Make a Choice! – 2 Chron. 34

 

scrolls
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.

Advertisements

Hey, Listen Up!

II Chronicles 35-36

2-chron-36

Sunday, December 4

Have you ever wondered if God gets frustrated when people don’t listen to Him?  The people of Jerusalem had a great king while Josiah was ruler of Jerusalem but things quickly turned sour after his death.  Under King Josiah the people had experienced the re-instatement of the religious commemoration festivities of Passover.  The celebration was even mostly funded with animal sacrifices given by  Josiah and his officers on behalf of the laypeople.  We are told that such a tremendous Passover had not been celebrated like that in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet, and that no other Passover celebration was quite like the one that Josiah had with the Priests of God.  But then something tragic happens.  Josiah, who normally would have listened to God, and his messengers decides to not heed God’s warning and goes to war unnecessarily where he is wounded and dies.

This is where the story of the people of Jerusalem takes a dramatic, terrible turn for the worse.  Under their next two kings who are ungodly men the country goes into a spiritual downward spiral.  The people forget the goodness of God, their devotion to Him and refused to listen to the prophets such as Jeremiah that God would send to warn the people to turn from their wicked ways.   Again, and again they were warned but they continually mocked the messengers of God, thus  raising  the wrath of God until there was no remedy.  The people and their kings did not listen, so God allowed King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to overtake their beloved city and carry many of the people off into exile in the land of Babylon.  To make matters worse the Babylonians carried off the sacred vessels and treasures of God’s house to their own land, slew many of the people, burned the house of God, and tore down the protective wall around Jerusalem.  The people stayed exiled in Babylon, and the city of Jerusalem lay in ruins for 70 years before God brought about a change by stirring up within Cyrus King of Persia’s spirit that the people that had been taken captive in the previous conquests should be allowed to go back to their homeland and worship in their beloved city once again.

What caught my eye in this passage is that the people would not listen and mocked the messengers of God and scoffed at the prophets God sent.  Doesn’t that  sound like the society we live in today?

Many of us have friends who are unbelievers, or even friends who claim to be Christians but their life choices and their actions don’t seem to follow God’s standards.  Many of them are doing the same thing today by scoffing at the idea that there is a God who is in control of the Universe or mocking God by not following his standards instead choosing to do whatever makes them feel good.  People often make excuses why they are the exception to God’s rules.  Does God like this?   From what we have read, God doesn’t.   Scripture reminds us that we should not be deceived, God will not be mocked, people reap what they sow.  By sowing disobedience to God, in turn God removed his protection from the people of Jerusalem and allowed them to be overtaken by enemies.

Every action has a consequence, every choice has a consequence.  Choosing not to listen to God, and honor him  has its consequences as well.  The people of Jerusalem found that out the hard way.  If only they had just  listened to  God how differently things might have turned out!     Key thought:  Choose to hear when  God is speaking to you!

-Merry Peterson

 

A Little About The Writer:

Merry Peterson is an Associate Pastor at Freedom In Christ Church in Welland, Ontario, Canada.  She grew up in Canada and recently moved back there after  pastoring a church in Wenatchee, Washington for 15 years.  She is a graduate of Atlanta Bible College, and Clayton State University.  She enjoys hiking, baking, reading, and often has pet goldfish.  Merry has enjoyed being at FUEL as a camper and as part of the staff. 

 

 

The Worst of Kings and the Best of Kings – Works Together for Good

2 Chronicles 33-34

romans_8-28

Saturday, December 3

Yesterday’s reading ended with an ominous sentence, “His son Manasseh succeeded him.” Manasseh might very well be the worst king of Israel. He sacrificed his own son as a burnt offering to a pagan god. He killed the prophet Isaiah. Yet when God punished him, he repented and tried to defeat the evil that he had done. However, his son was also evil, but then his grandson Josiah was one of the best kings ever in Israel.

 

A brief point I’d like to make on this passage: good things can create an opportunity for bad, while good can come out of bad. That sounds odd,  doesn’t it? Yet Hezekiah’s extended life, a gift from God, allowed him to produce Manasseh as an heir. Yet from the degeneration of the kingly line that began with Manasseh and continued with his son, came the best king of Israel. The point is that we cannot make predictions based on circumstances, but God will work for good whenever people will be open to him, regardless of how bad the people around them have been.

 

I thought of this often during the current election. People predicted dire consequences if either candidate was elected. Everyone of them could happen, but these are all human circumstances. Regardless of whether your candidate is elected or not, the only good that we can count on is what happens when people place their trust in God and act faithfully. Everything else is just a matter of circumstance.

 

Let’s finish this week by looking at the good that can happen when people respond to God in obedience. As unusual as it might seem, it appears that by the time of Josiah, God’s people were living by tradition rather than actually reading the Holy Scriptures. While doing the right thing and restoring the Temple, the priest Hilkiah found the book of the Law. Josiah was immediately convicted when he read these words and responded by bringing his life and the kingdom of Judah in line with the law of God. Great things happened because of it.

 

I really appreciate the opportunity to write these devotions this week. It thrills me that you are taking the time to read the word of God. There are many things that are difficult to understand, but good things will happen when we are obedient to the things that we do understand. One thing that I’m certain of is that obedience to what we know is the accelerator of Christian growth. In other words, we are all at different levels of spiritual maturity, but we can all grow by living the life that God reveals to us.

-Greg Demmitt

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

Saturday, November 12

2-kings-22

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