TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- 2 CHRONICLES 35:1-36:23

Unlike the kings of the Northern Kingdom, King Josiah did not order worship according to his own preferences but according to what was commanded by God and would best portray the perfect finished work of Christ. Josiah celebrated the Passover according to the requirements of the law on the 14th day of Nisan (in contrast to Hezekiah’s delayed observance 2 Chron 30:2).

He gave instruction that the ark be left in the temple and not carried in the procession.

Families were invited to be partakers of the portions of the sacrifices. Whereas Hezekiah had given 7,000 sheep and 1,000 bulls as offerings in his day, Josiah provided 30,000 sheep and goats and 3,000 bulls. Josiah’s leading officials gave generously to the people, to the priests, and to the Levites.

The musicians, descendants of Asaph, were positioned as prescribed by David. The gatekeepers were diligent to guard their posts. We read this summary in 2 Chronicles 35:18.

2 Chronicles 35:18 18  There had not been celebrated a Passover like it in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet; nor had any of the kings of Israel celebrated such a Passover as Josiah did with the priests, the Levites, all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

While careful to obey God’s counsel in the matter of public worship, King Josiah was negligent to seek God’s mind concerning his military battles and alliances. He did not consult the Lord and made an alliance with Babylon to resist King Neco of Egypt, who was bringing his army north to help the Assyrians in their war against Babylon.

What is particularly telling is that Josiah did not discern that God was speaking through the king of Egypt.

2 Chronicles 35:21 21 But Neco sent messengers to him, saying, “What have we to do with each other, O King of Judah? I am not coming against you today but against the house with which I am at war, and God has ordered me to hurry. Stop for your own sake from interfering with God who is with me, so that He will not destroy you.”

We can easily presume that we know what is best and that God will be faithful to back up our plans. We can also presume that if God wants to say something, He will exclusively use our preferred means of doing so. This is not always the case. If Josiah had tested the word with what had been revealed in Scripture about the need to trust the Lord and not appeal to other nations, he would have recognized that King Neco of Egypt was speaking in alignment with the revealed Word of God. Josiah’s failure to heed King Neco’s message cost him his life, although God has already foretold through the prophetess Huldah that his early death would be ‘a mercy’ (2 Chronicles 34:28).

Josiah’s death is eerily like that of King Ahab’s. He disguises himself in the battle where he is struck by an archer’s arrow and taken from the valley of Megiddo to Jerusalem, where he dies. His reign, however, was judged positively.

Jeremiah composed lamentations for Josiah. Most Bible scholars believe that these particular laments are lost.

Jehoahaz, Josiah’s son, at the age of 23, becomes king and reigns only three months before being dethroned by the King of Egypt.  King Neco took him off to Egypt and made his brother, Eliakim, king, changing his name to Jehoiakim.

We have read about Jehoiakim’s evil eleven-year reign in 2 Kings 23.  He is taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, along with items from the Jerusalem temple.

Jehoiachin reigned for 3 months and ten days before being taken to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar makes his uncle, Zedekiah, king over Jerusalem.

Zedekiah proudly resists the messages of the prophet Jeremiah and rebels against King Nebuchadnezzar. For 40 years, Jeremiah calls his people back to the Lord without success. Jeremiah’s prophesies of Jerusalem’s destruction are fulfilled.

The chronicler emphasizes the heart attitudes of the people who resist the word of the Lord. Notice these sad words:

2 Chronicles 36:16 16 but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, until there was no remedy.

The inevitable destruction prophesied by Huldah and Jeremiah comes to pass as Jerusalem is ransacked, the temple is burned, the walls broken down, and the people are carried off to their 70-year Babylonian captivity—”to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete.” (2 Chronicles 36:21)

The Book of Chronicles ends with King Cyrus’ declaration permitting the Jews to return to Jerusalem after their 70 years of exile and announcing that God had appointed him to sponsor the building of the temple there.

The last words of the book anticipate the fulfillment of God’s purpose: “Let him go up.”

When given an opportunity to return and to worship the Lord, we should take it! “Let him go up!” 

TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – 1 CORINTHIANS 1:1-17

Today we start on Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. We know that he wrote more than two letters to the church, but these are the letters that we have, and the Holy Spirit wants to make sure we get His instruction through these two letters. The Corinthian church is experiencing the same kind of struggles we face today.

In these first verses of Chapter 1, we have an initial greeting and then a description of how Paul prays for the believers in Corinth.

What do we learn about the church? Despite all its problems and imperfections, the apostle Paul addresses them as ‘belonging to God,’ ‘sanctified in Christ’, and ‘called to be holy.’  Do you see your brothers and sisters that way?

He also affirms the unity of the body of Christ- believers are bound together with ALL THOSE EVERYWHERE WHO CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS.

What can we learn from Paul’s prayer life? He sees the church in the light of God’s gracious provisions- enriched, spiritually alive with the knowledge of God, not lacking in any spiritual gift and EAGERLY AWAITING THE REVELATION of our LORD JESUS CHRIST (referring to His second coming). Are we thankful for what we have received through faith in the gospel?

Paul recognizes that there are existing divisions in the church due to the carnal exaltation of personal preferences for certain celebrity pastors. He notices various factions among them. Some made hyper-spiritual claims of one-upmanship,  citing that their group, apart from others,  were bonafide ‘followers of Christ’ and had no need for any human leadership.  Paul makes an appeal to all these groups. He asks that they affirm the simple unity of the Spirit that comes through our faith-union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.  By virtue of the cross of Christ, we are one body “in Christ.”

Paul makes clear that our ground of unity is Christ and His perfect work of redemption. To Him be all the glory.

What about your identity? Is it based on anything other than the perfect work of Christ on your behalf? 

Do you affirm your unity with all other “in Christ ones”?

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALMS 27:1-6

What a confession of faith we have in this Psalm! (Verses 1-3).

This is followed by an expression of the new heart of a believer for fellowship with the Living God. 

The word ‘confidence’ is derived from the combination of the Latin words ‘with’ and ‘faith.’

Psalm 27:3 3 Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident.

The Psalmist expresses the ‘one thing’ he desires and seeks after: fellowship with the Living God (Psalm 27:4) and get to know Him more.

Psalm 27:4-4  One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.

In days of trouble, He is confident that he is identified and ‘lifted up’ with the One Who is His Rock.

This picture of being ‘hidden in the shelter of the tabernacle’ (Ps 27:5) is a prophetic picture of being ‘hidden with Christ in God’ seated above in the heavenly places.

Colossians 3:3 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 20:20-21

Proverbs 20:20-21 20 He who curses his father or his mother, His lamp will go out in time of darkness. 21 An inheritance gained hurriedly at the beginning will not be blessed in the end.

Honoring parents is the first commandment with promise. Here we see that disobedience to that command means trouble.

In verse 21, we have another warning against ‘get rich quick’ schemes as well as the danger of poor management of assets. 

PRAY FOR THE NATIONS- NORTH KOREA (from “Operation World Prayer Guide”)

North Korea today is like a nightmare. The state creates a cult around the young “Supreme Leader” (Kim Jong-un) and his dead grandfather (Kim Il-Sung) and does not allow the people to interact with the outside world. More than 3 million people have starved to death since 1994. Aid agencies can sometimes bring in food, but the government and military take much of it. Pray that food will reach the desperate, hungry people. Pray that in God’s timing, a change would come to completely free and transform this land.

The Korean revival (1907) began in the Church in North Korea! People in those days called Pyongyang the “Jerusalem of the East”. But most Christians fled to the South during the Korean War, or died as martyrs. Now, if you even say the name “Jesus” aloud, you may die for it. We do not know much about the underground Church, but we know it survived and even grows. The government holds up to 100,000 Christians in labor camps. Pray for North Korean believers to persevere in probably the most difficult country for Christians. 

PRAYER: Lord, we take to heart the lessons from the last kings of Judah and see our need to keep our eyes and ears fixed upon You. Thank You for reminding us of our identity and position ‘in Christ Jesus’ with whom we are hid (identified). We pray for the unity and spiritual maturity of churches throughout the world that there would be a powerful global testimony of the glorious reality of Christ as our life!  We ask it in Jesus’ Name, Amen.