally entering Canaan.  “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:8)  God has lovingly given us a book that contains instructions for how we are to live our lives.  However, it is up to each of us to thoroughly study his word day and night, so that we will know how to do just as it says, not veering to the right or left of what has been written.  Hopefully, these devotions have encouraged you to read your Bible daily. Meditating on the Bible is an important first step, but that must be followed up with obedience to all that is taught in God’s word.

Leading God’s people out of the desert that they had been wandering in for 40 years was a challenging assignment.  Yet, Joshua bravely and with calm determination stepped up and became the strong leader that the Israelites needed.  Joshua was able to act courageously because for years he had witnessed God’s faithfulness and he knew that God would always be with him.  “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)  What is something that you are facing that requires you to be strong and courageous?

In chapter two Rahab stepped out in faith to help the spies.  Rahab had heard how God had led his people out of Egypt and through the Red Sea.  She had heard stories of God’s protection of his people, and she knew that he must be the one, true God.  Because of Rahab’s faith, God was able to use her, a prostitute from Jericho, to help keep his people safe.  Think of a way that God may be calling you to step out in faith?

In the following chapter, God caused the Jordan River to stop flowing so that his people could walk across. He used this miracle to demonstrate once again that he was with his people.  Then in chapter four the people created a memorial from stones to serve as a reminder of God’s always present help.

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